Category Archive: science

Apr 12 2016

WaitButWhy and Iron Man

Really first class article about Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX, energy use, and the future of the world.

So on my visit to California, I had two goals in mind: to understand as best I could what Musk and his teams were working on so feverishly and why it mattered so much, and to try to gain insight into what it is that makes him so capable of changing the world.

Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man

Apr 12 2016

Brain imaging during LSD use

Increased visual cortex cerebral blood flow (CBF), decreased visual cortex alphapower, and a greatly expanded primary visual cortex (V1) functional connectivity profile correlated strongly with ratings of visual hallucinations, implying that intrinsic brain activity exerts greater influence on visual processing in the psychedelic state, thereby defining its hallucinatory quality.

Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging

Jan 04 2016

Glorious exhibit of the quest to determine longitude at sea

In many ways, this was the space program of the 18th century. The current exhibit at Mystic Seaport is glorious and mesmerizing.

For centuries, longitude (east-west position) was a matter of life and death at sea. Ships that went off course had no way to re-discover their longitude…With life-changing sums of money on offer, the challenge became the talk of London’s 18th-century coffee houses and captured the imaginations and talents of astronomers, skilled artisans, politicians, seamen, and satirists; many of whom came up with ingenious methods and instruments designed to scoop the Board of Longitude’s tantalizing rewards and transform seafaring navigation forever.

The H3 timekeeper

 

Ships, Clocks & Stars

Apr 24 2015

Scientists find missing link in Yellowstone plumbing

Yellowstone is essentially like a boil on the earth: a giant pool of hot melted rock sitting just below the crust, or skin, of the planet, periodically reaching an explosive stage. Since the crust moves over time, past explosions have left scars in a chain across the North American continent.

Scientists find missing link in Yellowstone plumbing: This giant volcano is very much alive - The Washington Post

This giant volcano is very much alive 

Jul 07 2014

Peeling Sticky Tape Produces X-rays

Absolutely amazing to think that simply peeling everyday tape can produce high energy bursts such as  x-rays, but it does. As the scientists suggest, this is the simplest and cheapest way to produce x-rays ever invented.

Peeling Sticky Tape Produces X-rays

May 19 2014

Sun’s twin

A team of researchers led by University of Texas at Austin astronomer Ivan Ramirez has identified the first “sibling” of the Sun…

Astronomers Find Sun’s ‘Long-Lost Brother,’ Pave Way for Family Reunion

 

May 19 2014

Earth’s biggest volcano

 

Covering an area roughly equivalent to the British Isles or the state of New Mexico, this volcano, dubbed the Tamu Massif, is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes of Mars, placing it among the largest in the Solar System…Located about 1,000 miles east of Japan…Tamu Massif covers an area of about 120,000 square miles.”

Scientists Confirm Existence of Largest Single Volcano on Earth

Apr 10 2014

All the water on Earth, shown as a drop…

I don’t know, I assume when I look at maps that the oceans are deep. I mean, the Earth is ⅔ water, and maps give the illusion that Earth is mostly water by volume. It isn’t. It’s mostly water by surface area. By volume? Just a drop.

USGS Water Science School.

Mar 18 2014

Alan Turing was a genius in chemistry and biology, too

A theory of Turing’s regarding cell differentiation – all the more remarkable since he was a mathematician, not a biologist – has just been proved, 60 years after he killed himself following prosecution and conviction as a homosexual. This is the man who cracked the German WWII ciphers, devised the universally accepted test for artificial intelligence, and reinvented the definition of mathematical proofs that underlies all of modern computing. A true genius. First the crown awarded him an OBE – then it decided to persecute and destroy him. How profoundly stupid.

Turing’s theory of morphogenesis validated

Mar 17 2014

Historic confirmation of the Big Bang and cosmic inflation

Looks like the Big Bang theory has been essentially indisputably confirmed with the discovery of microwave echoes of “inflation”, the incomprehensibly rapid expansion of the universe from a dimensionless point to the size of a marble in a trillionth of a second.

Big Bang’s Smoking Gun

Oct 25 2013

Five Billion Years of Solitude

Reviews of a new book on astrobiology, the history of the earth, and our future.

…in equal parts, a primer on the search for alien worlds, a biography of Earth and the life that inhabits it, and a story about how exoplanetology grew, and how, with the hour of its greatest triumph approaching, it fell short.

The Economist

…it’s really an amazing and entirely unprecedented time to be alive if you’re interested in the question of life beyond Earth. Right now is one of those strange moments where you have a singular confluence of brilliant minds and breakthrough observations that will become legendary in the history of science.

interview  with the author in The Atlantic

Oct 22 2013

Ancient light on a long and winding road

 

Ancient light

The journey of light from the very early universe to modern telescopes is long and winding. The ancient light traveled billions of years to reach us, and along the way, its path was distorted by the pull of matter, leading to a twisted light pattern. 

This twisted pattern of light, called B-modes, has at last been detected…

Long-Sought Pattern of Ancient Light Detected

Jul 18 2013

Eek. Biggest virus ever. And it’s alien.

Thank God it only eats amoebae.

Perhaps most striking, 93 percent of pandoraviruses’ 2,500 genes cannot be traced back to any known lineage in nature. In other words, they are completely alien to us.

Biggest Virus Yet Found…

Apr 16 2013

We are starstuff

Apparently scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany have established a link between specific non-terrestrial isotopes of iron in fossilized bacteria, and a specific supernova: IOW, actual stellar debris collected from exploding stars into the tissues of an earth organism. Starstuff, indeed.

This apparent signal of iron-60, Bishop said, could be the remains of magnetite (Fe3O4) chains formed by bacteria on the sea floor as radioactive supernova debris showered on them from the atmosphere, after crossing inter-stellar space at nearly the speed of light.

Supernova left its mark in ancient bacteria

Mar 21 2013

Greenland Melt Ponds

Each spring and summer, as the air warms up and the sunlight beats down on the Greenland ice sheet, sapphire-colored ponds spring up like swimming pools. As snow and ice melt atop the glaciers, the water flows in channels and streams and collects in depressions on the surface that are sometimes visible from space. These melt ponds and lakes sometimes disappear quickly – a phenomenon that scientists have observed firsthand in recent years…

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2474.html

Mar 13 2013

Neanderthal large eyes caused less intelligence?

The Neanderthals had larger eyes, so more of their brain was devoted to sight. Result: less of their brain was devoted to brainy things like survival. Not sure of the lesson here, other than that seeing more means thinking less?

Smart people on the right

Neanderthal large eyes caused their demise.

Feb 21 2013

The cosmos is a beautiful and terrifying place

A solar flare that never quite escapes the Sun’s gravity…

Oct 13 2012

The ultimate digital camera. Buy more disks.

 

 

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will survey the entire visible sky every week, creating an unprecedented public archive of data – about 6 million gigabytes per year, the equivalent of shooting roughly 800,000 images with a regular eight-megapixel digital camera every night, but of much higher quality and scientific value.

 

 

 

3.2 billion pixel sky-watcher a step closer

Oct 01 2012

The farthest ever view of the universe

Just in case you still have it in your head that we are alone in the universe…

Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest Ever View of the Universe

Oct 01 2012

The tipping point for orbital debris

One question this poses: are future launches of manned and unmanned missions at greater risk just because they must transit through the accumulating debris field? Could we be trapping ourselves on the planet by surrounding ourselves with broken glass?

We’ve Already Passed the Tipping Point for Orbital Debris

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