Reginald L. Goodwin's Posts (2426)

Liar Eschatology...

David Lewicki, Twitter


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


The Power of Positive Thinking is a self-help book by Norman Vincent Peale, originally published in 1952. It makes use of positive case histories and practical instructions to propose the method of positive thinking. Peale's work describes how to achieve a permanent and optimistic attitude through unending positive conscious thought, usually through affirmations or visualizations. Peale writes that such techniques will give the reader a higher satisfaction and quality of life. Though negatively reviewed by scholars and health experts, The Power of Positive Thinking became popular in public opinion when first published and continues in popularity today.

Source: Wikipedia

 

*****


Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history promoted by the religious right. Chris Rodda, August 10, 2006, Amazon, Volume 1

Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, setting the record straight by presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history of our country. Chris Rodda, January 6, 2016, Volume 2

 

*****


Come 1953, this legal prodigy was named McCarthy’s boy-wonder chief counsel, and the news photos told the tale: the sharp-faced, heavy-lidded 26-year-old with cherubic cheeks, whispering intimately into the ear of the bloated McCarthy. Cohn’s special skill as the senator’s henchman was character assassination. Indeed, after testifying in front of him, an engineer with the Voice of America radio news service committed suicide. Cohn never showed a shred of remorse.

You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. Cohn’s power derived largely from his ability to scare potential adversaries with hollow threats and spurious lawsuits. And the fee he demanded for his services? Ironclad loyalty.

For author Sam Roberts, the essence of Cohn’s influence on Trump was the triad: “Roy was a master of situational immorality . . . . He worked with a three-dimensional strategy, which was: 1. Never settle, never surrender. 2. Counter-attack, counter-sue immediately. 3. No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.” As columnist Liz Smith once observed, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.”

 

*****

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Our national embarrassment managed to be an embarrassment on the world stage. What I thought was missing was any discussion of the African American soldiers and sailors that sacrificed for this nation during that war, specifically to show their worth as citizens and as human beings. We've fought in every war this nation has prosecuted in its history, yet the descendants of the African Diaspora are still fighting for their rights in this country. I found the absence of any discussion ironic and disturbing under current circumstances.

I cannot attest Donald Trump ever HAD a moral compass to lose. His father was arrested at a Klan rally in NY city, 1927; he and his father discriminated against people of color in their rental apartment buildings; the Central Park 5, for which he refuses to apologize: Charlottesville. He has divided the nation with a racist jigsaw. He's more Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul to Darth Sidious; under demon to Lucifer. The degree of evil doesn't matter: it's just evil.

Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy has had it's supporters and critics, both in science and clergy. Marble Church - the spiritual descendant of Peale's philosophy - is claimed by the Trumps, the pathological liar referring in the past to Peale as his pastor. A lot of Norman Vincent Peale's method have other names: "name it and claim it"; "new thought" and "positive mental attitude." It's the kind of thing a sales representative reads to pump up their egos to press on. It is the kind of philosophy an urban youth might use to motivate their enthusiasm to overcome their economic circumstances. It is ripe for warping by a demagogue.

Chris Rodda responded to the pseudo-historical polemics published by David Barton, a "historian" who possesses no PhD in the field as most historians do. He is the go-to "expert" for talk show hosts like Glenn Beck et al to tell their audiences kind fables that comfort their angst regarding the changing demographics of America. He tries to rewrite actual history to fulfill the fables of a group he hucksters, where "facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams But those "stubborn things" are of no consequence to Christian fascists.

The only way to see the Venn diagram merger of religion and pathological lying is the nexus formed in the mind of an addled man between these two men: Norman Vincent Peale and Roy Cohn, Yin and Yang; light and darkness. A brain that can only hold onto "Two Corinthians" as a biblical verse he MIGHT have heard in the scant attendance he's logged at the Crystal Cathedral, for his thus far dedicated following, his voluminous tableau of lies doesn't matter. He fulfills what Christian nationalists cum evangelicals and white nationalists the world over want more than eternal salvation - power. The ends justify the means: voter suppression, resistance to "advise and consent" Merrick Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court (a stolen seat); Russian interference so long as white privilege, white supremacy - white power continues to rule. Our bent away from democratic norms predates the Russian attack on our elections in 2016.

The soul of a republic is apparently a small price to pay for this idolatry. It will be the death of our country...and the world.
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There Be Monsters...

Two views of galaxy Markarian 1216. The red image on the left shows X-ray observations conducted by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the yellowish image on the right is composed of optical observations taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The brighter colors at the center of the Chandra image represent the increased density of hot gas in the galaxy's core.

 

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Dark Matter


X-ray observations of a peculiar galaxy deep within the constellation Hydra (the Sea Serpent) have revealed more dark matter at its core than expected.

The galaxy is almost as old as the universe itself, representatives from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory said in a statement published Monday (June 3). This celestial body, Markarian 1216, went through a different evolution than typical galaxies and is home to stars that are within 10% of the age of the universe.

To study the dark matter within this compact, elliptically shaped galaxy about 295 million light- years from Earth, researchers conducted new observations with the Chandra spacecraft. Markarian 1216 is packed with more dark matter in its core than researchers expected, according to their findings published June 1.

 

Ancient Galaxy in the 'Sea Serpent' Has More Dark Matter Than Expected, Doris Elin Salazar, Space,com

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Elysium Oceania...

Plan for Tokyo Bay by Kenzo Tange, 1960. Wikimedia

 

Topics: Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Climate Change, Global Warming


The main problem I see: the seeking of public funding for a Utopian project could easily benefit the well-healed instead of the needy many. It would be cynical to use government funds, first gaining public support, then diverting funds but not unlikely. The wrong-type of people being preserved after the earth is ravaged by our environmental hubris is the main plot of the movie Elysium.

Humans have a long history of living on water. Our water homes span the fishing villages in Southeast Asia, Peru and Bolivia to modern floating homes in Vancouver and Amsterdam. As our cities grapple with overcrowding and undesirable living situations, the ocean remains a potential frontier for sophisticated water-based communities.

The United Nations has expressed support for further research into floating cities in response to rising sea levels and to house climate refugees. A speculative proposal, Oceanix City, was unveiled in April at the first Round Table on Sustainable Floating Cities at UN headquarters in New York.

The former tourism minister of French Polynesia, Marc Collins Chen, and architecture studio BIG advanced the proposal. Chen is involved with the Seasteading Institute, which is seeking to develop autonomous city-states floating in the shallow waters of “host nations”.

While this latest proposal has gained UN attention, it is an old idea we have repeatedly returned to over the past 70 years with little success. In fact, the Oceanix City proposal has not reached the same level of technical sophistication as previous models.

 

Floating cities: the future or a washed-up idea? Cosmos magazine
Brydon T. Wang, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, Queensland University of Technology

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Sonic Tractor Beam...

Sound image: the acoustophoretic display reproduces the logo of the University of Bristol. (Courtesy: A Marzo, B Drinkwater and colleagues)

 

Topics: Acoustic Physics, Holograms, Research, Star Trek


A midair visual display that uses a single acoustically-levitated particle has been unveiled by researchers in Spain and the UK. Dubbed an “acoustophoretic display”, the image is created by using two ultrasound transducer arrays to levitate the particle and manipulate it to trace out the desired graphic at high speed.

In 2015, Asier Marzo at the Public University of Navarra and Bruce Drinkwater at the University of Bristol created a sonic tractor beam that used ultrasound to levitate, rotate and move objects. Using a single grid of 64 off-the-shelf loudspeakers controlled by a programmable array of transducers the device created 3D fields of sound – acoustic holograms – that could hold and manipulate a small polystyrene particle in mid-air.

Since then, the field has progressed and earlier this year Marzo and Drinkwater revealed an acoustic levitation device that used two grids of speakers to hold and individually manipulate up to 25 polystyrene balls at the same time. This opened up the possibility of new applications for sonic tractor beams, including visual displays created with multiple levitated particles.

According to Marzo, such acoustic generated images, which he calls acoustophoretic displays, would offer an advantage over current holograms as they would not suffer from clipping. “[With holograms] the image can only be viewed from determinate angles and the frame of the display occludes the image, it is like looking inside a window,” he explains. “With the acoustophoretic displays the images reside in the physical space and can be observed without clipping from 360°.”

Ultrasound guides particle in a midair display, Michael Allen, Physics World

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Peekaboo Parts...

A transparent human brain by Dr. Ali Ertuerk, Munich, Germany, April 23, 2019.

 

Topics: 3D Printing, Biomedicine, Research


MUNICH (Reuters) - Researchers in Germany have created transparent human organs using a new technology that could pave the way to print three-dimensional body parts such as kidneys for transplants.

Scientists led by Ali Ertuerk at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have developed a technique that uses a solvent to make organs such as the brain and kidneys transparent.

The organ is then scanned by lasers in a microscope that allows researchers to capture the entire structure, including the blood vessels and every single cell in its specific location.

Using this blueprint, researchers print out the scaffold of the organ. They then load the 3D printer with stem cells which act as “ink” and are injected into the correct position making the organ functional.

German scientists create see-through human organs, Ayhan Uyanik, Reuters

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Atticus Mueller...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


“Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller said, and he sketched out briefly what his investigation alleged: that Russian intelligence officers “launched a concerted attack on our political system,” and released information in a scheme “designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.” Meanwhile, “a private Russian entity engaged in a social-media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.” He added, “The matters we investigated were of paramount importance.​​”

A few minutes later, as he finished up, Mueller returned to the theme. He said it even after thanking members of his team (and, in what truly did sound like a rebuke to the president, noting, “These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity”). For his final public words in a decades-long life in government, he chose to say this:

I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Whether the motivation is treason or narcissistic ego: the Russians also have their cyber fingers into our infrastructure and power grids, which means we could literally be held hostage and not able to fight back. Maybe for a reelection campaign that didn't go well for their chosen candidate? Our federal elections are covered by The Constitution. It is our unique ability to select our own leaders, the "peaceful transition of power" as an example to the world. The Russians are sowing distrust, racial discord, tribalism and animus on a platform supposedly a road map to true, representative democracy. The Arab Spring started in Tunisia with a vendor's self-immolation, spread by Social Media. We were on our way to utopia, before this detour to dystopia.

Utopia to those in power is the opposite: dystopian. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Franklin Leonard

If you make money with tobacco, you might fund an effort to broadcast misleading information about the health impact of smoking. If you make money with fossil fuels, you might sabotage electric cars, or publish quackery on doubting climate change and global warming. If you make money publishing "alternative facts" to a largely WASP-C, septuagenarian audience, if you're Saudi Prince Alwaleed or Australian Rupert Murdoch, Fox News is your Pavlov's dinner bell.

Atticus Finch and Robert Mueller are the same type of lawyer: steadfast and by-the-book, with an almost unshakable faith in the system of jurisprudence each officer of the court - fictional and real - serves. They are from a time where Winston-Salem had a morning Journal and evening Sentinel newspapers: all your news, "breaking" or otherwise; advertisements for cars, clothing, apartments and homes were there and those adds paid for most newsrooms to do their jobs as members of the fourth estate that held power accountable, and did not practice "access journalism" where they now or seldom do not. They came from a time where there were three major news networks and radio programs with audiences and followers (millennial translation: pod casts). Adults read large novels, books of poetry and plays for entertainment and children inhaled comic books for shear pleasure. It was a time when the terms "moderate republican" and "conservative democrat" weren't pejoratives. It was a time a 448-page Mueller Report would have been read in about a week. It was a time before our technological distractions made us all attention-deficit, and with that lack of clarity, a democracy is for the ripe picking for Putin and his puppet. Our continued freedom never depended on elected officials that work for us: the continued existence of this democratic republic always has depended ON us.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglass
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In Finnegan's Wake...

Murray Gell-Mann won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics.Credit: Santa Fe Institute

 

Topics: Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Particle Physics, Quarks, Standard Model, Theoretical Physics


The Nobel Prize in Physics 1969 was awarded to Murray Gell-Mann "for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions."

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1969. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 29 May 2019. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1969/summary/ >

Murray Gell-Mann, one of the founders of modern particle physics, died on 24 May, aged 89. Gell-Mann’s most influential contribution was to propose the theory of quarks — fundamental particles that make up most ordinary matter.

To bring order to a plethora of recently discovered subatomic particles, in 1961 Gell-Mann proposed a set of rules based on symmetries in the fundamental forces of nature. The rules classified subatomic particles called hadrons into eight groups, a scheme he named the eightfold way in a reference to Buddhist philosophy.

In 1964, he realized that such rules would naturally arise if the particles were composed of two, three or more fundamental particles, held together by the strong nuclear force. (US–Russian physicist George Zweig came to the same conclusion independently in the same year.) Protons and neutrons, for example, would be made up of three of these more fundamental particles, which Gell-Man named quarks, inspired by a quote — “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” — from James Joyce’s 1939 novel Finnegan's Wake. [1]

Quarks and Leptons are the building blocks which build up matter, i.e., they are seen as the "elementary particles". In the present standard model, there are six "flavors" of quarks. They can successfully account for all known mesons and baryons (over 200). The most familiar baryons are the proton and neutron, which are each constructed from up and down quarks. Quarks are observed to occur only in combinations of two quarks (mesons), three quarks (baryons). There was a recent claim of observation of particles with five quarks (pentaquark), but further experimentation has not borne it out. [2]

 

1. Murray Gell-Mann, father of quarks, dies - US physicist was one of the chief architects of the standard model of particle physics. Davide Castelvecchi, Nature
2. Hyperphysics: Quarks

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The Strength of Ignorance...

The Meaning of War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength in Orwell's "1984", Natalie Franks, PhD, Owlcation

 

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Existentialism, Politics


Note: Please forgive the midweek rant but...this...is...insane.

Mr. Trump is less an ideologue than an armchair naysayer about climate change, according to people who know him. He came into office viewing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency as bastions of what he calls the “deep state,” and his contempt for their past work on the issue is an animating factor in trying to force them to abandon key aspects of the methodology they use to try to understand the causes and consequences of a dangerously warming planet.

As a result, parts of the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The attack on science is underway throughout the government. In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.

 

Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science
Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, New York Times


It's insane, but cynical: the current Russian-installed occupant of the Oval Office is 72, meaning by 2040 if the afterlife doesn't want to screw with him, he'd be 93, still Virtual Reality tweeting his inane thoughts further rattled by Entropy, Alzheimer's and Dementia while firmly encompassed in adult pampers on his sixth trophy wife from whatever is left of the Czech Republic! We're personally causing the extinction of millions of species, and one of them might be the linchpin break in our own food chain.

NONE of the morons making these decisions will live to see the impact of them. They will cash in and peace out to the planet richer than Solomon, fiddling like Nero as the world burns. The end of white Christian Evangelical America occurred rather quietly around 2017, only noted by demographers, authors that notice such things...and white Christian Americans! This is why they could vote for the vagina gripper without a hint of pious hypocrisy, literally 81% of them selling what's left of their souls. This is why they're in a wholesale panic in Texas...TEXAS could turn blue by 2045! This is a naked power grab masquerading in choir robes that are demonstrably, decidedly Klan white. The other impact other than the lack of coitus would likely be the proliferation of readily available guns for violence, the opioid crisis and farmers affected by the trade tariffs committing harikari. But we won't talk about that because...logic (or, lack thereof).

They don’t even WANT you to vote a week from Tuesday. They hate voters and they hate voting. They have worked with a religious fervor to game voting tallies in Missouri, and Tennessee, and North Dakota, and Ohio (we can thank the Supreme Court for that), and Florida, and North Carolina, and most notably in Georgia, where elderly black people were literally pulled over for trying to vote, and where Republican gubernatorial candidate and current secretary of state Brian Kemp purged over 300,000 people from the voter rolls. They don’t want you voting, and they don’t particularly care if it’s fair or not. And if you happen to resist, the president already tacitly endorsed violence against you.

This is because Republicans hate a true representative democracy. And if they hate that, then they hate America. And if they hate America, then they hate you. I know Republicans say they LOVE America. They love it so much they wanna marry it. But that’s not true. They only love using America, mostly as a means of engineering hate.

They also hate your kids. If they liked your kids, they would support paid maternity leave, free health care, free child care, better public schools, and they would do everything in their power to enact stricter gun control laws so that schoolchildren don’t get routinely slaughtered en masse. They hate all of those ideas. They even hate teachers. You ever meet a teacher? They’re fucking saints, man. It doesn’t matter. Republicans hate them and would rather die than pay teachers a living wage.

In fact, they don’t just hate your kids, they hate your grandchildren as well. If Republicans gave the thinnest of shits about your grandkids, they would act with incredible haste on every Defcon 1 climate report that says we’re doomed if we don’t stop humping carbon to death. But they don’t. They hate the Earth, they hate the future, and they HATE any report that might dare ask them to take a break from pillaging the lands. Those reports go right into the shredder.

And they hate reporters too. Of course they hate reporters. A reporter just got kidnapped, tortured, and dismembered by Saudi Arabia (the country that was home to the majority of 9/11 hijackers, mind you). Did Republicans give a shit? Of course not. This is because they hate reporters. They get so much mileage out of hating reporters, it’s almost impressive. Why, it’s as if breeding hate and resentment is the only thing they do competently! They hate facts. They hate whistleblowers. They hate the truth. They don’t even like QUESTIONS. How dare you ask a Republican a question? That’s really rude. The president thinks you should be body slammed. If Republican leaders liked answering for shit, they would hold more town halls. Instead, they fuck off back to their home states and huddle up with their donors.

 

Republicans Hate You, Drew Magary, GQ

"War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength." George Orwell, 1984, Spark Notes


These words are the official slogans of the Party, and are inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, as Winston observes in Book One, Chapter I. Because it is introduced so early in the novel, this creed serves as the reader’s first introduction to the idea of doublethink. By weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, even if it is entirely illogical—for instance, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of waging war, the Ministry of Love is in charge of political torture, and the Ministry of Truth is in charge of doctoring history books to reflect the Party’s ideology.

That the national slogan of Oceania is equally contradictory is an important testament to the power of the Party’s mass campaign of psychological control. In theory, the Party is able to maintain that “War Is Peace” because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united. “Freedom Is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man who is independent is doomed to fail. By the same token, “Slavery Is Freedom,” because the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the inability of the people to recognize these contradictions cements the power of the authoritarian regime.

This is insane...and terrifying.

...and we are all living through a tweet-created, GOP-enabled dystopian nightmare.

This is terrifying as we might be staring down the barrel of our own extinction.

At least there will be no billionaires,..

...or assholes (not that for most, there isn't much of a difference).
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Mars 2020...

When I test a vacuum, I just sprinkle oats all over the floor. When NASA tests one, you get this.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

Topics: Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight


NASA will leave no Martian rock unturned as it prepares the next Mars robot for the chaos of space travel and landing on the red planet.

Over the last two months, the Mars 2020 spacecraft has been subjected to a number of extreme tests designed to ensure it can withstand an intense rocket launch and the extremes of space. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has put the futuristic craft through "acoustic and thermal vacuum" testing -- and it has passed with flying colors.

The test involve blasting the spacecraft with sound levels as high as 150 decibels -- the type of levels you'd hear standing next to a jet at take-off -- to replicate the environment of a launch, according to Andy Rose, manager of JPL's environmental test facilities.

After the sound blast tests were performed six times, NASA put the Mars 2020 rover through a brutal test that replicates the vacuum of space. That required the spacecraft to be transported to the Space Simulator Facility and suspended in midair, as seen in the above image.

 

Mars 2020 spacecraft subjected to brutal tests as it prepares for launch, Jackson Ryan, CNET

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SLIPS...

A novel, highly sensitive molecular sensor together with a first-of-its-kind histamine detector comprise abbieSense, a device that can diagnose and assess the severity of an allergic reaction within five minutes. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Fluid Mechanics, Microfluidics, Nanofluidics, Nanotechnology

 


The need for an inexpensive, super-repellent surface cuts across a vast swath of societal sectors—from refrigeration and architecture, to medical devices and consumer products. Most state-of-the-art liquid repellent surfaces designed in the last decade are modeled after lotus leaves, which are extremely hydrophobic due to their rough, waxy surface and the physics of their natural design. However, none of the lotus-inspired materials designed so far has met the mark: they may repel water but they fail to repel oils, fail under physical stress, cannot self-heal – and are expensive to boot.

‘SLIPS’ technology, inspired by the slippery pitcher plant that repels almost every type of liquid and solid, is a unique approach to coating industrial and medical surfaces that is based on nano/microstructured porous material infused with a lubricating fluid. By locking in water and other fluids, SLIPS technology creates slick, exceptionally repellent and robust self-cleaning surfaces on metals, plastics, optics, textiles and ceramics. These slippery surfaces repel almost any fouling challenge a surface may face—whether from bacteria, ice, water, oil, dust, barnacles, or other contaminants.

 

Wyss Institute, Harvard: Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces

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The Great Filter...

Image Source: Gizmodo and originally, Wait, But Why

 

Topics: Astrobiology, Carl Sagan, Climate Change, Drake Equation, Existentialism, Fermi Paradox, Nuclear Power


“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Carl Sagan

My First Contact scenario doesn't involve Vulcans, warp drive or impossible scenarios: it involves radio transmissions, as communication is a big part of the Drake Equation. Specifically audio, video and digital data (Internet?) of extraterrestrial origin as we would confirm before announcing to the world. Assuming the aliens developed their technology in an oxygen-nitrogen environment, the language we could hear might amount to a lot of "clicking" noises, that mathematicians - specifically specialists in cryptography, and linguists - would dive into deciphering. Eventually after coming up with a Rosetta Stone of syntax, we could translate what would amount to news, drama and sitcoms. Of specific interest might be their political climate and sectarian strife (if any). More particularly, did they successfully translate through their "Great Filter"...

...or, if they did not.
 

*****


I'm a big fan of Jordon Peele's incarnation of The Twilight Zone, particularly the sixth episode: "Six Degrees of Freedom." It is unfortunate that popular show title describes our current political climate.
 

I won't give away the intriguing ending, but Peele has mastered the macabre plot twist of Rod Serling's writing style, and (my opinion) his surreal monologue delivery. It's streaming, so you may have to pay less than you would for a single movie ticket per month to view it. I've enjoyed it andother shows so far, and I get no monetary gain for the endorsement.

"The Great Filter, in the context of the Fermi paradox, is whatever prevents dead matter from undergoing abiogenesis, in time, to expanding lasting life as measured by the Kardashev scale.[1][2] The concept originates in Robin Hanson's argument that the failure to find any extraterrestrial civilizations in the observable universe implies the possibility something is wrong with one or more of the arguments from various scientific disciplines that the appearance of advanced intelligent life is probable; this observation is conceptualized in terms of a "Great Filter" which acts to reduce the great number of sites where intelligent life might arise to the tiny number of intelligent species with advanced civilizations actually observed (currently just one: human).[3] This probability threshold, which could lie behind us (in our past) or in front of us (in our future), might work as a barrier to the evolution of intelligent life, or as a high probability of self-destruction.[1][4] The main counter-intuitive conclusion of this observation is that the easier it was for life to evolve to our stage, the bleaker our future chances probably are.

The idea was first proposed in an online essay titled "The Great Filter - Are We Almost Past It?", written by economist Robin Hanson. The first version was written in August 1996 and the article was last updated on September 15, 1998. Since that time, Hanson's formulation has received recognition in several published sources discussing the Fermi paradox and its implications.

Using extinct civilizations such as Easter Island as models, a study conducted in 2018 posited that climate change induced by "energy intensive" civilizations may prevent sustainability within such civilizations, thus explaining the lack of evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life.[5]" Source: Wikipedia/The Great Filter

The Great Filter is alluded to in science fiction with or without warp drive: Star Trek described global wars on Earth and the fictional Vulcan that involved their respective nuclear holocausts. For the Vulcans, recovery involved a relentless embrace of logic, or as I recall reading in a Trek novel, "reality-truth." For Earth, it essentially involved accepting help from the Vulcans after the human species was discovered warp capable through a singular genius with a funny name post self-induced Apocalypse, a Deus ex Machina plot device used since publicly performed Greek and Roman plays. We don't have warp drive, but we do have thermonuclear devices poised for Armageddon. We don't have Vulcans, but we once did have the Easter Islanders, just as once we had the Dodo.

I've often encapsulated The Great Filter in my own dictum: "intelligence is its own Entropy." I think when Carl Sagan was alive, the regressive forces we see now denying science, climate change; verifiable facts and reality were well engaged in his day of the original COSMOS. Slowly, shows like COSMOS lost their appeal to Game Shows cum Reality Shows, and as a country we reveled in our distractions, added as channels on cable and Internet multiplied like E. coli. and measles resurgence as well as our grasp of what is real and verifiable. In fact, we seek distractions in gadgets and online machinations in the constant need to fill "horror vacui."

In the east, nothing meant something, particularly in clarity of thought: Mu Shin No Shin - "the mind without mind" or more colloquially, "no mind." As translated from the martial battlefield to artists both martial and objective; and Zen philosophers, it offers a certain clarity that can be attained when not focused on minutiae detail, but accepted reality "as-is" after diligent practice. A practice like karate forms that takes years of repetition, dedication and study. That is the key to mastering anything, from martial arts to science to civics.

The stars are silent. Intelligence may be rare. Vulcans if existing may not be benevolent, and in the myopic attention span of the erect species of which I am member - "wise men"...fleeting in longevity.

We hope we're past The Great Filter. I'm not sure we are.

 

Related links:

The Great Filter Might Be What's Preventing Aliens from Reaching Us,
Joanie Faletto, Curiosity

The Reason We've Never Found Intelligent Life Might be Because We Are Already Going Extinct,
Climate change might be humanity’s "Great Filter." Karla Lant, Futurism

The Great Filter, a possible explanation for the Fermi Paradox – interview with Robin Hanson
Science, Technology, Future

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Superconductors' never-ending flow of electrical current could provide new options for energy storage and superefficient electrical transmission and generation. But the signature zero electrical resistance of superconductors is reached only below a certain critical temperature and is very expensive to achieve. Physicists in Serbia believe they've found a way to manipulate superthin, waferlike monolayers of superconductors, thus changing the material's properties to create new artificial materials for future devices. This image shows a liquid phase graphene film deposited on PET substrate. Credit: Graphene Laboratory, University of Belgrade

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Superconductors, Thin Films


Superconductors' never-ending flow of electrical current could provide new options for energy storage and superefficient electrical transmission and generation, to name just a few benefits. But the signature zero electrical resistance of superconductors is reached only below a certain critical temperature, hundreds of degrees Celsius below freezing, and is very expensive to achieve.

Physicists from the University of Belgrade in Serbia believe they've found a way to manipulate superthin, waferlike monolayers of superconductors, such as graphene, a monolayer of carbon, thus changing the material's properties to create new artificial materials for future devices. The findings from the group's theoretical calculations and experimental approaches are published in the Journal of Applied Physics.

"The application of tensile biaxial strain leads to an increase of the critical temperature, implying that achieving high temperature superconductivity becomes easier under strain," said the study's first author from the University of Belgrade's LEX Laboratory, Vladan Celebonovic.

 

Strain enables new applications of 2-D materials, Phys.org

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Good Vibes...

Sounding off: theoretical force patterns for an underwater Chladni plate at two different frequencies. The force arrows illustrate why glass beads accumulate at the plate antinodes (shown in yellow and red). (Courtesy: K Latifi, H Wijaya and Q Zhou/Physical Review Letters)

 

Topics: Acoustic Physics, Applied Physics, Research


The behaviour of some particles on the vibrating surfaces of Chladni plates is reversed underwater, a new study reveals. The discovery was made by Kourosh Latifi, Harri Wijaya, and Quan Zhou at Aalto University in Finland. They observed that glass beads on a submerged vibrating plate move towards antinodes, where the plate’s amplitude of vibration is highest. The underwater effect could be useful in a variety of medical and biological applications, including the manipulation of living cells.

In 1787 the German physicist Ernst Chladni put sand on a vibrating plate and observed that the grains settle on the nodal lines where the plate’s amplitude of vibration is zero. In contrast, he observed that finer particles move towards the plate’s antinodes where the amplitude is a local maximum.

A century later, Michael Faraday explained both behaviours. He concluded that the vibrations cause the larger grains to move laterally across the plate until they reach a node – where they no longer get lateral kicks and therefore remain in place. As for why the smaller particles did the opposite, Faraday argued that air currents just above the plates tend to push the lighter particles towards the antinodes – an effect known as acoustic streaming.

 

Vibrations guide tiny glass beads through an underwater maze
Sam Jarman, Physics World

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Twin Paradox...

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly (left) cracks a slight smile while posing with his identical twin brother, astronaut Scott Kelly (right). As part of NASA's Twins Study, Scott took a long trip to space, while Mark remained on Earth. Researchers then monitored how their bodies reacted to their differing environments. NASA

 

Topics: Astronaut, Astrophysics, Genetics, NASA, Spaceflight


Brothers compete. So in 2016, when astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending a year in space, it must have really annoyed his identical twin brother — retired astronaut Mark Kelly — that Scott was two inches taller than when he left. However, Scott's temporary increase in height was not the only thing that changed during his trip.

As part of NASA's Twins Study, while Scott was in space, Mark went about his daily life on Earth. Over the course of the year-long mission, researchers tracked changes in both brothers' biological markers to pinpoint any variances. Because the twins share the same genetic code, researchers reasoned that any observed differences could tentatively — though not definitively — be linked to Scott's time aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This allowed them to take advantage of a unique opportunity and explore how an extended stay in space may impact the human body.

Based on their results, which were published this week in the journal Science, spaceflight can definitely trigger changes in the human body. But the vast majority of these changes disappear within just a few short months of returning to Earth.

Most notably, the researchers found that living in a microgravity environment can: damage DNA; impact the way thousands of individual genes are expressed; increase the length of telomeres (the shielding caps that protect the ends of our chromosomes); thicken artery walls; modify the microbiome; and increase inflammation — just to name a few.

"This is the dawn of human genomics in space," said Andrew Feinberg, a distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University and one of the lead investigators for the Twins Study, in a press release. "We developed the methods for doing these types of human genomic studies, and we should be doing more research to draw conclusions about what happens to humans in space."

 

NASA's Twins Study: Spaceflight changes the human body, but only temporarily
Jake Parks, Astronomy

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Our Shrinking Moon...

New surface features of the Moon have been discovered in a region called Mare Frigoris, outlined here in teal. NASA
Image: New Republic

 

Topics: Astrophysics, Geophysics, Moon, NASA, Planetary Science


The Moon is shrinking as its interior cools, getting more than about 150 feet (50 meters) skinnier over the last several hundred million years. Just as a grape wrinkles as it shrinks down to a raisin, the Moon gets wrinkles as it shrinks. Unlike the flexible skin on a grape, the Moon’s surface crust is brittle, so it breaks as the Moon shrinks, forming “thrust faults” where one section of crust is pushed up over a neighboring part.

“Our analysis gives the first evidence that these faults are still active and likely producing moonquakes today as the Moon continues to gradually cool and shrink,” said Thomas Watters, senior scientist in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. “Some of these quakes can be fairly strong, around five on the Richter scale.”

Watters is lead author of a study that analyzed data from four seismometers placed on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts using an algorithm, or mathematical program, developed to pinpoint quake locations detected by a sparse seismic network. The algorithm gave a better estimate of moonquake locations. Seismometers are instruments that measure the shaking produced by quakes, recording the arrival time and strength of various quake waves to get a location estimate, called an epicenter. The study was published May 13 in Nature Geoscience.



Shrinking Moon May Be Generating Moonquakes, NASA

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Relics of Entropy...

 

Topics: Biology, Entropy, Existentialism, Futurism


I've passed all my courses and now have the task of putting my Thesis together. I'm anticipating a successful completion from a good start.

My granddaughter is as well, with a good family (I'm biased) surrounded by a support system of extended friends and close relatives.

I'm understandably concerned by headlines like these:

Up to one million plant and animal species face extinction, many within decades, because of human activities, says the most comprehensive report yet on the state of global ecosystems.

Without drastic action to conserve habitats, the rate of species extinction — already tens to hundreds of times higher than the average across the past ten million years — will only increase, says the analysis. The findings come from a United Nations-backed panel called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

According to the report, agricultural activities have had the largest impact on ecosystems that people depend on for food, clean water and a stable climate. The loss of species and habitats poses as much a danger to life on Earth as climate change does, says a summary of the work, released on 6 May. [1]

 

*****


Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.

Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).

Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).

Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).

 • The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations' projections).

By 2050, my granddaughter will be 31, and I likely a memory to her.

I came of age during the sixties when our Civil Rights leaders became Civil Rights icons and martyrs. I came of age when "duck and cover" drills were the order of the day. I came of age when post Civil Rights, we tried at least to act...civil. Forced busing gave way to De Facto desegregation in the public square in education - until the end of forced busing and re-segregation; malls, sports arenas (especially there) where some modicum of the old "control of black bodies" could be exercised with less bull whip and more paychecks and professional sports contracts.

The seventies would be the last time production kept pace with pay: we've been in a hamster wheel since then, and the gulf between the super rich and everyone else has become an un-crossable chasm. We're more oligarchy than democracy, and the owners would sooner than later transform us into a full dystopian fascistic hell scape than help solve the problems they've created.

The point is, despite all the challenges, I came of age. I lived. I loved. I laughed. I cried. I learned to drive. I married. I had children and they are starting to have children.

It would be lovely for my granddaughter to have a planet on which to have a tea.

Lovelier still for her parents (my children) to become grandparents in my absence on a planet still able to support life and a civilization that could support such an endeavor with minimal environmental impact.

Or...she and I could be relics of entropy, where our ashes will not be discernible from scientist to citizen, layman to philosopher, capitalist to socialist; black to white and prince to pauper. In a blink of an eye on the scale of cosmic time...we would all become irrelevant to an unfeeling universe.

I am again biased. I think my granddaughter (and yours), deserves a little more than that.

 

1. Humans are driving one million species to extinction, Jeff Tollefson, Nature
2. Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050, Drew Hansen, Forbes

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ANN...

Copper free: two Münster researchers compare a prototype optical chip to a one-cent coin. (Courtesy: University of Münster)

 

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Engineering, Neuromorphic Devices


A prototype artificial neural network (ANN) that uses only light to function has been unveiled by researchers at the University of Münster in Germany and the University of Exeter and University of Oxford in the UK. Their system can learn how to recognize simple patterns and its all-optical design could someday be exploited to create ANNs that can process large amounts of information rapidly while consuming relatively small amounts of energy.

ANNs mimic the human brain by using artificial neurons and synapses. A neuron receives one or more input signals and then uses this information to decide whether to output its own signal to the network. Synapses are the connections between neurons and can be “weighted” to favor signal propagation between certain neurons. An ANN can be trained to perform a task such as recognizing a pattern by sending multiple examples of the target pattern through the ANN while tweaking the synaptic weights until all examples of the target pattern elicit the same output from the ANN.

Relatively simple ANNs can be implemented on a computer. However, the conventional computer architecture of having a separate processor and memory makes it very difficult to implement the large numbers of neurons and synapses required to perform practical tasks.

One alternative is to create an ANN in which signals flows in the form of light pulses through an optical network. This is attractive because unlike electronic signals in a silicon chip, large amounts of light-encoded data can move quickly through optical materials without generating much heat. Furthermore, large amounts of information can be sent through an optical system by multiplexing the data using several different colors of light.

 

All-optical network mimics the brain’s neurons and synapses
Hamish Johnston, Physics World

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Open Letter...

Image source: Etsy.com


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights


To my granddaughter,

You are days old and I am hours from holding you, feeding you, changing your diaper and being in your beautiful presence.

Your grandfather (me) was two months old when the Russians posted missiles in Cuba (back when they weren't meddling in our elections) and the world was on the brink of annihilation. Apparently that's what Homo Sapiens ("wise men") do in their spare time and with the power of the sun. As an infant like yourself, I can't imagine what your great-grandmother and great-grandfather felt about my future. I obviously lived to see you, and for that I am genuinely blessed.

I was about seven or eight when we did "duck and cover" drills, supposedly to protect our lives. In my minimal knowledge of physics principles (nerd even then), I didn't feel the efficacy of a wooden desk protecting us from nuclear fallout. It was disturbing, but we could put it behind ourselves at an ancient, physical practice called "recess."

After Vietnam, Watergate: there was a lull, as the nation was trying to find its "normal." The silliest thing your grandpa led was a game of "air dodge ball" in the quad of North Forsyth High School. My principal, Mr. Gibson looked with the other teachers as my fellow track teammates threw imaginary, energetic rubber invisible missiles at one another: jumping, rolling and laughing as we generated a crowd. Mr. Gibson finally had enough and said "alright everyone, let's go back to class." I have a memory of silliness, abandon and joy. I have not one of active shooter drills.

I pray...this madness for lead missiles will fade away. I pray for a return to a shared reality and facts versus truth and "alternative facts" so you won't be confused by mendacity. I pray the practice of "active shooter drills" become a memory in our now insane, slavish devotion to the gun industry. I pray for you before you enter your first mall, your first movie theater...your first school. I understandably want you to enter kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, college...and a full, safe life.

I will hold you close. I will pray and I will vote for sane gun control; for a future where you can do "silly things" with abandon, too. Especially, when I'm not here anymore. I will try to make the world a little better before Entropy claims me.
 
"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together...there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, I'll always be with you." Pooh to Piglet

 

Love,

Paw-Paw

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Mars Quake...

Model of the spaceship Insight, NASA's first robotic lander, dedicated to study the deep interior of Mars. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

 

Topics: Geophysics, Mars, NASA, Planetary Exploration


Finals are over. I'll be with our new granddaughter and her parents next week, along with working on my thesis, following up on my PhD application and changing diapers. My posts will be sporadic since I'll be on the road. I'll catch up.

The breakthrough came nearly five months after InSight, the first spacecraft designed specifically to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down on the surface of Mars to begin its two-year seismological mission on the red planet.

The faint rumble characterized by JPL scientists as a likely marsquake, roughly equal to a 2.5 magnitude earthquake, was recorded on April 6 - the lander’s 128th Martian day, or sol.

It was detected by InSight’s French-built seismometer, an instrument sensitive enough to measure a seismic wave just one-half the radius of a hydrogen atom.

The lunar and Martian surfaces are extremely quiet compared with Earth, which experiences constant low-level seismic noise from oceans and weather as well as quakes that occur along subterranean fault lines created by shifting tectonic plates in the planet’s crust.

Mars and the moon lack tectonic plates. Their seismic activity is instead driven by a cooling and contracting process that causes stress to build up and become strong enough to rupture the crust.

Three other apparent seismic signals were picked up by InSight on March 14, April 10 and April 11 but were even smaller and more ambiguous in origin, leaving scientists less certain they were actual marsquakes.

 

NASA probe detects likely 'marsquake' - an interplanetary first
Joey Roulette, Reuters Science

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Left, schematics of the apparatus (positron beam, collimators, SiN gratings and emulsion detector. A HpGe detector is used as beam monitor). Right, single-particle interference visibility as a function of the positron energy is in agreement with quantum mechanics (blue) and disagrees with classical physics (orange dashed). Courtesy: Politecnico di Milano

 

Topics: Antimatter, High Energy Physics, Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics


Researchers in Italy and Switzerland have performed the first ever double-slit-like experiment on antimatter using a Talbot-Lau interferometer and a positron beam.

The classic double-slit experiment confirmed that light and matter have the characteristics of both waves and particles, a duality that was first put forward by de Broglie in 1923. This superposition principle is one of the main postulates of quantum mechanics and researchers have since been able to diffract and interfere matter waves of objects of increasing complexity – from electrons to neutrons and molecules.

The QUPLAS (QUantum Interferometry and Gravitation with Positrons and LAsers) collaboration, which includes researchers from the Politecnico di Milano L-NESS in Como, the Milan unit of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), the Università degli Studi di Milano and the University of Bern, has now performed the first interference experiment on positrons – the antimatter equivalent of electrons.

“The experiment was first proposed for electrons by Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman as a thought experiment and realized by Merli, Missiroli and Pozzi in 1976 and more systematically by Tonomura and colleagues in 1989,” explains QUPLAS spokesman Marco Giammarchi of the INFN. “In this original experiment, which was voted by Physics World as the most beautiful experiment, the researchers demonstrated the specifically quantum effect of single particle interference, which – according to Feynman – is the central ‘mystery’ of quantum theory.”

 

Antimatter quantum interferometry makes its debut, Belle Dumé, Physics World

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