BLOGS

All Posts (5579)

Fossil Hunters...

pia23511-16.jpg
Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL/ESA

 

Topics: Astrobiology, Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight


Scientists with NASA's Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on Feb. 18, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites — rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

The possibility of stromatolite-like structures existing on Mars is why the concentration of carbonates tracing Jezero's shoreline like a bathtub ring makes the area a prime scientific hunting ground.

Mars 2020 is NASA's next-generation mission with a focus on astrobiology, or the study of life throughout the universe. Equipped with a new suite of scientific instruments, it aims to build on the discoveries of NASA's Curiosity, which found that parts of Mars could have supported microbial life billions of years ago. Mars 2020 will search for actual signs of past microbial life, taking rock core samples that will be deposited in metal tubes on the Martian surface. Future missions could return these samples to Earth for deeper study.

 

NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils, NASA

Read more…

Eratosthenes to Starfish...

Top-Ten-Experiments-Header.jpg
Sir Isaac Newton's impact on Optics. Link below.


Topics: Geometry, History, Science, Research


Every day, we conduct science experiments, posing an “if” with a “then” and seeing what shakes out. Maybe it’s just taking a slightly different route on our commute home or heating that burrito for a few seconds longer in the microwave. Or it could be trying one more variation of that gene, or wondering what kind of code would best fit a given problem. Ultimately, this striving, questioning spirit is at the root of our ability to discover anything at all. A willingness to experiment has helped us delve deeper into the nature of reality through the pursuit we call science.

A select batch of these science experiments has stood the test of time in showcasing our species at its inquiring, intelligent best. Whether elegant or crude, and often with a touch of serendipity, these singular efforts have delivered insights that changed our view of ourselves or the universe.

Here are nine such successful endeavors — plus a glorious failure — that could be hailed as the top science experiments of all time.

Eratosthenes Measures the World

Experimental result: The first recorded measurement of Earth’s circumference
 

When: end of the third century B.C.

Just how big is our world? Of the many answers from ancient cultures, a stunningly accurate value calculated by Eratosthenes has echoed down the ages. Born around 276 B.C. in Cyrene, a Greek settlement on the coast of modern-day Libya, Eratosthenes became a voracious scholar — a trait that brought him both critics and admirers. The haters nicknamed him Beta, after the second letter of the Greek alphabet. University of Puget Sound physics professor James Evans explains the Classical-style burn: “Eratosthenes moved so often from one field to another that his contemporaries thought of him as only second-best in each of them.” Those who instead celebrated the multi-talented Eratosthenes dubbed him Pentathlos, after the five-event athletic competition.

That mental dexterity landed the scholar a gig as chief librarian at the famous library in Alexandria, Egypt. It was there that he conducted his famous experiment. He had heard of a well in Syene, a Nile River city to the south (modern-day Aswan), where the noon sun shone straight down, casting no shadows, on the date of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice. Intrigued, Eratosthenes measured the shadow cast by a vertical stick in Alexandria on this same day and time. He determined the angle of the sun’s light there to be 7.2 degrees, or 1/50th of a circle’s 360 degrees.

Knowing — as many educated Greeks did — Earth was spherical, Eratosthenes fathomed that if he knew the distance between the two cities, he could multiply that figure by 50 and gauge Earth’s curvature, and hence its total circumference. Supplied with that information, Eratosthenes deduced Earth’s circumference as 250,000 stades, a Hellenistic unit of length equaling roughly 600 feet. The span equates to about 28,500 miles, well within the ballpark of the correct figure of 24,900 miles.

Eratosthenes’ motive for getting Earth’s size right was his keenness for geography, a field whose name he coined. Fittingly, modernity has bestowed upon him one more nickname: father of geography. Not bad for a guy once dismissed as second-rate.

 

The Top 10 Science Experiments of All Time, Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine

Read more…

It Takes a Village...

ESAMoonVillageCutaway.jpg
This cutaway shows the interior of a 3D printed section of ESA's planned Moon Village.

 

Topics: ESA, Moon, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight


We've all fantasized of visiting somewhere exotic. For most of us, that dream spot is somewhere on Earth. But for some, the ultimate must-see destination isn't on our planet at all.

NASA is currently planning a series of 37 rocket launches, both robotic and crewed, that will culminate with the 2028 deployment of the first components for along-term lunar base, according to recently leaked documents obtained by Ars Technica. An outpost on the Moon is surely an exciting prospect for both science geeks and prospective solar-system sightseers, but some believe NASA’s timeline is a too ambitious to be realistic.

However, unlike NASA, who not long ago adjusted their sights from Mars mission to a return to the Moon, the European Space Agency (ESA) has already spent almost five years quietly planning a permanent lunar settlement. And while building it may take a few decades, if done right, it could serve the entire world — sightseers included — for many more decades to come.

 

Moon Village: Humanity's first step toward a lunar colony?
Jake Parks, Astronomy Magazine

Read more…

Jonah Blackstone, half mortal, half grim reaper, must travel through the mortal and Afterworld to defeat the supernatural forces threatening his small southern town. An uncommon hero on an epic quest. Start the journey from the beginning this Halloween.

The Protector's Ring (Jonah Blackstone, Book 1) by John Darr
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OTYNKVE/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_6G8RDbSNN7RA9 via @amazon

 

3705393586?profile=RESIZE_710x

Read more…

Snowflakes and Woke Folks...


Black%2BEnglish%2BActors.PNG

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Commentary, Human Rights, Politics


For ONCE, this isn't about the self-destructing Orange Satan. There will be ample material next Friday, as his downward spiral continues.

That doesn't mean I'm not concerned with our republic. Public impeachment hearings begin next Wednesday, broadcast on every network, including the conservative ones. That being said, the most dangerous animal in the world is man, and like any, is most dangerous when cornered. The scene from the Sons of Jacob takeover is disturbingly instructive. The question is, would Ayn Rand self-centered capitalism even CARE if we lost our democracy as long as stocks continue trading between 9:30 am - 4:00 pm EST?

 

*****


The conniption fits about African American actress Halle Bailey playing the Little Mermaid were humorous and disturbing. It reminded me of the controversy over NK Jemisin winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards for science fiction...because she's African American. A whole community - self-described as "rabid puppies" and sad puppies eventually were bequeathed the apropos label: "snowflakes."




A term for someone that thinks they are unique and special, but really are not. It gained popularity after the movie "Fight Club" from the quote “You are not special. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."




Began being used extensively as a put down for someone, usually on the political left, who is easily offended or felt they needed a "safe space" away from the harsh realities of the world, but now has morphed into a general put down for anyone that complains about any subject.



Source: Urban Dictionary/Snowflake

 


1. Ahem: mermaid's aren't real. o_9 The fact that humanity came from what we now know as the continent of Africa can be verified as can the political creation of so-called "white" people in 1681.

 


2. The legend of mermaids was probably based on the manatee (which doesn't look attractive at all, except to other manatees) and drunken, horny sailors that hadn't seen land or women in a while.

3. Atlantis is fiction, as is Aquaman and Namor, depending on which comic book series you followed. There are hidden worlds and undersea organisms we're discovering every year, yet we haven't discovered Atlantis, mermaids, mermen, Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster, unicorns or leprechauns.

 

*****


I posted several trailers for "Harriet" played by British actress Cynthia Erivo and screenplay co-written by Kasi Lemmons, an African American woman who also directed the film.

In real life, Cynthia Erivo dates actor Dean John-Wilson, an aforementioned so-called white guy. English society has its issues (see: Brexit). However, manumission in eighteenth century England wasn't followed up with black codes, lynchings and Jim Crow. Also, English actors have played American parts before - Christian Bale played Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight trilogy and Sir Patrick Stewart played a Frenchman in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Charles Xavier in X-men. How soon we forget.

To be fair: in some forums my posts were received positively. In others, I was immediately attacked by the diversity doppelganger of the aforementioned pound puppies: "woke folks." Specifically, I recall a diatribe about the movie and certain characters not being historically accurate. It was as interesting and I think the same phenomena as Arial NOT being a single white female. It was fascinating, but something I felt I had to address:

1. It’s a movie. The statement at the beginning says “based on true events.”

2. If your criticism is historical inaccuracy, that is correct. Often what is cinematic is not accurate. The writers have to generate conflict to keep our interests. That is the license of creativity.

3. I’m a Star Trek fan, but I also majored in Engineering Physics as an undergrad and pursuing graduate study in Nanoengineering. That said, I don’t watch Trek to learn physics as warp drive is inherently impossible at even a casual understanding of Einstein’s Special and General Theory of Relativity. It’s entertainment, nothing more.

I deeply enjoyed "Black Panther" and Chadwick Boseman's acting abilities, knowing full well his Wakandan accent was as practiced as Michael B. Jordan's and that Wakanda as a nation doesn't exist. Plus, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee who created the first black and distinctly African Superhero were two Jewish guys from New York!

I still wore my "straight out of Wakanda" shirt as others wore dashikis with pride and not a lot of analysis or forethought.

I am absolutely fine with Cynthia Erivo playing Harriet Tubman. I'm overjoyed David Gyasi is playing the real life inspiration for the whitewashed Lone Ranger. The African Diaspora in America are involuntarily from both of their home nations, knowing neither intimately. Both actors had to audition and be judged by the merits of their abilities. They worked as hard as the two Englishmen who portrayed a fictional billionaire superhero crime fighter and a starship captain in the 24th century. If neither of these individuals won their parts, we'd be talking about someone else.

No less than former President Obama called out the woke as non-activists, more concerned with scoring consciousness zingers than the heavy lifting of citizenship. He, and before him General Colin Powell and currently Kamala Harris via the ever ridiculous and receding Rush Limbaugh and through the "kings of woke" Ben Carson and Cornell West (Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post) wasn't "black enough" despite many times vilified and hung in effigy.

Both snow and woke are triggered beyond their tribal enclaves and feel the connected world closing in with divergent opinions of "how things used to/ought to be," a particular intolerance being the bedrock foundation of fascism.

Of the two groups, I can say voting in a (currently) democratic republic is a lot more important than posting opinions from their smart phones, or the basement. 

 

Both need to switch to decaf.


I can't wait for their coming conniption fits on Bass Reeves.

 

Related links:

The 'Superhero Journey' Of Harriet Tubman, Now On Film
Noel King, NPR Morning Addition
The Real Lone Ranger Was Black, And Now There Is A Movie About Him
Jerry L. Barrow, BET

Read more…

Mind Meld...

FA20BD8C-1068-4C4C-83DC640033C16686_source.jpg
Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Internet, Neuroscience, Research, Star Trek


We humans have evolved a rich repertoire of communication, from gesture to sophisticated languages. All of these forms of communication link otherwise separate individuals in such a way that they can share and express their singular experiences and work together collaboratively. In a new study, technology replaces language as a means of communicating by directly linking the activity of human brains. Electrical activity from the brains of a pair of human subjects was transmitted to the brain of a third individual in the form of magnetic signals, which conveyed an instruction to perform a task in a particular manner. This study opens the door to extraordinary new means of human collaboration while, at the same time, blurring fundamental notions about individual identity and autonomy in disconcerting ways.

Direct brain-to-brain communication has been a subject of intense interest for many years, driven by motives as diverse as futurist enthusiasm and military exigency. In his book Beyond Boundaries one of the leaders in the field, Miguel Nicolelis, described the merging of human brain activity as the future of humanity, the next stage in our species’ evolution. (Nicolelis serves on Scientific American’s board of advisers.) He has already conducted a study in which he linked together the brains of several rats using complex implanted electrodes known as brain-to-brain interfaces. Nicolelis and his co-authors described this achievement as the first “organic computer” with living brains tethered together as if they were so many microprocessors. The animals in this network learned to synchronize the electrical activity of their nerve cells to the same extent as those in a single brain. The networked brains were tested for things such as their ability to discriminate between two different patterns of electrical stimuli, and they routinely outperformed individual animals.

If networked rat brains are “smarter” than a single animal, imagine the capabilities of a biological supercomputer of networked human brains. Such a network could enable people to work across language barriers. It could provide those whose ability to communicate is impaired with a new means of doing so. Moreover, if the rat study is correct, networking human brains might enhance performance. Could such a network be a faster, more efficient and smarter way of working together?

 

Scientists Demonstrate Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans
Robert Martone, Scientific American

Read more…

Going Vertical...

Czech%2BVertical2.PNG
Czech scientists have opened a lab to experiment growing food for environments with extreme conditions and lack of water, such as Mars.

 

Topics: Climate Change, Mars, NASA, Space Exploration


PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech scientists have opened a lab to experiment growing food for environments with extreme conditions and lack of water, such as Mars.

The “Marsonaut” experiment by scientist Jan Lukacevic, 29, and his team at the Prague University of Life Sciences is based on aeroponics - growing plants in the air, without soil, and limiting water use to a minimum.

The plants grow horizontally from a vertical unit and are stacked one above the other to minimize space. Researchers experiment with light and temperature changes, Lukacevic said.

The team has already succeeded in growing mustard plants, salad leaves, radishes and herbs like basil and mint.

Scientists ate their first harvest last week.

“They taste wonderful, because they grow in a controlled environment and we supply them with bespoke nutrients,” said Lukacevic.

 

Czech lab grows mustard plants for Mars
Reporting by Jiri Skacel; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Dan Grebler, Reuters Science

Read more…

TEPCE...

Space%2BNunchucks.PNG
Image source: Futurism/Dan Robitzski

 

Topics: Astrophysics, Instrumentation, Space, Space Junk


A massive cloud of space junk—containing more than 23,000 pieces larger than 10 centimeters across—is currently zooming around Earth with an average speed of about 36,000 kilometers per hour. And as companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb plan to launch tens of thousands of new satellites over the next few years, this hazardous clutter will likely pose an increasing threat to space missions and astronauts. One possible solution may be an electrodynamic tether, a device that could help prevent future satellites from becoming abandoned wrecks. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory plans to test this technology in the next few weeks.

In early November the Tether Electrodynamic Propulsion CubeSat Experiment (TEPCE), already in orbit, is set to make its move under the watchful gaze of telescopes on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The Earth-bound control team is waiting for an ideal 10-minute period at dawn or dusk, when the dim sunlight will offer the best possible view of the shoe box-size spacecraft involved. Once the crew triggers the process, TEPCE should separate into two identical minisatellites joined by a kilometer-long tether as thick as several strands of dental floss. If deployment goes smoothly, the mission can observe how the tether interacts with Earth’s magnetic field in the ionosphere (where much of the space junk orbits) to change the satellites’ velocity and orbit; the results could possibly enable future spacecraft to move around while orbiting Earth—without having to carry unwieldy chemical propellant.

“In other words, it is the sailing ship of space,” says Enrico Lorenzini, a professor of energy management engineering at the University of Padova in Italy, who is not involved in the TEPCE mission. But instead of wind, the electrodynamic tether technology moves thanks to the physical laws that govern electric and magnetic fields. A tether in Earth’s ionosphere—an upper atmospheric layer filled with charged particles such as free electrons and positive ions—can collect electrons at one end and emit them at the other, generating an electric current through itself. The electrified tether’s interactions with Earth’s magnetic field produce an impetus known as the Lorentz force, which pushes on the tether in a perpendicular direction.

 

Kilometer-Long Space Tether Tests Fuel-Free Propulsion
Jeremy Hsu, Scientific American

Read more…

Hologram Printer...

newprintercr.jpg
The new printer uses low-power continuous wave lasers to create holograms on a highly sensitive photomaterial developed by the researchers. Credit: C Yves GENTET

 

Topics: 3D Objects, 3D Printing, Applied Physics, Holograms, Optics, Research


Researchers have developed a new printer that produces digital 3-D holograms with an unprecedented level of detail and realistic color. The new printer could be used to make high-resolution color recreations of objects or scenes for museum displays, architectural models, fine art or advertisements that do not require glasses or special viewing aids.

"Our 15-year research project aimed to build a hologram printer with all the advantages of previous technologies while eliminating known drawbacks such as expensive lasers, slow printing speed, limited field of view and unsaturated colors," said research team leader Yves Gentet from Ultimate Holography in France. "We accomplished this by creating the CHIMERA printer, which uses low-cost commercial lasers and high-speed printing to produce holograms with high-quality color that spans a large dynamic range."

 

New printer creates extremely realistic colorful holograms, The Optical Society, Phys.org

Read more…

On Fascism...

smedley_1b.png
[Major General Smedley Butler. Image reprinted from Philadelphia’s Organized Crime of the 1920 and 1930s by Anne Margaret Anderson with John J. Binder courtesy of the Library of Congress (pg. 11, Arcadia Publishing, 2014).]

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics


"One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics," Zappa went on to explain. "Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what's in it...And so, if you don't know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don't know what's in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?"

"Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen," a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large

In 1934, a colossal claim reached the American news media: There had been a plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in favor of a fascist government. Supposedly in the works since 1933, the claims of the conspiracy came from a very conspicuous and reliable source: Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated war heroes of his time. Even more unbelievable were his claims of who was involved in the plot – respected names like Robert Sterling Clark, Grayson M.P. Murphy, and Prescott Bush (George Herbert Walker Bush's father and George W. Bush's grandfather). While news media at the time mocked Butler’s story, recently discovered archives have revealed the truth behind Major General Butler’s claims.

Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "Old Gimlet Eye",[1] was a senior United States Marine Corps officer who fought in both the Mexican Revolution and the World War I. Butler was, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of American wars and their consequences. Butler also exposed an alleged plan to overthrow the United States government.

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.

Halloween yesterday had impact.

A formal vote along party lines agreed to an official impeachment inquiry. The same vote republicans wanted initially...until they didn't. The rules they raided the SCIF over was as republican as the Affordable Care Act: they were passed by John Boehner for Benghazi. Karma is truly a bitch.

 

*****


Major General Smedley Butler is one of nineteen men to win two Congressional Medals of Honor. He was on his way to becoming Commandant of the Marine Corps. His reporting the coup led to likely his stall at two stars and lackluster failure to gain elected office as a republican senator.

His reveal of the fascist plot to overthrow the US government is instructive. To quote the historian Timothy Snyder, "On Tyranny":

"History does not repeat, but it does instruct. As the Founding Fathers debated our Constitution, they took instruction from the history they knew. Concerned with the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse, they contemplated the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchy and empire. As they knew, Aristotle warned that inequality brought instability, while Plato believed that demagogues exploited free speech to install themselves as tyrants. In founding a democratic republic upon law and establishing checks and balances, the Founding Fathers sought to avoid the evil that they, like the ancient philosophers, called tyranny. They had in mind the usurpation of power by a single individual or group, or the circumvention of laws by rulers for their own benefit. Much of the succeeding political debate in the United States has concerned the problem of tyranny within American society: over slaves and women for example."

History and Tyranny, Prologue, Timothy Snyder, "On Tyranny"

We're seeing a growing rise in inequality as the 1% build their versions of castles and motes in exclusive enclaves, separating themselves from the rest of the population. They continue post Citizens United influencing electoral politics with bucket loads of money and horse shit. The poetry we ascribe to our founding documents neglects that John Jacob Astor - our nation's first multimillionaire - after struggling in the fur business, made cheddar in the opium trade to China, as did "Warren Delano Jr., the grandfather of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt." He eventually settled...into New York real estate with the help of Vice President Aaron Burr. One of his properties was part of the original New York Public Library system. When you investigate history, it has a way of destroying illusions.

 

America’s First Multi-Millionaire, 250 Years Later
Get the facts about John Jacob Astor, America’s first multi-millionaire.
Barbara Maranzani, History.com


We have deluded ourselves into thinking we are "the good guys." The Constitution is at most a suggestion by White, Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender men who owned slaves, kept wives and mistresses, defying the demands of Colonial England and usurped power. Though they used the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," African slaves were not considered human and women were not regarded at all except as sexual partners and mothers. The tendency towards miscegenation resulting in mixed children that fostered "colorism" within the future African Americans made things even more confusing.

We need to recognize this designed division for what it is: a way to maintain power by those in power. It will not bring back coal, put blacks on the back of the bus, women out of the work force, LGBT back in the closet or immigrants - Ellis Island, Emma Lazarus poem notwithstanding, or asylum seekers - back in their native countries.

This is a moment for Americans to consider our founding documents with regards to what kind of country we had to what kind of country we ultimately want going forward: one with sovereignty that selects its own leaders, or an anarchy selected in banana republic elections in literal Russian Roulette?

Instead of overthrowing the president, the installed Manchurian ass(et) may be trying to overthrow US!

We won't always have a self-sacrificing Smedley Butler to save us.

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

War is a Racket, Major General Smedley Butler
Read more…

Pandora's Box...

gene-leak.jpg
MS TECH / SOURCE PHOTO: GETTY

 

Topics: Biology, Biotechnology, Civics, Ethics, Existentialism


A private DNA ancestry database that’s been used by police to catch criminals is a security risk from which a nation-state could steal DNA data on a million Americans, according to security researchers.

Security flaws in the service, called GEDmatch, not only risk exposing people’s genetic health information but could let an adversary such as China or Russia create a powerful biometric database useful for identifying nearly any American from a DNA sample.

GEDmatch, which crowdsources DNA profiles, was created by genealogy enthusiasts to let people search for relatives and is run entirely by volunteers. It shows how a trend toward sharing DNA data online can create privacy risks affecting everyone, even people who don’t choose to share their own information.

“You can replace your credit card number, but you can’t replace your genome,” says Peter Ney, a postdoctoral researcher in computer science at the University of Washington.

Ney, along with professors and DNA security researchers Luis Ceze and Tadayoshi Kohno, described in a report posted online how they developed and tested a novel attack employing DNA data they uploaded to GEDmatch.

 

The DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a national security leak waiting to happen
Antonio Regalado, Technology Review

Read more…

Structured Light...

 
structuredli.jpg
This image shows the creation of hybrid entangled photons by combining polarization with a "twisted" pattern that carries orbital angular momentum. Credit: Forbes and Nape

 

Topics: Electrical Engineering, Electromagnetic Radiation, Quantum Computing, Quantum Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics


Structured light is a fancy way to describe patterns or pictures of light, but deservedly so as it promises future communications that will be both faster and more secure.

Quantum mechanics has come a long way during the past 100 years but still has a long way to go. In AVS Quantum Science researchers from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa review the progress being made in using structured light in quantum protocols to create a larger encoding alphabet, stronger security and better resistance to noise.

"What we really want is to do quantum mechanics with patterns of light," said author Andrew Forbes. "By this, we mean that light comes in a variety of patterns that can be made unique—like our faces."

Since patterns of light can be distinguished from each other, they can be used as a form of alphabet. "The cool thing is that there are, in principle at least, an infinite set of patterns, so an infinite alphabet is available," he said.

Traditionally, quantum protocols have been implemented with the polarization of light, which has only two values—a two-level system with a maximum information capacity per photon of just 1 bit. But by using patterns of light as the alphabet, the information capacity is much higher. Also, its security is stronger, and the robustness to noise (such as background light fluctuations) is improved.

"Patterns of light are a route to what we term high-dimensional states," Forbes said. "They're high dimensional, because many patterns are involved in the quantum process. Unfortunately, the toolkit to manage these patterns is still underdeveloped and requires a lot of work."
 

Structured light promises path to faster, more secure communications
American Institute of Physics, Phys.org

Read more…

Half Century...


IMG_3179.PNG

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Internet


As stated, my incarceration ends this Friday. However, my "due process" is as much a mystery as my apparent offense. Any appeals goes into the nether ether; a 1 and 0 equivalent of a digital black hole. The temporary suspension of my First Amendment rights is annoying, but I have the ability to post to forums that I'm the administrator, and if determined to, I can message any post to another Facebook subscriber "on the outside" to post for me. The inconvenience comes when you wish to join into a flow of ideas over something you have an emotional tie to (like, homecoming). As a parent and now a grandparent, I can attest it is far more instructive "teaching a lesson" when the offender has a clear explanation of what the original offense was. I likely ran afoul of an algorithm.

It's interesting that Facebook is the byproduct of a theft if "The Social Network" is to be believed. To address its (assumed) accidental complicity in the spreading of fake news by Internet trolls, there is a "news" service that respects all voices, inclusive of those on the Alt Right (Wrong) like Brietbart and the Daily Caller along with legitimate news outlets as a faux diversity of voices. Yet, Mr. Zuckerberg doesn't want government regulation or for Facebook to be broken up into smaller companies (though, I doubt he would starve).

Facebook and Twitter are "free" with the exception of gathering metadata on our browsing and spending habits and using it towards profiting of those same and other corporations. It can also be used nefariously by governments as discovered in 2016.

On this fiftieth anniversary of the Internet, we should recall the lesson from the fictional character, Spider-man: "with great power comes great responsibility."
 

Marking the anniversary, our founder and inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said:

“It’s astonishing to think the internet is already half a century old. But its birthday is not altogether a happy one. The internet — and the World Wide Web it enabled — have changed our lives for the better and have the power to transform millions more in the future. But increasingly we’re seeing that power for good being subverted, whether by scammers, people spreading hatred or vested interests threatening democracy.

“A year ago, I called for a new Contract for the Web, bringing together governments, companies and citizen groups to come up with a clear plan of action to protect the web as a force for good. In a month’s time that plan will be ready. This birthday must mark the moment we take on the fight for the web we want.” *

 

As the internet turns 50, we must protect it as a force for good, Web Foundation

Read more…

Twisted Fridge...

Twisted-fridge.jpg
Fridge-freezer: twistocaloric cooling could be coming to a kitchen near you. (Courtesy: iStock/Allevinatis)

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Green Tech, Research, Thermodynamics


A new refrigeration technology based on the twisting and untwisting of fibers has been demonstrated by a team led by Zunfeng Liu at Nankai University in China and Ray Baughman at the University of Texas at Dallas in the US. As the demand for refrigeration expands worldwide, their work could lead to the development of new cooling systems that do not employ gases that are harmful to the environment.

The cooling system relies on the fact that some materials undergo significant changes in entropy when deformed. As far back as 1805 – when the concepts of thermodynamics were first being developed – it was known that ordinary rubber heats up when stretched and cools down when relaxed. In principle, such mechanocaloric materials could be used in place of the gases that change entropy when compressed and expanded in commercial refrigeration systems. Replacing gas-based systems is an important environmental goal because gaseous refrigerants tend to degrade the ozone layer and are powerful greenhouse gases.

In their experiments, Liu and Baughman’s team studied the cooling effects of twist and stretch changes in twisted, coiled and supercoiled fibers of natural rubber, nickel-titanium and polyethylene fishing line. In each material, they observed a surface cooling as high as 16.4 °C, 20.8 °C, and 5.1 °C respectively, which they achieved through techniques including simultaneous releases of twisting and stretching, and unraveling bundles of multiple wires.

 

Refrigerator works by twisting and untwisting fibers, Materials, Physics World

Read more…

Angry White Guys...

ap_19296548589920.jpg
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., at podium, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center outside the Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images MSNBC

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Fascism


TAMPA — From the convention stage here, the Republican Party has tried to highlight its diversity, giving prime speaking slots to Latinos and blacks who have emphasized their party’s economic appeal to all Americans.

But they have delivered those speeches to a convention hall filled overwhelmingly with white faces, an awkward contrast that has been made more uncomfortable this week by a series of racial headaches that have intruded on the party’s efforts to project a new level of inclusiveness.

The tensions come amid a debate within the GOP on how best to lure new voters. The nation’s shifting demographics have caused some Republican leaders to worry not only about the party’s future but about winning in November, particularly in key swing states such as Virginia and Nevada.

The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Rosalind S. Helderman and Jon Cohen, Washington Post, August 29, 2012

Republican National Conventions are paste-white affairs with a smattering of African American members and some tokens as room jewelry. That has declined steadily since 2000. The GOP Autopsy Report is a fascinating document, and could have stopped the bleeding had it not been turned to toilet paper by our current Russian ass(et). 

Two weeks ago, I posted excerpts from the New Republic article by Jeet Heer: The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy. Disrupting the congressional process of inquiry is a departure from the governing norms of democracy itself.

In the summer of 2015, the House Select Committee on Benghazi was still chasing conspiracy theories, holding a series of closed-door hearings with officials and witnesses. As part of the investigatory process, other members of Congress who were interested in learning more were excluded – and when former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tried to crash a deposition, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) blocked him.

On this, Gowdy, who chaired the Benghazi panel, was correct. Not only did he take steps to prevent a political circus – nearly every witness was interviewed behind closed doors – but House rules only permit members to participate in depositions if they serve on the relevant committees. These are not spectator events.

SCIF: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced "skiff"), in British and United States military, national security/national defense and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information. Wikipedia

This WASP-C (White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender) frat boy stunt has compromised our SCIF.

This is the SAME SCIF the Benghazi Hearings were held in.

Forty-five republicans are literally IN the room with full access to the same classified information and testimony being investigated. Like a Grand Jury, this part of the process is not public. It will eventually be aired publicly.

This is the SAME SCIF entered with cell phones that can be hacked by distant actors in far off countries (like Russia) that can get an electronic "peek" into the building. It probably happened while ordering pizza. It only takes one. The hearing was delayed likely to allow NSA to sweep and re-secure the SCIF. It violates federal law.

I hope it's not permanently compromised, as Putin would want it. I called my representative and blasted him through his admin for a sophomoric stunt.

President Teddy Roosevelt (R) offered educator Booker T. Washington a visit to the Presidential Mansion that proved contentious to a nation based on the "norms' of white supremacy. African Americans weren't official "guests," they were at most servants and nothing more. It is said after that visit, the mansion would get the definitive name "White House," removing all doubt about the nation's foundations.

"The Southern Strategy" is suffering from Entropy. It worked well in 1968, exacerbating the fears of "the other" by white southern Dixiecrats that stormed out of the Democratic Party post Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), The Civil Rights Act (1964), the Voting Rights Act (1965); the Fair Housing Act (1968). Forty years later, they would collectively lose their minds with the election of the one and only African American to the highest office on the planet. He would move his family into a house built by slaves, the descendants servants for generations and still there. He would be hung in effigy and disparaged in vitriol. The report of the demographics shift in the nation - "demographics is destiny" (Auguste Comte) - cemented the collective conniption fit of the white and privileged.

“We’ve got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get,” Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst said to the crowd after telling them to “wake up.”

“I’m not prejudiced, but by golly,” continued Hurst, waving his finger in the air, “a white male in this country has very few rights, and they’re getting took more every day.” While one member of the crowd walked out in protest, Hurst was met with whistles and applause from the audience after he finished speaking.

Tim Fitzsimons and Gwen Aviles, NBCNEWS

We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Nixon on his reelection swept the south - the first time by a republican - but, this isn't 1968. Or 1980 - 1988. The wink-and-nod genteel "soft bigotry of low expectations" under the current darkness of this Orange Satan went from dog whistle to foghorn.

This was and is about those in power that don't want that power interrupted, by people of color, women, LGBT, immigrants et al.

And they're likely willing to burn the whole joint down to "make America [a] great (white supremacists' hope) again."
Read more…
10-25-19 TUNE IN FOR JOHN 'SCOOTER' ROBINSON
WRITER OF NOVELS, COMICS, & REVIEWS
CREATOR OF SCORPIO AN URBAN FANTASY COMIC ABOUT THE ZODIAC @ 9PM ET
3677970896?profile=RESIZE_710x
#blackscifi #blackcomics #afrofuturism #BLERDS
#blacksciencefictionsociety #genscifi #poc
Read more…

Galactic Armageddon...

456080main1_hst-2010-15-670.jpg
The planet, called WASP-12b, is so close to its sunlike star that it is superheated to nearly 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and stretched into a football shape by enormous tidal forces. The atmosphere has ballooned to nearly three times Jupiter's radius and is spilling material onto the star. The planet is 40 percent more massive than Jupiter.

 

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exoplanets, White Dwarfs


Some rocky exoplanets bear a striking resemblance to Earth, according to Alexandra Doyle, Edward Young and colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles. The team used the properties of light coming from six white-dwarf stars to calculate how much oxygen, iron and other elements were present in planets that once orbited the stars. Their observations suggest that these planets – which were consumed by their stars long ago – have the same geophysical and geochemical properties as Earth. While astronomers are able to observe rocky exoplanets, working out what they are made of is difficult and this research provides important clues regarding the composition of these Earth-like objects.

White dwarfs are the ancient remnants of stars that had masses less than about 10 Suns. This means that most stars in the Milky Way will eventually become white dwarfs – including the Sun. Many white dwarfs would have had planets, which would have been consumed by the stars at some point in their stellar evolution. The atmosphere of a white dwarf is expected to comprise only the lightest elements – hydrogen and helium – so the presence of heavier substances in the stellar atmosphere such as magnesium, iron and oxygen means that the star has probably ingested rocky planets or asteroids.

 

Doomed exoplanets were much like Earth, Hamish Johnston, Physics World

Read more…

Quantum Google...

IonQ-chip.png
Linear computation: montage of a photo of the chip containing the trapped ions and an image of the ions in a 1D array (Courtesy: Christopher Monroe) Physicsworld.com

 

Topics: Internet, Quantum Computer, Quantum Computing, Quantum Mechanics


Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

The findings, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, show that "quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws," the researchers wrote.

Quantum computing is a nascent and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. Quantum computers are still a long way from having a practical application but might one day revolutionize tasks that would take existing computers years, including the hunt for new drugs and optimizing city and transportation planning.

The technique relies on quantum bits, or qubits, which can register data values of zero and one—the language of modern computing—simultaneously. Big tech companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel are avidly pursuing the technology.

"Quantum things can be in multiple places at the same time," said Chris Monroe, a University of Maryland physicist who is also the founder of quantum startup IonQ. "The rules are very simple, they're just confounding."

 

Google touts quantum computing milestone
Rachel Lerman

Read more…