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February Four...

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Founder of Bethune-Cookman University. Bio and link to image below

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Education, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Arkansas Baptist College

History & Mission
Arkansas Baptist College, originally named the Minister’s Institute, was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptists of Arkansas during their annual convention at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Little Rock. The primary objective of the institute was to raise the educational level within the Negro ministry. The secondary objective was to aid the state in making higher education available to young Negro men and women. Most of the school’s students were trained in the ministry and today, Religious Studies continues to be one of the College’s major areas of matriculation.

In April 1885, the College’s name was changed to Arkansas Baptist College, and the school moved to 16th and High Street where the campus is currently located; however, the formal address is now 1621 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.

Thirteen presidents have served as institutional leaders of Arkansas Baptist College from 1887 through 2016. In August 2016, The Arkansas Baptist College Board of Trustees selected Dr. Joseph L. Jones as the College’s 14th President. As president, Dr. Jones’ promise to the College is to continue the College’s efforts to remain steadfast in its journey becoming recognized as an outstanding institution of higher education.

Arkansas Baptist College is an urban Historically Black College located in the historic Little Rock Central High District. It also neighbors the Wright Avenue District and the famous Paul Lawrence Dunbar Junior High School. The College is the only Baptist affiliated Historically Black College west of the Mississippi and has a student population close to one thousand from all across the United States. Founded in 1884 as the Minister’s Institute, the College continues to be supported by the Consolidated Missionary Baptist State Convention.

Barbara-Scotia College

Our Mission
"Barber-Scotia College strives to provide a learning environment for the total development of students to realize their potential and capabilities through post-secondary education, gaining marketable skills, aesthetic awareness and recognition of social responsibility and accountability, enabling them to become successful and productive citizens of the counties of which they reside and work."

Barber-Scotia College is strengthening the ties in fulfilling its mission to provide a cadre of educated Leaders. The College prepares students to create jobs.

Our Vision
Barber-Scotia College aspires to be a preeminent leader, recognized for preparing a workforce of "Next Generation Leaders" in the Energy and Business Entrepreneurship sectors.

Benedict College

Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution with 2,100 students enrolled in its 34 baccalaureate degree programs during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Benedict College, originally Benedict Institute, was founded 148 years ago under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. As Benedict’s first philanthropist, Mrs. Benedict of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, provided $13,000 towards the purchase of an 80-acre plantation near Columbia, South Carolina as the site for a new school for the recently freed people of African descent. Benedict Institute, operating in a former slave master’s mansion, was established, in the words of its founder to prepare men and women to be a “power for good in society.”

During the first quarter century of its existence, Benedict Institute directed its educational programs to the severely limited economic and social conditions of the black population in the South. The Institute’s original objective was to educate and train teachers and preachers, therefore, Benedict’s first curriculum included reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, and religion. Later, the curriculum was expanded to include traditional college disciplines, which also included an industrial department offering carpentry, shoemaking, printing, and painting.

On November 2, 1894, the South Carolina Legislature chartered the institution as a liberal arts college and the name “Benedict Institute” was formally changed to “Benedict College.”

From its founding, Benedict College was led by a succession of northern white Baptist ministers and educators. However, the year 1930 signaled the succession of African-American male presidents that continued until June 30, 2017, when Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis was unanimously appointed by the Benedict College Board of Trustees as the 14th President of Benedict College. She is the fourteenth and first-female President in the 148-year history of the college.

Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility, producing cutting-edge scholarship, and research.

Benedict offers several high-demand fields of study in STEM, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Education. Benedict has a diverse faculty of which 80 percent are full-time, and 60 percent hold doctorates or the equivalent.

Bethune-Cookman University

Born on a farm near Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune, the 15th child of former slaves, rose from humble beginnings to become a world-renowned educator, civil and human rights leader, champion for women and young people, and an advisor to five U.S. presidents.

Education was the first step in her remarkable journey. The young Mary McLeod worked in the fields alongside her parents and siblings, until she enrolled at the age of 10 in the one-room Trinity Presbyterian Mission School. There, she learned to read, and, as she later noted, the whole world opened to me. She went on to study at Scotia Seminary in North Carolina and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with the goal of becoming a missionary. When no missionary openings were available, she became a teacher, first at the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia and then at the Kendall Institute in Sumpter, South Carolina, where she met and married Albertus Bethune. The dream of opening her own school took Mary McLeod Bethune to Florida first to Palatka and then to Daytona Beach, where she started the school that would become Bethune-Cookman University.

On October 3, 1904, a very determined young black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls with $1.50, faith in God and five little girls: Lena, Lucille, and Ruth Warren, Anna Geiger and Celest Jackson. Through Dr. Bethune’s lifetime the school underwent several stages of growth and development and on May 24, 1919, the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute was changed to Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute. In 1923 the school merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida (founded in 1872) and became co-ed while it also gained the prestigious United Methodist Church affiliation. Although the merger of Bethune’s school and Cookman Institute began in 1923, it was not finalized until 1925 when both schools collaborated to become the Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institute. In 1931, the College became accredited by the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States, as a Junior College with class B status, and on April 27, 1931, the school’s name was officially changed to Bethune-Cookman College to reflect the leadership of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

In 1936, Dr. Bethune was appointed administrative assistant for Negro Affairs (her title changed in 1939 to Director of the Division of Negro Affairs) of the National Youth Administration (NYA) making her the first African American women to head a federal agency. As of result of this position, much needed government funds were funneled into the school. While traveling with the NYA Dr. Bethune appointed Mr. Abram L. Simpson as acting president from 1937-39. In 1941, the Florida State Department of Education approved a 4-year baccalaureate program offering liberal arts and teacher education. Dr. Bethune retired in 1942 at which time James E. Colston became president until 1946 when Dr. Bethune resumed the presidency for a year.
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February Two...

Image Source: Custom Ink: #StandWithBennett

Topics: African Americans, Bennett College, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Note: Because of the urgency of the of the hour, I am listing Bennett College First. All other colleges will fall alphabetically after today.

Bennett College

Mission

Bennett College prepares women of color through a transformative liberal arts education to lead with purpose, integrity, and a strong sense of self-worth. Bennett provides educational access to students while promoting inquiry, civic engagement, social justice, lifelong learning, and equity for all.

Vision
Bennett College is renowned for its intimate, engaging learning community that produces phenomenal women scholars and global leaders.

Philosophy
Bennett College’s undergirding philosophy is that a high quality college experience should provide its women students with strong academic and co-curricular programs that encourage their personal development, endorse life-long learning, and prepare them to meet the needs of an ever-changing society.

Bennett College values and respects every member of its community. As a United Methodist Church-related institution, the College believes that education should be related to humanitarian ends.

Alabama A&M University

Historic, Student-Friendly, Community-Focused
Reflecting its heritage as a traditional 1890 land-grant institution, Alabama A&M University (AAMU) functions as a teaching, research, and public service institution, including extension. AAMU is a dynamic and progressive institution with a strong commitment to academic excellence. The serene, intimate campus is situated on “The Hill,” only a short distance from downtown Huntsville, the site of the school’s founding.

Our History

  • Founded in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the “Huntsville Normal School” in downtown Huntsville.
  • Taught industrial education and became the “State Normal and Industrial School at Huntsville.”
  • Designated an 1890 land-grant institution by the federal government in February 1891. The school's name was changed to “The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes.”
  • Became a junior college in 1919, named “The State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute for Negroes.”
  • In 1946, received a “Class A” rating by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • In 1948, named the “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College.”
  • In 1963, became a fully accredited member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • In 1969, became “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.”

Alabama State University

History & Tradition
Alabama State University’s 148-year history is a legacy of perseverance, progress and promise. The ASU movement began with the impetus to establish a school for black Alabamians. The Civil War resulted in not only the end of slavery, but also in the opportunity for blacks to have the right to education. With the Northern victory, black Southerners, with the assistance of Northern white missionaries and the leaders of African-American churches, set out to establish educational institutions for the freedmen. ASU was born in that movement.

ASU is the global entity it is today because of the fortitude of nine freed slaves from Marion, Ala., who sought to build a school for African-Americans previously denied the right to an education. The foresight of these men, now remembered as the “Marion Nine,” created what is now known as Alabama State University.

The Marion Nine included Joey P. Pinch, Thomas Speed, Nicholas Dale, James Childs, Thomas Lee, John Freeman, Nathan Levert, David Harris and Alexander H. Curtis. These co-founders and original trustees, with assistance from Marion community members, raised $500 for land, and on July 18, 1867, filed incorporation papers to establish the Lincoln Normal School at Marion.

The Lincoln School opened its doors on November 13, 1867, with 113 students. In 1873, this predecessor of Alabama State University became the nation’s first state-sponsored liberal arts institution for the higher education of blacks, beginning ASU’s rich history as a “Teacher’s College.”

Vision Statement
Albany State University will be a world-class comprehensive university and a powerful catalyst for the economic growth and development of Southwest Georgia. ASU will be recognized for its innovative and creative delivery of excellent educational programs, broad-based community engagement and public service, and creative scholarship and applied research, all of which enrich the lives of the diverse constituencies served by the University.

Mission Statement
Albany State University, a proud member institution of the University System of Georgia, elevates its community and region by offering a broad array of graduate, baccalaureate, associate, and certificate programs at its main campuses in Albany as well as at strategically-placed branch sites and online. Committed to excellence in teaching and learning, the University prepares students to be effective contributors to a globally diverse society, where knowledge and technology create opportunities for personal and professional success. ASU respects and builds on the historical roots of its institutional predecessors with its commitment to access and a strong liberal arts heritage that respects diversity in all its forms and gives all students the foundation they need to succeed. Through creative scholarship, research, and public service, the University’s faculty, staff, students, and administrators form strategic alliances internally and externally to promote community and economic development, resulting in an improved quality of life for the citizens of southwest Georgia and beyond.

Guiding Principles

Aspire to Excellence
Albany State University will aspire toward excellence in teaching and learning, thus becoming the first-choice institution for students from southwest Georgia and garnering recognition as a premier southern regional university.

Embrace Diversity
As a historically black institution and led by a highly-diverse faculty and staff, Albany State University will embrace diversity in all its forms – including age, gender identity, race and ethnicity, country of origin, religion, ability level, sexual orientation, and veteran status – and seek to foster a similar acceptance and celebration of that diversity.

Expand Access to Higher Education
As an access institution, Albany State University will promote student success for all by welcoming students from varying levels of academic preparation, keeping costs low, offering flexible class times and instructional modalities, and pairing high student expectations with exceptional mentoring, advising, and tutoring.

Elevate Historically Underserved Populations
Albany State University will recognize and address the many challenges that face African Americans and other students of color, adult learners, first generation students, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and others from underserved populations, and form strong partnerships with K-12, government agencies, and community outreach organizations to increase access and success rates.

Promote Economic Development
As part of its commitment to teaching and learning, Albany State University will promote economic development in Albany and throughout southwest Georgia by engaging in applied research, aligning its resources in support of identified needs, developing and enhancing academic programs to meet evolving needs, forming broad strategic partnerships, supplying a trained workforce, and fostering a sense of entrepreneurship.
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Coherent Spookiness...

Figure 1. See link below

Topics: Entanglement, Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Research, Women in Science

One of the most counterintuitive aspects of quantum mechanics is its nonlocality: the encoding of information in the correlations between widely separated particles (see, for example, Physics Today, August 2017, page 14). Typical demonstrations of spatially extended entanglement involve pairwise entangled particles produced two by two. But in the spins of atoms coupled to an optical cavity, researchers have also created massively parallel correlations, which can extend over macroscopic distances. Until recently, the dynamics that give rise to those correlations have been inferred only from global measurements, such as the total magnetization of the atomic cloud. Now Monika Schleier-Smith and colleagues at Stanford University are combining nonlocal spin interactions with the capability to locally prepare and detect the atomic spin states.

Spin excitations in a cavity hop coherently over long distances Johanna L. Miller, Physics Today

#P4TC related links:

"Spooky Action at a Distance"...October 1, 2011

"Spukhafte Fernwirkung..."March 9, 2012

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Room Tc...

The cage-like crystal structure (LaH10) thought to be responsible for the high-temperature superconductivity observed in this study. Courtesy: R Hemley

Topics: Green Energy, Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics, Superconductors

Note: Room temperature is 300 K, which is 26.85 Celsius, 80.33 Fahrenheit.

A team of researchers from George Washington University in the US is saying that a hydride of lanthanum compressed to 200 GPa (2 Mbars) could be superconducting at temperatures near room temperature – a result that has been backed up with findings from another group in Germany. The results could be a major step towards realizing the long-sought goal of room-temperature superconductivity for energy applications.

Superconductivity is the ability of a material to conduct electricity without any resistance. It is observed in many materials when they are cooled to below their superconducting transition temperature (Tc). In the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of (“conventional”) superconductivity, this occurs when electrons overcome their mutual electrical repulsion and form “Cooper pairs” that then travel unheeded through the material as a supercurrent.

Superconductivity was first observed in 1911 in solid mercury below a Tc of 4.2K (--268.95 Celsius, --452.11 Fahrenheit) and the search for room-temperature superconductors has been on ever since. Room-temperature superconductivity would help considerably improve the efficiency of electrical generators and transmission lines, as well simplify current applications of superconductivity, such as superconducting magnets in particle accelerators.

Researchers came a step closer to this holy grail with the high-temperature superconducting copper oxides, which were discovered in the 1990s and which have a Tc above liquid helium temperatures. It was only in 2015, however, that they discovered that hydrogen sulphide has a Tc of 203 K when compressed to pressures of 150 GPa. This result spurred a flurry of interest in the compressed hydrides – that is, solid materials containing hydrogen atoms bonded to other elements.

Dramatic resistance drop at 260 K
“We believe that a Tc at – or very near – room temperature has finally been realized,” says Russell Hemley, who led this latest research effort.

Thanks to quantum-mechanics-based calculations, Hemley’s group first predicted that lanthanum hydride (LaH10) could be superconducting in July 2017. The researchers then synthesized the material, and reported direct measurements of its conductivity that indicated a Tc of 260 K (-13.15 Celsius, 8.33 Fahrenheit) at 180-200 GPa in May 2018, posting a paper on the arXiv in August 2018 that has now been published in Physical Review Letters. A team led by Mikhail Eremets at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany reported on a Tc of 250 K (-23.15 Celsius, -9.67 Fahrenheit) for lanthanum hydride synthesized at pressures of around 170 GPa in independent work posted on the arXiv in December 2018.

Quantum-mechanics-based calculations for “materials by design”
The researchers say they have reproduced their result many times and also have preliminary magnetic susceptibility data that point to room-temperature superconductivity. To unequivocally prove, however, that this is indeed the case will require them to observe the Meissner effect (the expulsion of magnetic field from a material when it becomes superconducting) in LaH10. This is challenging, they admit, but preliminary results from experiments on their samples at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinoisare encouraging. Further work is also needed to characterize the superconducting properties of structures other than LaH10 in their samples that they have predicted and observed using X-ray diffraction.

On the road to room-temperature superconductivity, Belle Dumé, Physics World

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This Hostage Crisis...

Buildings.com: Hostage Prevention 101

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

Dear Earth,

America has self-mythologized as the world's "city on a hill" from Winthrop to Reagan, not fully understanding the dark origins of the quote. For a time, the mythology modulated our behaviors on the world stage. There was an unease with friends and foes as to "what will the US think?" It's devolved to oxymoron: instead of "United States" we appear to be "50 separate states of strong, myopic opinions; cemented by bigotry, homophobia, misogyny. racism, sexism for a dwindling constituency trying to maintain power and relevance in perpetuity." A bit long, but more accurate, less myth and apropos. Evangelicals officially became a numerical minority in 2017, in parallel or a precursor to the reaction when so-called white Americans become minorities circa 2042 (as a demographic, they were first created in 1681). Relevance explains why they jettisoned their previous bulletproof stance on piousness, "family values" and consciously voted for an admitted on tape sexual assaulter. We have citizens wearing t-shirts saying: "I'd rather be Russian than Democrat," after 17 intelligence agencies confirmed an assault on our electoral process, thus our sovereignty in a bizarre, textbook admittance of Stockholm syndrome.

The United States is in a hostage situation over what amounts to a racist totem, itself a mnemonic to remind their daft, Archie Bunker candidate to demonize brown people. The hostage crisis is being bolstered by the two unelected totems of white "supremacy," Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who thankfully have given Mother Nature and humanity the most excellent gift of not procreating. Best estimates are even if he got his pulled-from-his-rear 5.7 billion dollar price tag, eminent domain counter lawsuits would keep this Klan symbol in courts for years. We're subjected to the tweets; random, disjointed thoughts and septuagenarian bowel movements of a madman: the fact I have to say that is frightening. Due to this shutdown, the US is not represented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The NY FBI is reporting to food banks to feed their families. The TSA is understaffed, and air traffic experts see the possibility of disaster on the horizon if this continues. Food stamps and food safety are equally imperiled. Nero supposedly fiddled as Rome burned. The metaphor to our dilemma exists in equivalence of horror in 140 misspelled and malaprop characters of an executive suffering Internet addiction among other mental disorders that may exacerbate themselves as the legal walls close in. The fires of the old republic had embers that eventually ended with breezes, ash and rubble. Plutonium has a half life of several thousand years, and our Orange Caligula has the nuclear codes.

I give the rest of the planet as hope a blogger whose writings I follow that hopefully make some sense of this present darkness, and gives humanity solace that despite our current situation, we may yet dodge this Russian bullet:

*****

I love the look I saw this week.

It was the look of terrified dinosaurs realizing that the meteorite is on its way; the dilated pupils in the eyes of leadened, lumbering prehistoric monsters who've had their run of the house, now finding themselves at the precipice of extinction.

As the most diverse Congress in our history began its session, it was a harbinger of what is coming for this nation, and what it means for their species. America is growing more diverse, and its representative leadership (though still painfully lagging behind) is quickly making up ground. They can see the change in the weather and the light in the sky—and they are scrambling to avoid the coming impact because they can sense it will not end well for them.

It’s why Mitch McConnell is holding the Government hostage over an ineffective, multi-billion dollar monument to racism of a border wall, that two-thirds of this country doesn’t want.

It’s why men like Tucker Carlson, rant mindlessly about successful women ushering in the “decline of men.”

It’s why Jim Mattis and Michael Cohen and General Kelly and Mike Flynn, and a perpetually revolving door of men are leaving or being forced out of positions of influence and leadership.

It’s why Republican leaders have spent the past year creating a massive straw man out of exhausted migrant families and refugee children, as though they were wealthy foreign adversaries rigging a Presidential election.

It’s why Right-wing trolls “leaked” a video of a college-aged Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing, as if it was a clip of her saying she could grab less powerful men by the genitalia.

It’s why Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr, performed embarrassingly contorted theological gymnastics, in order to align with this President over poor people.

It’s why Donald Trump spent Christmas Eve bunkered down in the White House behind a smart phone, tweeting scattered, rapid-fire nonsense—instead of being with his family or reading or God forbid, serving someone.

It is the white-hot fear that has overtaken them all.

They’re all in a scalding panic, because they understand that their brief moment in history to have their way and impose their will is quickly coming to a close. The landscape is being renovated, the climate is changing, and as a species they are dying—which is why they will do what all frightened animals do when they are backed into a corner and realize the level of the threat: they will grow more violent than ever before.

In the coming days, the Tweets will become more erratic, the legislative assaults grow more transparently desperate, the hate crimes more brazen, the sermons grow more alarmist and incendiary. These Jurassic, soon-to-be-amber-trapped relics, will act as if the very sky above them is falling, because in very real ways, it is. They will thrash and spit and bellow, in an effort to buy themselves a few more days and a bit more power and another Federal judge or two, but they cannot stave off their inevitable disappearance, as progress and civilization and time swallow them up.

The misogynistic, supremacist nostalgia of their dying glory days is dissolving, in the glorious refining fire of what is coming on the horizon: color and diversity and new and young and wide open. The wall-builders and the close-fisted and the table-monopolizers will not survive this evolution.

America’s history is being rewritten in real-time by a fearless, disparate, interdependent humanity of every creed and orientation and nation of origin, and despite a reign that seemed like it would never end, the once mighty white dinosaurs are running out of real estate—and time.

Their eyes tell the story.

They see extinction coming.

We all do.

The Extinction of the White American Dinosaur, John Pavlovitz

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No Children of Chrysalis...

Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Biology, Ethics, Genetics, Star Trek

I read both novels and thoroughly enjoyed them immensely as the pure escapism Star Trek is. Perhaps this should be a metaphor for the ridiculousness of eugenics movements past, present or fantasy.

The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh is a two volume set of novels written by Greg Cox about the life of the fictional Star Trek character Khan Noonien Singh. He is often referred to as simply "Khan" in the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" and in the Star Trek movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

The novels detail Khan's life until he leaves the Earth in the DY-100 sleeper ship SS Botany Bay later found by the Enterprise. They are written mostly in the perspective of the fictional characters Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln, Gary Seven's partner. Both characters appear in the Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth".

The first volume deals mostly with the Chrysalis Project, which was how Khan Noonien Singh and the rest of the superhumans were created. The genetically engineered "Children of Chrysalis" were mentally and physically superior to ordinary men and women. The scientists of Chrysalis desired for their creations to take over Earth. When Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln begin to learn about this project, Roberta goes undercover as a scientist that wants to join the Chrysalis Project. The members of Chrysalis are convinced that she is who she claims to be, and she is allowed to join. Roberta heads out to an underground complex beneath the Thar Desert in India where the project is housed. Once there, Roberta begins to work out a way to stop the project.

Source: Wikipedia

A Chinese researcher recently disrupted the CCR5 gene, which builds a protein that acts as an entryway that HIV uses to gain entry to T-cells, allegedly creating the world’s first genetically engineered baby. Chinese officials moved swiftly to condemn the work, and rightly so. Gene-edited babies should probably always be prohibited, not because of fears of creating inequalities and advantaged “super babies,” but because of the reality that editing an embryo is not medically necessary. These modifications occur around conception rather than treating a suffering person—always involving introducing risk, and thus testing the age-old medical admonition of primum non nocere, meaning “first, to do no harm.”

Evolutionary dynamics are not trivial. In the 1970s, Lewontin and Hubby introduced the idea of balancing selection, which was extrapolated into principles that rare variants that contribute risk to various diseases may stick with us because of their compensatory benefit in contributing to heterogeneity or genetic variation within a population, or whereby risk variants contribute something positive in particular niches or contexts. Risk-causing genetic variants can also stay with us by “hitchhiking” along with beneficial ones that are positively selected for. One recent paper on schizophrenia suggests that risky mutations stay with us due to a process of background selection, whereby a lot of genetic variation is eliminated over time leaving risk variants in higher frequency. The important point is that genetic effects rarely are good or bad but depend on the shifting dynamics and backgrounds of other genetic variants.

Besides being relatively easy to use, there is more genetics information available to seek to exploit. Consider Danielle Posthuma’s work in Nature Genetics in 2017 tied 52 genes to human intelligence (though no single variant contributed more than a tiny fraction of a single percentage point to intelligence). Will college applicants begin stapling their 23 and Me results to their entrance applications? Will parents seek to engineer smarter kids in the lab? I want to convince you it is a fool’s errand. In fact, distributions of risk for mental disorders are also increasingly viewed to involve hundreds or thousands of gene variants. Thus, while the volition to improve our genomes is clearly evident by the ambition of scientists—and codified in the myths of Gattaca, Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—the reality is that genetic risks and advantages are not as straightforward as computer circuits.

The Myth of Genetic Superbabies, Jim Kozubek, Scientific American

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Vexed by Vortexes...

Image Source: Live Science

Topics: Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, Geophysics, Meteorology, Research

The blast of Arctic weather headed for the United States this weekend could be a first sign of still worse things to come this winter, with signs that a circular low-pressure system of swirling winds that normally keeps frigid air locked up at the North Pole has been disrupted and split into smaller parts.

The disruption in this counterclockwise-spinning beast, called the polar vortex, is thought to be caused in part by a warm summer over the Arctic and a relatively cold fall over Siberia. The result for the United States and northern Europe? A severe winter lasting throughout February and possibly into March.

Meteorologist Judah Cohen agreed that the breaking up of the polar vortex could be the culprit for the coming storm. Cohen, the director of seasonal forecasting for the weather risk management company Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), based in Lexington, Massachusetts, told Live Science that the coming snowstorms in the United States this weekend are consistent with weather models that predicted severe wintry weather to come in the coming weeks.

The Polar Vortex Is Collapsing — Here's What That Means for Your Winter Weather

Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor

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Musings?

As I was saying, I am currently realm-building. The task is to include elements of classical fantasy, but remain primarily sci-fi, specifically cyberpunk. There will be multiple planets/dimensions, and the general populace will be humans with enhancements (some without). The enhancements will include cybernetics, biological experiments, and even some mystical attainments. Again, I'm paring down the details, but the majority of the details are worked out. One main character has been confined for hundreds of years by his rival. Neither can die, and the one confined is found to be simply allowing the circumstance while gathering energy and awaiting certain events before acting.

My main distraction is the fact that I'm about to be released from prison this year. I'm at a work-release center now, and have limited access to the computer. Not to mention no spare time to get down and hash out more details. I have to obtain employment and whatnot while I'm here. Arg. Patience will win out, though.

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The Beloved Community Repost...

Image Source: AJC link below [1]

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Martin Luther King, Star Trek

Note: This was originally posted on Dr. King's actual birthday at the beginning of 2018, ten months before what would be a historic midterms. But we're still here: breathlessly awaiting the next note from an electronic tweeting violin from Orange Caligula. It's also retaliation to a snow-haired, dubious Vice that lied 78% of the time during his debates (along with dodging the record of his running mate cum Manchurian candidate), claims the piety and mantle of "Christianity" as well as compares our current Constitutional Crisis and slow moving Russian coup to the memory and actual greatness of Dr. King. In this era of escalating mendacity; homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobic nationalism...we could use a double dose of his beloved community again.

*****

Notwithstanding our national projected life expectancy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 89 years old today (15 January 2018); Mrs. Coretta Scott King was two years his senior. This is also the 50th anniversary year of his assassination, as it had been pointed out ten years earlier on the election of the first and only African American president in the history of the republic. It is poignant we're post/after the obvious racist comments of a continent and diverse cultures of humanity by our current president* with absolutely no doubt that he, his followers and his political party are indeed racists.

Star Trek was born in this similar cauldron, and Dr. King was a great fan, especially for his young kids at the time. Civil Rights, Voting Rights, the Vietnam War; the ever-present "nuclear button." civil defense drills (not like the botched alert in Hawaii) and the Cold War exacerbated one's sense of whether or not "we were going to make it" as a species. It was especially powerful to African Americans like Dr. Mae Jemison, Dr. Ron McNair, my friends; me that could see a future that we could count on being more humane, civilized, just; SANE and survivable.

And yet, we're all here: the year is 2018, in a covfefe-Twitter-Twilight-Zone where a president* post Charlottesville praises tiki-torch Neo Nazis as "fine people" and little comment on activist Heather Heyer, who lost her life; comments on his "performance" as if still in reality television mode, and racially slurs an entire continent and diverse cultures. April Ryan point-blank called him out. After his empty comments about Dr. King in a staged photo op with black sycophants (among whom were sadly, the ever-sleepy Ben Carson and Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., Martin Luther King's nephew and his inept soft peddle of 45's racism); cowardly walked away as he did from a contentious visit to the UK that promised to be embarrassing for him. He's insulted Gold Star families (especially those of color), women, minorities, the Pope and NONE, not one nickname, belligerent bowel movement-inspired tweet or witty zinger for his pimp benefactor Vladimir Putin and his Wikileaks minions. The UN has called the president* racist. It's "unfortunate" and "unhelpful" to Speaker Ryan; as of the Friday after the slur, silence from Senate Majority Leader McConnell. A party that's facing demographic oblivion could (possibly) sell its political soul to a Russian devil for survival. They are slowly dying. They're not convincing enough youth, women, minorities et al to be politically viable in 10 years, let alone the midterms. Our current president*, along with his limited vocabulary, enabling weak party, diminished mental faculties probably finds the concept of adjusting for demographics as alien as they'd consider Dr. King.

He was the Manchurian/Kremlin candidate; he is the Manchurian president*.

To survive him, this summoned-from-the-pit xenophobia and reclaim what is left of our republic will take time. It will take rediscovering Dr. King's "Beloved Community."

Maybe... he was thinking about Star Trek.

“The Beloved Community” is a term that was first coined in the early days of the 20th Century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. However, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning which has captured the imagination of people of goodwill all over the world.

For Dr. King, The Beloved Community was not a lofty Utopian goal to be confused with the rapturous image of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which lions and lambs coexist in idyllic harmony. Rather, The Beloved Community was for him a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.

Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict. [2]

*The usage of the asterisk (*) next to president* I borrow from and attribute to Charles P. Pierce, a writer for Esquire magazine and frequent media commentator on MSNBC. He's also author of the prescient book: "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free." And so, despite his and other authors' warnings to the contrary, our republic is at the stage-edge of this cliff...

[1] Photos: Martin Luther King statues around the country (and beyond), Pete Corson - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, [accessed] 12 January 2018 [2] The King Center: The King Philosophy, [accessed] 12 January 2018

Related links:

123 Of The Most Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes Ever, Hannah Hutyra, Keep Inspiring dot me, [accessed] 12 January 2018 The Manchurian Candidate, Wikipedia [accessed] 12 January 2018 50 years later, 'The Other America' MLK described in Grosse Pointe still exists, Ken Coleman, Detroit Free Press, [accessed] 14 January 2018

#P4TC Related links:

Dr. King: Science Advocate... January 20, 2014

Requiem for Moab... April 14, 2017

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Cult of Nihilists...

Source: 9GAG

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

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Ronald Reagan

My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub. Grover Norquist

Disclaimer: I am neither a fan of Ronald Reagan, or Grover Norquist. Ironically, Saint Ronnie's almost prophetic regarding his current republican successor.

*****

Where Johnson, Nixon, and Carter had expanded the Role of Government economically, Reagan wanted to shrink it by cutting:

1. The growth of government spending.
2. Both income taxes and capital gains taxes.
3. Regulations on businesses.
4. The expansion of the money supply.

In other words, Reagan is just laying down the groundwork for what would become Reaganomics (trickle down, supply-side - later disavowed by David Stockman) in this quote, he isn't saying government is the problem in general (and indeed his record shows he used government liberally at times despite his general small government message; in fact, his critical fans will tell you Reaganomics would have worked if it wasn't for all the other government spending!)

Today people often treat the quote as if it applied to any issue of government, but Reagan didn't say it that way, and Reagan didn't govern that way. Source: Fact/Myth dot com

*****

Excerpt from the post "Nihilistic Narcissists..." August 3, 2014:

I don't use the word "cult" lightly. Mike Lofgren - previous life as a GOP operative - takes his former party to task in his op-ed: "Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult."

Two poignant excerpts:

"It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

"Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Wiemar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself."

I was reminded of this from Dr. Paul Krugman's Opinion Piece in the New York Times: Donald Trump and His Team of Morons

On the generic point: To be a modern conservative is to spend your life inside what amounts to a cult, barely exposed to outside ideas or even ways of speaking. Inside that cult, contempt for ordinary working Americans is widespread — remember Eric Cantor, the then-House majority leader, celebrating Labor Day by praising business owners. So is worship of wealth. And it can be hard for cult members to remember that you don’t talk that way to outsiders.

An article appeared on Huffington Post in 2011 during the Obama administration by Bryant Welch, Clinical Psychiatrist/Attorney/Author:

The danger Fox News poses to America is not that it is a biased or partisan arm of the Republican Party, as the Obama Administration contends. Fox is a danger because it is a cult and uses the same destabilizing psychological techniques cults use to undermine the independent functioning of minds they want to control.

Once unleashed, these cult-like techniques can ultimately take on a life of their own and become very dangerous, especially to the most important of all American freedoms, the freedom of thought. The most precise term for these techniques is mind control.

Unfortunately, by focusing on Fox News’ bias, the Administration diverts attention from the true problem. Fox is a powerful system of mind control that makes a mockery of the principles of self-reliance and individual responsibility for which Fox adherents ostensibly stand.

There were breathless pronouncements of "demographics is destiny" when the Census showed the United States becoming less White Anglo Saxon Protestant-Cisgenger (WASP-C) Male and more like the rest of the diverse planet. The backlash was most toxic and directed at the country's first (and so far only) African American president. He was mocked as Hitler, voodoo doctor (Obamacare) and hung or burnt in effigy. The Tea Party - now the Orwellian "Freedom Caucus" - were his racist, motivated opponents. "Where's the birth certificate?" Answered in short and long form, it didn't matter. Their minds were made up an alien occupied the White House. Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin et al were simply sad proxies for hatred of him. His family was constantly insulted by bare arms, tan suits and Grey Poupon faux controversies as well as by the toxic misappropriation of Psalms 109:8 - 10. This is the foundation of continuous government shutdown as led by the Neo Confederate Christian Fascist Republican Party: Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and its titular head, Orange Caligula - essentially the head of less than one third of the nation. The dead ferret-topped head of the former Party of Lincoln apparently asked his former lawyer to lie to Congress about the Moscow tower project while in office. You cannot expect governance from those avowed to destroy it.

The above quotes from Reagan and Norquist have become a kind of scripture and orthodoxy. It is a faith that doesn't need to be verified by research, facts or reality. They are mantras to be repeated and memorized, not debated for their merits. They are reinforced nightly on it's cult insular networks, like Fox, all likely as 94% white. They specifically feed their audiences what they want them to believe and what they themselves want to hear in a perfected feedback loop. It is no coincidence they fear begetting oblivion. The suppression of their birthrates might have assignable causes like: the gun deaths in the US; the opioid epidemic, the impact of automation, free markets and globalization and jobs that used to be plentiful getting outsourced, increasing the incidents of depression, substance abuse and suicide. Assigning your woes to "brown people" is intellectually dishonest, lazy, myopic and doesn't solve your current circumstances. But nihilists have no solutions: they just do things.

Source: IMGFlip

The modern Republican Party sadly can't be reasoned with, or confronted directly. They listen to right wing talk radio and Internet icons more interested in bomb throwing than governance; biased, bigoted pastors that given time reveal their own breathtaking hypocrisy. They have an orange avatar that articulates their supremacist world view far better than their faux brand of "Christianity." As a group they deny facts, climate change, science, reason and rational discourse. Instead of killing them with zingers on social media, we had better think about how we're going to talk some of them out of the cult while voting in every SINGLE election from here to Kingdom Come. Like most cults (I'm thinking of the flat earth movement) some will stay and endure, build websites and blogs in their own insular reality. Hopefully they will do so at smaller, more manageable numbers that are insignificant in our daily domestic and international affairs.

No Star Wars Jedi will ride to our rescue. This factum and diligence towards our own civics from now on is "our only hope."
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Doppelgänger...

(Courtesy: shutterstock/tomertu)

Topics: Antimatter, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Dark Matter, Star Trek, Theoretical Physics

Our universe could be the mirror image of an antimatter universe extending backwards in time before the Big Bang. So claim physicists in Canada, who have devised a new cosmological model positing the existence of an “antiuniverse” which, paired to our own, preserves a fundamental rule of physics called CPT symmetry. The researchers still need to work out many details of their theory, but they say it naturally explains the existence of dark matter.

Standard cosmological models tell us that the universe – space, time and mass/energy – exploded into existence some 14 billion years ago and has since expanded and cooled, leading to the progressive formation of subatomic particles, atoms, stars and planets.

However, Neil Turok of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario reckons that these models’ reliance on ad-hoc parameters means they increasingly resemble Ptolemy’s description of the solar system. One such parameter, he says, is the brief period of rapid expansion known as inflation that can account for the universe’s large-scale uniformity. “There is this frame of mind that you explain a new phenomenon by inventing a new particle or field,” he says. “I think that may turn out to be misguided.”

Instead, Turok and his Perimeter Institute colleague Latham Boyle set out to develop a model of the universe that can explain all observable phenomena based only on the known particles and fields. They asked themselves whether there is a natural way to extend the universe beyond the Big Bang – a singularity where general relativity breaks down – and then out the other side. “We found that there was,” he says.

The answer was to assume that the universe as a whole obeys CPT symmetry. This fundamental principle requires that any physical process remains the same if time is reversed, space inverted and particles replaced by antiparticles. Turok says that this is not the case for the universe that we see around us, where time runs forward as space expands, and there’s more matter than antimatter.

Our universe has antimatter partner on the other side of the Big Bang, say physicists

Cosmology, Physics World

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Ultra-bright X-rays...

Overview: Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory

Topics: High Energy Physics, Particle Physics, Theoretical Physics, X-rays

The upgrade of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory will make it between 100 and 1,000 times brighter than it is today.

“That factor is such a big change, it’s going to revolutionize the types of science that we can do,” said Stephen Streiffer, Argonne Associate Laboratory Director for Photon Sciences and Director of the APS.

“We’ll be able to look at the structure of materials and chemical systems in the interior of things — inside a turbine blade or a catalytic reactor — almost down to the atomic scale. We haven’t been able to do that before. Given that vast change, we can only dream about the science we’re going to do.”

In December, DOE approved the technical scope, cost estimate and plan of work for an upgrade of APS.

The APS upgrade has been in the works since 2010. The upgrade will reveal a new machine that will allow its 5,500 annual users from university, industrial, and government laboratories to work at a higher spatial resolution, or to work faster with a brighter beam (a beam with more X-rays focused on a smaller spot) than they can now.

Beam Us Up: Ultra-bright X-ray beams expanding the boundaries of research

Steve Koppes, Argonne National Laboratory

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Disaster Hypocrisy...

Credit: Karl Spencer Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Politics, Research

Mexico won’t pay for President Trump’s border wall. But Northern Californians might.

Many of them live near the American River, one of the country’s most flood-prone urban watersheds.

Houston residents could shoulder the cost, too, along with Texans along the Gulf of Mexico, where the Army Corps of Engineers is working on 10 disaster projects funded by Congress in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Florida might have to put beach nourishment projects on hold. And upgrades to the 60-year-old dike ringing Lake Okeechobee, which many consider to pose the state’s greatest flood risk, could have to wait.

Puerto Rico, still in tatters after Hurricane Maria, could lose funding for a critical flood project in the heart of San Juan, where rapid runoff from the Rio Puerto Nuevo Basin threatens 6,500 people and homes and infrastructure valued at $3 billion.

These are among the 57 construction projects totaling $13.9 billion that the Army Corps prioritized last year. The White House appears to have identified that funding as a potential source of cash for building a border wall if Trump declares a national emergency to circumvent Congress’ spending authority.

The $13.9 billion, allocated under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), is intended to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other natural disasters dating back to 2014.

Now that disaster aid could be seen as a potential funding stream for Trump’s proposed $5.7 billion wall.

The lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, the American opioid crisis (and the previous racially biased and criminalization of the cocaine epidemic); the average of 342 citizens dying in "murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention" PER DAY...not a national emergency.

But...we'll have a wall for a mythical crisis on the border. That...wasn't a crisis until the 2018 midterms. That... wasn't a crisis when he had the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives...then, the priority was tax cuts for the already well-heeled and profitable corporations, not a wall.

Just a scared, bigoted, orange, Russian-compromised man; his scared, bigoted followers and their hatred for brown people.

"Who's going to pay for the wall?" The response was decidedly not taking from our own disaster relief funds, or a fake GoFundMe campaign.

Disaster Response Projects Could Lose Funding to Border Wall

Daniel Cusick, Policy and Ethics, Scientific American

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Post Apocalypse...

Nuff said.

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

Donald J. Trump is a a carefully-crafted public fiction. I have said this for years, and stand by that assertion. A headline from Newsweek: "Working With Trump Was Like Making the Court Jester King" by Tom Porter pretty much bore my statement out. In this 21st day of a contrived crisis and hostage situation, it's not so much that he wants a "wall" (a mnemonic device used on the campaign trail): he wants a fight, a public spectacle and "debate" about the efficacy of 12th century civil engineering. He also desperately wants not to look like a failure to his adoring followers, particularly to a powerful woman that like his previous presidential opponent, he loathes. He of course had "mommy issues," and by his own behavior: attachment avoidance, lacking empathy particularly for 800,000 furloughed government workers that won't receive a check.

Dr. Randall Pinkett, author of "Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness" attributes his inspiration to his experience as the only African American overall winner on The Apprentice. "The Donald" wanted him to share his prize with the third place white female (Introduction: Not Getting Trumped: Randall's Nationally Televised "Black Faces in White Places" Moment, pages 1 - 3, hardcover). Dr. Pinkett refused, and received for his integrity online death threats. Since I've seen him on news media recently, he's currently alive and well, despite his experience - a precursor for how President Obama would be treated by his determined opposition, and the racist tropes, memes and effigies encouraged by right wing media and Orange Caligula.

The bizarre behaviors we're experiencing as a nation from someone that's supposed to have a natural acumen, a "gut" for right decisions that are demonstrably WRONG in real-time has little to do with Alzheimer's or Dementia as many have surmised. Whether Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Sociopath Disorder; Psychopathic Disorder: this is him! The difference is on The Apprentice (referencing the Newsweek article above), scriptwriters worked ferociously behind the scenes to make his inane decisions from previously baffling episodes look like brilliance. We are behind the curtain in Oz, where wizards and emperors are typically naked. Unfortunately, life is not episodic, nor a "reality show." Unfortunately, life does not impose "cliffhangers" to drive up Nielsen Ratings. Unfortunately, he began to believe his own carefully doctored press. Unfortunately, so did a sizable number of the American electorate, manipulated by a hostile foreign power, social media bots and their own bigotry and xenophobia.

It stretches credulity: No "billionaire" has six bankruptcies. No "billionaire" enunciates with the diction of Archie Bunker. No "billionaire" refuses to read and self-learn in his field of expertise, proud of his willful ignorance. No "billionaire" needs an infusion of money from first daddy, then Russian oligarchs because no American banks trusted him to loan any money. No "billionaire" works for a reality show he's recruited to, nor would he take a salary, or be a member of the Screen Actors Guild receiving a pension. No "billionaire" sends his own tweets from a porcelain throne: if they have an account, they have staffs that do it for them, and it aligns with their company and product. George Conway has designated himself as at least a counter tweeter in the resistance.

There will be an "aftermath" to this. There will be a last tweet, a last insult, a last government shutdown, a last broadcast; a last time of dominating the news cycle. With the Mueller investigation concluding, there will likely be legal action in what ever form that might take. There will be an eventual fade-to-black as an orange mistake melts away into the pages of history and purgatory of obscurity. There will be an end to this: either by electoral route, term limit, impeachment or 25th Amendment. There will be an end because counter to Gil Scott-Heron, "the revolution [is] both televised," and live. There will be a decisive end, and a reaction: perhaps jubilation in the streets - here, and worldwide. Perhaps shots toasted; tears from his particular peculiar sect's fan base. Or just, a collective sigh of relief and the marveling of normal days and news without self-projected tragicomedy. The last tweet should be memorialized in a museum.

For the dwindling white evangelical base that empowered this dystopian nightmare, there will be a reckoning. Robert P. Jones captured this in "The End of White Christian America," where before the entire demographic becomes a numerical minority circa 2042, this particular sector became one in 2017. The so-called "moral majority" spent decades telling everyone that wasn't White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender Males how to live their lives. 81% of them voted for the vagina grabber and are trying to justify him as the second coming of King Cyrus. They are mocked now; their philosophies exposed as hypocrisy, though dominionism - a flirtation of the right - should not be taken lightly: it is a friendly fascism, right before the ovens fired. The youth are departing the church in a flood, and those tabernacles' pews are noticeably barer than earlier days. Religious orders have commonly unified behind agreed upon external enemies. For African American and Hispanic congregations, it's almost always been white supremacy; for WASP-C's, it's always been "other" than themselves. A desperate constituency raised on the mother's milk of white supremacy might do desperate things, collusion included. Unless they can override The Constitution and install him as king or "god emperor," the next democratic president will have to recover not just possibly our economy, but our national image. Internally however, white evangelicals are headed to an inevitable Entropic oblivion of their own making.

The Trump family is simply a criminal enterprise - similar to the Mafia and exported from New York to Washington, DC, which usually receives rational actors in the POTUS chair regardless of party. Thus, this impacts everyone and everything on the planet.

Instead of Michael Corleone, this criminal enterprise is being run by Fredo.

Related link:

Party of Apocalypse - a pre-election, frustrated essay rant that sadly hasn't faded away.

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3D Topological Insulators...

Courtesy: H. Chen

Topics: Laser, Optical Physics, Photonics, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Quantum Mechanics

Reference: Topological Insulators, then the rest of the post.

Researchers in China and Singapore say they have made the first ever 3D photonic topological insulator using a stack of thin plastic sheets embedded with metal nanoantennas. The insulator works at microwave frequencies, but if extended to terahertz or optical wavelengths, it could find use in applications such as high-power lasers, optical diodes and photonic computer chips.

2D topological insulators, also known as 2D quantum spin Hall insulators, are materials that are electrical insulators in the bulk but can conduct electricity extremely well on their edge via special, topologically protected, electronic states. Electrons can only travel in one direction along these states and do not backscatter. This means that they can carry electrical current with near-zero dissipation of energy and so could be used to make energy-efficient electronic devices in the future.

Structures made from photonic crystals
In recent years, researchers have started looking at making topological insulators that work using light rather than electric currents. These structures are made from photonic crystals – materials in which the periodic variation of the refractive index means that only certain wavelengths of light are able to pass through. One of the advantages of these photonic topological insulators is that they can operate at room temperature, unlike their electronic counterparts.

Another is that the space through which photons can travel can be engineered so that it is curved like the surface of a cone. These structures thus mimic a 2D quantum spin Hall insulator that naturally contains so-called surface Dirac cones. These are the sharp single points in a 2D material at which the valence and the conduction bands meet at the Fermi level, and at which electrons behave as though they are relativistic particles with no rest mass.

3D topological insulators go photonic, Belle Dumé, Physics World

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Hobbled Hubble...

The Hubble telescope launched in 1990. Credit: NASA

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, NASA, Politics, Research

Yet another casualty: science. The NSF, NOAA and other related sites are either down, or limited. Research is slow to crippled. The FDA is discontinuing food inspections. Any delay in industry was almost a death sentence in semiconductors, as your competitors took advantage of your tardiness to market, and sped past you. This is Economics 101 one would THINK a "businessman" would understand, but tariffs seem a mystery to him. A months long, or year-long shutdown as threatened by this hostage situation, will cause our economy and along with it the world's to falter. I can't imagine China or Russia standing still while our orange child throws a tantrum for his wailing/whining wall pablum. "Winning"... #MCGA, #MRGA

Aging telescope’s wide-field camera fails while key NASA staff are on involuntary, indefinite leave due to political impasse.

One of the Hubble Space Telescope’s main instruments stopped working on 8 January because of an unspecified hardware problem, NASA says. Engineers are unlikely to be able to fix the aging telescope until the ongoing US government shutdown ends — whenever that might be.

Hubble’s mission operations are based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where most employees are on involuntary leave during the shutdown. A few people who operate spacecraft that are actively flying, including Hubble, have been allowed to keep working.

But fixing the problem with Hubble, which is almost 30 years old, will almost certainly involve additional government employees who are forbidden to work during the shutdown. NASA has formed an investigative team, composed primarily of contractors and experts from its industry partners, to examine the technical troubles.

Federal law allows agencies to keep some personnel working during a shutdown if they are deemed necessary to protect life and property. It is not clear whether NASA might request an emergency exception to allow repairs to Hubble before the shutdown — now in its 19th day — ends.

Hubble telescope camera is broken — and US government shutdown could delay repairs

Alexandra Witze, Nature

Related link:

About the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA

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Nano Zappers...

Topics: Biology, Cancer, Electromagnetic Radiation, Green Energy, Nanotechnology, Research

One potentially valuable way to attack cancer cells is to zap them with low-intensity alternating current. This interferes with the flow of calcium and potassium ions in and out of the cells, a process so important that disrupting it ultimately kills them.

But there is a problem with this approach: healthy cells are just as susceptible to ion channel disruption as cancer cells, so the treatment kills healthy and cancerous cells alike. What’s needed is a way to focus the treatment on cancer cells while leaving the healthy ones untouched.

Enter Attilio Marino at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Enrico Almici at the Polytechnic University of Turin, and colleagues in Italy. These guys use piezoelectric nanoparticles that generate current inside the body when repeatedly compressed with ultrasound. And they have gathered the first evidence that this could be turned into an effective treatment for cancer.

The technique is straightforward in theory. Piezoelectric materials generate a charge when squeezed (and similarly change shape when zapped with a voltage). They are widely used in everything from microphones to motors.

Marino and co’s idea is to inject biocompatible nanoparticles into the body and then bombard them with ultrasound. The high and low pressures associated with the ultrasound should cause the nanoparticles to generate a charge that interferes with ion channels and kills the cells. The team choose barium titanate nanoparticles, which are considered biocompatible since they contain no lead.

Electric nanoparticles can target and kill cancer cells by zapping them

Emerging Technology, arXiv

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Multi Messenger Astronomy...

Figure 1: On 17 August 2017 LIGO detected gravitational waves from a neutron-star collision. Within 12 hours observatories had identified the source of the event GW170817 within the galaxy NGC 4993 – shown in this Hubble Space Telescope image – and located the associated radioactive emissions, or “kilonova”. Hubble observed that flare of light fade over the course of six days, as shown in these observations taken on 22, 26 and 28 August (insets). (Courtesy: NASA, ESA; A Levan (University of Warwick), N Tanvir (University of Leicester), A Fruchter and O Fox (STScI))

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Relativity, Gravitational Waves, LIGO, Neutron Stars

04 Jan 2018

Congratulations to Imre Bartos, whose article "A new cosmic messenger" has been picked as one of Physics World's five favourite features of 2018. Taken from the January 2018 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

The first observation of gravitational waves from two merging neutron stars that was recently made by the LIGO and Virgo detectors has – along with data from telescopes across the globe and in space – kicked off a new era in multimessenger astronomy. Imre Bartos describes this watershed moment, which crowned decades of research and will shape the future of observational astronomy.

It was almost over. There was only one week to go before the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors would complete their observational run, and be shutdown for a year. Indeed, many of my colleagues from the LIGO–Virgo team were already on vacation, while I was awaiting relatives who were visiting. Then my phone buzzed. An automated text message, which read “ALERT FROM GWHEN | New event: G298048 | Check your email!” prompted me to rush to my computer, to look at the signal in a LIGO database. When a flurry of agitated phone calls from collaborators followed, it became clear that a historic moment was unfolding. We observational astronomers needed to act quickly, and as our findings were still a secret, I couldn’t even tell my relatives, who had arrived in the middle of the excitement, why I would need to work.

On 17 August 2017 the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington detected gravitational waves from the collision of two neutron stars – ultracompact dead stars that weigh as much as our Sun, but are barely 20 km in diameter, roughly the size of Manhattan. Such an event had been anticipated for decades, but had never been observed until now. Within two seconds of the arrival of gravitational waves at LIGO, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a short gamma-ray burst. This made it even clearer: the gravitational-wave detection – dubbed GW170817 – was not a false alarm, and observatories across the globe quickly needed to turn towards the direction of the collision, or the data would be lost forever. More than 70 telescopes and observatories around the globe and in space were rapidly notified, and were able to execute a co-ordinated survey of the merger and its aftermath, across the full electromagnetic spectrum – gamma-rays, X-rays, light, radio waves – and neutrinos. A new era in multimessenger astronomy had begun (figure 1).

What did we learn?

Neutron-star mergers may be the main source of heavy elements in the universe.
The expansion of the universe can be measured by neutron-star mergers,
We have a new upper limit on the mass of neutron stars.
The neutron stars in GW170817 orbited each other for billions of years before colliding.
The colliding neutron stars created a gamma-ray burst.
There’s something strange about the energetic jet.

A New Cosmic Messenger, Imre Bartos, Physics World

Imre Bartos is an assistant professor at the University of Florida in the US, where he studies extreme cosmic explosions related to the formation and evolution of black holes. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and an associate member of the IceCube Collaboration

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