Featured Posts (3157)

Mars by Venus...

Mars%2Bby%2BVenus.jpg
An artist's depiction of a rocket carrying humans to Mars. (Image: © NASA/John Frassanito and Associates)

 

Topics: Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

The roads of human spaceflight all seem to lead to Mars. For decades now, it's been the logical next step after the moon.

But if you're an astronaut or a cosmonaut on your way to or from Mars, you might make a surprising pit stop along the way: Venus.

A flight to (or from) Mars can happen more quickly and cheaply if it "involves a Venus flyby on the way to or on the way home from Mars," Noam Izenberg, a planetary geologist at Johns Hopkins University, told Space.com.

Izenberg is one of a number of scientists and engineers advocating that a crewed mission to Mars also visit Venus. This group of researchers has drafted a white paper on the subject, to be submitted for peer review at Acta Astronautica. According to that paper, using Venus as a stepping stone to Mars isn't just one option — it's an essential part of a crewed Mars mission.

Astronauts bound for Mars should swing by Venus first, scientists say, Rahul Rao, Space.com

Read more…

Hybrid Quantum Networking...

DFB14820-609D-4B15-828A2C4BC8442539_source.jpg
Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Computer Science, Modern Physics, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

In a world’s first, researchers in France and the U.S. have performed a pioneering experiment demonstrating “hybrid” quantum networking. The approach, which unites two distinct methods of encoding information in particles of light called photons, could eventually allow for more capable and robust communications and computing.

Similar to how classical electronics can represent information as digital or analog signals, quantum systems can encode information as either discrete variables (DVs) in particles or continuous variables (CVs) in waves. Researchers have historically used one approach or the other—but not both—in any given system.

“DV and CV encoding have distinct advantages and drawbacks,” says Hugues de Riedmatten of the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, who was not a part of the research. CV systems encode information in the varying intensity, or phasing, of light waves. They tend to be more efficient than DV approaches but are also more delicate, exhibiting stronger sensitivity to signal losses. Systems using DVs, which transmit information by the counting of photons, are harder to pair with conventional information technologies than CV techniques. They are also less error-prone and more fault-tolerant, however. Combining the two, de Riedmatten says, could offer “the best of both worlds.”

‘Hybrid’ Quantum Networking Demonstrated for First Time, Dhananjay Khadilkar, Scientific American

Read more…

Death Cult...

newsweek-bachmann-cover_vert-4d583458b8ddbeca3c06d7cf049d2c2cc464c98a-s800-c85.jpg
Image source: NPR

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights

Barbara Stanwyck: “We're both rotten!”

Fred MacMurray: “Yeah – only you're a little more rotten.” -“Double Indemnity” (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachmann (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

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.

Excerpt from "Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult," Mike Lofgren, Truthout, September 3, 2011

September 3, 2011 was a year before the re-election campaign of the first African American president, and the quixotic attempt to make him a "one-term president" by now Black Lives Matter Senator Mitt Romney, the goal was clearly stated by Michele Bachmann, Moscow Mitch McConnell and a whole host of characters that might as well have been the compost for the garden variety bullshit metastasized into our current COVID harvest.

Arizona has spiked. Oklahoma has spiked. Orange Satan's resuming in-person campaigning, and bullying schools to put their children through the flaming arms of Moloch this fall, so that the remnant of parents, teachers, principals and janitors that SURVIVE limp the hulking carcass of this economy over the finish line November 3, 2020 towards the re-election of Damien Thorn. Whatever the previous Republican Party's "principles" were, they jettisoned when an improbable black man with a funny name actually won the presidency, making history of course, but he wasn't supposed to. Running's aloud; winning's not.

Frederick Douglass was nominally a presidential candidate at the 1888 Republican convention by one vote. George Edwin Taylor became a candidate of the newly-formed (and brief) National Negro Liberty Party in 1904. Channing E. Phillips received 67.5 votes at the 1968 Democratic convention, the same year Nixon won. Shirley Chisholm was a candidate four years later for the DNC, earning 152 delegates. Jesse Jackson (Aggie Alumnus) garnered 3 million votes in 1984 and 7 million votes in 1988. Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Carol Moseley-Braun and republican Alan Keyes also ran (2000, 2008). Herman Cain, Ben Carson, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was a late entrant into the race for this cycle. Source: Wikipedia

Until President Obama, the "hounds tooth" of white supremacy was remarkably efficient in barring people of any color from the nation's highest office. We also stand firmly as the only nation that has NEVER had a female executive, and until 2008, firmly held the line that whether (D) or (R), the reins of ultimate power would be held by white males 43 times from George Washington to George W. Bush. November 4, 2008 rocked their world.

Barack Obama was to them, a living nightmare: the personification of the demographics bomb they themselves caused with free trade policies that all but eliminated the central class in Central America. It was essentially an extension of slavery and indentured servitude. Builders et al., who payed workers in bags of cash so they didn't have to report them to the IRS, are suddenly freaked out those same people had children, who become citizens and most likely: won't understand their nostalgia for white picket fences and red-lined districts. Superbowl commercials celebrating diversity were denigrated if they didn't remind them of Norman Rockwell paintings, i.e., of themselves as the epitome of humanity. The "evil empire" of their patron, Saint Reagan, didn't look so evil and the PR was changed - common sense ignored - to reflect it. Fascism is nothing if not based on fear.

Death cult: A fringe religious group that glorifies or is obsessed with death. Oxford English dictionary

That Monday night, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick seemed to go full Midsommar—a horror movie about a fictional Swedish death cult that sacrifices their elders—by saying that ”as a senior citizen” he was “all in” on “willing to take a chance on [my] survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves.”

Right-wing internet commentator Jesse Kelly tweeted on Tuesday morning that, “If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die.”

Glenn Beck on Wednesday said that he too was ready to risk his life for the stock market, in a stream following a town hall in which Trump floated a return to reopening businesses and public gatherings by April 12, an ambition that Beck conceded could be a death sentence for thousands of Americans—himself included.

If all that sounds to you like the dangerous, macabre ramblings of a movement willing to sacrifice human life for illusory gains, you’re not alone. “I dealt with suicidal cults before. I encountered people who are willing to die for their faith, ideology, race, etc. But, I never encountered anyone who is willing to die for someone else’s 401k,” tweeted Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who now runs an intelligence and security consultancy. “This is a whole new level of craziness.”

Formal experts on destructive cults agreed with Soufan’s diagnosis of Trump and his base’s support for letting some die. When I reached him via a Zoom video call, Steve Hassan, a mental health professional and cult expert, started nodding immediately when I asked if he saw parallels between, say, the Jonestown Massacre and Trump’s willingness to put the elderly on a near literal chopping block. Ben Zeller, a professor at Lake Forest University who focuses on new religions and Daniel Shaw, a New York-based psychoanalyst who has helped counsel people who have left cult religions, agreed with almost no hesitation.

Cult Experts Warn That Trumpism Is Starting to Look Awfully Familiar, Ali Breland, Mother Jones

Mike Logren called it. We are now well past the bug-eyed point with Bachmann.

Fear can motivate irrational behavior. A party with authoritarian tendencies will ignore facts, science and reality, thus, climate change, universal healthcare and COVID mask protocols are immediate non-starters. A party that cannot garner enough votes or convince enough women, LGBT, black or indigenous people of color and youth will simply block, or purge them. A party that fears oblivion might sell our national soul to a Russian devil, cavorting with them openly July 4, 2018. What then, are the "in the event of election landslide, break glass" instructions?

We're beyond the crazy bug-eyed, chrysalis of madness to fully-emerged, political dementia - the kool-aid moment of the republic, and we're a tweet away from Armageddon.

Read more…

Comb on a Chip...

 

MoilleCover_v2-1.jpg
Experimental setup to generate a set of stable frequencies in a cryogenically cooled laser microresonator frequency comb. The ring-shaped microresonator, small enough to fit on a microchip, operates at very low laser power and is made from the semiconductor aluminum gallium arsenide.

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Instrumentation, NIST, Nanotechnology, Semiconductor Technology

 

Just as a meter stick with hundreds of tick marks can be used to measure distances with great precision, a device known as a laser frequency comb, with its hundreds of evenly spaced, sharply defined frequencies, can be used to measure the colors of light waves with great precision.

Small enough to fit on a chip, miniature versions of these combs — so named because their set of uniformly spaced frequencies resembles the teeth of a comb — are making possible a new generation of atomic clocks, a great increase in the number of signals traveling through optical fibers, and the ability to discern tiny frequency shifts in starlight that hint at the presence of unseen planets. The newest version of these chip-based “microcombs,” created by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), is poised to further advance time and frequency measurements by improving and extending the capabilities of these tiny devices.

Comb on a Chip: New Design for ‘Optical Ruler’ Could Revolutionize Clocks, Telescopes, Telecommunications, NIST

Paper: G. Moille, L. Chang, W. Xie, A. Rao, X. Lu, M. Davanco, J.E. Bowers and K. Srinivasan. Dissipative Kerr Solitons in a III-V Microresonator. Laser and Photonics Reviews. June 2020. DOI: 10.1002/lpor.202000022

Read more…

Photonic Nanojets...

5.0007611.figures.online.f1.jpeg
FIG. 1. (a) Long-legs cellar spider. (b) Reeling mechanism. (c) Manufacturing process of decorating spider silk. (d) Spider silk with dome lens placed on a dedicated holder. (e) Microphotograph of dome lens. (f) Laser scanning digital microscope system for measuring dome lens. (g) Schematic diagram of the dome lens for generating PNJ.

 

Topics: Biology, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

ABSTRACT

In this work, we thoroughly investigate the shape, size, and location of the photonic nanojets (PNJs) generated from the illuminated dome lens. The silk fiber is directly extracted from the cellar spider and used to form the dome lens by its liquid-collecting ability. The solidified dielectric dome lenses with different dimensions are obtained by using ultraviolet curing. Numerical and experimental results show that the long PNJs are strongly modulated by the dimension of the dome lens. The optimal PNJ beam shaping is achieved by using a mesoscale dielectric dome lens. The PNJ with a long focal length and a narrow waist could be used to scan over a target for large-area imaging. The silk fiber with a dome lens is especially useful for bio-photonic applications by combining its biocompatibility and flexibility.

Optimal photonic nanojet beam shaping by mesoscale dielectric dome lens

Journal of Applied Physics 127, 243110 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0007611

C.B. Lin, Yi-Ting Lee, and Cheng-Yang Liu

Read more…

2D Boost for 5G...

v5_Kim1a_green-724x1024.jpg
A diagram of the UT Austin team's switch showing two gold electrodes with a layer of hBN in between. (Courtesy: UT Austin)

 

Topics:  Boron Nitride, Internet of Things, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

Two-dimensional sheets of boron nitride can be used to create an analogue switch that gives communication devices more efficient access to radio, 5G and terahertz frequencies while increasing their battery life. The switch, which was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin in the US and the University of Lille in France, could be employed in a host of different applications, including smartphones, mobile systems and the “Internet of things”.

Analogue switches are routinely employed in communication systems to switch from one frequency band to another, route signals between transmitting and receiving antennas, and reconfigure wireless networks. Traditionally, these switches are based on solid-state diodes or transistors, but components of this type consume energy even in standby mode, reducing the battery life of the device. With 5G networking set to drive a tenfold increase in data throughput – enabling advances in self-driving cars, delivery drones, remote surgery and fast downloads of high-definition media in the process – addressing this energy drain is more urgent than ever.

5G switching gets a 2D boost, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Read more…

The Enlightenment...

 

Topics: Civil Rights, Existentialism, History, Politics

Enlightenment, French siècle des Lumières (literally “century of the Enlightened”), German Aufklärung, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent in the West and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.

A brief treatment of the Enlightenment follows. For full treatment, see Europe, history of: The Enlightenment.

The powers and uses of reason had first been explored by the philosophers of ancient Greece. The Romans adopted and preserved much of Greek culture, notably including the ideas of a rational natural order and natural law. Amid the turmoil of empire, however, a new concern arose for personal salvation, and the way was paved for the triumph of the Christian religion. Christian thinkers gradually found uses for their Greco-Roman heritage. The system of thought known as Scholasticism, culminating in the work of Thomas Aquinas, resurrected reason as a tool of understanding but subordinated it to spiritual revelation and the revealed truths of Christianity.

Encyclopedia Britannica: Enlightenment: European history

Caveat: Only if you're not BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Caveats remove the romanticism, which if you explore the Britannica link, romanticism was associated with emotion as well as art, and the opposite of rationalism.

Dr. Danielle Bainbridge has a Ph.D. in African American Studies and varied interests in "big Broadway musicals to the social and political movements of the last 200 years" according to her show's website. Dr. Bainbridge removes the romanticism and mythology we tell ourselves: the apotheosis we've promoted our flawed, Founding Fathers to, such that any real history that doesn't place their descendants in a good light is ignored, rewritten and propagandized. See: The Lost Cause.

People are in the streets: because 401 years is the patience of Job on steroids, post reconstruction, lynchings and Jim Crow. We've never had the luxury of PTSD: it's ever-present traumatic stress disorder, over-and-over. Necks were stretched with ropes from trees before esophagi constricted with choke holds in New York and knees in Minnesota.

In my 2016 post, Scientism, the point was scientists and the scientific community being human have prejudices. Prejudices are learned from "credible others": usually parents, relatives and authority figures respected. As Bainbridge points out in the video above, science masks racism with "reason," such that structural inequality that was once defined by divine law can be redefined by natural law, so that nothing really changes. It rationalizes low numbers in STEM fields so that no actions are needed until jogging while black: Ahmaund Aubrey; sleeping while black: Breonna Taylor, with a viral George Floyd snuff video as icing on a blood cake. I'm glad the academy is tackling it, but it's long overdue. Jane Elliott says it best: "You are not born racist. You are born into a racist society. And like anything else, if you can learn it, you can unlearn it. But some people choose not to unlearn it, because they're afraid they'll lose power if they share with other people. We are afraid of sharing power. That's what it's all about."

I don't want a "return to normal." Normal was Winthrop's "city on a hill," that might as well be a pile of feces plated with gold and silver: it's still a dressed-up pile of shit.

American mythology teaches that the early United States was founded by men of conscience who came to the "new world" in order to practice their religious convictions in peace and freedom. John Winthrop (1588–1649), the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in particular has been quoted as a source of inspiration by U.S. presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.

Yet Winthrop did not represent a tradition of either democracy or religious tolerance. He hated democracy with a passion. The state he created did not hesitate to execute people like the Quakers and even brought to the "new" world the very popular tradition of medieval Europe, the trial and execution of witches.

"A Shining City on a Hill": Troubling information about a famous quote. The Puritan tradition of intolerance and John Winthrop, World Future Fund

"United States" is oxymoron - a contradiction in terms. We're 50 warring tribes and unrepresented territories: D.C. Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We were sure adding stars to that flag, complaining about kneeling S.O.B.s protesting police brutality; stealing territory from First Nation peoples and Mexico for the racist "Manifest Destiny." We halted it when the math didn't work for the racists, and the balance of the senate was in play. I count eight more senators for 54 states, that may not vote the way Moscow Mitch might want them to. See Jane Elliott here, and above.

We've moronically made masks a culture war. The European Union consists of 27 nations, and this graph is all you need to know why there is a travel ban to Europe for U.S. citizens. He got his "travel ban," alright: American "exceptionalism" in Bizarro World. Boomerangs work, and karma is a bitch. We're apparently going to see if raking puts out forest fires and COVID spread at Mt. Rushmore. If anything bad happens, he'll blame Obama.

Masks might have stymied the spread of Coronavirus, but we're on the Good Ship Pequod abandoned by surprisingly woke Ahab, once he found out about prosthetic limbs and decided pursuing white whales for revenge was bullshit. In a fit of panic, sheer lucidity and rightfully ignoring Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s death cult ramblings, Governor Greg Abbott implemented a mandatory masks executive order in Texas, likely saving his job for re-election.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams

The ship-of-state is currently being steered by tweeting, orange Captain dumb ass, performing embarrassing, public political fellatio on a KGB agent that obviously has his number to his bank account. He has YET to retaliate to $100,000 bounties against our service members in Afghanistan. His bemoaning dead confederates was a culture war dodge: we need the ban for the safety of the rest of the planet, we're a manifest global pandemic of hate, and because we have NO leader that will protect us now! We are defenseless, and our mad emperor is perpetually naked.

We are isolated from the world. I would like us one day to rejoin it, humanely and sanely. I want us to actually START acting like the mythology we believed ourselves through propaganda (wrongly) to be.

I want us to evolve, mature, finally ...enlightened.

Read more…

Our Galaxy's Water Worlds...

16x9_CPA-4%2BWater%2BWorlds%2BNASA%2Bimagex.jpg
This artist’s concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. The composition of such water worlds has fascinated astronomers and astrophysicists for years. (Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech.)

 

Topics: Astronomy, Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Exoplanets

Out beyond our solar system, visible only as the smallest dot in space with even the most powerful telescopes, other worlds exist. Many of these worlds, astronomers have discovered, may be much larger than Earth and completely covered in water — basically ocean planets with no protruding land masses. What kind of life could develop on such a world? Could a habitat like this even support life?

A team of researchers led by Arizona State University (ASU) recently set out to investigate those questions. And since they couldn’t travel to distant exoplanets to take samples, they decided to recreate the conditions of those water worlds in the laboratory. In this case, that laboratory was the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

What they found — recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — was a new transitional phase between silica and water, indicating that the boundary between water and rock on these exoplanets is not as solid as it is here on Earth. This pivotal discovery could change the way astronomers and astrophysicists have been modeling these exoplanets, and inform the way we think about life evolving on them.

Dan Shim, associate professor at ASU, led this new research. Shim leads ASU’s Lab for Earth and Planetary Materials and has long been fascinated by the geological and ecological makeup of these distant worlds. That composition, he said, is nothing like any planet in our solar system — these planets may have more than 50% water or ice atop their rock layers, and those rock layers would have to exist at very high temperatures and under crushing pressure.

Beneath the surface of our galaxy’s water worlds, Andre Salles, Argonne National Laboratory

Read more…
Siberian%2BHeat%2BWave.PNG
Smoke rises from wildfires near Berezovka River in Russia in this June 23, 2020 color infrared image supplied by Maxar Technologies. Image taken June 23, 2020. Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via REUTERS

 

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Existentialism

LONDON/GENEVA (Reuters) - Pine trees are bursting into flames. Boggy peatlands are tinderbox dry. And towns in northern Russia are sweltering under conditions more typical of the tropics.

Reports of record-breaking Arctic heat – registered at more than 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20 – are still being verified by the World Meteorological Organization. But even without that confirmation, experts at the global weather agency are worried by satellite images showing that much of the Russian Arctic is in the red.

That extreme heat is fanning the unusual extent of wildfires across the remote, boreal forest and tundra that blankets northern Russia. Those blazes have in turn ignited normally waterlogged peatlands.

Scientists fear the blazes are early signs of drier conditions to come, with more frequent wildfires releasing stores of carbon from peatland and forests that will increase the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the air.

“This is what this heat wave is doing: It makes much more fuel available to burn, not just vegetation, but the soil as well,” said Thomas Smith, an environmental geographer at the London School of Economics. “It’s one of many vicious circles that we see in the Arctic that exacerbate climate change.”

Siberian heat wave is a 'warning cry' from the Arctic, climate scientists say, Matthew Green, Emma Farge, Reuters Science

Read more…

Pride Month...

 

AIP_pride_month_subpage_graphic_Jun18_c.jpg
Image Source: Link below

Pride Month

 

Topics: Diversity, Diversity in Science, LGBT, Women in Science

AIP and its Member Societies are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the physical sciences. In honor of Pride Month and LGBTSTEM Day, we have gathered some resources that support the LGBTQ+ community of scientists. Also highlighted are contributions from the LGBTQ+ community to science and humanity that are worthy of celebration.

LGBTSTEM Day

LGBTQ+ people in science, technology, engineering, and math continue to struggle to openly be themselves. That's why AIP is proud to partner with organizations around the world on LGBTSTEM Day, which will be celebrated on Nov. 18, 2020. We believe that a day of recognition could go a long way in helping raise awareness and increase support. We want this to be a new and important component of the global push to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM.

There’s no such thing as too small a gesture to promote and support LGBTQ+ people in STEM. You can start by checking out our resources below, following and contributing to the #LGBTSTEMday hashtag on social media — share stories, images and videos of yourself or your role models — and helping to boost the visibility of other LGBTQ+ people in science, tech, engineering, and math.

I participated in the RTNN Anti-Racism Town Hall, and delivered many of the remarks I thought about at the #ShutDownSTEM conference at JSNN. I truncated them for brevity. There were over 200 member universities on the call, including my Dean. My remarks sparked one research at Harvard to recall he was discriminated against most fully in graduate school at Stanford, and his son was accused of cheating on a middle school math test because he was African American and the only one that passed it. His father, a chemist, pointed out "how could he have cheated, when there was literally no one else he could have copied from?" An Ethiopian researcher, also a chemist, recounted she was asked by colleagues if "she knew what a Ph.D. meant?" The conference didn't strive to solve all problems in an hour and a half, but it did spark discussion and inspired this posting.

Note: RTNN = Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network with North Carolina State University; JSNN = Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a collaboration between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

I was also good friends with a gay man that was a fellow math teacher at Manor High School. We've kept up on Facebook and have interesting conversations regarding culture. He's strongly anti-racist, and he pitches ideas to me regarding culture and where we are at any given moment or movement in our society. I appreciate his candor. I also appreciate when I was deciding to go to graduate school, he was one of the many friends that pushed me along. It's a difficult decision to make a choice to leave the comfort of a paycheck and gain understanding that you likely wouldn't get from a 3-day seminar sponsored with lunch by your company. He did the same and pursued a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. I am grateful for his encouragement and inspiration.

In Austin, Texas, I also am good friends with a gay performance poet and literary editor of several journals: we're also friends on Facebook, despite the inclinations of the platform extending favors to the alt-wrong and nauseous Nazis. He is also strongly anti-racist, which is a term I use to distinguish from just the empty pronouncements "I'm not racist," or "I don't see color." We keep up on the poetry happenings in Austin as well as political news that we both comment on.

I admire both men. As I admire Alan Turing, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry; Langston Hughes. They are American icons, oft-quoted, or in the case of Turing, the father of the platforms we so enjoy on laptops, I-Pads and cellphones. They were also, as my friends, gay.

The pursuit of science and art are human endeavors. Those endeavors have no bearing on what god those humans revere, or who they chose to love.

At this juncture, post-Charlottesville, post-Ahmaud Arbery, post-Breonna Taylor, post-George Floyd, post-Tulsa, "We The People" means ALL the people: so-called black and white (there is only ONE race: the human race, everything else is politics); gay and straight. One cannot demand rights for one group and exclude them for another, especially when you name them as close friends you've had fellowship with off social media platforms.

I thank John and Scott (first names only) for being friend I can count on. They've never met, actually. But rest assured, I've met them and admire their daily courage of being themselves, fully and openly, contributing mightily to science and art.

Pride Month and LGBTSTEM Day, American Institute of Physics

Read more…

Wrestle Mania...

MilM%25C3%25A1scaras2009.png
Mil Máscaras, 2009. Source: Wikipedia

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights, Humor, Politics

In the old days, wrestlers would meet, and fans would be interested in knowing who wins and how. There were stories, but there were also plain old matches. Now, there are writers. Every match, every encounter, is designed to advance a character. And all the matches fit in to the general theme of the broadcast, which is given a title. For last week's Raw, the backstage title was "The Evolution of Justice." It's a reference to two sets of wrestlers who are on a collision course.

Your WWE wrestling script begins with background: What happened the last time WWE played to this area. Knowing what the fans remember is very important motivation for the wrestlers.

Then there are the "dark matches." Before WWE Raw goes live on the USA Network, WWE tapes two matches that will air exclusively on the company's own TV network.

Then there's the audience prep. Just like any TV show, the audience has to be conditioned to react to certain things. On April 14, WWE was going to mourn the death of the Ultimate Warrior, felled from a heart attack a few days before. So WWE announcer Jerry Lawler, who gets his own pre-event, full-stage introduction, is instructed to remind fans to put on their masks so that WWE can go live on the air with a tribute.

Then comes the first match. It'll be interrupted by a commercial break, which is something that the wrestlers know — they can't decide to go to "the finish" when the TV audience is watching a Pringles commercial. Match number one is between Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio.

The announcers know who will get "over," i.e. win, but they don't know how. This allows them to actually announce the action in the match legitimately.

Excerpts from: "Here's what a pro-wrestling script looks like," by Mark Ambinder, Newsweek

My last foray with pro wrestling was about 1974 (age 12) with both of my parents at the Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum.

These were originally father-son outings, but my mother decided she wanted to go, so we let her tag along for more than a few times. Generally, she was quiet during the action as my dad and I shouted either our approval or disdain for the admitted actors in the ring: The "American Dream," Dusty Rhodes, Dick, the Bulldog Brower (I know the definitions of his first two names, I'm clueless as to what a "Brower" is); The Mighty Igor and "the man of a thousand masks," Mil Máscaras. Mil and the Brower were in heated, pitched mock battle in the ring, when mom suddenly yelled out:

Break it off, it don't belong to you!

This was from my mother, mind you. My father and I were speechless. As if reading my embarrassed young mind, Pop said: "I expect we'll go home now." We did, and I never went to a wrestling match again. Mom wasn't exactly fuming: I think SHE was as shocked by what she said as WE were!

Previously, I've speculated this reality show carnival barker is running an episodic tragedy, only because as a terrible B-movie actor with zero empathy and no social graces, this is the only show he knows how to produce. Twitter is just a bullhorn for a snake oil salesman and carnival barker.

I posit here, instead of a reality show, he's running a typical pro-wrestling script. He's fake wrestled before and sent a doctored version of the video out personifying CNN as his adversary. He probably bathed in Ben Gay after the stunt.

My mother when she was alive was five foot, two inches, petite and well, motherly. Yelling like the rest of the crowd was a response of being in the crowd, being influenced by my father's and my actions as well as theirs. Orange Satan's spawn following is in-the-crowd: following every inane tweet, every suggesting this pandemic would be 15 people, then zero, every prediction from a faux "cubic model" this would be over by Memorial Day (it's late June), every suggestion hot weather would diminish the infections (it's not), every suggestion to drink bleach or shine a flashlight up our asses; every stupid example of NOT wearing a mask, until it's become a culture war issue.

"Stable genius" maybe should have asked Mil Máscaras?

Read more…

Majorana qubits...

pt.3.4499.figures.online.f6.jpeg
Image Source: Link below

 

Topics: History, Modern Physics, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

Soon after Enrico Fermi became a professor of physics at Italy’s University of Rome in 1927, Ettore Majorana joined his research group. Majorana’s colleagues described him as humble because he considered some of his work unexceptional. For example, Majorana correctly predicted in 1932 the existence of the neutron, which he dubbed a neutral proton, based on an atomic-structure experiment by Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Despite Fermi’s urging, Majorana didn’t write a paper. Later that year James Chadwick experimentally confirmed the neutron’s existence and was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery.

Nevertheless, Fermi thought highly of Majorana, as is captured in the following quote: “There are various categories of scientists, people of a secondary or tertiary standing, who do their best but do not go very far. There are also those of high standing, who come to discoveries of great importance, fundamental for the development of science. But then there are geniuses like Galileo and Newton. Well, Ettore was one of them.” Majorana only wrote nine papers, and the last one, about the now-eponymous fermions, was published in 1937 at Fermi’s insistence. A few months later, Majorana took a night boat to Palermo and was never seen again.1

In that final article, Majorana presented an alternative representation of the relativistic Dirac equation in terms of real wavefunctions. The representation has profound consequences because a real wavefunction describes particles that are their own antiparticles, unlike electrons and positrons. Since particles and antiparticles have opposite charges, fermions in his new representation must have zero charge. Majorana postulated that the neutrino could be one of those exotic fermions.

Although physicists have observed neutrinos for more than 60 years, whether Majorana’s hypothesis is true remains unclear. For example, the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which earned Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, demonstrates that neutrinos have mass. But the standard model requires that neutrinos be massless, so various possibilities have been hypothesized to explain the discrepancy. One answer could come from massive neutrinos that do not interact through the weak nuclear force. Such sterile neutrinos could be the particles that Majorana predicted. Whereas conclusive evidence for the existence of Majorana neutrinos remains elusive, researchers are now using Majorana’s idea for other applications, including exotic excitations in superconductors.

Majorana qubits for topological quantum computing, Physics Today

Ramón Aguado is a senior researcher at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid.

Leo Kouwenhoven is a researcher at the Microsoft Quantum Lab Delft and a professor of applied physics at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Read more…
 

 

This is a quick piece I did while inspired for novels I've been working on. ^_^

I obsess over various characters from time to time, which results in me sketching and doodling all over my notebooks.

Of all my main characters - Holl and Doren (adoptive siblings), Selah and Raga (young twins), Daiu and Ramal (soul-bound), Jam and Reli (an odd partnership), Docus and Mur (perfect couple), Shock and Dash (80-yr-old twin scientists), etc - I find myself wanting to draw Mikal, son of a human and a star!

Repeatedly.

And if you're wondering if I might be fangirling... ALL of me is a Mikal Fangirl!

To the point that I've written my own dang fanfics about him - just because I REALLY wanted to be in his story, or had ideas for "what if XYZ horrible thing hadn't happened?" and whatnot.

... That and he's gorgeous lol.

 

i am, however, aware... =__= that my current level of computer-graphics art does NOT do this guy justice!

 

He's got silver hair, golden-to-dark-green eyes (depends on certain factors, but he's half ethereal so his form alters in slight ways under certain circumstances), brown skin (generally light-brown but again, varies in hue depending on factors), and - my personal favorite - RESTING B-FACE!

Which makes me laugh. XD

He's had that face since he was born. Came out lookin' like an angry baby XD But he's a sweetheart!

... well... for the most part.

 

He... kinda did some things that he probably definitely never should have done ever. ... EVER. But. ... I think that's also why I love him so much.

He's flawed. And beautiful. And terrifying at times. But no matter what, he's always sincere. And he spends the remainder of his very-long life, after the extremely tragic issues he caused... trying to make up for it in whatever way he can.

 

I don't believe all my readers will be willing to forgive him. But I hope that, as I convey his tale, you will at least find a connection with him.

 

I'll be sure to talk more about Kina too, at some point, but it's hard to talk about her without giving away certain parts of their story that are kinda critical. For now, I'll at least say that this picture makes me all warm and happy. It depicts a rare moment of peace in their crazy lives, when Mikal tries - and fails once again - to interest the girl in reading. Kina is the type who'd rather go out and explore, and she has a small attention span. But she adores Mikal, and at least makes an attempt to listen... But I mean, butterflies and stuff.

If you want to read about them, they'll be in the Books of Mikal series I'm working on. The first story is about Mikal's mother, Rozaeli, and the events that led to his birth. A fairy tale came out of this, in their world (Rhiad), "The Maiden and the Star" - which is listed as a coming title of mine on my website (www.c9prod.com). I'm pondering publishing these as "Tales of T'vanna: Fable of the Maiden and the Star" and then the true events as "Books of Mikal: Star Maiden."

 

Once "Lissa's Choice" is officially published, you'll see some references to Mikal in there as well - and references to Lydi from what I'd intended to call "Bubblewitch" until the phone game came out, so I've begrudgingly changed the title to "Water Witch."It probably sounds better to readers anyway - but the truth of how she skips through time has more to do with bubbles than water. Oh well.

 

*** My first animation - for Desmond Deathflores - is in the works! Can't wait to show it to you! ***

(below images from The Tale of Desmond Deathflores - the fable about a poisonous flower who chose to be more than what the world thought of him.)

 

 

Read more…

36, or 42...

Intelligent%2BLife.PNG
A meme of past memes - seemed apropos.

 

Topics: Astrophysics, Humor, Science Fiction, SETI

Note: I use three sources for the commentary I've seen breathlessly displayed on the Internet speculating there may be 36 communicative (but, noticeably silent) civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. I grinned, and composed the combo meme above. Two words came to mind on my social media feed: click bait.

*****

The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is. Source: Wikipedia

*****

It's been a hundred years since Fermi, an icon of physics, was born (and nearly a half-century since he died). He's best remembered for building a working atomic reactor in a squash court. But in 1950, Fermi made a seemingly innocuous lunchtime remark that has caught and held the attention of every SETI researcher since. (How many luncheon quips have you made with similar consequence?)

The remark came while Fermi was discussing with his mealtime mates the possibility that many sophisticated societies populate the Galaxy. They thought it reasonable to assume that we have a lot of cosmic company. But somewhere between one sentence and the next, Fermi's supple brain realized that if this was true, it implied something profound. If there are really a lot of alien societies, then some of them might have spread out.

Fermi realized that any civilization with a modest amount of rocket technology and an immodest amount of imperial incentive could rapidly colonize the entire Galaxy. Within ten million years, every star system could be brought under the wing of empire. Ten million years may sound long, but in fact it's quite short compared with the age of the Galaxy, which is roughly ten thousand million years. Colonization of the Milky Way should be a quick exercise.

So what Fermi immediately realized was that the aliens have had more than enough time to pepper the Galaxy with their presence. But looking around, he didn't see any clear indication that they're out and about. This prompted Fermi to ask what was (to him) an obvious question: "where is everybody?"

SETI Institute: Fermi Paradox, Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer

*****

How many intelligent alien civilizations are out there among the hundreds of billions of stars in the spiral arms of the Milky Way? According to a new calculation, the answer is 36.

That number assumes that life on Earth is more or less representative of the way that life evolves anywhere in the universe — on a rocky planet an appropriate distance away from a suitable star, after about 5 billion years. If that assumption is true, humanity may not exactly be alone in the galaxy, but any neighbors are probably too far away to ever meet.

On the other hand, that assumption that life everywhere will evolve on the same timeline as life on Earth is a huge one, said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who was not involved in the new study. That means that the seeming precision of the calculations is misleading.

"If you relax those big, big assumptions, those numbers can be anything you want," Shostak told Live Science.

The question of whether humans are alone in the universe is a complete unknown, of course. But in 1961, astronomer Frank Drake introduced a way to think about the odds. Known as the Drake equation, this formulation rounds up the variables that determine whether or not humans are likely to find (or be found by) intelligent extraterrestrials: The average rate of star formation per year in the galaxy, the fraction of those stars with planets, the fraction of those planets that form an ecosystem, and the even smaller fraction that develop life. Next comes the fraction of life-bearing planets that give rise to intelligent life, as opposed to, say, alien algae. That is further divided into the fraction of intelligent extraterrestrial life that develops communication detectable from space (humans fit into this category, as humanity has been communicating with radio waves for about a century).

The final variable is the average length of time that communicating alien civilizations last. The Milky Way is about 14 billion years old. If most intelligent, communicating civilizations last, say, a few hundred years at most, the chances that Earthlings will overlap with their communications is measly at best.

Solving the Drake equation isn't possible, because the values of most of the variables are unknown. But University of Nottingham astrophysicist Christopher Conselice and his colleagues were interested in taking a stab at it with new data about star formation and the existence of exoplanets, or planets that circle other stars outside our own solar system. They published their findings June 15 in The Astrophysical Journal.

Are there really 36 alien civilizations out there? Well, maybe. Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

Read more…