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Geodes...

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(Just_Super/iStock)

 

Topics: Black Holes, Cosmology, Dark Energy, Einstein, General Relativity, Gravity


A fifty-year-old hypothesis predicting the existence of bodies dubbed Generic Objects of Dark Energy (GEODEs) is getting a second look in light of a proposed correction to assumptions we use to model the way our Universe expands.

If this new version of a classic cosmological model is correct, some black holes could hide cores of pure dark energy, pushing our Universe apart at the seams.

University of Hawaii astrophysicist Kevin Croker and mathematician Joel Weiner teamed up to challenge the broadly accepted notion that when it comes to the Universe's growing waistline, its contents are largely irrelevant.

"For 80 years, we've generally operated under the assumption that the Universe, in broad strokes, was not affected by the particular details of any small region," said Croker.

"It is now clear that general relativity can observably connect collapsed stars – regions the size of Honolulu – to the behavior of the Universe as a whole, over a thousand billion billion times larger."

Not only could this alternative interpretation of fundamental physics change how we understand the Universe's expansion, but we might need to also consider how that growth might affect compact objects like the cores of collapsing stars.

 

Black Holes May Hide Cores of Pure Dark Energy That Keep The Universe Expanding
Mike McCrae, Science Alert

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Boiling Superconductivity...

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Under pressure: calculated structure of lithium magnesium hydride. Lithium atoms appear in green, magnesium in blue and hydrogen in red. (Courtesy: Ying Sun et al/Phys. Rev. Lett.)

 

Topics: Chemistry, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Superconductors


A material that remains a superconductor when heated to the boiling point of water has been predicted by physicists in China. Hanyu Liu, Yanming Ma and colleagues at Jilin University have calculated that lithium magnesium hydride will superconduct at temperatures as high as 473 K (200 °C).

The catch is that the hydrogen-rich material must be crushed at 250 GPa, which is on par with pressures at the center of the Earth. While such a pressure could be achieved in the lab, it would be very difficult to perform an experiment to verify the prediction. The team’s research could, however, lead to the discovery of more practical high-temperature superconductors.

Superconductors are materials that, when cooled below a critical temperature, will conduct electricity with zero resistance. Most superconductors need to be chilled to very low temperatures, so the holy grail of superconductivity research is to find a substance that will superconduct at room temperature. This would result in lossless electricity transmission and boost technologies that rely on the generation or detection of magnetic fields.

 

Superconductivity at the boiling temperature of water is possible, say physicists
Hamish Johnston, Physics World

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Handmaids, Families and Utopias...

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Image Source: Trump's 'Sharpie Gate' Hurricane Dorian Stunt is Getting Trolled on Twitter
Alison Sullivan, God's Daily Dot

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Star Trek


I will make a commentary on "Sharpie Gate" momentarily.

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state resembling a theonomy that overthrows the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred. Her name derives from the possessive form "of Fred"; handmaids are forbidden to use their birth names and must echo the male, or master, whom they serve.

Beginning with a staged attack that killed the president and most of Congress, a radical political group calling itself the "Sons of Jacob", exploiting religious ideology closely resembling some traits of Christian Reconstructionism, launches a revolution. The United States Constitution is suspended, newspapers are censored, and what was formerly the United States of America changes drastically into a theonomic military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power, overtaking all pre-existing religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations; and reorganizes society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. Above all, the biggest change is the severe limitation of people's rights, especially those of women, making them unable to hold property, handle money, as well as forbidding them to read or write.

The story is told in the first-person narration by a woman called Offred. In this era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility brought about by environmental pollution and radiation, she is one of those few women with healthy reproductive systems. Hence she is forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of men "Commanders", and is known as a "Handmaid" based on the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. Apart from Handmaids, other women are also classed socially and follow a strict dress code, ranked highest to lowest: the Commanders' Wives in blue, the Handmaids in red with the exception of white veils around their faces, the Aunts (who train and indoctrinate the Handmaids) in brown, the Martha's (cooks and maids) in green, "Econo-wives" who handle everything in the domestic sphere in stripes, young and unmarried girls in white and widows in black.

Source: The Handmaid's Tale, Wikipedia

Aptly described by one viewer as "the prologue to The Handmaid's Tale", Netflix's The Family is the new docuseries taking the world by storm.

A deeply gripping tale, the critically acclaimed show tells the story of the clandestine Christian organization called 'The Family' and their hidden influence on U.S. politics.

Based on a true story, The Family is a docuseries that combines archival photos and interviews with dramatic reenactments to investigate a secret Christian organisation known as The Fellowship Foundation, colloquially referred to as 'The Family'.

Their Washington D.C.-based network, comprised solely of men, includes numerous high-powered politicians, diplomats and religious leaders from around the world, who conspire together to influence legislation on a global level.

Their leader is a man named Doug Coe, described in the trailer as "the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of". Coe believed that God's work was best carried out away from the public eye.

Source: The Family, docuseries on Netflix, Harper's Bazaar

The Family author, Jeff Sharlet wrote it and its follow on, C Street as warnings on the abuse of power by an un-elected political organization that has out-sized influence on the US government. We've accepted the National Prayer Breakfast as "normal," when in strict constructionist reading of The Constitution, flagrantly violates The First Amendment.

Margaret Atwood opined in interview that what she wrote in 1985 isn't something she dreamed up out of whole cloth: there are real-life analogs. What was dramatized in the book and now in the series as the overthrow of the federal republic, suspension of the US Constitution has a prologue we often don't see...until the "Sons of Jacob" think they can openly get away with violence. They may first have an ultra secret organization that no one except for one truthful author has ever heard about.

 

*****


The joke is first evangelical literature in the 1970s and the 1980s focused on the "end times" as a terrible, awful future event to avoid. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was often quoted at the end of a popular litany of speculative literature as a cosmic "get out of jail" card with the almighty. It also calmed and soothed Christian writers' audiences enough to consider the next book in their careers of scaring the bejesus out of their readers.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA) set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white, Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Robert P. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious and sexual liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them.

The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, Amazon.com

The mythology of Star Trek likely germinated in the nightmares Gene Roddenberry and people steeped in Cold War "duck and cover" drills (me included), thought a lot about: would World War III be the existential LAST war? Worlds orbit suns as we now observe throughout the universe. They do not require air, water or life - sentient or otherwise, just gravity, planetary physics and an orbital path.

It is mythology because benevolent aliens happening upon a fledgling warp species is pure "Deus ex machina." Warp drive is as imaginative as unicorns. Aliens that can traverse vast distances would probably be indifferent, if not militant to a technologically emerging species. Roddenberry could have easily made them Klingons.

The short-lived Enterprise, debuting days after September 11, 2001, tried to document our unsteady first steps to the stars, prior to Federation bureaucracies, Prime Directives and the original intro that became The Captain's Oath.

The CBS streamed, so far sophomore seasoned Discovery series not only fleshed out Captain Christopher Pike - the previous USS Enterprise's highest ranking Starfleet officer - it briefly alluded to the third world war in season 2 regarding ex-pat Earthlings and a time-traveling Red Angel (no spoilers - stream, binge and catch up).

What's missing is the cause.

Lying about Hurricane Dorian like a third grader forging his 68 on a report card to an "88" before his parents see it. It is callous of the lives lost in the Atlantic (20 and counting); the height of narcissistic personality disorder, and also illegal.

18 U.S.C. §2074 makes it a crime to issue a counterfeit weather forecast, claiming that it was issued by the Weather Bureau.

Despite a rare rebuke by the National Weather Service, who ostensibly WORK for the orange twit, he doubled, tripled and QUADRUPLED down, exhaustively dragging us ALL into his mad Twitter reality where he is king for life, he is right all the time and his "great brain" is the purest of genius, even stable.

We pulled out of the nuclear arms deal with Iran with the impulsive, not thought through, non-reviewed action that let us walk out of the Paris Climate Accords. We may have to send troops to ensure Iran doesn't reconstitute it's nuclear enrichment program (what the deal was supposed to do); we may end up paying trillions mitigating the after effects of super heated ocean water resulting in climate change damages after calling it a "Chinese hoax."

2053 is the fictional start of the Trek timeline almost species ending third world war. Ten years after that, Zefram Cochrane flies the Phoenix and attracts the attention of Vulcans who are (as written), benevolent, logical and vegetarian. We weren't interesting until we warped, because apparently thermonuclear annihilation and near species extinction is rather boring on a galactic scale.

The "end" may not take thirty-four years. It might just take an errant tweet during a septuagenarian bowel movement in the midst of "executive time" to produce a demonstrably pathetic lie about Alabama...or, a mushroom cloud.

Homo Sapiens to Homo Stultus...a gross, but sadly fitting epitaph.

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” James Baldwin
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Shake, Rattle and Roar...

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SpaceX's Mars Starship prototype "Starhopper" hovers over its launchpad during a test flight in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Trevor Mahlmann

 

Topics: Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight


(Reuters) - SpaceX test-launched an early prototype of the company’s Mars rocket on Tuesday, unnerving residents near the Texas site and clearing another key hurdle in billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s interplanetary ambitions.

After the launch, Musk congratulated engineers from SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp, and posted a photo of Starhopper touching down on its landing pad with billowing clouds of dust and sand rising from the ground.

“One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars,” Musk tweeted.

The prototype, dubbed Starhopper, slowly rose about 500 feet (152 m) off its launch pad in Brownsville, Texas, and propelled itself some 650 feet (198 m) eastward onto an adjacent landing platform, completing a seemingly successful low-altitude test of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.

The Raptor is designed to power Musk’s forthcoming heavy-lift Starship rocket, a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty that is expected to play a central role in Musk’s interplanetary space travel objectives, including missions to Mars.

 

SpaceX's Mars rocket prototype rattles nearby residents in Texas flight test
Joey Roulette, Reuters Science

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Helsinki to Biarritz...

 

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


We got here from a so-called "reality show" about a faux billionaire:

The Apprentice was first aired in 2004, and presented Trump as the ultra-successful real estate deal-maker who would choose from a cast of candidates competing for a job in the Trump Organization. Trump's catch phrase on the show was, "You're fired," which he would deliver pointing at that week's unsuccessful candidate.

Editor Jonathan Braun told the publication that Trump would fire contestants on the show on a whim, forcing editors to "reverse engineer" programs to make Trump's decisions seem coherent.

Show producer Mark Burnett remarked, "We know each week who has been fired, and therefore, you're editing in reverse." Amid a series of firings and resignations in the Trump administration, he remarked, "I find it strangely validating to hear that they're doing the same thing in the White House."

Production staff described how their job was to elevate Trump's image, whose star had fallen since his 1980s heyday of fame.

"Most of us knew he was a fake," Braun, who worked on six series of the show, told The New Yorker. "He had just gone through I don't know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king."

Louis Anslow points out a certain German chancellor was initially considered a joke as well. As he posits, "how did that work out?"

For someone that constantly carps "no collusion" and "the Russian hoax," he gives fodder to those who think otherwise:

Biarritz, France (CNN) - A sharp and sometimes bitter disagreement broke out between President Donald Trump and several G7 leaders over whether to allow Russia back into their club during a welcome dinner on Saturday, according to two diplomatic officials and a senior US official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump, as he did in public over the course of the summit, ardently advocated for it, the officials said. As the leaders discussed issues like Iran and fires in the Amazon rain forest, Trump interjected and asked why Russia should not be included in the talks, given its size and role in global affairs.

That met sharp resistance from some of the leaders, principally German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They argued Russia had grown more anti-democratic since it was ejected in 2014 for its incursion into Ukraine, disqualifying it from rejoining the G7.

The dispute amounted to one of the most heated moments of this weekend's G7. Afterward, Trump publicly insisted the gathering was marked by displays of unity and cooperation. While the leaders did hold amiable discussions throughout both the dinner and other sessions, the exchange on Russia was notable for the fiercely argued views on both sides, the officials said.

He might as well put on a Russian ballerina tutu, "I love Putin" t-shirt and cheerleader pompoms:

It wasn’t the first time Trump has said his predecessor was somehow responsible for the act of aggression that got Russia booted from the G-8, and he’s never been able to come up with anything better than “whatever” in explaining how exactly President Obama was supposed to stop the annexation. All that matters, according to Trump, is that Obama is bad and Putin, even at his most anti-democratic, is incapable of wrongdoing. Just like Trump.

Trump’s anti-Obama screed on Monday came after he was asked about his belief that Putin should be readmitted to the G7 despite showing no remorse for his indiscretions, a cause Trump championed at last year’s G7 in Canada, and again over the weekend in France. As the Washington Post reported on Monday, Trump’s desire to bring Putin back into the fold was far more intense in Biarritz than the president let on publicly, which is saying a lot.

His campaign began on Saturday night, when world leaders met for the first time over dinner. As the Post writes, after beginning cordially, the occasion went “off the rails” when Trump started lobbying on behalf of Putin. His dining partners were not pleased:

“The entire 44-year vision of the G-7 gathering, according to the non-U.S. participants, is to hash out global issues among like-minded democracies. So the discussion quickly turned even more fundamental: whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy, officials said.

Most of the other participants forcefully believed the answer was yes. Trump believed the answer was no. The push back against him was delivered so passionately that the U.S. president’s body language changed as one leader after another dismissed his demand, according to a senior official who watched the exchange. He crossed his arms. His stance became more combative.”

Not even Boris Johnson, the new Brexit-happy prime minister of England, was on Trump’s side. The next day, he reportedly gave plaudits to French President Emmanuel Macron for how he diffused the argument over dinner the previous night. “You did very well there last night,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “My God, that was a difficult one.

We are five years and forty-eight hours from halcyon days when tan suits were the controversial rage. We're in a daily abusive relationship with a gas lighter and his cult following (a short list): Alex Jones between throwing obvious psychotic fits and accusing anything beyond his third grade comprehension of reading and math to "false flag operations"; feckless evangelicals that have given up any pretense of moral authority, KKK et al racist domestic terrorists and Q-Anon, the natural online evolution from the outer fringes of 4CHAN and 8CHAN per "It Came From Something Awful" author Dan Beran. It could yet become more awful. Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" was a fanciful, dystopian novel and a fascinating Hulu series: not a blueprint. White evangelicals have strange hard on's.

Orange Satan's spiritual and hair mousse twin in the old country suspended parliament to popular backlash, an assault on the British Constitution that can only push our own constitutional assaults to the forefront of his "limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character" per General "mad dog" Mattis. 84 environmental regulations are being rolled back, inclusive of methane - a gas along with carbon dioxide that exacerbates global warming, as fires burn in the Amazon and a hurricane barrels towards Florida. The Tongass National Forest mitigates climate change like the Amazon - he's ordered chopped down. We are becoming Apokolips.

It makes as much sense as rolling coal exhaust trucks "owning the libs" polluting the same air they breathe on the same planet. It's the equivalent of shooting their own feet...and laughing about the gaping hole.

Nothing about what he does makes any sense other than political penis envy of the smarter, (bigger hands), more popular black president who's legacy he's hellbent in cartoon megalomania villainy in trying to destroy. Champagne glasses are clicking in the Kremlin, who like their smokestack gremlin brethren ALSO live on the same planet!

In comic books, good typically triumphs over evil.

This life is not a comic book.

There will be no movie...nor a sequel.
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Quantum Sound...

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Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Modern Physics, Phonons, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics


Researchers have gained control of the elusive “particle” of sound, the phonon. Although phonons—the smallest units of the vibrational energy that makes up sound waves—are not matter, they can be considered particles the way photons are particles of light. Photons commonly store information in prototype quantum computers, which aim to harness quantum effects to achieve unprecedented processing power. Using sound instead may have advantages, although it would require manipulating phonons on very fine scales.

Until recently, scientists lacked this ability; just detecting an individual phonon destroyed it. Early methods involved converting phonons to electricity in quantum circuits called superconducting qubits. These circuits accept energy in specific amounts; if a phonon’s energy matches, the circuit can absorb it—destroying the phonon but giving an energy reading of its presence.

In a new study, scientists at JILA (a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder) tuned the energy units of their superconducting qubit so phonons would not be destroyed. Instead the phonons sped up the current in the circuit, thanks to a special material that created an electric field in response to vibrations. Experimenters could then detect how much change in current each phonon caused.

“There’s been a lot of recent and impressive successes using superconducting qubits to control the quantum states of light. And we were curious—what can you do with sound that you can’t with light?” says Lucas Sletten of U.C. Boulder, lead author of the study published in June in Physical Review X. One difference is speed: sound travels much slower than light. Sletten and his colleagues took advantage of this to coordinate circuit-phonon interactions that sped up the current. They trapped phonons of particular wavelengths (called modes) between two acoustic “mirrors,” which reflect sound, and the relatively long time sound takes to make a round trip allowed the precise coordination. The mirrors were a hair’s width apart—similar control of light would require mirrors separated by about 12 meters.

 

Trapping the Tiniest Sound, Leila Sloman, Scientific American

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Lords and Serfs...

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Danny Kaye - The Court Jester


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D. - National Constitution Center

The idea behind a republic: "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law" Merriam-Webster

I seriously doubt he ever planned to win.

The outrageous things he said on the campaign trail quickly got replaced by the daily outrageous things he says in the oval office.

It's why he never backed out of the Moscow Tower deal: the reason he doesn't look like he has a plan or a clue is because he's NEVER had one beyond his own wallet.

His former life as a conman masquerading as a billionaire on a faux reality show he has publicly announced he misses. A child of privilege and the hell spawn of a New York real estate scion, he's never had to face his own limitations as no one in his space of living has ever given him any. He's never doubted his own self-aggrandized fantasies of himself as he dismissed quickly anyone that countered the addictive fantasy with stone-cold facts. Thus, climate change is a Chinese hoax and Russia didn't install a Manchurian candidate.

Nielsen Ratings alone could never feed the ravenous appetite of a person that craves constant attention; that may never forgive the deserved punning received at the White House Correspondents Dinner, itself a response by then President Obama on his racist birtherism shtick. It drove up ratings. It drove attention and crowds to him. It's the kind of thing that feeds the never-ending hunger of a malignant narcissist.

How does such a being... come to be?

For [Dr. Justin] Frank, the dynamic between infant and mother has a profound influence on a person’s psychological outlook and health. Trump’s mother was Mary Anne MacLeod, who arrived in New York from the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 1930. After six years as a domestic worker and nanny, she married the property developer Fred Trump and they had five children.

The otherwise garrulous president has said little about his mother. Notably, for his first few months in the Oval Office, the only photo behind his desk was of his father. His mother was added later. Yet, Frank points out, 72-year-old Trump’s gravity-defying hair is a very deliberate homage to his mum’s.

“The fact that he tries to get us to feel his anxiety and he externalizes responsibility makes me feel that, as a young child, he did not feel contained or held by his mother or other caretakers,” he says. “He didn’t have a strong maternal force in his life.

“The one thing we do know biographically is that when he was two, the last child in the family was born, but when his mother went to the hospital she didn’t come home right away. She had a hemorrhage, she had four surgeries and came close to dying and there was virtually no talk about that in the family. His older siblings just went to school as if it were normal while they’re terribly worried about their mother.”

His mother’s frequent absences, Frank suggests, left Trump devoid of empathy.

“One of the things that you do when you’re feeling ignored and abandoned in some way,” he says, “is develop contempt for that part of yourself. You have the hatred of your own weakness and you then become a bully and make other people feel weak, or mock other people to make it clear that you’re the strong one and that you don’t have any needs.

In the end, he has mommy issues.

He tweets from the shitter, and gets two strong, opinionated congresswomen barred from Israel. He belittles and demeans those he feels most intimidated by: opinionated, strong women. It explains his venom in the 2016 campaign against his opponent. His following may be like him: everyone loves mommy until she runs for president. The United States managed before Barack Obama to maintain the continued hegemony of White Anglo Saxon Protestant (John F. Kennedy the noted exception) Cisgender Male Supremacy. No person of color before him came close, no woman, no openly gay candidate, no Asian, Hispanic/Latino. The Make America Great Again (ironically, "MAGA" in Nigerian means one who has been conned) desperately wants to restore that sociopathic order, murderous to everyone else but themselves.

He wishes to be a lord like the royal families in Europe, always emphasizing innate qualities bequeathed by biology or deity: "good genes," a public compensation for feeling less than worthy of his ascension to a golden toilet throne.

He wishes to be lord in a realm of actual billionaires and successful business empires who haven't filed for bankruptcy six times, closed down and settled fraudulent universities or fraudulent charities and Olympic level lawsuits only exceeded by his pathological lies.
 

He wishes to be a lord above the serfs who follow him, that like any conman he disdains.

In the end, despite the Newsweek article, he's lower than a court jester made king...he may even think he's as witty and talented as his fellow New York resident, the late Danny Kaye.

In the end, he's just Biff: "Lord of the Flies" (and we know what they eat).
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Image Source: Entertainment Weekly
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Stepping Backwards...

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Image source: link [1] below

 

Topics: Civics, NASA, Space Exploration, Star Trek, STEM


The first time I ran into the notion of the moon landing being "faked," a young coworker showed me a grainy amateurish video on YouTube. I encountered it with a co-vendor at the IBM research facility I supported. To neither, both younger than me, did it matter that "I was there" and they weren't on the planet yet. Evidence and eye witness testimony did not move them from their stances.

Neil Armstrong thought he had a 50–50 shot at pulling it off. "There are so many unknowns," the first man to set foot on the moon said in a 2011 interview with an Australian accounting firm. “There was a big chance that there was something in there we didn’t understand properly and we [would have] to abort and come back to Earth without landing.” That he, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins—with the help of thousands of NASA engineers, scientists and mission controllers on Earth—did pull off a moon landing remains one of humanity's most incredible achievements.

Consider that 50 years ago this month a 36-story-tall Saturn V rocket weighing as much as 400 elephants climbed away from Earth atop an explosion more powerful than the output of 85 Hoover Dams. Once in space, the astronauts escaped Earth orbit, traveled to lunar orbit, then undocked part of their spacecraft and steered it down for a soft impact on an alien land. Perhaps even more impressive, after taking a walk around, they climbed back in their lunar lander, launched off the surface of another planetary body (another first), rejoined the command module orbiting roughly 60 miles above the lunar surface, and then flew back to Earth, splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean two days later. [1]

The spin offs from the space industry technologically benefited America. Not since the king cotton era (fueled by the free, uncompensated slave labor of my ancestors) had the United States enjoyed such dominance in production, productivity and economic expansion. It would go on for decades, many young people inspired by NASA, Star Trek reruns and conventions to pursue STEM careers out of a passion for exploration, and birthing a more egalitarian society post previous sectarian divisions.

Exactly 50 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would land on the Moon and inspire a generation of young people to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

The Apollo program's effect of inspiring America's children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most powerful lasting legacies of the Moon race. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be coming to an end.

On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, LEGO asked The Harris Poll to survey a total of 3,000 children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their attitudes toward and knowledge of space. The results reveal that, at least for Western countries, kids today are more interested in YouTube than spaceflight. [2]

Entertainment and ambition looked upward: the notion of a three nacelle starship with a saucer section that could travel impossible speeds fueled imaginations. The notion of defying relativistic time dilation, traversing vast distances in human lifetimes propelled many of us into STEM to “do our parts” in getting at least close to this lofty goal. A fifth or tenth the speed of light to Proxima Centauri would achieve that aim. Any higher level physics class disabused us of attaining “warp speed,” but we could see the technological benefit and spin off of assisting in things that would promote the “Common Good” here on Terra Firma.

We did not count on the divorce of productivity and cost of living wages, stagnant since the 1970s. We did not count on conspiracy theorists masking themselves as serious news pundits and influencing more than clicks or product purchases from their sites. We did not count on the rapidly increasing (and encouraged) income disparity. We did not count on politicians bought by wealthy families and corporations whose only about getting wealthier and more powerful in our lives. We did not count on science denial, climate or otherwise. Such a dysfunctional dystopia depends on selfies, self-centered attitudes and distractions, like supercomputers in our hip pockets sharing our suppers; websites that reinforce our views and cute cat videos. And we did not count on the cultural division encouraged by authoritarians the world over as their best means of controlling the masses.

It is in such a world young people would rather be YouTube personalities than starship captains.

My previous, gob-smacking encounters with my younger coworkers are now explained.
 

1. One Small Step Back in Time: Relive the Wonder of Apollo 11, Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American
2. American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts, Eric Berger, ArsTechica

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This Present Darkness...

The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Roger Ebert 1988 review

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Politics


"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12, ESV

I was so incensed Wednesday that a sitting president would accept help from a hostile foreign government if it helped him win, I penned a 5-page letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, six pages with references I cited.

I then emailed it (the memory cut off six of my eleven references). I posted it on Scribd.com. I then tweeted it to her @SpeakerPelosi. I snail mailed it from the local Post Office and bought Marvin Gaye stamps, finally. Tracking has her office getting it on Tuesday of next week.

The grave disappointment came when I called her number in DC: 202-225-4965. You can try, but you're given three options:

Option 1

You could leave a message to "voice your opinion, or pass on a personal story," except her mailbox is full. You're given the option to dial "0" and "someone will assist you." After a LONG radio silence, the call was summarily dropped.

Option 2

This gives you instructions of how to email the Speaker at Speaker.gov/contact. See first statement, second paragraph above.

Option 3

This gives you a guide to go to Speaker.gov to view her latest policy statements as well as her Twitter feed. See first sentence, second paragraph for which I would have had to GO to her website to do in the first place!

My letter, emailed, tweeted and snail mailed is at the link below. Depending on the platform, it either appears as an embed or a link. Each version will likely be read by a staffer and responded to with a form letter, restating the positions she's taken publicly and stamped with her mimeographed signature. Perhaps we've always been like this: instead of a "separation of powers," there's a separation of the people from the representatives we elect to power, No matter the outcome of the 2020 election, Nancy Pelosi will still be, from her service since the first wave of the "year of the woman" that brought her to prominence, quite wealthy - her children and grandchildren in a class mine probably will never enjoy. This is the kind of result that depresses voter turnout, as votes are a "hope" for a better future as well as an expression of desire by the governed. It is not surprising we are not being listened to, that the "mailbox is full."

And I sincerely hope, in my lamentations regarding this post, that I am horribly wrong.

The bottom line: we're the Calvary. Our last real president said: "we're the ones we've been waiting for." Granted, he failed Ferguson quite spectacularly, but he didn't require help from the Chinese et al to win either of his elections, he didn't solicit it publicly on TWO occasions, nor did his party give him cover as he actively subverted democracy.

If we want this republic, one nation, indivisible to stand and survive this present darkness: we may have to actually fight for its very life.

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Weird...

Credit: Shutterstock

 

Topics: God Particle, Higgs Boson, Large Hadron Collider, Standard Model, Theoretical Physics


c. 1400, "having power to control fate, from weird (n.), from Old English wyrd "fate, chance, fortune; destiny; the Fates," literally "that which comes," from Proto-Germanic *wurthiz (source also of Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt "fate," Old Norse urðr "fate, one of the three Norns"), from PIE *wert- "to turn, to wind," (source also of German werden, Old English weorðan "to become"), from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." For sense development from "turning" to "becoming," compare phrase turn into "become."

Etymology online: Weird

We all know and love the Higgs boson — which to physicists' chagrin has been mistakenly tagged in the media as the "God particle" — a subatomic particle first spotted in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) back in 2012. That particle is a piece of a field that permeates all of space-time; it interacts with many particles, like electrons and quarks, providing those particles with mass, which is pretty cool.

But the Higgs that we spotted was surprisingly lightweight. According to our best estimates, it should have been a lot heavier. This opens up an interesting question: Sure, we spotted a Higgs boson, but was that the only Higgs boson? Are there more floating around out there doing their own things?

But the Higgs that we spotted was surprisingly lightweight. According to our best estimates, it should have been a lot heavier. This opens up an interesting question: Sure, we spotted a Higgs boson, but was that the only Higgs boson? Are there more floating around out there doing their own things?

Physicists Search for Monstrous Higgs Particle. It Could Seal the Fate of the Universe.
Paul Sutter, Astrophysicist, Live Science

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Your iPhone as Tricorder...

Silicon chips similar to those that would be used in the detection process. Credit: Vanderbilt University/Heidi Hall

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Medical Physics, Nanotechnology, Star Trek


The simplest home medical tests might look like a deck of various silicon chips coated in special film, one that could detect drugs in the blood, another for proteins in the urine indicating infection, another for bacteria in water and the like. Add the bodily fluid you want to test, take a picture with your smart phone, and a special app lets you know if there's a problem or not.

That's what electrical engineer Sharon Weiss, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering at Vanderbilt University, and her students developed in her lab, combining their research on low-cost, nanostructured thin films with a device most American adults already own. "The novelty lies in the simplicity of the basic idea, and the only costly component is the smart phone," Weiss said.

"Most people are familiar with silicon as being the material inside your computer, but it has endless uses," she said. "With our nanoscale porous silicon, we've created these nanoscale holes that are a thousand times smaller than your hair. Those selectively capture molecules when pre-treated with the appropriate surface coating, darkening the silicon, which the app detects."
 

 

iPhone plus nanoscale porous silicon equals cheap, simple home diagnostics
Heidi Hall, Vanderbilt University, Phys.org

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The Talented Tenth Saga #2

A Time Traveler from the future arrives in present Alabama to be captured by uber-billionaire, The Salesman, who is rumored to be almost 200 years old. The Time Traveler must seek help from the superhero group called The Talented Tenth.  Can the Human Pearl, The Buffalo Soldier, Milk Maiden, Fiery Furnace, Zara, The Mysterious Maestro, Black Butterfly, Alien Ambassador and John Henry 2.0 rescue the Time Traveler and save the Past, Present and Future?The Talented Tenth Saga will be an 8 issue limited run comic book series. 

This is a Live Action Comic book that will be released Netflix-style meaning all at once.

https://www.facebook.com/Talentedtenthsaga/

Check out the Character Posters/Bios.

-Chris

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The Talented Tenth Saga

Heroes Like Me Entertainment is proud to present the covers for all 8 issues of The Talented Tenth Saga. Be apart of this epic adventure. Actresses and Actors within Alabama joined together to tell a Astonishing Tale. They did it because they believe that everyone deserves heroes that look like them.
All 8 issues will be released Netflix style. It will all be made available INSTANTLY to be enjoyed immediately. No WAITING 
Stay Tuned to this page and....SHARE
Coming Soon.

https://www.facebook.com/Talentedtenthsaga/

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Elysium Oceania...

Plan for Tokyo Bay by Kenzo Tange, 1960. Wikimedia

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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AfroFuturism, the Term and the Work

Admittedly, I have a thing about names. I’ll correct you as many times as it takes before you say mine correctly. I’ll listen to you say your own and try to match it. My undergrad thesis focused on correctly contextualizing the work of Octavia Butler within genre, subgenre and ‘canon’. You see I just put canon in quotes so it shouldn’t surprise you that I had some of my own thoughts about naming a storybundle I curated, Afrofuturism. If you don’t know, there’s a bit of a discussion about the validity and context of this term as well as the power dynamics and agency of naming artistic moments/movements. Instead of rehashing said discussion, I’ll share what interested me as of late: what other authors in the bundle thought about the term. I asked them to define it and to let me know about alternatives they prefer. So without further ado, peep their responses here:  http://www.teneadjohnson.com/2019/05/afrofuturism-power-challenge-naming/

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Near the Levee...

Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming


Related spoken word piece: Near the Levee

We cannot exist as a nation without a basic acceptance of common facts. I can't say "2+2=4" and another "2+2=5" and we BOTH be correct!

Abortion: Let's accept hormonal teenagers are likely to do something a little more than "make out" and pet heavily. They have myriad means of gathering information on the sexual act. We can educate them on birth control and responsible sexual behavior as the Netherlands does. Or, we can try "abstinence only" and get abysmal teen pregnancy rates as many red states do.

Climate Change: A sane republican administration accepting the science might use cap and trade policies to make polluting uncomfortable for manufactures financially. Compliance would be a matter of the bottom-line.

A democratic administration did something: The Paris Agreement was landmark policy, involving "an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[4][5] As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 185 have become party to it.[1] The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change." They might actually spearhead green technologies, spurring economic and job growth.

We're not at a sane point in our republic now.

The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding.

But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees.

The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs.

 

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking, Thomas Frank, Scientific American

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The Insistent Center...

Image Source: Facebook

 

Topics: African Americans, Civics, Existentialism, Extinction


NK Jemisin is an African American author of speculative fiction. She's also the victim of a group of trolls on the Internet referring to themselves as the "sad puppies"/"rabid puppies" because of the lack of Euro-centric main characters in her stories, which for the author IS the point.
 

Sonequa Martin-Green, lead on the CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery was vilified by the same alt-right, racists that could not see anyone other than the clone of Buck Rogers, James T. Kirk, Jean Luc Picard: White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender (WASP-C)  males as the central "hero" figure and ruminations of fictional "white genocide."

A man who earned his law degree, passed the (ironically) bar and served the nation as Attorney General for the George H.W. Bush administration was also the architect of pardons for key figures in the Iran-Contra Scandal. His 19-page unsolicited memo/job solicitation born of the effectiveness of Rupert Murdoch propaganda cum Fox "News" as he likely regularly consumed that informed his treatise. He was on point yesterday as he dusted off the 80's play book to try the formula on an international audience viewing on cable, Internet and social media. He was immediately labeled a pitiful hack, a caricature of a country bumpkin lawyer and NOT the nation's attorney, but the current president's* Roy Cohn.

William Barr lied. His boss's staff lied. His boss is a prolific liar, telling 8,718 as tabulated January of this year. The Mueller Report - redacted or not - only confirms what we already know and that the hypocrisy of the white evangelical right rises to the stench of dung hills. The institution is the white-washed sepulcher of white nationalism. It is the spur of the exodus with organized religion in the US.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

There are TEN attempts to obstruct justice in the report. Despite lies told to Mueller by his then deputy press secretary  Sarah Sanders, despite the fact the report did NOT exonerate him, his minions, his staff, his fascist cult base will claim total exoneration, because facts and fascism are not on speaking terms. They never have been.

GONE are the halcyon days of Grey Poupon and Tan Suit scandals breathlessly pursued by Sean Hannity et al. President Obama DID golf during his presidency as did his WASP-C predecessors, but his current successor has taken golfing to steroidal levels, greeted by the same right wing propaganda echo chamber...with crickets.

All these intersect in Venn diagram fashion of centrality: of a 400-year insistence that the stories told about our country has one hue, one type of damsel in distress and one repeating, ad nausem conclusion: the hero is white, heteronormal.

And that hero has to be white because our concepts of god is a white male in the sky, judging and damning every aspect of our existence. Therefore the president in tan suit with Melanin is an aberration from the mental ideal we've been conditioned to respect and accept.

Let me be blunt:

1. The POTUS is a crook. As David Frum points out, it may be a choice of the current presidency*, or rule of law.

2. He is a racist. He doesn't have to wear a swastika; a Klan hood or quote chapter and verse of Mein Kamph. As George Will opined, he's barely on speaking terms with the English language. He's an admitted nationalist. He's tweeted against a sitting congresswoman and Somali immigrant that has increased death threats against her. He's too cowardly to do his own violence, but he's pyromaniac enough to light the fire and run.

3. The AG is a hack and a liar.

We’re not a democratic republic; not even an oligarchy or kleptocracy. We’re a kakistocracy: “government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.”

This is what Rome looked like before it fell.

This is what - for our own survival - we have to fix.
 
Gil Scott-Heron: B-Movie, Genius Lyrics (both insightful analysis and prophecy).
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4-19-19 TUNE IN FOR RAYMOND CARR - PUPPETEER, INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT NINJA PUPPET PRODUCTIONS
9PM ET, 8PM CT, 7PM MT, 6PM PT
www.talkshoe.com/tc/127374
www.genesissciencefictionradioshow.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GenesisScienceFictionRadio

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Distant Cousins...

Callao Cave, Luzon Island, The Philippines

Image credits:
Callao Cave Archaeology Project

 

Topics: Biology, DNA, Evolution, History, Research


(Inside Science) -- In a jungle cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered fossils of what may be a new human species they call Homo luzonensis. The newfound teeth and bones combine primitive and modern traits in a way never previously seen together in one species, and suggest much remains to be discovered about human evolution outside Africa.
 
Image Source: Homo luzonensis

Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are now the only surviving branch of the genus Homo, other species of humans once roamed across Earth. For example, previous research suggested Homo erectus, the most likely ancestor of modern humans, made its way out of Africa by at least 1.8 million years ago. In contrast, modern humans may have only begun dispersing from Africa roughly 200,000 years ago.

Fifteen years ago, scientists revealed an unusual extinct human species from the Indonesian island of Flores -- Homo floresiensis, often called "the hobbit" due to its diminutive size, which lived on Earth during the same time as modern humans. This finding hinted that other hominins -- any relatives of modern humans dating from after our ancestors split from those of chimpanzees -- might await discovery in Southeast Asia.
 

Researchers Find a New Ancient Human Species in the Philippines
Charles Q. Choi, Live Science

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