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Meh...

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Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Cosmology, SETI

I would extend his theme to cover something that comes naturally to us all, which I’ll call Pseudo-exceptionalism—the unearned conviction that we are exceptional, superior to others because we were born...us.

We simply assume that we’re kinder, more honest, more realistic, more wholesome than those around us. After all, we’re married to ourselves for life, so we make accommodations: We cut ourselves slack. We’re fast to forgive ourselves. When challenged, we’re much better at making our case than our opponent’s. We spot injustices to ourselves far faster than we spot our injustices to others.</em>

Why Some People (Maybe Even Us) Think They're So Special
… and what to do about it. Jeremy E. Sherman Ph.D., MPP, Psychology Today

It is presumptuous to assume that we are worthy of special attention from advanced species in the Milky Way. We may be a phenomenon as uninteresting to them as ants are to us; after all, when we’re walking down the sidewalk we rarely if ever examine every ant along our path.

Our sun formed at the tail end of the star formation history of the universe. Most stars are billions of years older than ours. So much older, in fact, that many sunlike stars have already consumed their nuclear fuel and cooled off to a compact Earth-size remnant known as a white dwarf. We also learned recently that of order half of all sunlike stars host an Earth-size planet in their habitable zone, allowing for liquid water and for the chemistry of life.

Since the dice of life were rolled in billions of other locations within the Milky Way under similar conditions to those on Earth, life as we know it is likely common. If that is indeed the case, some intelligent species may well be billions of years ahead of us in their technological development. When weighing the risks involved in interactions with less-developed cultures such as ours, these advanced civilizations may choose to refrain from contact. The silence implied by Fermi's paradox (“Where is everybody?”) may mean that we are not the most attention-worthy cookies in the jar.

Why Do We Assume Extraterrestrials Might Want to Visit Us? Avi Loeb, Scientific American

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The Lethality of Magical Thinking...

 

 

Echo and Narcissus

 

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

 

"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes. Therefore, he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding." Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

-----

 

The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.

 

Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. States in which our presidential candidates used to win, such as New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida, are increasingly voting Democratic. We are losing in too many places.

 

It has reached the point where in the past six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 211 for the Republican. During the preceding two decades, from 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six elections, averaging 417 electoral votes to Democrats’ 113.

 

Our job as Republicans is to champion private growth so people will not turn to the government in the first place. But we must make sure that the government works for those truly in need, helping them so they can quickly get back on their feet. We should be driven by reform, eliminating, and fixing what is broken, while making sure the government’s safety net is a trampoline, not a trap.

 

The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hardworking middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America.

 

America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the way GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.

 

In 1980, exit polls tell us that the electorate was 88 percent white. In 2012, it was 72 percent white. Hispanics made up 7 percent of the electorate in 2000, 8 percent in 2004, 9 percent in 2008, and 10 percent in 2012. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2050, whites will be 47 percent of the country while Hispanics will grow to 29 percent and Asians to 9 percent.

 

If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity.

 

Excerpts: "Growth, and Opportunity Project" (popularly, the GOP Autopsy, 2012)

 

Magical thinking is the belief that one's ideas, thoughts, wishes, or actions can influence the course of events in the physical world. It is something people all over the globe engage in, and many religious and folk rituals center around it. While magical thinking can be a very normal human response, and there are aspects of it that can have psychological benefits, it can also be counterproductive at times and even be a sign of a mental health concern.

 

Very Well Mind: Magical Thinking Benefits and Concerns, Lisa Fritscher, Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

 

The "Growth and Opportunity Project" looked at the prospects of the Republican Party being viable even with the changing demographics that are inevitable. It's a quick read, and quite logically laid out. It's a calming alternative to what the party has become.

 

From Grand Old Party to Growth and Opportunity Project, to Gang of Putin, insurrection and Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor-Greene. The GOP is starting to look more like Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane with Riddler, and Joker. This is not just acceptance of violence against opponents they should debate with better ideas. This isn't a "bug" for the Republican Party: violence is becoming a feature, a feature of fascists.

 

Kevin McCarthy can retire. He'll never be Speaker of the House, except if they overthrow the republic, and we become The Republic of Gilead in "The Handmaid's Tale." John Boehner couldn't control the "Freedom" Caucus - and they were SANER! What does he think "talking to" Taylor-Greene will do? Oh yes. From the link above, she's removing all the homicidal, anti-Semitic, controversial calls to assassinate Speaker Pelosi. Like I said, never Speaker.

 

Echo and Narcissus is the fable from which we derive the word narcissist. He dies pining for his own reflection, in love with himself, or at least his reflection; starving to death, the Nymph Echo saying the only thing she could say: his last word before expiring: "farewell." McCarthy literally "kissed the ring" of the loser narcissist of the 2020 election. The same he blamed for the insurrection, then a week later recanted. It's like he's never read the Growth and Opportunity Project, or like his president, used it as toilet paper on a golden throne. The entire party is too proud to change, but narcissistically blames "others," and stares at itself in the mirror, finding no flaws. The fat lady has sung; Echo is warming up.

 

The U.S. Capitol is both a crime scene and a toxic work environment. Democrats think Boebert and Greene might try to kill them. They're buying Kevlar to go to work.

 

Magical thinking leads to conspiracy theorizing. Insane asylums manage magical thinking, republics require informed citizens with a firm tether to facts, science, and reality. It creates a world of "us and them," saints and sinners, Batman and Jokers, protectors of the unborn against satanic pedophiles using concealed carry sidearms. Once one side makes "others" of their political opposites, they are of no more consequence than beetles on sidewalks joggers squish absentmindedly. Once your opponents in your mind aren't even human, you can justify anything to rid yourselves of them - even insurrection, or murder.

 

And insurrection without consequences is a dress rehearsal. Fascism is incremental.

 

Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion that have overrun the world.

 

–François-Marie Arouet ‘Voltaire’ (d. 1778), ‘Questions sur les miracles’ (1765)

 

"History rarely repeats itself, but its echoes never go away." Tariq Ali

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Nanoscale Knudsen Flow...

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Left: the electron density isosurface from theoretical DFT calculations. S and W atoms are shown in yellow and blue respectively. Right: transmission electron microscopy image. Courtesy: R Boya

 

Topics: Fluid Mechanics, Materials Science, Nanofluidics, Nanotechnology

 

Gases flow through a porous membrane at ultrahigh speeds even when the pores’ diameter approaches the atomic scale. This finding by researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK and the University of Pennsylvania in the US shows that the century-old Knudsen description of gas flow remains valid down to the nanoscale – a discovery that could have applications in water purification, gas separation, and air-quality monitoring.

 

Gas permeation through nano-sized pores is both ubiquitous in nature and technologically important explains Manchester’s Radha Boya, who led the research effort along with Marija Drndić at Pennsylvania. Because the diameter of these narrow pores is much smaller than the mean free diffusion path of gas molecules, the molecules’ flow can be described using a model developed by the Danish physicist Martin Knudsen in the early decades of the 20th century. During so-called Knudsen flow, the diffusing molecules randomly scatter from the pore walls rather than colliding with each other.

 

Until now, however, researchers didn’t know whether Knudsen flow might break down if the pores become small enough. Boya, Drndić, and colleagues have now shown that the model holds even at the ultimate atomic-scale limit.

 

Gas flows follow conventional theory even at the nanoscale, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

 

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Great news! I am one of the 2021 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Recipients Thanks To You!

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This honor and privilege. It's not often you get recognized for your efforts like this.

The 2021 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Recipients: Ben Bova, Rachel Caine, and Jarvis Sheffield

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) is pleased to announce that the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award will be presented to Jarvis Sheffield and posthumously to Ben Bova and Rachel Caine at the 56th Annual SFWA Nebula Awards®.

https://www.sfwa.org/2021/01/26/kate-wilhelm-solstice-award-ben-bova-rachel-caine-jarvis-sheffield/

 

"Jarvis Sheffield has a long history of working to help diversify the science fiction community, among authors and fans. He helped establish and manage the Diversity Track at DragonCon as the track’s director. He is also the founder of the Black Science Fiction Society and has also served as the editor for Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Sheffield’s work has helped strengthen and expand the scope of science fiction by welcoming Black authors into the field and providing them venues to express their voices in the speculative fiction community.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal said, “The work that Jarvis Sheffield has been doing through the Black Science Fiction Society has created a dedicated home for promoting Black SF. The knowledge that he’s shared about independent publishing has created a path for many authors to do an end-run around the roadblocks created by systemic biases within traditional publishing. Many of the voices we celebrate today came into the field because of his efforts to create a safe space.”

The 56th Nebula Awards® will take place during the 2021 Nebula Conference Online, an annual professional development conference organized by SFWA for aspiring and established members of the speculative fiction industry. Registration is $125 and may be purchased at events.sfwa.org.

January 26, 2021"

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Reality-Truth...

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Leonard Nimoy as Spock from "Amok Time," TOS, first aired September 15, 1967

 

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

 

I've been finishing up the semester. I passed my preliminary exam. Now I'm working on refining my research question for my dissertation proposal, due late spring. I usually take a break from blogging around the holidays, and as my Dean put it, dissertations proposals are "a bear." So don't be surprised if I take a blog break for LONG stretches.

 

o'thia
Literally defined as "reality-truth" in Vulcan religion/philosophy, methods of emotional self-control, and teachings of pacifism. The term o'thia is also known simply as logic. Note: there is an error on the wiki - cthia, versus o'thia. See TOS novel: Spock's World, by Diane Duane. See beta wiki: https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Vulcan_language

 

As I type this, the FDA meeting on the Pfizer version of the coronavirus vaccine has concluded. They have taken the first steps towards approving the vaccine for distribution in America. The first woman in the world to receive it was a 90-year-old grandmother in Bristol. As she gave her arm and consent, many even in the UK expressed misplaced skepticism, expressing their version of European "anti-vax" sentiments. African Americans are still feeling the sting of the Tuskegee Experiment, decades later, and don't trust anything the current administration might have produced after waves of destructive behavior, destroying what was marginal "norms," but the pandemic has shown and is showing, we were not "normal," and we still aren't. The majority of WASP-C (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender) countries are scarfing up vaccine supplies because they have the WEALTH to do so. We are still behaving carnally, like warring tribes over the next hill. The pandemic has revealed our world is imbalanced by racism and income inequality. A lot of the epidemics and pandemics stem from people trying their best to survive under circumstances they did not design for themselves. You can't complain about anyone eating a bat any more than you can about someone eating chitterlings and high-salt hog products when the scraps were literally all African Americans had to eat. See Umar Haque's article: "How Covid Proves the World is Even More Racist Than You Think." Start getting used to the term "vaccine nationalism." It's short-sighted: you can't do any international travel for business, or pleasure if developing countries - where we get a lot of precious metals - are still in lockdown.

 

Star Trek is modern mythology, born during the turbulent 1960s when there were the struggle for civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights (Stonewall), civil unrest, assassinations, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union, "duck-and-cover" drills being as part of the school curriculum as masks are now. Gene Roddenberry envisioned a world in the far future, with fantastic technologies and cooperation among humanity that from September 8, 1966, to June 3, 1969, he obviously hadn't see demonstrated. In many ways, we're trying to "live up" to the optimistic (some would say Pollyannaish) vision today.

 

Star Trek inspired many P.E.E.R.s (People Excluded due to Ethnicity and Race, see David Asai, 2020 here, and here) into STEM, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, for example, and myself.

 

Spock particularly inspired me. He wasn't just Vulcan: he was biracial, not just of two cultures, but two worlds. From the canon, he seemed to experience xenophobia and insults from other "pure" Vulcans, as well as snarky humans like Dr. Leonard McCoy. Seeing myself in the outsider, "the other" in Science Officer Spock wasn't even a little stretch. Empathy for his fellow Vulcan's and some human's racism during the turbulent 1960s was easy.

 

o'thia

 

We are a country in the aftermath of being gaslighted by a man his clinical psychologist niece says is so delusional, he can gaslight himself. We are a country in the aftermath of four-hundred years of gaslighting between "superior" and "inferior." "Reality-truth" is anathema to him and his cult following, primed by forty-years of AM talk radio and four-hundred years of generational brainwashing. The Fairness Doctrine wasn't repealed by Reagan, but it was abandoned in 1987 during his administration's lame-duck years. It affected radio broadcast licenses, so you can say this probably led to Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio. Fox News is television, thus unrestrained by whether we had a fairness doctrine when they arrived in 1996 or not. The Texas AG and seventeen other AG's - all WASP-C males (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant-Cisgender) have filed a frivolous lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results because the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People Of Color, and P.E.E.R.s among them) have no votes that they deem credible unless they vote for republicans.

 

[Chief Justice Roger B.] Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." PBS - Dred Scott case: the Supreme Court decision, 1857

 

Dr. Mary Trump is the author of "Too Much, and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man." She's apparently working on a follow-up book on the country's collective trauma due to her uncle's incompetence, and more likely, his many undiagnosed mental disorders. Also, as I listened to her View interview, she wants to talk about how we as a nation - not the BIPOC, or P.E.E.R.s - have collectively ignored our past and never reckoned with the slaughter of Native First Nation Peoples, the kidnap, rape, and slaughter-at-will of the African Diaspora, to the point the current dwindling majority can't see me any more than Taney did my ancestor, Dred Scott: we have no rights they are bound to respect, and our vote is by definition "fraudulent," unless we vote for them as "masters."

 

"Reality-truth" - o'thia - saved the mythical Vulcans from self-annihilation.

 

We might want a steady diet of o'thia if we want to survive as a species.

 

"Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe." Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in the movie Black Panther, Rest In Power.

 

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Footsies with Armageddon...

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

Iran's most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country's defense ministry has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has condemned the killing "as an act of state terror".

Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.

"If Iran ever chose to weaponize (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb," one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014.

Iran insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

But news of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the increased amount of enriched uranium that the country is producing. Enriched uranium is a vital component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist, assassinated near Tehran, BBC News

Yes, just like something out of Marvel's Captain America. According to reports by U.S. intelligence, China has conducted human testing on members of the People's Liberation Army with the ambitious goal of developing soldiers with enhanced biological capabilities.

Though it may sound like something out of science fiction, emerging technologies capable of augmenting the human body paired with the rapidly evolving world of genome-editing could arguably spawn the dawn of super-humans.

Concepts like artificial intelligence symbiosis, bionic body parts, and self-regenerating limbs are not too far off into the future.

Though the idea of getting your hands on some highly coveted Marvel-Esque superpowers sounds exciting, there are some real-world fears and ethical questions that need to be asked. Should we if we can?

China is Creating Biologically Enhanced Super Soldiers, Says US Spy Chief, Donovan Alexander, Interesting Engineering

Act Two
McCoy is conducting a medical analysis on the unidentified man at sickbay on the Enterprise. McCoy is amazed at the physical and recuperative power of the man.

In sickbay, Kirk arrives to speak to the man. McCoy notes his superior bodily strength and efficiency of his lungs, hinting at his Augment origin. McCoy estimates that the man could lift both he and Kirk with one arm. He tells Kirk that it would be interesting to see if the man's brain matches his body.

TOS: Space Seed, Memory Alpha

In July, we were estimated losing a person a minute to COVID-19. We may now lose the equivalent of a 9/11 per day by Christmas. Bah, humbug!

In the constitutional "peaceful transfer of power," you would think the current occupant of the Oval Office would be laser-focused on the pandemic. He would have his agencies coordinating with the incoming administration to ensure its success, and minimize the loss of life due to a virus that spreads exponentially. You would think his Oath of Office would come to mind, the whole "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign, and domestic." That the safety of the nation and its citizens would be his highest priority.

Dude, you don't know our current occupant. He's playing president like he played a billionaire. He's never been either one.

No action on the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, no condemnation of the act, or sanctions on an ally that approved this action, nor officially logging our disapproval.

China is on the verge of fielding "Captain China" supermen on a future battlefield we may find our soldiers dying on. They're already on the verge of technological supremacy without augments. Their fascination with Nazi lawyer Carl Schmitt is disturbing.

Of course, his priorities are arguing an election that he clearly lost.

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that China's economic and military transformation, under the current Communist regime, has the potential to seriously threaten the future security of Canada and the West. The paper first looks at the economic reforms that have radically changed the Chinese economy. Then, the paper presents the significant changes that have taken place concerning military strategy, equipment modernization, and power projection capability. The strategic view and policies of Canada and the US are discussed in light of these changes and other recent incidents. The paper then presents the argument that there are three potential problem areas in which China could possibly threaten the West. The paper concludes by noting that China is a Communist country that is dissatisfied with its status in the world and that the West must not be naive to its intentions and ambitions.

When China awakes, it will shake the world - Napoleon Bonaparte

Once China becomes strong enough to stand alone, it might discard us. A little later it might even turn against us if its perception of its interests requires it - Henry Kissinger

China: the Emerging Superpower
by/par Major H.A. Hynes

The economic conditions before the first and second world wars were similarly dire, and related to each other. The gist of each causing massive losses of life (inclusive of the 1918 pandemic) was arrogance and greed.

We live in a cartoon. We think our actions are recoverable and survivable. We think there's a "Season Two" to stupidity. We think that minerals we've given agency over our lives, spewed as the guts of stars parsecs away are valuable enough to hoard, steal, and kill over.

We elect caricatures of gangsters to high office: sociopaths with Twitter followers that are equally psychotic. We're at the Entropy of our political experiment. Chaos is kind of unrecoverable without benevolent aliens and fictional warp signatures.

He's running a con. He's ALWAYS running a con. The con started with Reagan: "government is the problem" is as catchy and myopic a slogan as "defund the police." What does either one mean? I don't think officers should show up to a mental health crisis with guns blazing: that usually doesn't turn out too well. Was there a libertarian rocketeer that had a cost-effective method of getting to the moon? Was there some unknown genius living in his mom's basement that had a better solution than ARPANET (that became the Internet)? I'm as against bad, racist cops as anyone, but if my home is broken into, I EXPECT a government structure capable enough that when my glass break goes off, SOMEONE that my taxes pay for their salaries comes a-running, whether they like me personally, or not!

He's making far more money in small-dollar donations by losing the election, whining about it was "rigged," and putting out 46-minute bullshit infomercials to morons than winning it. As a malignant narcissist, he could care LESS who his rhetoric influences to commit violence, whether they're Republicans, Independents, or Democrats. He's probably as surprised as the 80 million who voted for the sane candidate that there are 74 million that would consciously and deliberately vote for him!

He's running a grift reality show, while we all sit on a powder keg for forty-six days.

As he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, a piece of Hindu scripture ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. It is, perhaps, the most well-known line from the Bhagavad-Gita, but also the most misunderstood.

In Hinduism, which has a non-linear concept of time, the great god is not only involved in the creation, but also the dissolution. In verse thirty-two, Krishna speaks the line brought to global attention by Oppenheimer. "The quotation 'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds', is literally the world-destroying time,” explains Thompson, adding that Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit teacher chose to translate “world-destroying time” as “death”, a common interpretation. Its meaning is simple: irrespective of what Arjuna does, everything is in the hands of the divine.

"Arjuna is a soldier, he has a duty to fight. Krishna, not Arjuna will determine who lives and who dies and Arjuna should neither mourn nor rejoice over what fate has in store, but should be sublimely unattached to such results,” says Thompson. “And ultimately the most important thing is he should be devoted to Krishna. His faith will save Arjuna's soul." But Oppenheimer, seemingly, was never able to achieve this peace. "In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatements can quite extinguish," he said two years after the Trinity explosion, "the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”

'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds'. The story of Oppenheimer's infamous quote, James Temperton, Wired

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Quasiparticles, and Graphene...

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Telltale traces In this doping vs magnetic field conductance map, the magnetic field is varied along the vertical axis. Horizontal yellow streaks show Brown-Zak fermions propagating along straight trajectories with high mobility (low resistance), whereas slanted indigo lines show the cyclotron motion around Brown-Zak fermions. The slope of these lines enabled the researchers to obtain the degeneracy (and find an additional quantum number) of these new quasiparticles. (Courtesy: J Barrier)

Topics: Fermions, Graphene, Nanotechnology, Quantum Mechanics

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have identified a new family of quasiparticles in superlattices made from graphene sandwiched between two slabs of boron nitride. The work is important for fundamental studies of condensed-matter physics and could also lead to the development of improved transistors capable of operating at higher frequencies.

In recent years, physicists and materials scientists have been studying ways to use the weak (van der Waals) coupling between atomically thin layers of different crystals to create new materials in which electronic properties can be manipulated without chemical doping. The most famous example is graphene (a sheet of carbon just one atom thick) encapsulated between another 2D material, hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which has a similar lattice constant. Since both materials also have similar hexagonal structures, regular moiré patterns (or “superlattices”) form when the two lattices are overlaid.

If the stacked layers of graphene-hBN are then twisted, and the angle between the two materials’ lattices decreases, the size of the superlattice increases. This causes electronic band gaps to develop through the formation of additional Bloch bands in the superlattice’s Brillouin zone (a mathematical construct that describes the fundamental ideas of electronic energy bands). In these Bloch bands, electrons move in a periodic electric potential that matches the lattice and does not interact with one another.

New family of quasiparticles appears in graphene, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Truthiness, to Truth Decay...

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Image Source: Wikipedia link below

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

Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidencelogicintellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.

The concept of truthiness has emerged as a major subject of discussion surrounding U.S. politics during the 1990s and 2000s because of the perception among some observers of a rise in propaganda and a growing hostility toward factual reporting and fact-based discussion.

American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness in this meaning as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness

Roger Ailes was very explicit as to why he wanted, and created Fox News: he wanted a news outlet friendly to conservative interests in the wake of Watergate, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I don't think we realize how astonishing that was, and that we've mythologized those times as "halcyon days" of yore.

Richard Nixon ran on "law and order," and the fear of violence in the wake of the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. He subtly stoked white grievance, the so-called "Southern Strategy," infamously described by political operative Lee Atwater. It worked. He rode to power in 1968, and a landslide forty-nine out of fifty state win in 1972, where he became the first Republican to sweep the south.

Nixon didn't need the plumbers to break into the DNC headquarters Watergate building, but there's evidence he used government resources instructing them to do so. His Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was accepting "bags of money" at the White House - as he did as governor of Maryland - to do political "favors" on Capitol Hill. For all intents and purposes, that is bribery. Nowadays, they attach lawyers to it, and call it lobbying.

The Justice Department was in a conundrum: if they indict the sitting president for an illegal break-in, they have to indict the sitting Vice President for usury. Plus, that pesky thing called The Constitution said if removed from office, the next in line was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, then, as now, a Democrat. The "memo" came out, without legal standing, or precedence, that you "cannot indict a sitting president."

We did not have cable television, cell phones, or social media apps. Every single American, presumably many who voted for Nixon's landslide victory, got the same information from three television outlets: ABC, CBS, and NBC news. Telegrams, letters, phone calls, letters to the editor in local newspapers and polls showed the country's mood had turned against Nixon, plus his promise to get us out of the Vietnam War turned out to be a boondoggle: many families were welcoming their loved ones home in body bags in a war it clearly looked like we weren't going to win. Altruism and fealty to The Constitution had nothing to do with republicans then, or now. The party talked Agnew into leaving on a lesser charge to get Gerald Ford - a congressman from Ohio, with no association to Nixon, or Agnew - in as Vice President. Then, the Republicans could keep power at the Executive Branch if an Impeachment in the House led to a conviction in the Senate, and forced removal.

 

The speed of a sprinter, a thrown fastball, the luminescence of a distant star, or the Hawking's Radiation of a Black Hole is demonstrable, measurable facts. They are not subject to opinions, "alternative facts," quackery, or spin. On the one hand, first, second, and third place is determinable. The speed of a Rookie fastball pitched from a mound can be logged; the astrophysical properties of distant objects can be studied because there is an agreement on what IS true and what is false in sports and physics.

“Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it's like democracy. Science by itself cannot advocate courses of human action, but it can certainly illuminate the possible consequences of alternative courses of action.”

"The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything — new ideas and established wisdom. This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change."

“The whole idea of a democratic application of skepticism is that everyone should have the essential tools to effectively and constructively evaluate claims to knowledge.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, also Brain Pickings: Science, and Democracy

The premiere of Stephen Colbert's witty and insightful show probably had a lot to do with the "truthiness" on Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. That was demonstrably a lie. Yet, time and comparison to our current tweet-addicted sociopath make memories fail, as even George W. Bush now can pay respects to John Lewis: he was one of three living presidents to do so. The current occupant is too racist, devoted to his base, and fantasy to do so.

Ted Cruz is a Harvard-trained lawyer, and like President Obama, an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He's taken to Twitter to spread baseless conspiracy theories, and promote a right-wing social media app, Parler, financed by Rebecca Mercer, who like her billionaire hedge fund father, funds right-wing causes around the globe. It also shows his disdain for the people in Texas that are his constituents: he thinks they're fools, and probably wants to run for president again on the gravy train of lunacy Orange Satan built. The Republican Party genuinely fear their own base. They've stoked them every time a Democrat ascends to the presidency that the great purge of "coming to take your guns" is around the corner, any minute now. There were more guns sold during the Obama administration than the current imbecilic nightmare. I assume gun industry sales will improve apace.

The irony is, Parler is a completely enclosed silo. Part of the perverse joy of social media by sociopaths is "owning the libs," a badge of honor after frustrating arguments back and forth on a platform that you get blocked. Similar I'm sure, to throwing pollutants in the air from smokestacks on trucks, thinking oneself immune from the effects on Earth-Two. There are few "libs" on Parler to own. It also shows the tech company's regard for the intelligence of conservatives is limited, but they can see an opportunity, like most snake oil salesmen and conmen, to make a fast buck off gullible marks.

You cannot measure a sporting achievement without a knowledge of the rules, and adherence to them to make a judgment on performance.

You cannot have a STEM field without knowing the foundations of its knowledge, what is, and is not possible, and adherence to The Scientific Method to make an evaluation of the outcome of an experiment, and the world.

You cannot have a Democratic Republic with truth decay. To list them together is an oxymoron. Unless your ultimate goal is a fascist state.

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Argonne, and STEM...

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Students and instructors wave bye to each other after the close of a virtual session of All About Energy. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Topics: Education, Energy, Research, STEM

Argonne Educational Programs and Outreach transitioned to virtual summer programming, ensuring that Argonne continues to build the next generation of STEM leaders.

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists and educators have found new ways to balance their work with safety needs as the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach Department successfully transitioned all of its summer programming to a virtual learning environment.

By connecting scientific and research divisions across the laboratory, Argonne was able to create multiple virtual programs, helping young people stay connected and engage with the laboratory’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities.

“Providing STEM opportunities and a constant presence with our next generation of STEM professions during a time that is unsettling and turbulent for everyone, but especially our school age and university student populations, was our top priority.” — Meridith Bruozas, Educational Programs, and Outreach manager

“Argonne continues to adapt and lead impactful science during the ongoing pandemic, a strategy that includes strengthening the STEM pipeline with unique educational programs for future scientists and engineers,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. ​“For years, hundreds of students have pursued summer learning opportunities at Argonne that are not available anywhere else. I’m pleased that in 2020 our lab community came together to maintain these high-quality STEM experiences through a successful virtual program for next-generation researchers.”

Argonne provides STEM opportunities for more than 800 students during pandemic, Nathan Schmidt, Argonne National Laboratory

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Diamond Nanoneedles...

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Credit: Z. Shi et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117, 24634 (2020)

Topics: Materials Science, Modern Physics, Nanotechnology, Semiconductor Technology

If you ever manage to deform a diamond, you’re likely to break it. That’s because the hardest natural material on Earth is also inelastic and brittle. Two years ago, Ming Dao (MIT), Subra Suresh (Nanyang Technological University in Singapore), and their collaborators demonstrated that when bulk diamonds are etched into fine, 300-nm-wide needles, they become nearly defect-free. The transformation allows diamonds to elastically bend under the pressure of an indenter tip, as shown in the figure, and withstand extremely large tensile stresses without breaking.

The achievement prompted the researchers to investigate whether the simple process of bending could controllably and reversibly alter the electronic structure of nanocrystal diamond. Teaming up with Ju Li and graduate student Zhe Shi (both at MIT), Dao and Suresh have now followed their earlier study with numerical simulations of the reversible deformation. The team used advanced deep-learning algorithms that reveal the bandgap distributions in nanosized diamond across a range of loading conditions and crystal geometries. The new work confirms that the elastic strain can alter the material’s carbon-bonding configuration enough to close its bandgap from a normally 5.6 eV width as an electrical insulator to 0 eV as a conducting metal. That metallization occurred on the compression side of a bent diamond nanoneedle.

Diamond nanoneedles turn metallic, R. Mark Wilson, Physics Today

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The Power of ASM...

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Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Atomic-Scale Microscopy, Nanotechnology

 

 

 

When Ondrej Krivanek first considered building a device to boost the resolution of electron microscopes, he asked about funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. “The response was not positive,” he says, laughing. He heard through the grapevine that the administrator who held the purse strings declared that the project would be funded “over his dead body.”     

 

“People just felt it was too complicated, and that nobody would ever make it work,” says Krivanek. But he tried anyway.  After all, he says, “If everyone expects you to fail, you can only exceed expectations.”

 

The correctors that Krivanek, Niklas Dellby, and other colleagues subsequently designed for the scanning transmission electron microscope did exceed expectations. They focus the microscope’s electron beam, which scans back and forth across the sample like a spotlight and make it possible to distinguish individual atoms and to conduct chemical analysis within a sample. For his pioneering efforts, Krivanek shared The Kavli Prize in nanoscience with the German scientists Harald Rose, Maximilian Haider, and Knut Urban, who independently developed correctors for conventional transmission electron microscopes, in which a broad stationary beam illuminates the entire sample at once.

 

Electron microscopes, invented in 1931, long-promised unprecedented clarity, and in theory could resolve objects a hundredth the size of an atom. But in practice, they rarely get close because the electromagnetic lenses they use to focus electrons deflected them in ways that distorted and blurred the resulting images.

 

The aberration correctors designed by both Krivanek’s team and the German scientists deploy a series of electromagnetic fields, applied in multiple planes and different directions, to redirect and focus wayward electrons. “Modern correctors contain more than 100 optical elements and have software that automatically quantifies and fixes 25 different types of aberrations,” says Krivanek, who co-founded a company called Nion to develop and commercialize the technology.

 

That level of fine-tuning allows microscopists to fix their sights on some important pursuits, such as producing smaller and more energy-efficient computers, analyzing biological samples without incinerating them, and being able to detect hydrogen, the lightest element, and a potential clean-burning fuel.

 

The Vast Potential of Atomic-Scale Microscopy, Ondrej Krivanek, Scientific American

 

 

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Crew-1...

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Image Source: NASA

Topics: Astronautics, International Space Station, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

Happy Veteran's Day.

Expedition 1 and Crew-1. These historic International Space Station missions lifting off 20 years apart share the same goals: advancing humanity by using the space station to learn how to explore farther than ever before, while also conducting research and technology demonstrations benefiting life back on Earth.

Crew-1 made up of NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, continues the legacy of two decades of living and working in low-Earth orbit by becoming space scientists for the next six months.

Not only will the Crew-1 astronauts and fellow Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins conduct hundreds of microgravity studies during their mission, but they also deliver new science hardware and experiments carried to space with them inside Crew Dragon.

Check out some of the research flying to the space station alongside Crew-1, and scientific investigations the astronauts will work on during their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.

  • Food Physiology: A better diet for better health
  • Genes in Space-7: A look at astronauts’ brains
  • Plant Habitat-02: Growing radishes in space
  • BioAsteroid: Microscopic microgravity miners
  • Tissue Chips: Using space to study organs
  • Cardinal Heart: An experiment with heart
  • SERFE: Testing a cool spacesuit

Crew-1 Heads to Space Station to Conduct Microgravity Science, Erin Winick, International Space Station Program Research Office, Johnson Space Center

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The Next Authoritarian...

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Macska Moksha Press: Anti-war & anti-authoritarian quotations, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

 

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

 

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” Frank Herbert

 

No less than "created realities" Karl Rove and "the room where it happened," and knock off Yosemite Sam, John Bolton, have said it's time to throw in the towel. Twitter has flagged his gaslighting and will have to decide if a lame-duck lunatic is beneficial to its bottom-line. Unlike Bolton, I don't think the GOP (gang of Putin) is "coddling" him.

 

I think they completely understand their audience.

 

Mike Pompeo is a West Point Graduate and Harvard-trained lawyer. He knows the State Department is supposed to coordinate the transition, and magical thinking announced to his boss's rabid followers only delays the inevitable. He plans to run for president one day, and he's trying to "ride the dragon" the right-wing has created over 40 years. 70 million Americans are the byproducts of 40 years of hate radio, Alex Jones, dark Internet sites, and Fox propaganda. They all decided to despite evidence, in the words of Tom Nichols, vote for the sociopath. That for all intents and purposes is their "base."

 

Reagan is a paper saint: he started the birth of this dragon in Philadelphia, Mississippi, blocks from where Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner were found. The "wink-and-nod" to white supremacy had begun. It metastasized in four decades to a racist bullhorn after the nation's first and only black president.

 

Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham used the pushed-on-the-bench Amy Coney Barrett to secure their positions in the Senate, where they do absolutely NOTHING, except hold on to power for mostly their rich constituents, and the poor white rubes that think they hate the demographics shift as racially as they do. They are cynically playing this game because of the close races that should not be close in Georgia for control of the Senate. The miracles of Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock, both poised to oust incumbent Republican senators, will cement Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight as a blueprint that should be replicated nationally, that is if the democrats want to have power going-forward. She will win the governorship in 2022. However, the House lost 10 seats, and Georgia is in a runoff that shouldn't have been this close in a pandemic where the leader of their party is woefully inept and WAY out over his skis. But competence isn't necessary for authoritarians.

 

Authoritarianism, the principle of blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. In government, authoritarianism denotes any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. Authoritarian leaders often exercise power arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law, and they usually cannot be replaced by citizens choosing freely among various competitors in elections. The freedom to create opposition political parties or other alternative political groupings with which to compete for power with the ruling group is either limited or nonexistent in authoritarian regimes.

 

Source: Britannica.com/authoritarianism

 

What Republicans should worry about is a more serious run of failure. Republican presidents — Donald Trump and George W. Bush — have now spent almost all of their last nine consecutive years below 50% approval. Add George H.W. Bush’s final year, and that makes 10 of the last 13 Republican presidential years, with the only significant exception coming in the period after the Sept. 11 attacks (we can’t know for sure, but it seems likely that George W. Bush was heading underwater by then).

 

In other words: Whether or not Republicans have a popularity problem, they certainly seem to have a governing problem, one that at this point could be symbolized by Trump’s utter inability to deal with the pandemic or by the party’s years-long attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without having any alternative to offer. Of course, it is perhaps just the luck of events that dealt Republican presidents five of the last five recessions. And the Iraq War. And the coronavirus. But my suggestion to the party, if it has lost the presidency, is to spend some time trying to figure out why its presidents seem to have such a tough time in office.

 

Why Can’t Republicans Win the Popular Vote? Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg News

 

When you cannot win a popular vote, you probably won't want people voting. This is why I don't think we can afford to relax, even after this Herculean effort.

 

There are the runoff elections in Georgia's Senate race that will decide if Mitch McConnell maintains his majority leadership, or Chuck Schumer finally assumes it. It will decide if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can get their agenda done, or this is a unique one-off due to the pandemic. It will decide how LONG we're suffering from the pandemic long after 45 is fighting subpoenas for his taxes, business practices, and trying to stay out of prison. I doubt his running for president in 2024. There are too many ambitious republicans that want to ride the dragon Kraken he's summoned. They don't necessarily NEED him for that, and they are hopelessly dependent (and afraid) of their base. There's an off-year election in 2021, where the Koch brothers or local citizens can decide local seats. There will be a midterm in 2022, where Kevin McCarthy is already eyeing the Speakership for himself. We don't get a break because authoritarianism and fascism will never take a break.

 

The next authoritarian will likely, not be a buffoon.

 

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