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No Children of Chrysalis...

Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Biology, Ethics, Genetics, Star Trek

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

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

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

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

Source: Wikipedia

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

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

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

The Myth of Genetic Superbabies, Jim Kozubek, Scientific American

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Musings?

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

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

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Vexed by Vortexes...

Image Source: Live Science

Topics: Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, Geophysics, Meteorology, Research

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

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

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

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

Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor

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Super Blood Moon...

The total lunar eclipse of Jan. 20-21, 2019, captured by astrophotographers Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from the suburbs of Boston. From left to right: The start of totality, at 11:41 p.m. EST on Jan. 20; the middle of totality, at 12:12 a.m. on Jan. 21; and the end of totality at 12:44 a.m. Credit: Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Moon, Planetary Science

The Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse was a sight to behold.

Millions of people saw the full moon slide into Earth's shadow last night (Jan. 20) and turn a gorgeous coppery-red, in the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021. And a fair few of those folks captured stunning imagery of the sky show to help tide us over for the next 28 months.

Veteran astrophotographers Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre set up shop outside their home in the suburbs of Boston, for example, braving bone-chilling temperatures to commit the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse to digital memory.

"Despite wearing gloves and two layers of wool socks, we couldn't feel our fingers and toes anymore by the time totality ended," the duo told Space.com via text message.

"We've seen and photographed so many total lunar eclipses in the past, so we could have chosen to just watch through the window," they added. "But our passion to share this wondrous event with other people who couldn't see it drove us to go outside and capture the eclipse with our camera and telescope. It really takes dedication to endure the extreme weather. We're so lucky the sky cleared up in time for the eclipse!"

The Super Blood Wolf Moon of 2019 Looks AMAZING in These Pics!

Mike Wall, Space.com

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The Beloved Community Repost...

Image Source: AJC link below [1]

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe... he was thinking about Star Trek.

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

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

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

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

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

Related links:

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

#P4TC Related links:

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

Requiem for Moab... April 14, 2017

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Cult of Nihilists...

Source: 9GAG

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

Two poignant excerpts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: IMGFlip

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

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

(Courtesy: shutterstock/tomertu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cosmology, Physics World

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Ultra-bright X-rays...

Overview: Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Koppes, Argonne National Laboratory

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Initial posting

I would give an intricate, wordy introduction, but there are some hinderances. I am currently realm-building for a debut series, but life has a way of taking priority. One day, I will have the availability I need. My next one will be more detailed, rest assured.

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Disaster Hypocrisy...

Credit: Karl Spencer Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Politics, Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disaster Response Projects Could Lose Funding to Border Wall

Daniel Cusick, Policy and Ethics, Scientific American

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3D Topological Insulators...

Courtesy: H. Chen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post Apocalypse...

Nuff said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related link:

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

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Hobbled Hubble...

The Hubble telescope launched in 1990. Credit: NASA

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, NASA, Politics, Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandra Witze, Nature

Related link:

About the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA

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Earth's AT-ATs...

Image Source: Link below

Topics: Green Energy, Green Tech, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics, Star Wars

Ironically, I drive a Hyundai Santa Fe (2013). But I'm satisfied with its performance, so I don't think I'll be "trading up" to this one. Plus, it's designed primarily for first responders.

You have to admit: it resembles Imperial Walkers or AT-AT's (all-terrain, armored tanks), from a movie franchise "long, long ago; in a galaxy far, far away." Heck, they even say it in the article.

Hyundai started 2019 off right by teasing a concept vehicle that could allegedly walk and climb. Now, Hyundai has brought this concept to CES 2019, and it's every bit as wild as we hoped.

Hyundai used CES 2019 as the backdrop to debut its Elevate walking car concept. While it's primarily designed to give first responders an additional edge in rescuing people, it can also be used to enhance mobility options for all sorts of citizens.

According to Hyundai, the Elevate is capable of driving at highway speeds, but it can also allegedly climb a 5-foot wall, step over a 5-foot gap and have a track width up to 15 feet. So, it's basically an AT-AT from Star Wars that has, as Hyundai puts it, "both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits."

CES 2019: Hyundai's walking car concept is perfect for first responders, Andrew Krok, CNET

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Nano Zappers...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electric nanoparticles can target and kill cancer cells by zapping them

Emerging Technology, arXiv

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Multi Messenger Astronomy...

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

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

04 Jan 2018

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

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

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

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

What did we learn?

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

A New Cosmic Messenger, Imre Bartos, Physics World

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

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Intelligent Collectors encouraged!

The fact that most indie Black Age publishers produce limited editions or small press runs insures the collector will likely have a rare item to treasure. Future speculative investors, auctions and collectors, once its time has come, will pay dividends to acquire items from this extended important era in this industry. Seeing "Black" as investment value or prestige is growing beyond the realm of that which comes from the mainstream. Most will be left saying...."I had those Black Age books...I didn't ever think much of them. Damn!"

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Culture, Creativity, & Commerce

Concept. Design. Production. All strong and at the ready. But where are the matching, ready for the challenge up for the opportunity legal, marketing, investment or distribution folks? Are they simply missing in action? Are they slow and derivative? Or do they only see value in drafting on the cast offs and one offs of the mainstream instead of embracing the future profits of our Dreams?

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