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Survival of Community...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Environment, Existentialism

Like his more famous contemporary, Spencer was enamored with the idea of evolution. But where Darwin focused on biology, Spencer imagined that evolutionary thinking could be applied much more broadly. In his mind, it governed entire societies. Today, when Spencer is remembered at all, it is usually for inspiring the ideology known as “social Darwinism”: roughly, the idea that the successful deserve their success while those who fail, deserve their failure.

Modern scholars, and the public at large, understandably view this idea with disdain. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has described social Darwinism as “an odious misapplication of Darwinian thinking in defense of political doctrines that range from callous to heinous,” while the journalist Robert Wright said that social Darwinism “now lies in the dustbin of intellectual history.” Today, few read Spencer’s dense and ponderous books, and his ideas are rarely taught. Gregory Claeys, a historian at the University of London, writes that of all the great Victorian thinkers, it is Spencer whose “reputation has now indisputably fallen the farthest.”

Spencer’s view, though mostly anathema now, appealed to influential conservatives and laissez-faire capitalists—among them, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie—just as it angered the socialists of the time. “Spencer hated socialism because he thought socialism was all about protecting the weak,” Lightman says. “To him, that was intervening in the natural unfolding of the evolutionary process.”

The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’, Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine

According to Michael Price in Science Magazine, humans changed from hunter-gatherer (and presumably, wanderer) to communal living about 10,000 years ago. We seemed to vacillate between extremes, and each time, our back-and-forth switch could be traced through the common house mouse (like it or not, we appear stuck with them). Whether we wandered about or gathered harvests, we seemed to fair better with less Ayn Randian selfish worldviews, and more indigenous communal living philosophies.

An article published on the website Earthday.org is more explicit:

Humans and climate change are driving species to extinction at unprecedented rates. To slow or eventually reverse these declines, we need to better manage our land to preserve habitats and secure biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth. To that end, a study published this week confirms what many communities have known for years: To preserve biodiversity, we must turn to indigenous peoples for guidance and management.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, compared levels of biodiversity in thousands of areas in Australia, Brazil, and Canada and was the first of its kind to compare biodiversity and land management on such a large scale. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) compared 15,621 geotropical areas across three continents, with great variations across climate, species, and geography.

To Save The Planet, We Need Indigenous Perspectives, Earth Day, 2019

We have been ravaged by climate events since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and have ignored them all. Ebola was the first epidemic we paid attention to and mitigated at its point of origin so that only two Americans died from it. It is therefore unconscionable that the current death toll of the Coronavirus is 623,353, as of this writing. It's likely to be higher when this post appears. 675,000 died during the 1918 flu pandemic. We're not far behind.

Speaking of Ayn Rand: the main idea of "The Fountainhead" was individualism vs. collectivism, or selfishness, versus community. Also, in "Atlas Shrugged," so beloved that former Congressman, and conspiracy theorist Ron Paul and presumably his wife named their son, Senator Rand Paul. "Shrugged" was about "a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations." "Looters" want to exploit the productivity of innovative industrialists has the not-too-subtle echo of "makers," and "takers."

GOP "leader," Kevin McCarthy saying "85% of Congress is fully vaccinated," so he says, we have no need for a mask mandate in the House. That declaration is a Freudian slip: that means 15% of 435 members of the House, or 65 members are unvaccinated by choice. 435 members of the House go back home sometimes, and presumably, many to Delta variant hot spots. The variant could then be weaponized on Capitol Hill where many of our lawmakers are in their seventies and eighties. The Delta variant can cause "breakthrough infections," and most of the hospitalizations and deaths are from the unvaccinated. There are also long-haul COVID survivors, the severe ones will put a strain on public resources for rehabilitation, and lifetime care. Again, those 65 can carry the Delta variant back to the House, and turn Capitol Hill into a COVID hot spot. With the 1/6 hearings just starting, it might be a cynical, pathological ploy to delay or demolish any hearings on the terrorist insurrection going forward. Only sociopaths could be so diabolical.

Ten thousand years ago, it might have been prudent to identify someone by their tribal markings, dress, and appearance. If you "did not fit in," there were no diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, only suspicion. "Fight, or flight" was wonderful against saber-tooth tigers, but terrible trying to espouse the tenets of a philosophy centered on E Pluribus Unum.

Borders are political constructs, just like race is a social construct. We are the byproduct of migration from the African continent to other areas, and adaption over hundreds of thousands of years. We look different because of the angle of incidence of ultraviolet light, the environment encountered, and the foods we consumed in those environs. We all for the most part have five fingers, five toes, and red blood in our veins. We all have the same needs on the Maslow hierarchy. It's why the Overview effect has such a profound impact on the viewers, but 7.6 billion inhabitants don't have a spare $250,000 for a ten-minute joy ride. The eviction moratorium expires Saturday, with no further extension. I don't think soon-to-be homeless people will care for an Overview effect.

It has to be in our best interest to help developing countries and industrial countries with vaccination rates: every nation has to get to 70% herd immunity, or higher for the safety of the species. If there's one hot spot in the world, there's the possibility of many variants spreading across the globe. It has to be in our best interest to mitigate climate change, and if past the tipping point, or politically not expedient, design our civilization's infrastructure to withstand the storms, power outages, freak winter freezes, floods, and raging fires.

Octavia Butler was an African American science fiction writer that didn't envision starships, except the relativistic kind. Her "Parable of the Sower" did predict a dystopic America devastated by climate change, social unrest, water scarcity, but apparently, in all that dysfunction, in2024 we land on Mars, and discovered microbial life there. We are three years from the date of that fictional nightmare. In the midst of that eerily prescient novel, and series, there was a rediscovery of community, of people helping people, protecting one another.

Social media is a faux community; it has atomized humanity in echo silos. We were prepped for this when television and entertainment became "infotainment," a bastardization, and a pariah to the body politic. BET, CMT, MTV is owned by Viacom, and caters to different audiences, cable news preceded it, and its digital extension is the oxymoron "social media" as humans stare blankly at their smartphones sucking time, and brain cells.

There is vaccine hesitancy among African Americans, decades stinging from the Tuskegee experiment. There is vaccine hesitancy from those who erroneously believe vaccines cause autism (that was refuted in a later paper). There are athletes who will eat what they are told, train as they are told, who now in the NFL have to decide whether to get a mandated COVID vaccine or forfeit games. Despite their nonprofit status, the NFL is a business, and businesses are not democratic.

The same people who deny climate change, are the same people who fought lockdowns. They are the same people who want Confederate monuments to insurrectionists, but history that would correct the record from obfuscations and mythology expunged, canceled. They are the same people who fought masks, and are the same people who don't want to get vaccines because they believe in the "survival of the fittest" scenario, that they will miraculously be the fittest, the luckiest; the living. Like the Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick volunteering grandparents to die for the economy in the early days of the pandemic. (He's probably not counting himself in that number on the altar of Moloch.)

To survive COVID, and climate change, E Pluribus Unum - out of many, one - has to be cosmopolitan, global. We are all Homo Sapiens, Earthlings, breathing the same air, using the same resources, and will expire on the same planet, as long as it's here, and we are. The United Nations is supposed to be our governing body to do this, a concept that is with its political enemies, conspiracy theories that start with "new world order," and authoritarian tyranny fears, that kind of falls hollow to the experiment in authoritarianism the United States made from 2017 to 2020. It was almost credibly sealed with a coup, on January 6, 2021, had it been competent. The next fascist might be more capable; the next coup might succeed.

For the survival of the species, "survival of the fittest" has to become a part of a selfish past and myth. It's easier to mask, or vaccinate against a pandemic, and mitigate climate change than building superluminal starships defying laws of physics to "escape" our mistakes.

We have to get beyond our learned prejudices, responsible for so much selfishness, sickness, and bloodshed. We need to see each other's survival in all of our best interests. Our empathy needs to evolve.

*****

“We have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. But now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

*****

No man is an island,Entire of itself.Each is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less.As well as if a promontory were.As well as if a manor of thine ownOr of thine friend's were.Each man's death diminishes me,For I am involved in mankind.Therefore, send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls,It tolls for thee.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls," John Donne, Your Daily Poem

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The Anatomy of Delta...

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A computer simulation of the structure of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Janet Iwasa, University of Utah

Topics: Biology, Biotechnology, COVID-19, DNA, Existentialism, Research

The coronavirus sports a luxurious sugar coat. “It’s striking,” thought Rommie Amaro, staring at her computer simulation of one of the trademark spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, which stick out from the virus’s surface. It was swathed in sugar molecules, known as glycans.

“When you see it with all the glycans, it’s almost unrecognizable,” says Amaro, a computational biophysical chemist at the University of California, San Diego.

Many viruses have glycans covering their outer proteins, camouflaging them from the human immune system like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But last year, Amaro’s laboratory group and collaborators created the most detailed visualization yet of this coat, based on structural and genetic data and rendered atom-by-atom by a supercomputer. On 22 March 2020, she posted the simulation to Twitter. Within an hour, one researcher asked in a comment: what was the naked, uncoated loop sticking out of the top of the protein?

Amaro had no idea. But ten minutes later, structural biologist Jason McLellan at the University of Texas at Austin chimed in: the uncoated loop was a receptor-binding domain (RBD), one of three sections of the spike that bind to receptors on human cells (see ‘A hidden spike’).

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Source: Structural image from Lorenzo Casalino, Univ. California, San Diego (Ref. 1); Graphic: Nik Spencer/Nature

How the coronavirus infects cells — and why Delta is so dangerous, Megan Scudellari, Nature

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Conscientious Stupidity...

 

 

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

 

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Today is 203 days after January 6, 2021's attempted coup. "Insurrection" isn't quite as accurate with the passage of time.

 

Yesterday, the first hearings began, and they were emotional, riveting: angering. Officer Dunn didn't sanitize the word nigger by using "the n-word" because the persons that said it to him didn't stifle their tongues. Sometimes, shock is the best disinfectant.

 

We are now well in the Delta variant, and the CDC is re-recommending masks. Red states are already fighting mask mandates like this is a recommendation by gunpoint. The CDC cannot mandate anything nationally, they can only recommend an action. They can specify it for federal workers: they can either get the vaccine, or get tested daily, and the PCR test just isn't as painful, or intrusive as the Q-tip swab. The threat of unemployment can inform decisions as well. This whipsaw pain is unnecessary self-immolation. It's dumb. It could have been avoided.

 

Despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated, I kept all of my masks and hand sanitizer. I had a feeling with the disinformation from Facebook/Fox Propaganda/Russia, and the mini-fascists clone imitators - News Min, QAN, and Dumb Bart, we would go back in time to last year, because if they can't have power, they will induce chaos.

 

The clown show I expected happened. A crowd of white grievance minstrels assembled in front of the Justice Department during the 1/6 hearings to petition for the release of the (correctly termed by the Capitol Police yesterday, terrorists) said the same after the original Civil War. The boneheads literally having wet dreams on another one should think on this: the British Sterling used to be the global currency before the dollar. An unstable, insanely racist nation would have its currency dropped, replaced by the Yuan without a second thought. White supremacy would rule a no-man's-land equivalent to a shit pile.

 

Someone ran off Matt Gaetz, and his fellow fascists by simply asking him "are you a pedophile?" Nazis seem only interested in the unborn zygote: when they become living, breathing beings requiring food, clothes, resources, education, and employment, they're either freeloaders of the system depending on their shade of Melanin or if in their pinker culture, jail bait. IF he manages to keep himself out of prison with the white privilege-AMEX card, holiday dinners with his future sister-in-law are going to be dicey.

 

Gaslighting by narcissists, and willful, conscientious stupidity is apparently the only thing "exceptional" about this oxymoronically named nation. Ragnarok is falling.

 

I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

 

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

 

Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” Good Reads

 

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Space-Based Quantum Technology...

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(Credit: Yurchanka Siarhei/Shutterstock)

Topics: Computer Science, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

Quantum technologies are already revolutionizing life on Earth. But they also have the potential to change the way we operate in space. With the U.S., China, and Europe all investing heavily in this area, these changes are likely to be with us sooner rather than later.

So how will space-based quantum technologies make a difference?

Now, we get an overview thanks to the work of Rainer Kaltenbaek at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, in Austria, and colleagues throughout Europe, who have mapped out the future in this area and set out the advances that space-based quantum technologies will make possible.

While quantum computing and quantum communication grab most of the headlines, Kaltenbaek and colleagues point out that other quantum technologies are set to have equally impressive impacts. Take, for example, atom interferometry with quantum sensors.

These devices can measure with unprecedented accuracy any change in motion of a satellite in orbit as it is buffeted by tiny variations in the Earth’s gravitational field. These changes are caused by factors such as the movement of cooler, higher-density water flows in the deep ocean, flooding, the movement of the continents, and ice flows.

The Future of Space-Based Quantum Technology, Discover/Physics arXiv

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The Last Three Minutes...

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My autographed copy from Dr. Weinberg.

 

Topics: History, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Steven Weinberg

 

AUSTIN, Texas — Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has died. He was 88.

 

One of the most celebrated scientists of his generation, Weinberg was best known for helping to develop a critical part of the Standard Model of particle physics, which significantly advanced humanity’s understanding of how everything in the universe — its various particles and the forces that govern them — relate. A faculty member for nearly four decades at UT Austin, he was a beloved teacher and researcher, revered not only by the scientists who marveled at his concise and elegant theories but also by science enthusiasts everywhere who read his books and sought him out at public appearances and lectures.

 

“The passing of Steven Weinberg is a loss for The University of Texas and for society. Professor Weinberg unlocked the mysteries of the universe for millions of people, enriching humanity’s concept of nature and our relationship to the world,” said Jay Hartzell, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “From his students to science enthusiasts, from astrophysicists to public decision-makers, he made an enormous difference in our understanding. In short, he changed the world.”

 

UT Austin Mourns Death of World-Renowned Physicist Steven Weinberg, UT News

 

I'm sure the University of Texas, the New York Times, US News & World Report among many others will do more justice than a blog post from a doctoral student in Nanoengineering.

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Photo at a banquet for the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) joint meeting, September 22, 2011, University of Texas, Austin.

 

His passing made me take stock of the popular books by physicists in my library (a short list): "The Collapsing Universe" (Asimov); "Ideas, and Opinions," "Relativity: The Special, and the General Theory" (Einstein); "Surely, You're Joking Mr. Feynman," "Six Easy Pieces," "QED: The Strange Theory of Light, and Matter," (Feynman); "Gravity" (Hartle); "Stephen Hawking's Universe," "A Brief History of Time," "The Universe in a Nutshell," (Hawking), "The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?" (Lederman); Warped Passages: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" (Randall); "The Black Hole Wars: My Battle With Stephen Hawking To Make The World Safe for Quantum Mechanics" (Susskind); "Black Holes, & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy" (Thorne), following in alphabetical order by author, lastly Professor Steven Weinberg. Some of my humble ruminations of him:

 

The above is from a Joint Conference between the National Society of Black Physicists and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists in Austin, Texas on September 22, 2011. The photo above as I recall is from the now-defunct Blackberry mobile phone, so please forgive the image quality and pixel density. In my mind, a parallel remembered photo: Einstein lecturing African American physics students at Lincoln University. I cannot say he was going for a double entendre. I remember in the parking lot before I left, holding tightly the steering wheel of the rental, feeling goosebumps, and catching my breath.

 

I met Dr. Weinberg and thanked him for signing my only copy of "The First Three Minutes" when I was a graduate student in Astrophysics at the University of Texas (I have a hardcover copy; the most recent prints are paperback or Kindle). I was quite astonished that he remembered me. I filed my request sheepishly through his Administrative Assistant, but he did remember my request, and me specifically.

 

These were my first thoughts when a friend posted the UT News article on Facebook. Her husband had been a student of Dr. Weinberg, and a physics colleague for almost four decades. I called him to give my personal condolences. We both agreed it was the passing of an age that may never be repeated again. With each passing day, each quote by Dr. Carl Sagan in "A Demon-Haunted World" is becoming prophesy.

 

Though my friend is an accomplished scientist himself, he always felt intimidated by his mentor's presence. He and Professor Weinberg tentatively made a date to resume their lunch meetings, subsumed by the pandemic, until life or the cessation of life inevitably happens. The body wears out, and Entropy eventually has the last say. In the end, our positive impact is our epitaph, it is how we will be remembered.

 

*****

 

It is the loss of a giant in an age ruled by madness. I got to shake hands with Professor Steven Weinberg at the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) when they held a joint meeting in Austin, Texas, September 22, 2011.

 

I have both “The First Three Minutes” (he graciously autographed), and “To Explain the World.”

 

His passing should make us all more determined to do just that in a world now ruled by gaslighting, and in the words of Carl Sagan, “thirty-second sound bites” (if they’re even that long). We should shine his passion for scientific inquiry as lights in “this present darkness.”

 

I think he’d want us to remember him that way.

 

At least that’s how I’m consoling myself through the tears.

 

 

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Abyssinia Media Group® Artist CJ Juzang

was selling Comics, Tshirts, and Original Art.

Thank you Mercy Mehzun & Rick Harris for your help and assistance.

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Image Source: Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room, Shannon Stirone, The Atlantic

 

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

 

Note: The post title is sourced from The Atlantic article, as is the lurid artwork.

 

It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void," shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

 

The thing that really surprised me was that it [Earth] projected an air of fragility. And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful, it’s home, and it’s fragile. Michael Collins, Apollo 11. Source: Wikipedia/Overview effect

 

The best case for taxing the rich is made by a "space race" with billionaires leaving the Earth ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic in the form now of the Delta variant, climate change disasters that can't be gaslighted, and modern-day Hooverville tent cities IN the richest nation in the world, exacerbated since last year by the Coronavirus. Almost all new cases in what amounts to a fourth wave are among the unvaccinated, in a bizarre, nihilistic viral analog of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, and Dr. Strangelove. But: "space, the final frontier" for billionaires, apparently is more important. Is it my observation only that each "spaceship" looks like a phallic symbol or pleasure instrument?

 

Bezos, of course, ruins the whole point of the Overview effect: “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.” (Justine Calma, The Verge). That's a direct quote from the richest man in the world, a toss-up clone between either Dr. Evil or Lex Luthor.

 

The world's richest man has obviously not heard about space junk sipping lattes on his half-billion-dollar yacht, with a spare for the helicopter (hey, that's important). Just like Musk's "genius" idea of terraforming the planet Mars for humans by dropping nuclear bombs to warm it up. First point: Mars has no atmosphere to warm up. Second point: Plutonium-239 used in current thermonuclear devices has a half-life of 24,110 years, meaning the radiation level will be half as lethal in 964 human generations. Branson's price tag to do weightlessness is $250,000. You can afford it by entering a contest: the cost is $10, $25, $50, $100, which begs why anyone has to donate to a raffle for a ride with a billionaire? Batman didn't charge the Justice League for the Watchtower (I don't think). Bruce Wayne is a plucky superhero (or antihero); he's fictional.

 

Bezos, Branson, Musk, et al. are real, and they don't appear interested in anything other than their own enjoyment.

 

*****

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2024

 

  • Lauren writes about an astronaut who died on the latest Mars mission. People in the neighborhood say traveling to Mars is a waste of money when people on earth can't afford basic necessities.
  • Lauren also writes about the cost of water increasing. It's fashionable to be dirty since no one can afford to clean their clothes.

 

Shmoop.com: Study Guide, Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler, Chapter 3

 

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it

 

Oh, make me want to holler
The way they do my life (yeah)
Make me want to holler
The way they do my life

 

This ain't livin', this ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no, no

 

"Inner City Blues: Make Me Wanna Holler," Marvin Gaye, Genius Lyrics

 

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)

 

I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)

 

The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

 

"Whitey on the Moon," Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

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COVID, and Fieldwork...

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Image Source: Link Below

Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Research, STEM

Just before dawn in the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve, a patch of Ecuador’s lush coastal forest, Abhimanyu Lele unfurls a tall net between two poles, then retreats out of sight. A half-hour later, he and a local assistant reappear and smile: Their catch—10 birds that collided with the net and tumbled into a pocket along its length—was a good one. The pair records species, measures and photographs the captives, and pricks wings for blood that can yield DNA before releasing the birds back into the forest. The data, Lele hopes, will shed light on how Ecuadorean songbirds adapt to different altitudes and other conditions.

The third-year graduate student at the University of Chicago (UC), who returns next week from a 10-week field season, was delighted to have made it to his destination. In a typical year, thousands of graduate students and faculty fan out across the world to tackle important research in climate change, fragile ecosystems, animal populations, and more. But the pandemic shut down travel, and fieldwork can’t be done via Zoom, depriving young scientists like Lele of the data and publications they need to climb the academic ladder and help advance science. Now, he and a few others are venturing out—into a very different world.

They are the exceptions. “Most folks have never been able to get back out there,” because COVID-19 continues to spread in much of the world, says Benjamin Halpern, an ecologist with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “They are just waiting.”

At the American Museum of Natural History, which mounts about 100 international expeditions a year, “Travel to countries still having trouble [is] just not going to happen,” says Frank Burbrink, a herpetologist there. “This is the longest I’ve ever gone without catching snakes since I was 12 years old.” The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History likewise “is not putting people overseas,” says Director Kirk Johnson.

How COVID-19 has transformed scientific fieldwork, Elisabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine

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A Voyage In Her Lifetime...

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Image Source: Link in the article text

 

Topics: International Space Station, Interstellar, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight, Star Trek

 

Light Sails were first mentioned in the year 1610 in a letter by astronomer Johannes Kepler to his friend, Galileo Galilei. “With ships or sails built for heavenly winds, some will venture into that great vastness.” In his character of Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks used his Starfleet engineering prowess deciphering ancient text to recreate an ancient Bajoran solar sail in the episode "Explorers." The possibilities have vacillated between science and fiction ever since.

 

I've enjoyed reading the speculation by Avi Loeb, Chair of Harvard University's Department of Astronomy on the Oumuamua object in Extraterrestrial. I've also enjoyed the healthy counter debate, as that's how ideas in science are refined before they become laws, doctrine, or accepted universal theorems.

 

On the "billionaire space race": Eli Musk started it with his SpaceX rocket system. It would be nice in current geopolitical tensions not to rely so much on Russian Soyuz capsules to get to the ISS. Brian Branson and Jeff Bezos have probably opened up space tourism, but in the foreseeable near-future and exorbitant price tag, it will probably be a dalliance of the wealthy. Desktop computers used to cost between $2,000 - 3,000, cell phones irradiating Gordon Gekko's skull in the movie "Wall Street" used to be the size of Canada. Even the fictional Zefram Cochrane needed a financier, Micah Brack, to get Warp One going. Whether that leads to a utopia of limitless energy, the end to poverty, money, life extension, and eliminating inequality is yet to be seen.

 

The article title, Breakthrough Starshot: A voyage to the stars within our lifetimes, Astronomy Magazine, takes into account the bane of our spacefaring existence: mass, quite literally a "drag," and cannot be compensated for by technobabble "inertia dampeners" or artificial gravity. We are currently accelerating at 9.8 meters per square second to the Earth's center, but we're used to it after living here a while. Twenty percent of the speed of light would get a nano solar sail craft propelled by a high-energy laser to Alpha Centauri in twenty years but would turn human passengers (if any were that small) into DNA goo against the bulkhead. Starshot launching in 2060 means my granddaughter will be forty-one, her parents might be grandparents, and I would have to be a spry ninety-eight to witness it. "Our lifetimes" must be humankind, that is if we haven't overextended our resources to make the endeavor fruitless. From the end of the article:

 

But as award-winning Cosmos writer and producer Ann Druyan, a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory board, said during a 2016 press conference announcing the initiative: “Science thinks in timescales of billions of years. And yet, we live in a society that only thinks in terms of, generally, the balance sheet of the next quarter or the next election. … So, this kind of thinking that looks at a horizon that’s 35 years away — possibly 20, possibly 50 — is exactly what’s called for now, because it’s this kind of multigenerational enterprise that nets us such great results.”

 

Godspeed, "Little Bit."

 

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The Caveat of Cul De Sacs...

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A river snakes its way through the Amazon rain forest in Peru.
Credits: USDA Forest Service

Topics: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

The finding comes out of an effort to map where vegetation is emitting and soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth’s trees and plants pull vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis, incorporating some of that carbon into structures like wood. Areas that absorb more carbon than they emit are called carbon sinks. But plants can also emit the greenhouse gas during processes like respiration, when dead plants decay, or during combustion in the case of fires. Researchers are particularly interested in whether – and how – plants at the scale of an ecosystem like a forest act as sources or sinks in an increasingly warming world.  

A recent study led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California identified whether vegetated areas like forests and savannas around the world were carbon sources or sinks every year from 2000 to 2019. The research found that over the course of those two decades, living woody plants were responsible for more than 80% of the sources and sinks on land, with soil, leaf litter, and decaying organic matter making up the rest. But they also saw that vegetation retained a far smaller fraction of the carbon than the scientists originally thought.

In addition, the researchers found that the total amount of carbon emitted and absorbed in the tropics was four times larger than in temperate regions and boreal areas (the northernmost forests) combined, but that the ability of tropical forests to absorb massive amounts of carbon has waned in recent years. The decline in this ability is because of large-scale deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change effects, like more frequent droughts and fires. In fact, the study, published in Science Advances, showed that 90% of the carbon that forests around the world absorb from the atmosphere is offset by the amount of carbon released by such disturbances as deforestation and droughts.

The scientists created maps of carbon sources and sinks from land-use changes like deforestation, habitat degradation, and forest planting, as well as forest growth. They did so by analyzing data on global vegetation collected from space using instruments such as NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) onboard ICESat and the agency’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, respectively. The analysis used a machine-learning algorithm that the researchers first trained using vegetation data gathered on the ground and in the air using laser-scanning instruments.

NASA Study Finds Tropical Forests’ Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide Is Waning, Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill

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MisInfo Wars...

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Image Source: Link Below

Topics: COVID-19, Democracy, Economics, Existentialism

Eric Boehlert nailed it on Press Run: the Murdock variant. I alluded to this Friday. True-to-form, the gaslighting led to a selloff on Wall Street of almost 800 points, from fears of the Delta variant conservative news outlets have been sacrificing their own viewers to impact. Question: Didn't Rupert Murdock, owner of Fox and the Wall Street Journal just lose money? Aren't all conservative oligarchs with propaganda outlets losing money?

The only thing that makes "sense" is that instead of news organizations, conservative "news" outlets are essentially a congress of sociopaths.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy today issued a public advisory on health misinformation, calling it a “serious threat to public health” and encouraging all Americans to help slow its spread during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To that end, the National Academies have been addressing misinformation in health and science on multiple fronts and are taking steps to help cultivate a fact- and evidence-based information environment.

“This pandemic has demonstrated as never before how critical it is not only to combat false and misleading claims but also to get clear, understandable, and potentially lifesaving health guidance to the public,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “The National Academies are eager to support the surgeon general in this effort and are committed to working with the research community, health care providers, government agencies, and others to help amplify credible, authoritative health information.”

“Misinformation is worse than an epidemic: It spreads at the speed of light throughout the globe, and can prove deadly when it reinforces misplaced personal bias against all trustworthy evidence,” added National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “Research is helping us combat this ‘misinfodemic’ through understanding its origins and the aspects of human nature that make it so transmittable."

The surgeon general’s advisory defines misinformation as “information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time,” and notes that, although some knowingly and deliberately share misinformation, many others do so inadvertently because they are unaware of any inaccuracy or they are raising concerns or seeking answers. The rise of social media has also enabled misinformation to be spread more quickly and frequently.

As Surgeon General Urges ‘Whole-of-Society’ Effort to Fight Health Misinformation, the Work of the National Academies Helps Foster an Evidence-Based Information Environment

Molly Galvin, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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Smokestacks, and Psychopaths...

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Image credit: Daily Kos

 

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

 

In the south, you'll see some lummox proudly spewing black smoke from the back of his pickup truck (it invariably is always "his/he/him"), tricked out with dual black smokestack pipes to "own the libs," spew smoke in the air and cause environmental bleeding heart tears over caring about climate change. Indeed, "the cruelty is the point." Smoky seems to miss the point he's still on the same planet he's ruining. I'm down for him shooting his own foot: that would generate first a gasp as his talus explodes through his boot, then a guffaw. I will call 911 and tie you a tourniquet.

 

For a political party whose membership skews older, it might be surprising that the spirit that most animates Republican politics today is best described with a phrase from the world of video games: “Owning the libs."

 

Gamers borrowed the term from the nascent world of 1990s computer hacking, using it to describe their conquered opponents: “owned.” To “own the libs” does not require victory so much as a commitment to infuriating, flummoxing, or otherwise distressing liberals with one’s awesomely uncompromising conservatism. And its pop-cultural roots and clipped snarkiness are perfectly aligned with a party that sees pouring fuel on the culture wars’ fire as its best shot at surviving an era of Democratic control.

 

How ‘Owning the Libs’ Became the GOP’s Core Belief, Derek Robertson, Politico

 

Tennessee wants to halt vaccines - not just COVID, but everything! They fired the health commissioner because she was doing her job during a pandemic that's killed almost as many Americans as the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic. Florida governor Death Santis is selling merch "Don't Fauci My Florida" after a beachside condo imploded from decaying (say it with me now: "infrastructure"), and he's second in US COVID numbers for the Delta variant. Luckily, Disney is streaming Loki because I think the Mouse may have to shut down again. "Kids get long haul COVID too." Someone needs to Fauci Death Santis' brain.

 

Fox Propaganda is pushing vaccine hesitancy as likely every anchor and crew member is fully vaccinated and following COVID protocols. Meanwhile, they are purposely sowing doubts about the efficacy of a vaccine people are fighting in the streets for overseas. This, of course, follows a Russian disinformation campaign that every opinion pundit at the Ministry of Pravda on New York's Avenue of the Americas seems to be parroting. "America's newsroom" has a Russian accent.

 

The conclusion of the Kerner Commission was we were "two Americas": one black, one white; separate, and unequal.

 

We are two Americas still: one vaccinated, one unvaccinated as a Delta variant spreads in mostly red states. For the most part, African Americans are showing social conservative values: they tend to get vaccines (most, not all), and when I'm in the store, I still see us all wearing masks. The cynical, dark calculus is, as more get sick and die (apparently, red-state republicans are cannon fodder on the altar of Moloch), the economy will falter. The party in power always gets the blame, for good or ill. This is 2022 and 2024, not because the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party has any "ideas": it is the political equivalent of a binky for colicky, psychotic children; it is power for power's sake.

 

The presidency of George W. Bush may have been the high point of the modern Christian right’s influence in America. White evangelicals were the largest religious faction in the country. “They had a president who claimed to be one of their own, he had a testimony, talked in evangelical terms,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of the 2016 book “The End of White Christian America.”

 

Back then, much of the public sided with the religious right on the key culture war issue of gay marriage. “In 2004, if you had said, ‘We’re the majority, we oppose gay rights, we oppose marriage equality, and the majority of Americans is with us,’ that would have been true,” Jones told me. Youthful megachurches were thriving. It was common for conservatives to gloat that they were going to outbreed the left.

 

But the evangelicals who thought they were about to take over America were destined for disappointment. On Thursday, P.R.R.I. released startling new polling data showing just how much ground the religious right has lost. P.R.R.I.’s 2020 Census of American Religion, based on a survey of nearly half a million people, shows a precipitous decline in the share of the population identifying as white evangelical, from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year. (As a category, “white evangelicals” isn’t a perfect proxy for the religious right, but the overlap is substantial.) In 2020, as in every year since 2013, the largest religious group in the United States was the religiously unaffiliated.

 

In addition to shrinking as a share of the population, white evangelicals were also the oldest religious group in the United States, with a median age of 56. “It’s not just that they are dying off, but it is that they’re losing younger members,” Jones told me. As the group has become older and smaller, Jones said, “a real visceral sense of loss of cultural dominance” has set in.

 

I was frightened by the religious right in its triumphant phase. But it turns out that the movement is just as dangerous in decline. Maybe more so. It didn’t take long for the cocky optimism of Generation Joshua to give way to the nihilism of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. If they can’t own the country, they’re ready to defile it.

 

The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It, Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

 

The orangutan increased his margins with African Americans and Hispanic voters, surprisingly. Members of my family voted - insanely - in 2016 and 2020 for him. I don't tend to support racists who deny rental property to blacks in New York, say the Exonerated Five should still be in jail after DNA evidence, and a confession acquitted them, and over two dozen women accusing him of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault are all lying.

 

I'll give you a Mulligan for 2016. You believed the public fiction by reality TV he was a business genius (he isn't even as evidence shows, a "stable genius"). It was for "family values," so that might mean you're bizarrely against abortion and same-sex marriage. It's like television: if you don't like the channel, you have other options, and if you're against abortion (and not a woman) or gay marriage (and not LGBT), don't practice either. Problem solved. You probably believed in cooties as a kid.

 

After four years of lies, covfefe, mangled/slurred sentences, guttural cursing, saying President Obama SPIED on him, Olympic-level obfuscation, children in cages, white supremacists in Charlottesville, fawning obsequiousness to every dictator from Putin to Kim Jong Un he could find under a rock, the unanswered murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi; rubber bullets and teargas against mostly peaceful protestors (1st Amendment - look it up), haphazardly constructed border wall boondoggles like his six bankrupt businesses, tax cuts for no-one-that-looked-like-YOU, and you STILL voted for him after what is now after "I Alone Can Fix" January 6, 2021, is shaping up to have been an attempted coup, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

 

I'm going to have to put some real estate between us for my own mental health.

 

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Five Stages...

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Image source: Link below

Topics: Astrophysics, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity, Star Trek

Note: One of the things you find out about sophomore, or junior year in physics is faster-than-light travel violates causality: the arrow of time points forward, not in "loop-de-loop." Thus, we can suspend belief as every version of Trek did time travel episodes, because superluminal speeds would allow grandfather paradoxes, so why not?

As a lifelong Trekkie, it pains me to critique genuine attempts at warp field mechanics. Just note the five stages of grief I have traveled often as I read such articles: "denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance" (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and David Kessler), but based on the post that will appear in the morning, a little diversion might be a good thing.

For Erik Lentz, it all started with Star Trek. Every few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard would raise his hand and order, “Warp one, engage!” Then stars became dashes, and light-years flashed by at impossible speed. And Lentz, still in elementary school, wondered whether warp drive might also work in real life.

“At some point, I realized that the technology didn’t exist,” Lentz says. He studied physics at the University of Washington, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on dark matter, and generally became far too busy to be concerned with science fiction. But then, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Lentz found himself alone in Göttingen, Germany, where he was doing postdoctoral work. He suddenly had plenty of free time on his hands—and childhood fancies in his head.

Lentz read everything he could find on warp drives in the scientific literature, which was not very much. Then he began to think about it for himself. After a few weeks, something occurred to him that everyone else seemed to have overlooked. Lentz put his idea on paper and discussed it with more experienced colleagues. A year later it was published in a physics journal.

It quickly became clear that Lentz was not the only person dreaming about warp drives. Media outlets all over the world picked up the story, and a dozen journalists asked for interviews. A discussion on the online forum Reddit attracted 2,700 comments and 33,000 likes. One Internet user wrote, “Anyone else feels like they were born 300 years too soon?”

Star Trek’s Warp Drive Leads to New Physics, Robert Gast, Scientific American

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Gold Anniversary...

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Images are from the article, link below

Topics: Electrical Engineering, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Solid-State Physics

It's not exactly a wedding anniversary, but it is significant.

Fifty years ago this month, Intel introduced the first commercial microprocessor, the 4004. Microprocessors are tiny, general-purpose chips that use integrated circuits made up of transistors to process data; they are the core of a modern computer. Intel created the 12 mm2 chip for a printing calculator made by the Japanese company Busicom. The 4004 had 2,300 transistors—a number dwarfed by the billions found in today’s chips. But the 4004 was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors, packing the computing power of the room-sized, vacuum tube-based first computers into a chip the size of a fingernail. In the past 50 years, microprocessors have changed our culture and economy in unimaginable ways.

The microprocessor turns 50, Katherine Bourzac, Chemical & Engineering News

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Scrofulous Signaling...

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FIG. 1. Schematics of pulse sequences for spin-locking measurement with (a) two π/2 pulses and (b) two composite pulses. (c) Schematics of a SCROFULOUS composite pulse composed of three pulses. (d) Evolution of the spin state in the Bloch sphere. The spin state is initialized to the |0⟩ state by the first laser pulse. (e) The first π/2 pulse rotates the spin by 90∘ to the (−y)-direction. A y-driving microwave field is applied parallel to the spin in the rotation frame. (f) The second π/2 pulse rotates the spin by 90∘ to the (−z)-direction in the pulse sequence pattern A, or (g) the second −π/2 pulse rotates the spin by −90∘ to the z-direction in the pulse sequence pattern B. Finally, the spin state is read out from the PL by applying the second laser pulse. (h) Schematics of the experimental setup.

Topics: Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science, Optics

We present results of near-field radio-frequency (RF) imaging at micrometer resolution using an ensemble of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond. The spatial resolution of RF imaging is set by the resolution of an optical microscope, which is markedly higher than the existing RF imaging methods. High sensitivity RF field detection is demonstrated through spin locking. SCROFULOUS composite pulse sequence is used for manipulation of the spins in the NV centers for reduced sensitivity to possible microwave pulse amplitude error in the field of view. We present procedures for acquiring an RF field image under spatially inhomogeneous microwave field distribution and demonstrate a near-field RF imaging of an RF field emitted from a photolithographically defined metal wire. The obtained RF field image indicates that the RF field intensity has maxima in the vicinity of the edges of the wire, in accord with a calculated result by a finite-difference time-domain method. Our method is expected to be applied in a broad variety of application areas, such as material characterizations, characterization of RF devices, and medical fields.</em>

Near-field radio-frequency imaging by spin-locking with a nitrogen-vacancy spin sensor, Shintaro Nomura1,a), Koki Kaida1, Hideyuki Watanabe2, and Satoshi Kashiwaya3, Journal of Applied Physics

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Thirty-Three Point Eight...

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Politics

Fahrenheit to CelsiusCelsius to Fahrenheit
(5/9)(°F - 32) = °C(9/5) °C + 32 = °F

Handy-Dandy Conversion Table

 

Even though the Big Think video is informative, my critique is it presumes much regarding the audience, presumably the species.

 

The assumption is that even with the equivalent of supercomputers on our hips, humans will be motivated beyond the video to know the difference between Fahrenheit, and Celsius. What the average human mind will process is: "two degrees," which doesn't sound like much as mathematical dexterity is only encouraged in those interested in STEM.

 

On Wednesday, when former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, his remarks on the occasion contained some of the usual sentiment about the importance of being a bold and inspiring nation—but they also contained something a bit unusual. “Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: let’s join the rest of the world and go metric,” he said. “I happened to live in Canada as they completed the process. Believe me, it is easy. It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot. Only Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States aren’t metric and it will help our economy!”

 

The Long, Tortuous History of the U.S. and the Metric System, Lily Rothman, TIME

 

The resistance to the Metric System (originally from the French) has to quote Ms. Rothman, "a long, tortuous history" in the United States. Resistance to "change" is inherently political, and we have but one of the two major political parties famous for looking backward, as well as celebration, and apoptosis of a hierarchal status quo.

 

I'm not saying the video isn't informative. The above formulas were drilled into me in middle school science class, and since I have made my living, and continue my education in STEM, mental conversion is a familiar exercise.

 

It should be for average citizens also. The video concerns two degrees Celsius hotter; the title I derived from one degree hotter (in bold below):</p>

 

(9/5) 0°C + 32 = 32°F

 

(9/5) 1°C + 32 = 1.8 + 32 = 33.8°F

 

(9/5) 2°C + 32 = 3.6 + 32 = 35.6°F

 

(9/5) 3°C + 32 = 5.4 + 32 = 37.4°F

 

(9/5) 4°C + 32 = 7.2 + 32 = 39.2°F

 

Add that to whatever is average summer temperatures in the Arctic, California, Texas, or North Carolina, and you can see why Environmental Scientists are hair-on-fire excited.

 

My critique is the video, well-intentioned, has the Curse of Knowledge Cognitive Bias.

 

Some of the best science lectures I've attended are when the speaker assumes the audience is hearing the information for the first time, provides a primer of about 15 - 20 minutes, and about a thirty-five to forty-minute lecture, allowing time for questions. It respects the intelligence, and time of the audience.

 

The opposite: the lecturer is so excited about their work, they hit Warp Seven after clearing orbital drydock, and head for Andromeda, 2.537 million light-years away. The only time they stop is when the host informs them their time is up, and it's evident the crowd has tuned out, checking social media, and drooling as they wait for the lecture/torture to end.

 

To communicate the gravity of the situation, I feel we need to communicate better to the general public for buy-in that: 1. There is a crisis, 2. We have to do something about it.

 

By logical extension, science communication can mean life or death. Ninety-nine-point-five percent of new COVID deaths are from the unvaccinated, so armchair conspiracy theories are not proving helpful. I took the Moderna vaccine. I did not become magnetic. I did not become the carrier of a variant. I'm a grandfather, so my infertility at this stage is kind of irrelevant. No one started tracking me (for what reason, God only knows).

 

Please feel free to share my post, and check my calculations. We all need a clear understanding, not fossil fuel industry/corporate lobbyist gaslighting, on where we're headed if we don't heed the warnings.

 

“Science-fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” Isaac Asimov

 

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Power Density...

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Optimal size: wind farm efficiency drops as installations become bigger. (Courtesy: iStock/ssuaphoto)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech, Thermodynamics

Optimizing the placement of turbines within a wind farm can significantly increase energy extraction – but only until the installation reaches a certain size, researchers in the US conclude. This is just one finding of a computational study on wind turbines’ effects on the airflow around them, and consequently the ability of nearby turbines – and even nearby wind farms – to extract energy from that airflow.

Wind power could supply more than a third of global energy by 2050, so the researchers hope their analysis will assist in better designs of wind farms.

It is well known that the efficiencies of turbines in a wind farm can be significantly lower than that of a single turbine on its own. While small wind farms can achieve a power density of over 10 W/m2, this can drop to a little as 1 W/m2 in very large installations The first law of thermodynamics dictates that turbines must reduce the energy of the wind that has passed through them. However, turbines also inject turbulence into the flow, which can make it more difficult for downstream turbines to extract energy.

“People were already aware of these issues,” says Enrico Antonini of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California, “but no one had ever defined what controls these numbers.”

Optimal size for wind farms is revealed by computational study, Tim Wogan, Physics World

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Smart Foam...

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A robotic hand with the AiFoam artificially innervated smart foam, which enables it to sense objects in proximity by detecting their electrical fields and also self-heals if it gets cut, is pictured at National University Singapore's Materials Sciences and Engineering lab in Singapore June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Travis Teo

Topics: Biology, Biotechnology, Materials Science, Polymer Science, Robotics

SINGAPORE, July 6 (Reuters) - Singapore researchers have developed a smart foam material that allows robots to sense nearby objects, and repairs itself when damaged, just like human skin.

Artificially innervated foam, or AiFoam, is a highly elastic polymer created by mixing fluoropolymer with a compound that lowers surface tension.

This allows the spongy material to fuse easily into one piece when cut, according to researchers at the National University of Singapore.

"There are many applications for such a material, especially in robotics and prosthetic devices, where robots need to be a lot more intelligent when working around humans," explained lead researcher Benjamin Tee.

To replicate the human sense of touch, the researchers infused the material with microscopic metal particles and added tiny electrodes underneath the surface of the foam.

Smart foam material gives robotic hand the ability to self-repair, Travis Teo, Lee Ying Shan, Reuters Science

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