Full letters and background.
Full letters and background.
Environmentalists Against War: Don’t Let Our ‘Hair-trigger President’ Start a Nuclear WarAmy Goodman and Denis Moynihan / Democracy Now! and King Features Syndicate
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights
Why are the republicans behaving so irrationally?
It depends on what you mean by "irrational." Paul Weyrich gave away the game in the 1980s.
"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
Well now, they cut cables for online voter registration machines in Virginia, they post fake boxes to harvest absentee votes in California (FOX, pointed this out, no less), they restrict counties to ONE drop-off box and restrict drive-through voting in Texas during a pandemic; they sue to not count, or ironically, segregate mail-in ballots after election day, and only want the votes counted ON election day, as that will favor republicans. For a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party, everything is consistent with Weyrich's thesis.
Who is going to win the election?
Whoever is the next president has about 8 years before there is no hope of dealing with the effects of climate change, that the fossil fuels industry has known about since the late FIFTIES, they just started covering it up in the seventies. There IS no planet B: no world of liberals and world of conservatives, except for the news outlets consumed. Physics is quite limiting on faster-than-light travel. This earth is the only starship we may ever know.
Whoever is the next president will be dealing with a global pandemic, that like most preceding it that have been unleashed by our insistent presence in the world economy, will be eventually contained by masks, rigorous testing, social distancing, and contact tracing. In other words: SCIENCE, not fiction, or propaganda.</p>
Whoever is the next president will make the difference as to how long that actually takes. Letting a virus burn through a population is NOT herd immunity, but the Freudian slip "herd mentality" says a lot about who currently has the nuclear codes and his followers.
Noam Chomsky in an interview with Scientific American, 2018:
Why did you recently call the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in world history”?
Take its leader, who recently applied to the government of Ireland for a permit to build a huge wall to protect his golf course, appealing to the threat of global warming, while at the same time he withdrew from international efforts to address the grim threat and is using every means at his disposal to accelerate it. Or take his colleagues, the participants in the 2016 Republican primaries. Without exception, they either denied that what is happening is happening – though any ignorance is self-induced – or said maybe it is but we shouldn’t do anything about it. The moral depths were reached by the respected “adult in the room,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who agreed that it is happening but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.” Or take a recent publication of Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a detailed study recommending an end to regulations on emissions. It presented a rational argument: extrapolating current trends, by the end of the century we’ll be over the cliff and automotive emissions don’t contribute very much to the catastrophe – the assumption being that everyone is as criminally insane as we are and won’t try to avoid the crisis. In brief, let’s rob while the planet burns, putting poor Nero in the shadows.
This surely qualifies as a contender for the most evil document in history.
There have been many monsters in the past, but it would be hard to find one who was dedicated to undermining the prospects for organized human society, not in the distant future -- in order to put a few more dollars in overstuffed pockets.
Noam Chomsky Calls Trump and Republican Allies "Criminally Insane", John Horgan, Scientific American, November 3, 2018</p>
Noam Chomsky: The GOP Is Still the Most Dangerous Organization in Human History, Lorraine Chow, Eco Watch, May 12, 2017
Noam Chomsky on Midterms: Republican Party Is the “Most Dangerous Organization in Human History”, Democracy Now! November 5, 2018
"What the hell do you have to lose?"
So, I'm working on writing the short story "The Doll" which is one of my darker pieces. In "Lissa's Choice" you might have noticed the "Mikalites" being a passing reference. Mikal is one of the biggest names in the history of Rhíad, but it's been difficult figuring out the best way to introduce him. But "The Doll" is a tale that showcases all the main aspects of him in a short sitting.
Over the course of his life, he was known for his wisdom to the point of advising kings and guild leaders. He became deified, along with his mother, and nations even built shrines to him. But he was also known as a being of chaos and disaster, and the death count at his hands is often debated. The most devout of his followers absolve him any horrible acts, claiming they either never happened, that it was a different being who did them while using his likeness, or that if he *had* committed such atrocities he surely had a grander reason that lower humans could not have understood. On the other hand, a group of equally devout critics also formed with one mission in mind: to destroy Mikal and all that came from him, calling him an "abomination."
Personally, however, this image is how I see him... A child, walking a narrow road through the unknown and unprecedented, longing to find the source of light and freedom.
(I'm really liking this art style and thinking about using it for animation shorts of my books ^__^ If you want to keep updated on new releases, you can find more about my stories and Tales of T'vanna on my website: www.c9prod.com )
Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming
The year 2028 could be one of stunning accomplishment or somber failure, depending on how society at large reacts to the current global warming crisis. An initiative called ClimateClock, created by a pair of activists/artists intends to ensure that we land in the former category. And if they're not successful, don't say they didn't warn you.
In a push reminiscent of the Doomsday Clock, the ClimateClock is a worldwide project dedicated to shining a light on a very serious problem — the amount of time the world has left to prevent global warming effects from turning totally irreversible. At press time, there's about seven years and 98 days left ticking away on the timer. The clock is based on the carbon clock made by the MercatorResearch Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), using data from the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
NYC ClimateClock Counts Down Deadline to Climate Doomsday, Alia Hoyt, Science: How Stuff Works
Image Source: Link below
Topics: Autonomous Vehicles, Mechanical Engineering, Research, Robotics
Legged locomotion can extend the operational domain of robots to some of the most challenging environments on Earth. However, conventional controllers for legged locomotion are based on elaborate state machines that explicitly trigger the execution of motion primitives and reflexes. These designs have increased in complexity but fallen short of the generality and robustness of animal locomotion. Here, we present a robust controller for blind quadrupedal locomotion in challenging natural environments. Our approach incorporates proprioceptive feedback in locomotion control and demonstrates zero-shot generalization from simulation to natural environments. The controller is trained by reinforcement learning in simulation. The controller is driven by a neural network policy that acts on a stream of proprioceptive signals. The controller retains its robustness under conditions that were never encountered during training: deformable terrains such as mud and snow, dynamic footholds such as rubble, and overground impediments such as thick vegetation and gushing water. The presented work indicates that robust locomotion in natural environments can be achieved by training in simple domains.
Learning quadrupedal locomotion over challenging terrain, Joonho Lee1, Jemin Hwangbo 1,2, Lorenz Wellhausen1, Vladlen Koltun3, and Marco Hutter1
Science Robotics 21 Oct 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 47, eabc5986
Topics: African Americans, Diversity in Science, Physics
Throughout the week of 25 October, Black physicists, their allies, and the general public are invited to participate in #BlackInPhysics Week, a social media-based event dedicated to celebrating Black physicists and their contributions to the scientific community and to revealing a more complete picture of what a physicist looks like. Programming includes professional panels, a job fair, and an open mic night. If you are interested in learning more and registering for the events, check out blackinphysics.org or @BlackInPhysics on Twitter.
The lead organizers of #BlackInPhysics Week are Charles D. Brown II, an atomic and condensed-matter physicist; Jessica Esquivel, a particle physicist; and Eileen Gonzales, an astronomer studying brown dwarfs and exoplanets. Co-organizers include Jessica Tucker, a quantum information scientist; LaNell Williams, a biophysicist; Vanessa Sanders, a radiochemist; Bryan Ramson, a particle physicist; Xandria Quichocho, a physics education researcher; Marika Edwards, an astrophysicist, and engineer; Ashley Walker, an astrochemist; Cheyenne Polius, an astrophysicist; and Ciara Sivels, a nuclear engineer.
Brown, Esquivel, Gonzales, Quichocho, and Polius answered questions about #BlackInPhysics Week and described how physics became their passion.
Meet the organizers of #BlackInPhysics Week, Physics Today
Credit: Getty Images
Topics: Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics
Albert Einstein’s twin paradox is one of the most famous thought experiments in physics. It postulates that if you send one of two twins on a return trip to a star at near light speed, they will be younger than their identical sibling when they return home. The age difference is a consequence of something called time dilation, which is described by Einstein’s special theory of relativity: the faster you travel, the slower time appears to pass.
But what if we introduce quantum theory into the problem? Physicists Alexander Smith of Saint Anselm College and Dartmouth College and Mehdi Ahmadi of Santa Clara University tackle this idea in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications. The scientists imagine measuring a quantum atomic clock experiencing two different times while it is placed in superposition—a quirk of quantum mechanics in which something appears to exist in two places at once. “We know from Einstein’s special theory of relativity that when a clock moves relative to another clock, the time shown on it slows down,” Smith says. “But quantum mechanics allows you to start thinking about what happens if this clock were to move in a superposition of two different speeds.”
Superposition is a strange aspect of quantum physics where an object can initially be in multiple locations simultaneously, yet when it is observed, only one of those states becomes true. Particles can be placed in superposition in certain experiments, such as those using a beam splitter to divide photons of light, to show the phenomenon in action. Both of the particles in superposition appear to share information until they are observed, making the phenomenon useful for applications such as encryption and quantum communications.
Quantum Time Twist Offers a Way to Create Schrödinger’s Clock, Jonathan O'Callaghan, Scientific American
The Snake Handling Churches of Appalachia, Part 1, Texts, Codes and Translations, Experimental Theology Blog
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics
Under Penal Code 192b PC, California law defines involuntary manslaughter as the unintentional killing of another person, while committing either a crime that is not an inherently dangerous felony or a lawful act that might produce death. A conviction is punishable by up to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.00.
The key feature of involuntary manslaughter is that it does not require intent to kill another person—unlike Penal Code 187 PC murder, which requires “malice aforethought.”
Shouse California Law Group - Penal Code 192b – California Involuntary Manslaughter Law
I didn't bother watching the debate. I assumed he'd be doing a "kinder, gentler" version of his orange orangutan feces-slinging from the last debacle, but manage to pull in the crazy, while his opponent remained calm, cool, confident, and dare I say: presidential. From the commentary, that appears to be the case, 53% think his opponent won, 39% are still firmly in the apocalyptic cult. That suggests they can be out-voted. I've already cast mine for the saner, calmer candidate.
I don't believe the cult is completely stupid: they know he has little regard for them. He's reaching for the brass ring of actual billionaire status after myriad business failures that are almost cartoonish, promised him by an ex-KGB agent, and this modern-day Jonestown Guyana is a means to an end. The key to their undying fealty to him is he at least appears to hate the "others" they hate, and share their dread of a demographics future where they are all in the numerical minority, even though like him (or, me) most won't live to see, experience or if here, perceive it.
He's been committing crimes since his "American carnage" inauguration on January 20, 2017. His 20,000+ lies are a proportionality to the 220,000+ Americans that have died of the Novel Coronavirus. The report from The National Center for Disaster Preparedness was a punch in the gut: between 130,000 and 210,000 citizens could still be ALIVE were it not for ineptitude, incompetence, obfuscation, arrogance, and apathy. Translating: the pandemic's impact COULD have been a loss of 10,000 to 90,000 Americans. On the upside, that's still a lot, but the lower number is literally HALF of what we lose each year to the flu.
I'm not sure this is involuntary. It feels like intentional murder. He's purposely holding another in a series of super spreader klan rallies this weekend. The more Americans he can infect, the less (he thinks if that's possible) will be available to vote against him.
He is headed into a raft of lawsuits the NY District Attorney, the Manhattan DA, and the SDNY (formally headed by the Borat 2 crotch-clutching Rudy Giuliani), that no lawyer worth their reputation will volunteer to defend him: his record on not paying his debts are prologue to if they will be able to feed their families. Not even the debauched Rudy "Ghoul-e-ani" is that stupid.</p>
He has no empathy, but expecting empathy from a sociopath is like trying to get "blood from a turnip": it's not possible, and we should stop trying.
On her way to work one morning / Down the path alongside the lake / A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake / His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew / “Oh well,” she cried, “I'll take you in and I'll take care of you”
“Take me in oh tender woman / Take me in, for heaven's sake / Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk / And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk / Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived / She found that pretty snake she'd taken in had been revived
“Take me in oh tender woman / Take me in, for heaven's sake / Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You're so beautiful,” she cried / “But if I hadn't brought you in by now you might have died” / Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight / But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite
“Take me in oh tender woman / Take me in, for heaven's sake / Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
“I saved you,” cried that woman / “And you've bit me even, why? / You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die”
“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin / “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in
“Take me in oh tender woman / Take me in, for heaven's sake / Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake, song by Al Wilson
The Snake in full: Read Donald Trump's anti-immigration poem, Jeremy B. White, The Independent
Read it again. As John Heilemann said: "everything about him is either confession or projection."
We should have listened (or, at least his MAGA hat followers) not with the jaundiced ear of racism and xenophobia, but the informed ear of insight and revelation.
Topics: Moonbase, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight, Star Trek
Cultural references: Neil Armstrong's quote: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," and the title of a Star Trek Voyager episode, season 6, episode 8.
On August 4, 1972, the sun unleashed an incandescent whip of energy from its surface and flung it toward the planets. It was accompanied by a seething cloud of plasma called a coronal mass ejection, which traversed the nearly 150 million kilometers between sun and Earth in just more than half a day—still the fastest-known arrival time for such outbursts—to briefly bathe our planet in a cosmic fire.
Earth’s shielding magnetosphere crumpled and shrunk by two thirds, sending powerful geomagnetic currents rippling through the planet. Dazzling displays of “northern lights” stretched down to Spain, and overloaded power lines strained as far south as Texas. Off the southern coast of Haiphong, North Vietnam, the seas churned as the celestial disturbance prematurely detonated some two dozen U.S. Navy sea mines. The geomagnetic storm is one of the most violent solar events in recorded history, certainly the most violent of the space age.
The astronauts of Apollo 16 had been home about three months from their lunar foray, and those of Apollo 17 were still preparing for their December launch. The fact that the solar outburst happened between the penultimate and final crewed moon missions was simply a matter of chance. If the members of either crew had been in space during the solar storm, especially if they had been traversing the portion of the “cislunar” region between Earth and the moon that lies outside the magnetosphere, they would have been exposed to a potentially deadly dose of radiation.
We got lucky in 1972. And in terms of space-based hazards, that luck has largely held throughout humanity’s off-world excursions. To date, the only humans to actually die in space were the three cosmonauts of Soyuz 11, who asphyxiated because of faulty hardware as their spacecraft began its descent to Earth. Yet despite what most estimates would seem to consider a near-sterling safety record, today the prospect of venturing back beyond low-Earth orbit somehow seems more daunting—more dangerous—than it did when the Apollo program ended. Equipped with more knowledge than ever about the environs beyond our home, we now seem more reluctant to leave it. Maybe we know too much.
Can a Moon Base be Safe for Astronauts? Rebecca Boyle, Scientific American
Topics: Microscopy, Nanotechnology, NEMS, Physics, Research
Single-molecule microscopy has become an indispensable tool for biochemical analysis. The capability of characterizing distinct properties of individual molecules without averaging has provided us with a different perspective for the existing scientific issues and phenomena. Recently, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques have overcome the optical diffraction limit by the localization of molecule positions. However, the labeling process can potentially modify the intermolecular dynamics. Based on the highly sensitive nanomechanical photothermal microscopy reported previously, we propose optimizations on this label-free microscopy technique toward localization microscopy. A localization precision of 3 Å is achieved with gold nanoparticles, and the detection of polarization-dependent absorption is demonstrated, which opens the door for further improvement with polarization modulation imaging.
FIG. 2. (a) Schematic of the measurement setup. BE: beam expander. M: mirror. WP: waveplate. LP: linear polarizer. BS: beam splitter. PD: photodetector/power meter. DM: dichroic mirror. ID: iris diaphragm. CCD: charge-coupled device camera. APD: avalanche photodiode detector. (b) The transduction scheme of the trampoline resonator. (c) SEM image of the trampoline resonator.
J. Appl. Phys. 128, 134501 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0014905
Nanoelectromechanical photothermal polarization microscopy with 3 Å localization precision, Miao-Hsuan Chien and Silvan Schmid, Journal of Applied Physics
Topics: Cellular Service, Moonbase, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight
NASA is investing the money in Nokia-owned American research company Bell Labs, which will build the 4G-LTE network, it said on Wednesday, October 14.
The improved data transmission will help astronauts control lunar rovers, navigate lunar geography in real-time, and stream videos.
The mission ultimately will help show whether it's possible to have "human habitation on the moon," Bell Labs said.
NASA gave Nokia $14.1 million to build a 4G network on the moon, Grace Dean, Business Insider
Image Source: Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know (WebMD)
Topics: Biology, Computer Modeling, COVID-19, Research
TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.
The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.
The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.
Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolized particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.
The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.
Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus, Rocky Swift, Reuters Science
Although he also wrote poetry and plays, Unamuno was most influential as an essayist and novelist. If his vigorous and iconoclastic essays have any common theme, it is that of the need to preserve one's personal integrity in the face of social conformity, fanaticism, and hypocrisy. Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Miguel-de-Unamuno
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics
When the United States declared war on Germany 100 years ago, the impact on the news business was swift and dramatic.</em>
In its crusade to “make the world safe for democracy,” the Wilson administration took immediate steps at home to curtail one of the pillars of democracy – press freedom – by implementing a plan to control, manipulate and censor all news coverage, on a scale never seen in U.S. history.
Following the lead of the Germans and British, Wilson elevated propaganda and censorship to strategic elements of all-out war. Even before the U.S. entered the war, Wilson had expressed the expectation that his fellow Americans would show what he considered “loyalty."
Immediately upon entering the war, the Wilson administration brought the most modern management techniques to bear in the area of government-press relations. Wilson started one of the earliest uses of government propaganda. He waged a campaign of intimidation and outright suppression against those ethnic and socialist papers that continued to oppose the war. Taken together, these wartime measures added up to an unprecedented assault on press freedom.
How Woodrow Wilson’s Propaganda Machine Changed American Journalism, Christopher B. Daly, Professor of Journalism, Boston University, Smithsonian Magazine
The necessity for the Fairness Doctrine, according to proponents, arises from the fact that there are many fewer broadcast licenses than people who would like to have them. Unlike publishing, where the tools of the trade are in more or less endless supply, broadcasting licenses are limited by the finite number of available frequencies. Thus, as trustees of a scarce public resource, licensees accept certain public interest obligations in exchange for the exclusive use of limited public airwaves. One such obligation was the Fairness Doctrine, which was meant to ensure that a variety of views, beyond those of the licensees and those they favored, were heard on the airwaves. (Since cable’s infrastructure is privately owned and cable channels can, in theory, be endlessly multiplied, the FCC does not put public interest requirements on that medium.)
The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials.
Formally adopted as an FCC rule in 1949 and repealed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan’s pro-broadcaster FCC, the doctrine can be traced back to the early days of broadcast regulation.
The Fairness Doctrine: How We Lost It, and Why We Need It Back, Steve Rendall, FAIR, 2005
Couple this with the invention of the Internet, Netscape, AOL, Facebook, and Twitter; 24-hour CNN "infotainment," the rise of right-wing talk radio, the creation of Fox by Roger Ailes and MSNBC by Tom Rogers (coincidence): we are a nation in altered states. There is "spin" because of a particular slant of the news one consumes. There didn't use to be when we had three main stations and a UHF channel. It is demonstrable; one side is positioned more clearly in reality and one in abject fantasy. There are echo chambers of truth and echo chasms of fiction. We get exactly what is programmed for us in our selective news feeds. One produces results that can be measured and judged; the other makes us scratch our heads and shrug. We are Pied Piper-ed by The Joker.
It was a matter of time's arrow - Entropy - when we actually got a carnival barker to lead the cuckoo's nest: Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The only thing that makes sense of their devotion to this devolved Neanderthal: agency. White evangelicals became numerical minorities in 2017. The demographics don't support republicans winning a majority in any future elections: they just can't convince a plurality of voters to buy their 80's "trickle-down" bullshit, and the "loved uneducated" want what Lyndon Baines Johnson observed with "the lowest white man." So you see fake boxes in California, one box per county in Texas; polling places in districts closed, predominately comprised of BIPOC. Paul Weyrich said it "way back when," and it's why I've stated, the "gang of Putin" has always been a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party. Their patsies are the racists; their constituents are American oligarchs. With the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, they are preparing for minority rule, not unlike South African Apartheid.
“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came, and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
"But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”
"Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,"
"How to Watch TV News: Revised Edition"
Courtesy: Reaction Engines
Topics: Aerodynamics, ESA, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight
The pursuit, exploration, and utilization of the space environment can be misinterpreted as a luxury. History portrays space as an exclusive domain for global powers looking to demonstrate their prowess through technological marvels, or the stage for far-off exploration and scientific endeavor with little impact on daily life. However, the benefits of space are already woven into our everyday routines and provide utilities and resources on which society has grown dependent. If these were suddenly to disappear and the world was to experience just “a day without space”, the consequences would be evident to all.
The utilization of space is set to become more important still. A new vision for the future is starting to emerge that will feature even more innovative uses of space, ranging from space-based manufacturing and energy production to global Internet connectivity. Space-debris management is also receiving greater focus alongside lunar and Martian exploration, and even space tourism.
While some of these new innovations may sound like they are confined to the realm of science fiction, there are already companies furthering the technology to turn them into reality.
Conventional rocket vehicles are propelled by a fuel (liquid hydrogen, kerosene, or methane) and an oxidizer (liquid oxygen) carried within the vehicle body. When the fuel and oxidizer combust, mass is projected out of the back of the rocket, creating thrust. However, this approach – and especially the use of heavy onboard liquid oxygen – is constrained by Tsiolkovsky’s rocket equation. It basically tells us that everything carried onboard a vehicle has a penalty in the form of the additional propellant, and structural mass of the vehicle needed to get it off the ground. In other words, this approach hampers mission performance, mission payload, and mission time.
A concept image of the Reaction Engine’s Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE).
SABRE, on the other hand, is a hybrid air-breathing rocket engine. During the atmospheric segment of its ascent, it will use oxygen from the atmosphere instead of carrying it inside the vehicle, before switching to onboard oxygen upon leaving the atmosphere. A SABRE-powered launch vehicle will therefore have a lower mass for a given payload than a conventional rocket vehicle. This mass benefit can be traded for systems that will enable reusability and aircraft-like traits, such as wings, undercarriage, and thermal-protection systems – all the features needed to fly the same vehicle over and over again, achieving hundreds of launches.
Air-breathing rocket engines: the future of space flight, Oliver Nailard, Physics World
Art by Peter Cacho.
Art by Micah Blacklight.
Gentle breeze: illustration of the B-TENG triboelectric nanogenerator, which harvests electricity that is generated by fluttering polymer strips. (Courtesy: Xin Chen/Xiaojing Mu/Ya Yang)
Topics: Applied Physics, Nanotechnology, Polymers, Research
A new low-cost nanogenerator that can efficiently harvest electrical energy from ambient wind has been created by Ya Yang at the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues. The team reports that the device achieves high electrical conversion efficiencies for breezes of 4–8 m/s (14–28 km/h) and says that it could be used to generate electricity in everyday situations, where conventional wind turbines are not practical.
As the drive to develop renewable sources of energy intensifies, there is growing interest in harvesting ambient energy in everyday environments. From breezes along city streets to the airflows created as we walk, the mechanical energy contained in ambient wind is abundant. The challenge is to harvest this every in an efficient and practical way. This has proven difficult using existing technologies such as piezoelectric films, which operate at very low power outputs.
Yang’s team based their new design around two well-known phenomena in physics. The first is the Bernoulli effect, which causes the fluttering of two adjacent flags to couple. If separated by a very small gap, the flags will flutter in-phase, while at slightly larger separations, they flap out-of-phase, and symmetrically about a central plane. The second is the triboelectric effect – the familiar phenomenon behind the “static electricity” that is created when different objects are rubbed together and then separated – resulting in opposite electrical charges on the objects and a voltage between the two.
Fluttering polymer ribbons harvest electrical energy, Physics World
Topics: COVID-19, Existentialism, Research
I assure you, I have been affected by this pandemic more than most. I am in a demographic that can experience deleterious effects from this virus. I have had friends and family affected directly. I have classmates that are struggling to survive. This is no hoax: it's real.
My precautions are beyond anal.
I worked in cleanrooms in the semiconductor industry, the most stringent being Class 1. The old criteria meant 0.5 microns of particles per cubic feet of air. (The newest guidelines were adopted in 2001, metric and still pretty stringent.) Each employee passed through air showers to push off any particulates from their clothing. Smokers are encouraged not to indulge, and cologne was prohibited - smoke and scent are particles. We then put our street garb in a locker, putting on green hospital gowns and fab shoes that never left the site. Then we donned cleanroom gowns - "bunny suits" - before going into the alien, HEPA-filtered environment, protecting it from any hair, skin, sweat, or dirt we could shed that would inhibit the functionality of integrated circuits. I tried to drink as little water as possible before going on the floor. Going to the bathroom, or lunch was a pain.
I have developed a unique protocol for assaulting what used to be trivial things like getting the mail, mowing the lawn - grass grows as rains fall during pandemics - or, going to the grocers for supplies.
1. I fashioned a mask from my father's handkerchiefs and rubber bands per the CDC guidelines. (I now have a collection of 5).
2. I use cloth/rubber work gloves for mowing as the rubber is tactile enough for me to operate equipment and pay for items at the grocery store.
3. After I enter the house, I immediately put all clothing - including my gloves - in the washer. I proceed to the shower.
The confluence of misinformation and infectious disease isn’t unique to COVID-19. Misinformation contributed to the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and it plagues efforts to educate the public on the importance of vaccinating against measles. But when it comes to COVID-19, the pandemic has come to be defined by a tsunami of persistent misinformation to the public on everything from the utility of masks and the efficacy of school closures, to the wisdom behind social distancing, and even the promise of untested remedies. According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, areas of the country exposed to television programming that downplayed the severity of the pandemic saw greater numbers of cases and deaths—because people didn’t follow public health precautions.
In the United States, misinformation spread by elements of the media, by public leaders, and by individuals with large social media platforms has contributed to a disproportionately large share of COVID-19 burden: we house 4 percent of the global population but account for 22 percent of global COVID-19 deaths. With winter around the corner and people spending more time indoors, it is more imperative than ever that we counter misinformation and clearly communicate risks to the public; in addition, as we await the arrival of a vaccine, it is equally important to arm the public with facts. We have work to do: a recent poll found that just half of the American public plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID Misinformation Is Killing People - This “infodemic” has to stop
Amir Bagherpour, Ali Nouri, Scientific American
Nobel Prize, Economics.
Topics: Economics, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 was awarded jointly to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats."
The Prize in Economic Sciences 2020. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Mon. 12 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2020/summary/>
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