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Your Brain on Covid...

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Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, DNA, Research

Note: I have friends who thankfully survived infection now affected by this phenomenon. The article thus grabbed my attention.

SARS-CoV-2 appears to travel widely across the cerebral cortex

“Brain fog” is not a formal medical descriptor. But it aptly describes an inability to think clearly that can turn up in multiple sclerosis, cancer, or chronic fatigue. Recently, the condition has grabbed headlines because of reports that it afflicts those recovering from COVID-19.

COVID’s brain-related symptoms go beyond mere mental fuzziness. They range across a spectrum that encompasses headaches, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and vivid dreams, not to mention well-known smell and taste anomalies. Strokes and seizures are also on the list. One study showed that more than 80 percent of COVID patients encountered neurological complications.

The mystery of how the virus enters and then inhabits the brain’s protected no-fly zone is under intensive investigation. At the 50th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, or SFN (held in virtual form this month after a pandemic hiatus in 2020), a set of yet-to-be-published research reports chronicle aspects of the COVID-causing SARS-COV-2 virus’s full trek in the brain—from cell penetration to dispersion among brain regions, to disruption of neural functioning.

How COVID Might Sow Chaos in the Brain, Gary Stix, Scientific American

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HETs...

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FIG. 1. Temporal evolution of chamber pressure assuming nominal operation for 30 s followed by a 40 s interval with flow rate reduced 100×. The colors correspond to 1 kW, 10 kW, 100 kW, and 1 MW power levels. The process is then repeated.

Topics: Applied Physics, Computer Modeling, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

Abstract

Hall effect thrusters operating at power levels in excess of several hundreds of kilowatts have been identified as enabling technologies for applications such as lunar tugs, large satellite orbital transfer vehicles, and solar system exploration. These large thrusters introduce significant testing challenges due to the propellant flow rate exceeding the pumping speed available in most laboratories. Even with proposed upgrades in mind, the likelihood that multiple vacuum facilities will exist in the near future to allow long-duration testing of high-power Hall thrusters operating at power levels in excess of 100 kW remains extremely low. In this article, we numerically explore the feasibility of testing Hall thrusters in a quasi-steady mode defined by pulsing the mass flow rate between a nominal and a low value. Our simulations indicate that sub-second durations available before the chamber reaches critical pressure are sufficiently long to achieve the steady-state current and flow field distributions, allowing us to characterize thruster performance and the near plume region.

I. INTRODUCTION

Hall effect thrusters (HETs) are spacecraft electric propulsion (EP) devices routinely used for orbit raising, repositioning, and solar system exploration applications. To date, the highest power Hall thruster flown is the 4.5 kW BPT-4000 launched in 2010 aboard the Advanced EHF satellite1 (which the HET helped to deliver to the correct orbit after a failure of the primary chemical booster), although a 13 kW system is being readied for near-term flight operation as part of the Lunar Gateway,2 and thrusters at 503,4–100 kWs power levels have been demonstrated in the laboratory. Solar cell advancements and a renewed interest in nuclear power have led the aerospace community to consider the use of Hall thrusters operating at even higher power levels. Multi-hundred kW EP systems would offer an economical solution for LEO to GEO orbit raising or for the deployment of an Earth-to-Moon delivery tug, and power levels in excess of 600 kW could be utilized for crewed transport to Mars.5–9 While such power levels could be delivered using existing devices, a single large thruster requires less system mass and has a reduced footprint than a cluster of smaller devices.10

Quasi-steady testing approach for high‐power Hall thrusters, Lubos Brieda, Yevgeny Raitses, Edgar Choueiri, Roger Myers, Michael Keidar, Journal of Applied Physics

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Kristallnacht...

 

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

Amid the GOP's nationwide push against teaching about race and sexuality in schools, two members of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia advocated for burning certain books, according to the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance-Star newspaper.

This came as the school board directed staff to begin removing "sexually explicit" books from library shelves, after voting 6-0 in favor of the removal, the Lance-Star reported. The board has plans to review how certain books or materials are defined as "objectionable," the paper said, which opens the door for other content to be removed.

Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg both championed burning the books that have been removed.

"I think we should throw those books in a fire," Abuismail said. Meanwhile, Twigg said he wanted to "see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff."

November starts with the intensity of electoral politics. For other nations, the election cycle isn't "big business." The only similarity between The New York Times, and Newsmax is each follows a business model that relies on orchestrated anxiety and eyeballs. The "fourth estate" is yellow journalism now if it ever was something else noble.

Elections in other countries have weekends for early voting, and the event is a holiday in many places. The forces that don't want a "crisis of democracy" in the United States prefer to keep our current malaise at the slow speed of the status quo, and if possible, reverse time politically in defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and time's arrow.

November should be the time to remove the October festival/Halloween decorations and begin to think of family gatherings (that we can do now that vaccination rates are going up), and the gentle pressure to advertise the Christmas/Hannukah/Solstice season on radio, television, and department store muzak.

A synagogue in Austin was set ablaze. "Antisemitic and racist stickers and flyers were found at Ramsey Park in central Austin Tuesday morning," according to KXAN.com. The antisemites were arrested for their crimes.

Ryan Faircloth was arrested for firebombing the DNC headquarters in Austin, Texas. He was later released on a mere $2,500 bond. Elected officials are getting death threats. Election workers are getting death threats. This didn't have to happen. The model existed before 2016. Fascism is born of fear. The fear is they are going to be the numerical minority, that the default "norm" will no longer be white culture and Norman Rockwell greeting cards.

Bill O'Reilly harangued Dr. George Tiller ("Tiller, the baby killer") until he was murdered by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder.

Sarah Palin posted "don't retreat: RELOAD!" along with gunsights over the headquarters of democrats, including Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords. The conservative democrat survived an assassination attempt by Jared Lee Loughner, answering the call of the former Wasilla Mayor as if it came from Mount Sinai or Mount Olympus.

There is shouting at medical professionals, teachers in classrooms, and people wearing masks on planes, or in public places. For peace of mind, good people will not serve as election officials, seek public office, work in medicine, or education. Since "nature abhors a vacuum," we will see the rise of what used to be the mad quackery that John Boehner and Paul Ryan tolerated from Paul Gosar to "win." The quackery will become the center and the "Grand Old Party" is no longer the "Party of Lincoln," but a banana republic.

Terrorism (noun): the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to U.S. election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response so far: only four known arrests and no convictions.

U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount, Campaign of Fear, Linda So and Jason Szep

"Kristallnacht, (German: “Crystal Night”), also called Night of Broken Glass or November Pogroms, was the night of November 9–10, 1938, when German Nazis attacked Jewish persons and property. The name Kristallnacht refers ironically to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after these pogroms. The violence continued during the day of November 10, and in some places, acts of violence continued for several more days."

Kristallnacht, Brittanica.com

It took eighty-three years to go from the pogroms of Europe to the Kristallnacht of America.

We are on the precipice of a dystopian apocalypse.

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Quantum Exorcism...

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Figure 2. Maxwell’s demon is a hypothetical being that can observe individual molecules in a gas-filled box with a partition in the middle separating chambers A and B. If the demon sees a fast-moving gas molecule, it opens a trapdoor in the partition to let fast-moving molecules into chamber B while leaving slow-moving ones behind. Repeating that action would allow the buildup of a temperature difference between the two sides of the partition. A heat engine could use that temperature difference to perform work, which would contradict the second law of thermodynamics.

Topics: Chemistry, History, Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is a strange theory. Although it is fundamental to our understanding of the world, it differs dramatically from other physical theories. For that reason, it has been termed the “village witch” of physics.1 Some of the many oddities of thermodynamics are the bizarre philosophical implications of classical statistical mechanics. Well before relativity theory and quantum mechanics brought the paradoxes of modern physics into the public eye, Ludwig Boltzmann, James Clerk Maxwell, and other pioneers of statistical mechanics wrestled with several thought experiments, or demons, that threatened to undermine thermodynamics.

Despite valiant efforts, Maxwell and Boltzmann were unable to completely vanquish the demons besetting the village witch of physics—largely because they were limited to the classical perspective. Today, experimental and theoretical developments in quantum foundations have granted present-day researchers and philosophers greater insights into thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. They allow us to perform a “quantum exorcism” on the demons haunting thermodynamics and banish them once and for all.

Loschmidt’s demon and time reversibility

Boltzmann, a founder of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, was fascinated by one of the latter field’s seeming paradoxes: How does the irreversible behavior demonstrated by a system reaching thermodynamic equilibrium, such as a cup of coffee cooling down or a gas spreading out, arise from the underlying time-reversible classical mechanics?2 That equilibrating behavior only happens in one direction of time: If you watch a video of a wine glass smashing, you know immediately whether the video was in rewind or not. In contrast, the underlying classical or quantum mechanics are time-reversible: If you were to see a video of lots of billiard balls colliding, you wouldn’t necessarily know whether the video was in rewind or not. Throughout his career, Boltzmann pursued a range of strategies to explain irreversible equilibrating behavior from the underlying reversible dynamics. Boltzmann’s friend Josef Loschmidt famously objected to those attempts. He argued that the underlying classical mechanics allow for the possibility that the momenta are reversed, which would lead to the gas retracing its steps and “anti-equilibrating” to the earlier, lower-entropy state. Boltzmann challenged Loschmidt to try to reverse the momenta, but Loschmidt was unable to do so. Nevertheless, we can envision a demon that could. After all, it is just a matter of practical impossibility—not physical impossibility—that we can’t reach into a box of gas and reverse each molecule’s trajectory.

Technological developments since Loschmidt’s death in 1895 have expanded the horizons of what is practically possible (see figure 1). Although it seemed impossible during his lifetime, Loschmidt’s vision of reversing the momenta was realized by Erwin Hahn in 1950 in the spin-echo experiment, in which atomic spins that have dephased and become disordered are taken back to their earlier state by an RF pulse. If it is practically possible to reverse the momenta, what does that imply about equilibration? Is Loschmidt’s demon triumphant?

The demons haunting thermodynamics, Katie Robertson, Physics Today

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Wearable Pressure Sensor...

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Hybrid device: A diagram of the layers in the new soft pressure sensor. (Courtesy: the University of Texas at Austin)

Topics: Applied Physics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology

Wearable pressure sensors are commonly used in medicine to track vital signs, and in robotics to help mechanical fingers handle delicate objects. Conventional soft capacitive pressure sensors only work at pressures below 3 kPa, however, meaning that something as simple as tight-fitting clothing can hinder their performance. A team of researchers at the University of Texas has now made a hybrid sensor that remains highly sensitive over a much wider range of pressures. The new device could find use in robotics and biomedicine.

The most common types of pressure sensors rely on piezoresistive, piezoelectric, capacitive, and/or optical mechanisms to operate. When such devices are compressed, their electrical resistance, voltage, capacitance, or light transmittance (respectively) changes in a well-characterized way that can be translated into a pressure reading.

The high sensitivity and long-term stability of capacitive pressure sensors make them one of the most popular types, and they are often incorporated into soft, flexible sensors that can be wrapped around curved surfaces. Such sensors are popular in fields such as prosthetics, robotics, and biometrics, where they are used to calibrate the strength of a robot’s grip, monitor pulse rates, and blood pressure, and measure footstep pressure. However, these different applications involve a relatively wide range of pressures: below 1 kPa for robotic electronic skin (e-skin) and pulse monitoring; between 1 and 10 kPa for manipulating objects; and more than 10 kPa for blood pressure and footstep pressure.

Wearable pressure sensors extend their range, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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The Incredible Callousness of Being…

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

Title source: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera.

The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC, media real estate. After landing an excellent job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance, to tell the truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have endured fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.

Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.

“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

What the hell? Newsmax correspondent thinks Satan is in COVID-19 vaccines, Matt Field, Bureau of Atomic Scientists

News flash: Beelzebub is not in your Covid vaccine. I’ve had both shots of Moderna and the booster. I have not spontaneously combusted, levitated furniture, cursed people out in Latin, or regurgitated pea soup (see: Linda Blair, in "The Exorcist").

The propaganda outlet’s title is Orwellian: nothing about it is “news,” nor is it superlative compared to all others.

If you’re a certain age, you recall the news by anchors like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Mike Wallace (Chris Wallace’s father). We had three stations, and a UHF channel on good days. The local news preceded the national news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. You had no idea who these gentlemen voted for. There was no “theme” to the channels: it was the news. Local and national news took ONE HOUR, it wasn't on repeat or loop, there were no smartphones with alerts. There was a morning, an evening newspaper that filled out the rest of what you needed to make sense of the world (we were in a Cold War with Russia). After that hour, the sitcoms and dramas filled the evening and did what they were supposed to do: entertain. There was no merger, no invention of "infotainment." It was what you needed as a citizen to make decisions about managing the republic. Every citizen had the responsibility of governance. Democrats could win one election, Republicans the next. The sacred text of the republic was The Constitution, it was sacrosanct.

Notice, I’m referring to our founding documents in the past tense.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman

Another book by Neil Postman and Steve Powers: “How To Watch TV News.” A summary:

An important guide to understanding what you’re getting--and not getting--from TV news. Postman and Powers warn that anyone who relies exclusively on TV for knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake and suggest ways to intelligently evaluate TV news shows.

Add to that: Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. The sage advice is to read actual books, reputable sources of news, and maybe a course on critical thinking, and civics.

Emerald Robinson knew exactly what she was doing and probably knew enough to delete the tweet after it was sent. It’s the same excuse Rush Limbaugh used for his bombastic rants that were mantra from Budda for ditto heads: “I'm just an entertainer.” By stoking the rage-against-the-brown-boogiemen machine, Fox Propaganda, News Min, and Dumb Bart have made huge profits on what is arguably “white grievance minstrelsy,” previously known as “angry white men.” Neilsen ratings are another harangue, and television has one mission: product sales. It can be meal prep, travel businesses, or erectile dysfunction. "Soap Operas" was the self-pejorative of what are now the few daytime dramas that are left.

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and the trial of the three murderers of Ahmaud Aubrey, miles distant from each other have the distinction of having ONE African American on the jury for EACH trial: 11:1. I was surprised by the Walter Scott murder trial verdict. I was surprised by the George Floyd murder trial verdict. For Briona Taylor and Trayvon Martin, the outcomes weren’t surprises, just infuriating.

There is a callousness to our discourse, as Carl Sagan once said "a celebration of ignorance." There is a difference between true ignorance, willful ignorance, and gaslighting. Ignorance is from a lack of information, that can be remedied. Willful ignorance is when you're speaking to an expert, reading a sourced document, and you willingly choose to combat the information, verbally, or physically, because it causes cognitive dissonance. Gaslighting is the tactic of an abuser, to make you question your reality. Emerald Robinson was gaslighting her Twitter followers, knowing it would get out into the Zeitgeist and fuel vaccine hesitancy, the main factor extending the pandemic her president bungled horribly. Gaslighting is abusive, but when you no longer question or resist the torture, you're a participant. O'Brien broke the will of Winston Smith in Orwell's "1984," there are as many fingers as O'Brien says there are.

For example, the elections Tuesday were predictable: every off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey has elected governors from the opposing party in the White House. The news media pounces on it: "it's a referendum on the current administration" they say, "it's a wakeup call to Democrats" says Kevin McCarthy, who manages to look like a howler monkey in a suit. With the exception of New Jersey, where Phil Murphy held on by a thread, that paradigm has repeated historically. Yet for eyeballs and detergent sales, cue the handwringing and pontification. Nielsen ratings.

Emerald Robinson preys on the existential fears of "the end times" by evangelicals steeped in the folklore and having watched a recent clip from the "Left Behind" series. From Hal Lindsey to Tim LaHay, eschatology is a lucrative business, unless the Chicxulub meteor hits before your booking on Morning Joe. "Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why" has obviously fallen out of favor. It was quite a sensation in 1982.

Emerald would have been the head of the spear if the Virginia Governor's Race went Terry 'McAuliffe's way. There was obviously no "voter fraud," just bungling by McAuliffe, and defaulting to the comfortable by the DNC. McAuliffe is "known," but the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge its future isn't appealing to a dwindling white majority, but to constituents that look like "The Squad." Pretending otherwise, or deferring to 80s-style Democratic Leadership Council orthodoxy is political suicide.

Ms. Robinson would have contributed to whipping their audience into a dangerous, armed frenzy. Death Santis has a voter integrity bureau patterned after the Ministry of Truth, to intimidate legitimate voters, more or less brown voters, from participating in the franchise. Any election Republicans win is by definition legitimate. Any elections Democrats lose, they concede gracefully. Any elections Democrats win in the future will be fraudulent, and "stolen." The "Big Lie" is the only thing wanted from the previous occupant of the Oval Office. What they want is the obfuscation as a cudgel. That kind of propaganda leads to armed violence, and a failed state, not Florida: America.

This is not democracy. It is the fractured foundation of a crumbling republic.

I'm not sure if American companies, "woke" or otherwise, will come to our rescue. As long as the Stock Market functions, as long as product ships to customers, the one percent has always been socially distant with mansions in exclusive zip codes, in other countries, penis spaceships to visit Elysium, the investors, and boards will largely ignore societal collapse. The only devils are the architects of the "Big Lie." The hell is our slide into authoritarian rule, "not with a bang, but a whimper" (TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men").

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, "The Tempest."

 

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Pairs of Cooper Pairs...

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New state of matter: The team observed electron quadruplets in this iron-based superconductor material, seen mounted for experimental measurements. (Courtesy: Vadim Grinenko, Federico Caglieris)

Topics: Condensed Matter Physics, Solid-State Physics, Superconductors

Note: I gave my research proposal last Friday. I have been answering some concerns about my proposal for the committee. I followed the outline sent to me by my advisor. I hope I've answered them sufficiently. I will post today and tomorrow; next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I tutor Calculus. For a person finished with classes, I'm extremely busy.

Cool a material below its superconducting transition temperature and you’d expect it to start conducting electricity without resistance and expelling magnetic fields. But an international group of physicists has found that a certain kind of iron-based material doped with negative charges does the opposite at around the same temperature – producing spontaneous magnetic fields and retaining resistance when chilled. The researchers say that the results point to a new state of matter in which electrons flow in correlated groups of four, rather than two.

According to the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory, superconductivity occurs when electrons get together to form what is known as Cooper pairs. Whereas in a vacuum two electrons would repel each other, when moving through the crystal lattice of a superconducting material, one of these particles shifts the positions of surrounding atoms to leave a small region of positive charge. This attracts the second electron to create the pair.

The creation of many such pairs yields a collective condensate, which results in frictionless electron flow. This occurs below a certain temperature – the superconducting transition temperature (Tc) – at which point atoms lack the thermal energy to break up the pairs.

Superconductor reveals new state of matter involving pairs of Cooper pairs, Edwin Cartlidge, Physics World

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BOOK REVIEW: Black Star

9753798696?profile=RESIZE_710xBlack Star by Eric Anthony Glover is a fantastic, action-packed ride about a future Earth. Brilliant scientist, Harper North, and a crew are sent on a mission to find a rare flower that will aid in medical treatment. However, the planet they travel to is hostile: the temperature and environment can change in an instant. Of course, there are challenges: the ship they are on is hit before landing and two crew members die; North escapes the ship but leaves one crew member, still alive but trapped in her lifepod on a burning ship, behind.

Samantha Parrish, the crew member left behind, escapes the burning ship and comes after North. Parrish is an expert at survival and races against time and North to get to the one-person shuttle pod that can escape the planet and return to Earth, hopefully with the rare flower they were sent to retrieve. The battle is on between scientist and survivalist--who will escape and who will be left behind.

Black Star is a wild, fast read with incredible graphics, fast-paced story telling and realistic emotional ups-and-downs along the way. A well-written tale of survival against the elements and against your fellow human. In tough and dark situations, the real inner human comes out.

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This Dragon...

 

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

The Brainwashing of My Dad is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Jen Senko about her father's transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. The film was mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Synopsis

As Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a nonpolitical Democrat to an angry Republican fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under President Richard Nixon for a media takeover by the Republicans, the 1971 Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion (especially the media, universities, and courts), the 1987 dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine under President Ronald Reagan, and the signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton. The documentary aims to show how the media and the nation changed, which leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights listeners and watchers have, and what responsibility the government has to keep the airwaves fair, accurate, and accountable. Wikipedia

In his book An Instinct for Dragons (2000), anthropologist David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, like monkeys, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats, and birds of prey. A dragon is a large, serpentinelegendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. Wikipedia/Dragon again, though somewhat rearranged.

Jen Senko uses the strongly suggestive term "brainwashing," and in a few interviews I've heard her give (last one on Thom Hartmann), she alluded to the part of the brain referenced as the amygdala: "region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almond-like shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to (in front of) the hippocampus. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala is a paired structure, with one located in each hemisphere of the brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a neural network that mediates many aspects of emotion and memory. Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli." (Britannica) Because it is primitive, it's famously referred to as the reptilian brain (in Brain World Magazine, no less). Ms. Senko's thesis was simply that her once calm, middle-of-the-road liberal dad became a fire-breathing (pun intended) conservative through endless repetition in the right-wing echo chamber of the idea he had something to fear, or someone in the form of foreigners and people of color. Her dad ironically came to this country as an immigrant. But through a relentless repetition campaign worthy of, and plagiarizing propaganda techniques from the Creel Committee, he transformed. Ms. Senko's dad is "patient zero," of our present darkness.

This is [our] life

Lisa Ling did an excellent job on her "This Is Life" series on conspiracy theories in America, and that they aren't anything "new" to the national landscape. The problem is, it's been digitized, and monetized over social media such that the more outrageous, the more violent the content, the more money those same companies make. Despite the proven harm to young teen girls and a lot of adults, the solution is practiced inaction. The pattern is public Mea Culpa, then do nothing, claim to be a social media platform, but not a journalistic platform, because lies monetized are more lucrative than publishing the truth.

Part of the problem is the many times we as citizens have been lied to: the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and the installation of the Shah over a democratically-elected leader of Iran in 1953. Nationalizing oil reserves gained the ire of the CIA, MI6, and British Petroleum. The sixties was an assassination decade, and theories of President Kennedy's assassination (and the immediate killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby), Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were splayed on newsletters, and pamphlets; beauty/barber shops, and water coolers. There's still a group that doesn't believe we went to the moon, aliens are somehow interested in "little-old-us"; Bigfoot and Nessie are real creatures, and the world post-Apollo is either flat or donut-shaped (I'm not kidding). Follow that with "I'm not a crook" Richard Nixon, "we're not selling arms for hostages" Ronald Reagan, it's no wonder trust in institutions other than the military is at an all-time low. Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh appealed to fellow jowl-faced constituents that consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an existential crisis, as their impish clone, Tucker Carlson parrots "replacement theory." "Nature abhors a vacuum," and provocateurs like Alex Jones are more than happy to fill the trust void. Add to that the 30,000+ COVFEFE whoppers of the last Oval Office occupant, and the death toll his lies bore. At least Brazil is considering holding Jair Bolsonaro responsible for crimes against humanity for 100,000+ dead. Our body count is higher. "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!"

Senator Angus King has evolved on the filibuster. He's willing to change the rules so voting rights can get passed. However, the dragon reared its head to "conserve" the status quo of white supremacy (Senator Tim Scott needs a new mirror and an active human soul).

It is interesting that Steve Scalise, the minority whip counter on the Republican side of the House, is urging his colleagues to vote NO on holding his br'er fascist, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress in fealty to a demagogue that lost the 2020 election, the Senate, and the House. If the rule of law is subject to "situational nihilism" (Brian Williams, The 11th Hour, MSNBC), then the law as we thought we knew it is essentially moot. Only nine Republicans in the House followed The Constitution to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress with all the Democrats, meaning all the Republicans who voted against it are in contempt of Congress. Now, "Robert Lewis, Rufus, and Frog" along with "Billy Bob, Cooter, and Skeeter" will all declare themselves Republicans, and ignore any subpoenas sent to them, reduced to a notion by the man whose publicly stated aim was to "deconstruct the administrative state." Good luck running courts large and small across the nation. 'Murica.

Scalise once described himself as "David Duke without the baggage." David Duke was a grand dragon, and avowed white supremacist. Any kind of supremacy is anathema to democracy. To quote a 2020 tweet from someone named Beau Willimon, succinctly comparing Capitalism, Socialism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy:

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Our democracy can no longer afford to ride this leviathan and continue to exist.

"And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." Revelations 12:3

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Peat Batteries...

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An aerial view of peat fields in Elva, Estonia. September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Topics: Battery, Biofuels, Chemistry, Energy, Green Tech

TARTU, Estonia, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Peat, plentiful in bogs in northern Europe, could be used to make sodium-ion batteries cheaply for use in electric vehicles, scientists at an Estonian university say.

Sodium-ion batteries, which do not contain relatively costly lithium, cobalt, or nickel, are one of the new technologies that battery makers are looking at as they seek alternatives to the dominant lithium-ion model.

Scientists at Estonia's Tartu University say they have found a way to use peat in sodium-ion batteries, which reduces the overall cost, although the technology is still in its infancy.

"Peat is a very cheap raw material - it doesn't cost anything, really," says Enn Lust, head of the Institute of Chemistry at the university.

Energy from bogs: Estonian scientists use peat to make batteries, Janis Laizans and Andrius Sytas, Reuters Science

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Vapor Ragnarok...

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Credit: Mark Ross

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Research

More moisture in a warmer atmosphere is fueling intense hurricanes and flooding rains.

The summer of 2021 was a glaring example of what disruptive weather will look like in a warming world. In mid-July, storms in western Germany and Belgium dropped up to eight inches of rain in two days. Floodwaters ripped buildings apart and propelled them through village streets. A week later a year’s worth of rain—more than two feet—fell in China’s Henan province in just three days. Hundreds of thousands of people fled rivers that had burst their banks. In the capital city of Zhengzhou, commuters posted videos showing passengers trapped inside flooding subway cars, straining their heads toward the ceiling to reach the last pocket of air above the quickly rising water. In mid-August a sharp kink in the jet stream brought torrential storms to Tennessee that dropped an incredible 17 inches of rain in just 24 hours; catastrophic flooding killed at least 20 people. None of these storm systems were hurricanes or tropical depressions.

Soon enough, though, Hurricane Ida swirled into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth named tropical storm in the year’s busy North Atlantic season. On August 28 it was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. Less than 24 hours later Ida exploded to Category 4, whipped up at nearly twice the rate that the National Hurricane Center uses to define a rapidly intensifying storm. It hit the Louisiana coast with winds of 150 miles an hour, leaving more than a million people without power and more than 600,000 without water for days. Ida’s wrath continued into the Northeast, where it delivered a record-breaking 3.15 inches of rain in one hour in New York City. The storm killed at least 80 people and devastated a swath of communities in the eastern U.S.

What all these destructive events have in common is water vapor—lots of it. Water vapor—the gaseous form of H2O—is playing an outsized role in fueling destructive storms and accelerating climate change. As the oceans and atmosphere warm, additional water evaporates into the air. Warmer air, in turn, can hold more of that vapor before it condenses into cloud droplets that can create flooding rains. The amount of vapor in the atmosphere has increased about 4 percent globally just since the mid-1990s. That may not sound like much, but it is a big deal to the climate system. A juicier atmosphere provides extra energy and moisture for storms of all kinds, including summertime thunderstorms, nor’easters along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, hurricanes, and even snowstorms. Additional vapor helps tropical storms like Ida intensify faster, too, leaving precious little time for safety officials to warn people in the crosshairs.

Vapor Storms Are Threatening People and Property, Jennifer A. Francis, Scientific American

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Vortex Beams...

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This calculated diffraction image shows how forked diffraction gratings shape the atoms' wave function into a vortex. (Courtesy: Science/AAAS)

Topics: Bose-Einstein Condensate, Nanotechnology, Particle Physics, Quantum Optics

A wave-like property previously only seen in beams of light and electrons has been observed for the first time in atoms and molecules. By passing beams of helium and neon through a grid of specially shaped nanoslits, researchers led by Edvardas Narevicius of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science succeeded in giving the beams a non-zero orbital angular momentum (OAM). The resulting structures are known vortex beams, and they could be used for fundamental physics studies such as probing the internal structure of protons.

Many natural systems contain vortices – think of tornadoes and ocean eddies on Earth, the red spot on Jupiter, and gravitational vortices around black holes. On all scales, such vortices are characterized by the circulation of a flux around an axis. In the quantum world, these swirling structures are found in ensembles of particles that can be described by a wavefunction, including superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates.

Atoms and molecules make vortex beams, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Big Bet on Small...

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Topics: Futurism, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

The National Nanotechnology Initiative promised a lot. It has delivered more.

We’re now more than two decades out from the initial announcement of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a federal program from President Bill Clinton founded in 2000 to support nanotechnology research and development in universities, government agencies, and industry laboratories across the United States. It was a significant financial bet on a field that was better known among the general public for science fiction than scientific achievement. Today it’s clear that the NNI did more than influence the direction of research in the U.S. It catalyzed a worldwide effort and spurred an explosion of creativity in the scientific community. And we’re reaping the rewards not just in medicine, but also clean energy, environmental remediation, and beyond.

Before the NNI, there were people who thought nanotechnology was a gimmick. I began my research career in chemistry, but it seemed to me that nanotechnology was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the opening of a new field that crossed scientific disciplines. In the wake of the NNI, my university, Northwestern University, made the strategic decision to establish the International Institute for Nanotechnology, which now represents more than $1 billion in pure nanotechnology research, educational programs, and supporting infrastructure. Other universities across the U.S. made similar investments, creating new institutes and interdisciplinary partnerships.

Moreover, as a new route to inter- or transdisciplinary research, which was at the core of the NNI, nanotechnology has driven a new narrative in STEM: collaboration. Nanotechnology has captured the imagination of a generation of materials scientists, chemists, physicists, and biologists to synthesize and understand new materials; as well as inspiring engineers who are trained to develop tools for making and manipulating such structures; and doctors who can use them in the clinic. Collaborative nanotechnology research at our institute unites faculty members from 32 departments across four schools at Northwestern. This diversity of training and perspective does more than broadening the scope of our research. It enables us to identify, understand and address big problems—and it helps us break down barriers between the lab and the marketplace.

A Big Bet on Nanotechnology Has Paid Off, Chad Mirkin is director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and a professor of materials science and engineering, medicine, biomedical engineering, and chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University.

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