Tag Archives | Science

EmDrive Back in the News

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Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:

Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:

The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.

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Curiosity Roving Through the Claims of NASA

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” — Stanley Kubrick

Q: Do you trust the President of the United States?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the CIA?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the FBI?
A: No.

Q:What about the Congress?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the Federal Reserve?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the IRS?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the NSA?
A: No.

Q: How about the TSA?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the Supreme Court?
A: No.

Q: Ok, then. If you don’t trust any of these other government institutions, why then would you believe anything that comes from the mouth of NASA?

Above is an excerpt from a conversation I had the other day with a close friend about the stunning images of the recent fly-by of Pluto, taken from NASA’s satellite “New Horizons.” The persistent “No” I received from her was the patented response I expected, considering the general distrust people have in our politicians, world leaders, and governmental institutions these days.… Read the rest

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Antibiotic resistance doesn’t just make bacteria harder to kill – it can actually make them stronger

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. CDC/ Janice Haney Carr

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. CDC/ Janice Haney Carr

Gerald Pier, Harvard Medical School and David Skurnik, Harvard Medical School

Antibiotics are wonderful drugs for treating bacterial infections. Unfortunately, disease-causing bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics that are meant to kill them. This is called selective pressure – the bacteria that are susceptible to the drug are killed, but the ones that withstand the antibiotic survive and proliferate. This process results in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains.

Once a bacterial strain is resistant to several different antibiotics, it has become a multi-drug-resistant (MDR) microbe. When there are virtually no antibiotics available to treat an infected patient, a microbe is said to be “pan-resistant.“ These strains are becoming more and more common in hospitals and in the community at large. You might have heard of some of them: for instance, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).… Read the rest

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Perceive this: The human brain controls alpha-band oscillation phase to effect temporal predictions

Fig. 3. Spatial and frequency specificity of the alpha-band signal. (A) Scalp topography of absolute alpha power 400 ms before target onset, with electrode Pz indicated. (B) FFT of the pretarget data, indicating a peak in power at 10.6 Hz. Credit: Samaha J et al. (2015) Top-down control of the phase of alpha-band oscillations as a mechanism for temporal prediction. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(27):8439-8444.

Fig. 3. Spatial and frequency specificity of the alpha-band signal. (A) Scalp topography of absolute alpha power 400 ms before target onset, with electrode Pz indicated. (B) FFT of the pretarget data, indicating a peak in power at 10.6 Hz. Credit: Samaha J et al. (2015) Top-down control of the phase of alpha-band oscillations as a mechanism for temporal prediction. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(27):8439-8444.

Stuart Mason Dambrot via Medical Express:

Standard models of perception are stimulus-driven, meaning that the external perceptual event drives the brain’s perception-related activity. However, the tide may be turning: recent ideas suggest that our perceptual experiences and visually guided behaviors are influenced by top-down processes in the brain – specifically, the brain’s predictions about the external world. Recently, scientists at University of Wisconsin–Madison demonstrated that perceptual expectations about when a stimulus will appear are instantiated in the brain by optimally configuring prestimulus alpha-band oscillations in order to optimize the effectiveness of subsequent neural processing.

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“Cured” woman is HIV-free for 12 years without taking drugs

AJ Cann (CC BY-NC 2.0) An 18-year-old woman, who was born with HIV, no longer has traces of the virus in her blood, despite not taking antiretroviral drugs for over 12 years. Some doctors think this may have to do with the consistent use of the drugs early in the woman's life. Via New Scientist:
The woman has no genetic factors that might make her naturally resistant to the virus. Instead, it is likely that theearly, regular use of a combination of antiretroviral drugs is to credit for her remission, says Asier Sáez-Cirión of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, who will present the case at the International AIDS Society meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on Tuesday.
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Ball’s Pyramid — Last Home to the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

Atlas Obscura showcases Ball’s Pyramid in one of their newest videos. Ball’s Pyramid juts out of the Pacific Ocean 1,844 ft into the air and is actually the remnant of “a shield volcano and caldera that formed about 6.4 million years ago.”

What makes this island particularly special is that it’s home to the last remaining wild population of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. Watch the video for more information.

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Transhumanism — The Final Religion?

Humphrey King (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Humphrey King (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Transhumanism and its associated philosophies can be divisive. To be sure, the movement has some negative stereotypes attached to it. But nonetheless, it’s gaining traction in mainstream discourse.

Over at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, Dirk Bruere, explores transhumanism’s relationship to religion:

After several decades of relative obscurity Transhumanism as a philosophical and technological movement has finally begun to break out of its strange intellectual ghetto and make small inroads into the wider public consciousness. This is partly because some high profile people have either adopted it as their worldview or alternatively warned against its potential dangers. Indeed, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama named it “The world’s most dangerous idea” in a 2004 article in the US magazine Foreign Policy, and Transhumanism’s most outspoken publicist, Ray Kurzweil, was recently made director of engineering at Google, presumably to hasten Transhumanism’s goals.

So, what are these goals and how does Transhumanism define itself?

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From Cyborgs to Nanobots: 5 Ways Scientists Hope to Achieve Immortality for Humanity

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Via Outerplaces.com

Is immortality within our reach? Maybe not yet, but we are definitely trying. While the new film “Self/Less” features an interesting science fiction take on achieving immortality, various advances have been taking place in the very real scientific community. We may have a long way to go before we can transfer our consciousness into Ryan Reynolds body, but science is working pretty hard on some fascinating alternatives to the notion of immortality:

Anti-Aging Genetic Engineering
Maybe someday anti-aging will really reverse aging and keep us young forever, but until that day current anti-aging discoveries are at least helping to slow down specific aspects of the aging process. This spring, scientists at UC Berkeley discovered a drug called the Alk5 kinase inhibitor that helps restore brain and muscle tissues to youthful levels through stem cells used in tests on mice. The Alk5 kinase inhibitor limits the release of TGF-beta1, a chemical that restricts a stem cell’s ability to repair the body.… Read the rest

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Virtual Reality is the Future of Religion

Dali_Crucifixion_hypercubeRev. Dr. Christopher Benek via H+mag:

25 years ago most people didn’t imagine that the Internet would reshape the way that they existed on a day-to-day basis. 25 years from now people will think about Virtual Reality the same way we think about the Internet today – we won’t even be able to imagine our global existence without it.

One of the largest beneficiaries of this technological development could be the global church because VR is going to change the way that Christians participate in worship.

The main impact that VR is going to have on the global church is that it is going to, one-day, enable Christians to easily gather from a variety of places without being in the same physical location.   This will enable persons who are homebound, sick, caregivers, without transportation, on vacation, or severely disabled to participate in worship with the larger community of faith without needing to leave the place where they are physically residing.

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