Tag Archives | Science

Neal Stephenson: Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation

By Orin Zebest via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Orin Zebest via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Slate:

For a big part of my life, I assumed that the scarce resource—the thing that was preventing me from getting to Mars, or having my own personal jetpack—was clever ideas. Since I see myself as an idea person, that was a pleasant thing to believe. It’s flattering to think that you are one of the special few who hold the keys to the future. In the last decade and a half, though, I’ve spent a lot of time working in idea factories of various types, and I’ve come to see how wrong I was. I had fallen for a 19th-century vision of how it all works: the lone inventor sitting in the lobby of the patent office with his better mousetrap on his lap, waiting for the world to beat a path to his door. My thinking along those lines led to a 2011 piece titled “Innovation Starvation.” This led in turn to a partnership with Arizona State University to create Project Hieroglyph, which asked science fiction writers to help imagine new futures.

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Watch this Giant Red Leech Devour a Worm

“The leech sucks its prey down like spaghetti.”

The music really adds to the video.

via io9:

For the first time, filmmakers in the forests of Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu have documented the so-repulsive-it’s-captivating behavior of a large, red, worm-guzzling predator. While it remains unclassified by science, the animal is known to the area’s tribespeople, fittingly, as the “Giant Red Leech.”

Allow me to introduce this brief but unsettling clip, recently captured by BBC filmmakers for the new series ‘Wonders of the Monsoon,’ by stating the obvious: Nature can be gross. Some of us appreciate this fact more than others.

Read the entire write-up over at io9.

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Science Says the Universe Could Be a Hologram, Computer Program, Black Hole or Bubble

What is the Universe? A hard question to answer , no doubt, but Smithsonian Magazine suggests there are ways to check:

The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description.

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Study shows that running while drunk doesn’t overburden your body

via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Fancy a beer and a jog?

via Sports.Mic:

For all the reasons that you don’t run on the treadmill after drinking yourself silly, worrying about your performance shouldn’t be among them.

Nine researchers at the Italian Federation of Cardiology have published a study that concludes even if you consume a lot of alcohol before you go running, there will be no impact on your exercise regimen.

According to this recent paper published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicineyour body doesn’t feel any more burdened or exhausted if you run while you’re drunk than it does if you’re just sitting idle. To prove that exercise capacity isn’t significantly affected, the researchers took 10 healthy white men, who were nonhabitual drinkers, for this pilot study and gave them three shots of whiskey. The next step was testing their run.

This was no regular treadmill session; they were made to run to their maximum heart rate.

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Quantum Mechanics Saves Grandfathers From Time Travelers

JD Hancock via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

JD Hancock via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

via Popsci:

Mention time travel at a nerd party, and other guests will immediately respond with a grim conundrum: What happens if a time traveler goes back in time and kills one of his ancestors? This is the “Grandfather Paradox.” In a simulated environment, a team of mathematicians tested the paradox, and made a remarkable discovery: In time travel simulations, at least, history repeats itself.

The Grandfather Paradox makes a mess of time travel. A murderer kills his ancestor, preventing his own birth, thereby preventing the murder, thereby being born, thereby committing the murder, and so on. To observe it, a team of researchers, led by Martin Ringbauer, created a simulation. Instead of firing up a DeLorean to 88 miles an hour, they sent photons through a “closed timelike curve,” or CTC. The photons are paired up so that one follows the other. It works like this:

In their new simulation Ralph, Ringbauer and their colleagues studied Deutsch’s model using interactions between pairs of polarized photons within a quantum system that they argue is mathematically equivalent to a single photon traversing a CTC.
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Richard Feynam’s Physics Lectures Are Now Available For Free

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Saw this on io9 and thought it would be a great thing to pass on.

via io9:

The complete online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics has been made available in HTML 5 through a collaboration between Caltech (where Feyman first delivered these talks, in the early 1960s) and The Feynman Lectures Website. The online edition is “high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures,” and, thanks to the implementation of scalable vector graphics, “has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation.”

Volume I deals mainly with mechanics, radiation and heat; Volume II with electromagnetism and matter; and Volume III with quantum mechanics.

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Neuroscientists Watch Imagination Happening in the Brain

Elements - Imagination by Hartwig HKD via Flickr.

“Elements – Imagination” by Hartwig HKD via Flickr.

Via ScienceDaily:

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” sang John Lennon in his 1971 song Imagine. And thanks to the dreams of a BYU student, we now know more about where and how imagination happens in our brains.

Stefania Ashby and her faculty mentor devised experiments using MRI technology that would help them distinguish pure imagination from related processes like remembering.

“I was thinking a lot about planning for my own future and imagining myself in the future, and I started wondering how memory and imagination work together,” Ashby said. “I wondered if they were separate or if imagination is just taking past memories and combining them in different ways to form something I’ve never experienced before.”

There’s a bit of scientific debate over whether memory and imagination truly are distinct processes. So Ashby and her faculty mentor devised MRI experiments to put it to the test.

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Simulation Theory and the Nature of Reality with NASA Physicist and Author, Tom Campbell

Via Midwest Real

IMG_5913“When the original founding fathers of quantum mechanics were doing these experiments they were really excited… making statements like- ‘if quantum mechanics doesn’t blow your mind, that’s because you don’t understand quantum mechanics.’ They realized this was a really big deal philosophically, (and) scientifically… Then they tried to come up with a good explanation. They couldn’t find one… Now they just blow it off as ‘nobody will ever know… it’s just weird science.’ This My Big Toe theory though, explains it.”  -Tom Campbell

If that chopped up quote sounds vague, pseudo science-y, or confusing (especially if you’re not familiar with some of the basic ideas behind quantum mechanics) I get that. But, when you’re grappling with huge issues like the very nature of our reality and you’re trying to take a broad stroke across the top, things tend to get foggy, so bear with me.

(You should know about the infamous, hotly-debated double-slit experiment covered above for this talk.)

Actually, don’t bear with me, or take anything from me, because our guest, Tom Campbell has an impressive career in applied physics.… Read the rest

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