Tag Archives | Science

It’s a sci-fi trope, but are “beings of pure energy” really possible?

“Beings of pure energy” are oft-used tropes in sci-fi. They have no physical bodies, tend to be “enlightened,” and transcend time and space. But, is this transcendent state possible? Xaq Rzetelny at Ars Technica investigates:

If you’ve experienced science fiction in any of its many forms, chances are you’ve encountered “energy beings.” Unlike the other aliens in sci-fi, they have no ‘physical’ bodies but rather exist as beings of pure energy. They’re usually able to flit about the Universe at will and often demonstrate great abilities befitting their advanced, ultra-evolved state.

They are also typically portrayed as more powerful, more enlightened, and possessing a deeper understanding of the universe. It’s almost a given in most science fiction that sufficiently advanced civilizations will eventually develop this way. Converting themselves into beings of pure energy seems like the ultimate stage in the development of any civilization. It’s a ubiquitous trope—as if “pure energy” is our own mass cultural idea of humankind’s far future.

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Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

Richard Ricciardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Richard Ricciardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Via Nicholas Wade at The New York Times:

A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.

The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken.

“You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,” said David Baltimore, a former president of the California Institute of Technology and a member of the group whose paper on the topic was published in the journal Science.

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This Major Newspaper Just Declared War on Fossil Fuels

observista (CC BY-ND 2.0)

observista (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones:

After 20 years at the helm of one of the United Kingdom’s most influential newspapers, Alan Rusbridger is about to step down as editor of the Guardian. He’s not going quietly: In an op-ed a couple weeks ago, Rusbridger pledged to use his waning weeks to launch a full-out war on climate change:

So, in the time left to me as editor, I thought I would try to harness theGuardian’s best resources to describe what is happening…For the purposes of our coming coverage, we will assume that the scientific consensus about man-made climate change and its likely effects is overwhelming. We will leave the sceptics and deniers to waste their time challenging the science. The mainstream argument has moved on to the politics and economics…

We will look at who is getting the subsidies and who is doing the lobbying.

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Can a Molecular 3D Printer Change the Way We Make Everything?

Kyle Maxey via engineering.com

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has become one of the wonder-techs of the new millennium. Granted, while the vast majority of 3D printers on the market are little more than souped-up trinkets, some machines are leveraging the technology’s additive assets to instigate real change.

Chemistry has always been a daunting subject. When confronted with working on the molecular level, extreme precision is required. For many researchers the process of working with small molecules requires such long-durations and precise equipment to synthesize that it prevents them from doing any fundamental research.

To stop this production bottleneck Martin Burke, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, has been developing a “3D Printer” that can replicate what nature does when it builds small molecules. Key to Burke’s machine is an understanding that there is a small number of small molecules that nature uses to produce a large portion of life’s chemistry.

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Hear Dr. Carl Hart Eviscerate Drug Propaganda

HartPhotoVia Midwest Real

Dr. Carl Hart is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University and the author of High Price

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Before we were engulfed in a tsunami of boundless digital knowledge containing more truth (and garbage) than we could ever digest in thousands of lifetimes, we lived in an incredibly different world. If you were a child of the 90’s like myself, you were constantly inundated with overly-simplistic catchphrase propaganda– “This is your brain on drugs,” “just say no,” the list goes on. I specifically remember being taught in school that marijuana was supremely dangerous because it was a “gateway drug.” The connotation being that if you so much as tried it, you’d probably wind up a strung-out, do-nothing idiot with a Kentucky-fried brain who’d never amount to anything.

This tireless barrage of indoctrination has forged us into a population that looks to traditional sources of authority with an immense amount of skepticism.Read the rest

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Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum

Shan Sheehan (CC BY 2.0)

Shan Sheehan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Researchers may have come up with the answer.

Robert Service via AAAS:

The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.

Now, researchers say they may have solved these paradoxes. Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start.

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New quantum mechanics theory says parallel universes exist, interact

NRAO

NRAO

The new theory, “Many Interacting Worlds” (MIW), states that parallel universes interact and that scientists may be able to test for this.

via RT.com:

To the average person, quantum mechanics is the convoluted, science fiction-y branch of physics. A radical new theory plays into that, proposing that parallel universes exist and interact with each other ‒ and that scientists may be able to test for them.

Prof. Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, along with his collaborators Dr. Michael Hall, also of Griffith University, and University of California, Davis mathematician Dr. Dirk-Andre Deckert, published their new “many interacting worlds” (MIW) theory in the journal Physical Review X. They posited that other universes are real, exist in vast numbers and exert influence on each other.

“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” Wiseman said in a statement. “In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made.

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Theories, Mysteries and Mistakes: Contradictions in Reality

We assume our theories about the world are gradually uncovering the way it really is. Yet from quantum mechanics to post-structuralism, the reality the theories describe is contradictory. Should we conclude that the world is essentially unintelligible? Or is it simply the theories that are mistaken?

Watch more videos on iai.tv

The Panel

Founder of Loop Quantum Gravity Carlo Rovelli, post-postmodernist Hilary Lawson, and philosopher of mind Jennifer Hornsby confront the limits of our understanding.

You can find loads more debates, articles and free online courses in philosophy, science, politics and culture at IAI TV.

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