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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brain Bloggers survey

Through the Looking Glass is conducting research on "Brain Bloggers."  Step one is a basic survey.  The following provides some insight into me as a writer, as well as the history and current state of this blog.  Thanks to all of you for your readership and support.  Because of you, I can be proud of my efforts. 
They are inviting us to post the survey on our blogs, so here it goes!

Blog URL:

What do you blog about?
    Physics and Astronomy, with spatterings of other breaking news in science

Do you feel as if you fit into any particular community, network or genre if science blogging? (e.g. neuroscience, bad science, ex-sbling)
    As a contributor to, my technical articles on physics and astronomy receive a lot of traffic
If so, what does that community give you?
    Positive responses have made me feel even more welcome and inspired me to continue writing.

Are you paid to blog?
    My blog mildly promotes my music career via mp3 downloads through various online outlets.  Corresponding sales generate some income.

What do you do professionally (other than blog)?
   Currently unemployed.

How long have you been blogging at this site?
   Since mid Sept. 2010

Have/ do you blogged elsewhere? When? Where?

Would you describe yourself as a scientist, or as a member of the scientific community? Do you have any formal/ informal training in science? (if so, what area?)
    I am an amateur scientist, science-themed musician, and amateur science journalist.

Do you have any formal training in journalism, science communication, or similar?
   I have an associates degree in science.

Do you write in other platforms? (e.g. in a print magazine?)

Can you remember why you started blogging?
   I look up a large amount of science news online daily, and finally chose to share what fascinates me most.

What keeps you blogging?
  The steady increase in traffic, as well as positive comments expressing enjoyment and respect for my content.

Do you have any idea of the size or character if your audience? How?
   My traffic began in mid Sept. with 3-4 hits a day, and now has 150-400 hits a day. has generated a lot of traffic, implying an intelligent readership.  Additionally, ads I had for a while on my site were not clicked on, which is indicative of the demeanor of my readership.  I removed the ads and left only links to my music for sale online.

What’s your attitude to/ relationship with people who comment on your blog?
  I don't get a lot of comments, but when I do, I respond always.  It's a very personal interaction and is normally intelligent banter.

What do you think are the advantages of blogging? What are its disadvantages/ limitations?
   Advantage-  The ability to change topics or style of writing on a whim is very liberating.  Frivolous and silly content, as well as jokes, can be used when and if I want to, without repercussions.   
  Disadvantage- Income difference inherent to independence

Do you tell people you know offline that you’re a blogger? (e.g. your grandmother, your boss)
  Yes.  My blog's name is easy to remember, and the vast majority of those I have told have checked into my blog and given me positive feedback.

Is there anything else you want to tell me about I haven’t asked?
   A good question not asked would be: How often do you post on your blog.  Answer: an average of 6 out of 7 days a week.

-Dj Busby

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Theory of Mind is being challenged

[Edit: 12-29-2010 Neurotic Physiology Explained this experiment in much greater detail than what I had found previously.  Click Here for his insightful article.]

 Article on PhysOrg today about Theory of Mind.   Some time ago, I learned about Theory of Mind via the Vignette embedded below, which is quite well done.  Apparently new papers are being released claiming that theory of mind is displayed in the behavior of children under three years old.  This effect was previously thought to not be possible due to the developmental stages of children. 

The description of the experiment, to quote PhysOrg, quoting AAAS:
   "The experiments involved showing the test subject a series of animated videos in which a ball first rolls behind a small wall, and then either stays there, rolls out of view, or rolls away and comes back.
A cartoon character observes different intervals of this process. At the end of each video, the researchers measured how long it took the test subjects to detect the ball. (For the babies, the researchers inferred this based on how long it took the infants to look away from the screen.)
Both the adults’ and infants’ reaction times were faster when the cartoon character’s “belief” about the ball’s location matched the ball’s actual whereabouts. This was the case even when the cartoon character had left the screen by the end of the video.""

Here's the abstract from the actual Paper by Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Ernő Téglás, and Ansgar Denis Endress
"Human social interactions crucially depend on the ability to represent other agents’ beliefs even when these contradict our own beliefs, leading to the potentially complex problem of simultaneously holding two conflicting representations in mind. Here, we show that adults and 7-month-olds automatically encode others’ beliefs, and that, surprisingly, others’ beliefs have similar effects as the participants’ own beliefs. In a visual object detection task, participants’ beliefs and the beliefs of an agent (whose beliefs were irrelevant to performing the task) both modulated adults’ reaction times and infants’ looking times. Moreover, the agent’s beliefs influenced participants’ behavior even after the agent had left the scene, suggesting that participants computed the agent’s beliefs online and sustained them, possibly for future predictions about the agent’s behavior. Hence, the mere presence of an agent automatically triggers powerful processes of belief computation that may be part of a “social sense” crucial to human societies."

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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Search For Hidden Dimensions

"Brian Greene: The Search For Hidden Dimensions" Absolutely fascinating!  Toward the end he explains the worth of learning when the theory in question might not turn out to be fact.  He says that studying itself still pays off.  Interesting!

Video Credit: RFD Productions

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

News Today of Amelia Earhart is a TRICK!!

Amelia Earhart's bones are being analyzed, and news outlets are abuzz!  This is just some of a ton of evidence we all we have already had for a long, long time.  Amelia Earhart's "mystery" is hardly a mystery at all. 

This has been covered before.  A lot. The titles and first paragraphs of articles involving this seem to trend toward the misleading, and may make people infer that these same remains were a recent discovery, over and over.

Misleading news titles abound.  ABC News's Article Title today: "Found Bones May Solve Ameila Earhart Mystery" Video Article on ABC News, only slightly better, due to an interview.

As if we have never found the site of her crash before?  HA!

Feeding the buzz of popularity, this mystery has been propagated for some time.

Dec 2, 1998, NPR's Article's title, "Bones, Shoes May Have Been Amelia Earhart's," Misleading title in regard to timeline.  First paragraph within is misleading in regard to timeline.  And this was 1998.

Lets go back to freakin' 1940

TIGHAR, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, has pretty much handled this "mystery," but that doesn't prevent a hubbub.  Their research on her started in 1988 and continues to now.  Check them out in more depth if you're interested in the research.  Refer to bottom of post for further reading by TIGHAR team member, Ric Gillespie.

In 1940 her bones were found, as well as many tantalizing artifacts. The first I ever first heard of this was on, which provides an awesome, irreverent History of the information we have gathered since her death.  But is far far far from a reputable source!  However, their information, with a bit of digging, adds up. It's funny, so I'll quote their hilarity:

"Remarkably, we've pretty much had the Earhart mystery solved ever since partial remains were found on an island... in 1940. That's right, 70 years ago. Only four years after she vanished.
  To be fair, half of the bones were carried away by giant crabs, and the rest have since been lost because nobody thought it was important or even curious that a skeleton should turn up on an island just southeast of where Amelia freaking Earhart was going. Neither did it strike a chord that the remains turned out to be those of a white woman with Earhart's measurements, or that they were found alongside a pocket knife, a broken cosmetics jar, a piece of glass from an airplane windshield and the same exact type of navigational system Earhart had been using. It's inconclusive, dammit!"
As you can see, they reference a Discovery News Article, corroborating their case.

A bit of digging:
Hosted on, an Article, written by one of the researchers on the TIGHAR team, has a section concisely mentioning TIGHAR's analysis of the situation, documented in the late 80's, and published soon after in multiple books.  Quoting

"In the late 1980s, a tiny non-profit group in Wilmington, Delaware—The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery or TIGHAR (pronounced “tiger”)—entered the fray. Organized by the dynamic husband-wife team of Ric Gillespie and Pat Thrasher, who continue to oversee its operations today, one of TIGHAR’s purposes is to apply scientific techniques to investigating aviation historical mysteries."  

Part of, the Ameliapedia gives a super-quick breakdown of TIGHAR and Amelia Earhart.  

AP was misleading about the ol' Amelia Earhart "breaking news" story.
Via Google's AP feed, I quote:
"NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The three bone fragments turned up on a deserted South Pacific island that lay along the course Amelia Earhart was following when she vanished. Nearby were several tantalizing artifacts: some old makeup, some glass bottles and shells that had been cut open."

The AP article here has been auto-injected into many news streams, including Yahoo News and Fox News. 

Further down in AP's article, they redeem themselves slightly, via a quote on the sensationalism of the topic:
"You only have to say you have a bone that may be human and may be linked to Earhart and people get excited. But it is true that, if they can get DNA, and if they can match it to Amelia Earhart's DNA, that's pretty good."
Too bad most people don't read down that far in articles.  Sigh.

So I'm here to rain on everyone's parade, and to remind you all that the media wants to sell advertising!  


For further reading on TIGHAR's work, team member Ric Gillespie's book 
Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Under Pressure!

(Right now imagine Billy Joel's song "Pressure" playing while you read this) 

College students are deep into finals right now, and the pressure has been building.  Talk abounds on loss of sleep and giddiness under stress.

(Crossfade the music into "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie)
In honor of our students handling this round of academic chaos, take a break, watch this informative and entertaining video! by Sixty Symbols:
Symbol: Pa (Pascal) | Video Title: Vacuum Cannon

The Pascal, 1 neuton per square meter, is the SI measurement of pressure.  However on a scale of 1 to steam out of your ears, my student friends are approaching tea kettle status.  Good luck guys! It's almost over!!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today's Overflow: Breaking Science Links, Dec. 15, 2010

"Submerging your feet in alcohol will not get you drunk" Article on PhysOrg | Come on, Brits, seriously?  All I have to say is, One step for science...

NASA just announced that new crewmembers will soon be aboard the ISS.  Also, they provided some brand new options available for the public to connect with them. and , for twitter news that will be updated by ISS crewmember Coleman, specifically covering Expedition 26/27.  NASA's PR is incredibly good at social media outreach.  Their actions should and will be mimicked.

Discover Blogs: 80 Beats Reports the background behind the hype of a story, "Man Cured of Aids," floating around the internet right now.  It turns out this is an old story, not breaking news by any means.  A recent journal published a status update, that's all.  It's awesome, no doubt, but it's not breaking, like some outlets would have you think.

"Positive Mood Allows Human Brain to Think More Creatively" Article on ScienceDaily

"'Aha' Effect: New Hypothesis Seeks to Explain the Pleasures of Insight" Article on ScienceDaily

"Atomic Weights of 10 Elements on Periodic Table About to Make an Historic Change" Article on ScienceDaily


PhysOrg has an update on the controversy and aftermath behind the "Arsenic Bacteria" story.  Hidden in the explanation is this gem I didn't know.
To quote,
  "The journal's editors have "received about 20 technical comments and letters responding to the article," the magazine said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday."

Symmetry Mag, whose tweets are some of THE best in my opinion, tweeted a link to a NY Times article released today, covering inconclusive controversy of the "Cyclic Universe" story, aka the "Many Big Bangs" story, aka the "Rings in CMB" story.  End result?  Evidence isn't solid, don't make a big deal of anything yet, guys!  Sheesh!  And kudos to NY Times for their correction at the bottom of their article.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrating my 100th Post!

Woohoo!  You heard right, it's my 100th post since I started up this blog in mid September, 2010.  For me, it's incredible; as of right now there have been 4,812 views in total.  Things started out with 3 or 4 hits a day at the beginning.  Although still modest in the larger scheme, I'm thrilled that my passion and efforts have translated into something I can be very proud of!

Thank you, all of you, for your support and readership!

"Be humble, for you are made of earth,
Be noble, for you are made of stars."    
--Serbian Proverb

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adorable Pygmy Three Toed Sloth

I'm calling it now, this video will become viral on the web!  Labeled as one of the decade's top 10 discovered new species, the Pygmy Three Toed Sloth is absolutely awesome. These gentle and adorable creatures are a wonderful new example of evolution in action around us.  Plus... I just absolutely love sloths.  Video Article on BBC.  "They just chill out!"

[edit 1-15-12] Now thankfully on YouTube, these two amazing segments of Animal Planet's Decade of Discovery:

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Biomimicry: Borrow From Nature! Mother Earth Forgets To Patent

Lately I've noticed a decent amount of technological innovation resulting from biomimicry.  Aeronautics traditionally seems to reap the most benefit from this process, but that field is by no means the only one benefiting.  We often come up with designs inspired by nature, but how often is our end result superior than our inspiration?  Seriously studying the chemicals in a butterfly's wing pigmentation, the physics and fluid dynamics behind insects that walk on water, and the aerodynamic specifics of a peregrine falcon's dive-bomb, our eyes widen in reverence and wonder.  Nature's pretty smart, after all.  The awesome power of millions of years of evolution will most often yield an engineering design more efficient than the product of one of our humble engineers, no matter how many pots of Starbucks coffee are available.

I was first caught up in the wonder of biomimicry (or biomimetics) when I read this story: "Fly Eyes Used For Solar Cells" (July 28th 2010 Article on Discovery News)  Solar power is a prime example of us trying to harness nature, but we stopped short, overlooking some important geometry.  The shape and amount of surface area is the key.  Solar panels in the shape of fly's eyes allow much more light to be captured than the simplistic model of light hitting a flat surface.  The original Penn University article is here if you'd like to read more about their project.  See below for the paper involving the process.

Pulsifer, D., Lakhtakia, A., Martín-Palma, R., & Pantano, C. (2010). Mass fabrication technique for polymeric replicas of arrays of insect corneas Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 5 (3) DOI: 10.1088/1748-3182/5/3/036001

Scientists tend to have a reverence for nature, and rightly so.  Science, at its heart, is the study of nature after all.  Bioevolutionary science in particular can give us some huge benefits and insight.  Millions of years of evolution are the best damned Alpha and Beta phases any project team could ask for.  Dr. Richard Dawkins said, in his recent lecture at Duke University:
  "Survival itself is all it takes to determine the non-random survival of genes that made the desireable characteristic."
So we take the desirable characteristic and we make stuff like this:
The DLR Smartfish, an experimental German airplane,

Bat inspired spy planes [Article,]
Visit the non-profit organization These guys live and breathe this concept.

For further reading:
"You May Soon Be Wearing Chemical Detectors Modeled After Butterfly Wings" Article on CrunchGear

"Seabird's morphing wings inspire design for robots that can both fly and swim" Article on PhysOrg

Flying drones based off of prehistoric flying reptiles. Article on ScienceDaily

"Robots Modeled After Nature" Article on Carnegie Mellon University

"Air force flight control improvements may result from flying insect research" Article on PhysOrg

"Hummingbird Wing: The Future of Flight" Article w/Video on Reuters.  Embedded below

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Today's Overflow: Science links for Dec. 8, 2010

Update and Uh-Oh...  There are 2 arXiv papers now released refuting the recent so called evidence (from the CMB) of our universe being one of many big bangs.  Circles supposedly found in the cosmic microwave background were inferred to be linked to the collision of huge black holes dating before the Big Bang.  Discovery News gives us the skinny on the debunking, with nice juicy links.  I ran this story along with tons of other people.  Excuse me while I go make an addendum to my old post about evidence for a possible cyclic universe.

"Viable Female and Male Mice from Two Fathers" Article on ScienceDaily

"Feeling chills in response to music" Article on PhysOrg

"How to make graphene with a pencil and sticky tape" Article w/Video on PhysOrg

"Genetic test can scan fetus through mom's blood" Article on Yahoo Health

A fascinating article showing size perspective of events that have happened in the news, superimposed over pictures or maps of scale that we are already familiar with.  Regular readers of my blog know that I have a real fascination with just how small (and just how large) we are.  Article on Krulwich Wonders

And the BIG Uh Oh...
A new Article over at Discover Blogs: The Loom does us all a favor and compiles significant complaints by scientists that make up the backlash from NASA's "Arsenic Life" press conference.  Many, including myself, seem to think it was a publicity stunt.  Regardless, scientists are saying the experiment was just plain bad science.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Half the world's population is infected by cats!

Toxoplasmosis is the disease...
Dis the Kittie Parasite: Toxoplasma gondii
Image:Public Domain
Could these cute cuddly things really be infecting half the human population of earth?  Of course!
Image: Wikipedia
2 to 3 billion people, about half the world's population, have a brain parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which causes a disease called toxoplasmosis.  A vaccine is being developed and is showing great potential thus far.

The parasite's main host are cats, but infects many warm blooded animals.  Cats get it from ingestion of infected meat, contamination of food infected with (or direct ingestion of) cat feces, or passed down from mother to unborn offspring.  Humans in contact with cats often get infected via slip ups in sanitation at home, or even a cat's unclean claws scratching its owner.

There are some interesting behavior changes that are caused by the disease.  Infected rats are less afraid of cats.  They also, when infected, are attracted to cat urine.  Correlations between infected humans and their changed behavior are (taken from wikipedia)
    *Decreased novelty seeking behaviour
    * Slower reactions
    * Lower rule-consciousness and greater jealousy (in men)
    * Promiscuity and greater conscientiousness (in women)
What's interesting here is that the promiscuity in women and jealousy in men actually assists the spread of the parasite through it's effects on our social behavior.

To quote "Effects of Toxoplasma on Human Behavior"
"Consistent and significant differences in Cattell's personality factors were found between Toxoplasma-infected and -uninfected subjects in 9 of 11 studies, and these differences were not the same for men and women. After using the Bonferroni correction for multiple tests, the personality of infected men showed lower superego strength (rule consciousness) and higher vigilance (factors G and L on Cattell's 16PF). Thus, the men were more likely to disregard rules and were more expedient, suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic. The personality of infected women, by contrast, showed higher warmth and higher superego strength (factors A and G on Cattell's 16PF), suggesting that they were more warm hearted, outgoing, conscientious, persistent, and moralistic. Both men and women had significantly higher apprehension (factor O) compared with the uninfected controls."

Flegr J (2007). Effects of toxoplasma on human behavior. Schizophrenia bulletin, 33 (3), 757-60 PMID: 17218612

Next time you see someone with these symptoms (or notice them in your own behavior), take a second to wonder if it might just be the result of a parasite that has infected half the human race.

  Article on University of Chicago Medical Center, this is the breaking news about the vaccine

  Article on Wikipedia

Older, Entertaining Article on ABC News

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Today's Overflow Dec. 6, 2010

Imitating someone's accent will allow you to understand them better!  It seems to make sense intuitively (which is a response you can't trust,) but I'd never considered that before.  Article on PhysOrg 

There was a hype a while ago for a study on dogs "catching" the yawns of their human owners.  NeuroDojo calls out the twisting of information in headlines, and points out the follow-up research that could NOT replicate any of the results whatsoever.  Article on NeuroDojo

CERN discovers some wacky new asymmetrical fission.  The isotope Mercury-180 splits into krypton-80 and ruthenium-100 rather than the expected 2x zirconium-90.  They had a hypothesis, then it made a complete (mercury)180.   /guffaw... Article on PhysOrg

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quantum Teleportation: Science Fiction? NOPE! It's been here, is real, is documented, here's the proof, and here's how it works!

Did you know that teleportation has been discovered already?  Quantum Teleportation has been experimentally tested, peer reviewed, and retested.  The phenomena is possible in my forthcoming example because of something called Quantum Entanglement in a system allowing almost instant transfer of information using 2 massless entangled particles, photons, over huge distances.  This transfer happens at the speed of light, the top speed of movement Universally.  Mass does not blip out of existance and pop up elsewhere, like you'd see in the movies.  What can be exploited is the intimate connection these brother-sister particles that is maintained over massive spaces. 

IT'S NOT BS!  HERE'S THE PROOF: (to take my word for it, skip paragraph)
Nature, a prestigious journal of science, published on Dec. 11th, 1997 the results of the first Quantum Teleportation experiment (Article in Nature.) Another prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters, published on Feb 9th, 1998 (Article, In Phys. Review Letters) the review this work.  In between, an experiment involving Quantum Teleportation across the Danube river was published on August 18th, 2004 (Article in Nature.)  The subject's Wikipedia Article's Citation Section allows for a dozen or so other avenues in which you can retrieve scholarly information for further technical reading.

The most exciting work has been by Chinese scientists, in May of this year (2010,) documenting Quantum Teleportation at a distance of 10 miles with 89% accuracy. (Article on PhysOrg | Article on Nature Photonics) This is AWESOME, most notably because this range would potentially allow communication to or from orbit.

Here's how it works:

There's an amazing phenomenon called Quantum Entanglement, where two photons, (in this case last mentioned, generated using a semiconductor, a blue laser beam, and a crystal of beta-barium borate) connected at birth  maintain the connection regardless of spacial separation.

What is this connection?  Photons, as well as other quantum particles, have a describable aspect to them which is referred to as Spin.  This is a measurement in integers or half integers, of angular momentum.  Momentum, as you might remember, is Mass times Velocity.  Photons have no mass, but they do have momentum, oddly enough.  It's not as crazy as you'd think, when you might look at the counterintuitive unit of measurement of the mass of other quantum particles, the electron volt. The ability to measure quantum momentum isn't as straightforward as you'd think because of...

This describes a weird limit to what we can observe.  The more precisely we observe the momentum of a quantum particle, the less precisely we can determine the location of said particle.  Same deal, vice versa.  (Wikipedia Article)

Lately this behavior has been linked mathematically to another observable Quantum phenomenon, Quantum Nonlocality... Which brings us full circle back to Quantum Teleportation.  For background of this recent breakthrough, refer to my Post, Nov 19th 2010 "Quantum Breakthrough."  Within, my post references the Article on PhysOrg, explaining how nonlocality and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle are connected.

Nonlocality occurs when particles interact with each other when they're not next to each other.  This phenomenon of nonlocality is what makes Quantum Teleportation possible!


+ and - are my designation for spin in this example.

RcS=Random photon, recorded as data and also sent, SE=Sent (entangled photon)

RcS SE               
1-     -
2-    +
3+  +
4-    +
5+  +

Pairs of unidentifiably recieved couples come in, spins are jotted down.  One is entangled one isn't.  Which is which?  This is the same information as just shown, but mixed up.
sX=slot X, sY=slot Y, bpE = Back Pocket (other entangled photon that we have to begin with)

 sX sY                                                        sX sY bpE 
1-  -  Back Pocket (entangled) is +  that = -   -   +
2-  +  Back Pocket (entangled) is -  that = -   +   -
3+  + Back Pocket (entangled) is - that = +  +  -
4+  -  Back Pocket (entangled) is -  that = +   -   -
5+  +  Back Pocket (entangled) is - that = +  +  -

Compute sX sY and bpE by CATCHER (imagine these as charges and your goal is to get to 0 charge)
This yields:
You've just recieved the exact opposite of the original information because the entangled photon was just that, the opposite.  So flip this and what do you get?
If you scoll up, that's exactly the values for the original non-entangled photon.
This value for the non-entangled photon is what we can change at a whim to encode some actual information.  Simply by normalizing A)+-+++-+-++ (arbitrairily) to a flat B)---------- with subnotes jotted down to interpret the differing values between the two with the notation "FLIP", you are given the ability to make your binary code readable.  Because this decoding sequence is on the PITCHER's side, not the CATCHER's, the CATCHER is, in this scenario, a super-efficient data storage system.  You'd have to also send the notation of the decoding sequence in order to decode and use the data from the CATCHER's side.

The entangled pair is what makes it all happen.  This is a basic process that is trying to be incorporated into the holy grail of computers, quantum computers.

There's an arXiv Paper that recently came out, covering an amazing amount of Quantum Theory.  I noticed a section about teleportation in the Table of Contents in this 40page paper.  Here's the math behind this section.   Click for a larger view.

Wow, I learned a lot today!  I hope you did too!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

"Blacker Than Black" Carbon Nanotube Paint, 10x Better, To Be Used On Telescopes

"NASA engineers develop 'blacker than black' nanotubes (w/ Video)" Article w/Video on PhysOrg

This paint, made out of lab grown nanotubes, is 10x blacker than the black paint used on our current telescopes to block out light and prevent reflection.  Right now, with the old black paint, 40% of the data we receive is tainted and unusable due to minor reflection of light on these black surfaces.  This new paint will have an enormous effect optically on our telescopic equipment.  I'm looking forward to the pictures we'll get with this new technology.  NASA's pumped up about it, because they'll be throwing away way less than 40% of their data from now on. 

Video Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

NASA successfully creates a huge buzz and gets the public more interested in science! SCORE!

Arsenic Based Life, Check it out on:
Press Release on NASA's site
Article on BBC News
Article w/Video on Universe Today
Article on Science News

And you might find it REALLY INTERESTING that...
this Article on Space Ref was printed Aug 16, 2008...  hurm...

Universe Today's accurate forecasting of what NASA was going to say, before NASA said it.  Article, Calm Down: NASA Hasn’t Found any Aliens on Universe Today, posted Nov 30th.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Squeezing an Ocean of Water out of Rocks

Amazingly, new studies show that the amount of water in the molten rocks that our proto-earth was comprised of could have been enough to cause massive amounts of steam to settle into significant size oceans at a time much earlier than we first thought.  This could mean that life's development on earth had more time in ideal conditions than we used to think.  It's a fairly radical change to the idea of comets seeding all the water on earth.  It also brings about thoughts that Mars might have had even more water early on than we thought, therefore increasing its chances of once having life inhabiting the planet.  Article on ScienceNOW

There's going to be a NASA press conference on Thursday, with an astrobiologist attending.  Here's the press release that simply tells us so.  The internet is going wild with speculation at the moment.  Everyone's hoping they're going to announce that they've found extra-terrestrial life.
Here's Bad Astronomy trying to calm down the hype. Acupuncture isn't really a pseudoscience anymore!  Experiments recently validate this formerly "shady" practice in a new light.  Article on PhysOrg

Speaking of Cassini, the Article on Universe Today is quality info about Cassini, and features the following video podcast, SpacePod

Video Credit:

Universe Today also has an Article on Russia's plan to clean up the debris we've accumulated in orbit around earth.  This broke in the news about 4 days ago.  I covered it briefly in the day's overflow links.  The whole process will be developing over time, so we're gonna get more and more news on this project.

Today's Article on Discover Blogs: 80 Beats has a different picture and expresses their take on the subject.

Scientists have set their sights on a Lung Cancer Vaccine.  This is fairly huge news, especially if you consider the economics involved in the tobacco trade.  My friend said that if it really seemed like it would reach fruition, now would be the time to invest both in the vaccine makers and the tobacco companies.  Fairly guilt free smoking would change things a lot, I'd imagine.  Article on PysOrg

I'm really glad Ars Technica covered the recent discovery of quantum non-locality and heisenberg's uncertainty principle being intricately linked.  Article on Ars Technica | My take on it from 11/20/2010


We apparently cannot walk in a straight line if we are blindfolded.  Article on NPR Blog: Krulwich Wonders


"Colliding galaxies cause incredibly bright starbust inside cloak of dust" Article on IO9 | This is IO9's take on the article I pointed to (NASA JPL source) in "Today's Overflow" of my Post on 11/24/2010

"Most complicated experiment ever hopes to detect gravitational waves for the first time" Article on IO9

"What Happens When You Mix Every Single Element Together at Once?" Article on Gizmodo

Bioluminescent trees are just around the corner.  A technique using nanoparticles of gold interacting with plant life has produced significant bioluminescence.  Article on NPR Blog: Krulwich Wonders | And how do you make gold nanoparticles?  Add cinnamon!  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

The Milky Way's stars are moving in mysterious ways.  I can hear a U2 endorsement just over the horizon.  Article on PhysOrg

This looks incredible, but there's just too much news today for me to cover everything in depth.  "New particle links dark matter with missing antimatter" Article on PhysicsWorld

The Couch Potato Effect!! Article on PhysOrg

The Poetry of Science

I ran across this video tonight, and I must say, I enjoyed it more than most of the movies I've seen in the past few years.  It left me with wonder in my heart, and a smile on my face.
Our senses as humans are very limited.  It's easy, when tackling enormous questions, to bring, out of the gates, a SLEW of subconscious assumptions made immediately, comparing everything to ourselves and our experiences.  Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson go back and forth, bringing respectively a biologist's point of view and an astrophysicist's point of view, in this very entertaining speaking event.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Videos, Pix, and Follow Ups

Another awe-inspiring Size and Perspective of Us VS the Universe type of deal.  Beautiful, it makes my heart hurt.

Video Credit: morn1415 on YouTube, check his YouTube Channel here.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is copyrighted, so I can't post it.  Strangely, today's picture's connection to astronomy is very loose, but it's pretty regardless.

Here's IO9's Take on the nanosatellite O/OREOS that I covered earlier (my post back on 11/20/2010)

IO9's Take, "Our solar system is home to immigrant comets from alien stars" actually has a GOOD title for this story, as opposed to the one I covered/ridiculed in yesterday's Post (11/27/2010)

Gizmodo's Article "This is what happens when you burn Steel Wool" embedded this fascinating video:

Video Credit: NurdRage on YouTube | I don't know why it's so captivating to watch, but the last burn in slo-mo is just awesome!  Don't try it at home or you're gonna burn the damned house down, I just know it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New way to detect clandestine nuclear reactors globally by tracking antineutrinos

We found a way to accurately detect clandestine nuclear reactors from afar.  The technology is based on detecting the massive amount of antineutrinos emitted, a telltale signature.  The author mentioned a fact I found especially interesting.  When an antineutrino collides into a proton, a neutron and positron are generated.  Not quite proton decay, but really cool.  Article on Physics arXiv Blog | Paper on arXiv

    I find this newly released technology interesting, considering the classified mission of the satellite launched two days ago... I'm not drawing any conclusions but it'd be funny if they were connected, wouldn't it!

"Black Holes Merge With A Flash of Light" by Discover News explains the observations involved in the merging of two supermassive black holes.  Now here comes the technical stuff...  The event will have a specific distinguishable electromagnetic signature within the frequency of visible light, due to accretion disks heating up.  This information will be collected in tandem with Gravity Wave detection, to further confirm the accuracy of the observation.  I covered the gravity wave detector LIGO a while back (check back to this post from 9-18-2010.)  The Discovery article also explains the recent breakthrough in simulations of black hole mergers with large size ratio differences, such as 1:100.  I covered that story a while back as well.  (check back to this post from 11-19-2010.)  The Discovery News article does a good job explaining the idea, but with the links provided here you should be able to truly get a full grasp of what's going on. Article on Discovery News

Check out this mindblowing video showing a 3d version of two black holes of equal size merging, with gravity wave line mapping.

Video Credit: Henze / NASA | Here's NASA's webpage on the subject.

Symphony of Science has a new video/song, "A Wave of Reason."  This truly fills my heart up.  Many thanks, John, for expressing these words in an emotionally moving form.


Diagnosing happiness as a disorder?  That makes me happy...  Uh oh...  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

"Recent Posts in Quantum Computing" Article on Emergent Hive

FCC to add texts and picture texts as acceptable usage for 911 emergency calls.  Article on Gizmodo

National Science Foundation giving financial support of 34.5 Million dollars to University of Wisconsin-Madison for operations at IceCube Neutrino Observatory.  Article on University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Sensory detection and discrimination: Study reveals neural basis of rapid brain adaptation."  Article on PhysOrg

Please Please Please look at the pictures on Bad Astronomy's post Here.  I really wanna steal all those pictures.  Amazing.

"Concussions Change Brains." Article on PhysOrg

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Idea: Facebook App, "Doppleganger," utilizing facial recognition so you can "friend" those who look like you

A quick thought:
Facebook app, titled, say, "Doppleganger," that allows you to friend people (who also have the app) whose faces look just like yours.
Would utilizes licensed facial recognition software, in combination with facebook's rudimentary facial recognition already in place since july 1st (article), which locates a face but not intricate features.  Facebook Statistics says there are 500 million active members.  1% at 1$, imagine!
Thoughts?  Somebody take the idea and roll with it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Calling out Reuters and PhysOrg on journalistic accuracy

Reuters reports that CERN's LHC could possibly soon give actual proof of the existence of dimensions other than our normal four.  (our 4 = 3d plus time) COOL!
Reuters in the same Article reports that the CERN has been "creating millions of simulations of the Big Bang" in the collider...  That's really funky language and I don't like it.  No sir, I don't.
I know I've gone on before about how this kind of wording bothers me.  Browse over the succinct explanation of the lead ion collisions on CERN's Website and notice that they say that they are recreating conditions that existed just after the big bang, and are specifically referring to quark-gluon plasma.  ...  Am I the only one prickly about this? 

Speaking of... I have a problem with vilifying video games in a headline like the following:  "When Video Games Get Problematic, So Does Smoking, Drug Abuse, and Aggression."  In the article it explains that a survey of just over 4000 adolescents showed a a statistical connection with problematic gaming and these other problems; BUT NOTICE THE IMPLICATION OF CAUSE-EFFECT!  The study does not determine in any way that gaming LEADS to these habits/conditions.  This is what I mean by vilifying.  Tsk Tsk.  Article on PhysOrg (I forgive you PhysOrg!)

I love this site so very much, despite the article linked above.  As proof, here are some recent mind-blowers on there:


Fascinating article about recent high resolution readings of the sun's magnetic fields.  Bubbling plasma on the surface, pushing upward, pulling downward, a 100Km area can have a magnetic field strength 3000 times stronger than the Earth's.  Article on PhysOrg

Maturity mapped out in MRI's:  MRI's show that the five regions of the brain collectively known as the "Default-Mode Network" act out of sync in children, which causes egocentric behavior.  The regions start to act in concert during adolescence, continuing into adulthood, allowing for introspection, empathy, and perspective.  (otherwise, in essence, maturity)  Article on PhysOrg 

Practice makes perfect... But why is that so?  "Discovering the Source of Long-Term Motor Memory" Article on PhysOrg

"Youngest Nearby Black Hole Found (w/Video)" You'll see versions of this article all over the web today.  Article on PhysOrg or the Press Release on the Center for Astrophysics

Here's IO9's take on the ZZ event recorded at the LHC.  It actually explains what's going on, unlike what I did at the end of my post yesterday...  Which was provide a link and make a bunch of nerdy jokes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inflaton, Inflatino / A cognitive flaw connecting procrastination, obedience, and addiction

There's a new Paper on inflation released in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.  In the Abstract it states that the theoretical particles "inflaton" and supersymmetric particle "inflatino" might be produced at the LHC at CERN.  It also states that the inflaton would be be "light," and probably "coupled to the Higgs sector."  I don't like the word "light" being used in this context.  It's ambiguous.

I was shown this Article about procrastination on the New Yorker by a friend recently.  A short ways into it, the author references a paper by George Akerlof: "Procrastination and Obedience."  Skipping the rest of the NYer article, I delved into the paper by Akerlof.

There's a cognitive flaw that we humans have, where a conspicuous event carries more importance or weight in internal decision making than it ought to.  If we know credible, statistical info that a purchase of brand A would be superior for our situation as opposed to a purchase of brand B, memorable or salient influences such as anecdotes can cause us to make a decision we specifically know is not the best. We purchase brand B anyway.  These tiny losses add up over time, and depending on the decisions, can cause one's downfall.

A series of wrong decisions can snowball to eventually make you become a person you never wanted to be, or have habits you regard with similar emotional distaste.

Obedience to cults, or uncommonly strong obedience to authority in general can arrise from this cognitive flaw.  Similar to cults, gangs gain followers partly due their recruits falling into this type of thinking.

Addiction also applies.  The tiny liberties taken while starting an addictive habit have an end result the consumer almost never intends.  Smokers seem to always be intending to quit soon, but they procrastinate.  The blaring horn (conspicuous event) is the physical withdrawal, yet smokers are consciously aware of the option that is most beneficial to them: quitting.

The strangest connection to all this is that the aforementioned cognitive flaw is seen quite clearly with a habit we all are aware of succumbing to on occasion: Procrastination.  With procrastination, the ideal path of action that we do not choose is that of maximum productivity.  I haven't read any data on the habits of procrastination being linked statistically to other negative behavior; but the cognitive connection here between such macabre scenarios and procrastination is going to make me look into it... tomorrow.  Well maybe the day after tomorrow, tomorrow I'm busy...  I'll get around to it.

So far as sinning goes, this idea could be said to have been expressed in the cautionary adage "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

You can get the paper if you click this link of a google search and then click the the first pdf link up top.  For some reason I can't link to it directly.


Arsenic (yes THAT arsenic) treatment in early stages of leukemia is having dramatically positive results.  Article on PhysOrg

So I hear Kate Moss is super symmetric.  I'm gonna start calling her Skate Mossino...   "Kate Moss Has A Perfectly Symmetrical Face, Say Scientists." Article on ThaIndian  ... I think that's the nerdiest joke I've ever made.

Tons of SUSY lectures for free on Cambridge's site.  It's an awful lot, and it's amazing you can get stuff like this for free online.

"LHC Sees Its First ZZ Event" Article on PhysicsWorld... Well my eyelids are experiencing a weak force.  I'm gonna have to ZZ myself.  Goodnight!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

GRETINA the biggest baddest new machine w/Video

Atomic nuclei hold secrets waiting to be discovered; and studying gamma rays is the best way to go about it.

"BOOM!" A star explodes.  Through nucleosynthesis, the heavier elements needed for our world to eventually become what it is, are created.  In labs, we create superheavy elements.  We expand the periodic table further and further, stretching out the limits of nature.

Learning more about atomic nuclei, we further our potential in many useful areas.  For example, nuclear power plants using fusion instead of fission would seriously rock the world on its heels.

Now Batman, Iron Man, eat your hearts out.

Superhero and sci-fi movies can't hold a candle to real life.  GRETA, the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking Array, is headed to Cave 4C at the 88-Inch Cylotron at Argonne National Laboratory. 

Spectrometers with crystal sensors can detect gamma rays emitted by atomic nuclei when they spin or undergo transmutation.  The biggest and the baddest is still a baby version of the overall project.  GRETINA, has 7 intricate detector modules and pales in comparison to it's intended final build, GRETA, that will have 30 detector modules in its array.

In the movie Contact, the immensity of the alien contraption is intended to make the audience's eyes widen in wonder.  If you've seen Stargate, then you might remember just how much time is devoted to the machinery itself.  Well this video of GRETINA gives us a glimpse of a machine at the cutting edge of technology that blows them all away.

In action, GRETINA sends its raw data at 10 million signals per second to an electronics array upstairs.  From upstairs, in an instant they sift through the signals and pipe the tracking information for 20,000 gamma rays per second downstairs to be processed via 62 high powered networked computers.

A youtube tour inside the lab during installation is a present I wasn't expecting today.  If you haven't oogled at technology lately, this is your chance.

Article on Berkeley Labs


Half our waking hours might be spent daydreaming.  Article on BBC News

X-ray flare recently spewed out of sunspot.  Article on PhysOrg

Newly discovered Vietnamese "self-cloning" lizard.  Article on PhysOrg

Bad news: Alcohol is even worse for us then we thought. Article on PhysOrg

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A call for science journalism to accurately represent facts, without a biased spin, religious or otherwise / "The God Particle" / Lots of Today's Overflow

Two days ago in this Post, I ridiculed BBC News for misrepresenting LHC's lead ion collision in a sensational headline.  Quoting myself here: 
"May I add that I'm disappointed in the sensational spin to the headline on BBC today: "Large Hadron Collider (LHC) generates a 'mini-Big Bang'"  Yes, quark gluon plasma was created, but none of the other sites covering this article have worded today's lead ion collision like this.  There are similarities to the big bang observed here, and the new information is very valuable, but we didn't just birth another universe."
I was further disappointed yesterday by the same actions taken by Gizmodo in their Coverage of the topic, with the headline: "And Man Said, 'Let There Be Light'" with citation to BBC's article.

(I entered a comment with my criticism and it was not approved by their staff; so it didn't get posted.  (waaaah) Luckily I have a soap box, and the right to stand up for an ongoing issue.  Excuse me for my prickly sensitivity today.  I'm having a ruffled feathers moment.)

Today's post is a call for science journalism to accurately represent facts, without a biased spin, religious or otherwise.

It is unnecessary and counterproductive to report a particle collision as a big bang, when temperature and quark gluon plasma is the only relation.  

A similar issue that's relevant is the ongoing effort of scientists diligently but respectfully pressuring the media to stop calling the Higgs Boson the "God Particle."  ( has a good Article explaining the basic controversy)  This title of the Higgs Boson is emotionally charged and mainly used in Religion VS Science debates.  Science and religion can be handled as separate issues, and can coexist just like the assertion of separation of church and state in the American constitution.  There's a difference between religious groups feeling threatened by science and sparking debate, and journalists working religion into science news.  

CERN, the LHC, and other frontiers of science provide new useful information allowing for innovation on endless fronts.  There is beauty and wonder in the new findings scientists discover daily.  The bizarre, extreme, and especially useful discoveries catch the eye of the public effectively enough.

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