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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Magnet craziness / Does antimatter get repelled by gravity?

Check out This Video.  It's on MIT's webpage.  They've got this crazy magnet setup where you can drop a metal object on this plate and it spins, zomg!  If I had one of these I'd be spending a lot more of my time staring and drooling.

I recently found an article with such fascinating topics mentioned that I spent a good hour on wikipedia.  Does antimatter get repelled by gravity instead of attracted?  If so, what's its interaction with black holes?  Read this article, "If Antimatter Falls Into A Black Hole, Does It Make A Sound?"  And check out the wikipedia entry on gravitational interaction of antimatter for a bit more info.  While researching, I landed upon the topic of negative mass, a concept that sound impossible, but actually arose from implications inferred by our math.  Fascinating stuff, seriously.

Giant pengins FTW Article on Physorg
World's fastest lawnmower (with vid) Article over at Gizmodo
Go to hell, tinyurl, google's taking you over too.  Article on Gizmodo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inspector Gadget/James Bond bike

"I'm heading over on my bike."
"You have a motorcycle, how cool!"
"Nah it's not a motorcyle."
"Oh, a regular bicycle?  Lame-o."
"You don't understand.  Observe."

Pix of giant vortex on Venus Article on Gizmodo
Amazing new sci fi movie trailer, basically Independence Day X100 Over on Youtube

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Human trials soon for suspended animation procedure

Intense trauma victims at Massachusetts General Hospital will soon be put into suspended animation as part of their treatment.  Long O.R. waits compounded with long surgeries leave trauma victims in a ramped up state of emergency that wreaks havoc on their bodies.  Surgery can actually be performed while the patient is in suspended animation.  Doctors involved in this new process of inducing extreme hypothermia in patients think that up to 90% of "certain death" trauma cases will be now be treatable, and ultimately, the patient will survive.
Check the Full Article

Oh how embarrassing, individuals' porn piracy info leaked to the interwebs.  Article on BBC
Development in quantum computing.  Article on io9
Sad irony in a Segue related death. Article on gizmodo
We have an alien ambassador?  You gotta be kidding... Article on Wired

Exoskeleton. Seriously.

My dad used to work for Raytheon.  I never knew how close I had been to having Iron Man for a dad.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quantum info can now travel down our existing telecommunications network

Here's the breakdown: You've got atoms in a grid.  Their excitation state= either 1 or 0.  They figured out how to shoot photons through this stored information, retaining the information (due to quantum entanglement) while converting it to wavelengths suitable to travel through our existing fiber optic telecommunications systems.  Decoding is the reverse process, the light passing through another grid which is then readable again.  The signal degrades the further it travels, but strengthening the signal is as easy as installing nodes along the line that simply decode then re-encode the info.  These are called quantum repeaters.
So, Georgia Institute of Technology, that seems like an awful lot of work to transfer info, why is this useful?
Because it's info from QUANTUM storage media, and it's fast.  As in the speed of light fast.  That's pretty fast.


Check out the full article.

Bra that doubles for a gasmask

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New teaching trick saves TONS of effort. Of 100% of time exposed, only work for 50%, learn just as much

A new study showed that perceptive exposure during learning is more effective than actual practice.  Trying to learn a guitar solo?  Practice for 50% of your normal practice time, then the 2nd half just listen to it on repeat while involved in some other random activity of your choice.  The study says you'll learn at the same rate as if you practiced the whole time.
Stop and think of how you can use this approach in your life.
I always thought that science audiobooks wouldn't be practical for me to listen to because of my frequent stops in order to ponder the presented information.  This study makes me think that barely paying attention to science audiobooks in the background would provide perceptual exposure to me, while I can physically read other books on the same topic for my actual reading time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thoughts on CERN's webcast today and Daily life at the South Pole

I only caught a little bit of CERN's webcast today.  On Sept. 24th they hosted an event called European Researcher's Night, with live streaming on their website.  100 science students were able to check out CERN's facility and field questions.  A thrilling experience for these up and comers, no doubt.
The little of the webcast that I saw included a video conferencing interview with scientists at the south pole, a facility called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory
In addition to discussing their scientific endevors, the crew at the south pole gave some insight into what daily life at the south pole is like.  The 47 man crew had to psychologically endure a winter of pure darkness.  The trick to mental health in their case was to remain busy throughout their waking days.  Courses were offered by many of the scientists there.  A man who spoke Thai instructed a beginners course on the language.  A man who could pilot helicopters instructed a classroom course on helicopter piloting.   Keeping busy learning helped them tremendously.  Regular exercise is promoted, and the accomodations for exercise are ample.
One anecdote I found entertaining explained a habit they have with the sauna.  Wearing nothing but shoes and a towel, you jump out of the sauna and quickly run around the designated tip of the south pole, essentially running around the world, and hop quickly back inside.  I love hearing stories of scientists just fooling around together!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sound waves are frozen and imprinted across all of space!

Brookhaven, New York lab extrordinaire, recently posted in their blog about a project known as BOSS.
Here's the breakdown of what they're looking for.  When all matter in the universe was the size of a dot, there had to have been density differences.  The density differences HAD to have produced vibrations in the material: sound waves.  Add the following rapid expansion of spacetime and voila! You might have a pattern to the matter distribution (clumping of galaxies) that correlates.
BOSS has started to recreate an intricate three dimensional map of the observable universe, and hopes the results will show how the early universe's acoustics have affected current positioning.
Crazy eh?
I wanna see them draw the waveform in an audio program, crank it up to listenable frequencies, and hit play.  Mmmmm I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strange Matter, Ultra-dense Quark Stars

More and more evidence is piling up that stars are out there made up of the particles inside neutrons and protons.
I'm reading an awesome science book at the moment, and I'm periodically looking up the topics on the interwebbies.  I landed on this article from that is WONDERFULLY presented.  Just enough background on the subjects to allow understanding without derailment from the topic.  Check it out, it'll blow ya mind.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Entertaining Q&A with scientists

When I encounter a topic of intrigue, normally there will be a reference to another topic I might find just as intriguing.  This Q&A with some brilliant minds will no doubt inspire a wikipedia binge. 

Ready... Set... Google!

Monday, September 20, 2010

How does a Dark Matter detector work?

We have a damned good understanding of macroscopic gravity at this point. When we simulate the creation of a galaxy, there's a huge missing link.  The math shows that there has to be non-luminescent matter comprising 80% of the universe.  This elusive Dark Matter provides the mass that makes our models click into place nice and neat.
One theory is that Dark Matter is the undiscovered particle called the WIMP (weakly interacting massive particle), and is all around us.  The "weak" this is referring to is the weak nuclear force, a fundamental force in physics mediated by the W and Z bosons.  Basically, weak force can turn a quark into a different type of quark.  Since different combonations of quarks translate into different composite particles, weak nuclear interaction can turn a neutron into a proton (with a couple extra particles as byproducts). 
So far, we haven't detected WIMP's because they don't interact with the electromagnetic force OR the strong force.  They only react to gravity and weak force.  Weak force occurs in the nucleus of an atom, which gives us a means to dectect these WIMP's. Here's where the dark matter detector comes in.
If the theory is right, WIMP's are zipping right through the earth (and us) every second, and if a WIMP happens to run smack dab into an atomic nucleus in one of our dark gravity detectors, we should be able to detect it.
 The Xenon100 detector is deep underground in a shielded lab in Italy.  It's a cylinder with an electric field along its vertical axis, filled with almost perfectly pure liquid xenon.  One of the reasons they use xenon is that it shields itself, meaning that a detection closer to the center of the container is less likely to be a false positive.  For this reason, detections not in the center are tossed aside just to be safe. 
When a WIMP collides with a xenon nucleus, it creates a primary light source, and then a secondary light source due to the electroluminescent quality of xenon.  In this way, we're translating a weak force interaction into an easily observable electromagnetic interaction.  From these light sources we can pinpoint where the WIMP hit and also evaluate the light to make sure it WAS a WIMP. 
So far we haven't observed any, but hopes are high that we'll find this particle, so crucial in the model we have for understanding the universe.
Also, WIMP's can't throw footballs very far, and chicks don't seem to like them.
Check out the source article

Coming Soon: Cyborgs IRL

Cyborgs.  They make the best cops, obviously.  They're the only ones that are able to sign up to be interstellar astronauts.  They can construct a building in just a few hours.  I'm just sick and tired of the country with the most cyborgs winning all the gold medals in the Olympics!
Yet another sci-fi idea is crossing the border from fiction to reality.  DARPA and the Southern Methodist University Neurophotonics Research Center are developing new fiber optic technology to give artificial limbs the sense of pressure and touch.  This technology will seriously open the floodgates for the integration of robotics and computing with human biological systems.
Absolutely incredible.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gravitational wave detectors check for the expanding or contracting of the facility itself!

You've probably already heard of Einstein's description of gravity as mass actually warping the spacetime around it.  What I didn't know until recently is that violent events of massive celestial objects are believed to create ripples, not just curvature.
At this point, gravitational waves are technically still conceptual.  We have indirect evidence that they most likely exist, and highly advanced facilities have been built for their detection.  LIGO (The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) facilities use an array of two light corridors, each which are miles long.  The first arm is angled 90 degrees apart from the second.  During the passing of a gravitational wave, extremely sensitive nanoscale detection will notice the the light in one arm seem to expand while the other arm's light beam contracts.  What's particularly amazing in this observation is that the light beams are remaining static.  The spacetime of the entire laboratory (and all of Earth) is what's expanding or contracting!
Visit LIGO's official site for a layman's overview of LIGO and gravitational waves.
If this floats your boat to the extreme, check out Einstein@Home, a cpu sharing program from University of Wisconsin that uses your computer's idling time to process batches of their insane amount of incoming data.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New nanostructure invented with potential use for RAM or massive data storage

The brilliant folks down at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory just invented a new way to express the 0 and 1 in binary storage on a nano-scale.  Each node is a nanocrystal alloy made of a metal and semiconductor, specificly germanium tin nanoparticles that have been embedded in silica.  These units are called BEAN's (Binary Eutectic-Alloy Nanostructures) and represent either a 0 or a 1 depending on phase.  In amorphous phase the BEAN's exibit typical conductive behavior, whereas in crystalline phase, they form a Schottky barrier (potential barrier). The BEAN's can be forced into a stable room temperature crystalline form or a stable room temperature amorphous form, through the usage of lasers and electric current.  This phase change can be performed in a matter of nanoseconds, and germanium tin's wonderful stability in both forms at a practical temperature means this development shows a lot of potential for future computers.  Further testing is being done to determine the BEAN's stability over time and over multiple phase changes.  Mind you, this is still the very beginning stage of development. 
New technology for the win!  
For the source article visit

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quantum interactions that defy relativity might be particles reacting to events in their past

On the quantum level, cause-effect relationships aren't as easy to observe and link as you'd think.  Heck, these particles' movement are decided by basically blindfolding yourself and throwing a dart at a chart of a probability wave.  According to the abstract of a new paper from the American Journal of Physics, "the causal arrow of time" can essentially flip and go into reverse in quantum mechanics.  This would mean that local causality from local interactions in the past can cause reactions in the present at a time where the particles are separated.  This may reconcile some quantum behavior that seems to defy relativity.  Further work based on this will challenge the physics community to rework their mathematical formulas and test test test it all out.

Subatomic Particles Overview Article and Microsoft's Bing Now Working with Facebook

io9 has a great article today, an overview of subatomic particles: part 1 of 2. (next to be released tomorrow)  It's very digestible, with very few inaccuracies, mostly due to his effort not to go overboard with his explanations.

Microsoft, in response to the Facebook boom, decided to work together with this wildly popular social networking site instead of competing with them.  The plan is for Bing to incorporate Facebook "likes" into their search statistics.  The Facebook "like" icon has been added to thousands of webpages recently to react to Facebook's ever-growing popularity.  Bing will not be able to use any of your private info, so if you haven't specified your Facebook privacy settings, do it soon for the love of god!!!  Facebook "likes" seem to not be categorized as private information at this point.  With this aggregation included in Bing's engine, pages that have more Facebook "likes" will be listed in higher priority in your search results.  I'm thinking that this will give underdog websites a more difficult challenge to rise up and compete, and will strengthen and promote the most popular sites.  This actually might be ideal for the consumer, since the most popular is often the most relevant as long as your search query is worded correctly. [Full article on Arstechnica]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Earth used to be a natural fission reactor!?

Early in the Earth's lifecycle, 2 Billion years ago, 3% of Earth was U-235!  I had no clue.  This allowed for fission to take place inside the earth's crust where there were high concentrations of this uranium isotope.  This picture in Oklo, Gabon, shows the geologic signature of one of these sites.
cite: see the full Gizmodo article
Uranium 235 [cite: wikipedia zomg I'm pro] is a radioactive isotope with a half life of 700 million years... Oh right, is that accurate still, in light of new evidence that radioactive decay isn't constant?  Scroll down to read my earlier post on that constant being recently found to be a variable.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why are our mathematical constants one by one proving to be variable!?

I've noticed 2 different science articles recently revealing constants that aren't constant after all.  The fine structure constant "α"has recently been shown to be a variable. [cite:entertaining article] [cite:source of entertaining article]  My vary hazy understanding of this is that it involves electromagnetic interaction through different materials according to its density and permeability. (take that with a grain of salt)

The other constant which has recently been proven to be a variable is the steady decay rate of radioactive particles.  [cite: entertaining article] [cite: source of entertaining article]  What's particularly fascinating to me about this finding is that decay rate slows down further and further if you're closer to our sun.  I'd think since carbon dating uses radioactive particle decay as its basis, this discovery puts the accuracy of our dating into question.

Let me give a quick rundown of constants involved in the math around physics.  There are 2 basic types:  "Dimensionless Physical Constants" and "Dimensional Physical Constants."   The dimensionless variety are constant numbers without the need to be expressed in any unit, and can be applied on the extremely small the quantum scale, in everyday measurements like meters or centimeters, or on a grand scale of light years.  [cite: omg wikipedia-physical constants, I'm so pro]The dimensional variety, such as "Big G" Gravity, reacts differently on different scales, and is expressed in physical units. Big G, the gravitational constant, seems to change at a steady rate with the passage of time. [cite: paper 1976]  This can otherwise be expressed as the expansion of spacetime due to acceleration away from the big bang.

The speed of light is the one constant that stays the same, and most measurements are based around this. Can spacetime expansion be affecting our constants?  This is what my hunch would be, but I really don't know.  What other constants need to be retested at this point?  Are they changing in any proportion to each other?  I guess we'll have to wait and keep an eye out for the answers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

DARPA funded robotic dog is UNSTOPPABLE!

Dog legs on a weight bearing robot, with AI to rival the balance skills of a goddamn gymnast!  This video starts out intriguing, and it just gets more and more impressive the further in you go. 
Ok, I admit, it sounds like an angry swarm of hornets, but if I were caught in rubble and this thing came to take me off to safety, I'd probably think I had woken up to a world after the robotic uprising.  But I'd be safe...  If I didn't immediately have a heart attack. 

I swear, if PETA complains about people kicking ROBOTIC dogs, I'm gonna have a fit.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Gotta love it when sci-fi turns into "yeah we got dat now."


Solar flares are belched out of the dark magnetic depressions known as sunspots, kinda like in Aliens when the mouth opens and the little head comes out and snaps atcha! 
♥ sun photos




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