Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for

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

Picture taken 11-28-2010 by Cassini: Saturn's moon Hyperion.

Image Credit:  NASA / JPL / SSI | Found via Article on Lights in the Dark

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.  Universe Today's picture is awesome and I'm using it as my background right now.  Click it to enlarge.

Image Credit:ESA

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

And I'm just gonna throw up the artist impression of an exoplanet Universe Today put up on a different Article today cause it's freakin beautiful.

Image Credit: ESA C Carreau

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

Join me on the New Digg

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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Busby - "Astronasty" Review by Jason Randall Smith, ReviewYou

I got an amazing album review in my inbox today.  It seriously moved me.  So excited!  Thanks so much to my friends and fans.  Without you guys, there wouldn't be an album to review at all.

Artist name:  Busby
Album Title:  Astronasty
Review by Jason Randall Smith

Virginia-based producer David John Busby has dabbled in various subgenres of electronic music.  His debut album, Slime Man, ran the gamut from trip-hop and house to drum and bass.  Inspired by his love for science, Astronasty is his follow-up release with   progressive trance and hip-hop infused electronic styles.  Trance and hip-hop are seldom heard at the same parties, let alone on the same album, but Busby has a way of switching back and forth between the two that makes sense.  It never feels forced, nor does it feel like diversity just for the sake of it.  There’s a natural balance between these different styles that reveals itself within the sequencing of this album.

After the Stephen Hawking-styled voice box intro of “Astronasty pt. 1,” the hip-hop beats come storming in with “Slime Passage.”  The bass line is just plain ferocious, threatening to split subwoofers in half while the drum programming invokes head banging to the point of whiplash.  This is directly followed by the high-energy dance cut “Another Timeline.”  Although progressive trance has often proven to be a rhythmic contradiction in terms over the years, Busby is able to squeeze the best qualities out of this subgenre, even with vocals immersed in Auto-Tune.  In fact, the effect enhances the aural quality of the vocals on “Another Timeline” rather than cover up singing imperfections. 

This song structure is revisited and improved upon on “Into A Sun.”  Busby’s take on vocally-driven progressive trance brings the work of Paul van Dyk or DJ Tïesto to mind, but executed with more conviction and precision.  Rebecca Reinhardt’s vocal performance is draped in Auto-Tune as well, but is by no means constrained by it.  She is able to convey her emotions with stunning clarity, especially on the phrasing during the chorus.  It’s hard not to emphasize with her as she sings the following lyrics:  “Maybe it’s in the way that you’re thinking about me that makes you feel the way you feel / Maybe it’s in my [brain] when I visualize you that makes you seem so unreal.”

One of the strongest tracks on the album just happens to be a cover of a Presets tune, “Talk Like That.”  Busby breaks out the electro for this one, crafting a dirty and distorted bass line that works its way throughout the song.  Light percussion accents pop up on either side of the bass line along with the strategically placed background utterances of “uh-oh.” Vocally aggressive in delivery, there is something delightfully sleazy about the opening line:  “My, how you’ve grown!  I think I’ll call you on the telephone and tell you all the things that I’ve been missing.”  Prior to this and musically on the other side of the fence is “Lung Cancer,” perhaps the most surprising and bittersweet tune on Astronasty.  A series of nervous buzzes and glitches comprise the song’s down tempo rhythm while a repeated cough serves as a reminder of life’s fragility.  A looped guitar strum plays against the cough, perhaps a sign of hope in the face of life-changing news.

The album comes full circle on “Astronasty pt. 2” as the voice box chatter from part one is chopped up to fit the backing beat with some humorous results (“All the ladies, come on make some noise.  Stephen Hawking is my homeboy.”).  At a running time of only 36 minutes, Astronasty is a brisk trip through Busby’s sound that confirms his abilities as a producer and demonstrates his knack for creating both infectious pop songs and hard-edged dance music.  Anyone that can make progressive trance and hip-hop instrumentals sit side by side on the same album without a hint of irony is deserving of worldwide recognition on some level.

Review by Jason Randall Smith, ReviewYou
Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)

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.

Bad Astronomy's short Post today links to this amazing National Geographic photograph.

Image Credit: found through, and to quote Bad Astronomy, : "Sean Heavey for National Geographic; click to convectenate. Tip o’ the kevlar umbrella to Astropixie."

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.

Join me on the New Digg

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Flying Squid Is The Real Deal! A Look at Hoax VS Legit Stories

Holy crap, it's a FLYING SQUID.  I've heard of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus myth/hoax but this squid's apparently the real deal!  But I don't take this stuff for face value and post it.  Take the word of science journalist Ferris Jabr, who cites in his story Professor Silvia Maciá, Ph.D., her husband, Michael P. Robinson, Ph.D. (who was a fellow witness.)  Also read the Article where I found this, on Deep Sea News, written by Dr. Craig McClain.  So yeah, it's totally legit.

Image Credit: Bob and Deb Hulse

Speaking of being skeptical of fake BS, this fake picture of the X-mas Tree Octopus is quite entertaining.  While browsing, I fell across a similar, funnier hoax of the "Endangered Mountain Walrus" and just about died laughing.

Image Credit: Who the hell knows, honestly, but it's hilarious.

This comic strip, on Abstruse Goose, about special relativity also gave me a hearty guffaw!
Click image to enlarge.  Image Credit: Abstruse Goose | Found via Article on Discover Blogs: Cosmic Variance

Incredibly misleading and sensational title to the Article on Discovery News, "The Ancient Alien Visitors From Other Stars" There's this hypothetical band of rocks and comets called the Oort Cloud, which are the furthest things from our sun that remain caught in its gravitational pull.  This is supposed to be where comets come from when they wander into the inner solar system.  The Discovery story says that when our star was young, and close to other young stars, we probably grabbed some rocks and snowballs from other young stars' gravitational domain.  This gives very mild support to the old idea of exogenesis, which posits that life on earth was seeded from elsewhere.  So yes, we have ancient alien visitors from other stars, great title... 


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is copyrighted, so I can't post it.

Today's Article on Lights In The Dark show's a picture of Mar's moon, Phobos, which is only 5ish miles above the surface of the planet.

Image Credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

"Bioencryption can store almost a million gigabytes of data inside bacteria" Article on IO9

"The Rate of Star Formation" Article on PhysOrg

Hilarious knitted Dr. Zoidberg facemask | found via Article on Pharyngula

A hearty /guffaw from "Swede broadcasts music from his stomach" Article on PhysOrg, | (he was disappointed by the sound quality of the broadcast)

"Graphene supercapacitor breaks storage record" Article on PhysicsWorld

Join me on the New Digg

Friday, November 26, 2010

Target symbol in CMB points to a cyclic universe and Big Bang #2

Edit 12-09-2010: New info is out that makes this look like it's probably all hogwash.  Refer to the opening paragraph of my Post showing how, almost two weeks later, the following story, covered my tons of news outlets, falls flat.  Hopefully you're entertained regardless.

The Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, is an observable signature of the early universe that we've been studying for a long time.  Newly discovered concentrically circular patterns within it have led scientists Penrose and Gurzadyan to conclude that matter was arranged too uniformly in the beginning of it all (entropy was alarmingly low in the early stages of the universe as compared to current theory.)  Now here's the wacky super-interesting part...  Some of these concentric circles in the CMB are measured to have occured at dates EARLIER THAN THE BIG BANG.  This, they think, might support the idea of a cyclic universe.  The idea, as I understand it in regards to entropy (in information theory,) is that black holes eat up all the matter around, then spit it out as uniform hawking radiation, so that we have a pretty boring, homogeneous universe with very low entropy.  (like the low entropy just discovered in the CMB) Then what happens?  Well, big bang #2 of course!  Mind you, this is cutting edge theory, not fact... yet!  I hope Target sues CMB for using their logo.  Article on PhysOrg

Image Credit: NASA / LAMBDA I think... These images are in the arXiv Paper, and in the acknowledgements they reference the lambda url.  The image is also in the original Article by PhysOrg.


As you've probably seen elsewhere on the web, Saturn's moon, Rhea, has a thin carbon dioxide and oxygen atmosphere!  Article on BBC News

Image Credit: NASA / JPL / SSI

A recent picture of the bright blue ocean shore from the International Space Station:

Image Credit: NASA / Scott Kelly via Tweet

If you love NASA, which I hope you do, here's their list of sites they're on via their social media outreach.  Connect And Collaborate With NASA.  This is why "NASA #1 In Index Of Effectiveness Of Social Media And Web Use" Article on NASA

This sounds so interesting, I think I'll have to cover it tomorrow.  I can only learn so much per day, sorry guys my brains hurt!  "Negative Temperature, Infinitely Hot" Article on ScienceNews

Russia spends $2 Billion to clean up Outer Space. Article on Gizmodo

There are Cosmic Jets spurting from baby star.  This is a surprise to us.  We used to think these only got spurt out of black holes and neutron stars.  The jets we're looking at now are giving us more info than we've had before on this phenomenon.  Article on PhysOrg

Image Credit: Carrasco-Gonzalez et al., Curran et al., Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF, NASA

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is copyrighted.  Sorry can't post it, but click the link, it's beautiful.

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
Projected results for antineutrino detection, Image Credit: Fabio Mantovani | Found in aforementioned arXiv Paper

    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.

Astronomy Picture of the Day: Snow and Gas jets from the comet Hartley 2.  Image taken earlier this month.

Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UMD, EPOXI Mission


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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where is the press release from the National Reconnaissance Office? / Physics trumps Chemistry / Mars Pic & Pic of Night Lights from Space

First off, there's a brand new picture from the International Space Station of the night lights across the middle east.

Image Credit: NASA/Douglas H. Wheelock

From Cape Canaveral, we launched a rocket yesterday 11/21/20, category: Delta-4 Heavy, that carried a satellite made for reconnaissance.  Interestingly, BBC, on their Science and Environment section has the Article w/VIDEO titled "'Eavesdropper' satellite rides huge rocket from Florida."  In their Technology section, they have the article titled: "Massive satellite rides huge rocket from Florida."  Clicking that goes directly to the former article.  Rewording headlines in links to the same article is a bit odd, and there might be some PC pressure here?  I really have no clue, I just noticed it was odd.

    PhysOrg's Article, worded from AP, specifically calls it a classified satellite, and the biggest sattellite the world's seen so far.  There, it says the information originally comes from the press release by the National Reconnaissance Office.  It boggles my mind that on NRO's Website for press releases, there was nothing I could find.  I might be overlooking something that should be obvious, but the other scenario is that the press release isn't online...  Regardless, the spying hubbub has begun.  The missions are still classified at this moment, so expect speculation to go rampant all over the web.  If anyone can point me to the aforementioned press release, It would be much appreciated! 
     So... OBVIOUSLY there's a coverup, along with the lizard people trying to implant us with chips activated by the satellite passing through chemtrails to build up its energy.      JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!

In a similar vein, University of Florida researchers have built an unmanned vehicle, a UAV designed to fly over Floridian swampland and bring back certain data about wildlife, habitat, and climate.  Article W/Video on Reuters



"Why Life is Physics, Not Chemistry" An extremely well written article explaining the boundaries broken and merging in different scientific disciplines.  "Biophysics" as a basic example.  As a huge fan of physics, I especially like this Article on Physics arXiv Blog

Astronomy Picture of the Day | Mars Sand Dunes.  Each tiny dot is about as big as a football field.

Image Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Groundbreaking research!  I mean seriously!  "'M8' earthquake simulation breaks computational records, promises better quake models" Article on PhysOrg


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nano-Satellite / New breathtaking astronomy pics

The "Nano" Satellite O/OREOS (Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses) pictured below, counter-intuitively, isn't microscopic, nor very appetizing.  This is a 12 pound unit to be set into orbit and deployed off of Minotaur IV, which was successfully launched yesterday 11/19/2010.  O/OREOS will be conducting two experiments: one to document the effects of weightlessness and cosmic radiation on certain bacteria; and the other to document the effects of UV light, space radiation, and other cosmic influences, on a carefully selected batch of molecules chosen for their abundance in our galaxy.  Article on Discovery News

Image Credit: NASA

A breathtaking view from the International Space Station window, this photo of the beginning of a sunrise is not doctored in any way.  Article on LightsInTheDark

Image Credit: NASA/Doug Wheelock

Visiting one of my favorite blogs, Bad Astronomy, this picture of night lights of the France/Italy border caught my eye because of its beauty.

Image Credit: NASA Look Here for additional information on this picture

And finally, the Astronomy Picture of the Day, "Stephan's Quintet" taken by Hubble

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing: Hunter Wilson

Quantum Breakthrough / Black Holes Merge / 1 Star but 2 Black Holes / CERN hype

There's a new breakthrough in quantum mechanics.  Scientists Oppenheim and Wehner have just discovered that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the theory of Non-Locality are intricately linked mathematically.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle explains that you cannot measure a quantum particle's position and momentum at the same time.  It is only possible to observe one or the other.  The theory of Non-Locality is best described by the phenomenon of Quantum Entanglement, where particles that are far away from each other can spookily coordinate and react to each other from afar.  Einstein literally said this effect was "spooky."
It turns out that the information sent via non-locality is determined by the uncertainty relations.
Scientist Stephanie Wehner used to be a hacker for hire, and her fresh new perspective and approach in her current job in physics allowed for the discovery to be made.  Article on PhysOrg

Mathematical simulations can be made for two black holes merging, but before now, they had to be very close in size in order for us to handle it.  A full simulation was just completed for two black holes with 1:100 size ratio.  In nature, mergers won't be of the same size; so we've brought our calculations from a complex model, to a much more complex and realistic model. Article on PhysOrg

Image Credit: Hans-Peter Bischof

In a similar vein, scientists have recently simulated a more realistic version of the birth of a black hole.  The new simulation uses an asymmetrical star collapsing to form two black holes instead of one. Unfortunately, the constraints of the simulation made it unable to include the merging of the two black holes or even to locate exact event horizons of the two black holes within the simulation.  Nevertheless, this is, yet again, a scenario requiring the application of more complex math, which in turns allows for unprecedented realism.  Article on The Physics ArXiv Blog | Paper on ArXiv
Black Hole Fragmentation Image Credit: Burkhard Zink, Nikolaos Stergioulas, Ian Hawke, Christian D. Ott, Erik Schnetter, and Ewald Muller

This story is all over the web.  I mean all over.  Instead of me talking about it check this out:
From the horse's mouth, CERN's Article
Berkeley Labs is also just about as good as you can get. Article here.
Article on SymmetryMagazine.  (always quality stuff over there)
Article on PhysicsWorld
Article on Ars Technica
Article on BBC News
Article on InsideScience
Article on Reuters... But they in the same breath say CERN created antimatter and trap antimatter, implying, in their ultra short article, equal importance in these two things.  Antimatter has been created in particle accelerators for years.  /sigh
Great Article on ScienceNews
The point of all this is that it's really big news.  Whether because pop culture movie plots are jiving with real science (on one of those rare occasions,) or whether it's just an awesome enough story for people to be interested; either way it's good attention.

Image Credit: CERN.  This is the ALPHA experiment from this story


"Buy Your Own Jetpack" ........ do I even need to say anything other than OMG?
Article on Discovery News
 Image Credit: Martin Aircraft Company

Every 50 years..... THE RATS ATTACK US!!!!  ... No, seriously.  Article on BBC News

What changes will nanotechnology bring to our lives? Article on PhysOrg

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fermilab's Dark Energy Camera / New Hubble pic and info

Sorry about the unusual post yesterday, my stomach was feeling grumpy.  Not fun.  Back in the swing of things now.  Apart from this, I'm gonna try to post again late late tonight.

Dark Energy Camera at Fermilab, being constructed in time-lapse.  This thing is monstrous and amazing!

Video Credit: Fermilab | Found Via Article on Gizmodo

New Hubble pictures shows a stellar breeding ground within an elliptical galaxy, changing our ideas about the longevity an elliptical galaxy really has.  Article on Hubble's site
Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Can you really be scared to death?  Article on PhysOrg

Sugar cube size supercomputers!? Article on PhysOrg

Image Credit: IBM

Brain scanning could be used by employees to determine eligibility.  Leadership abilities can be detected via this new scan.  If this catches on, it might be a new era of tactics for hiring.  Article (w/VIDEO) on BBC

New treatment for lung cancer involves inhaling a white powder.  I wonder how long 'till someone on the street gets caught with cocaine and tries the ol' "I have cancer" spiel.  Count on it, unfortunately.  Article on PhysOrg

Unknown to most, movie scores use distressed animal sounds in the background to incite emotions in the viewers.  Normally this is not specifically noticed by the viewer, but it enhances the experience and plays upon basic primal instinct.  As a musician, this particularly fascinates me.  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

And finally, an oldie but a goodie.  Actually one of my favorite theories going around right now.  DO WE LIVE IN A BLACK HOLE?  Article from a awhile ago on Gizmodo

Image Credit: NASA

There's a lot more going on in the news.  I'm gonna try to get another round in later on tonight.  Cheers!

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

The Poetry of Reality / Scale of the Universe

Not to get preachy... but...
Science provides something very close to a "spiritual" experience.  Not religiouslly, but there's the emotional connection to something that is greater than you, outside yourself.  It's true.  I hope today's post will let you feel what I feel.

"The Poetry of Science (An Anthem for Science)" by Symphony of Science using the words of Michael Shermer, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Carolyn Porco, and PZ Myers

I've listened to this song 14 times in the past 24 hours.  It's amazingly beautiful.

Composition and video compiled by Symphony of Science

 I'm continually fascinated by the perspective we humans have of size.  We are so incredibly small.  We are so incredibly large.  We are so culture-centric in our thinking; and that could really change.  I want to know how many people look up at the stars are realize we're nothing in the grand scheme of things.  I truly believe that if people reflect on this idea once a day, it would drastically change our world.  To look at the face of infinity and not be humbled is virtually impossible.  Visiting this Site, sliding the bar at the bottom to the right, my breath hitches and I feel something powerful.  Screenshot of said Site, the Scale of the Universe below:

Image Credit: Cary and Michael Huang | Found via Discover Blogs: The Intersection

You'll see this article a lot around the web.  Here's the CfA's press release "Astronomers discover merging star systems that might explode"  Article on Center for Astrophysics
Image Credit: Clayton Ellis (CfA)

"Pedestrians follow the herd instinct when crossing the road" Article on PhysOrg

New big ol' squid discovered. Article on BBC

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

Image Credit: NASA/SDO | Magnetic fields mapped out, superimposed over UV imaging 

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.

And finally, look at this cute little frog we just discovered.

Image Credit: Conservation International | Found via Article on IO9

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. 

Image Credit: NASA

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. 
Image Credit: Berkeley Labs

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

Image Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

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

Image Credit: L. Lee Grismer

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Metal etchings of a resonant wavelength can change the color of the metal / The literate vs illiterate brain

So blowing my mind today, optoelectronic engineers at the University of Southampton discovered how to turn metals into any damn color you want.  Simply by micro-etching, carving repeating patterns of specific wavelengths into the metal, they can induce resonance of certain frequencies of the light spectrum that changes the absorbtion and reflection of light within the sea of electrons in the metal.  Absolutely brilliant.  Article on one of my favorites, the ArXiv Blog | Paper on ArXiv

Image Credit: Zhang/University of Southampton

New study results are out on the brain activity of literate vs illiterate people.  Evidence suggests that the part of the brain utilized for reading in the literate brain might be taken over and used for extra sensitivity to facial recognition by the illiterate. Article on ScienceNOW
It sparks my imagination.  We've already seen the hypersensitivity and plasticity of the brain dedicating more of itself to say, sound if you're blind, or sight if you're deaf.  It'll be interesting if we can discover more brain adaptations in comparing people with different skill sets.  Would it be possible to deliberately be ignorant in a field in order to allow for enhanced specialization in another.  That's some sci-fi stuff right there!

Another thought... How much effort is being applied to familiarize the illiterate with computer accessibility options designed for the blind?


Very entertaining: "Amateur space enthusiasts launch paper plane into space" Article w/Video on BBC News

Physics behind a cat's drinking lick.  This is plastered everywhere.  Check out the Article w/Video on Discover Blogs: 80 Beats

This robot can sponge bathe you.  This is inherently awesome.  Robots rock!  I do have to admit it's a tad bit creepy though.  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

Video Credit: Chih-Hung King, Tiffany L. Chen, Advait Jain, and Charles C. Kemp, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010


This Gizmodo writer isn't the one I criticized yesterday.  Apparently this other one's sick of people criticizing his work.  (He isn't referring to my criticism in this rant.)  It's a rather funny/disgusting tantrum nonetheless.  Quite entertaining.  Article on Gizmodo 

Sharpest image detail ever taken of dark matter mapping in the universe.  New pic taken Nov 11th.  Article on HubbleSite

 Image Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, and Space Telescope Science Institute), N. Benitez (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), T. Broadhurst (University of the Basque Country, Spain), and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)




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.


Actual chances of your (80 year long) life being disrupted by an asteroid collision on earth: 1 in 875,000 "How Afraid of Asteroids Should You Be?" Article on Starts With A Bang
Image Credit: Leonard Wikberg

Entertaining Article on Emergent-Hive "Past, Can We Changed It?" Awesomely, they link to a similar Article I posted a bit ago on the theory of a Block Universe crystallizing the present out of the entire past superimposed on top of itself. Thanks Guys! :)

Follow up on the huge cricket balls story: Article on Discover Blogs: DiscoBlog

New Horizons spacecraft wakes up briefly from a nap.  Article on Discovery News.  
2015 and we'll get our certainly exciting Pluto & Charon information.  New Horizons mission and timeline Here
Spacecraft Trajectory.  Image Credit: John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Beautiful new space picture from my much beloved ESO.  "Atoms-For-Peace, A Galactic Collision in Action"
Image Credit: ESO

Fly larva "see light Article at Ars Technica
Image Credit: Dr. Chun Han

For the really advanced: A video Series of technical lectures on supersymmetry over at University of Cambridge.  Free high class education, can't beat it!

Can't help but chuckle at this: "Laptops and infertility: It matters how you sit. Keeping legs together generates more unwanted scrotum heat than machine itself."  Article on 

"Nostalgia could be linked to feeling left out" Article on PhysOrg

First Ultra-Cool brown dwarf discovered by WISEArticle on PhysOrg
Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Silly science studies succeed successfully!

I love science.  I really really love science.  But occasionally I come across articles about studies proving things that really seem like common sense.  I hear this complaint a lot. Today is a freak example of multiple studies being released that fall under that category:

"Study Shows Young, Unsupervised Children Most At Risk For Dog Bites" Article on PhysOrg 
"Obesity in adolescence significantly associated with increased risk of severe obesity in adulthood" Article on PhysOrg
"Home exposure to tobacco carcinogens high in children of smokers" Article on PhysOrg
"Unhappy children turn to sex and alcohol" Article on PhysOrg
And if your major complaint is, "Hey! We simply haven't spent enough money on studies such as those!" Well, here's your goldmine.  To top it all off nice and perfect, a new proposal of a study: "Taxonomists Propose Counting All of Earth's Species" Article on ScienceInsider.  Hurrah! At the end of it, we'll have a number.

is actually where the interesting stuff happens to be today.

Two gamma ray bubbles have been detected extending perpendicular to the black hole (core) at the center of the milky way.  They span 50,000 light years and are currently making a lot of scientists not sleep.  Feature Article on NASA w/Video
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Spend ten minutes examining everyone's hands self-consciously after reading this Article on PhysOrg about finger lengths being connected to financial success and risk-taking.

New anti-viral contraceptive gel invented using nanoparticles with bee venom...  That makes the lower half of my body really nervous, I don't know about you.  Article on PhysOrg

Oh... and bush crickets have huge balls that count for 14% of their body mass.  Article on BBC or tons of other sites.

Image Credit: Guardian UK

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