Science

Do fish feel pain?

Puts a different spin on that fishing trip after I’ve always told myself “it’s ok, fish don’t feel pain” (to paraphrase Kurt Cobain)… I was the first to identify the existence of nociceptors in a fish, the rainbow trout, in 2002. These are specialised receptors for detecting injury-causing stimuli, and their physiology is strikingly similar to those found in mammals, including humans. Since then, my laboratory and others across the world have shown that the …

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Universe as a self-learning computer

The researchers explain the universe as a learning system by invoking machine learning systems. Just like we can teach machines to perform unfolding functions over time, that is, to learn, the laws of the universe are essentially algorithms that do work in the form of learning operations. Source: Physicists working with Microsoft think the universe is a self-learning computer

Muons’ Magnetic Moment

Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle called a muon is disobeying the laws of physics as we thought we knew them, scientists announced on Wednesday. The best explanation, physicists say, is that the muon is being influenced by forms of matter and energy that are not yet known to science, but which may nevertheless affect the nature and evolution of the universe. The new work, they said, could eventually lead to a breakthrough …

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Krill

Perhaps they’re trying to tell us something, Like the dolphins who do a double-backward somersault through a hoop while whistling the Star Spangled Banner, the whales may be sending us a message that we’re misinterpreting as an adorably sophisticated trick. The oceans are warming, the seas are rising, and maybe—just maybe—the whales have had enough. They’ve gathered as many young humpbacks as possible to come together and send one final message: so long, and thanks …

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Humans and Religion

Many mental ingredients are necessary for religion as-we-know-it. But scholars emphasize three tendencies in particular, which are pronounced in humans, but minimally expressed in other species: We seek patterns, infer intentions and learn by imitation. Source: The Human Brain Evolved to Believe in Gods | Discover Magazine

On Aliens

Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it. There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life. Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not. It’s possible they’re here right now and we simply can’t see them — Read on www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/05/astronaut-helen-sharman-this-much-i-know

Spaying and Neutering Dogs

Well this is an eye-opening piece that has caused me to reconsider lots of presuppositions… In other words, to solve the problem of our unwillingness to keep track of our dogs, we do not address our own unwillingness. To address the overpopulation of unwanted dogs, we do not address the overpopulation. Instead, we non sequitur: we take brand-new dogs and introduce them into our homes by first putting them through a surgery at six, four, …

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Chernobyl on the Seine

In 1933 nuclear physicist Marie Curie had outgrown her lab in the Latin Quarter in central Paris. To give her the space needed for the messy task of extracting radioactive elements such as radium from truckloads of ore, the University of Paris built a research center in Arcueil, a village south of the city. Today it’s grown into a crowded ­working-class suburb. And the dilapidated lab, set in an overgrown garden near a 17th century …

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“Change within a lifetime”

Climate change is the ghosts of impacts future…. And so the most effective guard against climate breakdown may not be technological solutions, but a more fundamental reimagining of what constitutes a good life on this particular planet. We may be critically constrained in our abilities to change and rework the technosphere, but we should be free to envisage alternative futures. So far our response to the challenge of climate change exposes a fundamental failure of …

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Pipes of Infinity

In the end, that data was the “equivalent to 5000 years of mp3 files” according to Dan Marrone, an astronomer and co-investigator of Event Horizon Telescope. It was recorded onto half a ton of hard drives and then physically sent to centralized locations where it was analyzed by supercomputers for months in order to get the image we see today. Source: See the first image ever taken of a supermassive black hole – The Verge

Stitching together reality

The reason why we experience reality as a movie when it’s only a collection of pictures can be at least partially explained by our rhythms of attention. About four times every second, the brain stops taking snapshots of individual points of focus — like your friend on the corner in Times Square — and collects background information about the environment. Without you knowing it, the brain absorbs the sound of the crowd, the feeling of …

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Neil Armstrong’s Man Bag

I love this story (not just because I have an unhealthy obsession with bags and man purses)… For whatever reason, Armstrong seemingly kept the bag a secret for more than four decades. Even when questioned about mementos by his authorized biographer, Armstrong made no mention of the historic artifacts that were tucked away in his closet. To be clear, the bag was not something Armstrong snuck home from the moon. After returning to lunar orbit, …

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Our Toddler Memories May Not Be Permanently Lost

Hmm… being the parent of a current toddler, I’m going to take an initial pass on this upgrade offer. Still, the results provide an interesting look into how the brain can store and ‘forget’ memories from childhood – and it’s tantalising to think that our very earliest moments in life might really be locked up in our neurons somewhere. Source: Our Toddler Memories May Not Be Permanently Lost, Mouse Study Shows  

Stephen Hawking Laid to Rest Between Newton and Darwin

It’s safe to say that Hawking inspired so many people of my generation (and generations after us, hopefully) with his wit and humor along with his insights into the workings of black holes and the cosmos. As a teenager who dove into the world of astronomy and cosmology as an escape from my small rural hometown, I always found Hawking as an incredible enigma with his dense articles, pop-sci books, and then appearances on The …

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“friction from touching the walls of our mother’s womb”

🤯 This is beautiful. Why didn’t I know this already? Fingerprints are formed by friction from touching the walls of our mother’s womb. Sometimes they are called “chanced impressions.” By Week 19, about four months before we are issued into the world, they are set. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and koalas also possess exclusive prints. — Read on www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/05/15/the-surprising-history-and-future-of-fingerprints/ It’s more the fetus touching the amniotic sac combined with genetics, but it’s still a striking thought. Here’s …

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What is real? Forking universes, equalities, and religion

When scientists search for meaning in quantum physics, they may be straying into a no-man’s-land between philosophy and religion. But they can’t help themselves. They’re only human. “If you were to watch me by day, you would see me sitting at my desk solving Schrödinger’s equation…exactly like my colleagues,” says Sir Anthony Leggett, a Nobel Prize winner and pioneer in superfluidity. “But occasionally at night, when the full moon is bright, I do what in …

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One Step Closer to Quantum Computing

20 qubits have been entangled together and put into one network. Huge… computing is about to get “spooky” as Einstein would have said. In high school physics, electrons bounce between two layers, like a car changing lanes. But in reality, electrons don’t exist in one place or one layer — they exist in many at the same time, a phenomenon known as quantum superposition. This odd quantum behavior offers a chance for devising a new …

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NASA receives response from Voyager 1

Build things that last… “The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,” said Jones, chief engineer at JPL. Source: NASA receives response from Voyager 1 spacecraft 13 billion miles away after 37 years of inactivity | Technology Startups News | Tech News

“Still discovering new things”

On board each Voyager is a golden record — and record player — that is built to last one billion years or more and contains key information about humanity and life on planet Earth, in case of an alien encounter. The sounds include the calls of humpback whales, the Chuck Berry song “Johnny B. Goode,” Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a Japanese shakuhachi (a type of flute), a Pygmy girls’ initiation song, and greetings in 55 languages. …

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Stephen Hawking is backing a project to send tiny spacecraft to another star system within a generation

The concept is to reduce the size of the spacecraft to about the size of a chip used in electronic devices. The idea is to launch a thousand of these mini-spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit. Each would have a solar sail. This is like a sail on a boat – but it is pushed along by light rather than the wind. A giant laser on Earth would give each one a powerful push, sending them …

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