Science

Turns Out it’s not a Falcon Stage

Corrected identification of object about to hit the moon:

Short version : back in 2015, I (mis)identified this object as 2015-007B, the second stage of the DSCOVR spacecraft. We now have good evidence that it is actually 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission. (It will, however, still hit the moon within a few kilometers of the predicted spot on 2022 March 4 at 12:25 UTC, within a few seconds of the predicted time.)

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 physiology, neurobiology, molecular biology and brain activity that many fish species show in response to painful stimuli is comparable to mammals.

Source: There is ample evidence that fish feel pain | Fish | The Guardian

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 in our understanding of the universe more dramatic than the heralded discovery in 2012 of the Higgs boson, a particle that imbues other particles with mass.

Source: Finding From Particle Research Could Break Known Laws of Physics – The New York Times

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 for all the krill. Or maybe they’re talking to a giant space probe. Who knows.

Source: Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

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, or even three months of age. The professed solution, in the United States, is to spay or neuter all the new ones.

Source: Opinion | Dogs Are Not Here for Our Convenience – The New York Times

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 aqueduct, is sometimes called Chernobyl on the Seine.

Source: France Is Still Cleaning Up Marie Curie’s Nuclear Waste – Bloomberg

“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 our collective imagination.

via The Conversation

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 the freezing December air — which it later uses to stitch together a narrative of the complete Times Square Experience.

— Read on www.inverse.com/article/48300-why-is-it-hard-to-focus-research-humans

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, the bag and its contents were moved from Eagle to the command module “Columbia” before the lander was directed to crash back to the surface. Had the purse remained aboard, it too would have been destroyed.

Source: Neil Armstrong’s purse: First moonwalker had hidden bag of Apollo 11 artifacts | collectSPACE

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 Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation (all of which I cherished and continue to do so.

As a Middle School Science Teacher, I frequently used video clips of Prof. Hawking to make a point about space or black holes or the need for humble humor in all of our exploits.

Rest easy and continue to spur us forward in our journey to the stars, Prof. Hawking.

“His final resting place lies between the remains of two other famed scientists, Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.

It is a rare honor to be interred at the Abbey, and one that has not been given to a scientist for almost 80 years. Before Hawking, the last scientists laid to rest at Westminster were atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford in 1937 and Joseph John Thomson in 1940.”

Read More on CNET – Stephen Hawking’s voice beamed into space as his ashes are interred

“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 a helpful video I found on the topic.

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 the physics community is the intellectual equivalent of turning into a werewolf: I question whether quantum mechanics is the complete and ultimate truth about the physical universe.”

— Read on www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/books/review/adam-becker-what-is-real.html

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 computer language — one that uses infinite possibilities. Whereas classic computing uses bits, these calcium ions in superposition become quantum bits, or qubits. While past work had created such qubits before, the trick to making a computer is to get these qubits to talk to one another.

Via Space.com

“Still discovering new things”

golden_record_cover

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.

via Forty years on, Voyager still hurtles through space