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

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

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 on their way to reaching 20% of the speed of light.

Source: Hawking backs interstellar travel project – BBC News

Fascinating.

 

“Random” prime numbers and human projections

“So just what has got mathematicians spooked? Apart from 2 and 5, all prime numbers end in 1, 3, 7 or 9 – they have to, else they would be divisible by 2 or 5 – and each of the four endings is equally likely. But while searching through the primes, the pair noticed that primes ending in 1 were less likely to be followed by another prime ending in 1. That shouldn’t happen if the primes were truly random –  consecutive primes shouldn’t care about their neighbour’s digits.”

Source: Mathematicians shocked to find pattern in “random” prime numbers | New Scientist

Math, philosophically, is spooky.

Does it “really” exist in the cosmos or is it (like most things we consider to be intrinsic to the universe) a human projection based on our finite nature?

Religion’s smart-people problem

Religion’s smart-people problem: The shaky intellectual foundations of absolute faith – Salon.com: “But we shouldn’t be deceived. Although there are many educated religious believers, including some philosophers and scientists, religious belief declines with educational attainment, particularly with scientific education. Studies also show that religious belief declines among those with higher IQs. Hawking, Dennett and Dawkins are not outliers, and neither is Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.”

This is the perfect opening to a scifi novel…

“With the help of James Jubilee, a former American arms control officer and now a senior science and technology coordinator for health issues in Kazakhstan, Dr. LaPorte tracked down Mr. Dey through the State Department, and his images and documentation quickly convinced them of the earthworks’ authenticity and importance.”

Source: NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks

Get to writing, someone. I want to read this book and how humanity is shaken to its roots by startling revelations about our species’ history…

On Invoking Galileo and Columbus in Your Arguments

“If you are arguing against climate change, vaccines, evolution, etc. you do not get to invoke Galileo because in any accurate analogy, you are the religious fanatics (or the astronomers who blindly clung to Aristotle).”

Source: No one thought that Galileo was crazy, and everyone in Columbus’s day knew that the earth was round | The Logic of Science

If only I had a dime for every time I’ve encountered the “Yeah? Well, everyone thought Columbus was nuts too!” or “Yeah? Well, Galileo was right despite what all the scientists of his day said!” in a conversation.

Polynomial Codes Over Certain Finite Fields, or Why Things You Don’t Think Matter Actually Matter

“Whatever new technologies are on the horizon, history has taught us that Reed-Solomon-based coding will probably still be there, behind the scenes, safeguarding our data against errors. Like the genes within an organism, the codes have been passed down to subsequent generations, slightly adjusted and optimized for their new environment. They have a proven track record that starts on Earth and extends ever further into the Milky Way. “There cannot be a code that can correct more errors than Reed-Solomon codes…It’s mathematical proof,” Bossert says. “It’s beautiful.”

Source: The Math That Connects Pluto to DNA — NOVA Next | PBS

From storing information via DNA to communicating with spacecraft near Pluto to enabling your cell phone and beyond…

Don’t let people tell you that your work doesn’t matter. Small minds are the enemy of progress.