Saturday, November 17, 2018

Quantum field theory

Every elementary particle in the universe is a point excitation of an underlying field that permeates the entire universe. There are different fields for different types of particles and those fields can interact with each other. Some fields carry force like the electromagnetic. Combine the fields and you get all the matter in the universe and the forces that drive them. And what makes the whole thing work is energy. Lots and lots of energy.

I sometimes refer to this as "God's computer program."


Sunday, November 4, 2018

How do psychopaths behave as children, especially around other children their age?

I find it interesting that 1% of the population are psychopathic, which is an innate condition, whereas another 3 to 4% are sociopaths, which is acquired through environment.  Either way, these people completely or mostly lack empathy for other people.  Psychopaths also don't feel anxiety the way other people do.  Bad things don't stress them as much.

It is sad that people are this way, but I am a bit curious about the fact that we have all these people running around in society.  They claim that most corporate CEO's are psychopaths, which sounds plausible, and many claim that Steve Jobs was a psychopath, which also sounds possible.  

Maybe it is an evolutionary survival strategy.  In the event that "the shit hits the fan", maybe the psychopaths will be more likely to survive.  I am certain of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The future

Beginning around 5 billion years from now, the Sun will expand, becoming a swollen star called a red giant. By 7.5 billion years in the future, its surface will be past where the Earth's orbit is now, consuming the Earth.

In 500 million years the tectonic plate movement and geological activity on planet Earth will have stopped, causing it to have a fate similar to Mars. The planet will be dry, lifeless and very cold.

Within half a million years it is extremely likely that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt, wiping out life in several nearby states, and causing an environmental catastrophe worldwide. However, we are already due for an eruption, and the underground volcano has shown increased activity over the last 30 years. This is a disaster of enormous scale waiting to happen; we just don't know when it will happen. Fortunately people are looking for ways to relieve some of the pressure that is building up beneath the National Park.

Within 100 years we will be almost completely out of fossil fuels, so we will have to rely on other energy sources. The last remaining fossil fuel will be coal, which is estimated to be gone by the year 2150.

Within 50 years machine intelligence will surpass that of all humans combined. This event has been dubbed "the singularity", and it will forever change our fate. From that moment on machines will make most of the technological advances, and possibly at an ever accelerating rate. Over time humans will become more integrated with technology, and we will no longer be purely biological.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Origin of birds

The present scientific consensus is that birds are a group of theropod dinosaurs that originated during the Mesozoic Era. A close relationship between birds and dinosaurs was first proposed in the nineteenth century after the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany.

I keep hearing that dinosaurs are not extinct, but still exist in the form of birds.

I do not think that birds are dinosaurs in the way that the vast majority of people would think of dinosaurs, which is as very large reptiles, with maybe a few smaller versions. Instead, they are evolved from dinosaurs.

However, theropods are one type of dinosaur that is now thought to have more resemble birds in both their morphology and behavior, with many of them having feathers, including the mighty T-Rex. Birds are also theropods.

Some people are trying to activate dormant genes in chickens to see if they if they can produce some dinosaur characteristics. For example, with a little fiddling they produced a chicken with teeth.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Battery advancement

Chemists have successfully resolved two of the most challenging issues surrounding lithium-oxygen batteries, and in the process created a working battery with near 100 per cent coulombic efficiency. The new work demonstrates that four-electron conversion for lithium-oxygen electrochemistry is highly reversible. The team is the first to achieve four-electron conversion, which doubles the electron storage of lithium-oxygen, also known as lithium-air, batteries

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How to speak to a narcissist

A Scientist Spilled 2 Drops Organic Mercury On Her Hand. This Is What Happened To Her Brain.

When I was young there were plastic maze toys with a drop of mercury inside.

Years ago I had an environmental activist knock my door. His agenda was that his organization wanted tighter government controls on mercury emissions. I wasn't particularly interested at the time.

When it comes to poisons, concentration is everything. What could be deadly in one dose could also be harmless in trace amounts. Chemical structure is also important.

Loop quantum gravity

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Climate Sensitiviy

Very few people actually deny that the earth is getting warmer and that man is the cause.  The real issue is the Climate Sensitivity to a doubling of CO2, and there is widespread disagreement over what that is.  The IPCC gives a range of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees celsius, with them giving an average number of 3 degrees.  The skeptics are on the low end of that scale, and some people are claiming it is actually higher with predictions going from 6 to 12 degrees. 

It is important to note that the CO2 response is logarithmic.  You have to keep doubling it to get the same effect.

The polar ice caps need a 5 degree increase to start melting.  I have seen three different sources claim that it would take 5,000 years for the polar ice caps to melt, meaning that we have some time to deal with this problem.  According to one source, most of our fossil fuels will run out by the year 2100, and the last one, coal, runs out by 2150.  By the year 2100 we will only double the CO2 from the current level, reaching 800 parts per million.   If we run out of fossil fuels then we are not going to get much higher than 800 parts per million.

There are strong reasons to think that nuclear fusion will be practical in my lifetime, which is to say in the next 20 to 30 years.  We might see it in 10 years.  It could make the whole argument mute.

I have repeatedly looked at the data for both CO2 and temperature from 1880 to the present.   For some reason a lot of people refer to 1880 as a starting point, and I have had a hard time finding consistent data prior to that date.

In the last 138 years, the average global atmospheric temperature has gone up 1 degree celsius.  That is an average increase of less than a 1/100 of a degree per year.  The level of CO2 increase is around 43%.  The relationship is not linear, but logarithmic,  which means that if I were to multiply these figures I would get a Climate Sensitivity that is slightly too high.  Still, if I do just basic math, I come up with a Climate Sensitivity of 2.33 degrees celsius, which is well within the range of what some climate skeptics have been saying all along.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Top 10 Greatest Space Missions to Other Planets

Fwd: Liver disease deaths spike among young Americans

the study -- published Wednesday in the BMJ -- found that deaths in the United States due to cirrhosis rose 65% and deaths from liver cancer doubled from 1999 to 2016. In that period, cirrhosis-related deaths increased for every ethnic group and for both men and women.

From 2009 to 2016, the greatest increase in death rate from cirrhosis was among people 25 to 34

Tapper cited a rise in binge-drinking among young people to account for the increase in cirrhosis-related mortality

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Voyager: The Farthest in Space.

I watched this documentary on Netflix streaming.  I really enjoyed it.  Maybe it airs on PBS occasionally.

I have a deep interest in physics

I watched this video twice to try to understand it.  I will probably watch it a third time.  The math is way beyond my level.  If I were to work hard enough,  maybe  I could learn the mathematics, but it wouldn't be worth the effort.

Since I like physics so much, maybe I should have made that my profession.  However, I think that I like computer programming even more.  In the very early days of micro-computers, back in the 1970's, I seemed to have a talent for programming in the same way I had a talent for chess.

I think that my interest in physics comes from wanting to understand how the universe works.  However, there are subtleties in the physical universe that are too deep for anybody but a physicist to understand.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fwd: Active Antarctic Volcano

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet lies atop a major volcanic rift system, but there had been no evidence of current magmatic activity, the URI scientist said. The last such activity was 2,200 years ago, Loose said. And while volcanic heat can be traced to dormant volcanoes, what the scientists found at Pine Island was new.

"You can't directly measure normal indicators of volcanism — heat and smoke —  because the volcanic rift is below many kilometers of ice," Loose said

But as the team conducted its research, it found high quantities of an isotope of helium, which comes almost exclusively from mantle, Loose said.

"When you find helium-3, it's like a fingerprint for volcanism. We found that it is relatively abundant  in the seawater at the Pine Island shelf.

"The volcanic heat sources were found beneath the fastest moving and the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, the Pine Island Glacier," Loose said. "It is losing mass the fastest."

He said the amount of ice sliding into the ocean is measured in gigatons. A gigaton equals 1 billion metric tons.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fwd: Infared stealth blanket

Less than one millimeter thick, the sheet absorbs approximately 94 percent of the infrared light it encounters. Trapping so much light means that warm objects beneath the cloaking material become almost completely invisible to infrared detectors.

Importantly, the stealth material can strongly absorb light in the so-called mid- and long-wavelength infrared range, the type of light emitted by objects at approximately human body temperature.

To trap infrared light, Jiang and colleagues turned to a unique material called black silicon, which is commonly incorporated into solar cells

Fwd: Using wireless signals to set humans through walls

MIT has given a computer x-ray vision, but it didn't need x-rays to do it. The system, known as RF-Pose, uses a neural network and radio signals to track people through an environment and generate wireframe models in real time. It doesn't even need to have a direct line of sight to know how someone is walking, sitting, or waving their arms on the other side of a wall.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fwd: World's Strongest Bio-Material Outperforms Steel and Spider Silk

The scientists started with commercially available cellulose nanofibres that are just 2 to 5 nanometres in diameter and up to 700 nanometres long. A nanometre (nm) is a millionth of a millimetre. The nanofibres were suspended in water and fed into a small channel, just one millimetre wide and milled in steel. Through two pairs of perpendicular inflows additional deionized water and water with a low pH-value entered the channel from the sides, squeezing the stream of nanofibres together and accelerating it.

This process, called hydrodynamic focussing, helped to align the nanofibres in the right direction as well as their self-organisation into a well-packed macroscopic thread. No glue or any other component is needed, the nanofibres assemble into a tight thread held together by supramolecular forces between the nanofibres, for example electrostatic and Van der Waals forces

Measurements showed a tensile stiffness of 86 gigapascals (GPa) for the material and a tensile strength of 1.57 GPa. "The bio-based nanocellulose fibres fabricated here are 8 times stiffer and have strengths higher than natural dragline spider silk fibres," says Söderberg. "If you are looking for a bio-based material, there is nothing quite like it. And it is also stronger than steel and any other metal or alloy as well as glass fibres and most other synthetic materials." The artificial cellulose fibres can be woven into a fabric to create materials for various applications. The researchers estimate that the production costs of the new material can compete with those of strong synthetic fabrics

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fwd: Alzheimer's

Researchers have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease, thereby improving the animals' cognitive function. The study raises hopes that drugs targeting this enzyme will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer's disease in humans.