ellestra: (tiger)
The biggest story this year so far is the discovery of gravitational waves. This just confirmed Einstein was right and will allow for a new ways to observe the universe. But here let Brian Greene explain it - he does it much better:

(This is official so probably geolocked - sorry :( )

Red globes

Sep. 28th, 2015 11:21 pm
ellestra: (sunrise)
The biggest news today is free flowing water on Mars. Google has a doodle already. And it's been on all the websites and news and late night shows. In perfect timing all of those also run the commercials for The Martian. It's almost as if that movie PR planned it for the marketing campaign.

It was suspected before with a photos that looked like a streams but we needed to be sure.
This time we knew where and when to look and here it is. Multiple photos and spectral analysis. Just like previously suspected it is very high in salt which is why it stays liquid in Mars cold atmosphere.

And for those of you who like me couldn't see it or were just asleep last night here are photos of the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. It's pretty in red (although the previous ones I remember and in my dads description from Poland it's more brown in real life) but all I could see through clouds was this:


Sep. 9th, 2015 11:27 pm
ellestra: (aeryn)
Both LHC and KEK got some weird results in two different experiments that suggest possibility of new particles outside standard model. They also don't fit into the Supersymetry theory. Right now the best guesses are some new type of Higgs boson or leptoquark.

Queen Elizabeth II has become the longest reigning British monarch in history today (she just beat Victoria). It's been just over 63 years, seven months and two days since the coronation and her rule is almost at the retirement age itself.

The 10 best experiments of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's according to blastr. They use the word scientific accuracy there but we can all agree that it only works in Muppet Labs. Science is universe specific unfortunately which is why we can't just adapt the technology that put pigs in space.

I wondered what could match Miss Piggy cameo but then I saw Team SHIELD effort and I lost it at the last one. Dubsmash battle continues.

Unfortunately only one of these isn't true. Which reminds me to have my existential crisis this week - "why am I even doing this?"
ellestra: (tiger)
Remember that "impossible" drive that everyone agreed cannot work but few labs made it work? Sceptics said that it wasn't really working. That thrust was just natural thermal convection currents arising from microwave heating or some other environmental conditions external to the drive. So NASA used it in vacuum and it still works. The physicist are very aggravated as noone understands how it works. It's like something out of an sf novel. I hope it's really true. Not just because space travel but also because there a whole new branch of physics that will need to explain this. And maybe other impossible things are possible too - like wormholes at reasonable energy levels.

After all there are other planets out there. We discover more and more everyday and now you can name them. The International Astronomical Union started a NameExoWorlds contest were you can propose popular names for 15 stars and 32 planets. Just remember you need to explain your choices.

So if we are getting ready to space travel maybe also same better power storage system. Tesla just made new batteries. Not just for cars - for houses. Right now if you generate your own power (solar, wind, etc.) you cannot really store it. You can sell it back to the grid but it's usually at the times when it's least necessary (solar) or it's unpredictable (wind). But if you could store it for the night and cloudy days it wouldn't go to waste. That's what these are supposed to accomplish. And they come in different colours.

And something needs to run the calculations for all that space travel and new physics. Good thing that IBM just made a crucial breakthrough in quantum computing. They found a new method for correcting errors on a quantum circuit. Unfortunately quantum bits are prone to spontaneous flipping between 0 and 1 or changing the sign of the phase relationship. Those two types of quantum error (called bit-flip and phase-flip) that will occur in any real quantum computer. IBM found a way to detect them both at the same time which should allow for greater reliability of quantum computers which should finally make them usable.
ellestra: (slingers)
It's the end of the year and it's time to sum up this year in science and that's a much better story than news. Multiple sites have than their pick of th best and most important science and technology stories this year - from weird to futuristic, from space to new element and quark combinations, from new biological organs to synthetic chromosomes and from Nature to Science. And Wired. And New Scientist. And Scientific American.

There are things that only just happened so I didn't get a chance to write about them yet and they didn't land on any list - like the strange fish that lives 8 km deep in the ocean and looks more alien than most science fiction creatures ever will (although it kind of reminds me of Falkor). Scientists learning how to speak monkey. Venus is hell (hot, hot, hot and full of sulphur) but NASA Research Center has plans to put cloud cities on it high in the Venus atmosphere where it's not too bad - apparently living just above hell is doable just as long as you don't fall. And you can name a crater on Mercury.

For me the two most important things that happened in science was - one - all the progress at organ replacement and prosthetic - from new ways to create stem cells and 3D printing organs and growing replacement ones in a vat - like vaginas to creating new, better fitted, cheaper and cooler, prettier 3D printed prosthetics and reconecting nerves in paralysed to advances in cybernetics that allows for mind-controlling the artificial limbs and feeling the objects you touch (bionics is real and cyborgs are no longer sf). Two - all the comet stuff - the Rosetta mission most of all - from the Philae drama to water that's different from the one we know (so comets are not the source of our oceans) - but also the Siding Spring pass of Mars.
ellestra: (tiger)
Every year Science organises the Dance Your PhD contest. Here are all the finalist from Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Social Sciences categories. And this is the winner:

Science isn't always easy to portray in art and it's rarely accurate but Interstellar had it's own science advisor Kip Thorne is Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena design some of it's special effects. New Scientist has spoiler-free guide to the science of Interstellar. Space ships and science - two things I really like together.

And here is first teaser trailer for season 3 of Orphan Black - just in time for Orphan Black Friday
ellestra: (telamon)
All the way back, soon after I got sick, the news broke about the impossible engine. This is the kind of thing that sounds like ure science fiction and almost everyone couldn't believe that it would work (they also didn't believe Chinese scientist who built something similar first) but the nit was built and it's working (as far as I know noone disproved it yet). It uses the virtual particles - the ones that came to existence and almost instantly disintegrate due to some laws of quantum physics - to push the objects around. It's almost like using magic - except it works. It's not very useful right now - you get very little for the amount of power you need to feed it but you don't need to bring fuel with you which makes everything easier - that fuel mass is always a problem. However, the best part for me is that there are still things that can surprise us like this. There might be hope yet for our space dreams.

The panspermia theory has long been one of the explanations of how life could've started on Earth. We know that there are some organisms able to survive in outer space but here are some that got there seemingly on their own and are still viable even after long exposure. Russian cosmonauts have found life on the outside of the International Space Station. They were pretty shocked to discover what seems to be sea plankton on the exterior of the station that is apparently being lifted all the way there by atmospheric currents. And it's somehow surviving there.

A 24-year-old Chinese woman does not have a cerebellum. Cerebellum is a large brain structure (see photos in the link) that is mainly responsible for motor control and also controls some cognitive functions. She had some balance problems since she was a child but was only diagnosed when she finally went to hospital complaining of dizziness and nausea. It's the ninth case in medical history and it shows how amazingly plastic our brains are as other parts of the brain have managed to pick enough of the cerebellum functions to allow her to live relatively normal life.

On the other end of scale transplant of olfactory nerves helps a paralysed patient regain partial movement. Doctors in Poland and scientists from England have used harvested culture of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and olfactory nerve fibroblasts (ONFs) to reconnect spinal cord severed by injury. Unlike most of the nerve cells olfactory ones need to grow new axons all the time to connect to new cells in our nose. This made them perfect candidates for growing new connections. The doctors have harvested olfactory bulb during brain surgery and cultured the cells. Then they had removed glial scar tissue and then transplanted the cultured cells into spinal cord stumps above and below the injury site, where an 8 mm gap was bridged by four strips of autologous sural nerve. After two years patent regained some feeling and function - he went from complete paralysis to being able to walk with leg braces and a walker.
ellestra: (slingers)
In celebration of Yuri's Night tomorrow this is a science post.

There is going to be a series of Lunar eclipses - roughly every 6 months - and the first one will happen this Monday night. By fluke, Monday is also the date of Mars’s closest approach to Earth, when our neighboring planet should appear larger and brighter than usual. Both Americas will see it whole early on Tuesday - the lunar eclipse will start around 2 a.m. EDT and and around 5 with totality, called the umbra, at 3:45 a.m. EDT.

The LHC discovered a strange new particle known as Z(4430). This new particle is about four times more massive than a proton, has a negative charge, and appears to be a theoretical particle known as a tetraquark. There were previous indications of this state of matter but LHC caught ten times more events then anybody else so we are more certain this is something that can exist. Due to strong force rules quarks cannot exist outside particles - they have to be together with other quarks to create a particle that has neutral colour charge. So baryons - protons and neutrons - have neutral colour because they contain quarkks with all three colour charges (blue, red and green) and mesons are neutral because they have a quark with colour charge and quark with a anti-that colour charge.
Under the rules of the strong force, there are other ways quarks could combine to form a neutral particle. One of these, the tetraquark, combines four quarks, where two particles have a particular color and the other two have the corresponding anti-colors. Others, such as the pentaquark (3 colors + a color anti-color pair) and the hexaquark (3 colors + 3 anti-colors) have been proposed. But so far all of these have been hypothetical.
Now we are starting to capture those theoretical particles and we even know what they are made of - Z(4430) is made of a charm, an anti-charm, a down and an anti-up quarks.

Four teenagers were successfully implanted with lab-grown vaginas. The surgery was done 5 to 8 years ago and the organs are are working normally in four teenage patients who were among the first people to receive such an implant. All of them were born with a rare genetic condition - Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome - in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent. The The vaginas were grown in a lab from patients own cells from small sample of vulvar tissue. The cells were grown on two sides of scaffold to get the right shape and the two different cell types vaginas are made of - muscle cells and vaginal epithelial cells. When the organs were ready the doctors implanted them connecting uterus with surgically made cavity. And now they work. Hopefully, all the people who need a vagina will have access to this procedure soon.

This Jason Barnes playing drums with his new metal prosthetic arm


Dec. 11th, 2013 10:17 pm
ellestra: (tiger)
Today is 11-12-13 and it's the last date like that in this century. So happy last sequential day to all who got married today to make it easy to remember. But of course dates are just an artificial construct made even less important by the possibility that the whole Universe might be just a hologram. It's of course a theoretical physics stuff so the fact that the math is sound doesn't make it real but it is a way to give one explanation to both quantum physics and Einstein's theory of gravity.

Another thing that may help reconcile quantum theory may lay with wormholes made by entangled black holes. Entanglement is a term usually associated with quantum particles when two of them, no matter how far apart behave as one and the same particle. It's been used to teleport particles before. Black wholes are points where gravity is so strong nothing can escape it - not even light and the time stands still. In this scenario wormholes — understood as shortcuts between connect distant points in the universe - are black holes that are linked with entanglement. Still doesn't explain how we can use them to travel. I want my space vacations.

I already have to live with the disappointment of now comet in the sky. There was a very brief moment of hope that some part of the ISON comet might've survived but it's now official - it's gone. That what happenswhen you don't listen to the all the warnings and fly to close to the Sun. That can happen when you are made of ice. We should've called it Icarus or Frosty. What will we do now when the ISON project discovers another comet - call it ISON 2?

But at least Curiosity didn't disappoint and brought us evidence that there was a fresh water lake where it now threads. A small portion of the Gale Crater, where Curiosity landed last year, was once covered by an ancient Martian lake that could have supported life as we know it for long stretches — perhaps millions of years. It existed there about 3.7 billion years ago so millions of years wasn't a long time but it was about the time that life appeared on Earth so it might've also existed on Mars. Or even it some theories are right it did show up on Mars and then travelled all the way here.
ellestra: (tiger)
Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded for cell package delivery system - vesicles. Membranes not only separate cells from outside but also create separate compartments inside the cell - most notably nucleus and mitochondria - but there is also long series of something that looks almost like a tube system. Ribosomes stick to part of it and produce proteins. Those proteins end up inside and can be transported inside but the system is long and twisted. Just like it's faster to take a ferry from Gdańsk to Stockholm then drive all around the Baltic Sea it is faster to send a stuff packaged from one compartment to the other. In a vesicle. That transport is highly regulated and used for many different things. That's how cells absorb the food from outside, how they spit out and absorb hormones and how they transport transmembrane proteins. All the countless ours I spent learning how the phagocytosis and endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus worked I never thought about people who made all those discoveries. It's funny how at some point things like that become basic knowledge of the subject - something you just know.

Prof James Rothman, from Yale University, found proteins embedded in the vesicles which act as the docking mechanism meaning the cargo is released in the correct location. Prof Randy Schekman, from the University of California at Berkeley, discovered the genes which regulated the transport system in yeast. He found that mutations in three genes resulted in a "situation resembling a poorly planned public transport system". Prof Thomas Sudhof, originally from Germany but now at Stanford University in the US, made breakthroughs in how the transport system works in the brain so that neurotransmitters are released at the precise time.

I was disappointed at the journalist disappointment because this is a very important system in the cell and the basic science Nobels are the ones touching the most important subjects.

Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to people who theorized existence of Higgs boson - Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and François Englert of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, have won for developing the theory of how particles acquire mass. The theory is 50 years old but the experimental confirmation is brand new - not even a year old - so the delay in the announcement wasn't that surprising. Ever since few spectacular mistakes at the beginning Nobel committee has preference for waiting long enough to see that no one disproves it and that multiple sources can repeat the results. Still this was a big thing in physics and a long awaited one. And if they didn't do it now there might've not been another chance. Both laureates are in their 80s and Nobels are not given to dead people. I'm most disappointed in comparisons of the problems of finding Peter Higgs for comment during his vacation with the search for Higgs boson.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to theoretical chemists for devising computer simulations to understand chemical processes. Michael Levitt, a British-US citizen of Stanford University; US-Austrian Martin Karplus of Strasbourg University; and US-Israeli Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California will share the prize. Modelling molecules is becoming a bigger and bigger thing in drug production where new molecular compounds are first tested for possible uses and molecular interactions before spending money on costly synthesis. It can also help predict protein shape and function which helps to understand how cell processes actually work. Those programs use the equations of quantum physics to simulate reactions as closely to reality as possible. It of course requires vast amounts of computing power to describe every electron and atomic nucleus so these detailed models are limited to small molecules with just a few atoms. To model larger molecules we still need to use classical computer models but they do not include descriptions of molecules' energy states, which is vital for simulating reactions. Still they both allow us to sift faster through the possibilities then any RL experiment and concentrate on most plausible possibilities making discoveries faster and drugs (just a little) cheaper.
ellestra: (cosima)
I'll get to Nobels tomorrow when last of the science ones gets announced. Today I'm talking about some newer science.

There is a chance that world's first malaria vaccine - called RTS,S - will be available pretty soon. Right now it's on its way to the European Medicines Agency to be filed in 2014. If everything goes well, it can be approved in 2015 and land in Africa for vaccinations in 2016. I know it still long but everything has to be checked before mass vaccinations. Of course, since is heading for the official approval, all the clinical test are finished. The vaccine was tested in 15,000 children in 11 African trial sites. Half were babies aged 6 to 12 weeks and the other half toddlers aged 5 to 17 months. Half in each group received the vaccine and half a placebo, and all continued where possible with other precautions to prevent malaria such as sleeping under bed nets. It worked best in older group with 56% less cases of malaria compared to the control group (younger had 31% less cases). It still needs boosters (like tetanus vaccine) but it's better then nothing and, hopefully, with large percentage of population vaccinated we can count on herd immunity lowering number of people falling ill. There are also other malaria vaccines in the works - one that kill the parasite in mosquitoes and one using weakened parasite. Together they might help us eliminate another one of the great killers. Unless, of course, the anti-vaccers don't mess up this one first.

For the first time nuclear fusion produced amount of energy exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel. This is still not producing more energy than it took to create this reaction but it's better then anything we could do in a lab before. Controlled fusion has been a white whale of energy production since we learned how it worked and the laser facilitated one has the best outcomes but it's still not there as fusion still doesn't generate as much energy as the lasers supply - just more then it absorbed from lasers (absorption isn't 100% effective). However, scientists from National Ignition Facility (NIF) hope to achieve ignition in this way creating a self-sustaining fusion. One day we may all watch Greenpeace protesting the newest fusion powerplant being build in our neighbourhood.

The biggest problem with typing on the touchscreens is lack of feedback. You can feel whether you pressed the keys on the keyboard. On a screen there's no such feedback so mistakes are much more frequent and typing usually more tiresome and many people get keyboards for their tablets. UltraHaptics is preparing to change all that. It uses ultrasonic waves to create a feeling of touching something in the air. If you move your hands through vibrating air you feel the vibrations and can discern their force. The vibrations will change depending how hard you press so you can have a touch feedback when you want to change something (volume, page etc.). It's still not the utility mist but, according to specs, it might feel like one.
ellestra: (cosima)
The Google Doodle today is for Rosalind Franklin's 96th birthday. She's the physicist who took x-ray photos of DNA molecule that allowed Watson and Crick to deduce the DNA structure. She died years before the Nobel award for DNA structure discovery so she wasn't eligible but the way her achievements were marginalised meant she probably wouldn't get it anyway. I first heard about her when I watched The Race for the Double Helix Back in primary school. By the time I was actually learning about her in school she had a front seat among pantheon of women scientists. I was completely shocked that she was considered unknown which shows that I underestimated misogyny from very early age.

Of course, if she lived she might've discovered DNA structure herself and she might've gotten the Nobel. If it wasn't for ovarian cancer she might've been still alive today and advanced science in many other ways. Ovarian cancer is still one of the deadliest mostly because the late stage detection due to lack of symptoms. So if you think about contributing to science think about contributing to fighting it.
ellestra: (tiger)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is most common leukaemia in adults and is incurable. The medicines used right now can only prolong the life (luckily the sickness itself is pretty slow) but not cure the disease. However, Polish scientist Ida Franiak-Pietryga from Łodż's Copernicus Hospital has discovered a substance that specifically targets the sick cells and makes them commit suicide (apoptosis). Dendimers are polymers (like plastic) that have branched, symmetric and spherical structure with a lot of empty space inside and a lot of functional groups on the outside. Due to that structure they are favourite nanotechnology testing material because you can both hide something snide them and stick something to the surface that will allow you to target for specific applications. Dendimers have been known before to be able to attach themselves to and kill cells. The version made by Ida Franiak-Pietryga seem to specifically target leukaemia cells and make them go through the programmed cell death. (in Polish) It still doesn't seem to have made the English language news so all I can give you is link to the original paper and wikipedia explanation of dendimers.

It's been long known naked mole rats don't get cancer despite being extremely long lived for their size but no one knew why. Till now. The substance responsible is called hyaluronan (HMW-HA) and it's a high molecular mass sugar and it’s common in the skin, cartilage, and other connective tissues where it works as a thickening agent. It's produced by the skin cells of naked mole rats in quantities over five times bigger than ours. Its anti-cancer qualities seem to be the result of the way it prevents cells from breaking free and growing into tumours. It may also prevent cells from dividing when they become too crowded (a process called contact inhibition).

Thanks to a donation scientist in Germany were able to make a highly detailed 3D map of the human brain. They put 65-year old woman's brain in wax to make it more stiff so the task of slicing it into 20 micrometres thick sections would be easier. Then they made digital images of the slices at a resolution of 20 micrometres. And finally put more than 7400 sections together which took 1000 hours on a supercomputer. The final resolution of the model is so high, that all the folds are shaped correctly, even if the slice had been cut at an angle. Maps like this will allow us tu understand relations between structure and function better and somday even model the brain (uploading here we come).

As Hank Green song teaches us quarks are fundamental constituents of matter and there are 6 of them - up, down, strange, charm, top, bottom, and they usual create particles usually by combining in threes e.g.: two ups and one down make a proton, while two downs and one up make a neutron but sometimes also in twos - kaons and pions. Although it's not forbidden theoretically no one ever observed particles made from more then 3 quarks. Until scientists at Belle collaboration at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan and at the Beijing Electron Positron Collider in China each independently reported evidence for the 4 quark particle called Z_c(3900). There is not enough observations so far to be 100% sure it's 4 quark particle instead of two particles orbiting each other - a hadron molecule that's made of two D-mesons that form a loosely bound state. But that would also be a new form of matter so it's weird no matter what.

I started with patriotic bit and I end with the one that is for my new local affiliation - 3 year old boy hears his father for the first time:
ellestra: (telamon)
So I concentrated on body augmentation but other things happened in science recently, too.

We learned last years that dolphins introduce themselves by name (their signature whistle) but it turns out they also call friends and family members by their names (copy their signature whistles) when they look for them. That's makes them the only other animals, other then us, who call each other by names. And they also exhibit almost all our social behaviours - from extremely good to extremely bad - which shows on how fragile foundations our feeling of uniqueness is built (and that you think before you eat someone's mum).

Our whole universe might be even more fragile as scientist who study Higgs boson think that if the the recently discovered Higgs-like particle is really Higgs then its mass would make the universe inherently unstable, like a pencil balanced on its point. The vacuum of space should be most stable at its lowest energy and current Higgs mass calculations indicate that this is not it yet so our space is only temporarily stable and will ultimately collapse. Eventually, a little bubble of an alternate universe will appear somewhere, and it will spread out and destroy us. But some experimental results indicate that there might be more particles so Supersymmetry may save the universe, yet.

Speaking of pens and 3D-prining (I know it seems to pop up everywhere recently) - you can kickstart (and eventually own) a 3D-printing pen. It will use fast solidifying plastic and you will be able to doodle objects that you can then play with. This is like my childhood coming true as one of my favourite Polish children toons was Zaczarowany Ołówek (Enchanted Pencil) - whatever the main hero drew with that pencil became a real 3D-object. I used to wish I could have a pencil like that. Now, I can. I love living in 21st century.
ellestra: (Default)
So it looks like there will be no announcement of "for history books" discovery on Mars. No organics, life, aliens or even twinkies. I'm not really disappointed because I didn't expect much. He said they need to confirm the results and they were probably unable to. Happens all the time in science. The mission just got started I'm sure it will find a lot of coll things before it's done.

Cool things like ice on Mercury. Real water ice on the planet so close to the Sun it orbits it in 88 days. The image of scorched small planet is so ingrained I sometimes forget how fast and how cold the parts Sun doesn't reach are and that there must be all the temperatures in between. Thank you Messenger for awesome news.

Even bigger news is the biggest black hole ever discovered. It's in the middle of a very small galaxy and it could shake the foundations of current models of galaxy evolution as its mass is much greater then they predict (17 billion times the mass of the Sun). It also takes much more it's galaxy mass then we've ever seen (14% of the total galaxy mass). Maybe Peter Hamilton was right and someone is powering their paradise.

On the opposite end of scale someone finally took a picture of the DNA. Till now we only new how it looks from secondhand sources (like X-ray crystallography) but now it's the electron microscopy time and the helix is clearly visible in all it's glory.

On even smaller scale there is a new transistor that controls the flow of atoms, rather than electrons creating superconductors out of superfluid atoms, flowing with no friction or physical resistance. So take some very cold superfluid and add some lasers and get you can have a transistor. Not very energy efficient but certainly very cool (like 500 nano-degrees above absolute zero).

And BTW do you remember the Niantic Project I mentioned last week? Well, players are having fun but the really cool thing might come out of all the data Google is able to get through this. Everything points to them using it to set up the Augmented Reality for Google glasses. Part of me feels like this is Google taking last bits of privacy and discovery and just mapping the rea into virtual like in some distopian novel and using us to do it with our own hands (and phones) but I don't even care because players enjoy it and I want AR. This is the future I was promised.
ellestra: (tiger)
I have to give a presentation tomorrow so I just wanted to post this nice explanation of this year's Physics Nobel
ellestra: (tiger)
Today it's time for the Physics Nobel and it's quantum. Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the US got the prize for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

Serge Haroche at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and David Wineland at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, Boulder both work in the field of quantum optics. They approach on detecting the quantum states of particles from opposite directions - Wineland used photons to measure the properties of ions trapped by electric fields, while Haroche used superconducting mirrors to cage photons making them travel back and forth inside for more than a tenth of a second (long enough to travel 40,000 kilometres - distance equal to Earth equator). Both managed to invent ways to measure and control tiny quantum objects without destroying their fragile states. Normally the "observer" effect would cause the collapse of quantum state. Their methods allow to detect particles to observe them in their natural state. This bodes well for quantum computers, devices that exploit the weird properties of quantum systems to solve problems that stymie ordinary computers.

"The new methods allow them to examine, control and count the particles" which may lead the way to superfast computers and "the most precise clocks ever seen".

It's funny how both this and yesterday's Nobels are for such a sci-fi subjects. Both are about something that's been horribly misused, mostly in B-movie and TV episodes. Stem cells, cloning and all that quantum stuff that's basically magic for SF (and some of the crazier religious leaders). It's been all treated so badly I cringe when I hear anyone on screen (books are usually better researched) mentioning it as I prepare to do mental list of WRONG. It's nice to remember actual science behind it all. It's not made up and it's not magic. It just doesn't work like your paper headline implies.e
ellestra: (slingers)
Kelly Thompson wrote a book about two superheroines (and already funded its publication) and decided to do 30 Days Of Superheroines to celebrate that. She posts collections of art for chosen superheroine everyday and it's so pretty. I also learned that there exists a version of Psylocke costume that doesn't suck. Why, oh why can't she wear this in comics:

Hearing the news about discover of Higgs-like particle the researchers at Europe's DANTE decided to hear what the boson sounded like and "sonifyied" the latest batch of collider data and io9 kindly posted it for us all to hear how pretty the mass sound like:
ellestra: (sunrise)
Here, where I an it's a holiday today - the Independence Day - however, in this year, today is a different day for the whole world. Today is the Higgs boson day. CERN announced it officially today - the Higgs boson has been discovered (or it is almost completely sure that they found a particle and that particles fits the theoretically predicted properties of Higgs boson). Everyone expected they are going to say that when they called this seminar as the rumours and experimental results showing in recent months strongly indicated they got it but it's nice to have the official .confirmation. It feels both good and anticlimactic. On one hand there is this "Finally!" feeling with all the wait and money poured into the LHC (this was one of its most famous goals). On the other - nothing changed in our lives. All that calling it the God Particle created too much hype and you can feel a certain disappointment - no hole in the sky or all secrets of the Universe becoming known to us as if we cracked the secret code. And we are left with most important question of in all science - what's next. Probably, even bigger explosions. And of course there's still dark matter and energy.
ellestra: (Default)
Did you ever do something stupid? Something you realised was a mistake the moment you finished doing it. You should've known better but somehow you did it anyway. I just did that. It's not life threatening or even changing but it can make my life annoying for a while. I feel so stupid because I'm usually so careful. I suppose it was just the amount of forms and sign ups and computer installations and registrations I did this week. I just missed the signs of the spam one until it was too late.

This however makes me feel more understanding for the OPERA scientist who finally announced that the neutrinos don't violate the light speed limit. Even though the mistakes were pretty mundane (a leaky fibre-optic cable and a malfunctioning clock) and the results were exactly what the scientists observing these "FTL" neutrinos always expected (they were wrong) it's still has to be hard admitting your mistakes in public. Especially, after it made all the news and got the public excited. The feeling of shame is not pleasant one. I certainly feel like kicking myself for being so stupid and falling for the stupidest spam scam. Their must feel awful. And then there are those crazies who will use it to prove scientist to be liars and wrong. Even though today announcement is exactly how science works (should work) - the results were tested and when they didn't pan out they were discarded. So at least they have that.

I just made the basic mistake as if it was my first day on the internets.Feel free to point and laugh.

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