Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The original Allman Brothers Band rocked. With Gregg on keyboards and Duane on slide, southern rock never sounded so good. To yours truly, they, and the Dead, were the best jam bands of all time.
The question "Can white men sing the blues?" has been debated for decades, especially once earnest white kids began taking a crack at the music in the 1960s. But in the case of Gregg Allman, no one ever raised the question. It wasn't simply a matter of his husky, often pained voice and the genuine sense of despair, desperation and boastfulness conveyed by it.
Southern rock pioneer fused country blues with San Francisco-style extended improvisation, creating a template for countless jam bands to come. It was also a reflection of the tragedy that haunted Allman's life, from the murder of his father when Gregg was two years old to the motorcycle accidents that took the lives of his brother Duane and Allman Brothers Band member Berry Oakley a year apart in the 1970s.
Here's yet another.
Friday, May 26, 2017
For years, scientists have generally thought that Jupiter either harbors a relatively compact core 1 to 10 times as massive as Earth or no core at all, ...
But neither of these hypotheses fits with the gravity data collected so far by Juno, which has been orbiting Jupiter since July 2016.
"There seems to be a fuzzy core, and it may be much larger than anybody had anticipated," Bolton said Thursday (May 25) during a NASA press conference announcing the first detailed science results from Juno's mission.
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. - Richard Feynman
Yet another pix. Stellar.
Juno's finally coming through. :)
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
Tabby's Star, aka KIC 8462852, is stirring intense interest due to extensive dimming that defies traditional explanations as seen by an earlier BRT post titled KIC 8462852 and now, by Forbes, as Something's afoot as the esteemed Sherlock would say, when analysing a case as fascinating as this one truly is.
While other stars show small, periodic dips in their brightness due to transiting planets, Tabby's star shows something unique.
Different steps in the Kepler time series data that show the periodic and aperiodic dimming of KIC 8462852, with incredibly large brightness changes.
Its dips are much larger in magnitude by up to a factor of 20, and show up irregularly in time.
It gets better
Now the mystery has grown stranger still. A paper made public last week based on a different kind of Kepler imaging (full-frame imaging) found not two but one enormous dip in the light curve, as well as a surprising and significant dimming the of star over the four year observing period of the space telescope. The paper has been submitted for publication in American Astronomical Society journals.
Benjamin Montet of Caltech and Joshua Simon of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, analyzed the full-field images taken by Kepler every three months (rather than the hourly images studied by Boyajian et al,) and concluded that something strange was indeed going on.
Their conclusion: “No known or proposed stellar phenomena can fully explain all aspects of the observed light curve.”
Something's afoot indeed. :)
NASA CalTech An illustration depicts comets passing in front of what Boyajian's star, another theory as to what may cause the flickering.
Don't you love a mystery.? Yours truly does. :)
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Ladybugs, one of yours truly's favorite insects, possess a secret, how do they fold their large wings under a wonderfully colored top wing, called the elytra, in only a tenth of a second. And when it lands, it folds it back in just two. Switching between flying and crawling many times in a day, the ladybug travels vast distances.
This has been a fascinating mystery until now.
To the naked eye, this elegant transformation is a mystery. But scientists in Japan created a window into the process in a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Just how the ladybug manages to cram these rigid structures into tiny spaces is a valuable lesson for engineers designing deployable structures like umbrellas and satellites.
A ladybug’s hind wings are sturdy enough to keep it in the air for up to two hours and enable it to reach speeds up to 37 miles an hour and altitudes as high as three vertically stacked Empire State Buildings. Yet they fold away with ease. These seemingly contradictory attributes perplexed Kazuya Saito, an aerospace engineer at the University of Tokyo and the lead author of the study.
Read on to see how this remarkable insect does the deed with elegance & grace as this points out yet again, nature never disappoints. :)
Addendum: Here's the origami part.
The process by which the wings collapse is akin to origami — in fact, the scientists used origami paper to recreate portions of the wing folds.
Scientists created a paper model showing how one part of a ladybug's wing folds up when the wing is tucked away out of use.
And the wings remain stable when expanded partly because of veins that use "tape springs" — the kind of curve that allows carpenter tape to hold itself straight.
Nature finds a way, always. :)
Monday, May 15, 2017
Powers Boothe was an awesome actor. Intelligent, full of menace and downright cool, his role in the Sin City flicks was stellar. Going to miss him big time.
While there is no shortage of roles to remember him by, it’s worth noting that Boothe was an actor who could do a great deal with very little. A scene or two. Even just a few words. Consider Tombstone and the moment when his victorious cowboy gang-boss casually dismisses a broken Wyatt Earp.
It may seem ironic, but there’s no better way to say farewell to Powers Boothe than to show what he could do with only two damn words.
Another mystery solved. :)
Now that we've witnessed this behaviour for the first time, it's become clear that the narwhal tusk is a multipurpose appendage that really was worth the cost of evolving the most unusual tooth in nature.
Late last year, researchers discovered that this tusk helps narwhals 'see' like no other species on Earth - when they measured the whales' echolocation skills, they found that they have the most directional sonar ever detected.
Like dolphins and other whales, they're able to navigate dark, murky waters by producing clicking sounds at a rate of up to 1,000 clicks per second, and using the echoes to reconstruct their surroundings based on how the sound waves bounce off nearby prey or rock formations.
Previous research had found that the narwhal tooth had foregone the protection of hard, external enamel to make it sensitive to even the tiniest of stimuli - and this appears to have given them the edge over all other echolocating species.
Nature never disappoints. :)
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Yours truly studied jazz composition at Berklee back in the day. Walking back and forth from the Beacon Street pad to Berklee, I leaned how sharps and flats connected to each key signature by endlessly repeating the Cycle of 5th pattern set as seen below.
To yours truly, it's not much of a stretch to see how a talented composer could see the "resonance chain" where the “years” of each orbiting body relate to one another as simple ratios. For every eight times the innermost world races through its day-and-a-half-long orbit, the next planet goes around roughly five times, the next one after that orbits three times, and the next one two times. And so on.
With this in mind, the orbital harmonics of the TRAPPIST-1 system puzzled researchers to no end until jazz guitarist Matt Russo looked at the problem and built a major 9th chord, based on the ratios of the differing planetary orbits, as start point, to creating a very cool music composition & video that intuitively shows how the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system operates in actuality.
The seventh planet, h, orbits about once every three weeks. Sped up some 200 million times and expressed in sound waves, that frequency is a C note. From there, the known ratios between planets determine every other planet’s signature note. Together the notes form a major ninth chord. “It’s really remarkable that it worked out like that,” Russo said. “Even with a different pattern of resonances, you wouldn’t get a chord that sounds as good.”
A Major 9th = CEGBD as the key of C has no sharps or flats.
How cool is that? :)
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
BRT has talked about propaganda on numerous occasions as it's fascinating & disquieting to see how this technique can be used to manipulate the public in ways that truly boggle the mind. When propaganda is combined with digital, fascination turns to dread because of what's happening in America in the year of our lord 2017.
What we fear is a future in which potent personal data is combined with increasingly sophisticated technology to produce and deliver unaccountable personalized media and messages at a national scale. Combined with data-driven emerging media technologies, it is clear that the use of behavioral data to nudge voters with propaganda-as-a-service is set to explode. Imagine being able to synthesize a politician saying anything you type and then upload the highly realistic video to Facebook with a fake CNN chyron banner. Expect the early versions of these tools available before 2020.
At the core of this is data privacy, or as they more meaningfully describe it in Europe, data protection. Unfortunately, the United States is headed in a dangerous direction on this issue. President Trump’s FCC and the Republican party radically deregulated our ISP’s ability to sell data monetization on paying customer data. Anticipate this administration further eroding privacy protections, as it confuses the public interest for the interests of business, despite being the only issue that about 95% of voters agree on, across every partisan and demographic segment according to HuffPo/YouGov. We propose three ideas to address these issues, which are crucial to preserving American democracy.
What's interesting about all of this is the fact CA is totally up front as to what services they are selling to us rubes.
Edward Bernays, the godfather of propaganda, would be proud.
Blade Runner 2049 looks really good based on this elegant and visually gorgeous trailer. Better yet is Vox's well written blurb about the film that indirectly echoes BRT's long range take on the ever increasing impact of science & tech on society and the world.
Blade Runner’s corporate dehumanization gets even more explicit
Leto’s replicant-whisperer has the first line of dialogue in this trailer, and what he says is telling: Corporations created replicants to be a “disposable workforce.” That dehumanization is prominent as a theme throughout Blade Runner, and 2049 makes it even more explicit. An early shot from the desert world gives us the classic sci-fi “naked bodies in containers” image to reveal the assembly-line element of replication, while virtual images of sexualized women appear in the city’s 3D ads repeatedly throughout the trailer, suggesting that the line between the commodification of these different bodies is a thin one.
This film looks to be a keeper without question.
Monday, May 08, 2017
Saturn's hexagonal polar jet stream is the shining feature of almost every view of the north polar region of Saturn. The region, in shadow for the first part of the Cassini mission, now enjoys full sunlight, which enables Cassini scientists to directly image it in reflected light.
Although the sunlight falling on the north pole of Saturn is enough to allow us to image and study the region, it does not provide much warmth. In addition to being low in the sky (just like summer at Earth's poles), the sun is nearly ten times as distant from Saturn as from Earth. This results in the sunlight being only about 1 percent as intense as at our planet.
Although only a sliver of Saturn's sunlit face is visible in this view, the mighty gas giant planet still dominates the view.
From this vantage point just beneath the ring plane, the dense B ring becomes dark and essentially opaque, letting almost no light pass through. But some light reflected by the planet passes through the less dense A ring, which appears above the B ring in this photo. The C ring, silhouetted just below the B ring, lets almost all of Saturn's reflected light pass right through it, as if it were barely there at all. The F ring appears as a bright arc in this image, which is visible against both the backdrop of Saturn and the dark sky.
Cassini, the little probe that can.
Friday, May 05, 2017
Illustration by Victor Juhasz
Matt Taibbi nails it in terms of just how turgid the Trump administration truly is. From war mongering to confusion regarding what universal health care actually is, this ongoing trainwreck menaces not only America but also the world.
Decades from now, if the planet is even inhabited by then, we will look back at one 72-hour period as the most crucial in the history of America's last president, Donald John Trump. Between the days of April 5th and 7th, 2017, the Washington political establishment tried to reform our madman president and instead only made him infinitely more dangerous, pushing us closer to doomsday than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.
Welcome to the Trump era, the flushing-toilet-bowl stage of America's history, where every move any of us makes is part of a great swirling synergy sucking us with ever-greater alacrity down the hole of failure and destruction. Good news, bad news, it all heads in the same direction soon enough, after a spin or two around the bowl.
His take on Bannon is spot on.
A few spins of the bowl later, even the sidelining of Bannon turned into bad news. Bannon may currently be America's most infamous racial reactionary, but in the panoply of racist archetypes, he isn't easy to characterize. He's not a gun-toting, moonshine-swilling backwoods Klansman, which is at least a lifestyle one can sort of be born into. His background instead is as an effete suburbanite who went to Virginia Tech, Harvard and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, made a small fortune in banking and entertainment (he worked for Goldman Sachs and, according to legend, owns a piece of Seinfeld), and only later made promoting ethno-nationalism as an intellectual choice his life mission. If you're sending a child away to college, Bannon is pretty much the worst-case scenario of what might come back – someone who will spend a lifetime inspired by literature to get more in touch with his inner troglodyte.
Read the piece in its entirety. You'll learn a lot without question.
Bizarro World, meet the land of delusion in terms of Trump's complete misunderstanding of universal health care versus the CF the Repugs came up with under Ryan, another individual who really does not understand hc save from the profit motive. Words cannot describe Trump's flip flopping on this crucial issue yet maybe they can.
President Trump claimed a victory Thursday after the House approved a more free-market approach to health care.
Then he capped it off by praising a country with government-run, universal health care.
Alongside Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at an event in New York, Trump reflected on what the House had just done. He took the occasion to bash Obamacare as being terrible, and then he turned to Turnbull.
"We have a failing health care — I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia," Trump said, as The Post's Abby Phillip reports, "because you have better health care than we do."
Australia's health-care system is run by the government. It's essentially a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system that is available to everyone, with private insurance also available. (They even call it "Medicare.")
It gets better.
Consider this merely the latest evidence that Trump, in his heart of hearts, wants single-payer health care. Indeed, it seems to be his forbidden fruit.
Back in 2000, he advocated for it as both a potential Reform Party presidential candidate and in his book, "The America We Deserve."
"We must have universal health care. Just imagine the improved quality of life for our society as a whole," he wrote, adding: "The Canadian-style, single-payer system in which all payments for medical care are made to a single agency (as opposed to the large number of HMOs and insurance companies with their diverse rules, claim forms and deductibles) … helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans."
Just before the 2016 campaign, Trump appeared on David Letterman's show and held up Scotland's socialized system as the ideal.
What's wrong with this picture?
Thursday, May 04, 2017
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Monday, May 01, 2017
There are two films yours truly considers to be perfect, The Godfather and 2001 as each created a reality whereby viewers became a virtual greek chorus united in the fact they were seeing accessible masterpieces that would change how they viewed the world, forever. Interesting enough, the participants in The Godfather initially thought it was a rolling trainwreck while the film was being shot. Awesome.
Pacino and Diane Keaton bonded after shooting the opening wedding scene: "We got so loaded after that wedding sequence. We were theater actors, and we were not used to film," he said. "The whole thing had sort of a surreal feel to it. So we got back and started drinking: 'Where do we go from here? We're done, it's over! This is the worst film ever made!'"
Keaton admitted she hadn't seen The Godfather for 30 years, and only recently re-watched it on her computer. "I couldn't get over it. It was so astonishing, it was so beautiful... Every choice [Coppola] made was brilliant, and it was so unusual. I just kept crying," she recalled, even admitting she didn't pay much attention to the film, "Because I was the most outsider, weird person in the movie. And why was I cast again?"
Speaking of the scene where Kay tells Michael she didn't have a miscarriage but instead got an abortion, Coppola pointed out that was not in the book. It was actually Talia Shier, Coppola's sister, who suggested that brilliant plot point.