Thursday, January 31, 2019

Slowly giving up their secrets ...

Black holes, the connect between quantum and relativity, are slowly giving up their secrets via exquisite tech able to see how these mysterious systems work.

Scientists have charted the environment surrounding a stellar-mass black hole that is 10 times the mass of the Sun using the NICER payload aboard the International Space Station. NICER detected X-ray light from the recently discovered black hole, called MAXI J1820+070 (J1820 for short), as it consumed material from a companion star. Waves of X-rays formed “light echoes” that reflected off the swirling gas near the black hole and revealed changes in the environment’s size and shape.

“NICER has allowed us to measure light echoes closer to a stellar-mass black hole than ever before,” said Erin Kara, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland, College Park and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who presented the findings at the 233rd American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

“Previously, these light echoes off the inner accretion disk were only seen in supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of solar masses and undergo changes slowly. Stellar black holes like J1820 have much lower masses and evolve much faster, so we can see changes play out on human time scales.”

What's really interesting is if the echoes mean something else altogether ...

To whit.

"Wormholes do not have an event horizon, but act as a space-time shortcut that can be traversed, a kind of very long throat that takes us to another universe," says Pablo Bueno from KU Leuven University (Belgium). "The confirmation of echoes in the LIGO or Virgo signals would be a practically irrefutable proof that astrophysical black holes don't exist. Time will tell if these echoes exist or not. If the result were positive, it would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics."

The scientific collaborations LIGO and Virgo have detected gravitational waves from the fusion of two black holes, inaugurating a new era in the study of the cosmos. But what if those ripples of space-time were not produced by black holes, but by other exotic objects? A team of European physicists suggest an alternative—wormholes that can be traversed to appear in another universe.

Wormhole Echoes Would Be One of the Greatest Discoveries Ever –“Irrefutable Proof That Black Holes Don’t Exist”

Something's afoot - Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, January 26, 2019


Man is killing the planet at speeds millions of time faster than the Great Dying of 250 millions years ago thanks to environmental degradation, resource depletion and fossil fuel production. With this not withstanding, BRT has often stated earth will recover but for us, the question of survival is questionable at best.

It started in December, just before Christmas.

Hundreds of dead perch were discovered floating along the banks of the Darling River – victims of a "dirty, rotten green" algae bloom spreading in the still waters of the small country town of Menindee, Australia.

Things didn't get better. The dead hundreds became dead thousands, as the crisis expanded to claim the lives of 10,000 fish along a 40-kilometre (25-mile) stretch of the river. But the worst was still yet to come.

This week, the environmental disaster has exploded to a horrific new level – what one Twitter user called "Extinction level water degradation" – with reports suggesting up to a million fish have now been killed in a new instance of the toxic algae bloom conditions.

It gets worse ...

Over two days in November, record-breaking heat in Australia's north wiped out almost one-third of the nation's spectacled flying foxes, according to researchers.

The animals, also known as spectacled fruit bats, were unable to survive in temperatures which exceeded 42C.

BRT has "waxed" poetic about climate change for years as it is the existential threat we face, a catastrophe of our own making.

Last but not least ...

It turns out that New Zealand is not alone. Giant trees are dying all over the globe.

2,000-year-old baobab trees in Africa are suddenly and rather mysteriously giving up the ghost.  These trees survived happily for 2,000 years and now all of a sudden they're dying. Are the deaths of our most ancient trees all across the globe some sort of natural process? Or is there a different culprit we need to recognize?

In Japan they're lamenting record low squid catches.  Oh well, maybe it’s just overfishing?  Or could it be another message we need to heed?

To all this we can add the numerous scientific articles now decrying the 'insect Apocalypse' unfolding across the northern hemisphere. The Guardian recently issued this warning: “Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’”. Researchers in Puerto Rico's forest preserves recorded a 98% decline in insect mass over 35 years.  Does a 98% decline have a natural explanation? Or is something bigger going on?

Meanwhile, the butterfly die-off is unfolding with alarming speed. I rarely see them in the summer anymore, much to my great regret.  Seeing one is now as exciting as seeing a meteor streak across the sky, and just as rare:

destruction of the natural environment, especially when willfully done.
"their crime is nothing less than attempted ecocide"

The little rover that could ... RIP

Friday, January 25, 2019

Chasing Ice & The Blood Moon

Winter finally showed up with freezing cold with an end result of ice, the dangerous beauty that never ceases to amaze. Along with this is the Super Wolf Moon, complete with a total lunar eclipse to end this 4k shoot with a bang. Enjoy.

Eye Candy Rev X

Eye candy yet again. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Super Blood Moon 2018

12/21/2018 5 Phase Data Set

A VERY short clip showing the progression of the 4K total lunar eclipse.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Every day ...

Every day, yours truly thinks about what my grandchild will experience just 2 decades away ...

The album Elephant Mountain comes to mind here. Listen to see why this sentiment rings true. 

Darkness, Darkness
Be my pillow
Take my head
And let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow
In the silence of your deep

Darkness, Darkness
Hide my yearning
For the things I cannot be
Keep my mind from constant turning
Toward the things I cannot see now
Things I cannot see now
Things I cannot see

Darkness, darkness,
Long and lonesome,
Is the day that brings me here
I have felt the edge of sadness,
I have known the depth of fear.
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket,
Cover me with the endless night,
Take away, take away the pain of knowing,
Fill the emptiness of right now,
Emptiness of right now, now, now
Emptiness of ri-ight now.

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow,
Take my hand, and let me sleep.
In the coolness of your shadow,
In the silence, the silence of your deep.
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket,
Cover me with the endless night,
Take away, take away the pain of knowing
Fill the emptiness of right now,
Emptiness of right now now now
Emptiness of right....
Oh yeah Oh yeah
Emptiness, emptiness
Oh yeah

Jessie Colin Young

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A simple matter of size :)

Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift's satiric masterpiece, has always fascinated this writer regarding the relative sizes of the Lilliputians vs the Brobdingnagians as the former are about 6 inches tall while the latter tops out at about 72 feet.

Seems an astute scientist did some rather interesting research regarding the intrepid Lemuel Gulliver and the remarkable nations he visited  To whit ...

Interesting to a fault as is the book.  :)

The Big 2 ...

Yours truly has always thought the two laws of thermodynamics are the most profound in the multiverse, i.e

The first law: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; only transformed or transferred from one form to another.

The Second law: The total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time.  

Carnot engine diagram (modern) - where an amount of heat QH flows from a high temperature TH furnace through the fluid of the "working body" (working substance) and the remaining heat QC flows into the cold sink TC, thus forcing the working substance to do mechanical work W on the surroundings, via cycles of contractions and expansions.

Seems both laws hold true as they maintain their consistency in the quantum realm at deep level as seen by an exquisite experiment stating that ... physicists have performed an experiment confirming that thermodynamic processes are irreversible in a quantum system—meaning that, even on the quantum level, you can't put a broken egg back into its shell. 

Why this is important.

Irreversibility at the quantum level may seem obvious to most people because it matches our observations of the everyday, macroscopic world. However, it is not as straightforward to physicists because the microscopic laws of physics, such as the Schrödinger equation, are "time-symmetric," or reversible. In theory, forward and backward microscopic processes are indistinguishable.

In reality, however, we only observe forward processes, not reversible ones like broken egg shells being put back together. It's clear that, at the macroscopic level, the laws run counter to what we observe. Now the new study shows that the laws don't match what happens at the quantum level, either.

Seems that the law of initial conditions applies here as well ...

The physicists explain that the answer to this question lies in the choice of the initial conditions. The microscopic laws allow reversible processes only because they begin with "a genuine equilibrium process for which the entropy production vanishes at all times," the scientists write in their paper. Preparing such an ideal initial state in a physical system is extremely complex, and the initial states of all observed processes aren't at "genuine equilibrium," which is why they lead to irreversible processes.

In essence, Absolute Zero is the only way a genuine equilibrium can occur were nothing moves at subatomic level, something that never happens, AFAWK. Awesome is it not? :)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Evolution of an artificial kind ...

In a previous blurb, yours truly talked about reality being digital with analog override with emphasis given to AI and neural nets, the analog front end of AI, the prime driver of how AI evolves, independent of human interaction. Seems this notion rings true based on a new article from Quanta Magazine titled, Artificial Neural Nets Grow Brainlike Navigation Cells.

To whit ...

The rise of the machines looms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1.9 Trillion & counting

40% of the world's countries have US Military doing ops inside their borders.

Two questions:
  1. How much longer can we afford this kind of expense in the war against terrorism (1.9 trillion & counting) and ...
  2. What is the return on the dollars spent, the lives taken and nations destroyed vis a vis these endless military adventures with no end in sight AFAIK. 
Less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, U.S. troops—with support from British, Canadian, French, German and Australian forces—invaded Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. More than 17 years later, the Global War on Terrorism initiated by President George W. Bush is truly global, with Americans actively engaged in countering terrorism in 80 nations on six continents.

This map is the most comprehensive depiction in civilian circles of U.S. military and government antiterrorist actions overseas in the past two years. To develop it, my colleagues and I at Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, along with Smithsonian magazine, combed through U.S. and foreign government sources, published and unpublished reports, military websites and geographical databases; we contacted foreign embassies in the U.S. and the military’s United States Africa Command; and we conducted interviews with journalists, academics and others. We found that, contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.

Question, are we winning? "No one knows, do one?" - Fats Waller

This trip is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian, coming so soon after the Coptic Church’s Christmas celebrations. This is an important time.

We’re all children of Abraham: Christians, Muslims, Jews. In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word, and The Truth.

And it’s the truth, lower-case “t,” that I’m here to talk about today. It is a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world, but because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.

We need to acknowledge that truth, because if we don’t, we make bad choices – now and in the future. [emphasis added]

– US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, January 10, 2019

Same as it ever was - Talking Heads


BRT has waxed "poetic" about AI, man's open ended tech merging analog to digital at unprecedented speeds as seen by the rapid advancements of Deep Mind and Watson, among significant others, in their ability to solve complex problems thought to be beyond the realm of AI until now. With this being said, this marriage of analog to digital via neural nets has opened up the era of software designing software due to the fact that in order to evolve, genetic algorithms must be able to adapt to the vagaries of the real world at speeds extending beyond the capabilities of human coders, which means we don't know how this tech actually works. 

A Wicked Problem looms.

There's a mystery afoot ...

In 2015, a research group at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York was inspired to apply deep learning to the hospital’s vast database of patient records. This data set features hundreds of variables on patients, drawn from their test results, doctor visits, and so on. The resulting program, which the researchers named Deep Patient, was trained using data from about 700,000 individuals, and when tested on new records, it proved incredibly good at predicting disease. Without any expert instruction, Deep Patient had discovered patterns hidden in the hospital data that seemed to indicate when people were on the way to a wide range of ailments, including cancer of the liver. There are a lot of methods that are “pretty good” at predicting disease from a patient’s records, says Joel Dudley, who leads the Mount Sinai team. But, he adds, “this was just way better.”

At the same time, Deep Patient is a bit puzzling. It appears to anticipate the onset of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia surprisingly well. But since schizophrenia is notoriously difficult for physicians to predict, Dudley wondered how this was possible. He still doesn’t know. The new tool offers no clue as to how it does this. If something like Deep Patient is actually going to help doctors, it will ideally give them the rationale for its prediction, to reassure them that it is accurate and to justify, say, a change in the drugs someone is being prescribed. “We can build these models,” Dudley says ruefully, “but we don’t know how they work.”

Questions, questions.

First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better then human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can't make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. Theodore Kaczynski

Almost 20 years ago, Bill Joy wrote an essay titled Why the Future doesn't Need Us. a thought provoking piece to the max.

To whit:

Part of the answer certainly lies in our attitude toward the new—in our bias toward instant familiarity and unquestioning acceptance. Accustomed to living with almost routine scientific breakthroughs, we have yet to come to terms with the fact that the most compelling 21st-century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology—pose a different threat than the technologies that have come before. Specifically, robots, engineered organisms, and nanobots share a dangerous amplifying factor: They can self-replicate. A bomb is blown up only once—but one bot can become many, and quickly get out of control.

Think about this in terms of autonomous weaponized bots, Musk, Hawking and the military certainly have.

Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

Many arguments have been made for and against autonomous weapons, for example that replacing human soldiers by machines is good by reducing casualties for the owner but bad by thereby lowering the threshold for going to battle. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.

It's already happening ...

The reality today is that artificial intelligence is leading us toward a new algorithmic warfare battlefield that has no boundaries or borders, may or may not have humans involved, and will be impossible to understand and perhaps control across the human ecosystem in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS). As a result, the very idea of the weaponization of artificial intelligence, where a weapon system that, once activated across CGS, can select and engage human and non-human targets without further intervention by a human designer or operator, is causing great fear.

The thought of any intelligent machine or machine intelligence to have the ability to perform any projected warfare task without any human involvement and intervention -- using only the interaction of its embedded sensors, computer programming and algorithms in the human environment and ecosystem -- is becoming a reality that cannot be ignored anymore.

Skynet anyone?

What could possibly go wrong?


We're not used to thinking of them this way. But many advanced military weapons are essentially robotic – picking targets out automatically, slewing into position, and waiting only for a human to pull the trigger. Most of the time. Once in a while, though, these machines start firing mysteriously on their own. The South African National Defence Force "is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday."

Other reports have suggested a computer error might have been to blame. Defence pundit Helmoed-Römer Heitman told the Weekend Argus that if “the cause lay in computer error, the reason for the tragedy might never be found."

In conclusion ...

Facebook Shuts Down AI Robot After It Creates Its Own Language
When English wasn't efficient enough, the robots took matters into their own hands.

Open ended indeed.


US Navy moves toward unleashing killer robot ships on the world’s oceans

Enter: the rise of the machines.

Boxall’s plan to develop and unleash unmanned killer robot ships is an integral part of the Navy’s new tactics to counter Chinese maritime advancements and, to a more limited extent, those of Russia.

Any questions?

Monday, January 14, 2019

The dangers of entangled alliances ...

Chuck Schumer speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2018. Photo: Sipa USA via AP

The 1st Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As The Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities that participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

It gets better.

Punishment aimed at companies that choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

Question, Who dictates to America regarding 1st Amendment, rights, America or Israel? 
Something to think about don't you think?

Addendum: Thus far, the two federal courts that have ruled on such bills have declared them to be unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment speech rights of American citizens. “A restriction of one’s ability to participate in collective calls to oppose Israel unquestionably burdens the protected expression of companies wishing to engage in such a boycott,” U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa of Arizona wrote in her decision issuing a preliminary injunction against the law in a case brought last September by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of “an attorney who has contracted with the state for the last 12 years to provide legal services on behalf of incarcerated individuals,” but lost his contract to do so after he refused to sign an oath pledging not to boycott Israel.

"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world": it was George Washington's Farewell Address to us. The inaugural pledge of Thomas Jefferson was no less clear: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."

Again, it's all about the money. Always has been, always will be.

By 2030 ...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Fiber optics writ large ...

Fiber optic cables, tech that's mind bogglingly powerful, requires exquisite precision, time and expertise to come to fruition as seen by Corning's video and a blurb in Wired.

Fiber-optic cable is made in an almost incomprehensibly precise way. It has to be so pure, so clear, that it can transmit light over many dozens of miles without any boosting or encouragement, and without losing any of the information that has been encoded onto that light. To get that clarity, its manufacturers control every micron and every second of the manufacturing process.

Read the piece in its entirety. America can make sophisticated things without question. The key is to foster the infrastructure needed to make it happen, now. :)

Way cooler indeed

Jalopnik's right, this tech is way cooler then Harley's new electric motorcycle.

Way cooler indeed.

Gimme 3 seconds ...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Pulling the trigger ...

Most intelligent people know Trump is bogus to the max. Besides being a fraud (Fred made the money) a serial liar (6420 as of Nov 18, 2018) and alleged sexual predator, he has shown no ability to govern in any way, shape or fashion.

With this being said, he does have charisma, has made a ton of money for the "press" and understands the basic fact that 40% of the populace supports him no matter what, particularly when he sticks to his guns centering on issues like the THE WALL a 5.6 billion dollar barrier "desperately" needed, in his words, to keep out the ever increasing horde of terrorists, drug dealers and low lifes invading the country 24/7, which costs this country hundreds of millions of dollars every year, something that cannot continue and will not continue when the wall goes up. 

Thus far, the end result has been ...

1: A Trump imposed partial government shutdown impacting 800,000 workers including these departments:

-Department of the Treasury

-Department of Agriculture

-Homeland Security Department

-Department of the Interior

-Department of State

-Department of Housing and Urban Development

-Department of Transportation

-Department of Commerce

-Department of Justice

And 2: The dems not giving in to the $5.6 billion price tag.

End result: Trump possibly declaring a State of Emergency to ostensibly force the government to build the wall without congressional approval, an act that should warm the cockles of one's heart given just how much additional power the chief executive instantly accrues if he pulls the trigger and does the unthinkable, something not thought possible until now.

The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—he is able to set aside many of the legal limits on his authority.

But will they? Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.

Lastly ...

“The permanent lie is different from the falsehoods and half-truths uttered by politicians such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The common political lie these politicians employed was not designed to cancel out reality…Clinton did not continue to pretend that NAFTA was beneficial to the working class when reality proved otherwise. Bush did not pretend that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction once none were found…The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that discredits it…The iron refusal by those who engage in the permanent lie to acknowledge reality, no matter how transparent reality becomes, creates a collective psychosis.” - Chris Hedges

Friday, January 11, 2019

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451,  the 1966 film based on Ray Bradbury's book, depicts a dystopian future where the government's firemen burn books to keep people compliant and illiterate while at the same time providing seamless wall sized video displays to the public, designed to keep the populace happy and compliant while maintaining total control 24/7 over said populace, a vision rather prescient in this writer's opinion given to what's happening in various countries all over the world as we move further into the 21st century.

In the film, the 1984 equivalent to the telescreen is ever present and totally integrated into the living environment, something akin to what Samsung's Micro Leds promise to do when the tech goes live sometime in 2020.

MicroLED is an interesting technology that it seems only Samsung is publicly pursuing at the moment, but two sets it had on display at CES highlighted both its promise and its flexibility. One was a new, bigger version of The Wall that measured an extremely impressive 219 inches; the other was a slightly more practical and much more flexible 75in version aimed at the more typical domestic environment.

This is fabulously flexible. The individual, modular building blocks come in two sections: a back plate that easily hooks into other back plates, allowing customers to build sets in the aspect ratios that suit them (“Ratio Free” sees to be the tagline). Then the actual MicroLED tile simply pops on magnetically.

We don’t often share material made by other sites, but the GIF The Verge put together illustrating how it works is well worth a look to see how easily (and spectacularly) this works in real life.

Modular indeed.