Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Just the beginning ...

Black holes rule and ... they exist big time. To whit.

Just the beginning ... of a new era in astronomy is at hand. Stellar without question.

EKCD yet again. :)

Makes one feel small doesn't it?

538's take on how they did this is truly astounding. Excellent to a fault. :)

Just one more thing ... :) The pix below shows the Messier 87 black hole in context
via the Chandra X-ray observatory.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Our Planet

A must see, a must act, a documentary everyone on planet earth should see.

Now I remember ... :)

1969 those were the daze. :)
Sounds like politicians not remembering some gross malfeasance doesn't it, but only funnier.

One Starry Night ... :)

Creativity and innovation go hand in hand, especially when it involves science and the solving of a wicket problem: to whit, do primordial black holes give rise to dark matter? If so, how do you find said entities? The answer, microlensing.

The answer, thus far, no.

The latest bit of emptiness was published this week, and it seemingly puts an end to one of the possible remaining explanations for dark matter: black holes that formed shortly after the Big Bang and have been structuring the Universe ever since. While earlier studies have seemingly ruled out larger versions of these primordial black holes, the new study closes the window on anything more massive than a large asteroid. And it was all accomplished with just a single night of telescope time.

Wicked problem No. 2 ... Could smaller primordial black holes give rise to dark matter?

If primordial black holes were common, they'd create plenty of these smaller microlensing events, and we should be able to spot them. But dedicated searches for them came up with very few of the events, as did the Kepler planet-hunting telescope, which stared at a large field of stars on and off for several years. Combined, these suggested that any primordial black holes would have to be extremely odd, weighing less than our Sun.

But these small, primordial black holes couldn't be ruled out on theoretical grounds. This led a group of Japanese researchers to try to rule them out on observational grounds.

To find out, innovation and persistence comes into play.

Enabled by some new telescope hardware, the Japanese researchers decided to go bigger. The hardware is something called the Hyper Suprime-Cam, an 870 megapixel monster attached to an 8 meter telescope. Configured properly, it could capture the entire Andromeda galaxy in a single frame, and it can do so about every 90 seconds. That's fast enough that even a light black hole can be captured multiple times during the microlensing. To make sure they could capture as many events as possible, the researchers were given an entire night with the telescope all to themselves, with seven hours of total observation time.

End result ...

Innovation & persistence indeed. :)

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Much ado about nothing :)

Web Comics ... from the beginning

Web comics like the truly excellent XKCD & Dinosaur Comics have been around for years, chronicling the web and society in ways both funny and touching at the same time. Well, the Verge came out with a wonderful piece Web Comics: An Oral History where web comic creators discuss how they, and the web, have changed over the last 20+ years. Worth a read without question. 

It can be hard to remember how primitive the internet landscape was in the late ‘90s, the era when webcomics came of age. The only way to share things was through email and instant message, and a seconds-long video clip could crash email servers if too many people sent it around. Something Awful was still a “weblog.” We went to websites — plural — to check for updates every day.

Webcomics creators often went online after being rejected by newspaper syndicates, gatekeeper conglomerates that grew increasingly conservative in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The best ones grew into beloved phenomenons, and the nascent funny T-shirt industry allowed many artists to make a living on daily cartoons throughout the 2000s.

Social media and a glut of internet merchandise have shifted the economics. Artists increasingly rely on Patreon, book sales, and other sources of revenue, while new webcomics often pop up exclusively on Instagram, foregoing the expense of a dedicated site. But in those early days, webcomics were some of the most influential pieces of the early-ish internet — vibrant and weird. They formed followings, which became communities, which became culture.

Excellent to a fault. :)

Friday, April 05, 2019

1984 Meets Digital ...

AlgorithmicGovernance, a BRT blurb connecting to yet another NYTimes piece dealing with surveillance 24/7 shows how 1984 meets digital in ways Orwell would understand without question. With Orwell in mind, the blowback on people under this kind of oppressive tech eerily resembles 1984 in ways all too familiar to anyone who has read his masterpiece after it was published in 1949.

To whit.

Winston Smith is everywhere ...

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Surveillance 24/7 or why this guy matters ...

It’s difficult to ascertain how the “chilling effect” of dragnet spying has changed society in the post 9/11 world.

However, many insiders in the intelligence community understood the dangers of these programs from the beginning.

Edward Snowden is celebrated as a hero for bringing proof of NSA’s mass spying and bulk collection to the world.

But years prior, Bill Binney had blown the whistle on this very same program. A 36-year NSA veteran, Bill Binney was the technical director, responsible for developing and overseeing the agency’s spying technology.

He even developed Thin Thread, the data monitoring program that was later hijacked by the Bush administration to implement widespread warrantless surveillance.

Mounting pressure caused Obama to pass the USA Freedom Act in 2015, which only outsourced it’s bulk acquisition to telecom companies, using the secretive FISA court as an intermediary.

And nearly 20 years after 9/11 these unaccountable agencies are using new fears, like of Russian cyber-warfare, to grow their power and operations.

I caught up with Binney in Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia, where he received the Allard Prize for International Integrity, to talk to him about blowing the whistle and the fight against the surveillance state today.

This is why this guy matters.

In 2080 ...

Climate change is a slow moving beast, something that sneaks up on you like fog, not seeming to be there until it is, something readily seen in an interactive map showing what the climate will feel like in 60 years, courtesy the University of Maryland.

What will climate where you live feel like in 60 years?

Over the next few decades, global climate is expected to undergo a dramatic transformation in an ongoing response to greenhouse gas emissions. What do we expect future climate to feel like and how might this change if we reduce emissions?

We answer these questions by finding the present-day location that has a climate most similar to that expected by the 2080’s in each of 540 cities (shown as purple dots on the map). We do this for different rates of emissions and a variety of climate models.

We used 12 different measures to describe climate, including minimum and maximum temperature and total precipitation for winter, spring, summer and fall. We considered two emissions scenarios – one that assumes high current emissions continue and one that assumes emissions peak mid-century and then decline. We also considered numerous future climate forecasts as generated by 27 different climate models.

An interesting, but not necessarily surprising finding is that there are no perfect matches. In other words, for no city did we find a present-day climate that is identical to a city's climate in 2080. In fact, because of the magnitude of expected climate change, for many cities the “best” match is not all that similar. This means that many cities could experience a future climate unlike anything present in North America today, especially if rates of greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

Check out this amazing map as CC's impact on man is accelerating as we mover closer to 2080.

NYC's climate = Jonesboro Arkansas' 60 years hence. Interesting is it not? 

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

299 792 458 m / s

299 792 458 m / s = The Speed of Light. The video above shows what happens when a 10 Trillion FPS camera focuses on same, with results that will blow your mind.

Any questions?