Saturday, April 17, 2021

Like spokes on a bicycle wheel ...

Like spokes on a bicycle wheel, the necks of pterosaurs are unlike anything else seen in science.

The results, published on Wednesday in the journal iScience, stunned Ms. Williams and her colleagues. The animal’s neck was revealed to be scaffolded by a unique and complex network of helical struts connecting a central neural tube to the vertebra wall like the spokes of a bicycle. It was a structure that has no parallel elsewhere in the animal kingdom.

Which means ...

A biomechanical analysis of the intricate structure of the neck revealed that the spokelike filaments bolstered the vertebrae against the pressures of catching and carrying heavy prey. According to the team’s calculations, the addition of only 50 struts increased by 90 percent the weight that they could bear without buckling, enabling this particular specimen to carry loads of up to 24 pounds, which Ms. Williams called “really impressive.”

The Pterosaur, amazing flyer without question. 

How many T-Rexes roamed planet earth?

T-Rex, poster child of dinos, roamed North America in pretty sizable numbers though the exact number remains elusive to say the least.

Before they were killed off by a meteor that hit Earth 66 million years ago, some 20,000 adults of the iconic ferocious dinosaur predator — Tyrannosaur rex — roamed North America at any given time, researchers have calculated.

Why it's hard.

Skeletal features can tell a lot about an animal. For example, someone looking at a human tooth could infer that it is suited for chewing both plants and meat, and the shape of the skeleton could yield an estimate of how fast a person can run. But the physical attributes cannot tell you how many people live in New York City.

For living species, John Damuth, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, came up with a mathematical relationship, now known as Damuth’s law, between the average body mass of an animal and its expected population density.

The relationship is not universal but generally holds for large classes of animals like lizards or meat-eating mammals. So, for Tyrannosaurus rex, they had to not only plug in the weight of the dinosaur — about six tons, give or take a few — but also derive other numbers in the law.

Best guess ...

If the 20,000 number is correct, over the 2.4 million years that T. rex walked the Earth, there would have been a total of some 2.5 billion adults that ever lived.

But even Dr. Marshall thinks the 20,000 number is likely low. “It just seems inconceivable you can last a couple of million years with those few individuals,” he said. “You just need some horrible plague or something and you’re gone.”

He said he thought the population could have been tens of thousands or maybe 100,000 or 200,000. A large part of the uncertainty is that Damuth’s law is not absolute. Jaguars and spotted hyenas are both meat-eating mammals of similar size, but the population density of hyenas is some 50 times higher.

It least it's a smart guess, right? :) Awesome illustration of T -Rex without a doubt.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Thanatos & Eros ...

Freud conjured up Eros for life, Thanatos for death as these were the prime drivers of man's existence. 

Sigmund Freud’s theory of drives evolved throughout the course of his life and work. He initially described a class of drives known as the life instincts and believed that these drives were responsible for much of our behavior.

Eventually, he came to believe that life instincts alone could not explain all human behavior. With the publication of his book Beyond the Pleasure Principal in 1920, Freud concluded that all instincts fall into one of two major classes: life instincts or death instincts.

But this isn't about Freud but rather about earth and what man is doing to her. 

The way that I’ve begun to think about the economics of civilisations now hinges on two concepts I call Thanatos and Eros. I’ve taken these from Freud, because economics needed something like them, but doesn’t have one. Freud meant them to represent a person’s death drive and “libido,” or life force. I mean them in this way: what is a civilisation’s life-giving — or life destroying — potential and level?

We need to begin thinking in such a way for a very simple reason. Three to five decades of mounting catastrophe are now coming our way. The 2030s will be the decade of climate catastrophe, as global warming heats the planet to temperatures unseen for millions of years. The 2040s will be the decade of the Long Goodbye, as mass extinction reaches levels not seen for millions of years. And the 2050s will be the decade of the Great Collapse, when the planet’s ecologies finally implode — for good. And along the way, our civilisation is going to break down in catastrophic ways, as it already is. You can see how unprepared we are — look at what just one year of a minor league calamity, Covid, has done. Now imagine what happens as all that, fire, flood, plague, intensifies.

Orthodox economics tells us that the most productive things on planet earth are…us. We make computers and cars and rockets and so forth. Productivity is the lodestar of an economy. By it, we mean: are we making things that are useful to others, and if so, how much? A computer is more productive than an abacus precisely because it is more useful — you can do more with it. Our economies are more productive not just because they make more stuff, but because that stuff is more useful.

But all that elides — avoids — a very simple question. Useful to whom? The insects and bees and forests and rivers don’t care about our computers and cars and batteries and so forth.

Our civilization is only productive for us.

Read the rest of umair haque's piece as he's right without question.

And the beat goes on ...

Raindrops keep falling on my head :)

Love the graphic depicting different raindrop sizes from different worlds, awesome.

Read the rest of the Universe Today's interesting piece to see why this is so. :)

It might already be too late ...


Google Earth, in real time, shows the slow motion warming of earth via 24 million+ sattellite pictures taken since 1984, an astounding technological feat pointing out it's already too late save for possibly ameliorating gw in the long term as the effort to stop the onslaught of heat to planet earth will take many years to slowly remove CO2 and Methane from the atmosphere, which will take trillions of dollars and a unified effort of all nations to make it happen but yours truly just doesn't think this will occur due to the fact too many humans reside on the planet and ...  the current inability of countries to actually get their act together to actually do something about it remains in play. Maybe deteriorating conditions will force nations to finally come together to prevent ecological collapse from happening but this rube will not be around to see it. This is why I think of my grandchildren, everyday, facing this ever increasing and frightening scenario of our own doing. 

The Gulf Stream current (red) speeds warm water up the eastern coast of the United States, where it clashes with cold water in the North Atlantic.

The Gulf Stream — one of Earth's major climate-regulating ocean currents — is moving slower than it has in thousands of years, a new study suggests. Human-induced climate change is largely to blame.

This "unprecedented" slowdown could impact weather patterns and sea levels on both sides of the Atlantic, the researchers found. And it only looks poised to worsen over the coming decades if climate change continues unabated. Indeed, if global warming persists at its current pace, the Gulf Stream could pass a critical "tipping point" by the year 2100, lead study author Levke Caesar, a climatologist at Maynooth University in Ireland, said, potentially causing the current to grind to a halt, regardless of the climate. 

"If the Gulf Stream crosses its tipping point, it will continue to weaken even if we have managed to stop global warming," Caesar told Live Science. "Afterwards, it will slow down by a lot, coming close to a complete shutdown of the circulation."

We are already baked in for at least a 2 - 2.5f degree temperature rise. Can nations get their act together to prevent a possible ecological collapse capable of ending complex life on earth with an increase to 3 or god knows what temperature rise? One never knows, do one?

The great conveyer belt

The Gulf Stream (red line in the center) impacts weather on both sides of the Atlantic. (Image credit: RedAndr/ NOAA/ CC 4.0

One last shot however ...

earth last chance

One last shot is the fact people are finally realizing it's almost game over. Seems Biden understands this but do others?

Let's hope this happen before all is lost as our lives depend on it, right?

But remember, the melting of ice will continue as that's already baked in. It's amelioration that's in play here, not reversal save for thousands of years in the future as nature eventually recycles, always.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Music of the 8 legged kind :)

Yours truly likes spiders, the 8 legged assassins possessing infinite ways to catch prey along with the ability to spin webs with astounding variation. Seems MIT researchers have now linked sound to the strands of webs via 3D scans that Stockhausen would approve of without question.

Raison d'été for said exercise ...

Music of the 8 legged kind indeed. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Less is more

This book indirectly reminds yours truly of Dizzie Gillispie, a giant of jazz, funny, brilliant and above all else, perceptive to the max as his immortal quote, Less is more, should be the mantra for designers in all disciplines as editing to the correct minimum in creating something significant is hard as one has to add before subtracting, something yours truly has strived to do over many years as designer and fine artist.

The extra thinking was not in vain. When it came time to fund the construction of Orff’s winning design, her plan to subtract paid off. The plan quickly attracted more than $20 million in federal grants, $7 million from the state of Kentucky, and $12 million from local sources. With funding secured, Lexington’s physical transformation commenced in early 2020.

Less is more indeed.

Problem solving ...

XI's never satisfied. Hong Kong is but a servant state and Taiwan's next as it's a problem needing to be solved as quickly as possible in China's push to dominate the world. WWIII looms if China makes the move as Taiwan is vital to US interests due to her tech prowess and the dependence the US has on said tech. Disquieting without question.

Problem solving indeed.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Out, out, brief candle!

A naked mole rat is pictured at the University of Rochester January 31, 2018. J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

The poster child for longevity is the naked mole rat as said rodent, unlike his above ground cousins, lives for 30+ years due to unique body chemistry researchers are trying to leverage in order to increase the life spans of us rubes.

Gorbunova traces much of the hardiness of the mole rats to an abundance of hyaluronic acid, a major component of skin that is involved in tissue regeneration. Although mice and humans also have hyaluronic acid, the tissues of naked mole rats are "saturated with it," says Gorbunova. In addition to having strong antioxidant properties, and others that seem to attenuate the destructive consequences of the chronic, widespread inflammation that often accumulates with age, the abundance of hyaluronan also seems to prevent the growth of malignant cancer cells.

"Hyaluronan is a very nice story because we can see the possibility of translating it to humans," Gorbunova says. "We have it, but we don't have a lot of it, so I think there is room for improvement. We can find ways to increase our own levels of hyaluronan."

It gets better

To Gorbunova, the differences between the mouse and naked mole rat are easily explained by evolution—their respective adaptations are geared toward increasing their chances of reproductive success. "For a mouse, the best strategy to have more progeny is to be very, very prolific very quickly because then somebody's going to eat it, and it just doesn't have a chance to live longer," she explains. "The naked mole rat lives underground and has very few predators. And they breed until very late in life. So they would evolve the mechanism to allow them to live longer and to breathe as long as possible just because they can. No one is there to eat them. And the longer they live the more progeny they have."

Billions are being spent to find the fountain of youth using age and not disease as start point as aging leads to diseases like cancer and cardiovascular without question.

The same logic applies to humans—and it also explains why our bodies fall apart. Diseases of aging, many gerontologists now argue, are the natural consequence of the advances in modern lifespan, which now extends decades past reproductive age, and thus has not been subject to the same exquisitely efficient evolutionary sculpting that might increase our odds of surviving them. "If you put this work in an evolutionary perspective, we were not supposed to live that long," says Gerard Karsenty, who chairs the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center. "Aging is an invention of mankind. No animal species has successfully cheated its own body—cheated nature—except mankind. Elephants may live for 100 years but they lived for 100 years a million years ago. Humans have outsmarted their own body."

Truer words never spoken. Read the detailed Newsweek piece to see why this statement rings true. 

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

It takes just one ...

Writing code is black/white. It either works or it doesn't yet, at the same time, very few software programs are perfect in terms of being secure, a fact that becomes an irresistible draw to hackers finding and exploiting just one flaw residing in the target software in question in order to gain access to systems of all kinds as no internet environment is invulnerable as seen by successful cyberattacks conducted agains the US over the past few years, something most disquieting even though the specter of AI, the open ended tech we no longer know how it actually works looms, a digital/analogue construct rapidly evolving beyond our ability to control in any way, shape or fashion.

It would take only one flaw. In billions of lines of code, one flaw — and the banking system, power grid, Pentagon, air traffic control system, hospitals, and the world’s logistics can all be taken down. And the effort may already be underway.

The internet was never built with security in mind. According to our guest in this week’s WhoWhatwhy podcast — New York Times cybersecurity correspondent Nicole Perlroth, the author of This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends — it was originally thought that at most a couple hundred computers would be connected to the internet.

Today the world is totally interconnected, from our cars and refrigerators to our nuclear reactors and air traffic control systems. So we have good reason to be afraid, very afraid.

We get a picture of how Russian hackers, using our privacy laws against us, set up shop in New Jersey.

Perlroth details a bizarre sign of the times — a company openly operating in the international business of buying and selling security flaws, which are called “zero days” — and why any hacker who discovers such flaws can make millions in the global marketplace. This is the new international arms trade.

And if all of this isn’t scary enough, if knowing that all of your passwords have already been hacked doesn’t make you paranoid, the coming AI revolution will set all of this on steroids.

We have been warned. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Double Entendre ...

Wally Not Remotely Working - Dilbert by Scott Adams 

Something's afoot ...

New physics might be in play as the decay of the "beloved" muon, a very heavy cousin of the electron, differs slightly from Standard Model findings, a result, if proven to be true, may point the way to finally finding out what dark matter is actually made of.

How awesome is that?

The experiment ...

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Feedback Loops

bolt of lightning

The Arcic's doing a slow broil. How do we know this? it's because of lightning strikes and the incursion of shrubs in the tundra driven by the loss of albedo as the remaining ice in the Arctic rapidly melts  away thanks to global warming.

THE ARCTIC ISN’T doing so hot. That’s because it is, in fact, too hot. Its warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the planet, which is setting off vicious feedback loops that accelerate change. Ice, for instance, is more reflective than soil, so when it melts, the region absorbs more solar energy. More dark vegetation is growing in northern lands, absorbing still more of the sun’s heat. And when permafrost thaws, it releases gobs of greenhouse gases, which further warm the climate.

The Arctic has gone so bizarro that lightning—a warm-weather phenomenon most common in the tropics—is now striking near the North Pole. And according to new modeling, the electrical bombardment of the region will only get worse. By the end of the century, the number of lightning strikes across the Arctic could more than double, which may initiate a shocking cascade of knock-on effects—namely, more wildfires and more warming. “The Arctic is a rapidly changing place, and this is an aspect of the transformation that I'm not sure has gotten a whole lot of attention, but it's actually really consequential,” says UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, who wasn’t involved in the research.


Wildfire burning in the Russian tundra Photograph:Jeffery Kerby

Where warfare's going ...

 Unidentified 'Drones' Are Swarming Navy Destroyers. Here's What We Know

Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr

Warfare is moving toward drones as they are cheap, lethal, equipped with AI and able to overwhelm traditional forces when produced by the tens of thousands or more as needs warrant. 

Over the course of several days, groups of unidentified aircraft swarmed near and pursued U.S. Navy vessels in July of 2019, triggering an immediate high-level investigation, according to an initial report from The Drive.

In the report, the Navy calls them drones.

Up to six drones flew around the vessels at once in often low-visibility conditions close to Southern California's Channel Islands in a few days. The drones flashed lights, prompting a precautionary security response onboard the warships, according to Navy ship logs obtained by The Drive via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Advanced tech for sure.

The drones themselves stayed in the air for at least 90 minutes, surpassing the capacities of commercially available drones, and flew at least 100 nautical miles, according to one case cited in the report, explaining the locations of ships in view of the aircraft.

The ship's logs suggested the drones could fly at the same speed as U.S. destroyers — moving at 16 knots in low-visibility conditions, which is also considered 1 nautical mile of visibility. The ship deployed an onboard intelligence unit — called a "SNOOPIE" team for Ship Nautical Or Otherwise Photographic Interpretation and Exploration team — to fully document the robotic aircraft.

Incredibly, the next night — July 15 — drones appeared once more later in the evening. The USS Russell documented heavy drone activity, including the mystery vehicles' dropping altitude and moving forward, backward, right, and left.

And this.

KRatos Valkyrie drops drone

One of the U.S. Air Force’s XQ-58A Valkyrie stealthy, affordable unmanned aircraft has, for the first time, released a store from its internal payload bay. The latest test flight, the sixth for the Valkyrie, saw the payload bay doors open for the first time in flight, to drop one of the much smaller ALTIUS-600 drones.

“Successful operation of the internal weapons release system/function along with further aerodynamic envelope increases continues to assert the incredible capability and cost-per-performance value of the low-cost attritable XQ-58A Valkyrie,” Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said. “Additionally, this unique and key mission function success adds an exclamation point to the 30-month development of the Valkyrie system by the Kratos and AFRL team, which resulted in a pre-production system with substantial operational capability, not simply a proof-of-concept flight demonstrator.”

Any questions?

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Fair Use ... wins

 Fair Use:

This directly applies to the victory Google won against Oracle regarding APIs (Application Programing Interface) as far use would now be moot if Oracle and the lawyers won vs the internet and interoperability of code that's changing how civilization does business on planet earth 24/7.

In a win for innovation, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that Google’s use of certain Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is a lawful fair use. In doing so, the Court reversed the previous rulings by the Federal Circuit and recognized that copyright only promotes innovation and creativity when it provides breathing room for those who are building on what has come before. 

This decision gives more legal certainty to software developers’ common practice of using, re-using, and re-implementing software interfaces written by others, a custom that underlies most of the internet and personal computing technologies we use every day.

Why this is important ...

To briefly summarize over ten years of litigation: Oracle claims a copyright on the Java APIs—essentially names and formats for calling computer functions—and claims that Google infringed that copyright by using (reimplementing) certain Java APIs in the Android OS. When it created Android, Google wrote its own set of basic functions similar to Java (its own implementing code). But in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google used certain specifications of the Java APIs (sometimes called the “declaring code”). 

APIs provide a common language that lets programs talk to each other. They also let programmers operate with a familiar interface, even on a competitive platform. It would strike at the heart of innovation and collaboration to declare them copyrightable. 

What's sad about this is Sun Computer created Java, not Oracle. Oracle bought the code and tried to monetize it to the nth degree.

Fair Use rules, thank god.

Have to add this ...

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Terroir :)

 Brügge (B), Schokolade -- 2018 -- 8473.jpg

Like beer and wine, two entities yours truly loves, along with chocolate, of course, would never be as wonderful as they are without fermentation, the secret sauce needed to make the big three as good as they truly are.

Whether baked as chips into a cookie, melted into a sweet warm drink or molded into the shape of a smiling bunny, chocolate is one of the world’s most universally consumed foods.

Even the biggest chocolate lovers, though, might not recognize what this ancient food has in common with kimchi and kombucha: its flavors are due to fermentation. That familiar chocolate taste is thanks to tiny microorganisms that help transform chocolate’s raw ingredients into the much-beloved rich, complex final product.

Cacao is a wild fermentation – farmers rely on natural microbes in the environment to create unique, local flavors. This phenomenon is known as “terroir”: the characteristic flair imparted by a place. In the same way that grapes take on regional terroir, these wild microbes, combined with each farmer’s particular process, confer terroir on beans fermented in each location.

Read the detailed Conversation piece to see just how involved it is to create chocolate, the exquisite treat like no other. 

It's all speculative


It's all speculative ... time travel and living in a simulation as both connect to relativity and quantum mechanics along with the wild card of chaos and the law of initial conditions as nothing ever repeats a given path exactly whether it be earth circling the sun once a year or a pendulum on a clock as an exact tracing of a given path is forever not a given.

To whit. 

Time travel or the push to reverse entropy, the "arrow of time" or heat death equation, as governed by the two laws of thermodynamics, is something SyFi writers and scientists, since the beginning of time, have wrestled with in trying to solve this wicked problem for the ages. 

Awesome take that has legs. 

 Love Fouad Khan's take on the simulation bit.