Ice is a dangerous beauty, glorious to behold but treacherous to a fault. Enjoy.
Monday, January 31, 2022
It's everywhere. It's in our lungs, it resides in the oceans, it's literally everywhere and we all know what it is, plastic, aka frozen oil, an indispensable way to package stuff and ... pollute the environment.
Nearby, sleeves rolled up, suds up to their elbows, women washed plastic jerrycans in rainbow colors, cut into pieces. Around them, piles of broken toys, plastic mayonnaise jars and hundreds of discarded synthetic wigs stretched as far as the eye could see, all ready to be sold and recycled.
It's everywhere ...
Tantalizingly close, life might be living on Mars as we speak based on what Curiosity has discovered.
Any strong carbon signal is intriguing when you’re hunting for life. It’s a common element in all the forms of life we know of. But there are different types of carbon, and carbon can become concentrated in the environment for other reasons. It doesn’t automatically mean life is involved in carbon signatures.
Carbon atoms always have six protons, but the neutron count can vary. Carbon atoms with different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Three carbon isotopes occur naturally: C12 and C13, which are stable, and C14, a radionuclide. C12 has six neutrons, C13 has seven neutrons, and C14 has eight neutrons.
When it comes to carbon isotopes, life prefers C12. They use it in photosynthesis or to metabolize food. The reason is relatively simple. C12 has one fewer neutron than C13, which means that when it bonds with other atoms into molecules, it makes fewer connections than C13 does in the same situation. Life is essentially lazy, and it will always seek the easiest way to do things. C12 is easier to use because it forms fewer bonds than C13. It’s easier to get at than C13, and life never takes the hard way when an easier way is available.
This figure from the study shows the three hypotheses that could explain the carbon signature. The blue shows biologically produced methane from the Martian interior, creating the deposition of 13C-depleted organic material after photolysis. The orange shows photochemical reactions via UV light that can result in various atmospheric products, some of which would be deposited as organic material with easily-broken chemical bonds. The grey shows the molecular cloud hypothesis. Credit: House et al. 2022.
The team behind Curiosity’s SAM looked at 24 rock samples with this process and recently discovered something noteworthy. Six of the samples showed elevated ratios of C12 to C13. Compared to an Earth-based reference standard for C12/C13 ratios, the samples from these six sites contained greater than 70 parts per thousand more C12. On Earth, 98.93% of the carbon is C12 Earth, and C13 forms the remaining 1.07%.
The upshot ,,,
“On Earth, processes that would produce the carbon signal we’re detecting on Mars are biological,” House added. “We have to understand whether the same explanation works for Mars or if there are other explanations because Mars is very different.”
NASA’s Curiosity rover raised its robotic arm with the drill pointed skyward while exploring Vera Rubin Ridge at the base of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater – backdropped by distant crater rim. This Navcam camera mosaic was stitched from raw images taken on Sol 1833, October 2, 2017, and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo.
Tantalizingly close indeed.
Friday, January 28, 2022
The Donald coinage goes mainstream with various depictions of Agent Orange from "riding a missile" to classic smirks, rendered in gold or silver, take your pick.
There’s a style for every taste, each featuring a portrait of Mr. Trump. Sometimes he’s rendered in gold, staring thoughtfully into the distance. In others he’s smirking in silver, raising a thumb’s up, or even riding a missile while a bald eagle soars behind him.
Among all the options, one version stands out. Known online as simply the “Trump coin,” it has become a favorite of right-wing social media and fringe news sites. It’s advertised between claims of stolen elections or conspiracy theories about global cabals. Some ads even describe the coin as a kind of cryptocurrency, suggesting it would soon be worth thousands.
When reading this, channeling Don't Look Up and Dr. Strangelove comes to mind as the world's in meltdown mode with the US leading the way when it comes to group psychosis and the ability for people to believe anything after reading "reputable"sources such as Qanon, among significant others.
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Stephen Hawking predicted black holes eventually disappear thanks to the vagaries of quantum mechanics. Seems preliminary evidence from BH mergers shows his take may be right after all.
In 1974 Stephen Hawking theorized that black holes are not black but slowly emit thermal radiation. Hawking’s prediction shook physics to its core because it implied that black holes cannot last forever and that they instead, over eons, evaporate into nothingness—except, however, for one small problem: there is simply no way to see such faint radiation. But if this “Hawking radiation” could somehow be stimulated and amplified, it might be detectable, according to some astrophysicists. And they are now claiming to have seen signs of it in the aftermath of the most massive collision of black holes ever observed.
Two massive black holes spiral together and emit copious gravitational waves moments before colliding in this image from a numerical simulation of the merger known as GW190521. Credit: N. Fischer, H. Pfeiffer, A. Buonanno (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics), Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration
It's all about echoes.
Exactly what such echoes would look like depends on the exact physics being modeled. For example, the region just outside a black hole’s horizon is thought to be a bustling place, abuzz with pairs of virtual particles popping in and out of existence. Sometimes one of the pair falls into the black hole, and the other escapes. These escaping particles constitute Hawking radiation. This is an agonizingly slow process. In the case of the GW190521, Abedi and his colleagues argue that the production of Hawking radiation by the remnant could be sped up substantially—stimulated, in other words—by the infalling gravitational waves.
The principle is somewhat similar to what occurs during stimulated emission of radiation in atoms. In this process, photons of light hit “excited” electrons in atoms, causing the electrons to drop to lower energy levels while spitting out photons that have the same wavelength as the incident photons. In certain situations, this stimulated emission can far exceed the spontaneous “background” emission of radiation (where an electron, on its own, drops from a higher energy level to a lower one and emits a photon). Abedi and his colleagues theorize that gravitational waves interacting with a black hole’s event horizon should similarly stimulate the production of Hawking radiation to levels that far exceed spontaneous emissions, thus making it detectable. This radiation would constitute gravitational waves of the same wavelength as the incident waves, albeit with much lower intensity.
As per the title of this blurb ... Hawking may be right after all.
We all die, including stars, the entities that make life possible when they too go to their maker. Eta Carinae'se not quite there yet but her end is inevitable, just like the rest of us.
A new astronomical visualization from NASA’s Universe of Learning showcases the multiwavelength emissions (from infrared light through X-rays) and three-dimensional structures surrounding Eta Carinae, one of the most massive and eruptive stars in our galaxy. The video, “Eta Carinae: The Great Eruption of a Massive Star,” was released today. (See video embedded above.)
Eta Carinae, or Eta Car, is famous for a brilliant and unusual outburst, called the “Great Eruption,” observed in the 1840s. This briefly made it one of the brightest stars in the night sky, releasing almost as much visible light as a supernova explosion.
The star survived the outburst, and slowly faded away for the next five decades. The primary cause of this brightness change is a small nebula of gas and dust, called the Homunculus Nebula, that was expelled during the blast, and has blocked the light of the star.
Eta Carinae is one of the most massive stars known. These exceptional stars are prone to outbursts during their lives. They will end their lives by collapsing into a black hole, probably accompanied by a supernova explosion. Eta Car is one of the nearest and best studied examples for learning about the energetic life and death of very massive stars.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Every once in a while, a beautiful diagram appears, something magical and subtly mysterious, an image like the one seen above showing the final destination of the Webb. Stellar says it all.
Today, at 2 p.m. EST, Webb fired its onboard thrusters for nearly five minutes (297 seconds) to complete the final postlaunch course correction to Webb’s trajectory. This mid-course correction burn inserted Webb toward its final orbit around the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, or L2, nearly 1 million miles away from the Earth.
The final mid-course burn added only about 3.6 miles per hour (1.6 meters per second) – a mere walking pace – to Webb’s speed, which was all that was needed to send it to its preferred “halo” orbit around the L2 point.
Monday, January 24, 2022
For $40,000, rampant censorship, overbearing litigation and technological and economic chaos could ensue if a defamation damages award stands, thanks to a Victoria Supreme Court ruling against Google.
Google warned in a submission to the high court it will be forced to “censor” its search results if a $40,000 defamation damages award to George Defteros, a solicitor who represented Melbourne gangland figures, is allowed to stand.
Defteros successfully sued Google, arguing its publication of search results that included a 2004 article in the Age about his arrest on conspiracy to murder charges – which were later dropped – defamed him.
Lawyers of all stripes are licking their chops on this one.
Yours truly's not a gamer though the graphics in said games is truly stellar with raytracubg now becoming ubiquitous in order for games to become photorealistic. The size of the industry's much bigger than Hollywood and the impact on society's truly immense but the game (pardons the pun) has changed as seen by an insightful Tech Radar article.
To whit ...
Microsoft's proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard is currently the black hole that is, if not all-consuming, at least altering the reality of other news in the gaming space. The event horizon that's affecting all else. Even if a news story is unrelated, its specter looms.
It feels like something has changed. The way the industry worked, the size of all the players, the divisions, the interplay between major publishers and console manufacturers, it was all reliable. Predictable.
After Tuesday, it doesn't feel like that anymore. The conversation has become way bigger. These aren't just considerations about consoles or game releases, but more about companies who are trying to shape the way we experience our world.
The gaming industry is now number 2 on the market but still behind the television industry, clearly number 1, mainly due to its immense advertising revenues. However, experts predict that in the future, advertising budgets will be shifted more and more to the Internet (already over 50% of all advertising revenues) at the expense of television. (Source: statista.com)
As seen per the chart, Movies = $455b while Video games = $1603b.
By 2024, the breakdown goes like this ...
According to forecast data evaluating the state of the global advertising market, in 2021, magazine advertising expenditures accounted for 2.54 percent of total media ad spending that year. Internet held nearly 59 percent of all ad expenditures in 2021.
Fast forward three years and the divide between TV and internet advertising deepens. By the end of 2024 over 65 percent of global advertising spending is expected to fall to internet ads, while TV's share is projected t fall to 21 percent.
Sunday, January 23, 2022
The Unfolding of Time
Saturday, January 22, 2022
IN STANLEY KUBRICK’S classic 1964 satire Dr. Strangelove, it just takes one errant general in command of nuclear bombers, plus American and Soviet policies of “mutually assured destruction,” to trigger worldwide catastrophe. The darkly hilarious film dwells on risks that remain today, including the possibility of an automated launch system or a single person with access to nuclear codes bringing about a deadly mushroom cloud.
Chicago-based artist Martyl Langsdorf designed the clock in the wake of World War II, working with her husband Alexander Langsdorf, a Manhattan Project physicist, and other researchers who helped get the fledgling Bulletin off the ground. The Doomsday Clock’s experts have the unenviable job of identifying and weighing potential apocalypses, as well as our progress as a society—or lack of it—in avoiding them. They started the clock when nuclear conflicts were on everyone’s minds following the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where bombs had killed as many as 210,000 people and injured and sickened many more with cancer-causing radiation. The clock’s minute hand ticked back and forth over the decades, following the development of even more destructive hydrogen bombs, cases of nuclear false alarms, and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, perhaps the most dangerous standoff in history.
In Dr. Strangelove, people engineer devices of their own destruction. One of the general’s B-52 bombers strikes a target in the USSR—only to set off a Soviet “doomsday device” that detonates bombs all over the world. (“It is not a thing a sane man would do. The doomsday machine is designed to trigger itself automatically,” the Russian ambassador says in the movie.) The message of the Bulletin is to inspire the dismantling of such machines, to turn back the clock before it’s too late.
Still a prototype but the tech's impressive and telepresence's no longer just a concept but something actually real. In this writer's opinion, Google's thinking long term with a view of making tech ubiquitous and invisible. AR glasses using the Starline approach is a first step. The question to ask is, Can Google pull it off?
In a new research paper, Google has detailed the tech behind its impressive Project Starline demo from this year’s I/O conference. Project Starline is essentially a 3D video chat booth that aims to replace a one-on-one 2D video conference call with an experience that feels like you’re actually sitting in front of a real human being.
It sounds simple, but Google’s research paper highlights just how many challenges there are in tricking your brain into thinking there’s a real human being sitting just a few feet away from you. Obviously the image needs to be high resolution and free of distracting artifacts, but it also needs to look correct from your relative position in the booth. Audio is another challenge, as the system needs to make it sound like a person’s words are coming from their actual mouth. And then there’s just the small matter of eye-contact.
Le Voyage dan la Lune, a 1902 masterpiece by Georges Méliès, is visionary, charming and absolutely state of the art. Hugo, a loving tribute by Martin Scorsese, adds to just how profound Méliès truly was.
A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la Lune)[a] is a 1902 French adventure short film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne's 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon and its 1870 sequel Around the Moon, the film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon's surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite. Its ensemble cast of French theatrical performers is led by Méliès himself as main character Professor Barbenfouillis. The film features the overtly theatrical style for which Méliès became famous.
Friday, January 21, 2022
Mesmerizing says it all ... the Huygens probe landing on Titan.
The graphic depicting The Donald as a rampaging Rodan is apt as the repugs have no answer to Agent Orange. Without a certain sense of irony, network nooze wants him back in the saddle due to the fact Trump's the all time money maker for said networks but for the rest of us, the country can ill afford having this sorry excuse for a human being becoming president yet again but it could just happen given to what's going on as of late in the good ole USA in the year of our lord 2022.
I have no idea if Donald Trump will actually run for president again in 2024. No one does. He could be feigning an intention to mount a campaign in order to maximize his power and fundraising among Republicans between now and the fall of 2023. He might be holding open the possibility of running in case the interminable criminal investigation into his business practices finally comes to head, with New York's attorney general moving forward with an indictment. The overweight 75-year-old former president could have every intention of running and yet die or become incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke between now and Election Day.
It gets better, right?
To see why, let's imagine how the early stages of the contest would unfold. Trump, DeSantis, Pence, and the others are standing together on a debate stage in the fall of 2023. The moderator opens by addressing DeSantis: Donald Trump says the 2020 election was stolen from him and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. Do you agree?
What exactly is DeSantis supposed to say in response? One option would be to answer truthfully — which is to say, in the negative: No, the election wasn't stolen, and Biden won fair and square. But this would automatically place DeSantis on the opposite side of that 71 percent of Republicans and open him up to an onslaught of abuse from Trump himself. DeSantis would be labeled a cuck and a weakling who refuses to fight and would let the Democrats get away with murder from Day One of a DeSantis administration.
If, instead, DeSantis offered a tepid endorsement of the election fraud conspiracy, voters will be left to wonder why they should favor that second-best alternative over the man who was personally stabbed in the back and craves vengeance for himself and his party.
Then there's the most standard-issue-politician thing DeSantis could do, which is attempt to skirt the question and pivot to another, less politically perilous topic. But there is zero chance Trump would let him get away with that. He'd merely treat it as a different kind of confirmation that DeSantis is too weak to fight the ruthless Democrats to the death.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Monday, January 17, 2022
Focusing on the task ahead for the Webb to become a functioning telescope will take month as aligning the 18 mirrors to peer into the past is most exacting as one can well imagine.
As the telescope completes its deployment, engineers are working on aligning the mirrors in order to focus correctly on faraway galaxies. To do that on the surface would have been difficult enough, and now they have to align it in the vacuum of space. The 18 hexagonal-shaped mirror segments are 1.32 meters in diameter, flat to flat and the secondary mirror is 0.74 meters in diameter.
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Yours truly's favorite play, the first example, IMHO, of existentialism writ large, where existence cares not but simply is, no matter what man conjures up regarding his brief participation on Shakespeare's world stage. In viewing Coen's amazing adaptation, one sees what the abyss looks like, echoing later writers like Camus, Melville, Beckett and Conrad, in trying to explain a reality we will never fully understand.
And it is that feeling of being stuck in a world we do not fully understand and cannot control that The Tragedy of Macbeth is most interested in. Of all the versions of the Scottish play I have seen, this one is by far the scariest, a work of cosmic horror in which supernatural beings pursue their own games, delighting in their ability to manipulate and destroy the mortals caught it their web. As the witches, Kathryn Hunter, a virtuosic shapeshifter and Shakespeare veteran largely unknown to moviegoers, is genuinely uncanny, her body curling around itself, her voice scraping the very bottom of her register. By going all-in on this idea, the film downplays the original’s other themes of the destructive and ultimately hollow nature of ambition.