An inverted distribution of particles in available energy states has been created in the lab. This is deeply weird. It looks like thermodynamics-violating weird. If it's real and scalable, it may be world-changing.
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ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Aug. 29th, 2014 09:21 am)
There are stones which appear to push themselves around a dry lakebed in Death Valley, but nobody has caught them at it--until now.
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ironphoenix: (academia)
( Apr. 30th, 2014 11:02 am)
Chameleon vine imitates host plants; mechanism unknown. (Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking.)

In other plant news, the walking palms apparently don't actually migrate by growing new roots as they are alleged to... it made a good story, though.
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ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Nov. 10th, 2013 09:05 am)
I wrote this in the context of a discussion in my parish's LGBT & Straight Alliance group. The question of the duality and complementarity of gender as expressed in Genesis (and referenced specifically by Jesus) was raised, and how to square that with homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderedness, etc.1 This is a rather deeper and harder question than addressing the "clobber passages" which refer specifically to various kinds of homosexual activity.

Thoughts on tradition, myth, modernity, and diversity. )
1: ETA; see comments.
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Apr. 26th, 2012 10:26 am)
Read this article on quantum entanglement first.

If your brain hasn't imploded yet, here's a question:

What would happen if Alice and Bob checked the correlations of their measurements before Victor decided whether or not to turn on his entangler?

(Link ganked from [livejournal.com profile] dagibbs!)
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ironphoenix: (gear)
( Feb. 4th, 2011 04:42 pm)
This is very cool... there are some neat options to play with, including a planet-tracker in Tychonian mode.
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I leave the country on vacation and everything goes to hell, it seems.

First, Ottawa gets hit by an earthquake. I'm glad nobody was injured!

Then, the Provincial "government" very quietly designates downtown Toronto as a "public work" so that they can apply the Public Works Protection Act for a little while. The Black Block accomplished sundry vandalism with impunity, then police rounded up and arrested harmless protesters (too many links to mention; just search YouTube for dozens of videos on "police g20 toronto"), injuring an elderly amputee in the process. All that to conclude that governments should cut their deficits by half... it looks like the cuts won't be coming out of the police budgets, though!
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Apr. 22nd, 2010 11:02 am)
Very Big

Very Small

Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking!
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ironphoenix: (no return)
( Feb. 4th, 2010 02:48 pm)
Communication with "vegetative" patients through fMRI demonstrated.

Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking.
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Maxwell's Demon summoned.
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Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] dracodraconis...
Fibromyalgia may be a brain disorder.
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[livejournal.com profile] peristaltor wrote a good summary post about mass extinctions (90+%) and their relation to global warming; scary stuff! He is summarizing things drawn from several sources, which I will have to look into separately.

I followed the link to one of his sources, an interview with the Chief Scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, from which the subject line is drawn, and that gives even more stuff to think about (much of it going considerably beyond the energy and extinction question).

Both are highly recommended reads; the former takes less time to get through, but the latter is somewhat jaw-dropping in scope.
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ironphoenix: (gear)
( Jul. 1st, 2008 10:28 am)
An article about women leaving tech fields in their thirties and forties, related to recent discussions. The article's main point is good and seems pretty sound to me, but there's a line that's tossed in about "the hostile macho cultures — the hard hat culture of engineering, the geek culture of technology or the lab culture of science" which doesn't get any further discussion. What are your impressions or experiences of that, and why is it one of "[t]he top two reasons why women leave" work in STEM fields?

Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] dracodraconis.
Bob McDonald of CBC's Quirks and Quarks is not impressed with the Harper government's treatment of former National Science Advisor Dr. Arthur Carty, and isn't afraid to say so.

Who can blame him? Also, good on him and the CBC for not soft-playing this.
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Nov. 27th, 2007 02:38 pm)
M. King Hubbert on energy, growth, and sustainability, in 1974.

I believe that the fundamental assumption of unbounded economic growth will break down within my natural lifetime; I just got sent this, and it's someone with pretty good credentials saying something disturbingly similar a year after I was born.
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Jun. 23rd, 2007 10:13 am)
Integrity.

Nothing to add, really.
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ironphoenix: (gull)
( Jun. 14th, 2007 01:35 pm)
Undergraduate research shows leaderless honeybee organizing

Interesting in its own right, and also by analogy to societal models.

This suggests to me an analogy between neurons and honeybees, and more generally of cellular automata with emergent properties. Are honeybees (and other hive insect colonies, perhaps) "intelligent" en masse?
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"The sea squirt has a very simple brain which is used only to find a suitable spot to root itself for life. Once it's settled into a spot, it no longer needs the brain, so it eats it. This has been compared by at least one Researcher to a professor receiving tenure at a university."

BBC has more weird animal stuff.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (milikman)
( Oct. 27th, 2006 10:45 am)
Great tits challenge evolutionary theory
My comment: )
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2006 01:43 pm)
If you believe they put a man on the moon, man on the moon
If you believe there's nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool

--REM, Man on the Moon


So I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Generation X and came across this passage:
Gen X knows that the United States landed on the moon, from reading the history books; but they didn't live through it and feel the national pride: it's a "so what".

It got me thinking. We landed on the Moon a few times, and then crawled back into our hole here on Earth, seemingly never to return. Why?

Every other time human societies have arrived somewhere, we've colonized it. Luna is pretty much the only exception. I have a theory as to why that's so, an argument for why we should break the pattern, and a challenge for anyone ambitious and zany enough to try it.

The Moon is hard to get to, hard to live on, and hard to extract anything useful from. Colonies on Earth generally start as imperial clients, from which resources are extracted and to which undesirables are sent. Luna, however, doesn't allow either of these things to be done economically. The cost (in Joules or in currency) per kilo to put anything on the moon is huge, and the cost per kilo to bring anything back isn't much better. Eventually, colonies tend to become independent, self-supporting entities. This is again difficult on Luna, because so much of the infrastructure we need for life isn't there.

We should get there anyhow. Robert Heinlein said that the Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in, and I agree. (I don't agree with him on a lot, so take notice, y'all!) Another quote: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said, Earth is the cradle of mankind—-but one cannot live in the cradle forever! The Earth is what financial types would call and "undiversified portfolio" now, because a single major catastrophe could conceivably wipe out its ability to sustain human life. Simple species survival thus encourages us to spread ourselves around some.

There is another argument, though: we need to change our relationship to the universe. On Earth, everything has been ours for the exploiting, and it's been pretty easy going. We need to learn to coexist and cooperate with the environments we find ourselves in, and that requires that we be willing to change our natures and our behaviours. The challenge of outer space is that we cannot truly adapt it to suit us, and we shouldn't. We need to adapt ourselves along with our new environments, and, in so doing, become more aware and considerate of things outside ourselves. In essence, space is an opportunity for us to become less selfish.

So, my challenge: Determine the minimum investment required to establish a permanent colony on the Moon which would neither seve the imperialist interests of Earth societies nor depend on supplies from the Earth. How many people would be required? What equipment would they need? How much could they recycle? How long would they need before being able to make up the recycling deficit from newly extracted materials? How many launches of what vehicle (CLV/CaLV, Kliper/Parom, other) would be required, and on what schedule?

It's worth noting that anyone who went to the moon might well be effectively unable to return to Earth after a few years because of the effect of low gravitation. There might also be life span and reproductive issues to consider; this is all part of the price. I believe that were the plan and money are assembled, there would be no shortage of volunteers.
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