Image source: Merriam-Webster

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Noun: a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position

Ninety percent of Fox Propaganda employees are fully vaccinated. The employees are required to disclose their vaccine status. The network tests the 10% that refuse daily, presumably barring them from the property, and mandating they quarantine if they test positive. For the record: that’s more stringent than the Biden administration, which only has a weekly requirement. Even as talking heads push hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, bear bile, and other quackery to their viewership.

The pawn is the least powerful chess piece, but it can be promoted into any other chess piece (except for a king). As Philidor once said, “Pawns are the soul of chess!”

The disdain Rupert Murdock’s network has for its viewership is only matched by the congruent ghoulishness of Kevin Q-Carthy, Moscow Mitch, and the death cult crew. The debt ceiling has been with us since 1917, the year before the last pandemic. It has been since the Obama administration, a game of chicken; a hostage tactic. It’s not one side of the chessboard or the other: it’s the entire field or the republic.

Congress has always restricted federal debt. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 included an aggregate limit on federal debt as well as limits on specific debt issues. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Congress altered the form of those restrictions to give the U.S. Treasury more flexibility in debt management and to allow modernization of federal financing. In 1939, a general limit was placed on federal debt.

Federal debt accumulates when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and to meet federal obligations or when it issues debt to government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds. Total federal debt is the sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts. Debt also increases when the portfolio of federal loans expands.

Congress has modified the debt limit 14 times since 2001. Congressional Research Service Report

We have now exceeded the death toll of the 1918 flu pandemic. Gaslighting has replaced ideas, emotion has been substituted for substance. The “American Pravda” rage machine found out last year Rage Against the Machine is a political band that probably doesn’t favor their worldview. Fox Propaganda and the “gang of Putin” are solely dedicated to killing any bills that help the citizens of the United States, and the world at large, and anything that would make oligarchs and corporations pay the taxes they’ve dodged in particular. Neither has had any ideas since the “trickledown” 1980s. Income inequality is worse now than in the Gilded Age, with the one percent profiteering off the pandemic. Their wealth is literally built on the bones of 716,849 Americans. By Christmas, we’ll be over a million. In a gambit, the Fox viewership/republican constituents’ deaths are acceptable losses.

Yet, the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party in Congress, in statehouses, has an opportunity to regain majority status. Why? Because of the raw exercise of POWER. Appealing to emotion, “owning the libs” haven’t improved the lives of their constituents. It has convinced them their “representatives” hate the “others” they hate. It is an addiction to sadistic dopamine. The other acceptable casualty is the federal republic.

It’s sad when the problem of 3.5 to 1.5 trillion is solvable with simple math. $3.5T over 10 years is $350B/year. $1.5T over 4 years is $375B/year. Then, Democrats can dare Republicans to run against it in 2022, and 2024. Once Americans experience expanded Medicare, free hearing aids, and glasses for seniors, free childcare, free community college (that will reduce the cost of four-year college), some movement on climate change that they can SEE, and FEEL, the political ads write themselves. This is an example of government functioning to HELP a stated need. Socialism is tax cuts for wealthy individuals, and corporations after failure in the “free market.” Socialism is government subsidies to the fossil fuels industry since the Bolshevik Revolution. There would be no logical argument to take away something every American would have experienced in the positive, even though logic for Putin’s party has been bereft for some time. Manchin gets what he wants, progressives get what they want. That, in my humble opinion, would be the strategic exercise of power.

If Republicans are a criminal enterprise, they behave like a functional Mafia family, capable of loyalty to the heinous, and in witness to obvious crimes by a chief executive, Omerta. Democrats, for all my support, behave like a herd of “woke” cats with Twitter fingers as itchy as the useless troll, Marjorie Taylor Green. I have called my congressional representative. Politics is the “art of compromise” and the “art of the possible.” If you cannot compromise with a recalcitrant cult, do what’s possible on your own. You will be RICHLY rewarded for it.

“Pawns are the soul of chess!” An informed citizenry is the soul of democracy.

Alvarez, and Apocalypse…

Luis Walter Alvarez co-developed the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact (Courtesy: iStock/estt)

Topics: Dinosaurs, Nobel Prize, Research

In the run-up to the announcement of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics on 5 October, we’re running a series of blog posts looking at previous recipients and what they did after their Nobel-prize-winning work. In this first instalment Laura Hiscott explores the wide-ranging research of Luis Walter Alvarez, who won the prize for developing the hydrogen bubble chamber, but also investigated the Egyptian pyramids and dinosaur extinction.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid crashing into the Earth. It’s a dramatic story that gets told to wide-eyed children in classrooms and natural history museums at an earlier age than many can remember, so it feels more like absorbed knowledge. What is less commonly known, however, is that one of the originators of this proposal was Luis Walter Alvarez, who won the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the hydrogen bubble chamber.

But it wasn’t just dinosaurs and asteroids that Alvarez got excited about. Throughout his long and varied career, Alvarez was also involved in sending particle detectors into the sky in high-altitude balloons and searching for hidden chambers inside ancient Egyptian pyramids. It appears that his innate curiosity and experimental creativity, which were so vital for winning the Nobel prize, also led him to investigate many more questions both within physics and beyond.

Life beyond the Nobel: how Luis Alvarez deduced the disappearance of the dinosaurs, Laura Hiscott, Physics World

Cooling Teleportation…

Image source: CERN – accelerating science

Topics: CERN, Condensed Matter Physics, Entanglement, Lasers, Quantum Mechanics

Much of modern experimental physics relies on a counterintuitive principle: Under the right circumstances, zapping matter with a laser doesn’t inject energy into the system; rather, it sucks energy out. By cooling the system to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, one can observe quantum effects that are otherwise invisible.

Laser cooling works like a charm, but only when a system’s ladder of quantum states is just right. Atoms of alkali metals and a few other elements are ideal. Molecules, with their multitudes of energy levels, pose a much greater challenge. And fundamental particles such as protons, which lack internal states altogether, can’t be laser-cooled at all.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot of interest in experimenting on protons at low temperature—in particular, precisely testing how their mass, magnetic moment, and other properties compare with those of antiprotons. Toward that end, the Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) collaboration has now demonstrated a method for using a cloud of laser-cooled beryllium ions to sympathetically cool a single proton, even when the proton and ions are too distant to directly interact.

A superconducting circuit is a cooling teleporter, Johanna L. Miller, Physics Today


The microfiber actuators on the metal mesh collector (top left), under SEM (bottom left), under heat activation (top right), and integrated into an artificial arm (bottom right). | Credit: Qiguang He et al./Science Robotics

Topics: Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Nanotechnology, Robotics

A new artificial fiber spun from a polymer called liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) using high-voltage electricity replicates the strength, responsiveness, and power density of human muscle fibers, scientists report. When powered by heat or near-infrared light, the fibers pulled upward and downward or oscillated back and forth.

“Our work may open up an avenue to build soft robotics or soft machines using liquid crystal elastomers as the actuator,” the authors write in their paper, published in the August 25 issue of Science Robotics.

When applied to a variety of potential applications, the fiber actuators successfully controlled the pinching motion of a micro-tweezer, directed the movement of a micro swimmer and a tiny artificial arm, and pumped fluids into a light-powered microfluidic pump.

Inspired by the utility of tiny fibers in nature, scientists sought to create artificial fibers that could also serve as ubiquitous tools in robotics, as sensors or assistive devices, for example. In the past few years, researchers succeeded in constructing fiber actuators driven by heat or light that are as strong and flexible as natural fibers. However, many of these artificial threads respond to their stimulus very slowly, due to their large size or complex actuation processes. When fibers can respond quickly, there’s a trade-off in size or quality; for example, micro-yarns made of carbon nanotubes are fast actuators, but aren’t as strong as other fibers.

“Animal muscle fiber exhibits superior mechanical properties and actuation performance,” said senior author Shengqiang Cai, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego. “Only a few existing materials show similar actuation behaviors as animal muscle, and the fabrication of fibers from those materials with a size and quality comparable to muscle fiber is not easy.”

Electrically Spun Artificial Fibers Match Performance of Human Muscle Fibers, Juwon Song, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Life As We Don’t Know It…

The depiction of tentacled extraterrestrials (above) in the recent science-fiction film, “Arrival, “indicates a divergence from aliens reported by supposed eyewitness accounts. Paramount. Source: Wrinkles, tentacles and oval eyes: How depictions of aliens have evolved, CNN Style

Topics: Astrobiology, Philosophy, SETI, Space Exploration

In my freshman seminar at Harvard last semester, I mentioned that the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, emits mostly infrared radiation and has a planet, Proxima b, in the habitable zone around it. As a challenge to the students, I asked: “Suppose there are creatures crawling on the surface of Proxima b? What would their infrared-sensitive eyes look like?” The brightest student in class responded within seconds with an image of the mantis shrimp, which possesses infrared vision. The shrimp’s eyes look like two ping-pong balls connected with cords to its head. “It looks like an alien,” she whispered.

When trying to imagine something we’ve never seen, we often default to something we have seen. For that reason, in our search for extraterrestrial life, we are usually looking for life as we know it. But is there a path for expanding our imagination to life as we don’t know it?

In physics, an analogous path was already established a century ago and turned out to be successful in many contexts. It involves conducting laboratory experiments that reveal the underlying laws of physics, which in turn apply to the entire universe. For example, around the same time when the neutron was discovered in the laboratory of James Chadwick in 1932, Lev Landau suggested that there might be stars made of neutrons. Astronomers realized subsequently that there are, in fact, some 100 million neutron stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone—and a billion times more in the observable universe. Recently, the LIGO experiment detected gravitational-wave signals from collisions between neutron stars at cosmological distances. It is now thought that such collisions produce the precious gold that is forged into wedding bands. The moral of this story is that physicists were able to imagine something new in the universe at large and search for it in the sky by following insights gained from laboratory experiments on Earth.

How to Search for Life as We Don’t Know It, Avi Loeb, Scientific American

It Can Happen Here…

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Image, and quote from the Jewish Virtual Library.

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The novel was published during the heyday of fascism in Europe, which was reported on by Dorothy Thompson, [Sinclair] Lewis’s wife.[3] The novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of European fascists such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion. Source: Wikipedia, “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis

The former Republican Party published an autopsy of their failed efforts to make President Barack Obama a one-term executive after 2012. They lost backing the bastion of latte Republicanism, Mitt Romney, who lied his ass off in the first presidential debate, yet his warnings about Russia in the second have stood the test of time. The Growth and Opportunity Project is a double entendre: the capitalized lettering obviously referring to the former party by its acronym, a suggestion that with a few tweaks, they could meet the changing demographics clear-eyed, with a strategy for growth, and success. Commissioned by the first of three serial Chiefs of Staff, Reince Priebus, it was soon as published turned to political toilet paper.

There is a potent currency to whiteness, ever since it was created in 1681 after the Bacon Rebellion by the one percent of the day. Efficiently separating citizens into “us,” and “others” is effective in not having accountability for sadistic policies. It’s not that executive boards of predominately cisgender white men sought to take their jobs overseas to pay pennies on the dollar for what amounts to sweatshop slave labor. It’s “those blacks,” “those Mexicans,” “those Haitians,” “those Afghanis,” “those climate refugees,” those “others” that took your job. You can blame others for every missed opportunity, every failure to obtain a promotion and financial security. It’s an effective gaslighting tool when your marks participate in the con.

If you’re seeing a commercial by an outfit called American Edge Project, they are a part of an impressive list of Dark Money groups Open Secrets documents that are completely fine with the continuation of the con job that allows them to pay little, or no taxes, yet have outsized influence in our legislation, and laws through what is ostensibly “legal” bribes. Many of those legal bribes come from social media behemoths.

The Wall Street Journal did an expose on Facebook (NPR article), and its ancillary product Instagram on its negative effects on preteen, and teenage girls that they apparently knew about, and for the sake of Mammon, and sacrifices on the altar of Moloch, did little, or nothing to mitigate its deleterious effects. The attempted coup was in part, organized on its platform, vaccine hesitancy, and abject quackery, as well as other iterations of social media. Social media is the main propagator of propaganda, yet hold onto the notion they’re not “journalism,” therefore cannot be held accountable by those standards. Seventy-three percent of election misinformation dropped worldwide when the modern propagator of the “Big Lie” got his Twitter account permanently closed.

The so-called Cyber Ninjas not only proved once again that Joe Biden won, but they also found him more votes. They owe Arizona an apology and reimbursement of money to taxpayers for despoiled voting machines. But the “Big Lie” persists in Texas, ordering an audit where the former Oval Office occupant won the red state handily, a cynical, craven move by Greg Abbott to protect his right flank from the true crazies that want his job in a GOP primary. That is the point behind voter restrictions, and draconian abortion “posses.” He is the American analog of Saddam Hussein holding back ISIS. Texans teeter towards Gilead.

Modern fascists don’t wear swastikas, but aren’t morally opposed to the useful rubes that insist on them, and goosestep like peacocks in parades to “scare the blacks,” “scare the Mexicans,” and “own the libs.” True fascists work from boardrooms, have lobbyists funneling dark money on Capitol Hill to Democratic “moderates,” and Republican empty suits. Modern fascists wear expensive Italian suits, jut their tanned, California-surfer-dude chins out, contradict their last statements made after the Capitol insurrection, and manage six-figure salaries essentially treading water. Other democratic republics like England, Germany, France, and Israel, form coalition governments of parties that resemble our duopoly in the US, and the fringes that so far in a communications analogy, are kept as low noise to the broader signal of democratic governance. It’s messy, but coalescing the “will of the governed” is always messy. We, by the way, have and insist on a duopoly because the lobbyists can easily “split the baby” in the management of their legal bribes.

Which is why I wonder: if the Keystone Cops Coup, on January 6, 2021, was successful, or any other subsequent coup by a more competent fascist ended the “democratic experiment,” would Corporate America follow a moral obligation to save our federal republic?

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite[nb 1] led to corporations as “persons” having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Topics addressed include the Business Plot, where in 1933, General Smedley Butler exposed an alleged corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commonsDwight D. Eisenhower‘s warning people to beware of the rising military–industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormone on Fox affiliate television station WTVT in Tampa, Florida, at the behest of Monsanto; the invention of the soft drink Fanta by The Coca-Cola Company due to the trade embargo on Nazi Germany; the alleged role of IBM in the Nazi holocaust (see IBM and the Holocaust); the Cochabamba protests of 2000 brought on by the privatization of a municipal water supply in Bolivia; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the debate about corporate personhood. Source: Wikipedia – The Corporation (2003 film)

Answer: I think not.


Image source: link below

Topics: Applied Physics, Einstein, General Relativity, Special Relativity

According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, first published in 1905, light can be converted into matter when two light particles collide with intense force. But, try as they might, scientists have never been able to do this. No one could create the conditions needed to transform light into matter — until now.

Physicists claim to have generated matter from pure light for the first time — a spectacular display of Einstein’s most famous equation.

This is a significant breakthrough, overcoming a theoretical barrier that seemed impossible only a few decades ago.

What does E=mc2 mean? The world’s most famous equation is both straightforward and beyond comprehension at the same time: “Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.” 

At its most fundamental level, it means energy and mass are various forms of the same thing. Energy may transform into mass and vice versa under the right circumstances. 

However, imagine a light beam transforming into, say, a paper clip, and it seems like pure magic. That’s where the “speed of light squared” factors in. It determines how much energy a paper clip or any piece of matter contains. The speed of light is the factor needed to make mass and energy equal. If every atom in a paper clip could be converted to pure energy, it would generate 18 kilotons of TNT. That’s around the size of the Hiroshima bomb from 1945. 

(Still can’t picture it? Me neither.) 

You can go the other way, too: if you crash two highly energized light particles, or photons, into each other, then you can create energy and mass. It sounds simple enough, but no one has been able to make it happen.

Since they couldn’t accelerate light particles, the team opted for ions, and used the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) to accelerate them at extreme speeds. In two accelerator rings at RHIC, the accelerated gold ions to 99.995% of the speed of light. With 79 protons, a gold ion has a strong positive charge. When a charged heavy ion is accelerated to incredible speeds, a strong magnetic field swirls around it. 

That magnetic field produces “virtual photons.” So, in a roundabout way, they accelerated light particles by piggybacking them on an ion.

When the team sped the ions in the accelerator rings with significant energy, the ions nearly collided, allowing the photon clouds surrounding them to interact and form an electron-positron pair — essentially, matter. They published their work in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Scientists observed what Einstein predicted a century ago, Teresa Carey, Free Think

Tech Authoritarianism…

GIF source: Link below

Topics: Computer Science, Politics, Social Media

To build the metaverse, Facebook needs us to get used to smart glasses.

Last week Facebook released its new $299 “Ray-Ban Stories” glasses. Wearers can use them to record and share images and short videos, listen to music, and take calls. The people who buy these glasses will soon be out in public and private spaces, photographing and recording the rest of us, and using Facebook’s new “View” app to sort and upload that content.

My issue with these glasses is partially what they are, but mostly what they will become, and how that will change our social landscape.

How will we feel going about our lives in public, knowing that at any moment the people around us might be wearing stealth surveillance technology? People have recorded others in public for decades, but it’s gotten more difficult for the average person to detect, and Facebook’s new glasses will make it harder still since they resemble and carry the Ray-Ban brand.

That brand’s trusted legacy of “cool” could make Facebook’s glasses appeal to many more people than Snap Spectacles and other camera glasses. (Facebook also has roughly 2 billion more users than Snapchat.) And Facebook can take advantage of the global supply chain and retail outlet infrastructure of Luxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company. This means the product won’t have to roll out slowly—even worldwide.

Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces, S.A. Applin, MIT Technology Review

Steve Austin’s Beads…

Magnetic prosthetic: A magnetic sensing array enables a new tissue tracking strategy that could offer advanced motion control in artificial limbs. (Courtesy: MIT Media Lab/Cameron Taylor/Vessel Studios)

Topics: Biotechnology, Magnetism, Materials Science, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Robotics

Cultural reference: The Six Million Dollar Man, NBC

In recent years, health and fitness wearables have gained popularity as platforms to wirelessly track daily physical activities, by counting steps, for example, or recording heartbeats directly from the wrist. To achieve this, inertial sensors in contact with the skin capture the relevant motion and physiological signals originating from the body.

As wearable technology evolves, researchers strive to understand not just how to track the body’s dynamic signals, but also how to simulate them to control artificial limbs. This new level of motion control requires a detailed understanding of what is happening beneath the skin, specifically, the motion of the muscles.

Skeletal muscles are responsible for almost all movement of the human body. When muscle fibers contract, the exerted forces travel through the tendons, pull the bones, and ultimately produce motion. To track and use these muscle contractions in real-time and with high signal quality, engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) employed low-frequency magnetic fields – which pass undisturbed through body tissues – to provide accurate and real-time transcutaneous sensing of muscle motion. They describe their technique in Science Robotics.

Magnetic beads inside the body could improve control of bionic limbs, Raudel Avila is a student contributor to Physics World

Exciton Surfing…

Surfing excitons: Cambridge’s Alexander Sneyd with the transient-absorption microscopy set-up. (Courtesy: Alexander Sneyd)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Solar Power

Organic solar cells (OSCs) are fascinating devices where layers of organic molecules or polymers carry out light absorption and subsequent transport of energy – the tasks that make a solar cell work. Until now, the efficiency of OSCs has been thought to be constrained by the speed at which energy carriers called excitons to move between localized sites in the organic material layer of the device. Now, an international team of scientists led by Akshay Rao at the UK’s University of Cambridge has shown that this is not the case. What is more, they have discovered a new quantum mechanical transport mechanism called transient delocalization, which allows OSCs to reach much higher efficiencies.

When light is absorbed by a solar cell, it creates electron-hole pairs called excitons and the motion of these excitons plays a crucial role in the operation of the device. An example of an organic material layer where light absorption and transport of excitons takes place is in a film of well-ordered poly(3-hexylthiophene) nanofibers. To study exciton transport, the team shone laser pulses at such a nanofiber film and observed its response.

Exciton wave functions were thought to be localized due to strong couplings with lattice vibrations (phonons) and electron-hole interactions. This means the excitons would move slowly from one localized site to the next. However, the team observed that the excitons were diffusing at speeds 1000 times greater than what had been shown for similar samples in previous research. These speeds correspond to a ground-breaking diffusion length of about 300 nm for such crystalline films. This means energy can be transported much faster and more efficiently than previously thought.

Exciton ‘surfing’ could boost the efficiency of organic solar cells, Rikke Plougmann, Physics World