Quantum Exorcism…

Figure 2. Maxwell’s demon is a hypothetical being that can observe individual molecules in a gas-filled box with a partition in the middle separating chambers A and B. If the demon sees a fast-moving gas molecule, it opens a trapdoor in the partition to let fast-moving molecules into chamber B while leaving slow-moving ones behind. Repeating that action would allow the buildup of a temperature difference between the two sides of the partition. A heat engine could use that temperature difference to perform work, which would contradict the second law of thermodynamics.

Topics: Chemistry, History, Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is a strange theory. Although it is fundamental to our understanding of the world, it differs dramatically from other physical theories. For that reason, it has been termed the “village witch” of physics.1 Some of the many oddities of thermodynamics are the bizarre philosophical implications of classical statistical mechanics. Well before relativity theory and quantum mechanics brought the paradoxes of modern physics into the public eye, Ludwig Boltzmann, James Clerk Maxwell, and other pioneers of statistical mechanics wrestled with several thought experiments, or demons, that threatened to undermine thermodynamics.

Despite valiant efforts, Maxwell and Boltzmann were unable to completely vanquish the demons besetting the village witch of physics—largely because they were limited to the classical perspective. Today, experimental and theoretical developments in quantum foundations have granted present-day researchers and philosophers greater insights into thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. They allow us to perform a “quantum exorcism” on the demons haunting thermodynamics and banish them once and for all.

Loschmidt’s demon and time reversibility

Boltzmann, a founder of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, was fascinated by one of the latter field’s seeming paradoxes: How does the irreversible behavior demonstrated by a system reaching thermodynamic equilibrium, such as a cup of coffee cooling down or a gas spreading out, arise from the underlying time-reversible classical mechanics?2 That equilibrating behavior only happens in one direction of time: If you watch a video of a wine glass smashing, you know immediately whether the video was in rewind or not. In contrast, the underlying classical or quantum mechanics are time-reversible: If you were to see a video of lots of billiard balls colliding, you wouldn’t necessarily know whether the video was in rewind or not. Throughout his career, Boltzmann pursued a range of strategies to explain irreversible equilibrating behavior from the underlying reversible dynamics. Boltzmann’s friend Josef Loschmidt famously objected to those attempts. He argued that the underlying classical mechanics allow for the possibility that the momenta are reversed, which would lead to the gas retracing its steps and “anti-equilibrating” to the earlier, lower-entropy state. Boltzmann challenged Loschmidt to try to reverse the momenta, but Loschmidt was unable to do so. Nevertheless, we can envision a demon that could. After all, it is just a matter of practical impossibility—not physical impossibility—that we can’t reach into a box of gas and reverse each molecule’s trajectory.

Technological developments since Loschmidt’s death in 1895 have expanded the horizons of what is practically possible (see figure 1). Although it seemed impossible during his lifetime, Loschmidt’s vision of reversing the momenta was realized by Erwin Hahn in 1950 in the spin-echo experiment, in which atomic spins that have dephased and become disordered are taken back to their earlier state by an RF pulse. If it is practically possible to reverse the momenta, what does that imply about equilibration? Is Loschmidt’s demon triumphant?

The demons haunting thermodynamics, Katie Robertson, Physics Today

Wearable Pressure Sensors…

Hybrid device: A diagram of the layers in the new soft pressure sensor. (Courtesy: the University of Texas at Austin)

Topics: Applied Physics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology

Wearable pressure sensors are commonly used in medicine to track vital signs, and in robotics to help mechanical fingers handle delicate objects. Conventional soft capacitive pressure sensors only work at pressures below 3 kPa, however, meaning that something as simple as tight-fitting clothing can hinder their performance. A team of researchers at the University of Texas has now made a hybrid sensor that remains highly sensitive over a much wider range of pressures. The new device could find use in robotics and biomedicine.

The most common types of pressure sensors rely on piezoresistive, piezoelectric, capacitive, and/or optical mechanisms to operate. When such devices are compressed, their electrical resistance, voltage, capacitance, or light transmittance (respectively) changes in a well-characterized way that can be translated into a pressure reading.

The high sensitivity and long-term stability of capacitive pressure sensors make them one of the most popular types, and they are often incorporated into soft, flexible sensors that can be wrapped around curved surfaces. Such sensors are popular in fields such as prosthetics, robotics, and biometrics, where they are used to calibrate the strength of a robot’s grip, monitor pulse rates, and blood pressure, and measure footstep pressure. However, these different applications involve a relatively wide range of pressures: below 1 kPa for robotic electronic skin (e-skin) and pulse monitoring; between 1 and 10 kPa for manipulating objects; and more than 10 kPa for blood pressure and footstep pressure.

Wearable pressure sensors extend their range, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

The Incredible Callousness of Being…

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

Title source: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera.

The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC, media real estate. After landing an excellent job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance, to tell the truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have endured fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.

Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.

“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

What the hell? Newsmax correspondent thinks Satan is in COVID-19 vaccines, Matt Field, Bureau of Atomic Scientists

News flash: Beelzebub is not in your Covid vaccine. I’ve had both shots of Moderna and the booster. I have not spontaneously combusted, levitated furniture, cursed people out in Latin, or regurgitated pea soup (see: Linda Blair, in “The Exorcist”).

The propaganda outlet’s title is Orwellian: nothing about it is “news,” nor is it superlative compared to all others.

If you’re a certain age, you recall the news by anchors like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Mike Wallace (Chris Wallace’s father). We had three stations, and a UHF channel on good days. The local news preceded the national news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. You had no idea who these gentlemen voted for. There was no “theme” to the channels: it was the news. Local and national news took ONE HOUR, it wasn’t on repeat or loop, there were no smartphones with alerts. There was a morning, an evening newspaper that filled out the rest of what you needed to make sense of the world (we were in a Cold War with Russia). After that hour, the sitcoms and dramas filled the evening and did what they were supposed to do: entertain. There was no merger, no invention of “infotainment.” It was what you needed as a citizen to make decisions about managing the republic. Every citizen had the responsibility of governance. Democrats could win one election, Republicans the next. The sacred text of the republic was The Constitution, it was sacrosanct.

Notice, I’m referring to our founding documents in the past tense.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman

Another book by Neil Postman and Steve Powers: “How To Watch TV News.” A summary:

An important guide to understanding what you’re getting–and not getting–from TV news. Postman and Powers warn that anyone who relies exclusively on TV for knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake and suggest ways to intelligently evaluate TV news shows.

Add to that: Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. The sage advice is to read actual books, reputable sources of news, and maybe a course on critical thinking, and civics.

Emerald Robinson knew exactly what she was doing and probably knew enough to delete the tweet after it was sent. It’s the same excuse Rush Limbaugh used for his bombastic rants that were mantra from Budda for ditto heads: “I’m just an entertainer.” By stoking the rage-against-the-brown-boogiemen machine, Fox Propaganda, News Min, and Dumb Bart have made huge profits on what is arguably “white grievance minstrelsy,” previously known as “angry white men.” Neilsen ratings are another harangue, and television has one mission: product sales. It can be meal prep, travel businesses, or erectile dysfunction. “Soap Operas” was the self-pejorative of what are now the few daytime dramas that are left.

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and the trial of the three murderers of Ahmaud Aubrey, miles distant from each other have the distinction of having ONE African American on the jury for EACH trial: 11:1. I was surprised by the Walter Scott murder trial verdict. I was surprised by the George Floyd murder trial verdict. For Briona Taylor and Trayvon Martin, the outcomes weren’t surprises, just infuriating.

There is a callousness to our discourse, as Carl Sagan once said “a celebration of ignorance.” There is a difference between true ignorance, willful ignorance, and gaslighting. Ignorance is from a lack of information, that can be remedied. Willful ignorance is when you’re speaking to an expert, reading a sourced document, and you willingly choose to combat the information, verbally, or physically, because it causes cognitive dissonance. Gaslighting is the tactic of an abuser, to make you question your reality. Emerald Robinson was gaslighting her Twitter followers, knowing it would get out into the Zeitgeist and fuel vaccine hesitancy, the main factor extending the pandemic her president bungled horribly. Gaslighting is abusive, but when you no longer question or resist the torture, you’re a participant. O’Brien broke the will of Winston Smith in Orwell’s “1984,” there are as many fingers as O’Brien says there are.

For example, the elections Tuesday were predictable: every off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey has elected governors from the opposing party in the White House. The news media pounces on it: “it’s a referendum on the current administration” they say, “it’s a wakeup call to Democrats” says Kevin McCarthy, who manages to look like a howler monkey in a suit. With the exception of New Jersey, where Phil Murphy held on by a thread, that paradigm has repeated historically. Yet for eyeballs and detergent sales, cue the handwringing and pontification. Nielsen ratings.

Emerald Robinson preys on the existential fears of “the end times” by evangelicals steeped in the folklore and having watched a recent clip from the “Left Behind” series. From Hal Lindsey to Tim LaHay, eschatology is a lucrative business, unless the Chicxulub meteor hits before your booking on Morning Joe. “Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why” has obviously fallen out of favor. It was quite a sensation in 1982.

Emerald would have been the head of the spear if the Virginia Governor’s Race went Terry McAuliffe’s way. There was obviously no “voter fraud,” just bungling by McAuliffe, and defaulting to the comfortable by the DNC. McAuliffe is “known,” but the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge its future isn’t appealing to a dwindling white majority, but to constituents that look like “The Squad.” Pretending otherwise, or deferring to 80s-style Democratic Leadership Council orthodoxy is political suicide.

Ms. Robinson would have contributed to whipping their audience into a dangerous, armed frenzy. Death Santis has a voter integrity bureau patterned after the Ministry of Truth, to intimidate legitimate voters, more or less brown voters, from participating in the franchise. Any election Republicans win is by definition legitimate. Any elections Democrats lose, they concede gracefully. Any elections Democrats win in the future will be fraudulent, and “stolen.” The “Big Lie” is the only thing wanted from the previous occupant of the Oval Office. What they want is the obfuscation as a cudgel. That kind of propaganda leads to armed violence, and a failed state, not Florida: America.

This is not democracy. It is the fractured foundation of a crumbling republic.

I’m not sure if American companies, “woke” or otherwise, will come to our rescue. As long as the Stock Market functions, as long as product ships to customers, the one percent has always been socially distant with mansions in exclusive zip codes, in other countries, penis spaceships to visit Elysium, the investors, and boards will largely ignore societal collapse. The only devils are the architects of the “Big Lie.” The hell is our slide into authoritarian rule, “not with a bang, but a whimper” (TS Eliot, “The Hollow Men“).

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, “The Tempest.”

Pairs of Cooper Pairs…

New state of matter: The team observed electron quadruplets in this iron-based superconductor material, seen mounted for experimental measurements. (Courtesy: Vadim Grinenko, Federico Caglieris)

Topics: Condensed Matter Physics, Solid-State Physics, Superconductors

Note: I gave my research proposal last Friday. I have been answering some concerns about my proposal for the committee. I followed the outline sent to me by my advisor. I hope I’ve answered them sufficiently. I will post today and tomorrow; next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I tutor Calculus. For a person finished with classes, I’m extremely busy.

Cool a material below its superconducting transition temperature and you’d expect it to start conducting electricity without resistance and expelling magnetic fields. But an international group of physicists has found that a certain kind of iron-based material doped with negative charges does the opposite at around the same temperature – producing spontaneous magnetic fields and retaining resistance when chilled. The researchers say that the results point to a new state of matter in which electrons flow in correlated groups of four, rather than two.

According to the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory, superconductivity occurs when electrons get together to form what is known as Cooper pairs. Whereas in a vacuum two electrons would repel each other, when moving through the crystal lattice of a superconducting material, one of these particles shifts the positions of surrounding atoms to leave a small region of positive charge. This attracts the second electron to create the pair.

The creation of many such pairs yields a collective condensate, which results in frictionless electron flow. This occurs below a certain temperature – the superconducting transition temperature (Tc) – at which point atoms lack the thermal energy to break up the pairs.

Superconductor reveals new state of matter involving pairs of Cooper pairs, Edwin Cartlidge, Physics World

This Dragon…

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The Brainwashing of My Dad is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Jen Senko about her father’s transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. The film was mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign.


As Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a nonpolitical Democrat to an angry Republican fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under President Richard Nixon for a media takeover by the Republicans, the 1971 Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion (especially the media, universities, and courts), the 1987 dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine under President Ronald Reagan, and the signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton. The documentary aims to show how the media and the nation changed, which leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights listeners and watchers have, and what responsibility the government has to keep the airwaves fair, accurate, and accountable. Wikipedia

In his book An Instinct for Dragons (2000), anthropologist David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, like monkeys, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats, and birds of prey. A dragon is a large, serpentinelegendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons’ traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. Wikipedia/Dragon again, though somewhat rearranged.

Jen Senko uses the strongly suggestive term “brainwashing,” and in a few interviews I’ve heard her give (last one on Thom Hartmann), she alluded to the part of the brain referenced as the amygdala: “region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almond-like shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to (in front of) the hippocampus. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala is a paired structure, with one located in each hemisphere of the brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a neural network that mediates many aspects of emotion and memory. Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli.” (Britannica) Because it is primitive, it’s famously referred to as the reptilian brain (in Brain World Magazine, no less). Ms. Senko’s thesis was simply that her once calm, middle-of-the-road liberal dad became a fire-breathing (pun intended) conservative through endless repetition in the right-wing echo chamber of the idea he had something to fear, or someone in the form of foreigners and people of color. Her dad ironically came to this country as an immigrant. But through a relentless repetition campaign worthy of, and plagiarizing propaganda techniques from the Creel Committee, he transformed. Ms. Senko’s dad is “patient zero,” of our present darkness.

This is [our] life

Lisa Ling did an excellent job on her “This Is Life” series on conspiracy theories in America, and that they aren’t anything “new” to the national landscape. The problem is, it’s been digitized, and monetized over social media such that the more outrageous, the more violent the content, the more money those same companies make. Despite the proven harm to young teen girls and a lot of adults, the solution is practiced inaction. The pattern is public Mea Culpa, then do nothing, claim to be a social media platform, but not a journalistic platform, because lies monetized are more lucrative than publishing the truth.

Part of the problem is the many times we as citizens have been lied to: the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and the installation of the Shah over a democratically-elected leader of Iran in 1953. Nationalizing oil reserves gained the ire of the CIA, MI6, and British Petroleum. The sixties was an assassination decade, and theories of President Kennedy’s assassination (and the immediate killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby), Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were splayed on newsletters, and pamphlets; beauty/barber shops, and water coolers. There’s still a group that doesn’t believe we went to the moon, aliens are somehow interested in “little-old-us”; Bigfoot and Nessie are real creatures, and the world post-Apollo is either flat or donut-shaped (I’m not kidding). Follow that with “I’m not a crook” Richard Nixon, “we’re not selling arms for hostages” Ronald Reagan, it’s no wonder trust in institutions other than the military is at an all-time low. Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh appealed to fellow jowl-faced constituents that consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an existential crisis, as their impish clone, Tucker Carlson parrots “replacement theory.” “Nature abhors a vacuum,” and provocateurs like Alex Jones are more than happy to fill the trust void. Add to that the 30,000+ COVFEFE whoppers of the last Oval Office occupant, and the death toll his lies bore. At least Brazil is considering holding Jair Bolsonaro responsible for crimes against humanity for 100,000+ dead. Our body count is higher. “U-S-A!” “U-S-A!”

Senator Angus King has evolved on the filibuster. He’s willing to change the rules so voting rights can get passed. However, the dragon reared its head to “conserve” the status quo of white supremacy (Senator Tim Scott needs a new mirror and an active human soul).

It is interesting that Steve Scalise, the minority whip counter on the Republican side of the House, is urging his colleagues to vote NO on holding his br’er fascist, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress in fealty to a demagogue that lost the 2020 election, the Senate, and the House. If the rule of law is subject to “situational nihilism” (Brian Williams, The 11th Hour, MSNBC), then the law as we thought we knew it is essentially moot. Only nine Republicans in the House followed The Constitution to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress with all of the Democrats, meaning all the Republicans who voted against it are in contempt of Congress. Now, “Robert Lewis, Rufus, and Frog” along with “Billy Bob, Cooter, and Skeeter” will all declare themselves Republicans, and ignore any subpoenas sent to them, reduced to a notion by the man whose publicly stated aim was to “deconstruct the administrative state.” Good luck running courts large and small across the nation. ‘Murica.

Scalise once described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.” David Duke was a grand dragon, and avowed white supremacist. Any kind of supremacy is anathema to democracy. To quote a 2020 tweet from someone named Beau Willimon, succinctly comparing Capitalism, Socialism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy:

Our democracy can no longer afford to ride this leviathan and continue to exist.

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” Revelations 12:3

Peat Batteries…

An aerial view of peat fields in Elva, Estonia. September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Topics: Battery, Biofuels, Chemistry, Energy, Green Tech

TARTU, Estonia, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Peat, plentiful in bogs in northern Europe, could be used to make sodium-ion batteries cheaply for use in electric vehicles, scientists at an Estonian university say.

Sodium-ion batteries, which do not contain relatively costly lithium, cobalt, or nickel, are one of the new technologies that battery makers are looking at as they seek alternatives to the dominant lithium-ion model.

Scientists at Estonia’s Tartu University say they have found a way to use peat in sodium-ion batteries, which reduces the overall cost, although the technology is still in its infancy.

“Peat is a very cheap raw material – it doesn’t cost anything, really,” says Enn Lust, head of the Institute of Chemistry at the university.

Energy from bogs: Estonian scientists use peat to make batteries, Janis Laizans and Andrius Sytas, Reuters Science

Vapor Ragnarok…

Credit: Mark Ross

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Research

More moisture in a warmer atmosphere is fueling intense hurricanes and flooding rains.

The summer of 2021 was a glaring example of what disruptive weather will look like in a warming world. In mid-July, storms in western Germany and Belgium dropped up to eight inches of rain in two days. Floodwaters ripped buildings apart and propelled them through village streets. A week later a year’s worth of rain—more than two feet—fell in China’s Henan province in just three days. Hundreds of thousands of people fled rivers that had burst their banks. In the capital city of Zhengzhou, commuters posted videos showing passengers trapped inside flooding subway cars, straining their heads toward the ceiling to reach the last pocket of air above the quickly rising water. In mid-August a sharp kink in the jet stream brought torrential storms to Tennessee that dropped an incredible 17 inches of rain in just 24 hours; catastrophic flooding killed at least 20 people. None of these storm systems were hurricanes or tropical depressions.

Soon enough, though, Hurricane Ida swirled into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth named tropical storm in the year’s busy North Atlantic season. On August 28 it was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. Less than 24 hours later Ida exploded to Category 4, whipped up at nearly twice the rate that the National Hurricane Center uses to define a rapidly intensifying storm. It hit the Louisiana coast with winds of 150 miles an hour, leaving more than a million people without power and more than 600,000 without water for days. Ida’s wrath continued into the Northeast, where it delivered a record-breaking 3.15 inches of rain in one hour in New York City. The storm killed at least 80 people and devastated a swath of communities in the eastern U.S.

What all these destructive events have in common is water vapor—lots of it. Water vapor—the gaseous form of H2O—is playing an outsized role in fueling destructive storms and accelerating climate change. As the oceans and atmosphere warm, additional water evaporates into the air. Warmer air, in turn, can hold more of that vapor before it condenses into cloud droplets that can create flooding rains. The amount of vapor in the atmosphere has increased about 4 percent globally just since the mid-1990s. That may not sound like much, but it is a big deal to the climate system. A juicier atmosphere provides extra energy and moisture for storms of all kinds, including summertime thunderstorms, nor’easters along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, hurricanes, and even snowstorms. Additional vapor helps tropical storms like Ida intensify faster, too, leaving precious little time for safety officials to warn people in the crosshairs.

Vapor Storms Are Threatening People and Property, Jennifer A. Francis, Scientific American

Vortex Beams…

This calculated diffraction image shows how forked diffraction gratings shape the atoms’ wave function into a vortex. (Courtesy: Science/AAAS)

Topics: Bose-Einstein Condensate, Nanotechnology, Particle Physics, Quantum Optics

A wave-like property previously only seen in beams of light and electrons has been observed for the first time in atoms and molecules. By passing beams of helium and neon through a grid of specially shaped nanoslits, researchers led by Edvardas Narevicius of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science succeeded in giving the beams a non-zero orbital angular momentum (OAM). The resulting structures are known vortex beams, and they could be used for fundamental physics studies such as probing the internal structure of protons.

Many natural systems contain vortices – think of tornadoes and ocean eddies on Earth, the red spot on Jupiter, and gravitational vortices around black holes. On all scales, such vortices are characterized by the circulation of a flux around an axis. In the quantum world, these swirling structures are found in ensembles of particles that can be described by a wavefunction, including superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates.

Atoms and molecules make vortex beams, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Big Bet on Small…

Topics: Futurism, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

The National Nanotechnology Initiative promised a lot. It has delivered more.

We’re now more than two decades out from the initial announcement of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a federal program from President Bill Clinton founded in 2000 to support nanotechnology research and development in universities, government agencies, and industry laboratories across the United States. It was a significant financial bet on a field that was better known among the general public for science fiction than scientific achievement. Today it’s clear that the NNI did more than influence the direction of research in the U.S. It catalyzed a worldwide effort and spurred an explosion of creativity in the scientific community. And we’re reaping the rewards not just in medicine, but also clean energy, environmental remediation, and beyond.

Before the NNI, there were people who thought nanotechnology was a gimmick. I began my research career in chemistry, but it seemed to me that nanotechnology was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the opening of a new field that crossed scientific disciplines. In the wake of the NNI, my university, Northwestern University, made the strategic decision to establish the International Institute for Nanotechnology, which now represents more than $1 billion in pure nanotechnology research, educational programs, and supporting infrastructure. Other universities across the U.S. made similar investments, creating new institutes and interdisciplinary partnerships.

Moreover, as a new route to inter- or transdisciplinary research, which was at the core of the NNI, nanotechnology has driven a new narrative in STEM: collaboration. Nanotechnology has captured the imagination of a generation of materials scientists, chemists, physicists, and biologists to synthesize and understand new materials; as well as inspiring engineers who are trained to develop tools for making and manipulating such structures; and doctors who can use them in the clinic. Collaborative nanotechnology research at our institute unites faculty members from 32 departments across four schools at Northwestern. This diversity of training and perspective does more than broaden the scope of our research. It enables us to identify, understand and address big problems—and it helps us break down barriers between the lab and the marketplace.

A Big Bet on Nanotechnology Has Paid Off, Chad Mirkin is director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and a professor of materials science and engineering, medicine, biomedical engineering, and chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University.


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!” Chess.com

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.