Topics: Astrophysics, Space Exploration, Spaceflight
‘Oumuamua—a mysterious, interstellar object that crashed through our solar system two years ago—might in fact be alien technology. That’s because an alternative, non-alien explanation might be fatally flawed, as a new study argues.
But most scientists think the idea that we spotted alien technology in our solar system is a long shot.
In 2018, our solar system ran into an object lost in interstellar space. The object, dubbed ‘Oumuamua, seemed to be long and thin—cigar-shaped—and tumbling end over end. Then, close observations showed it was accelerating, as if something were pushing on it. Scientists still aren’t sure why.
One explanation? The object was propelled by an alien machine, such as a lightsail—a wide, millimeter-thin machine that accelerates as it’s pushed by solar radiation. The main proponent of this argument was Avi Loeb, a Harvard University astrophysicist.
Now, in a new paper published Monday (Aug. 17) in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Loeb and Thiem Hoang, an astrophysicist at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, argue that the hydrogen hypothesis couldn’t work in the real world—which would mean that there is still hope that our neck of space was once visited by advanced aliens—and that we actually spotted their presence at the time.
Here’s the problem with ‘Oumuamua: It moved like a comet, but didn’t have the classic coma, or tail, of a comet, said astrophysicist Darryl Seligman, an author of the solid hydrogen hypothesis, who is starting a postdoctoral fellowship in astrophysics at the University of Chicago.
NASA and Boeing continue to make progress toward the company’s second uncrewed flight test of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to flying astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The Commercial Crew Program currently is targeting no earlier than December 2020 for launch of the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) pending hardware readiness, flight software qualification, and launch vehicle and space station manifest priorities.
Over the summer, Boeing’s Starliner team focused on readying the next spacecraft for its upcoming flight tests as well as making improvements identified during various review processes throughout the beginning of the year. NASA also announced an additional crew assignment for its first operational mission, NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1, with astronauts to the space station. Here’s more on the recent progress:
Teams from Boeing are well into final assembly of the crew and service modules that will fly OFT-2 to the space station inside of the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. OFT-2 will fly a new, reusable Starliner crew module providing additional on-orbit experience for the operational teams prior to flying missions with astronauts. For Boeing’s Commercial Crew missions, the Starliner spacecraft will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
With the majority of assembly complete, recent progress is focused on the NASA docking system re-entry cover, which was added to the design for additional protection of the system. The team also has completed the installation of the Starliner propellant heater, thermal protection system tiles and the air bags that will be used when the spacecraft touches down for landing. As final production activities continue to progress, the crew module recently entered acceptance testing, which will prove out the systems on the spacecraft before it’s mated with its service module.
A team led by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Maryland in the US has used defects in diamond to map the magnetic field generated by electrical currents in graphene. Their experiments reveal that currents in this atomically-thin form of carbon flow like a viscous fluid – a result that could provide fresh insights into the collective behavior of electrons in strongly-interacting quantum systems.
Graphene has many exceptional electrical properties. Among them is the fact that, at the point where its conduction and valence bands just touch each other (the Dirac point), it can support currents composed of electrons and an equal number of positively-charged holes, rather than electrons alone. In the present work, Ronald Walsworth, Amir Yacoby and colleagues set out to establish whether these electron-hole plasmas (or Dirac fluids, as they are also known) flow smoothly, like electrons travelling through a metallic wire, or unevenly like water running through a pipe.
A shoddily tailored suit or a shrunken T-shirt may not be the most stylish, but wearing them is unlikely to hurt more than your reputation. An ill-fitting robotic exoskeleton on the battlefield or factory floor, however, could be a much bigger problem than a fashion faux pas.
Exoskeletons, many of which are powered by springs or motors, can cause pain or injury if their joints are not aligned with the user’s. To help manufacturers and consumers mitigate these risks, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a new measurement method to test whether an exoskeleton and the person wearing it are moving smoothly and in harmony.
In a new report, the researchers describe an optical tracking system (OTS) not unlike the motion capture techniques used by filmmakers to bring computer-generated characters to life.
The OTS uses special cameras that emit light and capture what is reflected back by spherical markers arranged on objects of interest. A computer calculates the position of the labeled objects in 3D space. Here, this approach was used to track the movement of an exoskeleton and test pieces, called “artifacts,” fastened to its user.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights
Turning Point: China removes presidential term limits.
First we see the face. The face of America’s Donald Trump, or Hungary’s Viktor Orban, or Russia’s Vladimir Putin, or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the face of men who wish to transform democracies into personality cults.
The face is the oldest mark of leadership, the mark that works for clan or tribe. If we see only the face, we are not thinking about policies or politics; instead, we are accepting the new regime and its rules. However, a democracy is about the people, not a single mythicized person.
People need truth, which a cult of personality destroys. Theories of democracy, from the ancient Greeks through the Enlightenment to today, take for granted that the world around us yields to understanding. We pursue the facts alongside our fellow citizens. But in a cult of personality, truth is replaced by belief, and we believe what the leader wishes us to believe. The face replaces the mind.
The transition from democracy to personality cult begins with a leader who is willing to lie all the time, in order to discredit the truth as such. The transition is complete when people can no longer distinguish between truth and feeling.
Yesterday, a demagogue spoke to a former political party that for the first time in its history, doesn’t have a platform.
Remove “R” and “D.” What are national conventions, other than platforms, or means to lay out the vision of the standard-bearer for the country, and thus the party itself? To give a compelling reason to vote for a party’s vision, or colloquially, “what’s in it for me?” The chaos candidate who became the chaos president foamed at the mouth at a super spreader event breaking the Hatch Act on the White House lawn made no improvement – in FOUR YEARS – on my observations years ago, posted September 1, 2016: Party of Apocalypse.
The first night of the RNC convention could have been a success with the noted exception of Melania Trump lifting whole cloth parts of now First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the DNC convention in 2008. An out-of-work journalist was the first to catch and tweet it (a sad indictment of the employed journalists ACTUALLY at the RNC convention) . The last night of the RNC was like “The Dark Knight Returns”: the world was essentially a shit show like Gotham, and Batman screamed for 75 minutes incoherent, semi-form, hand-tossed Word Salad anointing himself Bruce-Wayne-Almighty-Cheetos-Jesus savior of the planet by the strength of his will alone (no cool gadgets – just a Galaxy Smart Phone and a twitter handle he misspells as he jacks off on almost daily). The Bat’s bravery was previously demonstrated during his selfless sacrificed Vietnam five deferments to let others more worthy die in his place.
My coworkers on the first night’s events had statements like: “that is not plagiarism” (it was); or “what she said (Mrs. Trump) in her speech most people say in one form or another every day!” 38 hours later: a phantom ghost writer emerged – Meredith Melver, who apparently conveniently work for a man that’s on record imitating his own publicist.  The name sounds suspicious enough with the possibility of two plagiarisms vis-à-vis Mrs. Trump, and his educational ventures. Trump Institute and University lifted content whole cloth . There are suspicions like his publicist, Ms. Melver may have been a convenient creation, but it seems she’s legit . But more importantly, the Meredith mea culpa was enough for my coworker Trumpism fans. Never mind Mrs. Trump had previous revealed to Matt Lauer of NBC she had “written it all herself.” They pivoted to the next talking point with the ease of any group studied by Leon Festinger.
Don’t know this guy? He studied an apocalyptic UFO cult in the 1950s – a precursor to the Heaven’s Gate Cult of the 1990s. They were ABSOLUTELY sure the world would end and had a date. The faithful sold all their worldly goods and waited for the apocalypse…and waited…and waited… Some of the former faithful felt discouraged and left. Others felt their “vibrations” had saved the Earth from destruction.  Simple Psychology defines it thus: “Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc. “For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). “Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance).”
Making political speeches from the White House lawn is as illegal as making political speeches as Secretary of State from Jerusalem. They are violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits such actions. If this treatment of The Constitution like toilet paper is going on in plain sight, what happens when American becomes a failed state?
WHICH Amendment will matter, or be reinforced? Forget birthright citizenship: you are citizen if the KING says you’re a citizen. Forget voting rights for African Americans, or women, or their autonomy over their own bodies. Mashing up George Carlin and Margaret Atwood, I can see a dystopian scenario where women become “broodmares of the state” for people screaming about “white genocide,” doing much meth and little coitus. I can think a party, afraid of losing political power to demographics, could easily make the case the 2nd Amendment restricted to citizens with a LACKING preponderance of Melanin. In Putin’s Russia, there is no such thing as a 2nd Amendment, or a preponderance of Melanin, for that matter.
My “Party of Apocalypse” essay has unfortunately, aged well.
As the world anxiously awaits development of one or more vaccines to tame the SARS-CoV-2 virus, other research continues at a feverish pace to find effective treatments for the disease it causes, COVID-19. That work, in which physicists and chemists are deeply involved, has made significant strides in the past several months and has turned up a few surprises.Researchers at the University of Alberta reported at the August virtual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association that a dipeptide-based protease inhibitor used to treat a fatal coronavirus infection in cats also blocks replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples of monkey lung tissue. Joanne Lemieux, a biochemist at the university, says the antiviral, known as GC373, works by blocking the function of the main protease (Mpro), an enzyme that cleaves the polyproteins translated from viral RNA into individual proteins once it enters human cells.
Lemieux says GC373 has been shown to have no toxic effects in cats. Anivive, a California company that develops pet medicines, has applied for US Food and Drug Administration approval to begin trials in humans. Lemieux’s group crystallized the Mpro in combination with the drug and produced three-dimensional images of how the drug binds strongly to the active pocket on the enzyme. Although GC373 should be effective in its current form, the group is planning further crystallography experiments at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) and the Canadian Light Source to see if a reformulation could optimize it for human use, she says.
Scientists have found new evidence that Earth has been moving through the remains of exploded stars for at least the last 33,000 years.
In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of Australian researchers describe how they extracted a special isotope of iron called iron-60 from five deep-sea sediment samples using mass spectrometry.
That’s illuminating, because as the researchers wrote in their paper, the isotope is “predominantly produced in massive stars and ejected in supernova explosions.” In other words, iron-60 is left over after a star explodes.
And because iron-60 is radioactive and decays in 15 million years, the theory is that our planet is continuously being dusted with the stuff as it’s moving through the “Local Interstellar Cloud,” a region of unclear origins made up of gas, dust, and plasma.
Topics: Lasers, Optics, Plasma, Research, Star Trek, Star Wars
In science fiction, firing powerful lasers looks easy — the Death Star can just send destructive power hurtling through space as a tight beam. But in reality, once a powerful laser has been fired, care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t get spread too thin.
If you’ve ever pointed a flashlight at a wall, you’ve observed an example of the diffusion of light. The farther you are from the wall, the more the beam spreads, resulting in a larger and dimmer spot of light. Lasers generally expand much more slowly than the beams from flashlights, but the effect of diffusion is important when the laser travels a long way or must maintain a high intensity.
Whether your goal is to achieve galactic domination or, more realistically, to accelerate electrons to incredible speeds for physics research, you’ll want as tight and powerful a beam as possible to maximize the intensity.
In their experiments, researchers can use devices called waveguides, like the optical fibers that might be carrying the internet throughout your neighborhood, to transport lasers while keeping them contained to narrow beams.
Topics: COVID-19, Materials Science, Optics, Photonics, Research
From chemistry to materials science to COVID-19 research, the APS is one of the most productive X-ray light sources in the world. An upgrade will make it a global leader among the next generation of light sources, opening new frontiers in science.
In the almost 25 years since the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility, first opened at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, it has played an essential role in some of the most pivotal discoveries and advancements in science.
More than 5,000 researchers from around the world conduct experiments at the APS every year, and their work has, among many other notable successes, paved the way for better renewable batteries; resulted in the development of numerous new drugs; and helped to make vehicles more efficient, infrastructure materials stronger and electronics more powerful.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights
Entropy as Time’s Arrow: “One of the ideas involved in the concept of entropy is that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.”Hyperphysics
The Senate Intelligence Committees’ bipartisan report confirming Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that Putin’s puppet; his coterie lied in official testimony to Congress and the Mueller Report should be a damning indictment to a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party with a doofus, bizarro mob boss at its helm. You should download both documents and READ them.
Crimes-in-progress is being confessed to on camera, and in real time. You likely think a guilty person wouldn’t confess to a crime he’s committing, but a brazen criminal unburdened by guilt or a conscious would, and say you shouldn’t believe your “lying eyes,” or “fake news.” Jeb Bush said “he was a chaos candidate, and he’ll be a chaos president.” Orange Satan asked African Americans “what the hell do you have to lose?” That hypothesis, as said at the end of a proof, has clearly been shown – healthcare during a pandemic, jobs, the post office: QED.
As a nation and a world, we are all in an abusive relationship with someone that has no real relationship with facts, data, or reality. We’re being gaslighted by a narcissist, whose puppeteer is a KGB agent. His ascension was by design. Trigger warning for what follows:
A lot of the links above are about interpersonal relationships with typically women and their narcissistic partners. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gained significant steam after the “American Carnage” speech at his pitifully-attended inauguration, which turned out to be both projection and promise.
As a country and world, we are all in a wearing, abusive relationship with the current occupant/Russian asset in the Oval Office. It is not hyperbole or hubris to state this election is not just for the “soul of America,” but for the very existence of the species.
Whoever is in the next administration in America will have impact on policies regarding climate change (this is still a thing). Concerning the deregulation of the fossil fuel industry during our current dystopian nightmare, under a second term (or, a lifetime according to Orange Satan), it can only exacerbate a precarious situation, magical thinking may create rainbows, and conspiracy theories make you feel smart, but neither has ever solved a problem relying on a knowledge and appreciation of The Scientific Method. Can you see QAnon in Starfleet? Do you want thesepeople piloting your starship?
“Putin’s thesis is that the American constitution is an experiment that will fail if it is challenged in the right way from within,” Mitchell continued. “Putin wants to break apart the American republic not by influencing an election or two, but by systematically inflaming the fault lines within our society. Accepting this fact is absolutely essential for developing a long-term response to the problem.” The problem Mitchell was describing has a kind of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose quality to it as far as Putin is concerned: Not only has the Russian leader tried to exploit political polarization over issues like race and guns, his attempts to do so have themselves become deeply divisive—to the point where even Trump’s advisers frequently find themselves at odds with the man they serve.
Part of Mitchell’s argument—which might be viewed favorably by a president who has taken particular umbrage at the notion that Putin sought to help him defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race—was that the Russian government isn’t necessarily interested in supporting a specific politician, party, or ideology. Instead, it simply wants to sow chaos in the United States to advance its own goals, which it sees as threatened by America’s preeminent position in the world. Mitchell cited the revelations on Tuesday that suspected Russian government hackers have been targeting conservative U.S. think tanks and promoting “fringe voices” on both the left and the right on social-media sites like Facebook.
This is the metastasis of “The Southern Strategy” a rancid, racist tactic that was birthed on the heels of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. It was and is a desperate bid for power. It predates itself as the definition of “white” changed from excluding everyone except “Nordic stock” Europeans (the English, mostly) to eventually including the previously excluded: Italians, Jews [and ironically] Russians all had tiny quotas. The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and the nascent eugenics movement in the United States fueled and influenced immigration policy in the earlier part of the last century. Admittedly, despite its reprehensible aims, it worked remarkably well for quite a while.
A president with decidedly African features, he and his wife both educated at Ivy League schools and a pitch-perfect family did not personify the fictional “Huxtables” before the fall of Mr. Cosby to their many detractors. The continual reminder that the country is becoming browner only ignited more fear and resolve to fight a demographic shift not in their favor of continual predominance circa 2042 – 2045. Their resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue transmitted a well-worn, white supremacist trope regarding farmland in South Africa (it’s returning the farmland to their original, African owners), but he needs a distraction since his former campaign manager and former personal lawyer were both found guilty on a total of 16 felony counts in a matter of minutes. Their visceral reaction to them was an existential crisis, a call to arms; a “white genocide,” ironically feared by the descendants of those that caused it well before the “Trail of Tears” for Native Americans. It caused Roger Ailes to see the power of televised propaganda and cater to an audience that were well past facts post the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of listening to Rush Limbaugh on AM Talk Radio and his “ditto head” clones; well past reasoned discourse before Twitter came online. What facts can be revealed are rebuffed by an avalanche of lies, there are no “gotchas” for a party that with the help of Karl Rove started “creating their own realities” a long time ago. A sizable chunk of the electorate has been in this “post-truth” Twilight Zone for decades.
This is what the “end of the American experiment” would look like. Foreign nations would pick our leaders. If republicans can visit Moscow July 4, 2018, before the midterm elections, what would prevent democrats from visiting Beijing summer of 2022? Could we protest in the streets, or dissent from the state on systemic racism during a pandemic without getting tear gassed, flash bombed, rubber bullets shot at our heads, or kidnapped in unmarked cars? Would we see poisonings, or people spontaneously “falling off buildings?” Would AG Bill Barr rescue the rule of law? Would VOTING matter?
That’s the essence of the somber warning President Obama gave Wednesday night, and this is an example of what a sham democracy would be like. Democracies that fail do so slowly – behind the scenes – the rapid fall only seems quick when it’s all over. Russia, like Iraq under Saddam Hussein have “elections,” but they’re fraudulent shows at gunpoint for a despot, thus ensuring high participation numbers in both totalitarian states. NO ONE represents the Russian people. They are ruled by a junta, led by a criminal sociopath. We are barely represented here. We have the nightmare choices of a marginally functional party and a dystopian, dysfunctional one led by a psychopath.
The bedrock of democracy, “an informed citizenry” would cease to exist: we would put in earbuds to jam out, or binge-watch streaming video and “mind our own business.”
Engaged citizens protesting racism during a pandemic looks like anarchy to tyranny.
Fearful, self-centered citizens are what authoritarian regimes crave and need: apathy.
All they needed was a useful idiot avatar, and a master spy to push the republic over the precipice. Ironically, if successful, the 2nd Amendment along with all others in a theoretical fall of our republic would become meaningless as in Russia, there is no right to bear arms that “former Americans” would recognize or appreciate. The imagined confiscation by government “jackbooted thugs” may be under the flag of a foreign power that duped the gullible:
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”