Big Lies, Krakens, and Infamy…

Live Science: What is a Kraken? Benjamin Radford

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York (Transcript)

Good evening.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

George W. Bush, 9/11 Address to the Nation

Go home; we love you.

Dumbo Gambino, 1/6/2021

Today is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Founders Day of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (Vice President Kamala Harris is a member).

I’ve been busy since last Friday, and numb from four years of bullshit.

There’s a sizable contingent of this country – 74 million or so – that don’t think I’m a citizen. Listening to a podcast with Chris Hayes and Ta-Nehishi Coates on what happened last Wednesday, like out of a pulp fiction writer’s fever dream. The discussion between them is ostensibly titled “The Attack on the Capitol.” Their dialog led to a dark logic.

For eight years of the Obama presidency, he was illegitimated by the birther lie. He was a secret Muslim, closet homosexual, his wife a transsexual man, and the kids adopted. It would have been news to their grandmother. Every effort made to make him “other,” inclusive of Witch Doctors and hanging him in effigy.

A whole cottage industry of conspiracy theories blossomed, and right-wing operators cashed in on the racism cash cow. Violence escalated nationally against African Americans – the majority of them men, but a few women because, racism – possibly to teach us our “places” in the authoritarian hierarchy. From Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breona Taylor, to George Floyd we could not catch our breaths. We were hung, struck, shot: lynched in reality.

The Former Republican Party (look up the definition of republicanism) hasn’t won both the electoral college and the popular vote in four elections: 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. The Southern Strategy obviously has a demographic shelf life, and a few in the privileged group is have the sads about it. If you “other” the first African American president, the votes of people sharing his heritage are by definition “illegitimate,” despite decisively winning elections and turning the power of the Senate. This happening despite denied voter suppression tactics of reducing drop boxes during a pandemic, cutting cables on voting machines, reducing precincts, delaying mail-in votes: they HAD to win, or so they thought.

Therefore, you can lie to your constituents, you can tell them the election was stolen without evidence. BLM protestors get teargas, water cannons, percussion bombs, and rubber bullets; armed insurrectionists get Capitol Police escorts who pose for selfies. They are fertile ground for sowing the grains of alternate facts. The ground had been prepared for over forty years. Rush Limbaugh, AM Talk Radio, Fox Propaganda, News Max, and OANN are the fruits born of this manure.

These fecal droppings also bear the fruits of violence. “Obama is coming to take your guns” raised more money than Midas for the gun industry from 2009 – 2016. They’ve lost money under Captain Crazy Pants. Without “jackbooted thug boogie men,” you don’t raise as much money for an industry so focused on a narrow clientele steeped in racism, religious extremism, sexism, xenophobia, and anxiety disorders.

So, after forty years of propaganda and bullshit, House Republicans aren’t afraid for the random QANON candidate to their far-right in a primary: they’re afraid the constituents they’ve been lying to for campaign dollars, the constituents they’ve played on their fears of the “other” and changing demographics to maintain power, will see through the wolf tickets they’ve been sold, and like the insurrectionists-seditionists cum insurgents, they will find them at their exclusive enclave residents – and kill them. The BIGGEST lie they’ve been told is that the current numerical minorities are taking their jobs. Middle-class jobs shipped overseas was a decision that happened in corporate boardrooms by people who looked like them. The rest is automation, computer science, and robotics.

Then First Lady (now Secretary) Hillary Clinton talked about a vast, right-wing conspiracy. Maybe it’s time to do what Senator Mitt Romney practically shouted in the well of the Senate post the attempted coup that threatened democrats and republicans alike. A coup that could have easily resembled how the “Son’s of Jacob” overthrew the government in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to set up the fictional Republic of Gilead:

Tell them the truth. Teach the ones you don’t jail civics and critical thinking skills.

“His [John F. Kennedy’s] assassination was the result of the climate of hate. Only I said ‘the chickens came home to roost,’ which means the same thing. A climate of hate means that this is the result OF something, and when I say ‘chickens coming home to roost‘ I mean the same thing.” He admonishes he didn’t say he was glad the president was killed: that’s what Malcolm says the press said. YouTube

Origin: The Phrase Finder

The notion of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator is long established in the English language and was expressed in print as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson’s Tale:

And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.

Conditional Sedition…

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Women’s Rights

Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85). Source: FBI/terrorism

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.” 18 U.S. Code § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy

“A government of laws, and not of men.” John Adams, Brainy Quote

Wednesday, the electoral college was certified, despite a blatant act of sedition.

Quoting Danielle Moody-Mills from Twitter:

“So, do we not call this a white seditious mob? Do we not call these people terrorists? Where is the teargas? Why are cops only trigger-happy, and baton-wielding with Black people, and supporters of actual justice?”

It was sedition that the seditionists boldly committed, and doxed themselves on social media. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz’s ambitions to run for president in 2024 are finished by the ample video evidence of their, and several other members of their former party’s willing participation in treason. SOMETHING has to be done about “social media,” a boondoggle whereby we, as customers, give them metadata on ourselves that allows them to sell it to businesses to influence our buying decisions, or to “buy-in” to the most lunatic fringe ideas that in the analog days used to exists in pamphlets spread by “woke trolls” on street corners like bean pies by the NOI. Think Alex Jones, who admitted in court testimony for his divorce in Austin, Texas that “he’s a performance artist.” Too bad the poor schmuck from Durham, NC sentenced to four years in prison for believing his bullshit couldn’t use that defense. Alex is still bullshitting all the way to the bank.

This is NOT the time to “turn the page,” and look forward. We have laws written for a reason: to enforce them, supposedly equally. Bullies and fascists are equally thwarted by the same tactic: standing UP to them. “Turning the page” only emboldens both, like impeaching in the House, and acquitting (i.e., letting a criminal get away with criminal shit) in the Senate. Hell, who needs to hear the Ukraine “perfect call” now? Dumbo Gambino reenacted the whole script Saturday with the Georgia Secretary of State!

I’m hoping the FBI and forensics are deploying facial recognition software to identify persons and associate them with their respective accounts. Then, reveal the Nazis to their bosses – Nazis start crying when you start firing them (racists have to eat). It’s a wonder why they just don’t bring back the Klan hoods – their ancestors hid their faces for a reason!

Once one of us (people of color) is killed, and converted to a hashtag, every effort by media and pundits is spent to look for every off-photo, making “hoodlums, gangsters, and thugs” out of the deceased to justify the killing. It’s ghoulish and evil.

Are we a “government of laws,” President Adams? Consider this as you, and our founding sociopaths that didn’t want to pay taxes to England are rolling over in your graves to the spectacle you could have never codified in a Constitution, or Articles of Confederation. The laws seem to specifically privilege one particular class of men, and women, ironically the first casualty of the act of sedition Wednesday was a supporter of the current Oval Office occupant that encouraged the “stop the steal” fantasy that lit the match. He poured on kerosene at noon, intimating he would “join them” in a march to the Capitol Building.

They were so privileged, many posed for “selfies” with Capitol Police. This is no different than the treatment the news gives a party at a “Freaknik” by HBCUs (historically black colleges, and universities) versus a frat party at a PWI (primarily white institution), where they routinely burn cars and damage public property with no repercussions. Hell, you all tear shit up after your team WON a Super Bowl, and nothing happens! Many seditionists were peacefully escorted out of buildings after damaging government property! This was the equivalent of Dylann Roof getting a cheeseburger after murdering parishioners he had just PRAYED with. If you’re tired of hearing about your white privilege, stop acting like insufferable, racist, murderous, privileged pricks!

We have a psychopath who incited insurrection blocked from social media, but still in charge of the nuclear codes. How does THIS make sense? We need the 25th Amendment, or another Impeachment that Moscow Mitch can support since riding this dragon cost him his leadership in the Senate, and likely put the republicans with the Whigs, and Know-Nothings as far as viability as a political party, literally “history.”

If we then are a “nation of men,” particularly white men, here’s my reparations:

  1. I pay no taxes for roads, bridges, or congressional salaries.
  2. My student loans are wiped clean, as well as those of my children.
  3. I can freely expatriate to another nation after this pandemic is contained.

Beyond that, I don’t need a red cent or a plug nickel. Leave me the HELL alone. If you STILL support this psychopath, I really don’t want to hear your “point of view.”

Then, left with your purist, nationalist, racist fantasy of whiteness, you can apply the laws that you used to hammer Black Lives Matter protesters (because their lives obviously didn’t), equally on the white citizens you will have left to govern. You’ll have nothing but white criminals to prosecute, and those “for-profit-prisons” won’t fill themselves. Rome is a former empire, and America appears headed to that same dustbin of history. Good luck.

Or, after 400+ goddamned years of racist, white supremacist bullshit, Crispus Attucks being the first to DIE in the Revolutionary War, our participation in EVERY single war since the founding of the republic, you FINALLY treat us like equals, Americans and HUMANS!

3D Hydrogel Polymers…

Fig. 1 Multimaterial 3D printing hydrogel with other polymers.(A) Illustration of the DLP-based multimaterial 3D printing apparatus. (B and C) Processes of printing elastomer and hydrogel structures, respectively. (D) Snapshot of a diagonally symmetric Kelvin form made of AP hydrogel and elastomer. (E) Demonstration of the high deformability of the printed diagonally symmetric Kelvin form. (F) Snapshot of a printed Kelvin foam consisting of rigid polymer, AP hydrogel, and elastomer. (G) Demonstration of the high stretchability of the printed multimaterial Kelvin foam. Scale bar, 5 mm. (Photo credit: Zhe Chen, Zhejiang University.)

Topics: Chemistry, Materials Science, Polymer Science

Hydrogel-polymer hybrids have been widely used for various applications such as biomedical devices and flexible electronics. However, the current technologies constrain the geometries of hydrogel-polymer hybrid to laminates consisting of hydrogel with silicone rubbers. This greatly limits functionality and performance of hydrogel-polymer–based devices and machines. Here, we report a simple yet versatile multimaterial 3D printing approach to fabricate complex hybrid 3D structures consisting of highly stretchable and high–water content acrylamide-PEGDA (AP) hydrogels covalently bonded with diverse UV curable polymers. The hybrid structures are printed on a self-built DLP-based multimaterial 3D printer. We realize covalent bonding between AP hydrogel and other polymers through incomplete polymerization of AP hydrogel initiated by the water-soluble photoinitiator TPO nanoparticles. We demonstrate a few applications taking advantage of this approach. The proposed approach paves a new way to realize multifunctional soft devices and machines by bonding hydrogel with other polymers in 3D forms.

3D printing of highly stretchable hydrogel with diverse UV curable polymers, Science Advances

Qi Ge1,*,†, Zhe Chen2,*, Jianxiang Cheng1, Biao Zhang3,†, Yuan-Fang Zhang4, Honggeng Li4,5, Xiangnan He1, Chao Yuan4, Ji Liu1, Shlomo Magdassi6 and Shaoxing Qu2,†

Quantum Jumps…

Topics: Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics

Quantum mechanics, the theory that describes the physics of the universe at very small scales, is notorious for defying common sense. Consider, for instance, the way that standard interpretations of the theory suggest change occurs in the quantum turf: shifts from one state to another supposedly happen unpredictably and instantaneously. Put another way, if events in our familiar world unfolded similarly to those within atoms, we would expect to routinely see batter becoming a fully baked cake without passing through any intermediate steps. Everyday experience, of course, tells us this is not the case, but for the less accessible microscopic realm, the true nature of such “quantum jumps” has been a major unsolved problem in physics.

In recent decades, however, technological advancements have allowed physicists to probe the issue more closely in carefully arranged laboratory settings. The most fundamental breakthrough arguably came in 1986, when researchers for the first time experimentally verified that quantum jumps are actual physical events that can be observed and studied. Ever since, steady technical progress has opened deeper vistas upon the mysterious phenomenon. Notably, an experiment published in 2019 overturned the traditional view of quantum jumps by demonstrating that they move predictably and gradually once they start—and can even be stopped midway.

That experiment, performed at Yale University, used a setup that let the researchers monitor the transitions with minimal intrusion. Each jump took place between two energy values of a superconducting qubit, a tiny circuit built to mimic the properties of atoms. The research team used measurements of “side activity” taking place in the circuit when the system had the lower energy. This is a bit like knowing which show is playing on a television in another room by only listening for certain key words. This indirect probe evaded one of the top concerns in quantum experiments—namely, how to avoid influencing the very system that one is observing. Known as “clicks” (from the sound that old Geiger counters made when detecting radioactivity), these measurements revealed an important property: jumps to the higher energy were always preceded by a halt in the “key words,” a pause in the side activity. This eventually permitted the team to predict the jumps’ unfolding and even to stop them at will.

New Views of Quantum Jumps Challenge Core Tenets of Physics, Eleni Petrakou, Scientific American

2020 Nano Highlights….

Image source: The article link, but it should symbolize how last year felt to the sane among us.

Topics: Biology, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Research

Snake vision inspires pyroelectric material design

Bioinspiration and biomimicry involve studying how living organisms do something and using that insight to develop new technologies. Pit vipers have two special organs on their heads called loreal pits that allow them to “see” the infrared radiation given off by their warm-blooded prey. Now, Pradeep Sharma and colleagues have worked out that the snakes use cells that act as a soft pyroelectric material to convert infrared radiation into electrical signals that can be processed by their nervous systems. As well as potentially solving a longstanding puzzle in snake biology, the work could also aid the development of thermoelectric transducers based on soft, flexible structures rather than stiff crystals.

Nanotechnology and materials highlights of 2020, Hamish Johnston, Physics World

The Path Forward…

Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Science

Science, as Carl Sagan wrote, has to be our “candle in the dark.”

The Scientific Method we developed as a hunter-gatherer species. The tools of hunter-gatherers were utilitarian, and pragmatic. Our ancestors observed things, and noticed patterns. They made mental notes of these patterns, and codified them through rituals, customs, and behaviors into distinct cultures defined by these traditions. Some kept this knowledge in secret, esoteric, as any knowledge is power over others. This probably is the reason why we’re so suspicious of any change in what was, or is new knowledge.

Many first-responders are BIPOC, so the resistance to it, probably from the apprehension around the Tuskegee Experiment, has an understandable history, but it’s still alarming. We can wear masks. We can contact trace. We can socially distance. We can take the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca variants of the vaccine, and mitigate this more quickly.

Or, we can guarantee after a long dark winter, a longer slog through the spring, summer and fall. Herd immunity isn’t by brute force: it is intentionally engineered with vaccines.

WASHINGTON — Authorities are reporting early shipments of the COVID 19 vaccine will not cover all essential personnel who are supposed to be first in line to get it. The CDC’s immunization advisory panel voted Tuesday to give the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Hundreds of thousands of frontline medical workers are at the top of that list. But surveys are showing that not all are eager to be first.

While 63% of health care workers reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that they would accept the vaccine, the agency is concerned about the large numbers who are hesitant. The American Nurses Foundation is reporting 36% of nurses surveyed said they would not voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s deployed.

‘No one wants to be a guinea pig’ | Vaccine hesitancy divides health care workers, Scott Broom, ABC10 News

Carbon sequestration involves a lot of technology, or it can involve what Earth did before we discovered technology: plant more trees.

Forty-nine million years ago, a small aquatic fern called Azolla wrested control of Earth’s climate. At the time, the landlocked Arctic Ocean developed a surface layer of freshwater, which allowed the ferns to grow unchecked in a wide-open environment. Billions of tons of plants died and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking with them the carbon they had sucked from the air when they were alive. 

The consequences were extreme. Geologic evidence indicates that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels plummeted more than 80 percent over 800,000 years, sharply ratcheting down Earth’s thermostat. Prior to the inferred “Azolla Event,” most of the globe was lush and tropical. Afterward, the Arctic cooled by nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the poles froze, and our planet entered a lurching cycle of ice ages that continue to this day. 

How to Bury Carbon? Let Plants Do the Dirty Work, Cory S. Powell, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory

This seems simple enough, but politicians like Jair Bolsonaro apparently came to power much like our one-term Neo-fascist did: lifted to office by right-wing Christian zealots in Brazil, particularly of the megachurch kind. From a dominionistic view, carbon sequestration shows a “lack of faith.” Forty-nine million years ago is a long way from a mere guestimate of ten-thousand years. Burning the Amazon, like for many cheering for Armageddon hastens the Apocalypse , and the Second Coming. It is thus, anathema.

I follow Politics and Prose on YouTube. David K. Johnston gave a speech at their bookstore some time ago on his book: “The Making of Donald Trump.” Many things weren’t a revelation to me, but one thing in particular stuck with me.

People the world over are afraid. Con artists, fascists, and strongmen play on fear.

I’m talking pre-pandemic afraid: afraid of change, afraid of diversity, afraid their particular sacred texts do not line up neatly with new scientific discoveries; afraid of their traditions being challenged in the light of Sagan’s candle. Such fear gives political power to strongmen (the antonym more accurate) that assure their crowds on their rise to power that they will return those fearful of change to a “golden age of greatness,” which they never really define. The other common thing is there is a scapegoated “other” on which all blame for everything wrong is laid. That is the history of the scapegoat, by the way. For humans, it leads to disdain, disregard, murder, and genocide.

For an otherwise intelligent species, that can lead to extinction.

A preprint paper in ArXiv gives the grim estimate that intelligent species over long stretches of time eventually annihilate themselves. I would really like us all to be the rare exceptions to this possible rule.

Dark Winter, Brighter Spring…

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

I have taken the following vaccines this year: Pneumonia, Seasonal Influenza (Flu), Shingles in two booster shots.

Therefore, I am very likely to take the Coronavirus vaccine either offered by Pfizer or Moderna.

Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration’s suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it’s ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here’s what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

“Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed,” CEO Albert Bourla said via Twitter. His company says it has completed every shipment the U.S. government has requested.

We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,” Pfizer said in a statement.

The company also noted that in the past week, it shipped 2.9 million doses of the vaccine it developed with BioNTech in what is widely seen as a breakthrough in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus.

Pfizer Says Millions Of Vaccine Doses Are Ready, But States Say Shipments Were Cut, Bill Chappell, NPR

Unlike the 1918 pandemic, I don’t think it will take us a decade to come to some sense of normalcy. I am concerned, from a cultural perspective, that the vaccine spreads equitably.

We have a reason to be suspicious. The Tuskegee Experiment happened over four decades, affected hundreds of lives, allowing syphilis to infect men, women, and children. It makes trusting authorities with our lives a bit problematic. As I’ve said, if it helps anyone reading this entry, I will take the vaccine. I would like to get back to some sense of normalcy.

The revelation of the recent Russian hacks is the equivalent of a Cyber Pearl Harbor. Our nuclear triad material, three states (including Austin, Texas), the Central Intelligence Agency, Treasury, NASA, Commerce et al. This is a stickup. Think the city, lights: sewage. Like a burglar, we could all be held hostage by a foreign power. To paraphrase a false claim attributed to Nikita Khrushchev, Putin could literally “bury us without firing a shot.”

The shenanigans of the current obtuse, malignant, narcissistic, and incompetent administration will come to an end. Vaccines will go out, modeled by an incoming administration that like previous democratic ones before them, have to shovel the country out of the smoldering ruin that the previous republican one left the country in. They will of course delay vaccines, they will of course, try to sabotage on the way out. They are the steroids equivalent of Clinton-to-Bush removing the W keys, and costing the government approximately $15,000. It was disappointing and sophomoric. This stunt is petty, malevolent, and deadly. We have crossed the Rubicon of 300,000 dead Americans. At a rate of a 9/11 per day, we’ll reach 400,000 by inauguration. Delay during a pandemic will kill more Americans, but I guess that’s not a big concern to a malignant narcissist.

But I am hopeful for a brighter spring.

Mango Mussolini can do a lot of damage in 33 days, but it’s 33 days at noon when he loses access to the nuclear football, he loses the presidential immunity that protects him from an indictment, not that Letitia James, Cyrus Vance, SDNY, or EDNY are bothered by his threats of family and self pardons. His crimes in New York are state felonies, likely involving inflating his wealth, or decreasing it when it suited him. We’ll likely find out he’s not as rich as he claims to be. He cashed a series of diminishing value checks sent as a gag by Spy Magazine, proving himself a bit player in the New York Real Estate market. He’ll need every penny he’s grifting from his deluded followers to stay out of prison. Not that I’m sympathetic: but grift on this constant level has to be exhausting, and depleting of finance, and bodily constitution.

The evil energizer bunny has to run out of gas sometimes. His tweets will reach a limited audience. Cities that haven’t YET gotten paid for his previous rallies will refuse to book him. He’s proposing bringing back The Apprentice because his “power” is his celebrity, and that dwindles quickly without cameras on you constantly. He can call it Apprentice, 2024: Finding a Vice President (a tacit admittance Pence didn’t help him win re-election). Several sources say Twitter might finally remove him, not the conviction to “do the right thing,” just that if his followers dwindle, they have no one to gather metadata from for marketing purposes. It’s business, and a one-term president probably isn’t good for the bottom-line.

That’s all fine and good, Donald unless you’re spending your evenings at Riker’s. Maybe they’ll station you at the Queens Detention Complex. He can see the old neighborhood, while the rest of us heal from his madness. We will get through this.

That’s it for this year. See you in January 2021.

No Strings Attached…

Image Source: Physicist finds loose thread of string theory puzzle, Cay Leytham-Powell, University of Colorado at Boulder,

Topics: Einstein, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory

For decades, most physicists have agreed that string theory is the missing link between Einstein’s theory of general relativity, describing the laws of nature at the largest scale, and quantum mechanics, describing them at the smallest scale. However, an international collaboration headed by Radboud physicists has now provided compelling evidence that string theory is not the only theory that could form the link. They demonstrated that it is possible to construct a theory of quantum gravity that obeys all fundamental laws of physics, without strings. They described their findings in Physical Review Letters last week.

When we observe gravity at work in our universe, such as the motion of planets or light passing close to a black hole, everything seems to follow the laws written down by Einstein in his theory of general relativity. On the other hand, quantum mechanics is a theory that describes the physical properties of nature at the smallest scale of atoms and subatomic particles. Though these two theories have allowed us to explain every fundamental physical phenomenon observed, they also contradict each other. As of today, physicists have severe difficulties to reconcile the two theories to explain gravity on both the largest and smallest scale.

Explaining gravity without string theory, Radboud University,


Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Comets, Space Exploration

Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered.

These channels enable the fast travel of objects through space and could be harnessed for our own space exploration purposes, as well as the study of comets and asteroids.

By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Nataša Todorović of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds – and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn.”

This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System.

Finding hidden structures in space isn’t always easy, but looking at the way things move around can provide helpful clues. In particular, comets and asteroids.

There are several groups of rocky bodies at different distances from the Sun. There’s the Jupiter-family comets (JFCs), those with orbits of less than 20 years, that don’t go farther than Jupiter’s orbital paths.

Centaurs are icy chunks of rocks that hang out between Jupiter and Neptune. And the trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) are those in the far reaches of the Solar System, with orbits larger than that of Neptune.

Astronomers Just Found Cosmic ‘Superhighways’ For Fast Travel Through The Solar System, Michelle Starr (no kidding), Science Alert

Measure of Our Impact…

Dams are just one type of infrastructure that can cause environmental damage. HUSEYINTUNCER/ ISTOCK

Topics: Civics, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism

It’s not just your storage unit that’s packed to the gills. According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. And the amount of new material added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.

“If you weren’t convinced before that humans are dominating the planet, then you should be convinced now,” says Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at the New School who was not involved with the research. “This is an eye-catching comparison,” adds Fridolin Krausmann, a social ecologist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, who also was not involved in the work.

There are many measures of humanity’s impact on the planet. Fossil fuels have sent greenhouse gases soaring to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. Agriculture and dwellings have altered 70% of land. And humans have wiped out untold numbers of species in an emerging great extinction. The transformations are so great that researchers have declared we’re living in a new human-dominated age: the Anthropocene.

Systems biologist Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science went looking for a new gauge of our impact. He and his colleagues synthesized previous estimates of the biomass of living plants for each year between 1900 and 2017. Those estimates account for about 90% of all living things and are based on field research and computer modeling. From 1990 onward, they also include data from satellites, which researchers have used to track global vegetation.

Human ‘stuff’ now outweighs all life on Earth, Erik Stokstad, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Magazine