When Ondrej Krivanek first considered building a device to boost the resolution of electron microscopes, he asked about funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. “The response was not positive,” he says, laughing. He heard through the grapevine that the administrator who held the purse strings declared that the project would be funded “over his dead body.”
“People just felt it was too complicated, and that nobody would ever make it work,” says Krivanek. But he tried anyway. After all, he says, “If everyone expects you to fail, you can only exceed expectations.”
The correctors that Krivanek, Niklas Dellby, and other colleagues subsequently designed for the scanning transmission electron microscope did exceed expectations. They focus the microscope’s electron beam, which scans back and forth across the sample like a spotlight, and make it possible to distinguish individual atoms and to conduct chemical analysis within a sample. For his pioneering efforts, Krivanek shared The Kavli Prize in nanoscience with the German scientists Harald Rose, Maximilian Haider, and Knut Urban, who independently developed correctors for conventional transmission electron microscopes, in which a broad stationary beam illuminates the entire sample at once.
Electron microscopes, invented in 1931, long promised unprecedented clarity, and in theory could resolve objects a hundredth the size of an atom. But in practice they rarely get close because the electromagnetic lenses they use to focus electrons deflected them in ways that distorted and blurred the resulting images.
The aberration correctors designed by both Krivanek’s team and the German scientists deploy a series of electromagnetic fields, applied in multiple planes and different directions, to redirect and focus wayward electrons. “Modern correctors contain more than 100 optical elements and have software that automatically quantifies and fixes 25 different types of aberrations,” says Krivanek, who co-founded a company called Nion to develop and commercialize the technology.
That level of fine-tuning allows microscopists to fix their sights on some important pursuits, such as producing smaller and more energy-efficient computers, analyzing biological samples without incinerating them, and being able to detect hydrogen, the lightest element and a potential clean-burning fuel.
Expedition 1 and Crew-1. These historic International Space Station missions lifting off 20 years apart share the same goals: advancing humanity by using the space station to learn how to explore farther than ever before, while also conducting research and technology demonstrations benefiting life back on Earth.
Crew-1, made up of NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, continues the legacy of two decades of living and working in low-Earth orbit by becoming space scientists for the next six months.
Not only will the Crew-1 astronauts and fellow Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins conduct hundreds of microgravity studies during their mission, they also deliver new science hardware and experiments carried to space with them inside Crew Dragon.
Check out some of the research flying to the space station alongside Crew-1, and scientific investigations the astronauts will work on during their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.
The year 2020 has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic: The novel coronavirus responsible for it has infected millions of people and caused more than a million deaths. Like HIV, Zika, Ebola, and many influenza strains, the coronavirus made the evolutionary jump from animals to humans before wreaking widespread havoc. The battle to control it continues.When a disease outbreak is identified—usually through an anomalous spike in cases with similar symptoms—scientists rush to understand the new illness. What type of microbe causes the infection? Where did it come from? How does the infection spread? What are its symptoms? What drugs could treat it? In the current epidemic, science has proceeded at a frenetic pace. Virus genomes are quickly sequenced and analyzed, case and death numbers are visualized daily, and hundreds of preprints are shared every day.
Some scientists rush for their microscopes and lab coats to study a new infection; others leap for their calculators and code. A handful of metrics can characterize a new outbreak, guide public health responses, and inform complex models that can forecast the epidemic’s trajectory. Infectious disease epidemiologists, mathematical biologists, biostatisticians, and others with similar expertise try to answer several questions: How quickly is the infection spreading? What fraction of transmission must be blocked to control the spread? How long is someone infectious? How likely are infected people to be hospitalized or die?
Physics is often considered the most mathematical science, but theory and rigorous mathematical analysis also underlie ecology, evolutionary biology, and epidemiology.1 Ideas and people constantly flow between physics and those fields. In fact, the idea of using mathematics to understand infectious disease spread is older than germ theory itself. Daniel Bernoulli of fluid-mechanics fame devised a model to predict the benefit of smallpox inoculations2 in 1760, and Nobel Prize–winning physician Ronald Ross created mathematical models to encourage the use of mosquito control to reduce malaria transmission.3 Some of today’s most prolific infectious disease modelers originally trained as physicists, including Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, an adviser to the UK government on its COVID-19 response, and Vittoria Colizza of Sorbonne University in Paris, a leader in network modeling of disease spread.
This article introduces the essential mathematical quantities that characterize an outbreak, summarizes how scientists calculate those numbers, and clarifies the nuances in interpreting them. For COVID-19, estimates of those quantities are being shared, debated, and updated daily. Physicists are used to distilling real-world complexity into meaningful, parsimonious models, and they can serve as allies in communicating those ideas to the public.
Alison Hill is an assistant professor in the Institute for Computational Medicine and the infectious disease dynamics group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also a visiting scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Topics: Modern Physics, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics
(Nanowerk News) The first quantum revolution brought about semiconductor electronics, the laser and finally the internet. The coming, second quantum revolution promises spy-proof communication, extremely precise quantum sensors and quantum computers for previously unsolvable computing tasks. But this revolution is still in its infancy. A central research object is the interface between local quantum devices and light quanta that enable the remote transmission of highly sensitive quantum information.
The Otto-Hahn group “Quantum Networks” at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching is researching such a “quantum modem”. The team has now achieved a first breakthrough in a relatively simple but highly efficient technology that can be integrated into existing fibre optic networks.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Human Rights, Politics
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.
Let’s face it: this nation has always been in a Cold Civil War since 1865. We’re eleven countries with distinct ways of digesting the news media. Social media is a means to hack our minds into silos. We’re on separate mental continents. “United States” is an oxymoron and cosmic tragicomedy. We’re more like fractured states with fifty different opinions.
The Stockholm tribe drank the kool-aid with Jim Jones. They are unfazed in their chosen Twilight Zone dimension, and totally nonplussed why we can’t understand their secret, klansman decoder ring Morse code. They have waited forty years for “trickledown” to actually work, and like Jed Clampett, make them Beverly Hills billionaire hillbillies. Cigarettes don’t cause cancer, climate change is a Chinese hoax; vaccines cause autism, gravity can be overcome with the power of positive thinking, huckster name-it-and-claim-it faith healers can blow COVID away, and Hillary is head of a flesh-eating, pedophile cult that an orange faux billionaire is going to save us all from, exposing the “deep state.” Logic doesn’t work with these people. You can’t tell them anything. They’re lemmings in suicide vests, to quote MSNBC’s, Chris Hayes. They are the 69,151,070 that think the last four years of caged children, attempted Muslim bans, selling out our soldiers in Afghanistan, 230,000+ dead and climbing, lying like he breaths and farts, breaking every commandment and law is EXACTLY what they want four more years (or, more) of!
The Munchausen crew watches reruns of OG Star Trek, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, the new Discovery series, even though we know warp drive is by Einstein impossible, but it’s cool to think we might live beyond our hubris, homophobia, racism, misogyny, sexism, and stupidity maybe repairing the damage to the planet’s environment without killing ourselves. We balance fantasy with the scientifically-accurate Expanse. We typically were the science nerds, poets and artists shoved into lockers, harrassed by the “cool kids,” male or female, sometimes experiencing violence. We find ourselves in a perpetual, near-ending, abusive relationship with the Stockholm click, wondering why our rational outlines of thought and snappy repartee on Twitter hasn’t totally shut down and shamed the inmates at Arkham. 73,050,225 of us are holding our breaths and praying that the electoral college doesn’t screw us over this time, like the principal ignoring the bullies that harassed us.
Sensing he just might not be able to gaslight, steal, sue, whine, or slump across the victory line to “own the libs,” or stay out of prison, Biff Tannen has come up with a “plan B” to continue trolling humanity until his last breath (if he’s not arrested), or at some point when trans fat from fast food, and Darwin do their necessary work.
Living through a pandemic has resulted in phrases like RT-PCR, immune response, and aerosolized droplets becoming part of the regular vocabulary for a portion of the population. It has also underscored the important role that we all have to play as scientists in communicating science to the public. As research related to COVID-19 has moved forward at unprecedented rates, misinformation has also multiplied and spread at a terrifying pace. And no matter where you stand politically, all of this happening in an election year for the US further underscores the ways in which science has become an increasingly partisan issue.
Did I mention that the holidays are also approaching? While gatherings of family and friends may look different this year, you may still be anticipating a challenging conversation over a holiday meal with someone who has different viewpoints from yours.
Our situation comes with innumerable challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for scientists to make a powerful contribution to society and demonstrate the value of science education. Whether or not you are engaging in research directly related to COVID-19, you can help those around you separate facts from myths, interpret the data that are available, and make better-informed decisions.
This realization occurred to me this spring. As positive cases of COVID-19 were just starting to appear in the US, I found myself talking to my physical therapist about the virus and potential treatments. Although I don’t work in drug development, I understand enough of the chemistry to know how nucleoside analogs such as the drug remdesivir function. I excitedly explained how viruses are sloppier than normal human cells when replicating their genomes and how researchers can capitalize on this to make drugs. A few days later, I found myself having a similar conversation with my mom. I wasn’t in a place to predict the efficacy of any drug, but I could at least explain why antivirals like remdesivir had a shot at working, while hydroxychloroquine was less promising. After these two conversations, it struck me that I could also share this knowledge with a broader population on social media.
Science communication is a skill that takes practice to develop, and I am still learning and growing. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but the important part is that any scientist can build this capability to communicate effectively.
Topics: Alternative Energy, Applied Physics, Battery, Nanotechnology, Research
A new electrode material could make it possible to construct lithium-ion batteries with a high charging rate and storage capacity. If scaled up, the anode material developed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and colleagues in the US might be used to manufacture batteries with an energy density of more than 350 watt-hours per kilogram – enough for a typical electric vehicle (EV) to travel 600 miles on a single charge.
Lithium ions are the workhorse in many common battery applications, including electric vehicles. During operation, these ions move back and forth between the anode and cathode through an electrolyte as part of the battery’s charge-discharge cycle. A battery’s performance thus depends largely on the materials used in the electrodes and electrolyte, which need to be able to store and transfer many lithium ions in a short period – all while remaining electrochemically stable – so they can be recharged hundreds of times. Maximizing the performance of all these materials at the same time is a longstanding goal of battery research, yet in practice, improvements in one usually come at the expense of the others.
“A typical trade-off lies in the storage capacity and rate capability of the electrode material,” co-team leader Hengxing Ji tells Physics World. “For example, anode materials with high lithium storage capacity, such as silicon, are usually reported as having low lithium-ion conductivity, which hinders fast battery [charging]. As a result, the increase in battery capacity usually leads to a long charging time, which represents a critical roadblock for more widespread adoption of EVs.”
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Politics
Norman Vincent Peale (May 31, 1898 – December 24, 1993) was an American minister and author who is best known for his work in popularizing the concept of positive thinking, especially through his best-selling book The Power of Positive Thinking. He served as the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church, New York, from 1932 until 1984, leading a Reformed Church in America congregation. Peale was a personal friend of President Richard Nixon. Donald Trump attended Peale’s church while growing up, as well as marrying his first wife Ivana there. Peale’s ideas and techniques were controversial, and he received frequent criticism both from church figures and from the psychiatric profession.
Peale’s works came under criticism from several mental health experts, one of whom directly said that Peale was a con man and a fraud. These critics appeared in the early 1950s after the publication of The Power of Positive Thinking.
One major criticism of The Power of Positive Thinking is that the book is full of anecdotes that are hard to substantiate. Almost all of the experts and many of the testimonials that Peale quotes as supporting his philosophy are unnamed, unknown, and unsourced.
A second major accusation of Peale is that he attempted to conceal that his techniques for giving the reader absolute self-confidence and deliverance from suffering are a well known form of hypnosis, and that he attempts to persuade his readers to follow his beliefs through a combination of false evidence and self-hypnosis (autosuggestion), disguised by the use of terms which may sound more benign from the reader’s point of view (“techniques”, “formulas”, “methods”, “prayers”, and “prescriptions”). One author called Peale’s book “The Bible of American autohypnotism”.
The first critique sounds a lot like “people are saying”: “famous psychologist”, a two-page letter from a “practicing physician”, a “prominent citizen of New York City”, and dozens, if not hundreds, more unverifiable quotations. The second surrounding autosuggestion leads me to think why he’s said the most absurd things on-repetition continuous loop, despite evidence to the contrary: autosuggestion in the hands of a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder is kerosene on a lit fire; autosuggestion on steroids.
The “rounding the corner of the pandemic” is a form of name-it-and-claim-it. It has overwhelmingly not made billionaires out of paupers, but it has lined the pockets of a few charlatans cum “pastors.” It is the same as claiming the election is “rigged” if he loses, legitimate if he wins, or steals it. It might just mean we’re tired of his bullshit.
It’s absurd to “lock her up,” or “fire Fauci,” but the mob mentality he engenders as well as the Fox News feedback loop, in the words of Karl Rove “create their own realities.”
“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
The quote was chilling because it implied that the most powerful government on earth was confident it could be guided, not by empirical evidence, but by its ideological inclinations. Reality, of course, does matter and Rove and his boss learned, both in Iraq and when the economy collapsed in 2008, that there are costs to denying it. Happily, for them, those costs were primarily borne by those who had little choice but to live in the reality-based community: soldiers and civilians in Iraq; US homeowners, and workers.
I want a president I don’t have to think about every day. I want a president that doesn’t pathologically lie. I don’t want a daily dose of adrenalin, clutching onto the rails of society as the rollercoaster, reality TV ride careens off the rails. There are no showrunners or scriptwriters like in “The Apprentice” that can make every bizarre move he did seem in the next episode, thought out cogently, and brilliant. He is revealed a mad king, and an overwhelmed, orange court jester. A Biden bus was attacked in Austin, Texas and African American voters were pepper sprayed in Burlington, NC. Armed terrorists are promising to storm into the streets if their orange god loses, and he has no recovery or theft he can pull to “own the libs,” and flush our democracy down a golden toilet. The 80 days between November 4th and January 20th will be biblically evil.
I am cautiously optimistic.
I don’t want to wear a mask while others following the Orange Troglodyte grin in defiance as they walk in the same stores I do. I don’t want smoke blown in my face by a MAGA enthusiast, that then goes in with his wife (I assume), to hector everyone else in there that were wearing masks to protect their neighbors. I don’t want to mentally review excerpts in my mind of “1984”, or recall “The Handmaid’s Tale” and to equate the fall of empires to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The speculation of civic violence is only satisfying briefly if you’re right, but doomsday’s casualties won’t be a spectator sport. You might find yourself in the middle of the game. Ragnarok typically ends painfully. Armageddon has no second act.
I have voted. I want a boring president. I want news not driven by tweets from a lunatic. I want a president that believes in science. I want a sane administration. I want a life again.
Continued: It triggered a big outbreak. At least 97 people who attended the conference, or lived in a household with someone who did, tested positive.
The Biogen meeting had become a superspreading event. Eventually, the virus spread from the meeting across Massachusetts and to other states. A recent study estimates it led to tens of thousands of cases in the Boston area alone.
COVID-19 superspreading events have been reported around the world. They happen in all sorts of places: bars and barbecues, gyms and factories, schools and churches, and on ships.
And even at the White House.
But why do these disease clusters occur—and why are they so important?
The reproduction rate
COVID-19 and many other diseases transmit from person to person. The reproduction rate, R, determines how fast a disease can spread.
R denotes the number of people infected, on average, by a single infected person. If R is 2, the number of cases doubles in every generation: from one infected person, to two, to four, to eight, and so on.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Fascism, Human Rights
Why are the republicans behaving so irrationally?
It depends on what you mean by “irrational.” Paul Weyrich gave away the game in the 1980s.
“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Well now, they cut cables for online voter registration machines in Virginia, they post fake boxes to harvest absentee votes in California (FOX, pointed this out, no less), they restrict counties to ONE drop-off box and restrict drive-through voting in Texas during a pandemic; they sue to not count, or ironically, segregate mail-in ballots after election day, and only want the votes counted ON election day, as that will favor republicans. For a criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party, everything is consistent with Weyrich’s thesis.
Who is going to win the election?
I know who I voted for, and who I DON’T want to win the election, or in his case: steal it. Allan Lichtman and Rachel Bitecofer both keep me somewhat sane.
Whoever is the next president has about 8 years before there is no hope of dealing with the effects of climate change, that the fossil fuels industry has known about since the late FIFTIES, they just started covering it up in the seventies. There IS no planet B: no world of liberals and world of conservatives, except for the news outlets consumed. Physics is quite limiting on faster-than-light travel. This earth is the only starship we may ever know.
Whoever is the next president will be dealing with a global pandemic, that like most preceding it that have been unleashed by our insistent presence in the world economy, will be eventually contained by masks, rigorous testing, social distancing, and contact tracing. In other words: SCIENCE, not fiction, or propaganda.
Whoever is the next president will make the difference as to how long that actually takes. Letting a virus burn through a population is NOT herd immunity, but the Freudian slip “herd mentality” says a lot about who currently has the nuclear codes and his followers.
Noam Chomsky in an interview with Scientific American, 2018:
Why did you recently call the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in world history”?
Take its leader, who recently applied to the government of Ireland for a permit to build a huge wall to protect his golf course, appealing to the threat of global warming, while at the same time he withdrew from international efforts to address the grim threat and is using every means at his disposal to accelerate it. Or take his colleagues, the participants in the 2016 Republican primaries. Without exception, they either denied that what is happening is happening – though any ignorance is self-induced – or said maybe it is but we shouldn’t do anything about it. The moral depths were reached by the respected “adult in the room,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who agreed that it is happening but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.” Or take a recent publication of Trump’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a detailed study recommending an end to regulations on emissions. It presented a rational argument: extrapolating current trends, by the end of the century we’ll be over the cliff and automotive emissions don’t contribute very much to the catastrophe – the assumption being that everyone is as criminally insane as we are and won’t try to avoid the crisis. In brief, let’s rob while the planet burns, putting poor Nero in the shadows.
This surely qualifies as a contender for the most evil document in history.
There have been many monsters in the past, but it would be hard to find one who was dedicated to undermining the prospects for organized human society, not in the distant future — in order to put a few more dollars in overstuffed pockets.