Labeled as discuss in The Break Room, started by CraigD, Oct 19, 2020
Feynman on Chess (my favourite game)
I think Castling is akin to quantum entanglement or spooky action at a distance, but I'm still trying to think of a physical law that that mirrors En Passant.
I just came across this bizarre set of alternative chess rules based on physics:
You learn that move pretty quick the first time somebody plays it on you
It's more like Divorce Law, lol
How whales help cool the Earth
The world's largest animals are unusually good at taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Whales, particularly baleen and sperm whales, are among the largest creatures on Earth. Their bodies are enormous stores of carbon, and their presence in the ocean shapes the ecosystems around them.
From the depths of the ocean, these creatures are also helping to determine the temperature of the planet – and it's something that we've only recently started to appreciate.
When whales die, they sink to the ocean floor – and all the carbon that is stored in their enormous bodies is transferred from surface waters to the deep sea, where it remains for centuries or more.
In the 2010 study, scientists found that before industrial whaling, populations of whales (excluding sperm whales) would have sunk between 190,000 to 1.9 million tonnes of carbon per year to the bottom of the ocean – that's the equivalent of taking between 40,000 and 410,000 cars off the road each year. But when the carcass is prevented from sinking to the seabed – instead, the whale is killed and processed – that carbon is released into the atmosphere.
I would have assumed that whale carcasses are largely consumed by other marine life, thus recycling the carbon back into the food chain.
Hubble Spots Comet Near Jupiter
After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way.
The object has settled near a family of captured ancient asteroids, called Trojans, that are orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter. This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan population.
Full story via NASA.gov: Comet Makes a Pit Stop Near Jupiter's Asteroids
Mystery of Spinning Atomic Fragments Solved at Last
New experiments have answered the decades-old question of how pieces of splitting nuclei get their spins.
For more than 40 years, a subatomic mystery has puzzled scientists: Why do the fragments of splitting atomic nuclei emerge spinning from the wreckage? Now researchers find these perplexing gyrations might be explained by an effect akin to what happens when you snap a rubber band.
To get an idea why this whirling is baffling, imagine you have a tall stack of coins. It would be unsurprising if this unstable tower fell. However, after this stack collapsed, you likely would not expect all the coins to begin spinning as they hit the floor.
Much like a tall stack of coins, atomic nuclei rich in protons and neutrons are unstable. Instead of collapsing, such heavy nuclei are prone to splitting, a reaction known as nuclear fission. The resulting shards come out spinning, which can prove especially bewildering when the nuclei that split were not spinning themselves. Just as you would not expect an object to start moving on its own without some force acting on it, a body beginning to spin in absence of an initiating torque would seem decidedly supernatural, in apparent violation of the law of conservation of angular momentum.
This “makes it look like something was created from nothing,” says study lead author Jonathan Wilson, a nuclear physicist at Université Paris-Saclay's Irene Joliot-Curie Laboratory in Orsay, France. “Nature pulls a conjuring trick on us. We start with an object with no spin, and after splitting apart, both chunks are spinning. But, of course, angular momentum must still be conserved.”
Now Wilson and his colleagues have conclusively determined that this spinning results after the split, findings they detailed online February 24 in Nature. “This is wonderful new data,” says nuclear physicist George Bertsch at the University of Washington at Seattle, who did not participate in this study. “It’s really an important advance in our understanding of nuclear fission.”
Gulf Stream System at its weakest in over a millennium
In more than 1,000 years, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as Gulf Stream System, has not been as weak as in recent decades. This is the result of a new study by scientists from Ireland, Britain and Germany. The researchers compiled so-called proxy data, taken mainly from natural archives like ocean sediments or ice cores, reaching back many hundreds of years to reconstruct the flow history of the AMOC. They found consistent evidence that its slowdown in the 20th century is unprecedented in the past millennium; it is likely linked to human-caused climate change. The giant ocean circulation system is relevant for weather patterns in Europe and regional sea levels in the U.S.; its slowdown is also associated with an observed cold blob in the northern Atlantic.
"The Gulf Stream System works like a giant conveyor belt, carrying warm surface water from the equator up north, and sending cold, low-salinity deep water back down south. It moves nearly 20 million cubic meters of water per second, almost 100 times the Amazon flow," explains Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK, initiator of the study to be published in Nature Geoscience. Previous studies by Rahmstorf and colleagues showed a slowdown of the ocean current of about 15% since the mid-20th century, linking it to human-caused global warming, but a robust picture about its long-term development has up to now been lacking: This is what the researchers provide with their review of results of proxy data studies.
"For the first time, we have combined a range of previous studies and found they provide a consistent picture of the AMOC evolution over the past 1600 years," says Rahmstorf. "The study results suggest that it has been relatively stable until the late 19th century. With the end of the little ice age in about 1850, the ocean currents began to decline, with a second, more drastic decline following since the mid-20th century." Already the 2019 special report on the oceans of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded with medium confidence "that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has weakened relative to 1850-1900."
"The new study provides further independent evidence for this conclusion and puts it into a longer-term paleoclimatic context," Rahmstorf adds.
Parker Solar Probe Offers Stunning View of Venus
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe captured stunning views of Venus during its close flyby of the planet in July 2020.
Though Parker Solar Probe’s focus is the Sun, Venus plays a critical role in the mission: The spacecraft whips by Venus a total of seven times over the course of its seven-year mission, using the planet’s gravity to bend the spacecraft’s orbit. These Venus gravity assists allow Parker Solar Probe to fly closer and closer to the Sun on its mission to study the dynamics of the solar wind close to its source.
But — along with the orbital dynamics — these passes can also yield some unique and even unexpected views of the inner solar system. During the mission’s third Venus gravity assist on July 11, 2020, the onboard Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, or WISPR, captured a striking image of the planet’s nightside from 7,693 miles away.
Mysterious stripes spotted over Russia in satellite images — and NASA is perplexed
Near the Markha River in Arctic Siberia, the earth ripples in ways that scientists don't fully understand.
Earlier this week, NASA researchers posted a series of satellite images of the peculiar wrinkled landscape to the agency's Earth Observatory website. Taken with the Landsat 8 satellite over several years, the photos show the land on both sides of the Markha River rippling with alternating dark and light stripes. The puzzling effect is visible in all four seasons, but it is most pronounced in winter, when white snow makes the contrasting pattern even more stark.
One possible explanation is written in the icy ground. This region of the Central Siberian Plateau spends about 90% of the year covered in permafrost, according to NASA, though it occasionally thaws for brief intervals. Patches of land that continuously freeze, thaw and freeze again have been known to take on strange circular or stripy designs called patterned ground, scientists reported in a study published in January 2003 in the journal Science. The effect occurs when soils and stones naturally sort themselves during the freeze-thaw cycle.
Scientists use Doppler to peer inside cells
Doppler radar improves lives by peeking inside air masses to predict the weather. A Purdue University team is using similar technology to look inside living cells, introducing a method to detect pathogens and treat infections in ways that scientists never have before.
In a new study, the team used Doppler to sneak a peek inside cells and track their metabolic activity in real time, without having to wait for cultures to grow. Using this ability, the researchers can test microbes found in food, water, and other environments to see if they are pathogens, or help them identify the right medicine to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
David Nolte, Purdue's Edward M. Purcell Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy; John Turek, professor of basic medical sciences; Eduardo Ximenes, research scientist in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; and Michael Ladisch, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, adapted this technique from their previous study on cancer cells in a paper released this month in Communications Biology.
Falling sperm counts 'threaten human survival', expert warns
Epidemiologist Shanna Swan says low counts and changes to sexual development could endanger human species.
Falling sperm counts and changes to sexual development are “threatening human survival” and leading to a fertility crisis, a leading epidemiologist has warned.
Writing in a new book, Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, warns that the impending fertility crisis poses a global threat comparable to that of the climate crisis.
“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” she writes in Count Down.
It comes after a study she co-authored in 2017 found that sperm counts in the west had plummeted by 59% between 1973 and 2011, making headlines globally.
An alarmist article, but it almost sounds like the premise for the book and film The Children of Men.
Hidden scenes in ancient Etruscan paintings revealed
Scientists using a new technique have uncovered the colorful and once-hidden scenes in paintings of the ancient Etruscans, a group of people who flourished on the Italian peninsula around 2,500 years ago at a time before Rome became powerful.
For instance, they found new details in a painting from the "Tomb of the Monkey" and scenes of an underworld in another work of art.
The Etruscans created detailed paintings, but the passage of time has meant that many of them are now only partly visible and that much of their color has been lost.
The perfect karate strike is nothing more than a precise application of Newton’s laws.
In the late 1970s, a team of karate-loving physicists decided to perform an experiment inspired by their collective passion for martial arts. The group was made up of physicist Michael Feld, a brown belt who liked to illustrate the physics of karate via live demonstrations to his classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ronald McNair, future astronaut and fifth-degree black belt; and undergraduate Stephen Wilk.
Feld, McNair, and Wilk placed wood and concrete in a hydraulic press to determine the amount of stress (force) needed to crack the underside of the objects. A wood plank can bend by about one centimeter before it breaks, which requires a force of 500 newtons. Concrete blocks only need to be deflected one millimeter before breaking, but since the material is less bendable than wood, that displacement requires 2,500 to 3,000 newtons. And because some energy is lost upon collision, the fist needs to exert even more force than that in order to actually break the blocks.
Thankfully, the human hand is capable of generating a very high degree of force in a very short period of time. The impact from a typical strike lasts only about five milliseconds. Through a combination of theory and experiment, the team discovered that within this brief flash of time, “the hand of the karateka, or practitioner of karate, can…exert a force of more than 3,000 newtons, a wallop of 675 pounds.” The team’s model indicates that the hand must reach a speed of 6.1 meters per second to break wood and 10.6 meters per second to break concrete. “Such speeds agree with our observation that beginners can break wood but not concrete,” they write. “A hand velocity of 6.1 meters per second is within range of the beginner, but a velocity of 10.6 meters per second calls for training and practice.”
Feld and McNair were able to show off their martial arts skills during the investigation. Both were photographed striking a pile of wood planks at 120 frames per second. This allowed them to measure the displacement, velocity, and acceleration of different parts of the fist. These photos showed that the fist compresses and distorts “to such an extent that it scarcely behaves like a solid object.”
The obvious follow-up question: “How is it that the hand of the karateka is not shattered by the force of the karate strike?” Here, it’s anatomy to the rescue: Human bone is five times stiffer than concrete and fifty times harder to break (successfully karate-chopping a femur would take more than 25,000 newtons’ worth of force). The bones in the hand are easily able to absorb the stress of the impact. Of course, it’s technique, not strength, that provides the real power. A successful strike needs to hit the board precisely in the center. With enough training, karate represents the human body at its maximum, the group writes, and “The precision demanded…makes karate not only an excellent physical discipline but also a mental one.”
People who like cold weather may have a useful genetic mutation
The findings come from the Karolinska Institutet, which found that nearly one out of every five people have muscle fibers lacking the protein α-actinin-3. This mutation, which may have been beneficial in the distant past when humans migrated to cold regions, has been found to help keep someone warm.
The protein is only found in fast-twitch muscle fibers — and around 20-percent of the world’s population lacks this protein as the result of a genetic mutation, according to the new study, which is the first to link the loss of this protein with an increase in cold resilience.
The findings are based on a study of 42 healthy male adults who were tasked with sitting in 57F water until their body temperature dropped down to around 96F. Electromyography was used to measure the electrical activity in the participants’ muscles during this time. As well, muscle biopsies were taken to study the fiber composition.
The results showed that participants who lacked the protein had more slow-twitch muscle fibers, which enabled them to conserve body heat in a more efficient way. Whereas fast-twitch muscle fibers result in shivering, the slow-twitch fibers experienced more baseline contractions, producing heat.
The first organism to use oxygen may have appeared surprisingly early
The first organisms to “breathe” oxygen—or at least use it—appeared 3.1 billion years ago, according to a new genetic analysis of dozens of families of microbes. The find is surprising because the Great Oxidation Event, which filled Earth’s atmosphere with the precious gas, didn’t occur until some 500 million years later.
“I was pretty thrilled to see this paper,” says Patrick Shih, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California (UC), Davis. The advent of proteins that can use oxygen, Shih and others say, marks a key step in the emergence of aerobic microbes, which are those able to harness oxygen. “The transition from a world that was mostly anaerobic to one that was mostly aerobic was one of the major innovations in life,” says Tim Lyons, a biogeochemist at UC Riverside.
How to build a quantum internet
You’ve probably heard of quantum computers - but what about the quantum internet? Entangling qubits across large distances to form a quantum internet could be one of the most exciting developments in quantum technology, and now a group of researchers claim to have taken one of the first steps to make this possible - the creation of a quantum repeater.
FUN TO IMAGINE with Richard Feynman
This is the complete BBC interview from 1983.
Delve into the mind of the brilliant physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman enjoying himself talking about science. In my opinion he was also a very down-to-earth teacher who described complex concepts using layman's terms so that anyone could comprehend them.
‘Deep Nostalgia’ Can Turn Old Photos of Your Relatives Into Moving Videos
It’s hard to feel connected to someone who’s gone through a static photo. So a company called MyHeritage who provides automatic AI-powered photo enhancements is now offering a new service that can animate people in old photos creating a short video that looks like it was recorded while they posed and prepped for the portrait.
MyHeritage offers 'creepy' deepfake tool to reanimate dead
It's not just oceans: scientists find plastic is also polluting the air
New research links Delhi’s thick smogs to burning of plastics.
In low-income countries about 90% of waste ends up in open dumps or is burned in the open air. If you set fire to plastic, it rapidly reveals its origins as an oil-based product by producing copious amounts of black smoke. Using data on the contents of rubbish from around the world, researchers from London’s King’s and Imperial Colleges have estimated that the soot from open waste burning has a global warming impact equivalent to between 2% and 10% of the global emissions of carbon dioxide.
Plastic bottles holding 2.3 litres are least harmful to the planet
Using plastic bottles that contain the most liquid for the lowest packaging weight could help reduce plastic waste.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem for the world, with much plastic waste reaching the oceans where it can affect marine life.
In recognition of this, many researchers are developing strategies to tackle the plastic waste problem. Now, Rafael Becerril-Arreola at the University of South Carolina and his colleagues have come up with a relatively simple method to make a difference: change the packaging size to maximise its capacity for a given weight of plastic.
Becerril-Arreola and his team focused on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most common material in plastic bottles. They weighed 187 empty bottles of different sizes from bestselling drink brands to determine the weight of plastic required to produce a bottle of a given capacity. They also compared this against PET waste and drink sales in Minnesota between 2009 and 2013, as the state government there reliably collects waste statistics and its bottled drink consumption is close to the US national average.
The researchers found that the most efficient bottles – those with the greatest capacity relative to the weight of plastic used to make the bottle – had a volume between 0.5 and 2.9 litres. Bottles of this size are typically bought for on-the-go use or social gatherings. Bottles that were smaller (under 0.4 litres) or larger (over 3 litres) used more plastic in relation to each bottle’s capacity.
This is a no-brainer. I loathe single-serve plastic packaging and I think we made a big mistake when we stopped using recyclable glass bottles.
Tim Berners-Lee’s plan to save the internet: give us back control of our data
Releasing his creation for free 30 years ago, the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, famously declared: “this is for everyone”. Today, his invention is used by billions – but it also hosts the authoritarian crackdowns of antidemocratic governments, and supports the infrastructure of the most wealthy and powerful companies on Earth.
Now, in an effort to return the internet to the golden age that existed before its current incarnation as Web 2.0 – characterised by invasive data harvesting by governments and corporations – Berners-Lee has devised a plan to save his invention.
This involves his brand of “data sovereignty” – which means giving users power over their data – and it means wrestling back control of the personal information we surrendered to big tech many years ago.
Berners-Lee’s latest intervention comes as increasing numbers of people regard the online world as a landscape dominated by a few tech giants, thriving on a system of “surveillance capitalism” – which sees our personal data extracted and harvested by online giants before being used to target advertisements at us as we browse the web.
Courts in the US and the EU have filed cases against big tech as part of what’s been dubbed the “techlash” against their growing power. But Berners-Lee’s answer to big tech’s overreach is far simpler: to give individuals the power to control their own data.
I'm generally surprised about the many people who happen to be naive and/or willing to give up their data and privacy. With reference to Berners-Lee's book link, I find the claim to Data Sovereignty a credible analogy:
The idea of data sovereignty has its roots in the claims of the world’s indigenous people, who have leveraged the concept to protect the intellectual property of their cultural heritage.
Applied to all web users, data sovereignty means giving individuals complete authority over their personal data. This includes the self-determination of which elements of our personal data we permit to be collected, and how we allow it to be analysed, stored, owned and used. This would be in stark contrast to the current data practices that underpin big tech’s business models as the practice of “data extraction” or data-driven capitalism.
Don't be surprised
People exchange their (company, personal) password for a bar of chocolate easily.
WOW! The number of people who were actually willing to give up their password to a random person for a chocolate bar is quite staggering!
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