Scientists inspired by 'Star Wars' create artificial skin able to feel, Joseph Campbell, Reuters Science
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Thursday, July 30, 2020
|Image Credit: New York Times|
Topics: Civil Rights, Human Rights, John Robert Lewis
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland, and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.
Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters, and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.
Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up, and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
After years of anticipation, NASA hopes to launch its latest robotic explorer, Perseverance, to Mars on Thursday, July 30, at 7:50 A.M. EDT. Set to depart Earth atop an Atlas V-541 rocket from historic Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the ambitious rover is the latest in a long lineage of rolling robotic explorers that NASA has sent to the Red Planet.
If Mars 2020 is not able to blast off during its two-hour launch window tomorrow morning — due to hazardous weather or unforeseen technical issues — the space agency will have just two more weeks to get it done. That’s because after August 15, Mars and Earth will no longer be aligned in a way that allows for quick interplanetary travel, meaning NASA would have to store the rover for two years until the next favorable alignment.
“We have four objectives,” Ken Williford, Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, told Astronomy earlier this year. “The first three are really our core science objectives. And the fourth is … preparing for human exploration.”
Perseverance’s science objects are: seeking out sites that were potentially habitable in the past, looking for signs of ancient microbes within rocks known to preserve life, and collecting and storing promising rock samples for a future return mission.
Mars 2020 Launch: NASA's Perseverance Rover Ready for Journey to the Red Planet, Jake Parks, Discovery Magazine
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
|The first quantum phase battery, consisting of an indium arsenide (InAs) nanowire in contact with aluminium superconducting leads. (Courtesy: Andrea Iorio)|
Topics: Battery, Cooper Pairs, Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics, Superconductivity
Researchers in Spain and Italy have constructed the first-ever quantum phase battery – a device that maintains a phase difference between two points in a superconducting circuit. The battery, which consists of an indium arsenide (InAs) nanowire in contact with aluminium (Al) superconducting leads, could be used in quantum computing circuits. It might also find applications in magnetometry and highly sensitive detectors based on superconductors.
In a classical battery (also known as the Volta pile), chemical energy is converted into a voltage difference. The resulting current flow can then be used to power electronic circuits. In quantum circuits and devices based on superconducting materials, however, current may flow without an applied external voltage, thus dispensing with the need for a classical battery.
The concept of a quantum phase battery was studied theoretically in 2015 by Sebastián Bergeret of the Material Physics Center (CFM-CSIC) and Ilya Tokatly at the University of the Basque Country in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain. Their battery design comprised a combination of superconducting and magnetic materials and was based on a Josephson junction – a non-superconducting region through which the Cooper pairs responsible for superconductivity can tunnel. This semiconducting “weak link” provides a persistent phase difference between the superconductors in the circuit, similar to the way that a classical battery provides a persistent voltage drop in an electronic circuit. Thanks to this phase difference, a superconducting current (that is, a current with zero dissipation) flows when the junction is embedded in the superconducting circuit.
Physicists create quantum phase battery, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World
Monday, July 27, 2020
|"Good Trouble"... The Griot Poet, image source Smithsonian Magazine|
Topics: Civil Rights, International Space Station, John Robert Lewis, NASA, STEM
This will be the first splashdown that's occurred in a while, but particularly during a global pandemic and the internment of a legend. It was germane during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The Space Shuttle brought to mind the CGI and FX ease of take offs and landings in Science Fiction movies, regardless of genre: somehow massive spaceships can magically levitate, and "ease" into orbit without accelerating to escape velocity in a planet's gravity well.
Today, we're laying to rest a civil rights icon, John Robert Lewis. He was BLM before the Internet and hashtag. He was notorious for getting in "good trouble," leading a sit-in on the House floor - breaking rules for twenty children and six adults slaughtered at Sandy Hook, for what he and Dr. King called "The Beloved Community." Like moonshots, that was "conspiracy theorized" away, callously, but revelatory of how depraved this republic was before this current moment. Hopefully, the citizens of Alabama will rename the bridge currently carrying the name of a confederate traitor and Klan grand dragon in HIS distinct honor.
During splashdowns and pandemics: I can dream.
NASA will provide live coverage of activities leading up to, during, and following the return of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with the agency’s astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the International Space Station.
The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, for undocking of the Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft from the space station and 2:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for splashdown, which will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.
Coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website will begin at 9:10 a.m., Aug. 1, with a short farewell ceremony on station and resume at 5:15 p.m., with departure preparations through splashdown and recovery at one of seven targeted water landing zones in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.
All media participation in news conferences and interviews will be remote; no media will be accommodated at any NASA site due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To participate in the briefings by phone or to request a remote interview with the crew members, reporters must contact the newsroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston at 281-483-5111 no later than two hours prior to each event.
#P4TC link: Dragons and Dystopias...
Friday, July 24, 2020
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights, LGBT Rights
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon. Franklin D. Roosevelt
At 1 pm eastern, 12 noon in San Antonio, my wife's family laid her favorite uncle to rest, a U.S. veteran. He died due to health complications, non-COVID. Because of the pandemic, we had to say our tearful goodbyes over Facebook live, the participants' voices muffled by masks singing "It is Well." He lived a good life, into his eighties, longer than my own father, but his sons probably don't take solace in his longevity: their hero is gone for now.
Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr's book on James Baldwin downloaded on my Kindle about a week before Dr. Mary Trump's book about her uncle. They are my mental comfort food between writing a research proposal: a book written by an African American heterosexual professor about an LGBT Civil Rights icon, and a book about an unstable, reckless sociopath, written by his niece, a Lesbian, a notion now in a world with Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow is almost cliche. "Jimmy" was out and proud before it was relatively safe, or sane. He literally could have been killed for "the color of his skin, and the content of his character." But that did not stop or stifle his boldness.
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” ― James Baldwin
We are "betwixt and between" the past and the future: one written and one yet-to-be written, first by John Lewis and now, Black Lives Matter et al. We are betwixt and between love and hate, democracy and fascism; working towards a more perfect union, and barreling towards totalitarianism. The philosophies of Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler are personified in Bannon, Gorka and Miller, fascist whisperers recycling hate in the 21st century: the ovens now microscopic, efficient, utterly malevolent, and unseen. We are seeing the NRA's "jackbooted thugs" deployed in American cities - Portland, Oregon, soon Chicago, Illinois; our nation's birthplace in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and any other blue-governed city, without a peep from them, as deafening a silence now as for the death-by-police of the licensed gun owner, Philando Castile. The second amendment might be outlawed to Melanin in a dictatorship.
The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear. Heinrich Himmler, commander of the German Schutzstaffel (SS) and Gestapo.
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
For Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., that fierce urgency is he, I and previously "Jimmy" living in these black bodies, witnessing the country careen from "hope and change" to this dark moment of running over civil rights demonstrators in Charlottesville, Nazis in polo shirts carrying tiki torches; or teargassing peaceful George Floyd demonstrators on the Washington Mall. Once we got over the "post-racial America" shtick, it didn't take long to see the new black president hung in effigy, called the n-word almost daily, burned at the stake, bone through the nose as witch doctor for the pejorative: Obamacare. They prayed Psalm 109:8-15, for his death and desolation. They are anti-Christians for an Antichrist. Their hatred of immigrants in chat rooms and over the pit of hell summoned eventually a demon, who recycled for them Hitler, the Klan and Reagan's slogan: make America great again. Exposed in Dr. Glaude's treatise was what Eddie and "Jimmy" referred to as the American lie, broadcast with the hubris of a birther foghorn.
For Dr. Mary Trump, that fierce urgency was living through a slow train wreck: watching her father, Freddy - Fred Trump's namesake - taken apart by her grandfather brick-by-brick until there was nothing left. She could still live in the comfort of privilege, station and American aristocracy: her bloodline leading directly to the seat of power almost infinite. All she had to do was keep her head low and flatter a narcissist. Her clinical training tells her there is no pleasing such a person. His needs are a bottomless pit next to a black hole. His loyalty is demanded of others and expendable to the same. Just as the senior sociopath dismantled her father, her training said a prolific lying, mentally disturbed, gaslighting and violent man could dismantle a nation.
Perhaps she thought of Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It is easy to fill in the blank now: African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Women, Homosexuals, Lesbians, Transgenders: if we do not speak for our fellow humans, we follow them into the COVID ovens. A pandemic as eugenics is far more efficient, less visible and more excusable than public crematoriums.
I still have hope. I have to. I have a granddaughter barely a year old, and she DESERVES a future.
Politics in America especially is organized tribalism. The factions George Washington warned about in his farewell address express themselves as republicans and democrats, along with greens and independents.
We are all between yesterday and tomorrow, living out our hyphens. We are ever all in "the fierce urgency of NOW" for tomorrow. We all have children, or know children, and a world that looks like a dystopian novel is only appealing to sociopaths, mass murderers and death cult members. A world like that has few children, and the human species - Coronavirus, climate change, or nuclear exchange - is then in peril.
For this election, for humanity, we have to ALL be Americans, and heroes in the spirit of John Lewis: voting by mail, voting early, getting in "good trouble" for this fleeting, precious thing called democracy: made real by the struggles of the downtrodden and "the least of these." For "the fierce urgency of now," for a "better world beyond the horizon"... for tomorrow.
“never lose sight, as we finger the pain and disillusionment of our after times, of the possibility of a New Jerusalem.” ― Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
Thursday, July 23, 2020
|Dr. Peter Delfyett, Jr., National Society of Black Physicists|
Topics: Diversity, Diversity in Science, Laser, Physics, Semiconductors
Dr. Peter Delfyett, former NSBP President and NSBP fellow, is the 2020 winner of the William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award. The William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award was established to recognize an exceptional single scientific contribution which has had a significant impact in the field of lasers and electro-optics in the past ten years. Dr. Delfyett has been selected, "For pioneering contributions to semiconductor diode based ultrafast laser science and technology." The Award is endowed by Xerox Corp and Spectra Diode Labs. The Award consists of an honorarium of $2,500 and a medal. The presentation is made at the IEEE Photonics Conference.