Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, July 6, 2020

Comb on a Chip...

Experimental setup to generate a set of stable frequencies in a cryogenically cooled laser microresonator frequency comb. The ring-shaped microresonator, small enough to fit on a microchip, operates at very low laser power and is made from the semiconductor aluminum gallium arsenide.

Topics: Applied Physics, Instrumentation, NIST, Nanotechnology, Semiconductor Technology

Just as a meter stick with hundreds of tick marks can be used to measure distances with great precision, a device known as a laser frequency comb, with its hundreds of evenly spaced, sharply defined frequencies, can be used to measure the colors of light waves with great precision.

Small enough to fit on a chip, miniature versions of these combs — so named because their set of uniformly spaced frequencies resembles the teeth of a comb — are making possible a new generation of atomic clocks, a great increase in the number of signals traveling through optical fibers, and the ability to discern tiny frequency shifts in starlight that hint at the presence of unseen planets. The newest version of these chip-based “microcombs,” created by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), is poised to further advance time and frequency measurements by improving and extending the capabilities of these tiny devices.

Comb on a Chip: New Design for ‘Optical Ruler’ Could Revolutionize Clocks, Telescopes, Telecommunications, NIST

Paper: G. Moille, L. Chang, W. Xie, A. Rao, X. Lu, M. Davanco, J.E. Bowers and K. Srinivasan. Dissipative Kerr Solitons in a III-V Microresonator. Laser and Photonics Reviews. June 2020. DOI: 10.1002/lpor.202000022

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Enlightenment...

Topics: Civil Rights, Existentialism, History, Politics

Enlightenment, French siècle des Lumières (literally “century of the Enlightened”), German Aufklärung, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent in the West and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.

A brief treatment of the Enlightenment follows. For full treatment, see Europe, history of: The Enlightenment.

The powers and uses of reason had first been explored by the philosophers of ancient Greece. The Romans adopted and preserved much of Greek culture, notably including the ideas of a rational natural order and natural law. Amid the turmoil of empire, however, a new concern arose for personal salvation, and the way was paved for the triumph of the Christian religion. Christian thinkers gradually found uses for their Greco-Roman heritage. The system of thought known as Scholasticism, culminating in the work of Thomas Aquinas, resurrected reason as a tool of understanding but subordinated it to spiritual revelation and the revealed truths of Christianity.

Encyclopedia Britannica: Enlightenment: European history

Caveat: Only if you're not BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Caveats remove the romanticism, which if you explore the Britannica link, romanticism was associated with emotion as well as art, and the opposite of rationalism.

Dr. Danielle Bainbridge has a Ph.D. in African American Studies and varied interests in "big Broadway musicals to the social and political movements of the last 200 years" according to her show's website. Dr. Bainbridge removes the romanticism and mythology we tell ourselves: the apotheosis we've promoted our flawed, Founding Fathers to, such that any real history that doesn't place their descendants in a good light is ignored, rewritten and propagandized. See: The Lost Cause.

People are in the streets: because 401 years is the patience of Job on steroids, post reconstruction, lynchings and Jim Crow. We've never had the luxury of PTSD: it's ever-present traumatic stress disorder, over-and-over. Necks were stretched with ropes from trees before esophagi constricted with choke holds in New York and knees in Minnesota.

In my 2016 post, Scientism, the point was scientists and the scientific community being human have prejudices. Prejudices are learned from "credible others": usually parents, relatives and authority figures respected. As Bainbridge points out in the video above, science masks racism with "reason," such that structural inequality that was once defined by divine law can be redefined by natural law, so that nothing really changes. It rationalizes low numbers in STEM fields so that no actions are needed until jogging while black: Ahmaund Aubrey; sleeping while black: Breonna Taylor, with a viral George Floyd snuff video as icing on a blood cake. I'm glad the academy is tackling it, but it's long overdue. Jane Elliott says it best: "You are not born racist. You are born into a racist society. And like anything else, if you can learn it, you can unlearn it. But some people choose not to unlearn it, because they're afraid they'll lose power if they share with other people. We are afraid of sharing power. That's what it's all about."

I don't want a "return to normal." Normal was Winthrop's "city on a hill," that might as well be a pile of feces plated with gold and silver: it's still a dressed-up pile of shit.

American mythology teaches that the early United States was founded by men of conscience who came to the "new world" in order to practice their religious convictions in peace and freedom. John Winthrop (1588–1649), the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in particular has been quoted as a source of inspiration by U.S. presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.

Yet Winthrop did not represent a tradition of either democracy or religious tolerance. He hated democracy with a passion. The state he created did not hesitate to execute people like the Quakers and even brought to the "new" world the very popular tradition of medieval Europe, the trial and execution of witches.

"A Shining City on a Hill": Troubling information about a famous quote. The Puritan tradition of intolerance and John Winthrop, World Future Fund

"United States" is oxymoron - a contradiction in terms. We're 50 warring tribes and unrepresented territories: D.C. Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We were sure adding stars to that flag, complaining about kneeling S.O.B.s protesting police brutality; stealing territory from First Nation peoples and Mexico for the racist "Manifest Destiny." We halted it when the math didn't work for the racists, and the balance of the senate was in play. I count eight more senators for 54 states, that may not vote the way Moscow Mitch might want them to. See Jane Elliott here, and above.

We've moronically made masks a culture war. The European Union consists of 27 nations, and this graph is all you need to know why there is a travel ban to Europe for U.S. citizens. He got his "travel ban," alright: American "exceptionalism" in Bizarro World. Boomerangs work, and karma is a bitch. We're apparently going to see if raking puts out forest fires and COVID spread at Mt. Rushmore. If anything bad happens, he'll blame Obama.

Masks might have stymied the spread of Coronavirus, but we're on the Good Ship Pequod abandoned by surprisingly woke Ahab, once he found out about prosthetic limbs and decided pursuing white whales for revenge was bullshit. In a fit of panic, sheer lucidity and rightfully ignoring Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s death cult ramblings, Governor Greg Abbott implemented a mandatory masks executive order in Texas, likely saving his job for re-election.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams

The ship-of-state is currently being steered by tweeting, orange Captain dumb ass, performing embarrassing, public political fellatio on a KGB agent that obviously has his number to his bank account. He has YET to retaliate to $100,000 bounties against our service members in Afghanistan. His bemoaning dead confederates was a culture war dodge: we need the ban for the safety of the rest of the planet, we're a manifest global pandemic of hate, and because we have NO leader that will protect us now! We are defenseless, and our mad emperor is perpetually naked.

We are isolated from the world. I would like us one day to rejoin it, humanely and sanely. I want us to actually START acting like the mythology we believed ourselves through propaganda (wrongly) to be.

I want us to evolve, mature, finally ...enlightened.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

2D Boost for 5G...

A diagram of the UT Austin team's switch showing two gold electrodes with a layer of hBN in between. (Courtesy: UT Austin)

Topics:  Boron Nitride, Internet of Things, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

Two-dimensional sheets of boron nitride can be used to create an analogue switch that gives communication devices more efficient access to radio, 5G and terahertz frequencies while increasing their battery life. The switch, which was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin in the US and the University of Lille in France, could be employed in a host of different applications, including smartphones, mobile systems and the “Internet of things”.

Analogue switches are routinely employed in communication systems to switch from one frequency band to another, route signals between transmitting and receiving antennas, and reconfigure wireless networks. Traditionally, these switches are based on solid-state diodes or transistors, but components of this type consume energy even in standby mode, reducing the battery life of the device. With 5G networking set to drive a tenfold increase in data throughput – enabling advances in self-driving cars, delivery drones, remote surgery and fast downloads of high-definition media in the process – addressing this energy drain is more urgent than ever.

5G switching gets a 2D boost, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Photonic Nanojets...

FIG. 1. (a) Long-legs cellar spider. (b) Reeling mechanism. (c) Manufacturing process of decorating spider silk. (d) Spider silk with dome lens placed on a dedicated holder. (e) Microphotograph of dome lens. (f) Laser scanning digital microscope system for measuring dome lens. (g) Schematic diagram of the dome lens for generating PNJ.

Topics: Biology, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

ABSTRACT

In this work, we thoroughly investigate the shape, size, and location of the photonic nanojets (PNJs) generated from the illuminated dome lens. The silk fiber is directly extracted from the cellar spider and used to form the dome lens by its liquid-collecting ability. The solidified dielectric dome lenses with different dimensions are obtained by using ultraviolet curing. Numerical and experimental results show that the long PNJs are strongly modulated by the dimension of the dome lens. The optimal PNJ beam shaping is achieved by using a mesoscale dielectric dome lens. The PNJ with a long focal length and a narrow waist could be used to scan over a target for large-area imaging. The silk fiber with a dome lens is especially useful for bio-photonic applications by combining its biocompatibility and flexibility.

Optimal photonic nanojet beam shaping by mesoscale dielectric dome lens

Journal of Applied Physics 127, 243110 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0007611

C.B. Lin, Yi-Ting Lee, and Cheng-Yang Liu

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Greener Solar Cells...

Scanning electron microscope image of electrodes infiltrated with quantum dots (left) and the corresponding distributions of copper, indium, zinc, and selenium across the film thickness. Courtesy: LANL

Topics: Green Tech, Nanotechnology, Quantum Mechanics, Solar Cells

Semiconducting nanocrystals called colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) are ideal for applications such as large-panel displays and photovoltaic cells thanks to their high efficiency and colour purity. Their main drawback is their toxicity, since they have traditionally been made from cadmium or other heavy metals, such as lead. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US have now engineered cadmium-free QD solar cells that reach efficiencies on par with those of their environmentally-unfriendly counterparts. The key to the new devices’ high performance is their tolerance to defects, they say.

CQDs can be synthesized in solution, which means that films of these nanocrystals can be deposited quickly and easily on a range of flexible or rigid substrates – just like paint or ink. Such semiconducting nanocrystals are ideal for making highly-efficient inorganic solar cells that emit light via a process known as radiative recombination. Here, an electron in the valency energy band in the QD absorbs a photon and moves to the conduction band, leaving behind an electron vacancy, or hole. The excited electron and hole then recombine, releasing a photon.

The advantage of using CQDs as photovoltaic materials in solar cells is that they absorb light over a broad spectrum of solar radiation wavelengths. This is because the band gap of a CQD can be tuned over a large energy range by simply changing the size of the nanocrystals. Such a size-tuneable property has allowed the efficiencies of these QDs to rapidly approach those of traditional thin-film photovoltaics, such as PbS, CdTe and Pb-halide perovskite QDs.

Quantum dot solar cells get greener, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Monday, June 29, 2020

Our Galaxy's Water Worlds...

This artist’s concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. The composition of such water worlds has fascinated astronomers and astrophysicists for years. (Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech.)

Topics: Astronomy, Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Exoplanets

Out beyond our solar system, visible only as the smallest dot in space with even the most powerful telescopes, other worlds exist. Many of these worlds, astronomers have discovered, may be much larger than Earth and completely covered in water — basically ocean planets with no protruding land masses. What kind of life could develop on such a world? Could a habitat like this even support life?

A team of researchers led by Arizona State University (ASU) recently set out to investigate those questions. And since they couldn’t travel to distant exoplanets to take samples, they decided to recreate the conditions of those water worlds in the laboratory. In this case, that laboratory was the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

What they found — recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — was a new transitional phase between silica and water, indicating that the boundary between water and rock on these exoplanets is not as solid as it is here on Earth. This pivotal discovery could change the way astronomers and astrophysicists have been modeling these exoplanets, and inform the way we think about life evolving on them.

Dan Shim, associate professor at ASU, led this new research. Shim leads ASU’s Lab for Earth and Planetary Materials and has long been fascinated by the geological and ecological makeup of these distant worlds. That composition, he said, is nothing like any planet in our solar system — these planets may have more than 50% water or ice atop their rock layers, and those rock layers would have to exist at very high temperatures and under crushing pressure.

Beneath the surface of our galaxy’s water worlds, Andre Salles, Argonne National Laboratory

Friday, June 26, 2020

Wrestle Mania...

Mil Máscaras, 2009. Source: Wikipedia

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights, Humor, Politics

In the old days, wrestlers would meet, and fans would be interested in knowing who wins and how. There were stories, but there were also plain old matches. Now, there are writers. Every match, every encounter, is designed to advance a character. And all the matches fit in to the general theme of the broadcast, which is given a title. For last week's Raw, the backstage title was "The Evolution of Justice." It's a reference to two sets of wrestlers who are on a collision course.

Your WWE wrestling script begins with background: What happened the last time WWE played to this area. Knowing what the fans remember is very important motivation for the wrestlers.

Then there are the "dark matches." Before WWE Raw goes live on the USA Network, WWE tapes two matches that will air exclusively on the company's own TV network.

Then there's the audience prep. Just like any TV show, the audience has to be conditioned to react to certain things. On April 14, WWE was going to mourn the death of the Ultimate Warrior, felled from a heart attack a few days before. So WWE announcer Jerry Lawler, who gets his own pre-event, full-stage introduction, is instructed to remind fans to put on their masks so that WWE can go live on the air with a tribute.

Then comes the first match. It'll be interrupted by a commercial break, which is something that the wrestlers know — they can't decide to go to "the finish" when the TV audience is watching a Pringles commercial. Match number one is between Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio.

The announcers know who will get "over," i.e. win, but they don't know how. This allows them to actually announce the action in the match legitimately.

Excerpts from: "Here's what a pro-wrestling script looks like," by Mark Ambinder, Newsweek

My last foray with pro wrestling was about 1974 (age 12) with both of my parents at the Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum.

These were originally father-son outings, but my mother decided she wanted to go, so we let her tag along for more than a few times. Generally, she was quiet during the action as my dad and I shouted either our approval or disdain for the admitted actors in the ring: The "American Dream," Dusty Rhodes, Dick, the Bulldog Brower (I know the definitions of his first two names, I'm clueless as to what a "Brower" is); The Mighty Igor and "the man of a thousand masks," Mil Máscaras. Mil and the Brower were in heated, pitched mock battle in the ring, when mom suddenly yelled out:

Break it off, it don't belong to you!

This was from my mother, mind you. My father and I were speechless. As if reading my embarrassed young mind, Pop said: "I expect we'll go home now." We did, and I never went to a wrestling match again. Mom wasn't exactly fuming: I think SHE was as shocked by what she said as WE were!

Previously, I've speculated this reality show carnival barker is running an episodic tragedy, only because as a terrible B-movie actor with zero empathy and no social graces, this is the only show he knows how to produce. Twitter is just a bullhorn for a snake oil salesman and carnival barker.

I posit here, instead of a reality show, he's running a typical pro-wrestling script. He's fake wrestled before and sent a doctored version of the video out personifying CNN as his adversary. He probably bathed in Ben Gay after the stunt.

My mother when she was alive was five foot, two inches, petite and well, motherly. Yelling like the rest of the crowd was a response of being in the crowd, being influenced by my father's and my actions as well as theirs. Orange Satan's spawn following is in-the-crowd: following every inane tweet, every suggesting this pandemic would be 15 people, then zero, every prediction from a faux "cubic model" this would be over by Memorial Day (it's late June), every suggestion hot weather would diminish the infections (it's not), every suggestion to drink bleach or shine a flashlight up our asses; every stupid example of NOT wearing a mask, until it's become a culture war issue.

"Stable genius" maybe should have asked Mil Máscaras?