Brainy Quote of the Day

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Moons of Jupiter...

Topics: Astronomy, Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Space Exploration


The Latest: On Jul. 17, 2018, scientists announced they had discovered 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter. That raised Jupiter’s total number of moons to 79—the most of any planet in the solar system. Fifty-three of the moons are confirmed and named; the other 26 are awaiting official confirmation of discovery before they are named.

The team first spotted the moons in the spring of 2017 while they were looking for very distant solar system objects as part of a hunt for a possible massive planet far beyond Pluto. “Our other discovery is a real oddball and has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon,” team leader Scott Sheppard said. “It’s also likely Jupiter’s smallest known moon, being less than one kilometer in diameter”.

NASA Science: Solar System Exploration

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Parkinson's and Quantum Dots...

On the dot: Researchers have found that GQDs reduce fibrils in mice with Parkinson's
Topics: Biology, Graphene, Nanotechnology, Quantum Dots

Quantum dots made from the carbon material graphene prevent alpha-synuclein from aggregating into strand-like structures known as fibrils. They also help disaggregate fibrils that have already formed. Alpha-synuclein fibrils are thought to be implicated in Parkinson’s disease because they kill dopamine-generating neurons, so the new findings might help in the development of therapies to treat this disease as well as others in which fibrilization occurs.

Synucleins are a family of proteins typically found in neural tissue. Researchers believe that one type of synuclein, alpha-synuclein, twists into fibrils, which then accumulate in the midbrain of patients with Parkinson’s. Treatments with efficient anti-aggregation agents might thus be one way of fighting the disease.

A team led by Byung Hee Hong of Seoul National University and Han Seok Ko of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have now found that graphene quantum dots (GQDs) bind to alpha-synuclein in vitro. Thanks to fluorescence and turbidity assays, as well as transmission electron microscopy measurements, the researchers found that the dots prevent alpha-synuclein from forming into fibrils. The nanostructures also dissociate already-formed fibrils into short fragments, with the average length of the fragments shortening from 1 micron to 235 nm and 70 nm after 6 and 24 hours respectively. The number of fragments starts to decrease after three days too and cannot be detected at all after seven days, which implies that the fibrils completely disintegrate after this time.

Could graphene quantum dots help treat Parkinson’s disease? Belle Dumé, Physics World

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Nightfall...

AZ Quotes dot com - Joseph Pulitzer
Topics: Commentary, Existentialism, Politics

"And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast." Revelation 18:2 English Standard Version

We now have the distinction of kiddie concentration camps on US soil.

On the eve of the summit between the American Antichrist and Russian Beelzebub, the Manchurian Puppet with a Propecia Ferret on his head called our long-standing allies "foes." Pinocchio likely did not ask about the illegal annexation of Crimea; the chemical attacks on British soil nor the confirmed cyber attack by his own intelligence agencies on our electoral process in 2016. Our enemies used bitcoin as a cover for their deeds, reminiscent of a Bond villain. I expect a call to lift sanctions on the Russians. I expect the keys to our republic handed over to the devil.

- Russian bots stoked KKK fears (which, kind of is their raison d'être) during the protests of racism at the University of Missouri in 2015...

- 12 Russians were indicted Friday for actively hacking into the 2016 campaign...

- His party in the House want to impeach the Deputy Attorney General...

- We have NO protections against the Russians doing the same thing or worse in 2018 or 2020...

This began with the Orwellian-named Citizen's United and [dark] "money as free speech."

This began with Merrick Garland's seat stolen from President Obama; even the vow that the Supreme Court would be held 4-4 until the NEXT republican president, whether that happened in 2016 or 2020!

This began with abolishing Civics, abstinence versus safe birth control, the elevation of creationism/intelligent design in the public sphere; the war on science and the irrational fears of cultural oblivion which is the foundation of fascism, homophobia, racism, sexism, white supremacy and xenophobia.

This nightfall is the public dissolution of our federal republic. It is the unraveling of accepted norms, and you cannot have norms when your citizens are bereft of information on what those "norms" are.

This nation was founded on the twin sins of genocide of Native Americans and the systematic kidnap, uncompensated free labor and debasement of African nations and their descendants. This nation was founded on Christian supremacy, the initial "othering" that led headlong into white supremacy. We've tried to obfuscate, fabricate false narratives and tell ourselves outright lies to blanket this heinous history. Now we flirt with fascism, the same we fought the second world war over and became at least metaphorically Winthrop's "city on a hill." Our union was then, and is still now segregated, and far from perfect. "United States" has always teetered between work-in-progress and oxymoron. There was always some hope of a better and brighter future. It has never been so relentlessly and purposely ground to powder, prepared for tossing into the garbage furnace of history with tiny, orange and malevolent hands; aided by an entire political party so afraid of demographic changes that they callously upend the notion of who can vote, who can marry, who can live comfortably in the public commons, bent on holding power beyond the norms of democracy - which then can no longer be called a democracy.

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast."

"Our republic and its press will rise and fall together." Joseph Pulitzer

Lügenpresse - Time.com, German for "lying press," a Nazi pejorative invoked by #MAGA supporters at rallies resembling "The Two Minutes Hate*" (1984), the obvious ideological precursor to "fake news" and "alternative facts."

* pohnpei397. "What is the Two Minutes Hate and what is its purpose in the story?" eNotes, 15 Dec. 2009, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-two-minutes-hate-124283. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"Democracy Dies in Darkness" - Washington Post

Monday, July 16, 2018

Intellectual Property...

Image source: Link below
Topics: Applied Physics, Commentary, Economy, Education, Einstein, Research

Did Einstein "own" Special and General Relativity, the photoelectric effect (for which the Nobel Prize was awarded); Brownian Motion or Mass-Energy equivalence? Did Richard Feynman "own" his diagrams? He's also credited for being the father of nanotechnology with his seminal talk: "There's plenty of room at the bottom." Norio Taniguchi, a Tokyo Science University Professor coined the term nanotechnology in 1974: does he, or his descendents "own" it? These things are known and associated with them, but we have never asked the ultimate question of ownership.

I know, for example, any process I changed as an engineer was "owned" by the company I was working for at the time. If I applied for a patent, my name would be on it, but the company "owned" the intellectual property rights. It works the same for universities: whatever inventions you file patents for, your institution "owns" it. It's something in Pavlovian fashion I will admit, I have been conditioned to accept.

That cannot, however, stop you from "thinking" about it even if you've left your notes with the lab you worked on the invention in.

In the era of the Internet and pirating, this question has gotten even thornier.

In the late 1990s, business managers and academic researchers tried to tackle what they saw as an urgent and growing problem: When knowledge workers such as industrial physicists walked out the door in the evening, they inevitably took valuable intellectual property with them. Managers did not fear the theft of patent documents. They feared losing a collection of intangible skills, a deep knowledge of the company’s processes, relationships with other technical workers, and the general know-how that makes an experienced employee more valuable than someone fresh out of college. In other words, businesses were worried that they did not fully own scientists’ minds.

Over the course of centuries, a struggle has been playing out about who gets to own ideas. Is it the person who comes up with them? The employer who funds the research? Or should the ideas be somehow shared between them?

For the most part, that struggle has resulted in scientists slowly losing control of their discoveries, both in private industry and in academia. Patents once went to the inventor by default, but now they belong to the employer. Hands-on skill and experience with the research process—sometimes called know-how or tacit knowledge—was once the most fundamentally personal part of what a worker brought to the table, yet business lawyers have built a variety of legal tools to constrain skilled workers from offering it up on the free market. By the 1990s teams of MBAs and business-school scholars joined forces to see if advances in information technology, management techniques, law, and sociology could allow them to extract workers’ know-how so that the company could store and own it indefinitely. The resulting academic research field and management fad became known as “knowledge management.”

This article traces changes in US law, business practices, and social expectations about research and invention in order to illuminate the history of business control over scientists’ ideas. It will not be the whole history—I skip over huge amounts of history about government sponsorship of research, changing national and international economic conditions, ties between industrial and academic scientists, and many other topics that would be needed for that.1 Still, it is a slice of history that physicists would do well to remember. We live in an age of strong intellectual property rights and relatively weak protections for workers, especially in high-tech fields where unionization is low. Where once an industrial scientist had unquestioned ownership of his or her ideas, that self-determination has eroded in many ways over centuries. Knowing that past might help scientists evaluate what they hope to see in the future.

Who owns a scientist’s mind? Douglas O’Reagan, Physics Today

Friday, July 13, 2018

Freytag's Dénouement...


Topics: Climate Change, Ecology, Existentialism, Global Warming, Octavia Butler

Under Freytag's pyramid, the plot of a story consists of five parts: exposition (originally called introduction), rising action (rise), climax, falling action (return or fall), and dénouement/resolution/revelation/catastrophe. Dramatic structure - Wikipedia

Completely unplanned but apropos that this post appears on the superstitious "Friday the 13th," the reason for many Jason Voorhees movie serials in my youth. Also phonetically, it is akin to Fredo Corleone from The Godfather, insisting beyond all evidence to the contrary of intellectual acumen, heretofore demonstrably non-existent.

*****

The late William T. Kelley, who taught Trump at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal,” says Trump had “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” Source: Steve Chapman, Chicago Times

With their documented disdain of education, Karl Rovian "created realities" to include non-existent Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction; anti-science as entrance to "the club" and the tribal (and corporate-manipulated), lock-step climate denialism, it was inevitable this ideology would eventually birth an orange, sacrilegious personification. Amanda Marcotte, author of Troll Nation succinctly ties the right's absence of logic and reason as raison d'etre for its very existence. Their grifter-in-chief's mullet - well past expiration - has become this generations latest troll doll model. This would be funny if they, and he didn't have power.

*****

Failure to meet the United Nations’ 2ºC warming limits will lead to sea level rise and dire global economic consequences, new research has warned.

Published today in Environmental Research Letters, a study led by the UK National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) found flooding from rising sea levels could cost $14 trillion worldwide annually by 2100 if the target of holding global temperatures below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels is missed.

The researchers also found that upper-middle income countries such as China would see the largest increase in flood costs, whereas the highest income countries would suffer the least, thanks to existing high levels of protection infrastructure.

Svetlana Jevrejeva, from the NOC, is the study’s lead author. She said: “More than 600 million people live in low-elevation coastal areas, less than 10 meters above sea level. In a warming climate, global sea level will rise due to the melting of land-based glaciers and ice sheets, and from the thermal expansion of ocean waters. So, sea level rise is one of the most damaging aspects of our warming climate.”

Sea level projections exist for emissions scenarios and socio-economic scenarios. However, there are no scenarios covering limiting warming below the 2°C and 1.5°C targets during the entire 21st century and beyond. [1]

*****

The ancillary effects of climate change are brain-eating amoeba in Florida and Louisianna. It is playing a role in tick migrations, especially in the south; particularly in the Carolinas, where I now live again. There's only so much OFF we can wear for mosquitoes along with sunscreen for UV. It goes well beyond snowballs in the well of the Senate by representatives well-compensated by the fossil fuel industry that are the pimps to his prostitution. World population in 2100 is estimated to go from its present 7.6 to 11.2 billion; that presumes the Senator's grandchildren will be a part of that population.

Octavia Butler's short Parable Series is worth your time away from thousands of television stations you'll never watch and news feeds on social media that are either questionable or manipulated by Russian troll farms to manipulate you:

The sequel, “Parable of the Talents,” published in 1998, begins in 2032. By then, various forms of indentured servitude and slavery are common, facilitated by high-tech slave collars. The oppression of women has become extreme; those who express their opinion, “nags,” might have their tongues cut out. People are addicted not only to designer drugs but also to “dream masks,” which generate virtual fantasies as guided dreams, allowing wearers to submerge themselves in simpler, happier lives. News comes in the form of disks or “news bullets,” which “purport to tell us all we need to know in flashy pictures and quick, witty, verbal one-two punches. Twenty-five or thirty words are supposed to be enough in a news bullet to explain either a war or an unusual set of Christmas lights.” The Donner Administration has written off science, but a more immediate threat lurks: a violent movement is being whipped up by a new Presidential candidate, Andrew Steele Jarret, a Texas senator and religious zealot who is running on a platform to make American great again.”

In her lifetime, Butler insisted that the Parable series was not intended as an augur. “This was not a book about prophecy,” she said, of “Talents,” in remarks she delivered at M.I.T. “This was a cautionary tale, although people have told me it was prophecy. All I have to say to that is: I certainly hope not. [2]

We miss you, Octavia.

1. Rising sea levels could cost the world $14 trillion a year by 2100, Simon Davies, Physics World
2. Octavia Butler’s Prescient Vision of a Zealot Elected to “Make America Great Again", Abby Aguirre, New Yorker

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Max Planck Institute Bullying...

MLA style: "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1918". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 11 Jul 2018. < http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1918/ >
Topics: Commentary, Diversity, Diversity in Science, Existentialism, Women in Science

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck
Born: 23 April 1858, Kiel, Schleswig (now Germany)
Died: 4 October 1947, Göttingen, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Berlin University, Berlin, Germany
Prize motivation: "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta"
Field: quantum mechanics
Max Planck received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1919.
Prize share: 1/1

From which we get Planck's constant, Planck length, Planck time and the now infamous institute that bears his name, which I never dreamed I'd associate with bullying.

Women, LGBT, and people of color are typically attracted to STEM fields because of interest, acumen and being the unfortunate victims of bullying, cyber or otherwise.

It is usually what attracts us to science in the first place: a solace from the parts of life that's unpleasant, that results in noses being shoved in lockers (me), harassment or assault, both purely physical or sexual. Surely, this cannot happen in academia.

We convince ourselves of this by the STEM fields being inherently difficult and requiring crosscultural and oftentimes crossgender collaboration to solve complex problems. Utopias like Star Trek are envisioned on this premise: if only the species were more "logical," and not as inclined to the lesser angels of its reptilian cortex.

We were wrong...

Picture the scene: You are an enthusiastic young scientist, with, you think, the world at your feet. You have an exciting offer to join a world-leading research institute in another country. And then, to your dismay, you find yourself in a workplace where everything feels wrong. Your supervisor intimidates you and you receive upsetting e-mails, but the institute leadership seems indifferent. You are alone in a foreign culture, and you don’t know what to do. Your friends tell you to complain, but you are afraid of repercussions — and of losing the opportunity you fought so hard for. And, anyway, you don’t know who to trust.

This has apparently been the situation for years for some young researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. Details of their struggles with alleged bullying by one of the directors — Guinevere Kauffmann — erupted in the media in the past two weeks.

According to the allegations, problems at the institute have simmered for years. The institute put in place coaching and monitoring for Kauffmann, who says: “I believe I have modified my behavior very substantially in the last 18 months since the complaints were made.” The institute also circulated an anonymous survey to young researchers, asking whether they think the problems are continuing and whether they have enough support. The results are to be presented to the institute this week, but, according to a leaked copy of the report, they show three fresh allegations of bullying against current staff, although it is not known against whom. The institute says it is investigating.

No place for bullies in science, Editorial, Nature

Related link:

Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society investigates new allegations of abuse, Alison Abbott, Nature

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Don't Leave Home Without It"...

Lockheed Martin’s concept, called Mars Base Camp, would need a way to replenish their fuel and air supplies.
Lockheed Martin
Topics: Astrophysics, Mars, NASA, Photosynthesis, Planetary Science, Space Exploration

Note: From American Express travelers checks ads in 1975 with Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden; it was "them" instead of "it" back then. Yeah, I'm dating myself.

Spaceflight is like backpacking. If you can’t restock supplies like food and water along the way, how far you can travel is limited by how much you can carry. And in space, you also have to worry about having enough fuel for your spacecraft and breathable air for your crew.

That’s why some researchers are looking toward technology that they call artificial photosynthesis — a way of harnessing the sun’s light to generate fuel and breathable air for longer missions. This system would mimic, in a sense, the way plants perform natural photosynthesis by converting light energy into chemical energy and producing oxygen in the process.

Research published Tuesday in Nature Communications brings us one step closer to this goal. For the first time, researchers performed photoelectrochemical experiments — chemical reactions that use light and the electrical properties of chemicals — in an outer space-like microgravity environment.

Using Sunlight To Make Spaceship Fuel And Breathable Air, Erika K. Carlson, Astronomy Magazine