Brainy Quote of the Day

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

E-Fields, Nuclear Spin, Qubits, Silicon...

Photograph of a sapphire wafer that is patterned with the photonic bandgap resonators used in this work. It shows two full devices and parts of four others. Before using them in experiments they are cut out of the array and wired up. The devices themselves are about 1 cm long. The serpentine structures are microwave Bragg mirrors and the straight lines of varying width at the center of each device are the microwave cavities. Courtesy: A Sigillito

Topics: Electromagnetism, Solid State Physics, Quantum Dots, Quantum Mechanics

Researchers at Princeton University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have succeeded in controlling nuclear spins in silicon by purely electrical means. Until now, electronic or nuclear spins could only be manipulated through radio-frequency magnetic fields. The feat could help in the development of quantum processors based on nuclear spin qubits.

Classical computers store and process information as "bits" that can have one of two logic states ("0" or "1"), but quantum computers work on the principle that a quantum particle (such as an electron or atomic nucleus) can be in two states at the same time – "spin up" or "spin down". These two spin states represent a logical "1") or a "0", so N such particles –or quantum bits (qubits) – could be combined or "entangled" to represent 2N values simultaneously. This would lead to the parallel processing of information on a massive scale not possible with conventional computers.

In practice, it is difficult to make even the simplest quantum computer, however, because these quantum states are fragile and are easily destroyed. They are also difficult to control. For a qubit to work, it should thus be well isolated from its environment to preserve its quantum properties, and prevent "decoherence". At the same time it should be robust enough so that its state can be read out and manipulated. The intrinsic magnetic moment of an atomic core, or nuclear spin, is a good qubit candidate in this respect because it fulfills all of these criteria.

There is a problem, however, in that the magnetic moment of a nuclear spin is 10 billion times smaller than the moment of one bit of a modern hard drive, and it is almost impossible to detect, let alone manipulate, such a tiny signal.

Electric fields control nuclear spin qubits in silicon, Belle Dumé, Nanotechweb.org

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017...

Image Source: NASA.gov
Topics: Eclipse, NASA, Space, Space Exploration

The good news: The eclipse glasses I ordered from Amazon are on the approved NASA list (see Friday's post).

The bad news: They're not here yet. Luckily, I'm adept at returning their merchandise when they've flubbed the ball, and unless the US Postal Service comes through with a Lynn Swann diving save, I'm likely going to be viewing it from the links I planned below. Like I said, I'd rather have what's left of my eyesight the remainder of my life. Another (partial) eclipse if I'm so inclined is a plane ticket away.


Eclipse Live Stream
NASA TV’s - Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA


On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 (today), a total eclipse will cross the entire United States, coast-to-coast, for the first time since 1918. If you can’t make it to the path of totality you can still safely view a partial eclipse and you can still enjoy totality through the eyes of NASA Television and NASA webcasts.

Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.

NASA Television will air a four-hour show, Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA, with unprecedented live video of the celestial event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media.

Related links:

Eclipse Live, NASA.gov
Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Here Are the Best Live (Video) Streams, Sarah Lewin, Space.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipse Caveats...

Image Source: See link [2] below
Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Eclipse, Moon, NASA

Usually I do something about current events, but I will admit to you some exhaustion since Monday's Appomattox post and Tuesday's meltdown. The covers of the New Yorker (via The Hill), Time magazine and The Economist are apropos, on point and quite sad. It's not like we didn't see this coming. Americans sadly have a long inglorious history of denying reality.

I'm frankly retreating into science, hoping the rumors the nine rallies from his knuckle-dragging Troglodytes have all been canceled this weekend "due to terrorist fears." After this blubbering fool went accidentally viral, they really need a reset on the English language (and history) to look up the definition of "supremacy."

I've ordered my own glasses from Amazon, who gave a warning some of their third party suppliers didn't give documentation guaranteeing safety standards. [1] Ahem: Luckily, the glasses I ordered from Amazon are on the approved NASA list. [2] I'm posting a live stream tracker provided by NASA Monday for safer viewing, and if you happen to not be on the viewing path where you are.

Please look at the links below and govern yourselves accordingly and safely. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event if you're lucky to be in the path. Don't make it your last.

1. Amazon Is Warning People Not To Use Some Solar Eclipse Glasses That Were Sold On The Site, Leticia Miranda, consumer affairs reporter BuzzFeed News
2. Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers, Solar Eclipse 2017, NASA

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Right to Science...

Image Source: European Society of International Law, Vol 4, Issue 1
Editorial board: Anne van Aaken (editor-in-chief), Jutta Brunnée, Başak Çali, Jan Klabbers

Topics: Civil Rights, Human Rights, Science, Research

The right of all people to benefit from scientific progress is spurring new research by science and human rights practitioners and informing organizations how to secure those benefits, according to presenters at a AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting, held July 27-28 in Washington.

The right to science is enshrined not only in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948, but also in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said Jessica Wyndham, interim director of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law program and a coordinator of the Science and Human Rights Coalition.

The international provision requires governments to ensure the right of everyone “to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, to conserve, develop and diffuse science, to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and to recognize the benefits of international contacts and cooperation in science,” Wyndham said. A total of 165 countries are party to the treaty, which the United States has signed but not ratified.

The right to science is the subject of a new report, “Giving Meaning to the Right to Science: A Global and Multidisciplinary Approach,” developed by AAAS’ Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and Science and Human Rights Coalition and released in conjunction with the meeting. The report can provide “a foundation for a shared understanding of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications,” said Margaret Weigers Vitullo, director of academic and professional affairs at the American Sociological Association.

Human Rights Coalition Deepens Understanding of the Right to Science, Andrea Korte, AAAS

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

3D Living Tissue...

Image of the 3-D droplet bioprinter, developed by the Bayley Research Group at Oxford, producing mm-sized tissues
Credit: Sam Olof/ Alexander Graham

Topics: 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing, Biology

Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed a new method to 3D-print laboratory- grown cells to form living structures.

The approach could revolutionize regenerative medicine, enabling the production of complex tissues and cartilage that would potentially support, repair or augment diseased and damaged areas of the body.

In research published in the journal Scientific Reports, an interdisciplinary team from the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford and the Centre for Molecular Medicine at Bristol, demonstrated how a range of human and animal cells can be printed into high-resolution tissue constructs.

A confocal micrograph of an artificial tissue containing 2 populations human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293T) printed in the form of an arborized structure within a cube
Credit: Sam Olof / Alexander Graham

Interest in 3D printing living tissues has grown in recent years, but, developing an effective way to use the technology has been difficult, particularly since accurately controlling the position of cells in 3D is hard to do. They often move within printed structures and the soft scaffolding printed to support the cells can collapse on itself. As a result, it remains a challenge to print high-resolution living tissues.

A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues, Alexander D. Graham et al. High-Resolution Patterned Cellular Constructs by Droplet-Based 3D Printing, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06358-x, Phys.org

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sooner Than Expected...

Study: More than 6 million could die early from air pollution every year, Azadeh Ansari, CNN
Topics: Climate Change, Economy, Environment

Scientific American does give the report with some caveats, but as my title alludes, the Chinese - unlike the United States - is serious about addressing this national health issue. They will stumble, learn and eventually surpass us in a technical market we may find ourselves scrambling to catch up with them in. From the image above, I do understand Beijing's motivations.

BEIJING—As the United States reverses its climate policies, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter is in the midst of setting up a national carbon-trading system.

Chinese officials are preparing to launch an emissions market later this year that will cover roughly a quarter of the country's industrial CO2. Officials and nonprofit groups from the European Union, Australia and California have been advising the Chinese on their program design.

Expectations are tempered: Details of China's national system are still murky, but enough information has emerged that observers are skeptical it will be immediately comparable to existing programs, due to design features as well as the haste with which China is rolling it out.

"Initially, it's not going to be more robust than, say, California or RGGI or even some of the pilots," said Jeremy Schreifels, a visiting fellow at Resources for the Future who has been observing the market's evolution. He was referring to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative covering nine Northeastern states.

China Is Preparing to Launch the World’s Biggest Carbon Market, Debra Kahn, Scientific American

Monday, August 14, 2017

Appomattox Legacy...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Commentary

Today is my 55th birthday. I start graduate classes today. I'd hoped to be in a better mood, an uplift from Friday's post.

Saturday, I watched the events in Charlottesville, Virginia unfold on national television. My wife cried even before the name of the victim run over by a coward was announced. I'm sure her as well as my own thoughts drifted to our adult sons. My nephew opined about his own son, not even a year old and the world he and his girlfriend have to prepare him for.

I'm studying an exciting STEM field (Nanoengineering), but I find the living at my particular artificial societal demarcation of humanity exhausting. No one can convince me this isn't a mental disorder; a mass hysteria born of the first African American being elected president of the republic in 232 years and the backlash encouraged by right/Reich wing web sites, talk radio and schlock television hosts on conservative outlets. Despite having their chaos agent in power, this madness continues unabated.

I will study HARD. I think it's the only thing that will keep me calm...and sane.

I could only think of the post for Appomattox (April 12, 2015). I think it is apropos for our current and continuing neurosis on division, expanded via FOGHORN by our current "chief executive*", an obvious accident of a bereft national knowledge of civics responsibility.

His response to the violence Saturday he encouraged during the campaign was weak and tepid. An obvious dolt at history, he's never heard the quote made famous by Malcolm X "the chickens have come home to roost," (and he wasn't the origin of it, just its more modern proponent) now a double entendre of karma and irony.

One would think he was concerned about how his words would be measured by the Klan and Neo Nazis, and could care less what the rest of his nation thinks.

"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time." - James A. Baldwin

*****

NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE
Topics: #BlackLivesMatter, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Dred Scott, Walter Scott

Thursday, 9 April was the Sesquicentennial, the 150 year anniversary of the South's official surrender to the North in the person of Generals Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia. On the same date in 1947, Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, making him the first African American to play in major league baseball; the first professional athlete of color in any sport at the time. He walked through a door first opened by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games, invalidating Hitler's theories of Aryan athletic superiority.

Yesterday, Walter Scott was buried...murdered in the heart of the Confederacy, for a broken tail light.


Cliven Bundy - that $1.1 million dollar, artful, tax-dodging welfare queen, who actually through armed militia threatened US officials with armed insurrection - is still free.

Dred Scott - the man for whom the Supreme Court's most daft decision was the match spark for the Civil War (and apparently, the nomination of Abraham Lincoln as candidate to the-then radical/progressive republican party) - said in the opinion of Chief Justice Taft:

"In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument...They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit." [1]

Hauntingly, Dred Scott is buried just miles outside of Ferguson, Missouri.

From a similar, thoughtful article in The Atlantic: "It is easy to proclaim all souls equal in the sight of God,” wrote James Baldwin in 1956 as the Civil Rights Movement took hold in America; “it is hard to make men equal on earth in the sight of men." [2]

Since the election and reelection of President Obama, it's apparent we've never stopped fighting the Civil War. As publicly directed towards him, there is an obvious visceral disdain for the part of the American electorate that he, by existing embodies. There has been since his two terms an increase in highly motivated hate groups; hate crimes; the escalation in murders (example by this recent affront), luckily caught on a citizen's smart phone. Some would say the president has encouraged this. However, I posit that it's not his encouragement, it is his presence in the Presidential Mansion - renamed The White House after a visit to President Theodore Roosevelt by Booker T. Washington, and the national backlash it ensued [3] - that is so offensive to those that don't want their place in the social hierarchy disturbed (wanting "their country back"). From Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner and now Walter Scott: the Facebook meme below sums up the anger and frustration felt by citizens of this country. [4] It means we can never relax, never just "be." Even our genetic telomere lengths are shorter due to this stress.

Over time, the Civil War became the subject of great romanticization and sentimentalism in cultural memory. For veteran soldiers on both sides, reconciliation required time and the pressure of political imperatives imposed by the larger society on them and on the conflict’s memory. In the wake of this war, Americans faced a profound and all but impossible challenge of achieving two deeply contradictory goals—healing and justice. Healing took generations in many families, if it ever came at all. Justice was fiercely contested. It was not the same proposition for the freedmen and their children as it was for white Southerners, in the wake of their military, economic and psychological defeat. And in America, as much as it sometimes astonishes foreigners, the defeated in this civil war eventually came to control large elements of the event’s meaning, legacies, and policy implications, a reality wracked with irony and driven by the nation’s persistent racism. [2]

Walter Scott sprinted from the scene of a traffic stop, possibly thinking he was to be served for neglected child support payments. That is not worthy of an execution. He was shot in the back with the same regard as cattle at a slaughter shop; killing a mad dog fleeing. Considering that I am a US citizen that trained in a STEM field, an armed forces veteran (as Walter Scott); a MAN: I, nor my sons (the oldest also a veteran) should feel like this in our own country:


The "United" States of America: You cannot be united if you still support the slavery historically-generated "states rights" in everything from voting rights for African Americans; criminalizing a woman's right to choose, to same-sex marriage. The Ku Klux Klan; the John Birch Society; the Tea Party are the typical regressive reactionary responses to any fairness; any progress from the "lesser classes" that should "know their places." [5] We are becoming a byword; an oxymoron. The global economy we encouraged we're falling woefully behind. Technologically backpedaling, we are contesting Darwin and "Creation Science"; anti-vaccination activists to actual scientists; the Jesuit 6,000 year estimate to actual red shift measurement of the age of the universe; climate disruption that the Pentagon sees as an existential threat snowball poo-pooed as pseudo-controversy: our competition abroad has no equivalent analog - our inanity is being ignored for good reason. Like ancient Rome, we're bloated and over-extended; intensely tribal and superstitious; pseudo-scientific; withering from within. We are now a de facto Oligarchy, the only thing we're lacking is the final, deafening crash on the heaps of feudalism and anachronism. We could avoid it by an evolution in thought and policy; a new Appomattox that reinvigorates the republic, and takes this country forward: our viability as a nation is really in the long run, what matters for us all.

"We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. This Day in Quotes: March 6, 1857, The Dred Scott Case
2. The Atlantic: The Civil War Isn't Over, David W. Blight
3. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, Douglas A. Blackmon
4.
5. The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, Corey Rubin