Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Posted: January 8, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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In the main hall of the hands-on science exhibits at the Cape Town Science Center in South Africa, a lifeless, tattered globe stands under naked fluorescent bulbs, all but ignored by children passing through on school tours.

Across a sunblasted courtyard and up a dingy staircase, another globe — a digital globe — stands in a darkened room. This globe is a shining sphere of light. Children stand awe-struck; adults of a certain age may be reminded of images like Apollo 8’s Earthrise photograph, while Tolkien fans of all ages will recall the spherical, swirling “palantír” of Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings” (forged in the days when Middle Earth was still flat).

Until recently, cost and technical limitations have largely confined these modern spheres to institutional settings like science centers. But as technology improves and prices fall, it’s growing more likely that a digital orb will someday arrive in a classroom or boardroom — even a living room — near you.

Posted: January 7, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Researchers in Japan have come up with a storage solution to keep your most important data with a method that seems to be drawn directly from the pages of Superman.

Everyone who has gone through the process of upgrading their computer system knows the inevitable task of transferring data involves a certain amount of acceptance that some data will forever be lost.

Saved on storage devices without drives to retrieve the files, or by the deterioration of the storage substrate, data becomes lost.

Even Ray Kurzweil mentions in The Singularity Is Near, how he resorts to paper printouts to save his most important data for the long term.

Now, Japanese storage and electronics company Hitachi has announced that it has come up with a solution that stores data on slivers of quartz glass, keeping important data safe and sound for perhaps as long as hundreds of millions of years. The company’s main research lab has developed a way to etch digital patterns into robust quartz glass with a laser at a data density that is better than compact discs, then read it using an optical microscope. The data is etched at four different layers in the glass using different focal points of the laser. (via 33rd Square | Superman’s Indestructible Data Crystals May Be Possible)

The west’s dwindling connection with the natural world puts it in increasing peril, says the distinguished anthropologist in his new book.

Many of the practices of tribal cultures can help us to rediscover our way, he argues – from respecting the environment to letting toddlers play with knives

The Kaulong people of New Britain used to have an extreme way of dealing with families in mourning. Until the 1950s, newly widowed women on the island off New Guinea were strangled by their husband’s brothers or, in their absence, by one of their own sons. Custom dictated no other course of action. Failure to comply meant dishonour, and widows would make a point of demanding strangulation as soon as their husbands had expired.

The impact on families was emotionally shattering, as Jared Diamond makes clear in his latest book, The World Until Yesterday. “In one case, a widow – whose brothers-in-law were absent – ordered her own son to strangle her,” he says. “But he could not bring himself to do it. It was too horrible. So, in order to shame him into killing her, the widow marched through her village shouting that her son did not want to strangle her because he wanted to have sex with her instead.” Humiliated, the son eventually killed his mother.Widow-strangling occurred because the Kaulong believed male spirits needed the company of females to survive the after-life. It is a grotesque notion but certainly not the only fantastic idea to have gripped traditional societies, says Diamond. Other habits have included infanticide and outbreaks of war between neighbours, though these are balanced with many cases of care and compassion, particularly for the elderly, and a concern for the environment that shames the west.

Jared Diamond: what the tribes of New Guinea have to teach us | Science | The Observer

Posted: January 6, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Dancing Science?

It’s not too often that the worlds of science and dance mix, but choreographer Liz Lerman is one of those starting to change that. Lerman has created two pieces as of now that deal with scientific topics: “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” (2006) and “A Matter of Origins” (2011). “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” focuses, as the title suggests, on the human genome—more specifically genetic research and engineering. “A Matter of Origins” is more physics related, focusing on the idea of beginnings: especially the world’s beginning and the Big Bang theory. Through her choreography, Lerman brings together scientific ideas and research with the art of dance to cumulatively make science more accessible for the everyday folk. Her pieces educate the audience on the facts of the topic, and bring up the questions that surround the research, such as the various ethical questions within the field of genetic engineering, and how it will change our futures. Scientific dance is still being developed, and explored (especially for its educational potential) but goes to show the beauty behind nature’s artwork, and the different ways people continuously find to explore and showcase that beauty.

Guest article written by Kerry (

(Image Credit: 1, 2)

Posted: January 3, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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“Big Bang Theory” physicist Sheldon Cooper has a buzzy new claim to fame. The geeky TV character, who counts Britain’s Stephen Hawking as his online friend, has had a species of bee named after his favorite catch phrase: Bazinga! On the TV show, Cooper uses the word to signal that he’s just pulled a trick on somebody else — essentially, a “gotcha” moment.

Brazilian biologist Andre Nemesio said he named a species of Brazilian orchid bee Euglossa bazinga in honor of “the clever, funny, ‘nerd’ character Sheldon Cooper,” because the bee had tricked scientists for some time with its similarity to other species.

Nemesio published his paper last month in Zootaxa, a journal for worldwide zoological taxonomists.

(via Bazinga! ‘Big Bang Theory’ all abuzz over bee – Technology & science – Science | NBC News)

On this day that fetishizes finitude, that reminds us how rapidly our own earthly time share is shrinking, allow me to offer the modest comfort of infinities.

Yes, infinities, plural. The popular notion of infinity may be of a monolithic totality, the ultimate, unbounded big tent that goes on forever and subsumes everything in its path — time, the cosmos, your complete collection of old Playbills. Yet in the ever-evolving view of scientists, philosophers and other scholars, there really is no single, implacable entity called infinity.

Instead, there are infinities, multiplicities of the limit-free that come in a vast variety of shapes, sizes, purposes and charms. Some are tailored for mathematics, some for cosmology, others for theology; some are of such recent vintage their fontanels still feel soft. There are flat infinities, hunchback infinities, bubbling infinities, hyperboloid infinities. There are infinitely large sets of one kind of number, and even bigger, infinitely large sets of another kind of number.

The Life of Pi, and Other Infinities –


A study published in the journal PLOS ONE shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

While space is full of radiation,…

FUTUREJAM: Space travel may be harmful to the brain