2018年3月21日 星期三

Daily Bulletin for 03/21/2018 

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Hawking's Final Paper Is Unremarkable

Sabine Hossenfelder, Backreaction

Yesterday, the media buzzed with the revelation that Stephen Hawking had completed a paper two weeks before his death. This paper supposedly contains some breathtaking insight.The headlines refer to a paper titled A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation in collaboration with Thomas Hertog. The paper was originally uploaded to the arXiv in July last year, but it was updated two weeks ago.

What Stephen Hawking's Final Papers Says

Nathaniel Scharping, Discover

Before he died, renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking submitted a paper, with co-author Thomas Hertog, to an as-yet-unknown journal. The paper deals with the concept of the multiverse and a theory known as cosmic inflation. Though the paper currently exists only in pre-print form, meaning it hasn't completed the process of peer-review, it's received a significant amount of coverage. Stephen Hawking's last paper, after all, does have a bit of a mythological ring to it.

It's Healthy to Exercise Through Joint Pain

Ewa M. Roor, The Conversation

If you take up exercise later in life, as a treatment for joint or hip pain, you should expect a small, temporary increase in pain. But if you proceed sensibly, you will be rewarded with pain relief similar to that of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, and twice that of a non-prescription painkiller, such as paracetamol.

Scientists Brew 'Hoppy' Beer Without the Hops

Katie Langin, Science News

Lots of craft beer enthusiasts have a thing for hopsflowers that, when added to the brewing process, yield a bitter taste and a distinctive floral aroma. But hop flowers are expensive, and producing them takes 100 billion liters of water a year in the United States alone. To get around those problems, scientists figured out how to brew hoppy beer without the use of hop plants.

'Grand Unified Theory of Math' Nets Abel Prize

Davide Castelvecchi, Nature News

The Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands has won the 2018 Abel Prize one of mathematics' most-prestigious awards for discovering surprising and far-ranging connections between algebra, number theory and analysis, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced on 20 March.

Can We Really Blame Testosterone?

Amy Fleming, The Guardian

Charles Ryan has a clinic in San Francisco at which he regularly relieves men of their testosterone. This chemical castration, as it is sometimes known, is not a punishment, but a common treatment for prostate cancer. Testosterone doesn't cause the disease (currently the third most deadly cancer in the UK), but it fuels it, so oncologists use drugs to reduce the amount produced by the testicles.

The Puzzle Of Quantum Reality

Adam Becker, NPR

There's a hole at the heart of quantum physics.It's a deep hole. Yet it's not a hole that prevents the theory from working. Quantum physics is, by any measure, astonishingly successful. It's the theory that underpins nearly all of modern technology, from the silicon chips buried in your phone to the LEDs in its screen, from the nuclear hearts of the most distant space probes to the lasers in the supermarket checkout scanner. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. Quantum physics works.

Does the Brain Produce Its Own Psychedelic?

Graham St. John, Aeon Magazine

Even Dr Gonzo, the hell-raising Samoan attorney in Hunter S Thompson's novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972), wouldn't touch extract of pineal'. That stuff was the limit: One whiff of that shit would turn you into something out of a goddamn medical encyclopaedia! Man, your head would swell up like a watermelon, you'd probably gain about a hundred pounds in two hours claws, bleeding warts, then you'd notice about six huge hairy tits swelling up on your back Man, I'll try just about anything; but I'd never in hell touch a pineal gland.'

UK Will Lead European Exoplanet Mission

Jonathan Amos, BBC News

A telescope to study the atmospheres of planets beyond our Solar System will be launched by the European Space Agency in the late 2020s.The mission, to be known as Ariel, was selected by the organisation's Science Programme Committee on Tuesday.The venture will be led scientifically from the UK by University College London astrophysicist Giovanna Tinetti.

Bottom Quark May Take Us Beyond Standard Model

Sarah Charley, Symmetry

The Standard Model of particle physics has been developed over several decades to describe the properties and interactions of elementary particles. The model has been extended and modified with new information, but time and again, experiments have bolstered physicists' confidence in it.

The Curious Case of the Growing Placebo Effect

Jeremy Safran, Psychology Today

Over the last several years evidence has been accumulating that placebo effects are becoming more powerful. Clinical trials on a range of medications used for treating both psychological and medical problems, are finding that differences in the magnitude of their impact relative to placebos are decreasing in size.

When Will the U.S. Feel Global Warming's Heat?

John Timmer, Ars Technica

By increasing the energy stored in our atmosphere, climate change is expected to generate more severe storms and heat waves. Severe storms and heat waves, however, also happen naturally. As a result, it's tough to figure out whether any given event is a product of climate change.A corollary to that is that detecting a signal of climate change using weather events is a serious challenge. Are three nor'easters in quick succession, as the East Coast is now experiencing, a sign of a changing climate? Or is it simply a matter of natural variability?

TRAPPIST-1 Planets May Be Too Wet for Life

Mike Wall, Space.com

The seven rocky planets circling the nearby star TRAPPIST-1 have lots of water, a new study suggests perhaps too much to make them good bets for life.All of the TRAPPIST-1 worlds likely harbor hundreds of Earth oceans' worth of water on their surfaces, and the wettest ones may have over 1,000 times more of the stuff than our planet does, according to the study.

How a Virus Spreads Through an Airplane

George Dvorsky, Gizmodo

Traveling by plane greatly increases our chances of getting sick, or so many of us are wont to believe. To be fair, it's not uncommon to come down with a nasty illness after we return from a vacation or business trip. But is flying the culprit? The latest research suggests the answer is nobut much of it depends on where we sit.

Undercover Academic vs. Predatory Publishers

Dalmeet Singh Chawla, Nature

When librarian Jeffrey Beall shut down his controversial blog listing potentially predatory' scholarly publishers and journals last year, archived copies swiftly appeared elsewhere online. More than a year later, at least one of these copycat blacklists is still growing maintained by an anonymous website manager who says that they spend hours each weekend working on the list.

Volcano Helped Iceland Convert to Christianity

Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura

The sun starts to turn black, land sinks into sea; the bright stars scatter from the sky.This, in the medieval Icelandic poem Vluspthe prophecy of the seeressis how the world ends. Steam spurts up with what nourishes life, flame flies high against heaven itself. Gods die, the Earth burns and is reborn, green and beautiful, a new and all-powerful lord ascends.

The Case for Robot Relationships

John Danaher, Aeon Magazine

There is a heartbreaking scene in the middle of Blade Runner 2049 (2017). The hero of the movie, a replicant called K, lives a drab existence in a dystopian, future Los Angeles. The one bright spot in his life is his patient and sympathetic partner, Joi. They share many affectionate moments on screen. But then she is killed, in the midst of declaring her love, in one of the movie's most gut-wrenching moments. I know I shed a tear when I first saw it.
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