2018年3月24日 星期六

Daily Bulletin for 03/24/2018 

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Five Weird Quantum Effects

Lauren Fuge, Cosmos Magazine

You might have heard of Schrdinger's cat and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and maybe even quantum entanglement. These quantum phenomena are attempts to explain the world on an infinitesimally small scale, and have become relatively well known in the century or so since they were discovered.

What Happened to Thismia Americana?

Ross Pomeroy, RealClearScience

WHAT HAPPENED TO Thismia americana?"It's a question that fascinates botanists around the world, but one that few in the general public have probably ever considered, despite the fact that it has been asked for well over a century.In August 1912, University of Chicago graduate student Norma Pfeiffer was exploring a damp, low-lying prairie near the wetlands surrounding Chicago's Lake Calumet when she spotted a small, glabrous, white plant with delicate streaks of blue-green ringing the mouth of the flower. It was unlike anything else in the surrounding area.

Next-Gen Life Detectors Are on the Way

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Air & Space Mag

Several promising new tools for astrobiology are in the works, according to presentations at this week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.One intriguing example is the Standoff Biofinder, which is based on the principle that many biological materials exhibit a short-term fluorescence effect that can be distinguished from the natural luminescence of many minerals.

NASA 'Clean' Room Contaminated with Fungus

Adam Mann, Science News

Clean rooms are the final line of defense in extraterrestrial exploration: Spacecraft departing for other worlds are stripped of any biological contaminants there, and samples returning from space, such as the Apollo moon rocks, are stored in pristine conditions to be studied later. But a new study suggests that a clean room storing meteorite samples at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, may not be quite so clean, after all.

Why Our Universe Didn't Collapse into a Black Hole

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

The Big Bang is one of the most counterintuitive ideas out there. If you think about taking all the matter and energy in the Universe, and starting it off in a tiny region of space, doesn't it seem rather unlikely that it would expand at the exact rate needed to give us the Universe we see today? Wouldn't it be far more likely to simply collapse, gravitationally, into the densest type of object the Universe can contain: a black hole? Clearly, that didn't happen.

How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'

David Reich, NY Times

In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of black. In the United States, historically, a person is black if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not black if he is known to have any European ancestry. If black refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

The Best Budget for Science Ever?

Marina Koren, The Atlantic

When President Donald Trump was sworn into office, much of the science community braced for the worst. Trump had long shown a stubborn disregard for any scientific knowledge that differed from his beliefs. Many scientists wondered what havoc the new president, empowered by a Congress controlled by Republicans, might wreak on the policies that affected their work.

Diamond Paves Way for First Practical Masers

Elizabeth Gibney, Nature News

Before lasers, there were masers the microwave siblings of optical lasers. But whereas lasers are used in many applications from telescopes to medicine, masers have long languished in the shadows, because they work only in super-cool temperatures or in a vacuum. Now, physicists have created a maser that works in regular conditions using diamond.

Climate Migration Doesn't Have to Be a Crisis

Andrea Thompson, Sci American

As the sea creeps steadily inland in countries such as Bangladesh, and as dwindling rains put already marginal farmland out of play in Ethiopia and other places, a wave of migration triggered by a changing climate is taking shape on the horizon.But most climate migrants will not be heading abroad to start new lives; instead they will settle elsewhere in their home countries.

Can We Gene-Edit Herpes Away?

Becky Little, Smithsonian

To become a contestant on the reality show The Bachelor, you must first pass a stringent list of requirements. These include numerous psychological and medical tests. But there's one thing that keeps a disproportionate number of prospective contestants off the show and its sister show, The Bachelorette, at least according to the new book Bachelor Nation: herpes.

What If Albert Einstein Reformed Education?

Scotty Hendricks, Big Think

It is often claimed that Einstein was a poor student who flunked math. This old story is false and Albert laughed after hearing about it. In fact, he had mastered calculus by high school and was able to understand the nearly incomprehensible philosophy of Immanuel Kant at age 13. Most adults I know can understand neither of those things.

Six Clouds You Should Know

Hannah Christensen, The Conversation

Modern weather forecasts rely on complex computer simulators. These simulators use all the physics equations that describe the atmosphere, including the movement of air, the sun's warmth, and the formation of clouds and rain.Incremental improvements in forecasts over time mean that modern five-day weather forecasts are as skillful as three-day forecasts were 20 years ago.

Putin's Nuclear-Powered Missile Is Possible

Sean Gallagher, Ars Tech

In a March 1, 2018 speech before Russia's Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed new strategic weapons being developed to counter United States ballistic missile defenses. Two of these weapons are allegedly nuclear powered: a previously revealed intercontinental-range nuclear torpedo and a cruise missile. As Putin described them:

How the 'Many Worlds' Interpretation Was Born

Adam Becker, Scientific American

Over several rounds of sherry late one night in the fall of 1955, the Danish physicist Aage Petersen debated the mysteries at the heart of quantum physics with two graduate students, Charles Misner and Hugh Everett, at Princeton University. Petersen was defending the ideas of his mentor, Niels Bohr, who was the originator of the Copenhagen interpretation, the standard way of understanding quantum physics.

Primeval Salt Shakes Up Ideas on Earth's Oxygen

Nola Taylor Redd, Sci American

Ancient sea salt drilled from a geologic basin in Russia is providing dramatic new clues as to how Earth's early atmosphere became oxygen-richallowing life as we know it to evolve. Buried deep beneath the surface for billions of years, the salt reveals surprising clues about the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere from long ago.

Solar Silliness: The Heart-Sun Connection

Neuroskeptic, Discover

On Twitter, I learned about a curious new paper in Scientific Reports: Long-Term Study of Heart Rate Variability Responses to Changes in the Solar and Geomagnetic Environment by Abdullah Alabdulgader and colleagues.According to this article, the human heart responds to changes in geomagnetic and solar activity. This paper claims that things like solar flares, cosmic rays and sunspots affect the beating of our hearts.
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