2018年4月16日 星期一

Daily Bulletin for 04/16/2018 

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Is Science Hitting a Wall?

John Horgan, Scientific American

Once again, I'm brooding over science's limits. I recently posted Q&As with three physicists with strong opinions on the topic--David Deutsch, Marcelo Gleiser and Martin Rees--as well as this column: Is Science Infinite? Then in March I attended a two-day brainstorming session--which I'll call The Session--with 20 or so science-y folks over whether science is slowing down and what we can do about it.

Nanobots Glide Through Living Cells

Megan Scudellari, IEEE Spectrum

It's time to let go of the idea that nanomachines are simply life-sized technology shrunk down to a very small size, vis- -vis the 1960s movie Fantastic Voyage.In fact, a lot of nanotechnology is much, much cooler. That includes a corkscrew-shaped nanomotor described this week in the journal Advanced Materials. Using small, rotating magnetic fields, researchers steered the itty bitty machines inside of living cells to trace the letters N and M, corresponding to the word nanomotor.

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Cases Rising in Australia

Daniel O'Brien, The Conversation

Victoria is facing a worsening epidemic of flesh-eating bacteria that cause a disease known internationally as Buruli ulcer and we don't know how to prevent it. Also called Bairnsdale ulcer or Daintree ulcer, this disease causes destructive skin lesions that can lead to severe illness and occasionally even death.

Unexpected Activities Done in MRI Scanners

Shaunacy Ferro, Mental Floss

In medicine, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to show what's happening inside the body, producing dynamic images of our internal organs. Using similar technology that tracks blood flow, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans can show neuroscientists neural activity, indicating what parts of the brain light up when, for instance, a person thinks of an upsetting memory or starts craving cocaine.

Predicting Intelligence Is Not Eugenics

Paige Harden, Leaps Magazine

This was the assessment of Dr. Catherine Bliss, a sociologist who wrote a new book on social science genetics, when asked by MIT Technology Review about polygenic scores that can predict a person's intelligence or performance in school. Like a credit score, a polygenic score is statistical tool that combines a lot of information about a person's genome into a single number.

Old Animal Specimens Key to New Discoveries

Grant Blankenship, NPR

You find all kinds of things in drawers when you're getting ready to move. Expired credit cards. Single socks. Concert tickets. Chargers from old phones. Two-foot-long dead squirrels.Well, maybe not the squirrels - unless you're a scientist moving to a new lab. That's what happened in the Biology Department at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.

Fine Structure Constant May Give Look Past Standard Model

John Timmer, Ars

Measurements in physics are funny things. You'd hope that attempts to quantify some of the fundamental properties of the Universe would follow a simple pattern: they'd start with large error bars, but, over time, measuring technology improves and the error bars shrink. Ideally, the value would then remain nicely within the previous error.

Evidence Mounts for Habitability of Venus-Like Worlds

Richard Lovett, Cosmos

Venus-like exoplanets might not be super-heated hothouses, say scientists. Evidence is mounting that even Venus itself could have supported liquid oceans as recently as 750 million years ago, says Michael Way, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.Venus is dry now, but based on isotope ratios of hydrogen in its present atmosphere, scientists can calculate how much water it once had, Way said at a NASA-sponsored symposium called Environments of Terrestrial Planets Under the Young Sun: Seeds of Biomolecules, in Greenbelt, Maryland.

100 Years Later: The Lessons of Encephalitis Lethargica

Neuroskeptic, Discover

In 1917, at the height of the Great War, a new and mysterious disease emerged into the world, before vanishing a few years later. Although it was to prove less destructive than the 1918 influenza pandemic which occured at around the same time, the new outbreak had a persistent legacy: some of the victims of the disease remained disabled decades later.

When Curing a Disease Is Bad Business

Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review

An analyst at Goldman Sachs asked a troubling question this week about gene therapy.Is curing patients a sustainable business model?In social media, reactions were quick and sharp. Cold and immoral. Capitalism at its finest.But the Goldman analyst has a point. It's tricky to make a sustained profit from one-shot cures.

Quantum Computing Could Revolutionize Nuclear Physics

H. Johnston, P-World

The theme of this year's April Meeting of the American Physical Society is the Feynman Century because the iconoclastic, Nobel-prize-winning physicist was born in 1918. This morning at a special session devoted to Feynman, quantum computing expert Christopher Monroe of the University of Maryland spoke about early contributions to quantum computing that were made by Feynman before his untimely death in 1988.

How Will Our Universe End?

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

For centuries, the biggest questions about our Universe were philosophical ones. Where we came from, how we got to be here, and where we were headed in the future were questions for poet and theologians; science had no answers for the greatest cosmic mysteries of all. Over the past 100 years, all of this has changed. We know what makes up the Universe and how it came to be this way. We know about the Big Bang and have solid physical theories for what set it up.

How to Detect a Pre-Human Civilization

Adam Frank, Atlantic

It only took five minutes for Gavin Schmidt to out-speculate me.Schmidt is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (a.k.a. GISS) a world-class climate-science facility. One day last year, I came to GISS with a far-out proposal. In my work as an astrophysicist, I'd begun researching global warming from an astrobiological perspective.

'Kilopower' Could Power a Mars Colony

Megan Ray Nichols, RealClearScience

Science fiction writer Douglas Adams said it best Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. Getting from one point to another takes a very, very long time, especially with our present technology. Right now, the closest neighboring star system is roughly 4.24 light years away. With our current spacecraft, it would take more than 81,000 years to reach it!

NASA May Fly Crew into Deep Space Sooner

Eric Berger, Ars Technica

NASA will likely launch its first astronauts into deep space since the Apollo program on a less powerful version of its Space Launch System rocket than originally planned. Although it has not been officially announced, in recent weeks mission planners at the space agency have begun designing "Exploration Mission 2" to be launched on the Block 1 version of the SLS rocket, which has the capability to lift 70 tons to low Earth orbit.

Yes, You Can Sweat Blood

Nathaniel Scharping, Discover

We've all heard of sweating bullets, but this is something else entirely.A medical case report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal from Italian researchers last year details a 21-year-old patient who began mysteriously sweating blood from her face and palms. The condition had been ongoing for about three years, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports, when she decided to check herself into a hospital needless to say, the doctors were perplexed.

Next Generation Exoplanet Hunter Launches Monday

Rebecca Boyle, Air & Space

Our solar system only has eight planets (sorry, Pluto), but countless others orbit other stars in the Milky Way. So far, astronomers have not been able to scrutinize them in great detailincluding searching them for signs of lifebut that is about to change. The hunt for alien worlds is set to take another leap forward Monday with the launch of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
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