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2018年4月19日 星期四

Daily Bulletin for 04/19/2018 

04/19/2018
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The Most Important Equation in the Universe

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

Last week, Perimeter Institute ran a feature where they asked 14 scientists what their favorite equation was, and why. There were many great answers from many different areas of research, from thermodynamics to pure mathematics. Many people went with fundamental equations, like the law of gravity, Newton's famous F = ma, or the Schrdinger equation, which governs quantum particles.

Why a 'Lifesaving' Depression Treatment Didn't Pass Trials

David Dobbs, Atlantic

Some medical experiments are more daunting than others. The one that the neurologist Helen Mayberg came up with to test a model of depression she had developed over about 15 years involved drilling two holes in the top of a patient's skull and sliding two low-voltage electrodes deep into the brain until they reached a region known as Brodmann area 25.

The Great Chinese Dinosaur Boom

Richard Conniff, Smithsonian

Not long ago in northeastern China, I found myself being driven in a Mercedes-Benz SUV down a winding country road, trailed by a small motorcade of local dignitaries, past flat-roofed brick farmhouses and fields full of stubbled cornstalks. Abruptly, we arrived at our destination, and my guide, Fangfang, slipped out of her high heels into fieldwork gear: pink sneakers with bright blue pompoms on the Velcro straps.

Some of the Strangest Illusions Known to Science

Michelle Starr, Science Alert

We just can't resist a good optical illusion. It's simultaneously grounding and deeply disorienting to feel that our perception of the world around us can lie so dramatically. But it's also just fun to trick our own brains.

Life 2.0: Inside the Synthetic Biology Revolution

James Mitchell Crow, Cosmos

Imagine a future where synthetic jellyfish roam waterways looking for toxins to destroy, where eco-friendly plastics and fuels are harvested from vats of yeast, where viruses are programmed to be cancer killers, and electronic gadgets repair themselves like living organisms.Welcome to the world of synthetic biology, or synbio', where possibilities are limited only by the imagination. Its practitioners don't view life as a mystery but as a machine one that can be designed to solve a slew of pressing global health, energy and environmental problems.

Warming Donated Livers May Improve Transplants

Lauran Neergaard, AP

Surgeons pack donated organs on ice while racing them to transplant patients but it may be time for a warmer approach. British researchers said Wednesday that keeping at least some livers at body temperature instead may work better.The livers keep functioning until they're transplanted thanks to a machine that pumps them full of blood and nutrients. It's a life-support system for the organs, and similar machines are being explored for lung and heart transplants, too.

Will China Beat the World to Nuclear Fusion?

Stephen McDonell, BBC News

Imagine limitless energy with virtually no waste at all: this is the lofty promise of nuclear fusion.On Science Island in Eastern China's Anhui Province, there is a large gleaming metal doughnut encased in an enormous shiny, round box about as big as a two-storey apartment. This is the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (or EAST).

Army Seeks Majorana Fermion for Cybersecurity

Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard

Last July, a group of researchers from UC Irvine, UCLA, and Stanford announced they'd found the first strong evidence of the Majorana fermion, an elusive particle first theorised over 80 years ago that acts as its own antiparticle. The evidence of the Majorana fermion was hailed as a major landmark in physics, but it didn't take long for the US Army, which funded the research, to begin considering wartime applications for the particle.

Machine Learning's 'Amazing' Ability to Predict Chaos

Natalie Wolchover, Quanta

Half a century ago, the pioneers of chaos theory discovered that the butterfly effect makes long-term prediction impossible. Even the smallest perturbation to a complex system (like the weather, the economy or just about anything else) can touch off a concatenation of events that leads to a dramatically divergent future. Unable to pin down the state of these systems precisely enough to predict how they'll play out, we live under a veil of uncertainty.

The Scientific Importance of Free Speech

Adam Perkins, Quillette

A quick Google search suggests that free speech is a regarded as an important virtue for a functional, enlightened society. For example, according to George Orwell: If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Likewise, Ayaan Hirsi Ali remarked: Free speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society, and yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and offend.

Space Communications Are Stuck in the Dial-Up Age

Rebecca Boyle, 538

In space, no one can hear you scream because sound doesn't travel in a vacuum, but also because you would need some sort of radio relay to carry the message, what with the distances being so extreme. And this goes for any sort of communication. Snapshots of Pluto's heart, photos from Mars, images of a hellflower bouquet at Jupiter's north pole: All of it streams back to Earth in a trickle via radio waves, a weak form of light.

Chronic Wasting Disease: Real Risk or Irrational Hype?

Madeline Bodin, Undark

This winter was a little quieter than usual for the folks at Silver Creek Specialty Meats in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For generations, winter was when hunters would make regular visits to the low-rise white brick facility near the shore of Lake Winnebago, carrying the odds and ends of the deer they had killed the previous fall so it could be turned into venison sausages. This year, though, no hunters came.

How San Francisco's Next Big Quake Could Play Out

Alexandra Witze, Nature

The earthquake begins at 4:18 p.m. as a violent shudder, and rips along the Hayward Fault east of San Francisco, California. By the time the magnitude-7 event is over, buildings and roads throughout the region have collapsed, water pipes have shattered and fires rage. Eight hundred people are dead, tens of thousands have become homeless, and many who are still in their homes will go without running water for weeks to months.

Life May Have Started in 'Nuclear Geyser'

Richard A. Lovett, Cosmos

Life may not have originated in the primordial soup of an ancient pond, according to scientists, but rather in a nuclear geyser powered by an ancient uranium deposit.Shigenori Maruyama of Tokyo Institute of Technology says the idea came from what chemists know about crucial compounds in our own bodies.

The Myth of the Online Echo Chamber

David Robson, BBC Future

Back in the early 2000s many commentators were still marvelling at the freedom of the internet and its democratic potential when the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein offered a stark warning.This virtual Wild West, he said, might allow us to overcome some of the social and geographical barriers between people, so that we establish a more balanced view of the world around us.

The Wealthy Overestimate Their Nutrition Knowledge

Kirshenbaum & Buhler, Conv

Socioeconomics play a significant role in attitudes about food especially concerns about safety and purchasing behavior. And higher income doesn't always correlate with informed choices. On the contrary, our research shows that affluent Americans tend to overestimate their knowledge about health and nutrition.

Probiotic Helps Stressed Students Sleep Better

Hannah Thomasy, Massive

It's 2 am. I've been in bed for hours, but I can't fall asleep. I'm worrying about my upcoming project deadline or whether I'm eating enough protein or that time three months ago a waiter told me to enjoy my meal and I said, You too! I know that I'm not alone in this. Over a third of Americans reported that they experience difficulty sleeping at least once a week, and stress is likely a major factor.
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