2019年2月13日 星期三

Daily Bulletin for 02/13/2019 

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Is Email Making Professors Stupid?

Cal Newport, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Donald Knuth is one of the world's most famous living computer scientists. He's known for his pioneering efforts to bring rigorous mathematical analysis to the design of computer algorithms. An emeritus professor at Stanford University, he's currently writing the fourth volume of his classic book series, The Art of Computer Programming, which he's been working on since the early 1960s.

The Earthquakes That Can Last 50 Days

Robin George Andrews, National Geographic

Back in the summer of 2016, a big earthquake struck northwestern Turkey. That's not so unusual, considering that the region sits atop a highly active branching fault network that has a history of producing some seriously powerful tremblors.The strange thing about this particular quake is that it lasted for 50 days, and not a single soul felt it.

Where Do New Languages Come From?

Elizabeth Svoboda, Sapiens

In the desert town of Lajamanu, Australia, at the bend of a narrow dirt road, Carmel O'Shannessy worked at a school as a teacher-linguist in the early 2000s. Lajamanu's Indigenous Warlpiri people, who live in the country's Northern Territory, were skilled at drawing sustenance from the landscape's parched red soil, and O'Shannessy soon discovered hidden cultural riches the Warlpiri had stored up.

The Cave of Crystals Captivates Chemists

Emma Hiolski, C & E News

Deep below a mountain near Naica, Mexico, miners searching for fresh ore deposits in 2000 came across an unexpected and awesome sight. Massive, milky-white crystals towered around them, filling a horseshoe-shaped cave. Luminous beams of gypsum bigger than telephone poles, nearly 12 m long and 1 m wide, gleamed in the miners' lights, jutting in all directions out of the brown limestone walls, floors, and ceiling.

Why Archaeologists Don't Want You to Floss

Brenna Hassett, Cosmic Shambles

It is increasingly hard, as an archaeologist, to convince anyone you are an archaeologist. In the public imagination, there are sartorial requirements (whips, twin thigh-holstered 9mm pistols) that are simply untenable in the field, or indeed in airport security on the way to the field. Worse yet, modern archaeologists fall down on expectations extending even beyond hat choice: many of us spend our days working in perfectly nice laboratories, and almost[1] never have to escape from lava pits, crashing boulders, or high-stakes poker games in Siberia. And one of those things we do in our...

How Many Creationists Are There in America?

Masci, Smith, & Funk, Sci American

More than a century and a half after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking thesis on the development of life, evolution remains a contentious topic in the United States. Most biologists and other scientists contend that evolutionary theory convincingly explains the origins and development of life on Earth. So why are some Americans still arguing about it today?

Maya Bones Bring a Lost Civilization to Life

Erik Vance, Nature News

The Autonomous University of the Yucatn, in the Mexican city of Mrida, holds one of the most comprehensive libraries on Earth. But few books line the shelves on the bottom floor of the anthropological sciences building. Instead, boxes are stacked from floor to ceiling in almost every corner of the laboratory, with labels naming Calakmul, Pomuch or Xcambo and other ancient Maya ruins. Inside every box is a set of human bones.

Water Could Have Drowned Earth If Not for Supernova

Charles Choi, Space.com

Radioactive metal might help explain why Earth and its sibling worlds are not ocean planets hostile to life as we know it, a new study finds.Earth is the only world known to both have life and possess water covering most of it. Since there is life virtually wherever there is water on Earth, the hunt for potentially habitable planets is largely focused on worlds that might have water on their surfaces.

Gallium Nitride Is the Silicon of the Future

Angela Chen, The Verge

Anker has debuted its tiny new power brick, and the company is crediting its small size with the component it uses instead of silicon: gallium nitride (GaN). It's the latest example of the growing popularity of this transparent, glass-like material that could one day unseat silicon and cut energy use worldwide.For decades, silicon has been the backbone of the technology industry, but we are reaching a theoretical limit on how much it can be improved, says Danqing Wang, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University who conducts GaN research.

Supersymmetry May Be the Greatest Failed Prediction

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

Every so often, an idea comes along in theoretical physics that's undeniably profound. When a single idea can solve a slew of existing puzzles in one fell swoop while simultaneously making new, testable predictions, it's bound to generate a tremendous amount of interest. It can do more than provide a potential way forward; it can capture the imagination as well. If its predictions are borne out, it could kick off an entirely new understanding of the Universe.

How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past

Jordana Cepelewicz, Quanta Magazine

It began about a decade ago at Syracuse University, with a set of equations scrawled on a blackboard. Marc Howard, a cognitive neuroscientist now at Boston University, and Karthik Shankar, who was then one of his postdoctoral students, wanted to figure out a mathematical model of time processing: a neurologically computable function for representing the past, like a mental canvas onto which the brain could paint memories and perceptions.

The East Coast Is Going to Get Arkansas-ified

Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

Sixty years from now, climate change could transform the East Coast into the Gulf Coast. It will move Minnesota to Kansas, turn Tulsa into Texas, and hoist Houston into Mexico. Even Oregonians might ooze out of their damp, chilly corner and find themselves carried to the central valley of California.

What Lake Hephaestus Tells Us About Life on Mars

Ross Pomeroy, RCScience

More than 11,000 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea exists an environment utterly alien yet eerily familiar to us humans: a lake. But this is unlike any lake that resides above the ocean's surface. Filled with a dark, magnesium chloride-rich brine, it is so salty that it is completely inhospitable to life, and so dense that its surface is clearly distinct from the surrounding saltwater.

Surprising Artifacts From Major Roman Naval Battle

Owen Jarus, Live Science

Archaeologists exploring the site of a naval battle fought 2,200 years ago between Rome and Carthage have uncovered clues to how the battle may have unfolded as well as several mysteries.The finds suggest that Carthage reused captured Roman warships during the battle and that Carthaginian sailors may have thrown cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to help their ships escape the Romans.

Global Insect Decline May See 'Plague of Pests'

Matt McGrath, BBC News

A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing "dramatic rates of decline" around the world.The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles.But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom.

NASA Takes Big Step Towards Human Moon Landings

Eric Berger, Ars Technica

For two years, the Trump administration has made various noises about returning humans to the Moon. There have been bill signings with Apollo astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt. Vice President Mike Pence has traveled to NASA facilities around the country to make speeches. And the president himself has mused about the Moon and Mars.
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