Science

A Debate Over The Physics Of Time – Quanta Magazine

Another approach that aims to reconcile the apparent passage of time with the block universe goes by the name of causal set theory. First developed in the 1980s as an approach to quantum gravity by the physicist Rafael Sorkin —

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The Prospects for Alien Life on Titan Keep Getting Better – Gizmodo

Now, Rahm’s models are showing that under Titan-like environmental conditions, polyimine is both flexible and good at absorbing sunlight. “It turns out, different conformations of this material absorb different wavelengths of light, including wavelengths that are accessible on the surface

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Watch a cyborg stingray made of rat heart cells swim using light – New Scientist

Cyborg stingray made of rat heart cells swims using lightWatch this video on YouTube Designed by Kevin Kit Parker from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute and his team, the 16-millimetre-long soft robot has a gold skeleton overlaid with a flexible polymer.

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Could we really call it a ‘temple’? – The Tepe Telegrams

As already noted in the beginning, we know little of the beliefs these people might have followed, so it would seem rather bold to denote these monumental pillar-statues as personifications of ‘deities’. But faceless, larger than life and highly abstract,

Posted in History, Noted & Quoted, Religion, Science

Carbon nanotubes too weak to get a space elevator off the ground – New Scientist

The team’s simulations show that the kink acts as a weak point in the tube, easily snapping the normally strong carbon-carbon bonds. Once this happens, the bonds in the adjacent hexagons also break, unzipping the entire tube. The effect on

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Is Particle Physics About to Crack Wide Open? – Scientific American Blog Network

The importance of this result is clear to everybody working in the field and it has immediately triggered a huge amount of work on the possible implications. None of the more fundamental models that currently exist as possible replacements for

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How we caught a glimpse of a supermassive black hole having a meal – The Conversation

Galaxy clusters such as Abell 2597 build up an extremely hot plasma around them, which some predict can gradually cool and rain down to feed the central supermassive black hole. We know from previous work that the black hole in

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Scientists weigh in against the NFL’s war on physics and Tom Brady – Quartz

“We provide this analysis to explain what the ‘science’ used by the league is not,” they write in their brief. “It most assuredly is not scientific proof that the Patriots’ footballs lost pressure beyond the drop caused naturally by the

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Europa’s Ocean May Have An Earthlike Chemical Balance – JPL

In a new study, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, compared Europa’s potential for producing hydrogen and oxygen with that of Earth, through processes that do not directly involve volcanism. The balance of these two elements is a

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Mind-blowing video of space junk evolution since 1957 – Business Insider

Space Debris: 1957 – 2015Watch this video on YouTube “The only way to [solve this problem] is to bring back the larger objects,” NASA scientist Donald Kessler, who has led NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office for nearly 20 years, told The Huffington Post

Posted in Noted & Quoted, Science, Technology

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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