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Month: June 2021

This moon-sized white dwarf is the smallest ever found

Only a smidge bigger than the moon, a newfound white dwarf is the smallest of its kind known.

The white dwarf, a type of remnant left behind when certain stars peter out, has a radius of about 2,100 kilometers, researchers report June 30 in Nature. That’s remarkably close to the moon’s approximately 1,700-kilometer radius. Most white dwarfs are closer to the size of Earth, which has a radius of about 6,300 kilometers.

The white dwarf’s small girth means, counterintuitively, that it is also one of the most massive known objects of its kind, at about 1.3 times the sun’s mass.


An atomic clock that could revolutionize space travel just passed its first test

An atomic clock that could transform deep-space travel has successfully completed its first test run in space.

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock, which launched on a satellite in June 2019, outperformed all other clocks in space during its first year in orbit around Earth. The clock, DSAC for short, was at least 10 times more stable than clocks on GPS satellites, which makes it reliable enough for futuristic space navigation schemes, researchers report online June 30 in Nature.

To navigate the solar system today, space probes listen for signals from antennas on Earth and then bounce those signals back. Ultraprecise, refrigerator-sized atomic clocks on the ground measure that round trip time — which can take hours — to pinpoint a spacecraft’s location.


'There may not be a conflict after all' in expanding universe debate

Our universe is expanding, but our two main ways to measure how fast this expansion is happening have resulted in different answers. For the past decade, astrophysicists have been gradually dividing into two camps: one that believes that the difference is significant, and another that thinks it could be due to errors in measurement.

If it turns out that errors are causing the mismatch, that would confirm our basic model of how the universe works. The other possibility presents a thread that, when pulled, would suggest some fundamental missing new physics is needed to stitch it back together. For several years, each new piece of evidence from telescopes has seesawed the argument back and forth, giving rise to what has been called the ‘Hubble tension.’


Consciousness Is Mainly a Problem for Materialists – Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Psychiatrist Joseph LeDoux, author of The Deep History of Ourselves (2019), offers an extract at Aeon, musing on the mystery of consciousness. In a way, his approach typifies the problem with the wholly materialist approach to the mind and the brain:

Like all living things, humans are organisms, biological entities that function as physiological aggregates whose constituent parts operate with a high degree of cooperation and a low degree of conflict. But unlike other organisms, humans possess a rogue component – a brain network that can, at will, choose to defect and undermine the survival mission and purpose of the rest of the body.


Astrophysicists detect first black hole-neutron star mergers

A long time ago, in two galaxies about 900 million light-years away, two black holes each gobbled up their neutron star companions, triggering gravitational waves that finally hit Earth in January 2020.

Discovered by an international team of astrophysicists including Northwestern University researchers, two events — detected just 10 days apart — mark the first-ever detection of a black hole merging with a neutron star. The findings will enable researchers to draw the first conclusions about the origins of these rare binary systems and how often they merge.

“Gravitational waves have allowed us to detect collisions of pairs of black holes and pairs of neutron stars, but the mixed collision of a black hole with a neutron star has been the elusive missing piece of the family picture of compact object mergers,” said Chase Kimball, a Northwestern graduate student who co-authored the study.


Gravitational waves reveal the first known mergers of a black hole and neutron star

Caught in a fatal inward spiral, a neutron star met its end when a black hole swallowed it whole. Gravitational ripples from that collision spread outward through the cosmos, eventually reaching Earth. The detection of those waves marks the first reported sighting of a black hole engulfing the dense remnant of dead star. And in a surprise twist, scientists spotted a second such merger just days after the first.

Until now, all identified sources of gravitational waves were twos of a kind: either two black holes or two neutron stars, spiraling around one another before colliding and coalescing (SN: 1/21/21).


'Edge of chaos' opens pathway to artificial intelligence discoveries: Nanowire network trained to solve simple problem mimicking neural pathways – Science Daily

Scientists at the University of Sydney and Japan’s National Institute for Material Science (NIMS) have discovered that an artificial network of nanowires can be tuned to respond in a brain-like way when electrically stimulated.

The international team, led by Joel Hochstetter with Professor Zdenka Kuncic and Professor Tomonobu Nakayama, found that by keeping the network of nanowires in a brain-like state “at the edge of chaos,” it performed tasks at an optimal level.

This, they say, suggests the underlying nature of neural intelligence is physical, and their discovery opens an exciting avenue for the development of artificial intelligence.

The study is published today in Nature Communications.


The Goldilocks Supernova

A worldwide team led by UC Santa Barbara scientists at Las Cumbres Observatory has discovered the first convincing evidence for a new type of stellar explosion — an electron-capture supernova. While they have been theorized for 40 years, real-world examples have been elusive. They are thought to arise from the explosions of massive super-asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) stars, for which there has also been scant evidence. The discovery, published in Nature Astronomy, also sheds new light on the thousand-year mystery of the supernova from A.D. 1054 that was visible all over the world in the daytime, before eventually becoming the Crab Nebula.… Read more...

A proposed ‘quantum compass’ for songbirds just got more plausible

Scientists could be a step closer to understanding how some birds might exploit quantum physics to navigate.

Researchers suspect that some songbirds use a “quantum compass” that senses the Earth’s magnetic field, helping them tell north from south during their annual migrations (SN: 4/3/18). New measurements support the idea that a protein in birds’ eyes called cryptochrome 4, or CRY4, could serve as a magnetic sensor. That protein’s magnetic sensitivity is thought to rely on quantum mechanics, the math that describes physical processes on the scale of atoms and electrons (SN: 6/27/16). If the idea is shown to be correct, it would be a step forward for biophysicists who want to understand how and when quantum principles can become important in various biological processes.


'Dragon man' fossil may replace Neanderthals as our closest relative

A near-perfectly preserved ancient human fossil known as the Harbin cranium sits in the Geoscience Museum in Hebei GEO University. The largest of known Homo skulls, scientists now say this skull represents a newly discovered human species named Homo longi or “Dragon Man.” Their findings, appearing in three papers publishing June 25 in the journal The Innovation, suggest that the Homo longi lineage may be our closest relatives — and has the potential to reshape our understanding of human evolution.

“The Harbin fossil is one of the most complete human cranial fossils in the world,” says author Qiang Ji, a professor of paleontology of Hebei GEO University.


Dark matter may slow the rotation of the Milky Way’s central bar of stars

Dark matter can be a real drag. The pull of that unidentified, invisible matter in the Milky Way may be slowing down the rotating bar of stars at the galaxy’s heart.

Based on a technique that re-creates the history of the slowdown in a manner akin to analyzing a tree’s rings, the bar’s speed has decreased by at least 24 percent since it formed billions of years ago, researchers report in the August Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

That slowdown is “another indirect but important piece of evidence that dark matter is a thing, not just a conjecture, because this can’t happen without it,” says astrophysicist Martin Weinberg of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who was not involved with the study.


A “Leap” toward Humanity’s Destruction

A UK nonprofit with ties to global corruption throughout the COVID-19 crisis as well as historical and current ties to the UK eugenics movement launched a global health-focused DARPA equivalent last year. The move went largely unnoticed by both mainstream and independent media.

The Wellcome Trust, which has arguably been second only to Bill Gates in its ability to influence events during the COVID-19 crisis and vaccination campaign, launched its own global equivalent of the Pentagon’s secretive research agency last year, officially to combat the “most pressing health challenges of our time.” Though first conceived of in 2018, this particular Wellcome Trust initiative was spun off from the Trust last May with $300 million in initial funding.


Science Journalist: No Hype. Consciousness Is a HARD Problem! – Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence

British science journalist Michael Hanlon (1964–2016), co-author with Tracey Brown of In the Interests of Safety (2014), had some sobering things to say about the trivial pursuit of an easy theory of consciousness. Considering materialist philosopher Daniel Dennett and less materialist philosopher David Chalmers (who coined the term the “Hard Problem of Consciousness”), he reflects,

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Daniel Dennett wrote that: ‘Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery.’ A few years later, Chalmers added: ‘[It] may be the largest outstanding obstacle in our quest for a scientific understanding of the universe.’ They were right then and, despite the tremendous scientific advances since, they are still right today.


A new type of Homo unknown to science

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have identified a new type of early human at the Nesher Ramla site, dated to 140,000 to 120,000 years ago. According to the researchers, the morphology of the Nesher Ramla humans shares features with both Neanderthals (especially the teeth and jaws) and archaic Homo (specifically the skull). At the same time, this type of Homo is very unlike modern humans — displaying a completely different skull structure, no chin, and very large teeth. Following the study’s findings, researchers believe that the Nesher Ramla Homo type is the ‘source’ population from which most humans of the Middle Pleistocene developed.… Read more...

COVID Origins and Gain of Function with Sam Husseini

Journalist Sam Husseini joins the podcast to discuss the recent mainstream shift regarding the “lab leak” theory and Gain of Function in general and what the “newly allowed” mainstream coverage is leaving out and covering up. Originally published on Rokfin on June 21, 2021.

Continue reading: https://unlimitedhangout.com/2021/06/podcasts/covid-origins-and-gain-of-function-with-sam-husseini/

Source: unlimitedhangout.com

Symbiosis instead of evolution: A new idea about the nature of human intelligence – TechTalks

By Oleksandr Kostikov

Could it be that all AI (artificial intelligence) developers are wrong?

Imagine you have a radio. You use it with ease, and sometimes, you make simple repairs. But what if you want to create a new radio receiver? To do this, you would have to fully understand the design details. You would need to understand not only how the volume control and power supply work, but also where the music comes from.

Likewise, creators of artificial intelligence need to first try to understand how natural intelligence works. Otherwise, instead of a radio, they may end up with a boring and monotonous player.


Exoplanets in 2,034 star-systems get cosmic front-row seat to see Earth

Scientists at Cornell University and the American Museum of Natural History have identified 2,034 nearby star-systems — within the small cosmic distance of 326 light-years — that could find Earth merely by watching our pale blue dot cross our sun.

That’s 1,715 star-systems that could have spotted Earth since human civilization blossomed about 5,000 years ago, and 319 more star-systems that will be added over the next 5,000 years.

Exoplanets around these nearby stars have a cosmic front-row seat to see if Earth holds life, the scientists said in research published June 23 in Nature.

“From the exoplanets’ point-of-view, we are the aliens,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy and director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute, in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Stress can turn hair gray — and it's reversible, researchers find

Legend has it that Marie Antoinette’s hair turned gray overnight just before her beheading in 1791.

Though the legend is inaccurate — hair that has already grown out of the follicle does not change color — a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is the first to offer quantitative evidence linking psychological stress to graying hair in people.

And while it may seem intuitive that stress can accelerate graying, the researchers were surprised to discover that hair color can be restored when stress is eliminated, a finding that contrasts with a recent study in mice that suggested that stressed-induced gray hairs are permanent.


Mathematician J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. was a Manhattan Project standout despite racism

The Manhattan Project brought together the finest scientific minds in the United States for one urgent purpose: to build an atomic bomb. That included people who had historically been marginalized, including Black scientists, who achieved greatness in an era of rampant discrimination.

One of those minds was J. Ernest Wilkins Jr., a Black mathematician, nuclear scientist and optics researcher. Barely past his teen years as the Manhattan Project ramped up, he quickly began working with the top physicists of the time on what was perhaps the most consequential physics research project of the century.

Born in Chicago in 1923, Wilkins was a math prodigy.


Why I Write At Coffee Shops Now

I’m writing this at Panera Bread. There’s a background of human chatter, which I find to be hilarious when you don’t focus on any one conversation. It’s funny to me how so many people have so much to say at all times.

I’m probably late to this party by 20 years, and I hate to admit it, but I think I’m… a coffee shop writer. It started out as a casual, fun idea that I’d come here after playing basketball to write a bit. But then I noticed that my focus improved by about 200% here compared to my home.

Have you noticed that there are very few cats at Panera Bread?


Who Is A “Terrorist” In Biden’s America?

Originally published at The Last American Vagabond.

In the latest sign that the US government’s War on Domestic Terror is growing in scope and scale, the White House on Tuesday revealed the nation’s first ever government-wide strategy for confronting domestic terrorism. While cloaked in language about stemming racially motivated violence, the strategy places those deemed “anti-government” or “anti-authority” on a par with racist extremists and charts out policies that could easily be abused to silence or even criminalize online criticism of the government.

Even more disturbing is the call to essentially fuse intelligence agencies, law enforcement, Silicon Valley, and “community” and “faith-based” organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, as well as unspecified foreign governments, as partners in this “war,” which the strategy makes clear will rely heavily on a pre-crime orientation focused largely on what is said on social media and encrypted platforms.… Read more...

How Energy Transition Models Go Wrong

I have written many posts relating to the fact that we live in a finite world. At some point, our ability to extract resources becomes constrained. At the same time, population keeps increasing. The usual outcome when population is too high for resources is “overshoot and collapse.” But this is not a topic that the politicians or central bankers or oligarchs who attend the World Economic Forum dare to talk about.

Instead, world leaders find a different problem, namely climate change, to emphasize above other problems. Conveniently, climate change seems to have some of the same solutions as “running out of fossil fuels.”… Read more...

Scientists detect signatures of life remotely

It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground. The measurement technology could also open up opportunities for remote sensing of the Earth.

Left hands and right hands are almost perfect mirror images of each other. But whatever way they are twisted and turned, they cannot be superimposed onto each other. This is why the left glove simply won’t fit the right hand as well as it fits the left.