some science nerd artist Bartholomäus Traubeck was clever enough to figure out how to rig some science and audio gear together and "read" the growth rings of trees. It's really quite beautiful.
The tree rings are actually being translated into the language of music, rather than sounding musical in and of themselves. According to Makezine, the custom record player takes in data using a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm, and relays the data to a computer. A program called Ableton Live then uses it to generate an eerie piano track.
I so stole this from Livescience, read their full post here.
Lindy West at Jezebel:
New research suggests that chronic longterm loneliness is physically detrimental to your health and longevity; even more detrimental, possibly, than our nation's favorite bogeyman, obesity. This is, of course, a horrible confirmation of what we've long suspected, though those suspicions always felt more superstitious than substantial—just a thing you say, just a metaphor. This hurts SO much. Can you DIE of loneliness? But could it actually be true?
One of the many consequences of this ideology is that, as a society, we do not treat loneliness as seriously as we should. We instead see it as a problem of the individual, as something the loner can resolve on his or her own. Hence the spectacular success of self-help books. Hence the low media visibility of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, a book John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick. Their point is simple: Loneliness is to our kind of sociality what a broken leg is to a body's ability to walk or a broken arm is to a body's ability to lift things. As a consequence, a society that emphasizes the individual makes it difficult to properly mend what has been broken in the loner, a connection with his/her sociality, meaning a connection with the kind of animal they are.
You can watch Cacioppo make this argument here...
"Stars are spherical balls of gas, and so you might think that when they end their lives and explode, that explosion would look like a uniform ball expanding out with great power," said Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. "Our new results show how the explosion's heart, or engine, is distorted, possibly because the inner regions literally slosh around before detonating."
This is a map of Ganymede...
First Map of Jupiter's Giant Moon Ganymede Unveiled (Photos, Video) http://t.co/qCQsPEioXw
— Global Retweet (@GlobalRetweeter) February 14, 2014
The tusk is very rare, but similar tusks and mammoth teeth found in Washington have made the Columbian mammoth the state fossil.
Workers with Transit Plumbing were excavating a construction site Tuesday in the city’s South Lake Union area when they hit something hard and uncovered the tusk. Owner Jeff Estep says they stopped work and called the experts.
Paleontologists from the Burke Museum hope to move the tusk up to the UW campus, but it's up to the owner of the property where the tusk was found to decide what happens to it.
Thanks to Levi and all the Slog-tippers who sent this my way!
Worse and worse:
DNA reveals ancient Europeans had dark skin, blue eyes http://t.co/lXCwYzWG70— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 28, 2014
Blue-eyed people have been living in Europe for at least 7,000 years, scientists have discovered.
A man who lived on the Iberian peninsula before Europeans became farmers probably had blue eyes but dark hair and skin, according to scientists who have sequenced his DNA. This surprising combination of eye, hair and skin coloring may have not have been unusual during his lifetime, but it is no longer seen among modern Europeans, the team reported Sunday in the journal Nature. (To see how scientists figured out what he might have looked like, click through the photo gallery above.)
The biggest surprise was that the genes linked to skin pigmentation reflected African rather than modern European variations. That indicates that the man had dark skin, "although we cannot know the exact shade," Carles Lalueza-Fox, a member of the research team from the Spanish National Research Council, said in a news release. At the same time, the man possessed the genetic variations that produce blue eyes in current Europeans.Science has been so unkind to the fictions of race superiority.
The theory, which is proposed by a young professor at MIT, basically brings mathematics to a line of thinking that has been, with variations, proposed by a chemist (Ilya Romanovich Prigogine), a philosopher (the Cuban-born Alicia Juarrero—PDF), and a marine geologist, Eric D. Schneider, who wrote an important book, Into the Cool, on the topic with Dorion Sagan. What is said in this Quanta Magazine passage about the mathematician's theory is essentially what these other thinkers have been saying all along:
From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.If you want to read Dorian Sagan's response to this post, go to here (which is a Facebook update by the cultural theorist Steven Shaviro). But basically life is a consequence of the deep structure of this universe. Change the values of this universe, and life will not happen. Something else might happen.
A few years ago, The Stranger ran a series of articles on a mysterious additive to the world's cocaine supply—levamisole, a de-worming agent used in livestock (and sometimes people) that causes some people's immune systems to crash, leading to infections (minor and major), tissue necrosis, and sometimes death.
There were several strange things about levamisole—it's not the world's cheapest cut, it wasn't being used by one big crime syndicate but popped up independently in lots of little ones nearly simultaneously—but the biggest mystery is why it was being cut into the cocaine in South America before it was smuggled into the US either by sea or overland through Mexico.
Typically, drugs are made and shipped in a relatively pure state (less volume means less chance of detection) and cut when they reach their destination market. Why would Mexican smugglers, for example, be willing to buy bulked-up cocaine off of Colombian manufacturers and cart that around instead of the pure stuff?
Nobody had the answer—not the DEA, not drug scholars, not scientists—but there were some going theories. One was that levamisole acted synergistically with cocaine, providing more high with less land- and labor-intensive coca growing. Another was that levamisole, unlike other additives, passes crude purity tests allowing one to sell bulked-up product that acts like pure product. A third was that it behaves like cocaine during the crack-making process—normally, cooking up rock burns impurities out of cocaine, meaning levamisole would be the rare bulking agent that would remain a bulking agent (and therefore increase profits) even if the powder is cooked into crack.
The wheels of science turn more slowly than journalism (thank goodness), but a new paper from researchers at Temple University provides some good evidence to support the first theory—that levamisole is synergistic with cocaine. (Being able to make drugs in a lab instead of on a farm is attractive to manufacturers because it requires less labor and acreage, reducing costs and chances of getting caught.)
The researchers gave pure cocaine, pure levamisole, and a cocaine-levamisole mix to planarians, a species of non-parasitic flatworm. Their results:
In conditioned place preference (CPP) experiments, cocaine produced a significant preference shift; in contrast, levamisole was ineffective at all concentrations tested. For combination experiments, a submaximal concentration of cocaine produced CPP that was enhanced by inactive concentrations of levamisole, indicating synergism. The present results provide the first experimental evidence that levamisole enhances cocaine's action in vivo. Most important is the identification of synergism for the levamisole/cocaine interaction, which now requires further study in mammals.
This experiment may show up on some knuckle-dragger's year-end list of dumb science experiments (guh guh, they gave cocaine to worms, guh guh) but these findings are a huge first step towards a better understanding of not just of neurology and pharmacology, but why some drug users are getting sick and dying, as well as the current mechanics of the world cocaine trade.
And it scientifically verifies what, back in 2010, had just been an educated guess.
Thanks to drug-policy expert—and prolific Twitter user—Sanho Tree for the tip.
People who have ready access to a firearm are almost twice as likely to be killed and three times likelier to commit suicide than those without a gun available in the home or from a neighbor or friend, a new study has concluded.
Though men and women with firearm access were about equally likely to take their own lives with a gun, the latest research turned up a gender gap when it came to homicide. Compared with all adults without access to a gun, men with firearm access were 29% more likely to die in a gun-related homicide. But the analysis found that a woman who had a gun in or available to her household was close to three times likelier to die by homicide.
Previous studies have found that three-quarters of women who are killed with a gun die in their home, and that women typically know their assailant. That suggests that women who live in homes with a firearm are more likely to be gunned down in a domestic dispute or by an abusive partner, the research team wrote in their study, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Hear that, ladies? Guns don't make you safer! They do, however, make it much, much easier for your husband or boyfriend to kill you.
Then again, data? Humbug! Scientists are all just a bunch of America-hating libtards who want to take away your guns, your oil, and your freedom, so what do they know?
Science Daily has the story:
Dr. Charles Menzel, a senior research scientist at the Language Research Center, said the design of the experiment with the "chimpanzee-as-director" created new ways to study the primate... Menzel said. "The chimpanzees used gestures to recruit the assistance of an otherwise uninformed person and to direct the person to hidden objects 10 or more meters away. Because of the openness of this paradigm, the findings illustrate the high level of intentionality chimpanzees are capable of, including their use of directional gestures. This study adds to our understanding of how well chimpanzees can remember and communicate about their environment."
We've written about Seattle as an urban archipelago in the political sense, but if temperatures keep rising and the ice keeps melting, that's where our region is headed quite literally. To this end, Jeffrey Linn, a campus planner at the University of Washington, has created this weirdly fascinating map—The Islands of Seattle—depicting our city's watery geography some 5,000 years hence in the event of a worst-case climate change scenario: A 240' rise in sea level.
Thankfully for folks here at The Stranger, our offices are safely ensconced high and dry on the aptly named Capitol Island. As for me, Linn's map suggests that I am the proud owner of future waterfront property on the charming little Graham Island, just to the south of the Columbia Shoal. Yay for me!
Linn provides images with further details over at the blog Spatialities, along with a nifty little animated GIF illustrating the effects of sea-level rise over time. Click through for the full map, and find out whether you are one of the real estate winners or losers of global warming.
...And he died almost exactly a year after the death of another important 20th century biologist, Lynn Margulis. Woese and Margulis transformed my entire view of life. Reading their works was like discovering a new planet and even a new poetry. Just listen to Woese:
If you wiped out all multi-cellular life forms off the face of the earth, microbial life might shift a tiny bit... If microbial life were to disappear, that would be it–instant death for the planet...You will completely miss my reason for loathing The Tree of Life if you are cold to this deeper and truer kind of understanding. Even Plato could get the tired ideas in that lazy film but never the thinking in the page of Symbiotic Planet.
We are not alone. Humans’ vast inner and outer spaces teem with a menagerie of microbes that stand poised to alter conceptions of what and who we are.True, this understanding is not new but grasping it in a meaningful and productive way will not be possible if the neo-Darwinist model continues to dominate biological thinking. One must not forget that it was neo-Darwinists who fought the hardest to block the progress of a line of new and almost crazy thinking that resulted in what is now called "evo devo" (evolutionary developmental biology). They refused and refused to consider anything but an adaptationist view of animal anatomy. They were caught completely by surprise when it was finally proved that genes are indeed highly conserved among animals with radically different appearances. Life really is repetition (deep) and difference (surface). The foundation of a "new biology" (to borrow from the late and great Carl Woese) will not be established by zoologists, ornithologist, or entomologists. Only those who understand that this is a planet of cells will lead the way.
Traditionally, microbes have been viewed as insidious invaders that make people sick or as freeloaders in the human gut. That view is beginning to change. In 2013, scientists amassed substantial evidence that people and other animals form a unit with their resident bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses — the collection of microbes known as the microbiome. In fact, only about 10 percent of a person’s cells are human; microbes make up the other 90 percent.
Many researchers point out that ultimately, every species is out for itself. Nevertheless several new studies argue in favor of considering animals as superorganisms composed of host and microbes. Some scientists even advocate lumping a host organism’s genes with those of its microbes into one “hologenome.”
Because life is wonderful...
Now more than ever, science needs defending, so thank God for Bill Nye, who'll take time out of his busy Science Guy schedule to publicly debate Ken Ham, founder of Kentucky's Creation museum, on the subject of evolution vs. creationism.
As Ken Ham writes on his website:
Most of you will recall Mr. Nye as the bow-tied host of the popular children’s TV program Bill Nye the Science Guy. On his TV program, watched by millions of children over the years both on TV and as videos in science classrooms, Nye promoted evolutionary ideas. In recent times he has often been seen on TV interview shows and YouTube videos, where he has defended evolution. Nye was the “2010 Humanist of the Year” as awarded by the American Humanist Association. Because our ministry theme for 2013 and for 2014 is “Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids,” our staff thought that a debate on creation vs. evolution with a man who has influenced so many children to believe in evolution would be a good idea. Now, those of you who know me realize that I don’t relish public debates, so please pray for me.
I'll keep you posted on how to see/hear the debate. In the meantime, another impressive sentence from Ken Ham (bolds mine):
[T]his debate will help highlight the fact that so many young people are dismissing the Bible because of evolution, and even many young people who had grown up in the church decided to leave the church because they saw evolution as showing the Bible could not be trusted.
Okay. (Meanwhile, wingnut Bryan Fischer thinks no one who believes in evolution should be allowed to hold public office.)
The Andromeda Galaxy's actual size in our sky. If it were brighter, that's what we'd see. Wow! (From @SciencePorn) pic.twitter.com/ZQ2pZsWdVm
— Les Floyd (@Lesism) January 1, 2014
I know it's hard to believe, but according to a new Pew Research Center poll, Republicans have gotten even stupider and more anti-science than they used to be:
A poll out Monday shows that less than half – 43 percent – of those who identify with the Republican Party say they believe humans have evolved over time, plunging from 54 percent four years ago. Forty-eight percent say they believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” up from 39 percent in 2009.
At 67 percent and 65 percent, respectively, the numbers of Democrats and independents who believe in evolution have remained more or less the same since 2009. They’re also in step with the population nationally: Six-in-10 Americans say they believe humans have evolved.
Jesus Fucking Christ... 43 percent! Only 43 percent of Republicans believe in evolution! Down 11 points in only four years!
Also embarrassing: Only 67 percent of Democrats believe in evolution! At least that's up three points from four years ago, but fuck we are a stupid country!
I think this is something like what the awfully overrated Terrence Malick was trying to say in that awfully awful film The Tree of Life...
It happens even to the best of us...
Charles Darwin in letter to friend: "But I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everyone and everything." pic.twitter.com/kxVLsu8C8Y
— Lindsey Fitzharris (@ChirurgeonsAppr) December 16, 2013
Yesterday, Netherlands-based private spaceflight project Mars One announced the companies it hopes will build the technology necessary for the first private mission to Mars. Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. were awarded contracts to study and develop a Mars lander and a data link satellite, respectively, for a 2018 exploratory mission. If that mission is successful, Mars One hopes to begin a human colony on Mars by 2025. The lander and satellite would each test concepts and technologies needed to sustain human life on another planet.
I had kind of given up hope that I'd see a human on Mars in my lifetime. If they pull this off, it'll be the greatest reality TV show in history.
A 3.5 billion-year-old freshwater lake on Mars, now dry, may have been an ecosystem where life could thrive, according to an analysis of data collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover.Mars has become for humans (or the human imagination) something like the plot we find in the 80s horror/noir movie Angel Heart. Every new discovery—it once had water, it once had lakes, it once had a rich atmosphere—has the aspect of a clue to a crime, a murder that was committed by the very person investigating the case. Is what's happening here (the anthropogenic extinction of animal after animal; climate change; the depletion of the ozone) what happened on Mars?
Though Mars is now cold, rocky and sterile, it was once warmer and wetter. The lake that may have fostered microbial life is now the crater where the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Curiosity landed in 2012, according to six papers presented at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco and published online in the journal Science.
His name is Reginald C. Farrow. His work explores "the interface between nanotechnology and biophysics and biomedical engineering."
Farrow was President and Conference Chair of the 2012 International Symposium on Electron, Ion, and Photon Beams and Nanofabrication. He has published over 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals and proceedings, given 14 invited talks and received 11 patent awards, four while at NJIT. Yet, more patents are pending.
Nothing like a graph to demonstrate how fucked we all are. I know Congress was designed for spirited debate between opposing viewpoints, but any elementary school student could look at this graph and determine that the next step in this pattern is that the red blob and the blue blob go off in their own directions and form red blob and blue blob families of their own:
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