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Who was Alexander Hamilton?

A close-up of the front of the US 10-dollar bill bearing the portrait of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander who? Until very recently, it was a question that even citizens of the United States might have asked. Yes, Alexander Hamilton was one of the founding fathers of the nation, but he was – let’s be frank – a bit of a B-lister, at least compared to the headlining names of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, just a few years ago, the US government was all set to boot Hamilton from his place on the $10 bill. Who, after all, cared?

But now, everyone cares. Hamilton is the name on people’s lips around the world. The B-lister has become the breakout star of America’s origin story. His sudden tsunami of popularity has even made the Treasury reverse their decision and keep him on the bank note.

It’s all down to the monster success of Broadway musical Hamilton, which is about to hit these shores. It’s a show which, on the face of it, makes no sense. A musical featuring a cast largely made up of people of colour, set to a soundtrack of hip-hop and R ‘n’ B, which tells the story of a group of white men forging a nation in the time of slavery?

But when you delve into the life of Hamilton – the real man, rather than the generically lordly figure of oil paintings and history books – it starts making sense. Hamilton was an immigrant and an underdog. He was a fighter, both literally and metaphorically. He was an orphan with little privilege to fall back on, who had nothing going for him except fierce intellect and a will to survive.

Born out of wedlock on an island in the Caribbean, the product of an illicit fling by a Scottish businessman who later abandoned him and his mother, Hamilton was later dubbed “the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler” by none other than John Adams, the second President of the United States.

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Awesome Machines

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‘Serious gap’ in cosmic expansion rate hints at new physics

A mathematical discrepancy in the expansion rate of the Universe is now “pretty serious”, and could point the way to a major discovery in physics, says a Nobel laureate.

The most recent results suggest the inconsistency is not going away.

Prof Adam Riess told BBC News that an unknown phenomenon, such as a new particle, might explain the deviation.

The difference is found when comparing precise measurements of the rate obtained in different ways.

However, the statistics are not yet at the threshold for claiming a discovery,

Prof Riess, who is based at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of three scientists who shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating.

This phenomenon was widely attributed to a mysterious, unexplained “dark energy” filling the cosmos. Source BBC

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The Evolution of Synergy

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Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered  on this day in 1170. This alabaster panel shows Becket kneeling before an altar with four knights approaching from behind – two of them are about to attack him with swords. The figure with the cross behind the altar represents Edward Grim, a clerk from Cambridge who witnessed the atrocity. The murder was committed in a side chapel of Canterbury Cathedral, the knights acting on a misunderstood instruction from King Henry II who was in dispute with Becket over the relative privileges of Church and Crown. http://ow.ly/RUQd30hfk72

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Ice cubes in Antarctica

The winner of the Royal Society’s annual photo competition was taken over the Antarctic Peninsula in 1995 and recently digitised by the British Antarctic Survey. It shows a most unusual ice formation (plane for scale) with regular crevasses bisecting the ice in two directions at roughly right angles to each other. While attributed by the BAS to stretching in two directions over a topographic rise under the ice sheet other researchers add that the ice might be fast flowing and floating and spreading outwards in both directions thinning while it does so.

The first set of cracks appear parallel to the ice’s forward movement, while the second perpendicular set comes later in the spreading process. In this case, the set parallel to the wings is older, with gentler edges and filled with more snow, while those parallel to the fuselage are the younger set. Either way, this is one of nature’s incredible patterns reflecting the awesome forces at play when such huge masses of frozen water gently slide off a continent. Via Earth Story

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How to build a Cruise Ship in less than 10 minutes

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We Could Solve Drug Resistance by Getting Microbes to Fight Each Other

Scientists are in a battle to develop treatments faster than viruses develop barriers against them, but new research suggests putting pathogens at war with each other could be an effective way of countering existing drug resistance, as well as preventing it in the future.

In a study of mice infected with malaria, researchers combined traditional drug remedies with a manipulated version of a nutrient that the malaria parasites rely on.

Importantly, the resistant strain needed more of this particular nutrient than the drug-sensitive pathogen – so the pathogens that could ignore antibiotics ended up more hungry.

By restricting the nutrient supply, the team of researchers forced the drug-resistant parasites and the drug-sensitive parasites into competition with each other, eventually wiping out the infection.

“By taking advantage of competition between parasites inside a host, we managed to use an existing drug to successfully treat an infection, even when drug-resistant parasites were already there,” says biologist and lead researcher Nina Wale, now at the University of Michigan.

Drug resistance happens because pathogens, from bacteria to parasites, develop genetic mutations that shield them against treatment. Once that mutated pathogen survives, it can quickly replicate, rendering existing drugs ineffective. Via ScienceAlert

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Tycho Brahe

Born on this day in 1546 in Knudstrup, Denmark, astronomer Tycho Brahe produced incredibly detailed astronomical tables. As a child he was abducted by his wealthy uncle, who raised Brahe at his castle. Brahe studied law at the University of Copenhagen, but his conversion to astronomer began when he witnessed a total solar eclipse in 1560. Three years later Brahe observed a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn and found that existing astronomical tables were inaccurate. He set out to make regular, accurate observations of the heavens. He obtained quadrants and other instruments (the telescope had not yet been invented) to establish his own observatory. In 1572 he observed what he considered a new star in the sky—unthinkable at the time, when the stars were thought to be static. (In reality, Brahe’s star was actually the explosion of one: a supernova.) Brahe built his grand Uraniborg Observatory on the island of Ven. He measured the positions of hundreds of stars and concluded that the planets orbited the Sun, which in turn orbited Earth. His star pupil was Johannes Kepler, who after Brahe’s death would use his mentor’s observations to devise his famous laws of planetary motion.

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Brian Cox On why everyone needs to learn to be wrong

Understanding what science is, understanding what it’s not, is a very humble pursuit. It’s the process by which you understand nature.

As a professional scientist you’re usually wrong and you try things out and you change your view immediately when some new evidence comes in that contradicts your view. It runs against many of the feelings that we have about our opinion or the value of our opinion. So I think it has to be educated out.

Then the question arises: when does it get educated out? I think for most scientists it’s when you’re doing a PhD – you suddenly find that you’re not as clever as you thought you were.

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SpaceX chief Elon Musk plans to fly his own sports car to Mars

Space entrepreneur Elon Musk plans to launch his most powerful rocket in January – to send a bright red sports car to Mars, playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Falcon Heavy
An artist’s impression of the Falcon Heavy in flight immediately after launch. Image credit: SpaceX

The SpaceX CEO, who also builds electric cars, wants to put a Tesla Roadster in orbit around the Red Planet. Musk’s company has already developed and flown Falcon 9 rockets that can carry supplies to the International Space Station and with booster stages that can land themselves after launch.

In January, SpaceX will launch the first of his Falcon Heavy rockets, designed to carry sizeable cargoes into space. It will lift off from NASA’s historic launch site, Pad 39A in Florida, that sent astronauts to the Moon. In the cargo bay will be the $250,000 supercar that has a top speed of 250mph and can accelerate to 60mph in just 1.9 seconds.

Early today, Musk, 46, tweeted: “Falcon Heavy to launch next month from Apollo 11 pad at the Cape. Will have double thrust of next largest rocket. Guaranteed to be exciting, one way or another.” He added: “Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

Musk is a leading proponent for building a human colony on Mars and said he aims to ferry a million people there over the next 50 to 100 years in a fleet of 1,000 spaceships.

He famously quipped: “I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” Source – Skymania

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How tough is the new £5 note?

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First gene-editing in human body attempt

Gene-editing has been attempted on cells inside a patient, in a world first by doctors in California.

Brian Madeux, 44 from Arizona, was given the experimental treatment to try to correct a defect in his DNA that causes Hunter’s syndrome.

Mr Madeux says he was prepared to take part in the trial as he is “in pain every second of the day”.

It is too soon to know whether or not the gene-editing has worked in Mr Madeux’s case.

Hunter’s syndrome is rare. Patients are born without the genetic instructions for an enzyme that breaks down long sugary molecules called mucopolysaccharides.

Instead, they build up in the body and damage the brain and other organs. Severe cases are often fatal.

“I actually thought I wouldn’t live past my early 20s,” said Mr Madeux.

Patients need regular enzyme replacement therapy to break down the mucopolysaccharides.

Source: First gene-editing in human body attempt

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The new Tesla Roadster will be faster than a Formula 1 racing car

Elon Musk gave us a surprise during the Tesla semi unveiling event today: the return of the Tesla Roadster. The new stunning four-seater roadster will be the world’s fastest production car. In his remarks, Musk described it as a “smackdown” to the fossil fuel-addicted auto industry.

Musk said the base model will do zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds, which will make it the first time a production vehicle has gone under the 2-second threshold. He also said the new Roadster will  d0 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and clear a quarter of a mile in 8.9 seconds.

Musk didn’t confirm the top speed, but said it was “above 250 mph.” By comparison, the top speed of a formula 1 racing car is around at 230 mph.

Musk said the Roadster had a 200kwh battery pack and a 620-mile range per charge, or over 1,000 kilometers.

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Salvator Mundi

Salvator Mundi is a painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), which has been attributed by some scholars as a work by Leonardo da Vinci since its rediscovery in 2005. This attribution has been rejected by other specialists. Long thought lost, it was restored and then exhibited in 2011. The painting shows Christ, in Renaissance dress, giving a benediction with his raised right hand and crossed fingers while holding a crystal sphere in his left hand. The painting was sold at auction by Christie’s in New York, on November 15, 2017, for US$450,312,500 making it the most expensive painting ever sold.

Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have begun the painting while under the patronage of Louis XII of France between 1506 and 1513.

It was apparently subsequently owned by Charles I of England and recorded in his art collection in 1649 before being auctioned by the son of the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1763. It next appeared in 1900, when it was purchased by a British collector, Francis Cook, 1st Viscount of Monserrate. The painting was damaged from previous restoration attempts, and its authorship unclear. Cook’s descendants sold it at auction in 1958 for £45.

In 2005, the painting was acquired by a consortium of art dealers that included Robert Simon, a specialist in Old Masters. It had been heavily overpainted so it looked like a copy, and was described as “a wreck, dark and gloomy”. It was then restored and authenticated as a painting by Leonardo. It was exhibited by London’s National Gallery during the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan from November 2011 to February 2012. In 2013, the painting was sold to Russian collector Dmitry Rybolovlev for US$127.5 million, via the Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier.

It was sold at auction at Christie’s in New York in November 2017 for US$450,312,500, a new record price for an artwork (hammer price $400 million plus $50.3 million in fees). The price was 250% higher than the price paid in 2013. The purchaser was not disclosed.

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Archaeologists in Cyprus have uncovered an ancient 26-metre long mosaic

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Popocatépetl blowing it’s top

Great video of Popocatépetl blowing it’s top on the 10th of November. Popocatépetl is an active volcano, located in the states of Puebla, Mexico.

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Magnetically Actuated Micro-Robots for Advanced Manufacturing Applications

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How small can the naked eye see?

Your naked eye can see objects of any size, if they emit or scatter enough light to trigger its detector cells. Light visible from the star Deneb covers a minuscule fraction of your visual field (its ‘angular diameter’ is 0.0024 arcseconds). A light-emitting object seen as the same size when 15cm from your face, would be 1.75 nanometres wide. That’s only about 10 times the width of an atom of gold! And you can ‘see’ smoke and fog, even when their constituent particles are too small to pick out.

What is limited is the eye’s resolution: how close two objects can become before they blur into one. At absolute best, humans can resolve two lines about 0.01 degrees apart: a 0.026mm gap, 15cm from your face. In practice, objects 0.04mm wide (the width of a fine human hair) are just distinguishable by good eyes, objects 0.02mm wide are not.

Source – Sciencefocus

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Trilobite Beetle

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