deskarati periodic tiles

AN ECLECTIC MIX OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, HISTORY AND THE ARTS

             

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For the first time in a decade, Mercury is about to transit the Sun

On Monday May 9, it’s time to drop everything and remind yourself that whatever crap you’ve got going on, you’re still a part of a giant, unknowable Solar System filled with mysterious neighbours like our potential new home, Mars, and whatever the hell Planet Nine actually is. Because for the first time in a decade, we’re about to witness Mercury make its rare transit across the enormous face of the Sun.

In an event that only happens 13 times every century, Mercury’s orbit will bring it in range of one of the best backdrops of the Universe, and we’re not going to see anything like this again until 2019, and after that, not until 2032. The best part about this particular transit of Mercury is that it will be viewable in most places on Earth, and unlike many cosmic phenomena that are both fleeting and difficult to locate in the sky, you’ve got a good 7-8 hours to watch this event, and it’s not exactly hard to figure out where to look.  Source: For the first time in a decade, Mercury is about to transit the Sun

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

This new, ridiculously rare violet diamond has just been unearthed in Australia

If diamonds truly are a girl’s best friend – like decades of marketing campaigns would have you to believe – then the Argyle Violet, uncovered recently in Australia’s remote Argyle mine, could provide several lifetimes worth of friendship, because this is one of the rarest gems ever found.

Located in the arid East Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Argyle diamond mine provides 90 percent of the world’s pink and red diamonds. These colourful gems cost, on average, 50 times more than normal white diamonds, and can sell for about US$1 million per carat, according to the AFP.

The newly found Argyle Violet, which is owned by Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, weighed in at 9.17 carats when it was pulled from the ground, and has now been crafted down to 2.83 carats.

“Impossibly rare and limited by nature, the Argyle Violet will be highly sought after for its beauty, size and provenance,” Rio Tinto Diamonds general manager of sales, Patrick Coppens, told the press. “This stunning violet diamond will capture the imagination of the world’s leading collectors and connoisseurs.”

So far, only 12 carats of polished stones of this nature have been produced in 32 years, which shows just how rare these violet diamonds are. Source: This new, ridiculously rare violet diamond has just been unearthed in Australia

Posted in Geology | Leave a comment

The largest study of life forms ever has estimated that Earth is home to 1 TRILLION species

The largest scientific study of its kind estimates that Earth could play host to more than 1 trillion different species, which means we’ve probably only identified a vanishingly small proportion of them – only about one-thousandth of 1 percent.

To figure this out, biologists in the US combined more than 35,000 separate analyses of microscopic and non-microscopic species. This massive compilation of documented life forms covered 5.6 million species sampled from locations across all the world’s oceans and land masses (excluding Antarctica), and if the scientists are correct in their estimates, we’ve got a long way to go before we’ll have seen all that Earth has to offer.

“Estimating the number of species on Earth is among the great challenges in biology,” said one of the team, Jay T. Lennon from Indiana University. “Our study combines the largest available datasets with ecological models and new ecological rules for how biodiversity relates to abundance. This gave us a new and rigorous estimate for the number of microbial species on Earth.” Source: The largest study of life forms ever has estimated that Earth is home to 1 TRILLION species

Posted in Biology, Wild Life | Leave a comment

Why are plane windows round?

Posted in Deskarati Q&A | Leave a comment

Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge

A researcher in Russia has made more than 48 million journal articles – almost every single peer-reviewed paper every published – freely available online. And she’s now refusing to shut the site down, despite a court injunction and a lawsuit from Elsevier, one of the world’s biggest publishers.

For those of you who aren’t already using it, the site in question is Sci-Hub, and it’s sort of like a Pirate Bay of the science world. It was established in 2011 by neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, who was frustrated that she couldn’t afford to access the articles needed for her research, and it’s since gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of papers being downloaded daily. But at the end of last year, the site was ordered to be taken down by a New York district court – a ruling that Elbakyan has decided to fight, triggering a debate over who really owns science.

“Payment of $32 is just insane when you need to skim or read tens or hundreds of these papers to do research. I obtained these papers by pirating them,” Elbakyan told Torrent Freak last year. “Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal.”

If it sounds like a modern day Robin Hood struggle, that’s because it kinda is. But in this story, it’s not just the poor who don’t have access to scientific papers – journal subscriptions have become so expensive that leading universities such as Harvard and Cornell have admitted they can no longer afford them. Researchers have also taken a stand – with 15,000 scientists vowing to boycott publisher Elsevier in part for its excessive paywall fees. Source: Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge

Posted in Science | Leave a comment

Fascinating Jellyfish

This stunningly beautiful jellyfish was seen during Dive 4 on April 24, 2016, while exploring Enigma Seamount at a depth of ~3,700 meters.

Scientists identified this hydromedusa as belonging to the genus Crossota. Note the two sets of tentacles — short and long. At the beginning of the video, you’ll see that the long tentacles are even and extended outward and the bell is motionless. This suggests an ambush predation mode. Within the bell, the radial canals in red are connecting points for what looks like the gonads in bright yellow.

Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas.

Posted in Wild Life | Leave a comment

Astronomers might have finally detected where mysterious, extragalactic neutrinos are coming from

Just over three years ago, physicists working in Antarctica announced they’d detected the first evidence of mysterious subatomic particles, known as neutrinos, coming from outside our galaxy. It was a huge moment for astrophysics, but since then, no one’s quite been able to figure out where those particles are coming from, and what’s sending them hurtling our way.

Until now, that is – a team of astronomers has just identified the possible source of one these extragalactic visitors, and it appears that it started its journey to us nearly 10 billion years ago, when a massive explosion erupted in a galaxy far, far away (seriously, George Lucas couldn’t make this stuff up).

More here: Astronomers might have finally detected where mysterious, extragalactic neutrinos are coming from

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

Life As We Know It

Life As We Know It – By Bill Gates 

Last year Trevor Mundel, who runs our foundation’s global health work, suggested that I read a book called The Vital Question. I had never heard of the book or its author, a biologist at University College London named Nick Lane. A few months later, I hadn’t just read The Vital Question—I had also ordered Nick’s three other books, read two of them, and arranged to meet him in New York City.

Nick reminds me of writers like Jared Diamond, people who develop a grand theory that explains a lot about the world. He is one of those original thinkers who makes you say: More people should know about this guy’s work.

At its heart, Nick’s work is an attempt to right a scientific wrong by getting people to fully appreciate the role that energy plays in all living things. The Vital Question begins with a bang: “There is a black hole at the heart of biology.” (I wish more science books got off to such a ripping start.) “Bluntly put, we do not know why life is the way it is. All complex life on earth shares a common ancestor, a cell that arose from simple bacterial progenitors on just one occasion in 4 billion years. Was this a freak accident, or did other ‘experiments’ in the evolution of complexity fail?” Why does all complex life—every plant and animal you can see—share certain traits, like getting old and reproducing via sex? Why didn’t different types of complex life evolve? And if there is life on other planets, would it necessarily have these same traits? Or could E.T. reproduce by cloning himself?

Nick argues that we can only start to answer these questions by fully appreciating the role of energy. Source – Life as we know it

Posted in Biology, Books | Leave a comment

Rube Goldberg

Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this post

Rube GoldbergReuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg ( San Francisco July 4, 1883 – Hawthorne New York December 7, 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor.

He is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways, similar to Heath Robinson devices in the UK, as well as the Storm P devices in Denmark. Goldberg received many honors in his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948 and the Banshees’ Silver Lady Award in 1959.

The title sequence for the American modern day Sherlock Holmes TV series ‘Elementry’ draws on the machines of Rube Goldberg – Deskarati

Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society, and he is the namesake of the Reuben Award, which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year. He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, which challenge participants to make a complicated machine to perform a simple task.

Pop group OK Go also use Rube Goldberg inspirations in their ‘This too shall pass’ video – Deskarati

Posted in Arts, Biography, History, Invention | Leave a comment

How Accurate Is Wikipedia?

When you Google the question “How accurate is Wikipedia?” the highest-ranking result is, as you might expect, a Wikipedia article on the topic (“Reliability of Wikipedia”). That page contains a comprehensive list of studies undertaken to assess the accuracy of the crowd-sourced encyclopedia since its founding 10 years ago. Of course, if you find yourself on this page, you might worry that the list itself may not be trustworthy. Well, the good news is that almost all those studies tell us that it probably is.

In 2005, the peer-reviewed journal Nature asked scientists to compare Wikipedia’s scientific articles to those in Encyclopaedia Britannica—”the most scholarly of encyclopedias,” according to its own Wiki page. The comparison resulted in a tie; both references contained four serious errors among the 42 articles analyzed by experts.

And last year, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that Wikipedia had the same level of accuracy and depth in its articles about 10 types of cancer as the Physician Data Query, a professionally edited database maintained by the National Cancer Institute.

The self-described “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” has fared similarly well in most other studies comparing its accuracy to conventional encyclopedias, including studies by The Guardian, PCPro, Library Journal, the Canadian Library Association, and several peer-reviewed academic studies. Continue reading

Posted in Interesting | Leave a comment

The bongs of Big Ben are about to fall eerily silent

Full story: http://bbc.in/1Qyfjqh

Posted in Interesting | 2 Comments

Hubble just discovered a moon hiding at the back of our Solar System

A few weeks ago, a huge galaxy orbiting our own appeared seemingly out of nowhere. And now, astronomers have discovered a brand new moon hiding in plain sight at the outskirts of our very own Solar System.

The moon has been spotted orbiting the second brightest icy dwarf planet, Makemake, way out past Pluto in the Kuiper belt, and it’s around 161 km (100 miles) in diameter. So what’s going on? And why the hell has it taken us so long to spot these not insignificant objects in our own cosmic backyard?

It turns out the newly discovered moon, which has been temporarily named ‘S/2015 (136472) 1’, or the more friendly ‘MK 2’ for short, was able to stay hidden for so long because it’s incredibly dark. Just like the newly spotted galaxy earlier this month, the moon reflects such a tiny, tiny amount of light that we’ve struggled to see it next to the glare of Makemake. In fact, it’s more than 1,300 times fainter than its host planet – so dim that Makemake was previously thought to be the only officially recognised distant dwarf planet without a satellite… a title it’s now lost. Source: Hubble just discovered a moon hiding at the back of our Solar System

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

Dali helps scientists crack our brain code

Scientists at Glasgow University have established a world first by cracking the communication code of our brains.

Pioneering research in the field of cognitive neuroimaging has revealed how brains process what we see. The work has been led by Prof Philippe Schyns, the head of Glasgow’s school of psychology, with more than a little help from Voltaire and Salvador Dali. How Dali’s mind worked is a matter of continuing conjecture. But one of his works has helped unlock how our minds work. Or more precisely, how our brains see.

Prof Schyns explains: “Our main interest was to study how the brain works as an information processing machine. “Typically we observe brain signals but it is quite difficult to know what they do .”Do they code information from the visual world – do they not? If so, how?” Do they send information from one region of the brain to another region of the brain? If so, how?”

Which is where Salvador Dali comes in. And for that matter Voltaire.In 1940, Dali completed his painting “Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire”. And there at the heart of the image is Voltaire. Or is it? His bust is what some people see. Others see Voltaire’s “eyes” as the heads of two figures – usually a pair of nuns.

This visual ambiguity was of course Dali’s intention. But by asking test subjects which image they saw – or neither – the researchers were able to map how the brains processed the information. As expected, the right side of the brain handled the left side of the image and vice versa.

But Prof Schyns says the research revealed much greater detail: “We found very early on, after around 100 milliseconds of processing post-stimulus, that the brain processes very specific features such as the left eye, the right eye, the corner of the nose, the corner of the mouth. “But then subsequent to this, at about 200 milliseconds {…} we also found that the brain transfers features across the two hemispheres in order to construct a full representation of the stimulus.” Edited from: Dali helps scientists crack our brain code

Posted in Arts, Neuroscience | Leave a comment

Chemists create battery technology with off-the-charts charging capacity

University of California, Irvine researchers have invented nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement. The breakthrough work could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.

Scientists have long sought to use nanowires in batteries. Thousands of times thinner than a human hair, they’re highly conductive and feature a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons. However, these filaments are extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, or cycling. In a typical lithium-ion battery, they expand and grow brittle, which leads to cracking.

UCI researchers have solved this problem by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.

The study leader, UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai, cycled the testing electrode up to 200,000 times over three months without detecting any loss of capacity or power and without fracturing any nanowires. The findings were published today in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters. Source: Chemists create battery technology with off-the-charts charging capacity

Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

What is OK short for?

The most popular theory is that OK comes from ‘oll korrect’, a deliberately misspelled writing of ‘all correct’. It was popularised in Boston newspapers around the 1840s when it was fashionable to go around spelling things incorrectly for humorous effect. Legend also has it that New York Democrats later adopted the abbreviation to promote their candidate Martin Van Buren – the initials ‘OK’ were derived from his nickname, Old Kinderhook. Source: What is OK short for?

Posted in Deskarati Q&A | Leave a comment

The Longest Bridges In The World

Posted in Worlds Best | Leave a comment

Formula 1 set to agree plan on 2017 rule changes

Formula 1 has been through a turbulent time over the last year or so. There have been rows, stand-offs and threats. At times, the very future of the sport has seemed in doubt.

Falling TV audiences and a poisonous atmosphere within the sport have led to the acceptance that something has to change. And now, finally, F1’s bosses are poised to sign off on a set of new regulations that they hope will guarantee a rosier future for the next few years, with faster cars, happier drivers, better racing and less financial strain on smaller teams.

The disputes have been about all aspects of the car – chassis, engine and tyres. And they became – and remain – very political.But with the end-of-April deadline for completion looming, a resolution is in sight. Source: Formula 1 set to agree plan on 2017 rule changes

Posted in Mechanics | Leave a comment

Creating hallucinations without drugs is surprisingly easy

Posted in Neuroscience | 2 Comments

NASA has detected strange signals coming from the gravitational wave source

Less than half a second after the first direct evidence of gravitational waves was recorded on 14 September 2015, a very short, faint signal was registered by NASA’s Fermi Telescope from the same region in space.

High-energy light particles called gamma rays were caught emanating from a black hole merger in the area, and the discovery will not only help physicists pinpoint the exact source of the gravitational wave – if confirmed, it has huge implications for our understanding of the fundamental physics that govern our Universe.

“Gamma-rays arising from a black hole merger would be a landmark finding because black holes are expected to merge ‘cleanly’, without producing any sort of light,” NASA explains.

First off, here’s what we know. On September 14, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities in Washington and Louisiana picked up the first direct evidence of Einstein’s gravitational waves, traced to the merging of two black holes (called binary black holes) around 1.3 billion years ago. The discovery was significant for two reasons, as Fiona MacDonald reported for us earlier this year:

“This event – which in itself is a big deal, seeing as no one had ever spotted a binary black hole merger before – was so massive that it significantly warped the fabric of space time, creating ripples that spread out across the Universe… finally reaching us last year.”

Now, researchers at NASA have just announced that they too picked up on something strange on September 14 – a very faint burst of gamma rays that occurred less than half a second after the gravitational waves, and in the same region of space.Coincidence? We can’t discount it just yet, but NASA says there’s a 0.2 percent chance of these two events randomly occurring in the same place at the same time. At the very least, the discovery – which was picked up by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope – will help scientists figure out exactly where this black hole merger occurred 1.3 billion years ago. Source: NASA has detected strange signals coming from the gravitational wave source

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

The Connect-The-Towns Math Problem

Here is the connect-the-towns math problem: There are four towns (points A, B, C, and D). They are arranged in a perfect one mile by one mile square. What road design would result in the minimum amount of road needed to connect each town to every one of the other three towns? Watch a detailed explanation of the solution below.

Source – curiosity

Posted in Mathematics | 1 Comment