Einstein was right — in predicting gravitational waves — and wrong — in feeling they would remain too feeble to be detected:
‘A “revolutionary” new era in science has just begun with a violent event deep in space.
Today researchers announced that they have detected ripples in the fabric of space called gravitational waves. It’s a groundbreaking discovery that has eluded Earth’s brightest minds and most sensitive machines for decades…’
Source: Tech Insider
LIGO’s Discovery will open new era in cosmological research
‘In deep space, two black holes spiraled toward each other, their tremendous mass warping spacetime and propagating gravitational waves across the fabric of the universe at light-speed. The two black holes eventually crashed into one another and merged into one even bigger black hole, emitting a crescendo of waves.That quiet tremolo on the catgut of reality made it to Earth, where the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory was listening. For 13 years LIGO heard, it seemed, every vibration but the one it was supposed to. But on September 14, 2015 it detected those black-hole-crashing swells as they washed over the planet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves,” David Reitze, LIGO’s Executive Director, declared today at a press conference. “We did it.” This is big-deal physics, a long-awaited bit of evidence that vindicates the work of Albert Einstein, opens a new scientific field, and gives astronomers a peek at a side of the universe they’ve never seen.
Decoding the data gave it more specificity. The waves came from black holes with 26 and 39 times the mass of the sun, respectively. Merged, the newly created black hole had 62 times the mass of the sun. Right, that arithmetic doesn’t exactly work, but don’t worry about it. The newly-formed body emitted energy to stabilize, a process called “ringdown.” That energy, emitted as gravitational waves, came from three suns’ worth of stuff…’
Upscale couple in Irvine CA who mistook the volunteer tennis coach’s comment as insulting their son’s intelligence end up planting drugs in her car when they can’t get her fired. And it goes on from there. Source: The Washington Post
This article is not primarily about Trump. It describes social science research based on so-called Moral Foundations Theory, codified by one of the co-authors, which describes six moral factors the patterns of which form a powerful explanatory framework differentiating the supporters of the major candidates, left and right. Oh yes, and Trump is an outlier, as if that would be a surprise…
‘Dan Hicks, a singer, songwriter and bandleader who attracted a devoted following with music that was defiantly unfashionable, proudly eccentric and foot-tappingly catchy, died on Saturday at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 74… Mr. Hicks began performing with his band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, in the late 1960s in San Francisco, where psychedelic rock bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead dominated the music sound. The Hot Licks’ sound could not have been more different.At a time when rock was getting louder and more aggressive, Mr. Hicks’s instrumentation — two guitars (Mr. Hicks played rhythm), violin and stand-up bass, with two women providing harmony and backup vocals — offered a laid-back, all-acoustic alternative that was a throwback to a simpler time, while his lyrics gave the music a modern, slightly askew edge…’
Source: New York Times
Oh, this is very sad, in the same week as two giants from Jefferson Airplane. One of the liabilities of my continuing romance with the music of my young adulthood is that its important practitioners are dropping like flies. My classic jazz and blues musician faves are long gone and more contemporary indie and alternative performers by and large still have a lot of life in them.
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks have always had, and will always have, a constant place in my favorites playlist. So pleased I got to see him live, in intimate venues, a couple of times in the last decade. Go out and find “Where’s the Money,” “I Scare Myself” “Walkin’ One and Only” or “I Feel Like Singing” for a never-ending kick.
Via The New York Times:
‘In the seven months since declaring his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has used Twitter to lob insults at presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song and even a lectern in the Oval Office. We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all. Below, a directory of sorts, with links to the original tweets.’
Here’s hoping they keep it current.
‘Facebook ran the numbers and concluded that we are all much closer than the traditional “six degrees of separation.”The social media giant released a report on its blog Thursday announcing “each person in the world” is separated from every other by “an average of three and a half other people.” …’
Source: The New York Times
‘Two fireballs streaked across the sky in the past week, creating dazzling, ephemeral displays for hundreds of people below. Dashboard cameras, rooftop cameras and even one mounted on a small airplane captured footage of the bright objects in the night skies.’
Includes wonderful albeit brief videos.
Via Medium: ‘MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification.’
“Since Donald Trump dropped out of Fox News’ final GOP debate, Stephen decided to hold the classiest, Trumpiest debate of all time.”
‘Paul Kantner, one of the founding members of 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, died on Thursday aged 74, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Kantner died from multiple organ failure and septic shock after suffering a heart attack earlier this week, the newspaper said, citing the band’s publicist, Cynthia Bowman.’
Source: Huffington Post
I am heartbroken. The Airplane and its spinoff groups (before Jefferson Starship descended into kitsch in the following decade) were the pinnacle of the best decade’s music for me. At least Paul will be joining Jerry, Janis, Jim and Jimi in the heavenly choir. Going home to put Blows Against the Empire on loud!
The Voracious Fish That Looks Like a Pug and Stings Like a Bee:
‘…The bulging eyes and frowny mouth that make [the stargazer] look like an aquatic pug are brilliant adaptations for an ambush predator. And even beyond its … singular looks, this is one of the sea’s most remarkable fishes—it’s venomous and it shocks like an electric eel…’
‘At around the turn of the millennium, some disturbing findings surfaced in the biomedical literature. Macrophages—immune cells whose function is to attack and kill microbes and other threats to the body—do not gather at tumor sites to destroy cancer cells, as had been optimistically imagined. Instead, they encourage the cancer cells to continue their mad reproductive rampage. Frances Balkwill, the British cell biologist who performed some of the key studies of treasonous immune cell behavior, described her colleagues in the field as being “horrified.” …’
Source: Barbara Ehrenreich, The Baffler
1980, the year of Ronald Reagan’s election, was probably more significant for
‘…an utterly private event whose significance would not be noticed for years. Charles and David Koch, the enormously rich proprietors of an oil company based in Kansas, decided that they would spend huge amounts of money to elect conservatives at all levels of American government. David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980, but when the campaign was over, he resolved never to seek public office again. That wouldn’t be necessary, he and his brother concluded; they could invest in the campaigns of others, and essentially buy their way to political power.
Thirty years later, the midterm elections of 2010 ushered in the political system that the Kochs had spent so many years plotting to bring about. After the voting that year, Republicans dominated state legislatures; they controlled a clear majority of the governorships; they had taken one chamber of Congress and were on their way to winning the other. Perhaps most important, a good many of the Republicans who had won these offices were not middle-of-the-road pragmatists. They were antigovernment libertarians of the Kochs’ own political stripe. The brothers had spent or raised hundreds of millions of dollars to create majorities in their image. They had succeeded. And not merely at the polls: They had helped to finance and organize an interlocking network of think tanks, academic programs and news media outlets that far exceeded anything the liberal opposition could put together…’
Source: Jane Mayer – The New York Times
‘Prayer occurs in many faiths. It stays recognisable despite its varied forms. It must be good for something – but what?’
Source: Benjamin Dueholm, Aeon
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‘Over the next two weeks, five planets will line up for a cosmic dance that will dazzle skywatchers all over the world.Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are aligning for the first time in over a decade, and there’s no need for telescopes or binoculars to see the event, since all five planets will look like bright stars in the morning twilight.’
Source: National Geographic
Retired fisherman uses sonar equipment to uncover new crevice nine miles east of Inverness, big enough to fit the phantom beast:
‘It has evaded capture for years, with dozens of alleged sightings and endless speculation about its whereabouts.But the hunt for the Loch Ness monster has just become even more arduous, after a retired fisherman used sonar equipment to show that it could be hiding at previously undiscovered depths.Tourist sightseeing boat skipper Keith Stewart, 43, claims to have found a crevice large enough for the phantom beast to be hiding in, about nine miles east of Inverness.
Britain’s deepest loch is Loch Morar, allegedly home to another elusive “water kelpie” Morag at 1017 feet.Loch Ness is the UK’s second largest, with an official maximum depth previously recorded at 754 feet.However, Mr Stewart says that his newly discovered crevice measures 889 feet deep, according to his state of the art sonar equipment…’
One by one, like guests at a late party
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.
One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.
One by one, like grade school friends,
They move away and fade out of memory:
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.
One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;
Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.
One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow
Before the curtain falls.
— Charles Harper Webb (2006)
Via The New York Times: : What You Need to Know About Zika Virus: This tropical virus is newly spreading in the Western Hemisphere and has just had its first demonstrated North American case. Pregnant women should be warned that there seems to be a link between exposure of babies in utero and microcephaly at birth.