‘In addition to the presence of gravity in the early Universe, there was also the Higgs field. This field isn’t a force like gravity and doesn’t accelerate particles or transfer energy, but it does interact with particles to give them mass. We can’t detect the Higgs field directly, but we can detect the Higgs boson, which is kind of like a mediator between particles and the field. The rapid expansion of the Universe should have caused a quantum fluctuation, which would have disturbed the Higgs field, creating a lower energy state that would have forced the Universe to collapse. And yet, here we are.
In order to explain the survival of the Universe in the face of that certain death, the authors “present two possible cures: a direct coupling between the Higgs field and the inflation and a nonzero temperature from dissipation during inflation.” The only problem with this explanation is that it involves the use of physics and particles that don’t currently exist in any theories. Minor detail, right?’ (IFLScience).
Day: June 24, 2014
Powdered caffeine in salt shakers is now a thing
‘Thats right, researchers have developed powdered caffeine, so you can skip the coffee and instead simply grab a salt shaker filled with energy.
Known as CaffeinAll, the new salt shaker product is developed by Caffex, the company who brought us caffeinated marshmallows, and its ready to turn everything into energy food think caffeine-laced french fries.
Ignoring the fact that this sounds like a pretty bad idea for a second, Caffex are claiming the product is “the worlds only odourless, non-bitter, take-with-you-anywhere, use with anything caffeine powder”. They also claim it offers a cheaper and more efficient way for people to get a caffeine hit.
Although powdered caffeine has been around for a few years, Caffex have just recently launched the new salt shaker packaging, which theyre attempting to fund via IndieGoGo its still not even a third of the way to its funding goal of US$25,000 with only nine days left. The creators suggest that just one sprinkle – around 33mg of caffeine – will be enough to get most people buzzing. Three sprinkles have more caffeine than a Red Bull.’ (Science Alert).
USAs no-fly list is unconstitutional, says federal judge in landmark ruling
‘A federal judge ruled today that the US deprived 13 people on its no-fly list of a constitutional right to travel, and provided no effective way to challenge being on the list. Her decision is the first ruling in the country to find the no-fly list redress procedures unconstitutional.’ (Boing Boing).
Is the US Headed for Failed Statehood?
Since 2005, the think-tank Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy have published an annual Failed States Index. The list only assesses sovereign states as determined by membership in the United Nations… Ranking is based on the total scores of 12 indicators (four social, two economic and six political) each scored on a 0-10 scale. The indicators are not designed to forecast when states may experience violence or collapse. Instead, they are meant to measure a state’s vulnerability to collapse or conflict. Read this with current trends in US sociopolitical life in mind, if you will.
Indicators of state vulnerability
All countries in the red (Alert, FSI of 90 or more), orange (Warning, FSI of 60 or more), or yellow (Moderate, FSI of 30 or more) categories display some features that make parts of their societies and institutions vulnerable to failure. Some in the yellow zone may be failing at a faster rate than those in the more dangerous orange or red zones, and therefore could experience violence sooner [emphasis added –FmH]. Conversely, some in the red zone, though critical, may exhibit some positive signs of recovery or be deteriorating slowly, giving them time to adopt mitigating strategies.
- Demographic pressures: including the pressures deriving from high volume population density relative to food supply and other life-sustaining resources. The pressure from a population’s settlement patterns and physical settings, including border disputes, ownership or occupancy of land, access to transportation outlets, control of religious or historical sites, and proximity to environmental hazards.
- Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced persons: forced uprooting of large communities as a result of random or targeted violence and/or repression, causing food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition, lack of public housing, and turmoil that can spiral into larger humanitarian and security problems, both within and between countries.
- Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance: based on recent or past injustices, which could date back centuries. Including atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups and/or specific groups singled out by state authorities, or by dominant groups, for persecution or repression. Institutionalized political exclusion. Public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status or power as evidenced in the emergence of “hate” radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric.
- Chronic and sustained human flight: both the “brain drain” of professionals, intellectuals and political dissidents and voluntary emigration of “the middle class.” Growth of exile/expatriate communities are also used as part of this indicator.
- Uneven economic development along group lines: determined by group-based inequality, or perceived inequality, in education, jobs, and economic status. Also measured by group-based poverty levels, infant mortality rates, education levels.
- Sharp and/or severe economic decline: measured by a progressive economic decline of the society as a whole (using: per capita income, GNP, debt, child mortality rates, poverty levels, business failures.) A sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments. Collapse or devaluation of the national currency and a growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight. Failure of the state to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces or to meet other financial obligations to its citizens, such as pension payments.
- Criminalization and/or delegitimisation of the state: endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation. Includes any widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes.
- Progressive deterioration of public services: a disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorism and violence and to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation. Also using the state apparatus for agencies that serve the ruling elites, such as the security forces, presidential staff, central bank, diplomatic service, customs and collection agencies.
- Widespread violation of human rights: an emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule in which constitutional and democratic institutions and processes are suspended or manipulated. Outbreaks of politically inspired (as opposed to criminal) violence against innocent civilians. A rising number of political prisoners or dissidents who are denied due process consistent with international norms and practices. Any widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights, including those of individuals, groups or cultural institutions (e.g., harassment of the press, politicization of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution.)
- Security apparatus as “state within a state”: an emergence of elite or praetorian guards that operate with impunity. Emergence of state-sponsored or state-supported private militias that terrorize political opponents, suspected “enemies,” or civilians seen to be sympathetic to the opposition. An “army within an army” that serves the interests of the dominant military or political clique. Emergence of rival militias, guerilla forces or private armies in an armed struggle or protracted violent campaigns against state security forces.
- Rise of factionalised elites: a fragmentation of ruling elites and state institutions along group lines. Use of aggressive nationalistic rhetoric by ruling elites, especially destructive forms of communal irredentism or communal solidarity (e.g., “ethnic cleansing“, “defending the faith“).
- Intervention of other states or external factors: military or Paramilitary engagement in the internal affairs of the state at risk by outside armies, states, identity groups or entities that affect the internal balance of power or resolution of the conflict. Intervention by donors, especially if there is a tendency towards over-dependence on foreign aid or peacekeeping missions. (Wikipedia)
Study Strengthens Link Between Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Autism
‘Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] affects about 1 in 68 children in the United States, and a combination of genetic and environmental factors, along with complications during pregnancy have been associated with ASD diagnoses. A new study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Services has strengthened the link between prenatal exposure to agricultural pesticides and ASD. The study’s findings have been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives….
The researchers compared addresses during pregnancy to state records of applications of organochlorines, organophosphates, pyrethroids, and carbamates within 1.25 km, 1.5 km, and 1.75 km from those addresses. About a third of the 970 study participants lived within 1.5 km 0.9 miles of pesticide applications during pregnancy. While proximity to any of the four classes of pesticide resulted in an increased risk of a child with ASD or DD, some of the chemicals presented a greater risk at different stages during pregnancy.’ (IFLScience).