Why Are So Many Corpse Flowers Blooming at Once?

‘If Friday’s announcement that the New York Botanical Garden’s corpse flower was in bloom—the first occurrence in the city since 1939—inspired a sense of dejá vu, it may not be all in your head. The Wall Street Journal has pointed out that over half a dozen of the gigantic plants have bloomed this year in the United States, unusually, at the same time. What’s going on? …’

Source: Atlas Obscura


Newfound Neutri­no Anomaly May Explain Matter-Antimat­ter Rift

‘In the same underground observatory in Japan where, 18 years ago, neutrinos were first seen oscillating from one “flavor” to another — a landmark discovery that earned two physicists the 2015 Nobel Prize — a tiny anomaly has begun to surface in the neutrinos’ oscillations that could herald an answer to one of the biggest mysteries in physics: why matter dominates over antimatter in the universe.

The anomaly, detected by the T2K experiment, is not yet pronounced enough to be sure of, but it and the findings of two related experiments “are all pointing in the same direction,” said Hirohisa Tanaka of the University of Toronto, a member of the T2K team who presented the result to a packed audience in London earlier this month…

The long-standing puzzle to be solved is why we and everything we see is matter-made. More to the point, why does anything — matter or antimatter — exist at all? The reigning laws of particle physics, known as the Standard Model, treat matter and antimatter nearly equivalently, respecting (with one known exception) so-called charge-parity, or “CP,” symmetry: For every particle decay that produces, say, a negatively charged electron, the mirror-image decay yielding a positively charged antielectron occurs at the same rate. But this cannot be the whole story. If equal amounts of matter and antimatter were produced during the Big Bang, equal amounts should have existed shortly thereafter. And since matter and antimatter annihilate upon contact, such a situation would have led to the wholesale destruction of both, resulting in an empty cosmos.

Somehow, significantly more matter than antimatter must have been created, such that a matter surplus survived the annihilation and now holds sway. The question is, what CP-violating process beyond the Standard Model favored the production of matter over antimatter? Many physicists suspect that the answer lies with neutrinos — ultra-elusive, omnipresent particles that pass unfelt through your body by the trillions each second…’

Source: Quanta Magazine


R.I.P. David Bald Eagle: Was He Really the Most Interesting Man in he World (Without Hawking Beer)?

‘In the U.K., the headlines note the passing of a “Dances With Wolves actor.”

But appearing in an Oscar-award-winning film was one of the least interesting things David William Beautiful Bald Eagle ever did.

Bald Eagle died last Friday at 97. In his long, extraordinary life, he was a champion dancer — both ballroom and Lakota styles — a touring musician, a rodeo cowboy, a tribal chief, an actor, a stunt double, a war hero.

He danced with Marilyn Monroe. He drove race cars. He parachuted into enemy gunfire at Normandy. He played professional baseball. He was a leader not just of his tribe, but of the United Native Nations. He was an advocate for Native people.

And he was a bridge between the past and present — a man who, in his childhood, heard stories from survivors of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Bald Eagle — whose full Lakota name translates to Wounded in Winter Beautiful Bald Eagle, the BBC reports — was born in 1919. At the time, he couldn’t be a U.S. citizen. He was 5 when America finally extended citizenship to indigenous people. …’


Le Carre is our greatest living author because he gets humans

‘A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, it seems, we cannot get enough of its most famous chronicler.Finally, we in Britain may have realised what that great American writer Philip Roth understood in 1986, when he described A Perfect Spy as “the best English novel since the war”. Is John le Carré, author of enormously popular novels since 1961, when he published Call for the Dead, our greatest living writer?…’

Source: 3quarksdaily


Martha Nussbaum: Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of this dark vortex

‘Anger is both poisonous and popular. Even when people acknowledge its destructive tendencies, they still so often cling to it, seeing it as a strong emotion, connected to self-respect and manliness (or, for women, to the vindication of equality). If you react to insults and wrongs without anger you’ll be seen as spineless and downtrodden. When people wrong you, says conventional wisdom, you should use justified rage to put them in their place, exact a penalty. We could call this football politics, but we’d have to acknowledge right away that athletes, whatever their rhetoric, have to be disciplined people who know how to transcend anger in pursuit of a team goal.

If we think closely about anger, we can begin to see why it is a stupid way to run one’s life. A good place to begin is Aristotle’s definition: not perfect, but useful, and a starting point for a long Western tradition of reflection. Aristotle says that anger is a response to a significant damage to something or someone one cares about, and a damage that the angry person believes to have been wrongfully inflicted. He adds that although anger is painful, it also contains within itself a hope for payback. So: significant damage, pertaining to one’s own values or circle of cares, and wrongfulness. All this seems both true and uncontroversial. More controversial, perhaps, is his idea (in which, however, all Western philosophers who write about anger concur) that the angry person wants some type of payback, and that this is a conceptual part of what anger is. In other words, if you don’t want some type of payback, your emotion is something else (grief, perhaps), but not really anger…’

Source: 3quarksdaily


Fukushima in New York? This Nuclear Plant Has Regulators Nervous.

‘Could what happened in Fukushima happen 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of New York City?That’s what many activists and former nuclear regulators fear for the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant that has operated in Westchester County for more than four decades. The plant provides a good chunk of the energy needs for the surrounding area, but it has come under fire in recent years for safety and environmental concerns, including its warming of the Hudson River and a recent case of bolts missing in one of its reactors. Two of the plant’s three reactor units are currently operating on expired licenses, with the state of New York having denied parent company Entergy’s extension requests due to suspected violations of the federal Clean Water Act…’

Source: Fukushima in New York? This Nuclear Plant Has Regulators Nervous.