A mother and her child are curled up together inside the tube of a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner in April 2015. The scanner bangs and beeps, shudders and screeches. The baby is finally sleeping, pressed firmly against his mother’s chest, and so is still enough for the MRI to see inside his head. A single MR image, like this one, takes several minutes to capture. Moving just a millimeter leaves a blur on the screen. The mother and baby must hold their pose, as if for a daguerreotype.
While they lie there, the scanner builds up a picture of what’s inside their skulls. Often MR images are made for physicians, to find a tumor or a blocked blood vessel. Scientists also make the images, to study brain function and development. In my lab, at MIT, we use MRI to watch blood flow through the brains of children; we read them stories and observe how their brain activity changes in reaction to the plot. By doing so, we’re investigating how children think about other people’s thoughts.
This particular MR image, though, was not made for diagnostic purposes, nor even really for science. No one, to my knowledge, had ever made an MR image of a mother and child. We made this one because we wanted to see it.
Read more: SMITHSONIAN
(Photo:Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center )
General Relativity survives a test at the center of the Milky Way. Ken Croswell @newscientist
Future War: Who you are is how you walk:Gate Biometrics, Software-Defined Networks, Lif-Fi. @deftechpatrick
Forget thumbprint unlock screens for phones and communications equipment. Tomorrow’s next-generation biometric identifiers are related to the data that soldiers create through their activity. That could include everything from the way that a soldier walks, to the way she holds her phone, to places that she’s been.
“In the future, we see that the systems you carry on you, developing information on you and taking information from you,” said Lynn. “Your walk is as individual as your thumbprint. Why is that important? Well, if you are in warfighting, oftentimes you wear gloves, oftentimes you wear masks…you can’t use a lot of the biometrics you would normally use. But your gait, your walk, that’s going to be there. We think that’s an important part of our future for identity.”
DISA will also authenticate identity based on patterns of life. Where you go says a lot about you, and your phone tracks it. Statistically speaking, a large enough dataset of locations and times is as strong an identity as many common physical features.
In 2013, MIT researchers Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye and César A. Hidalgo showed that with just four data points related to time and space, it’s possible to de-anonymize an individual cell phone user — in other words, to verify an identity.
“You go to your workplace; you go home; you notice your phone already registers those two places? Because it knows where you’re going. Those are patterns of life. Those are things that can be imported into the device,” said Lynn.
Of course, not all of these indicators are created equal. That’s why the future of biometric identification is based on combining multiple indicators to achieve a composite score, said Lynn. “When you start getting all of that data…your identity score goes up.” That will determine how much access you have to different portions of the network, he said.
Search for the Laws of Robotics. @johnmarkoff
"The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov's Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.", are:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws...."
Aerospace mysteries of birds in flight. James Gorman, NYT.
"...But, said David Lentink, a Stanford University engineer, researchers had “never measured the aerodynamic force directly of any flying animal.” Dr. Lentink and two colleagues reported last month in the journal Interface that they had solved the problem.
"Scientists had found other ways to measure that force indirectly — by observing air flow, for example, and going through some complex calculations.
"Dr. Lentink built a box big enough for a bird called a parrotlet to fly from one perch to another. It was equipped with high-speed video recorders and sensors to weigh the box every millisecond.
"The sensors would register the added force of a wing beat, and by correlating video and sensor data, the researchers were able to come up with an exact measurement of the wing’s force — two times the bird’s weight on the downstroke, as it turned out.
The researchers tested their method against other methods to make sure it was correct.
"Engineering was only one part of the experiment, Dr. Lentink said. He wanted to measure natural, untethered flight, and trained the birds with treats so they would enter the box and fly to the place he pointed at.
"The birds are never touched through the whole process. “The bird actually does what it wants to do,” he said.
The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston Versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards by Jim Steinmeyer.
“There is no greater expert on the history of stage magicians than Jim Steinmeyer. His deep knowledge of the subject, combined with a remarkable mastery of magical know-how, makes this book a smart, fantastic read.
I can't recommend it enough!” —Neil Patrick Harris
“Steinmeyer produces an engaging full-length biography of the man Orson Welles called ‘the master’…Steinmeyer recovers, from the shadows of his greatest rival, a figure whose grandiose productions were an American institution for almost 30 years.”
“Magician and author Jim Steinmeyer rescues a forgotten American icon from Houdini’s shadow.”
—AARP: The Magazine
“Thurston may have been forgotten, but The Last Greatest Magician In The World ably resurrects his legend and his awe-inspiring magic.”
—The Onion A.V. Club
"An erudite, challenging text full of difficult questions"
Here is the seminal biography of the magician's magician, Howard Thurston, a man who surpassed Houdini in the eyes of showmen and fans and set the standard fro how stage magic is performed today.
Everyone knows Houdini-but who was Thurston? In this rich, vivid biography of the "greatest magician in the world," celebrated historian of stage magic Jim Steinmeyer captures the career and controversies of the wonder-worker extraordinaire, Howard Thurston.
The public's fickleness over magicians has left Thurston all but forgotten today. Yet Steinmeyer shows how his story is one of the most remarkable in show business. During his life, from 1869 to 1936, Thurston successfully navigated the most dramatic changes in entertainment-from street performances to sideshows to wagon tours through America's still-Wild West to stage magic amid the glitter of grand theaters. Thurston became one of America's most renowned vaudeville stars, boldly performing an act with just a handful of playing cards, and then had the foresight to leave vaudeville, expanding his show into an extravaganza with more than forty tons of apparatus and costumes. His touring production was an American institution for nearly thirty years, and Thurston earned a brand name equal to Ziegfeld or Ringling Brothers.
Steinmeyer explores the stage and psychological rivalry between Thurston and Houdini during the first decades of the twentieth century-a contest that Thurston won. He won with a bigger show, a more successful reputation, and the title of America's greatest magician. In The Last Greatest Magician in the World, Thurston's magic show is revealed as the one that animates our collective memories.
Ever since the arrival of telescopes, scientists have observed something they cannot understand. When they observe spiral galaxies, they notice component stars in these galaxies move at different speeds. Because gravity is uniform, scientists could not account for these deficiencies. Simply put, gravitational effects observed don't match the amount of matter seen. The postulate of dark matter is becoming part of the standard model of explaining the universe.
Quantum physics concerns itself with constitutent components INSIDE the ATOM. The observer cannot find neutral ground from which to observe both location & speed of any particle. Because of this relativity of time & position, it cannot, by reason of math, be contained as an equation. This postulates two seemingly irreconcilable orders of reality that neatly coexist. The challenge is which perspective inside or outside the atom constitutes holistic 'REALITY'.
For Einstein, he postulated that any explaination of what goes on 'inside' the atom cannot be the full story. This is why he disagrees with proponents of quantum physics.
For today's quantum theorists, the problem of knowning both position and location of any particle sets up a fallacy known as "non-locality". For the late great quantum physicists Niels Bohr revealed that mathematical symbolic notions DO NOT REPRESENT REALITY, THEY ARE STATISTICAL PREDICTIONS, an attempt to guess either location or speed. This is why Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe."
Drive about 30km north-west of Amman, Jordan's captial city, and you arrive at a strange looking swimming pool that is home to the Islamic worlds first particle accelerator (synchrotron) called Sesame. The entire project began about 20 years ago but was continually stalled from the glacial geopolitical rivalries. Both Israel, Iran and the Palestinian Authority remain three of the nine projects members. Although they remain implacable enemies, their scientific teams gather in collaborative mein to study and probe the frontiers of physics: the structure of material science. Turkish teams work in tandem with Cyprian, Jordanian, Pakistani, Bahraining and Egyptian counterparts, all feverishly working to discern the impact of partical smashing.
The electron synchrotron are smaller than their proton counterparts such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva. The significance is startling because Sesame does not seek to replicate the Big Bang by smashing electrons but by studying the deep interior structure of materials themselves.
Here's how it works: the structure corrals electrons by giant magnets, as they emit radiation frequencies they are used to look into anything from metals to biological tissue. Synchrotron radiation is more intense than any other source of radiation, except nuclear fussion. Because it is safer and easier to control is it used to collect data from a smaller range of samples. Because it can penetrate matter it can demonstrate in pictoral images of high resolution, the smallest features of matter in materials.
The world has about 60 electron synchrotrons, there is only one in the Middle East. It only cost about $70 million to build because of Jordan's low labor costs. But it is a dream come true for many.
Some 25 years ago, a Nobel prize winner in physics called Dr. Abdus Salam examined the feasibility of an indigeous synchrotron for Islamic civilization. In 1997, two other physicists named Herman Winick and Gustov-Adolf Voss suggested moving one intact from Berlin to Jordan. BESSY I (one) was decommissioned and moved. In 2002, the Winick-Voss idea was scrapped in favor of building a much more powerful facility from scratch. Yet BESSY I lives on in Sesame, for it serves to boost electrons into their orbit before accelerated into their full speed in the main ring.
Using Einstein's famous equation of E=Mc2, where E is energy, M is mass and C represents the speed of light; Sesame's speed will reach 2.5bn electronvolts giving mass to electrons nearly 5,000 times their natural weight. The radiation they emit creates a beam of lines identical to x-rays.
Sesame will open with two beam lines. One will pipe infrared light through a microscope while the other passes x-rays through both oranic and inorganic samples. Sesame will read scrolls of antiquity to delicate to unfurl.
Sesame opens December 2016.
When Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Richard Feynman spoke at CalTech in 1959, everyone thought he was referencing adjunct teaching, the title of his lecture "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom", instead he was thinking of manipulating atoms so they could carry information. He was anticipating the biological revolution that has consumed physics. He anticipated that the future implied smaller, not bigger. In his lecture, Feynman spoke of how the entire Encyclopedia Britannica could be written on the head of a pin. Interesting idea for 1959. Turns out physicists are doing it today.
Physicists at Tufts University covered a sheet of copper with chlorine atoms, by sliding pairs of atoms back and forth using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), the bits were arranged to form a byte, enough to encode a single letter upon an atom. The STM method permitted them to source 78 trillion bits per square centimeter, this is hundreds of times denser than state of the art hard drives.
The only problem was limiting the movement of atoms throughout this process. To slow their movement, Tufts dropped the temperature of the copper sheet to -196 degrees, the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Future problems involve solving how best to operate at warmer temperatures like room temperature.