Be a Better Person.

I was reading an article from The New York Times the other day about the upcoming movie Prometheus. Unfortunately, I can’t say it looks like anything special. One of those Neat, but it’s been done before movies. But something toward the end got me thinking, which I appreciate, and I wanted to share that here:

In news conferences and in conversation Mr. Scott has evinced sympathy for the notion — popular in some circles, including the Vatican — that it is almost “mathematically impossible” for life on Earth to have gotten to where it is today without help.

“It is so enormously irrational that we can do this,” he went on, referring to our conversation — “two specs of atoms on a carbon ball.”

“Who pushed it along?” he asked. Have we been previsited by gods or aliens? “The fact that they’d be at least a billion years ahead of us in technology is daunting, and one might use the word God or gods or engineers of life in space.”

What I don’t understand is: if everyone is so confident that our world could have never gotten started without help, why is it acceptable that the species that might have given us a little nudge probably got themselves going as well, and developed themselves well enough to come and influence us? If it’s ‘mathematically impossible’ for one species, being ours, why is it more sensible that there are two species? one advanced enough to find, travel to, and help the other? To me, it doesn’t quite follow. Do any of you have something to add that might change my mind? Or does this seem strange to you, too?

Uninhibited by gravity and friction!

The article here:

A new article that gives us even more to figure out about dark matter, and what else might be doing the job we had attributed to it.

The article explains that our scientists found no dark matter where they had expected to find it, as a halo around the sun.

A book review and an admirable outlook all in one post.

Stories and Observations from a Pretty Fun and Interesting Life

Brian Greene’s popular work on string theory, The Elegant Universe, lays out the potential “theory of everything” in understandable prose, and describes the evolution of physics that led up to its formulation.

When I call the prose understandable, I mean that in a relative sense. It’s not a Hunger Games-type read, but if you’re not frightened away by the idea of curved space-time, supersymmetry, and 6 (or 7) tightly wrapped invisible dimensions, you’ll be fine. I majored in physics in college, so I approached The Elegant Universe with a decent base level of understanding, but I’d certainly never delved into string theory before. I had always just kind of imagined it as it sounds: a universe composed of very small vibrating strings. And it turns out, that’s pretty much what it is. With lots of nuances and implications and difficult math. Greene does a terrific job of bringing…

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Yes, yes, yes!

Brain Movies

I have long wished for a device I could plug into my head that could adapt my thoughts and play them like music. I have also often been glad that no one can hear my thoughts. This article  presents something close: to reconstruct images from the brain. The science isn’t perfect yet, the researchers admit that they can only project things that the mind has already seen, so we’re years away from inventing crazy contraptions or monsters to have them displayed on a screen. In fact, most moving things seem to show up as an ominous, tangly black mass. But still, this video is amazing:


And I for one am excited. They cite access to coma patient’s brains as a use. I can think of a few more, not just including lie detectors and a completely new way to communicate without the pesky inaccuracies of language. Right now, it could be used as a new form of charades in which the participants must guess what the person is trying to imagine for them.

Yay science!

Here’s a fantastic article from another of my favorite sources for science: PhysOrg. It’s about these little microcapsules that will live in the circuits of our electronics from iPods to fighter jets. When there is a break in the circuit, the microcapsules rupture to fill in the break and restore conductivity. This means, the article points out, that our electronics will be able to repair themselves before we even know they are broken. Electronics will need less manual repair and will function longer, so that people will only need to buy a new one when there’s a betterfasterstronger version out. Hooray!