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Sci-Tech watch

Betelgeuse watch, 2: Has it finally stopped dimming?

Mebbe, for now. According to Forbes: >>The red supergiant star Betelgeuse appears to have finally stopped its unprecedented dimming, Villanova University astronomer Edward Guinan told me [ Bruce Dorminey] this afternoon. He says that although he’s unsure what has caused its strange brightness fluctuations, Betelgeuse is not likely to undergo a supernova explosion anytime soon.  “The star has been nearly steady in brightness now over the last 10 days,” said Guinan. We could be at minimum brightness now and very soon the star will slowly brighten if it follows its normal 420 to 430 period of pulsation, says Guinan. Or when the star periodically changes its  brightness, he says. >> Of course, supernova fans are still rooting for a big boom. Read More ›

Betelgeuse dims, astrophysicists speculate

Since about October 2019, Betelgeuse (the bright reddish star at Orion’s shoulder in the brightest constellation in the sky that is about 600 – 700 ly distant from us) has begun a sharp dimming that has now gone beyond what has been seen in modern observations. As of the end of January, it was down about 2.5 1.4 in apparent magnitude (corrected from the added graph). Here is its “portrait” — it is one of the few stars we have seen as a disk: ADDED: a plot of apparent magnitude: Discussion at WUWT suggests that by about Feb 21 we should see an uptick if this is something that is near-normal. Odds are, we don’t have a long enough instrumented Read More ›

VIDEO: Digital unwrapping and reading of the En Gedi OT scroll

News has posted on this recent technological development. It is worth taking a couple of minutes to watch the video describing and imaging what was done using AI technologies: Fascinating, what 3-d scanning can do. It also of course corroborates the known result from the main Dead Sea Scroll finds, that the OT text was faithfully transmitted to posterity from remote times. END PS: Chain of custody for the NT message and by extension its texts: PPS: HT NewScientist, a case of Lead-based ink pigment detected in a papyrus manuscript written in Greek uncials:

The growth of the Internet, 1990 – 2019

Of general interest — and especially observe the rise of China, India and Nigeria: Food for thought. END PS: Jawa points to some interesting points of data with images worth highlighting. First, number of sites (where approx. 200 mn are regularly active): Likewise, it is noted by tekeye that “[d]espite there being over 1.5 billion websites only a few hundred dominate the Internet. Less than 1 million, or 0.1%, account for over 50% of web traffic. To get an idea on how much such a small percentage of the total websites dominate look at The Internet Map.”

The Code 1202 glitch during the LM descent to the Moon

Why did the LM’s “mini” computer throw a restart glitch during the descent? Eyles — who wrote the code — tells the story: We are here discussing the LM’s mini computer, which used IC’s to effect an unprecedented small size (and “only” 70 lbs, in a box Eyles describes as 1 ft x 2 ft x 6 inches): Spoiler alert: a switch had been bumped, a radar overloaded the tiny 36,000 word memory and reset was triggered. Armstrong took over manual pilot and rode over a crater that was headlined at the time as an emergency leading to a blood pressure and heart rate surge. A successful landing was effected (I recall, listening after church as my late Dad tuned Read More ›

Apollo 11 Moon landing + 50 years today

A moment of triumph and a giant leap for mankind. Live stream: Let us remember and let us learn. Hopefully, back to the Moon then onward to Mars, the Asteroid belt and solar system colonisation across this century — our real hope. And, a positive focus going forward. END

Are high intensity and/or high blue light “white light” LED’s damaging to our health?

Of course, any high intensity light source is potentially damaging to the retina; that’s why we should not look directly at the sun or try to view a solar eclipse directly. Electric arc welding and lasers — including laser pointers — are also hazardous. Retinal burns are painless and permanent. It is believed that that is how Galileo went blind, looking at the sun too much. So, obviously LED’s that are high intensity come with the automatic warning about any high intensity light source. However, white light LED technology is based on a blue or UV LED with a phosphor that fluoresces with the missing colours to make white, i.e. red and green. Under addition of light, red and green Read More ›

Moon first, then Mars — a path to Solar System colonization?

Some dates are being discussed in a May 18th 2019 Phys-dot-org article: “The Moon is the proving ground for our eventual mission to Mars,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a conference this week. “The Moon is our path to get to Mars in the fastest, safest way possible. That’s why we go to the Moon.” According to Robert Howard, who heads up the lab developing future space habitats at the legendary Johnson Space Center in Houston, the hurdles aren’t so much technical or scientific as much as a question of budget and political will. “A lot of people want us to have an Apollo moment, and have a president stand up like Kennedy and say, we’ve got to do Read More ›

AI and hopes for fusion power

A recent news item suggests that AI may help bring fusion power to the table on the long used but challenging Tokamak toroidal reactor architecture. This would be a major positive use of AI technology, if it proves sufficiently reliable: Artificial intelligence (AI), a branch of computer science that is transforming scientific inquiry and industry, could now speed the development of safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy for generating electricity. A major step in this direction is under way at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University, where a team of scientists working with a Harvard graduate student is for the first time applying deep learning — a powerful new version of Read More ›

Have Scientists in China “brain hacked” monkeys?

. . . By inserting human genes? The UK Daily Mail summarises news reports making the rounds: The report details: A new study into the unique evolution of human intelligence has raised ethical concerns after Chinese scientists implanted human brain genes into monkeys to boost their development. Researchers inserted human versions of MCPH1, a gene that scientists believe plays a role in the development of the human brain, into 11 rhesus monkeys.They found the monkeys’ brains — like those of humans — took longer to develop, and the animals performed better in tests of short-term memory as well as reaction time compared to wild monkeys.However, the monkeys did not grow bigger brains than the control group.The test, the latest in a Read More ›

SCI-TECH NEWSWATCH: Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft has a loss of comms and fails in a Moon landing attempt

The newly re-elected Prime Minister promises that Israel will persist. See Jerusalem Post for details (vids are in Hebrew): Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft fails to land safely on the moon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was at hand to watch the landing, said that Israel will continue to try landing on the moon. By JERUSALEM POST STAFF, MARCY OSTER/JTA April 11, 2019 22:51 A sad last minute breakdown, but such is not unprecedented. And, a robot casualty is in an utterly different ontological and ethical class from a human casualty. There is a reason why they say something routine or simple “is not rocket science.” The will to risk and explore is a benefit to all humanity. Here’s to good onward Read More ›

BREAKING NEWS EVENT: First images of a Black Hole Event Horizon announced

A long-awaited development, thanks to an array of radio telescopes: BBC reports: Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy. It measures 40 billion km across – three million times the size of the Earth – and has been described by scientists as “a monster”. The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world. Details have been published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87. “What we see is larger than the size Read More ›

Origenes finds a handy “big number” calculator

In the isolated islands of function thread, Origenes cited the exact value of one of a big number. GP asked, how did you do it, as Excel and R are overwhelmed at that sort of level. Origenes answered: Origenes, 104: >> . . . I found this website: https://defuse.ca/big-number-calculator.htm >> Now, I have routinely used logs and high-capacity hardware calculators [e.g. HP 50] or software ones [X-Calc and Emu-48], but obviously these give rounded answers. I popped over to the linked page (now on speed dial, of course), and so — for reference: KF, 106: >>2^500 = 3 273 390 607 896 141 870 013 189 696 827 599 152 216 642 046 043 064 789 483 291 368 096 Read More ›

How do memristors work? [Onward implications for Strong AI.]

Memristors are in effect tunable resistors; where a resistive state can be programmed [and changed, so far a very finite number of times]. This means they can store and process information, especially by carrying out weighted-product summations and vector-based matrix array product summations. Such are very powerful physically instantiated mathematical operations. For example, here is a memristor crossbar matrix: . . . and here is one in use to recognise patterns:   They hold promise for AI, high density storage units and more. How they work turns out to be a bit of a challenge, as IEEE Spectrum reported in 2015: >>Over the last decade researchers have produced two commercially promising types of memristors: electrochemical metallization memory (ECM) cells, and Read More ›

What about the elusive dream: metallic hydrogen?

With metal-like superionic water already on the table, why not look at the seemingly evasive metallic hydrogen? A year ago, there was a happy announcement (and an article in Science), but doubts have since been entertained; indeed Science issued a correction to the original paper. Science: >>Producing metallic hydrogen has been a great challenge in condensed matter physics. Metallic hydrogen may be a room-temperature superconductor and metastable when the pressure is released and could have an important impact on energy and rocketry. We have studied solid molecular hydrogen under pressure at low temperatures. At a pressure of 495 gigapascals, hydrogen becomes metallic, with reflectivity as high as 0.91. We fit the reflectance using a Drude free-electron model to determine the Read More ›