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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Here we go again.  First large-scale formal quantitative test confirms Darwin’s theory of universal common ancestry.

Until now, the theory that makes ladybugs, oak trees, champagne yeast and humans distant relatives has remained beyond the scope of a formal test. Now, a Brandeis biochemist reports in Nature the results of the first large scale, quantitative test of the famous theory that underpins modern evolutionary biology.

Yet, it doesn’t disqualify faith. People get exercised over evolution v. creationism. To me one is a subset of the other, it appears to be just one arrow in God’s quiver of miracles. Like all of His ways, a mystery. Relax and try to understand the basis of both, and keep the faith.

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From the BP Twitter account (BP_America)
Pictures of the cofferdam (containment dome) being lowered into the water at Deepwater Horizon site http://bit.ly/duzKCa

At ten tons, I thought it would be bigger. Hopefully this is effective.

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Max Tegmark argues that it is, delighting neo-Pythagoreans everywhere.

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Seeing the Future?

Well, a tenth of a second of it, anyway.

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HP scientists have discovered a fourth element of electrical circuits, the memrister, the implications of which could be revolutionary:

Engineers could, for example, develop a new kind of computer memory that would supplement and eventually replace today’s commonly used dynamic random access memory (D-RAM). Computers using conventional D-RAM lack the ability to retain information once they are turned off. When power is restored to a D-RAM-based computer, a slow, energy-consuming “boot-up” process is necessary to retrieve data stored on a magnetic disk required to run the system.

Memristor-based computers wouldn’t require that process, using less power and possibly increasing system resiliency and reliability. Chua believes the memristor could have applications for computing, cell phones, video games – anything that requires a lot of memory without a lot of battery-power drain.

Brain-like systems?

As for the human brain-like characteristics, memristor technology could one day lead to computer systems that can remember and associate patterns in a way similar to how people do.

This could be used to substantially improve facial recognition technology or to provide more complex biometric recognition systems that could more effectively restrict access to personal information.

These same pattern-matching capabilities could enable appliances that learn from experience and computers that can make decisions.

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Stars, Then and Now

Katherine Freese, Douglas Spolyar, and Paolo Gondolo hypothesize that the first stars were powered by dark matter (HT: Wil Oxford):

For a long time, scientists have assumed that the very first stars were powered by fusion, in processes similar to what goes on in present day stars. But a new theory is emerging to challenge that view. “The first stars were different in a lot of ways,” Katherine Freese, a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan, tells PhysOrg.com.

Freese, along with Douglas Spolyar at the Unversity of California, Santa Cruz and Paolo Gondolo at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, posit that dark matter annihilation was the source of energy that powered the earliest stars, formed about the time the universe was between 100 and 200 million years old.

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Top Science Stories of 2007

Wired lists its ten top science stories of 2007. It’s too early, perhaps, to say whether “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” belongs on the list.

Of more practical use might be this explanation for why wires, threads, and just about everything else ends up in knots.

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