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Mar 28, 2016

The Quantum Fluid Inside Neutron Stars

Posted by in category: quantum physics

In 1937 Pyotr Kapitsa and John F. Allen discovered a strange behavior of ultracold liquids known as superfluidity. A superfluid is a fluid with no viscosity, basically a frictionless liquid. Without viscosity, the fluid has no way to dampen its motion. Because of this, superfluids have some pretty unusual behaviors. If a bit of superfluid is suspended in an open container, it will creep up along the walls, then drip down to a lower container. It can flow through tiny pores that regular liquids can’t, and can create fountains that could flow forever. This seeming defiance of gravity and common sense is due to the fact that its behavior is rooted in quantum physics. Though it is not a truly quantum state such as a Bose-Einstein condensate, it shares some commonality with it. In the lab, superfluids are only seen at temperatures barely above absolute zero. The most common example, helium-4, becomes superfluid when cooled below 2.17 K. So it might seem odd that superfluids are also found in the hot interiors of neutron stars.

A neutron star is a stellar remnant formed with a star runs out of hydrogen and heavier elements to fuse. After a star explodes as a supernova, the remaining core of the star collapses under its own weight to the point that only the pressure of nuclei can counter the force of gravity. A neutron star has a mass of about two Suns, but are only about 20 kilometers in diameter. They have a dense atmosphere of carbon only a few centimeters thick, and a thin crust of iron nuclei. In the interior of a neutron star, nuclei are pushed together ever more tightly, and reach a point where the nuclei can’t hold themselves together. As a result, individual neutrons “drip” out, and sink into the star’s core, forming a neutron fluid. As a neutron star cools, this neutron fluid transitions to a superfluid state. This happens not at a few degrees Kelvin, but at 500 to 800 million Kelvin. The interior of a neutron star is a hot superfluid sea.

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Mar 28, 2016

Robots are coming for your job

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Companies that sell personal data should pay a percentage of the resulting revenue into a Data Mining Royalty Fund that would provide annual payments to U.S. citizens, much as the Alaska Permanent Fund distributes oil revenues to Alaskans.

A viral video released in February showed Boston Dynamics’ new bipedal robot, Atlas, performing human-like tasks: opening doors, tromping about in the snow, lifting and stacking boxes. Tech geeks cheered and Silicon Valley investors salivated at the potential end to human manual labor.

Shortly thereafter, White House economists released a forecast that calculated more precisely whom Atlas and other forms of automation are going to put out of work. Most occupations that pay less than $20 an hour are likely to be, in the words of the report, “automated into obsolescence.”

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Mar 28, 2016

After years of development, the virtual reality headset is finally here… Oculus Rift review — By Chelsea Stark | Mashable

Posted by in category: virtual reality


“[T]oday, the final, consumer-ready version of the Rift arrives ready to show virtual reality’s promise to the world — as well as the hurdles that consumer VR still has to overcome.”

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Mar 28, 2016

Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano Spews Ash 20,000 Feet Into Air

Posted by in category: futurism

Interesting News

A volcano on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands erupted Sunday afternoon and sent ash 20,000 feet into the air, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Mar 28, 2016

The Next Industries to Be Transformed

Posted by in category: futurism

Mining and shipping are industries thus far almost wholly unreconstructed by mobile tech. But IoT is going underground and out to sea.

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Mar 28, 2016

Silicon ‘nano-balls’ have wiped out metastatic breast cancer in mice

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, nanotechnology

Despite all our advances in cancer research, our best strategy of fighting the disease is still brute force, with only a fraction of the drugs administered actually reaching the tumour cells, and most being absorbed into healthy tissue. When cancer spreads, the likelihood of medication reaching it gets even lower, which is why secondary, or metastatic, tumours can be so deadly.

But now, researchers have used cancer’s own tricks against it, by developing dissolvable nanoparticles that target the heart of metastatic tumours directly. And they’ve already seen unprecedented success in mouse studies, with 40–50 percent of the animals being “functionally cured”, and tumour-free after eight months — the equivalent of about 24 years for a human patient. The team is so excited by these results, they hope to fast-track the research and begin human trails in 2017.

“I would never want to overpromise to the thousands of cancer patients looking for a cure, but the data is astounding,” said one of the researchers, Mauro Ferrari, from the Houston Methodist Research Institute. “We’re talking about changing the landscape of curing metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence.”

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Mar 28, 2016

CO2 Recovery System Saves Brewers Money, Puts Bubbles into Beer

Posted by in categories: economics, energy, space

NASA Technology

Building on work he and his companies did with Johnson Space Center’s In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) team, Robert Zubrin has developed and commercialized technologies that could prove revolutionary in their Earth applications, such as a system that could extract millions of barrels of oil from defunct oil wells around the world and another that can harness all the natural gas currently burned off as waste at many oil drilling rigs (Spinoff 2015).

But when he’s not working to change this world or colonize others, the president of Pioneer Astronautics, Pioneer Energy, and the Mars Society enjoys a good microbrew. Now, he’s applied some of that same technology to cut costs for craft breweries that produce anywhere between 3,000 and 300,000 barrels per year.

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Mar 28, 2016

Alien Technology –“Might Be a Billion Years Old and Not Made of Matter” (Weekend Feature)

Posted by in category: alien life

The author of “Alien Minds”, Susan Schneider of the University of Pennsylvania, has proposed a “greater age of alien civilizations” argument that says that “if extraterrestrial civilizations are millions or billions of years older than us, many would be vastly more intelligent than we are. By our standards, many would be superintelligent. We are galactic babies.”

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Mar 28, 2016

Study suggests Earth is heading toward a second catastrophic hot-house event

Posted by in categories: climatology, habitats, sustainability

If you dig deep enough into the Earth’s climate change archives, you hear about the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. And then you get scared.

That was a time period, about 56 million years ago, when something mysterious happened — there are many ideas as to what — that suddenly caused concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to spike, far higher than they are right now.

The planet proceeded to warm rapidly, at least in geologic terms, and major die-offs of some marine organisms followed due to strong acidification of the oceans.

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Mar 28, 2016

Want to live forever? Ray Kurzweil thinks that may be possible very soon

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, media & arts, Ray Kurzweil

When rock band Queen asked us “Who wants to live forever?” back in 1986, we interpreted it as standard lyrical rhetoric. But now, three decades and what feels like light years in technological, medical, and scientific advances later, the answer to that age-old question may have changed. And according to Ray Kurzweil, the famous American inventor who has been described as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” we’re nearing immortality.

As the man responsible for the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer, and much more, Kurzweil has a knack for spotting trends and anticipating the future. And if history is any indication (and his word stays true), we may be in for a long, long lifetime.

In an episode of PBS’s News Hour last week, Kurzweil noted that death, which he describes as “a great robber of meaning, of relationships, of knowledge,” will soon be conquered. Indeed, the futurist notes, our species will soon be able to defeat disease and degeneration, and live “indefinitely.”

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