November 21, 2018

Science

"...everyone can — and should — learn quantum mechanics. It’s not rocket science — it’s a fundamental part of how our world works, and not as complex as you might fear."

"Humanity is on the verge of a weighty achievement. On Friday, representatives of more than 60 nations will convene in Versailles, France, to approve a new definition for the kilogram."

"Mutations allowing humans to live at high altitudes have become more common in populations in Tibet, Ethiopia, and the Andes. The spread of genetic mutations in Tibet is possibly the fastest evolutionary change in humans..."

"Plants have shaped human societies even before the establishment of agriculture... they have facilitated communion with the sacred in some societies and bestowed on others the ravages of addiction. "

"The Atacama, a plateau about the size of Pennsylvania, is the driest desert in the world. The combination of its aridity, high altitude and low population results in exceptional seeing, an astronomy term for the quality of observing conditions."

"Arguing that our current understanding cannot rule it out, Hawking, it seems, was cautiously optimistic. So where does this leave us? We cannot build a time machine today, but could we in the future?"

"“I’m taking my exams and then I remember I’m not wearing pants.” These nightmares come years after I’ve left school, but they pop up when I’m worried about something else, like a looming deadline. "

"If Earth didn’t have water, it wouldn’t have life, and the universe would be sorely lacking in dank memes. But exactly how water sprung up on this planet has always been a perpetual mystery. "

"David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves. By downplaying our environmental crisis, the presenter’s BBC films have generated complacency, confusion and ignorance."

"A mysterious cigar-shaped object spotted tumbling through our solar system last year may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth, astronomers from Harvard University have suggested."

Acting like an extrovert has known social benefits, but what if you aren't one? A new study reveals that pretending to be an introvert offers limited benefits for introverts.

Was the emergence of life a lucky accident or a divine mandate? A new book Roy Gould offers us a third possibility: life is another of nature's inevitabilities.

"Close your eyes and try to imagine nothing... Nothing is a concept so deceptively simple that it inhabits the strange intersection of science, philosophy, and language itself."

"The global anthology of Hat Man stories has only grown since. The shape of the frightening figure occasionally varies, but the way he makes his victims feel never does: utterly paralyzed with terror..."

"As the planet slowly warms, the cooler, higher layers of mountains are becoming like the warmer ones at lower altitudes. Animals and plants are tracking these changes, moving upslope in search of their ideal climes."

"The largest ever database of scientific retractions just went live, and it reveals a promising trend: More and more studies are being pulled from the scientific record. This is a great thing for science."

"It's the ultimate unanswerable question we all face: When will I die? If we knew, would we live differently? So far, science has been no more accurate at predicting life span than a $10 fortune teller. But that’s starting to change."

New insights into the senescent cells responsible for human aging are leading to a scientific revolution. Is it possible that effective anti-aging treatments are on their way?

"Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that elephants currently express the full range of personal and creative capacities that humans do. But I suspect all that’s missing are certain informational and institutional structures, along with the motivation"

"The findings raise concerns around how ingesting microplastics are (or aren’t) harmful to human health. Yet experts who weren’t associated with the study say they don’t have definitive answers due to a lack of research in the field."

We think of archeological finds as being clues to the ancient past. In a new book from Ulrike Sommer, archeology's effects on present-day national narratives are excavated.

"The cat is still hauled out today as if to imply that we’re as puzzled as ever by the mere fact that the quantum world at small scales turns into the world of classical physics at human scales."

Many ancient cultures believed that time was a repeating cycle. The ancient Hebrew envisioned a history that progresses. So is time a loop or a line? Physics may now have an answer.

"A mere half a degree could spell the difference between the Arctic being ice-free once a decade and once a century; between coral reefs being almost entirely wiped out and up to 30 percent hanging on..."

“What Gates thinks about global poverty, artificial intelligence, political freedom, clean meat, and humanity’s future.”

“Scientists bred healthy baby mice from same-sex parents for the first time.”

“Reality Is just a bunch of hallucinations we collectively agree on.”

“At the neighborhood level, these differences are sometimes even more drastic, appearing even when communities are only a few miles apart.”

The discovery of ancient petroglyphs is shining a light on a dark age.

“1.5 degrees Celsius of warming will be much worse than the 1 degree Celsius we’re experiencing now.”

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JJ Best Of The Web

"...after five months of canceled meetings and muted statements of dissatisfaction by both countries, experts say there is no sign of progress toward the Singapore goal of so-called "denuclearization" of the North."

"The presidential news conferences have become frustrating to watch and, doubtless, are frustrating for President Trump to engage in. While we have freedom of the press in our country, we should not tolerate unprofessionalism."

"It's highly unlikely that Israel's center-left parties will form a coalition to run together in the 2019 election, but they should not abandon efforts to find common ground to fight for."

"Cam has the brilliant audacity to argue that the internet isn’t about connecting people. Netflix’s slick, saucy new horror noir understands the existential terror of losing your carefully curated fictional internet persona."

"Wealthy nations have strong currencies. A strong dollar allows Americans to buy goods, services and resources from other countries at low prices."

"China’s leaders like the internet they have created. And now, they want to direct the nation’s talent and tech acumen toward an even loftier end: building an innovation-driven economy, one that produces world-leading companies."

"At an inaugural desert festival of yogis and spirit guides like Russell Brand, an exclusive industry grapples with consumerism, addiction, and the actual meaning of wellness."

"The confusing thing about Franzen is that even people who hate him admit that he is a great novelist, and even people who love him admit that his essays are often a little on the insufferable..."

"“And just like that” or “in the blink of an eye” are familiar captions on parenting milestone photos. But for me, while the days were long, not even one year flew by."

"How the Silicon Valley set fell in love with sourdough and decided to disrupt the 6,000-year-old craft of making bread, one crumbshot at a time."

"...everyone can — and should — learn quantum mechanics. It’s not rocket science — it’s a fundamental part of how our world works, and not as complex as you might fear."

"New Hebrew University initiative brings international students to Yoga studio run by Breslov Hasidim for course on 'Judaism and the Body.'"