September 21, 2019

Science

"Even where there is no gravity, there is still gravity; a residue always remains. Distant planets and stars are not independent of one another after all."

"How can we possibly know so much about the world around us? We learn an enormous amount even when we are small children; four-year-olds already know about plants and animals and machines..."

"The gambler, the quantum physicist and the juror all reason about probabilities: the probability of winning, of a radioactive atom decaying, of a defendant’s guilt. But despite their ubiquity, experts dispute just what probabilities are."

"It is unclear if AI has accomplished anywhere near as much as many have claimed. Indeed, current technology exhibits no convincing demonstration of anything remotely approaching “intelligence.”"

"Building solar, wind, natural gas and water infrastructure all along the U.S.–Mexico border would create economic opportunity rather than antagonism."

"New research suggests both liberals and conservatives are motivated to believe fake news, and dismiss real news that contradicts their ideologies..."

"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "

"The US Food and Drug Administration is officially warning consumers that buying young blood infusions to improve their health is not a good idea. It is, in fact, a very bad idea because there is no clinical evidence that the infusions do anything.."

"The whale’s towering rib cage had become a cathedral for worms, snails, and crabs, which grazed beneath its buttresses. A few hungry hagfish slithered through the skull’s eye sockets."

"Psychedelics have frequently been maligned in both the scientific community and mainstream culture. But new medical research and a more capacious understanding of the drugs have started to shift opinions."

"Opportunity casts a long shadow over all subsequent Mars rovers, setting a gold standard of JPL engineering. Customized versions of its mobility software are used on the rovers Curiosity and upcoming Mars 2020."

"The secret life of the world's most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, has been caught on camera in Africa. Footage gives a rare insight into the behaviour of the giant pangolin, the largest of all the scaly animals."

"There is no “direct experience” prior to judgment, i.e., what I (re)construct (write down) as my experience is already supported by judgmental decisions."

"In his talk, “The Geometry of Thinking,” he suggested that humans are able to do things that today’s powerful computers can’t do, because we, unlike our computers, represent information in geometrical space."

"People with high intelligence tend to adopt a critical attitude towards the world, and avoid relying on positive illusions. While these skills gain you accolades in school, are they really valued in today's world?"

"A merlin falcon hunting its prey, a hummingbird suspended in the air beside a flower, the self-reproduction of a bacterial cell: all are instances of stunning control and precision. How could anything so complex have originated from inert matter?"

"Scientists in Australia have shown that honeybees can add and subtract if trained to do so. It shows animals don’t need a huge brain — or anything even resembling human language — to think in terms of numbers. "

"I am still stunned that there are seemingly average people walking around today with the firm belief that the world is actually flat. The numbers, while still small, are also surprisingly high."

"...the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”"

"...after decades of trying to understand how our minds work, I’ve begun to worry that the divide between religious & scientific communities might not only be stoking needless hostility; it might also be slowing the process of scientific discovery.."

"CRISPR, or CRISPR scientists may be impossible to stop; [but] good argumentation about the nebulous benefits of GMO kids, and common sense on the folly of these hubristic endeavors, is as important an arbitrator as the regulation of laws. "

"A government striving for regional peace, like the one Gantz has pledged to lead, would have to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders, on annexation of the West Bank settlement blocs and on land swaps."

"Meeting a piece of advanced technological equipment developed by an extraterrestrial intelligence might resemble an imaginary encounter of ancient cave people with a modern cell phone."

"Let us start with some genuine philosophical questions about truth in science. Here are three: 1) Does science aim at truth? 2) Does science tell us the truth? 3) Should we expect science to tell us the truth?"

"Twins don’t often get the same results from a single company. And across the industry, estimates of where an individual’s ancestors lived can differ significantly from company to company."

"The father of modern goldfish swallowing, the lore goes, was—perhaps unsurprisingly—an 18-year-old college student. In 1939, Lothrop Withington Jr., a freshman at Harvard, reportedly prompted a friend to issue him the challenge alongside $10..."

"It is part of the human experience to slowly realize we are each an isolated mind in a sea of other isolated minds, and then to spend our lives trying to cross the mighty gulfs between ourselves and others, striving to make a connection."

"Morris is a physicist who specializes in geomorphology—the study of why natural objects are shaped the way they are... Is there a unifying theory that can account for the structure of all things?"

"If the planet they’re looking for exists, it is likely six times the mass of Earth, with an atmosphere made of hydrogen and helium covering its rock-and-ice core. What makes it hard to find is its likely location..."

"When the central part of the Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, covers the moon, the only light that reaches the lunar surface has been filtered through Earth’s atmosphere, which strips out the blue wavelengths and casts the moon in a red glow."

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JJ Editor's Picks

"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."

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"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."

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"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."

"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."

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"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."