Category: Science

Mathematics suggests western society will collapse in a decade

J_G_Trautmann_Das_brennende_TrojaA boffin who uses maths to predict changes in society says his numbers show that western society will collapse in the 2020’s.

Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, said the next decade would be marked by political turmoil and social unrest. He uses cliodynamics, which believes historical events such as the growth and collapse of empires or religions follow clearly definable patterns.

The numbers show that the US is on the verge of a collapse and will take Europe and the West with it.

While this might sound like a fortune telling, cliodynamics is solid science.  He said that who ever rules the US cannot make much difference because we are doomed whoever is in power.

Turchin said that societies are like rollercoasters and impersonal social forces bring us to the top; then comes the inevitable plunge.

The problem is caused by because we have made too many rich people who  become  more distant from poorer folks.

“Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of co-operation, which is followed by ideological polarisation and fragmentation of the political class,” he wrote.

“This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.”

The academic also suggested “the stagnation and decline of living standards and declining fiscal health of the state, resulting from falling state revenues and rising expenses” would bring about a potentially terminal slump.

It is possible to observe trends and stopping them before they cause problems for society. Although that does require a huge change in western and particularly American civilisation

Don’t look at that email when you wake up

tdy-120702-smartphone-work.photoblog600Checking your email on your smartphone after you wake up is a bad way to start the day, according to a woman who studies happiness for a living.

Michelle Gielan, former national CBS News anchor turned psychology researcher and best-selling author said that reading just one negative email could lead you to report having a bad day hours later.

“Even if you have one good and one bad email, the bad always seem more powerful,” Gielan says in a recent episode of “The Productivityist Podcast.” Reading negative news has the same effect,.

Gielan suggests that before you check your email or the news, put yourself in the right frame of mind by taking two minutes to draft a positive email to someone in your social support network.

Thank a friend or family member for their support, or praise a colleague on their recent work, she suggests.  After you send your upbeat email, move on to your regular routine of checking your work email or the news.

That two-minute message primes your brain to see everything in a more positive light.

“It will change how you process your day and how you process your email at 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” she says.

Odd that she fails to mention our method.  If you start the day with bacon.  We can’t prove this of course, we need to conduct a scientific study. We never turn on our email in the morning. The Goddess does but she just goes through her shopping adverts and they don’t depress her at all. After all there are bags and pants to be liberated from evil online shopping companies and it starts the day with a sense of mission.

Chinese get EM drive to work

1413849918201_wps_10_Star_Trek_Tractor_BeamA radical breakthrough which could shake up long distance space flight has been confirmed by Chinese boffins.

The Electromagnetic Drive (EM) drive is a method of propulsion which is so clever scientists have not figured out why it works as it appears to break the law of conservation of momentum.

The “reactionless” Electromagnetic Drive, or EmDrive for short, is an engine propelled solely by electromagnetic radiation confined in a microwave cavity. It generates mechanical action without exchanging matter which is technically impossible.

Since 2010, both the United States and China have been pouring serious resources into it and the results seem promising. Now China claims it has made a key breakthrough.

Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) announced that China had successfully tested EmDrives technology in its laboratories and its proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit.

This test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station. If China can install EmDrives on its satellites for orbital manoeuvring and altitude control, they would become cheaper and longer lasting.

Li Feng, lead CAST designer for commercial satellites, states that the current EmDrive has only a thrust of single digit millinewtons, for orbital adjustment; a medium sized satellite needs 0.1-1 Newtons. A functional EmDrive would open new possibilities for long range Chinese interplanetary probes beyond the Asteroid belt, as well freeing up the mass taken up by fuel in manned spacecraft for other supplies and equipment to build lunar and Martian bases.


Boffins fear book-burning Trump brown-shirts

1933-may-10-berlin-book-burningUS boffins are frantically trying to work out ways to protect data on climate change from climate-denying Trump supporters who are expected to try and destroy it.

The Trump administration believes that Climate change is a fraud and has vowed to wipe government websites of years of research. The logic is that if you burn the books, people will not know that there is a problem.

Environmentalists and researchers encountered a friendly White House over the last eight years that encouraged inquiry into global warming and signed historic agreements meant to lower global carbon emissions.

However now they are worried that publicly available climate change data and research found on government websites would be wiped clean or made otherwise inaccessible to the public.

Academics like the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto, are attempting to download and save as much data as possible. The University of Toronto is set to host a “guerilla archiving event” in collaboration with the Internet Archive’s End of Term 2016 project.

This aims to archive the federal online pages and data that are in danger of disappearing during the Trump administration, including climate change, water, air and toxics programs.

Other universities are planning “hackathons,” putting out a call to hackers to scrape federal website databases for climate change intel.

The hacks are perfectly legal because the information is currently available to the public – they might not be after Trump takes office.

Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that policies that have been put in place to make sure that science continues to be foundational are not going to be easy to remove.

Talking to the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco she said that there is no reason to think that a successor administration is going to want to because the data is so important to the decisions we make every single day.”

But boffins remember that they had a hell of a time getting climate data under the last Republican administration. George W. Bush made climate data inaccessible because he did not believe in global warning because God said in the bible that there would never be another flood and put a rainbow in the sky to prove it.
Other boffins are worried that budget cuts to government science organizations like NASA would make important climate prediction projects impossible.

NASA experiments with X-ray networking

x-rayNASA is researching new technology to transmit data at high rates over vast distances in outer space, as well as enable communications with hypersonic vehicles during re-entry.

At the moment such radio communications are impossible, but NASA boffins think that using X-rays could be just the ticket.

The science is based on the concept that other forms of light can carry data as well. Fibre-optics uses visible and near-infrared light. So NASA started to think about X-rays.

Keith Gendreau, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, thought of developing X-ray emitters that these spacecraft could use as navigational beacons to make sure they stayed in position relative to one another. The system would keep them aligned down to a precision of just 1 micron.

Gendreau then reasoned that by modulating or varying the strength or frequency of these X-ray transmissions on and off many times per second, these navigational beacons could also serve as a communication system. Such X-ray communication (XCOM), might, in theory, permit gigabit-per-second data rates throughout the solar system, he said

X-rays have shorter wavelengths than the visible or infrared light typically used in laser communication. This means that, XCOM can transmit more data for the same amount of power that laser communication requires, Gendreau said.

X-rays have shorter wavelengths, they can be transmitted in tighter beams than visible or infrared light, so less energy is wasted in trying to communicate over vast distances, he added.

A new toy called the Modulated X-ray Source, or MXS, which generates rapid-fire X-ray pulses. MXS is slated to get installed on an experimental pallet that will be deployed outside the International Space Station in 2018.

MXS will transmit data via X-rays about 165 feet to the Neutron-star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which is designed to study neutron stars and their rapidly spinning relatives, pulsars, and will launch to the International Space Station in early 2017

Boffins create bionic willy

sixmillion-splshIf “Six million dollar man” Steve Austin ever had erectile dysfunction he would have been out on a limb like the rest of mankind, however boffins think they could rebuild him with the world’s first bionic willy.

Experts at the University of Wisconsin in America created a remote-controlled device which lengthens to eight inches when heated to 42C.

Surgically inserted in the base of the penis through an incision, the one inch metal coil can be turned on by a remote held over the groin, generating a metal field which triggers a current. While this sounds a rather good way to avoid thinking about sex ever again, apparently the coil then warms the implant, making it expand and fully erect.

So far it has been tested on animals and could be available to men within a few years.

The device is made using nitinol, which rather than being a pill to make you sleep, is  a metal alloy of nickel and titanium which can change shape in different temperatures.

Asif Muneer from the British Association of Urological Surgeons, told The Sun the device had potential to benefit thousands of men suffering with erectile dysfunction.

‘There are fewer components than with existing inflatable implants and that reduces the chances of infection,’ he said.

Bionic penises are apparently not that new, although right now they cost an arm and a leg. Mohammad Abad, 44, from Edinburgh was fitted with the £70,000 replacement in 2012 after losing his penis and testicle when he was run over by a car at age six.

In that case the penis, which was constructed using skin from his forearm rolled up like a ‘sausage roll’ but now he gets erections at the touch of a button.

Trump to scrap NASA’s climate change funding

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump is going to scrap NASA’s funding for climate change and is telling it to focus on space research instead.

According to his senior adviser it is all part of a crack-down on “politicised science”.

Trump wants to have explored the entire solar system by the end of the century.

However, this cunning plan would mean the end of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. NASA’s network of satellites provides a wealth of information on climate change.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring. We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research. Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission”.

Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicised science, Walker claimed. Walker is a retired US politician who will be dead in a few years, before politicised climate change starts killing his children and grandchildren.  Of course, he might have figured out that sticking them on a Mars colony is the only safe way to avoid the end of the world.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, said NASA has a “critical and unique role” in observing Earth and climate change.

“Without the support of Nasa, not only the US but the entire world would be taking a hard hit when it comes to understanding the behavior of our climate and the threats posed by human-caused climate change,” he said.

“It would be a blatantly political move, and would indicate the president-elect’s willingness to pander to the very same lobbyists and corporate interest groups he derided throughout the campaign.”

Nasa has appointed two officials, Tom Cremins and Jolene Meidinger, to lead the transition to the new Trump administration. However, the president-elect’s team has yet to formally review the space agency. A NASA spokesman said:

“The Nasa community is committed to doing whatever we can to assist in making the executive branch transition a smooth one. The agency remains focused on the future, a future that will improve our understanding of our changing home planet from Nasa’s unique platforms in space.”

IBM wants to make the internet from tubes


Biggish Blue claims to have made a breakthrough in carbon nanotubes which could revolutionise microchip design.

Nanomaterials are incredibly small, which makes it incredibly hard to chisel patterns into them to make them into something useful.

IBM Research materials scientist George Tulevsk and his team have worked out how to “coax” the nanotubes into specific structures using chemistry in a similar way that you grow a crystal in a primary school science experiment.

“We’re trying to tackle that problem by borrowing from nature, because nature builds everything that way. We think that’s one of the key missing pieces.”

Tulevsk has managed to do that but is still years away from being able to manufacture nanotube-based chips at scale. And because silicon chips are still getting faster, the IBM team needs to not only create a process for reliably manufacturing nanotube-based processors, but to make the processors faster than silicon chips will be in a decade.

String theory might be about to finally be killed off

schrodingers_catThe world’s top boffins are debating finally killing off one of the more elegant scientific theories about the nature of reality.

For ages the world’s cleverest physicists have been divided over the concept of  supersymmetry– a theory which stipulates that all known fundamental particles have heavier, supersymmetric counterparts called sparticles. It appears to be based on the theory that the universe is made out of string which was teased into shape by cats which are potentially dead or alive [are you sure about this? Ed.]

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment still has not found anything that supersymmetry predicts, and it is getting to the threshold where the theory should be declared dead and buried. However it still has fans, because if it is true, then it could solve many physical puzzles such as dark matter and some aspects of the Higgs boson.

After the LHC failed to find evidence for supersymmetry, more physicists are arguing that the field’s obsession with the theory is a waste of time and effort. Scientists at the LHC filter the data they record by looking first for particles predicted by favoured theories, including supersymmetry. Less popular ideas get a smaller share of the resources. Fans of supersymmetry think that if Higgs is made up of even smaller particles, then supersymmetry should get more attention.

Other boffins want to see experiments conducted on how gravity behaves at the very small scales of quantum mechanics. If the LHC finds no trace of sparticles in this year’s data they think that last thing the field needs is another round of supersymmetry model adjustments.


Smartphones keep you awake

Iranian MPs sleeping in Majlis ParliamentExposure to smartphone screens will stuff up your sleep, according to a new study.

Writing in the science journal PLOS ONE, which sounds more like a mathematics magazine for dyslexics, Matthew Christensen from the University of California, San Francisco and his chums wondered what the physical effects of increased smartphone use was having on the great unwashed.

Christensen and colleagues tested the hypothesis that increased screen-time may be associated with poor sleep by analysing data from 653 adult individuals across the United States participating in the Health eHeart Study.

Participants installed a smartphone application which recorded their screen-time, defined as the number of minutes in each hour that the screen was turned on, over a 30-day period. They also recorded their sleeping hours and sleep quality.

Each participant used their phones 38.4 hours over this period, with smartphones being activated on average for 3.7 minutes in each hour. Longer average screen-time was associated with poor sleep quality and less sleep overall, particularly when smartphones were used near participants’ bedtime.

The first to measure smartphone exposure prospectively, but caution that the study also had some limits which means that the authors cannot show causation or exclude the “effect-cause” that poor sleep could lead to more screen time. What they did find was a theory that bedtime smartphone use may negatively impact sleep.