Saturday, 16 April 2016 17:04

Ancient Egyptian Demons Found

A Belgium-based Egyptologist has discovered the oldest of ancient Egyptian demons -- demonic entities populated the ancient Egyptians’ imaginations as far back as 4,000 years ago.  The discovery, presented recently at the International Conference on Ancient Egyptian Demonology, these demons gripped their victims and cut off their heads.

Wael Sherbiny, an independent scholar who specializes in the ancient Egyptian religious texts, found two demons on two Middle Kingdom coffins presumed to be about 4,000 years old.  The third demon was identified in a 4,000-year-old leather roll the researcher had previously discovered in the shelves of the Egyptian museum in Cairo, where it was stored and forgotten for more than 70 years. This leather roll was the oldest and longest Egyptian leather manuscript.

Published in News
Friday, 15 March 2013 13:33

Are You Smart on the Higgs Boson?

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, announced yesterday that they’re even more certain than they were last summer (like, more than 99.999999999 percent sure) that they've seen a Higgs boson particle—even if it’s not the Higgs boson particle.

Why does it even matter? Well, let's start with, this is a discovery that could potentially change our entire understanding of how the universe works. So, to avoid being a complete nub on this issue, what do you need to know and what can you say if someone brings up the subject?

Published in Academic
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:00

Astronomers Find 1000+ New Planets

This week astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope announced that the planet-hunting spacecraft had increased its catalogue by an additional 1,284 worlds. This is the greatest number of planets ever announced at one time. A paper summarizing the findings appears in The Astrophysical Journal. The total exoplanet tally now stands at about 3,200, and Kepler has found 2,235 of them, NASA officials said.

Published in News
Tuesday, 03 January 2017 11:22

Awe Shapes Views of Science

In general, we feel awe when in the presence of something that is so big, beautiful, powerful or complex that it is hard to wrap our heads around (e.g. gazing at the stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe, witnessing the destructive force of a natural disaster). We feel it when we are struck dumb by the presence of the mysterious, magical, wondrous or beautiful and its experience drives us to seek explanations. Something has not only defied our expectations about how the world works, but it has made us want to understand, explain and find meaning in what has happened.

Published in Practical

Speed of expertise acquisition may matter, but so do a whole host of other traits.  The "10-Year Rule" makes for a sensational TED talk; however, the idea that it takes 10 years to become a world-class expert in any domain is not a rule. Creativity doesn't have an expiration date. Creativity seems to happen when it's ready to happen.  While expetise or technique certainly contribute, talent and personality are very relevant to creative accomplishment. 

Published in Academic
Monday, 12 July 2004 15:58

Hard Science and Philosophy

Is it even possible for scientists and mathematicians to understand or appreciate philosophy? Do they lack a neccessary nimbleness to discern philosophical questions or the impact of such answers? For many (most) among the "harder" sciences, philosophy shares a stage with religion, art, or fantastic child-like whimsy. Why is this? Could it be they are too judgmental or inflexible in their beliefs? Might they be too acquisitive to be distracted by the philosophical implications of their work? Are they not clever enough to understand it? Perhaps they are too shallow to even grasp fundamental questions?

Mike Alder (a mathematician) explains why practicioners of hard science don’t like philosophy but discretely pursue it anyway. He offers explination to explain why scientists and mathematicians are inclined to be dismissive of the subject. Additionally, Mr. Alder explains how and why they still explore philosophy pseudonymously.

The scientist’s perception of philosophy is that a philosophical analysis is a sterile word game played in a state of mental muddle. When you ask of a scientist if we have free will, or only think we have, he would ask in turn: “What measurements or observations would, in your view, settle the matter?” If your reply is “Thinking deeply about it”, he will smile pityingly and pass you by. He would be unwilling to join you in playing what he sees as a rather silly game.

Published in Academic
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:04

Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ. Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter. “Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Published in News
Saturday, 07 January 2017 14:52

Obama Strategy Against Killer Asteroids

In a newly released strategy, the United States has proposed an increased global effort to locate 300,000 or so Earth-impact risks and prepare for potential future meteor collisions that could destroy cities, civilization, or all life as we know it. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are defined as asteroids or comets that come near our planet’s orbit. A newly published White House document entitled ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’ details how low-probability, high consequence impacts pose a “significant and complex challenge”.

Cataloging and tracking these things is no small task. As of December 2016, we know for sure of some 15,342 NEOs between 1 meter and 32 kilometers in diameter. The current estimate is that there are about a thousand out there larger than a kilometer wide, and about 13,000 that are more than 140 meters across – real killers, each with their own speed, direction and orbits through the galaxy. After two decades of searching, only about 28 percent of the estimated total number of NEOs bigger than 140 meters across have been found and tracked. That's far short of the 90 percent that US Congress directed NASA to get a handle on by 2020, and it leaves a global blind spot of more than 9,000 potential extinction-level threats that we could potentially do something about if we gave ourselves enough warning.

Published in News

A large enough solar flare could knock out electrical grids we have come to rely on for day-to-day life. On 13 October 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order aimed at preparing the nation's infrastructure for "extreme space weather events" that could potentially be powerful enough to wreak havoc on essential electrical grids.

Published in News
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 04:08

Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

A liver hormone called FGF21 may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study.  This raises the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. The new study, by researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, for the first time highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it.

Published in News
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