"Love is my reference and thats the point of this art. I have to express this love to you! These are 'roses from my soul' and if you see beauty and wonderment in my paintings, that is because you can see part of yourself, like in a mirror you see something you know...something totally cosmic is reflected back at you."
Stephen Meakin - artist - teacher - antiquarian - independent researcher
Homo floresiensis, aka the ‘Hobbit’ people, were first discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia and ever since researchers have wondered how they were able to co-exist with early humans when no other group had. The answer? They didn’t. New excavations and dating have concluded that the Hobbit people died away 50,000 years ago, …
Thousands of genes are involved in intelligence, according to a new study which effectively shatters any hopes of eugenicists that babies can be genetically designed to be clever. In one of the largest studies of the human genome to date, a group of 253 scientists from around the world identified 74 genetic variants that are associated with the number of years spent in formal education.
Humans’ genetic make-up is believed to be responsible for at least 20 per cent of the difference in educational attainment between individuals, with the rest down to social factors and the environment in which they are raised. But the researchers found that the largest effect of any one genetic variant was tiny – just 0.035 per cent. This suggests that there must be at least several thousand of genes that are involved.
An Oxford University geneticist asked to comment on the research said it was a “great relief” because it showed there was little chance that people would be able to genetically modify children to be smart. The researchers, who published a paper in the journal Nature, said that the total effect of the 74 genetic variants on educational attainment was 0.43 per cent.
One of the authors of the paper, Dr Daniel Benjamin, an associate professor at the University of Southern California, said: “The fact that the genetic variant we identify with the largest effect accounts for only 0.035 of one per cent of the variation tells us that there must be at least thousands of genetic variants that influence education but have not yet been detected.” However he said the “most exciting result” of their research was that they could construct an index of genetic variants from across the genome, called a polygenic score, that could predict about six per cent of the variation.
“That’s not large enough to be useful for predicting any particular individual’s educational attainment, but it’s important because it is large enough to be useful in social science studies, which focus on average behavior in the population,” Dr Benjamin said.
Is dark energy the reason time moves forward? BRENDAN COLE 20 MAY 2016
For years, physicists have attempted to explain dark energy - a mysterious influence that pushes space apart faster than gravity can pull the things in it together. But physics isn’t always about figuring out what things are. A lot of it is figuring out what things cause.
And in a recent paper, a group of physicists asked this very question about dark energy, and found that in some cases, it might cause time to go forward.
When you throw a ball into the air, it starts with some initial speed-up, but then it slows as Earth’s gravity pulls it down. If you throw it fast enough (about 11 km per second, for those who want to try), it’ll never slow down enough to turn around and start falling back towards you, but it’ll still move more slowly as it moves away from you, because of Earth’s gravity.
Physicists and astronomers in the 1990s expected something similar to have occured after the big bang - an event that threw matter out in all directions. The collective gravity from all that matter should have slowed it all down, just like the Earth slows down the ball. But that’s not what they found.
Instead, everything seems to have sped up. There’s something pervading the Universe that physically spreads space apart faster than gravity can pull things together. The effect is small - it’s only noticeable when you look at far-away galaxies - but it’s there. It’s become known as dark energy - "dark", because no one knows what it is.
Science is nothing if not the process of humans looking for things they can’t explain, so this isn’t the first time the Universe has stumped us. For centuries, one of those stumpers has been time itself: Why does time have an arrow pointing from the past to the present to the future?
It might seem like a silly question - I mean, if time didn’t go forward, then effects would precede causes, and that seems like it should be impossible - but it’s less of one than you might think.
The Universe, as far as we can tell, only operates according to laws of physics. And just about all of the laws of physics that we know are completely time-reversible, meaning that the things they cause look exactly the same whether time runs forward or backward.
One example is the path of a planet going around a star, which is governed by gravity. Whether time runs forward or backward, planetary orbits follow the exact same paths. The only difference is the direction of the orbit.
But one important piece of physics isn’t time-reversible, and that’s the second law of thermodynamics. It states that as time moves forward, the amount of disorder in the Universe will always increase. Just like dark energy, it’s something we’ve noticed about the Universe, and it’s something that we still don’t totally understand - though admittedly we have a better idea of it than we do of dark energy.
Physicists have, for this reason, reluctantly settled on the second law as the source of time’s arrow: disorder always has to increase after something happens, which requires that time can only move in one direction.
So physicists A. E. Allahverdyan from the Yerevan Physics Institute and V. G. Gurzadyan from Yerevan State University, both in Armenia, decided to see if - at least in a limited situation - dark energy and the second law might be related. To test it, they looked at the simple case of something like a planet orbiting a star with a changing mass.
They found that if dark energy either doesn’t exist or if it pulls space together, the planet just dully orbits the star without anything interesting happening. There’s no way to tell an orbit going forward in time from one going backward in time.
But if dark energy pushes space apart, like it does in our Universe, the planet eventually gets thrown away from the star on a path of no return. This gives us a distinction between the past and the future: run time one way, and the planet is flung off, run it the other way, and the planet comes in and gets captured by the star.
Dark energy naturally leads to an arrow of time.
The authors stress that this is a really limited situation, and they’re certainly not claiming dark energy is the reason time only ever moves forward. But they’ve shown a possible link between thermodynamics and dark energy that could help us to understand either - or maybe both - better than we ever have.
The research has been published in Physical Review E.
These beautiful photographic patterns are constructed from daily snapshots that Lisa A Frank takes while walking in the woods, then the images are “sewn” together through extreme image layering and masking.
Electronic materials have been a major stumbling block for the advance of flexible electronics because existing materials do not function well after breaking and healing. A new electronic material created by an international team, however, can heal all its functions automatically even after breaking multiple times. This material could improve the durability of wearable electronics.
Physicists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the University of Basel have succeeded in measuring the very weak van der Waals forces between individual atoms for the first time. To do this, they fixed individual noble gas atoms within a molecular network and determined the interactions with a single xenon atom that they had positioned at the tip of an atomic force microscope, as the international team of researchers reports in Nature Communications.
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