Tag Archives: science

Fluorescent Minerals Collection at University of Richmond

1573f047f9fd7dc926b63ac0263482e4

These fluorescent specimens display the variety of colors under shortwave ultraviolet light. Calcite will fluoresce red, willemite fluoresces green, while franklinite does not fluoresce. © Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums. Photograph by Katherine Wetzel.

RICHMOND, VA.- The Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, one of the University of Richmond Museums, will open the reinstallation of the permanent exhibition Fluorescent Minerals: From the Permanent Collection on January 12, 2011. This new display contains more than 300 specimens and more than 40 different mineral species from North America and beyond, and it explores the science behind these minerals’ ability to fluoresce. Highlights of the installation include numerous bright reddish-orange and green rocks of calcite and willemite from New Jersey, yellow-green hyalite opal slabs from North Carolina, and deep red rubies from India. 

A majority of these specimens originate from the famous Franklin-Sterling Hill mining district in Sussex County, New Jersey. These mines boast a world-record variety of minerals with more than 340 named species, and more than 80 fluorescent mineral types found in the area. Examples of minerals from this quarry that are featured in the collection are willemite, wollastonite, calcite, and hardystonite. 

What makes a rock fluoresce? When atoms within a mineral are exposed to ultraviolet light, they are filled with energy and become unstable. The atoms then eject this newly acquired energy and return to a more stable state. However, instead of ejecting this energy as ultraviolet light, the atoms eject it as light, or color. This light is responsible for the “glowing” colors emitted by the fluorescent minerals. 

Within the new installation, a push of a button turns on 28 new ultraviolet shortwave and longwave lamps that agitate the minerals’ internal atomic structure, causing the rocks to fluoresce brightly. Since the minerals glow differently under the two different wavelengths of ultraviolet light, the lamps run on a timed sequence that exposes the specimens first to longwave ultraviolet light, then shortwave ultraviolet light, and finally both long and shortwave light together to produce a unique and dazzling color show. 

()

via artdaily

Tagged , , ,

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse Time Lapse

When was the last time the lunar eclipse and winter solstice coincided? The U.S. Naval Observatory says 1638; Starhawk, a prominent Wiccan, puts it at 1544. Needless to say, these coinciding events are a rarity. So, in case you missed it, we have a nice time lapse video shot by William Castleman in Gainesville, Florida. Castelman also produced this fine gem: The Milky Way Over Texas.

via @6oz and Open Culture

 

Tagged , , , , ,

The Milky Way’s Halo – A Relic of Smaller Ancient Galaxies?

Vlt-mw-potw

“We still have a lot to understand.”

Masashi Chiba of Japan’s Tohoku University.

If gazing up at the Milky Way can make you feel dizzy, it could be because the outer galaxy has been discovered to be a mix of two distinct components rotating in opposite directions. The Milky Way’s main disk, home to our sun, rotates at an average speed of 500,000 mph. Surrounding the disk is what’s now called the inner halo, which orbits in the same direction at about 50,000 mph. The thinly populated region, outer halo, spins in the opposite direction at roughly 100,000 mph.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Google has a fleet of automated cars

10googlegrfxa-popup

from TechCrunch:

Google Has A Secret Fleet Of Automated Toyota Priuses; 140,000 Miles Logged So Far.

MG Siegler

Google has developed a technology for cars to drive themselves. And they haven’t done it on a computer, or in some controlled lab, they’ve been out on California roads testing this out. “Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research,” Google engineer Sebastian Thrun (the brainchild of the project who also heads the Stanford AI lab and co-invented Street View as well) writes.

Further, The New York Times, which has a bit more, says a total of seven cars have driven 1,000 miles without any human intervention (the 140,000 mile number includes occasional human control, apparently). These cars are a modified version of the Toyota Prius — and there is one Audi TT, as well.

So how does this work? The automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to locate everything around them (these are mounted on the roof). And, of course, they use Google’s own maps. But the key?

This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.

Google says it gathered the best engineers from the DARPA Challenges (an autonomous vehicle race that the government puts on) to work on this project. They also note that these cars never drive around unmanned in the interest of safety. A driver is always on hand to take over in case something goes wrong, and an engineer is always on hand in the car to monitor the software. Google also says they’ve notified local police about the project.

So has it worked? Apparently, yes. There has been one accident so far, but it was when someone else rear-ended one of these Google cars.

Google notes that 1.2 million people are killed every year in road accidents — they think they can cut this number in half with the tech. It will also cut energy consumption and save people a lot of time.

Read the article via TechCrunch

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation

Americapsych470280

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation evenstronger.

 

 

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.” ()

Continue reading:

How facts backfire

Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains

via Boston.com | hat tip aldaily.com

 

Tagged , , ,

The Cosmic Serpent

 

Jeremy Narby – The Cosmic Serpent, DNA, Knowledge & Intelligence in Nature

Brought to you by Red Ice Creations

and DNA

We have anthropologist and author Jeremy Narby with us today from Switzerland who back in 1999 released the book “The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge”, in 2006 “Intelligence in Nature” was released and he talks with us about his research and anthropological work in the Peruvian Amazon, living next to the Quirishari and studying the source of their knowledge about plants. We talk about DNA, the roots of knowledge, intelligence in nature, communication with the entities beyond this world from deep within, experiences on Ayahuascha, difference in cultures and more. Topics Discussed: Ayaschanica People, Ayahuasca, Quirishari, Carlos Perez Shuman, Visionary Journeys, Anthopology, Visions, Art of Scientific Investigation, Computer, Origins of Knowledge, Francis Crick, LSD, Double Helix Structure, The Realm of Visions, Molecular intelligence, Serpent Symbolism, Coding System of Genes, Biospheric DNA Television, Ayahuasca DMT, di methyl-tryptamine, Datura, Dreamworld, Modification of Consciousness, Studying the Cosmos, Avatar, Shamanism.

Mg_4072-550x0

Art:  Amaruspirit

The Cosmic Serpent

9780874779110

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Astronaut’s Eye View: Time Lapse Videos from Space

A NASA astronaut on the Space Shuttle Endeavor brought space back down to Earth. Astronaut Don Pettit took over 85 time-lapsed videos of Earth from his stint on the International Space Station to highlight features of the changing planet.

“There is phenomenology that happens on a timescale that you can’t see in real time,” he said. “It occurred to me that making time-lapse movies on the space station would bring out things that you normally don’t observe.”

Pettit also wanted to capture what it feels like to be in space. “You feel like you’re on a frontier,” he says. “I like to define a frontier as a place where your intuition does not apply. It’s a place where the answers are not in the back of the book. As a result, a frontier is a place that’s rich in discovery.”

Space has been called a frontier before, of course — “But it’s not the final frontier.” Frontiers can be anywhere, he says, from under the lens of a microscope to the bottom of the ocean. Space “will only be the final frontier when human beings stop looking at our world and wondering what’s going on.”

Here are some of our favorite time-lapsed videos of Earth from space.

Above: Out of all his footage, Pettit says this video, encompassing a sunset, a moonrise and the northern lights, is one of his favorites. The camera took one image every 15 seconds, so this 38-second video captures about 9 and a half minutes of real time. Because the space station and its crew orbit Earth once every 90 minutes, they see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.

Video: NASA/Don Pettit

Read More

 

Pettit flew on space shuttle mission STS-126, a 16-day trip to the International Space Station that launched in November 2008. Among other things, Pettit and his co-crew members brought up an advanced life support system that converts urine into drinkable water.

Pettit got tips from scientists on the ground for when aurorae, the brilliant lights that dance on the Earth’s upper atmosphere in response to solar winds and magnetic storms, would be visible from space, so he knew which nights to set up his camera.

Video: NASA/Don Pettit

More videos 

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

The Art of Scientific Investigation

41leshsghl

Although this book was published in 1957, and does not even mention DNA or Watson and Crick, it still provides what is in my mind a very accurate picture of how scientific research is really performed. It takes some getting used to Beveridge’s style and the old examples can appear to be ancient at first, I found that in the end I could not put this book down. It offers a complete overview of all the steps involved in scientific discoveries (reason, chance, intuition and strategy) that still holds true for the 21st century. 

This is a great book for anyone starting in science and also for those who are going through a rough time when results are not coming along as smoothly as one might hope: it is a strong reminder that science really is an art!  (Renee | Link)

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,