Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose..............J.B.S. Haldane
Quantum Mechanics is not only stranger than you imagine, but stranger than you can imagine ............(a version attributed to Richard Feynman)
Neutron Stars: Astro FOTD
Fun Fact: The mass of a neutron star is about 20% less than the mass of the neutrons and other nucleons that compose it.
In an earlier comment, William Connolley wrote that he thought the US was "wealthist but not racist." I want to assure him that he is quite wrong. The history of racism in the US started with slavery but continued with Jim Crow. The cardinal principle of Jim Crow was denying blacks the right to vote. This policy was ensured by law and violence, with widespread lynching being the go to sanction. The passage of the voting rights act during the 1960's was the first solid hole in this policy, and it turned the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. Ever since, the Republican Party has depended on racist support for it core voters. The scumbags of the Republican Supreme court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and ever since the Republican Party has made a career of suppressing the black vote. Techniques today are a bit more subtle than in the hay day of the KKK - burdensome voter registration rules, placing voting sites far from predominantly Black neighborho
Alexander at 30 something grieved that there were no more world's to conquer. Robbert Dijkgraaf writing in Quanta, asks whether physics has reached that sad state. While he concludes in the negative, his denial sounds more like "hey, we can still add a few decimal points here and there." Lubos Motl and Peter Woit both have commentaries up today, and Lubos is predictably outraged at his one time coauthor, and Peter is more measured. The Universe still has some puzzles for us of course, but it is not clear that their understanding will have the same kinds of revolutionary import that the discoveries of Newton, Maxwell, Einstein and the quantum theorists have had. In particular, the Cosmos is starting to feel a bit cramped. Of course it is indeed large beyond our imaginings, but there don't seem to be dragons out there, or at least not dragons that we don't already know about. Black holes, quasars, gamma ray bursters all seem to fit pretty neatly under known la
One of the more fascinating and creepy events in biology over the past twelve years has been the development of cerebral organoids, sometimes called mini-brains, in a petri dish. Biologists have learned how to transform regular cells, for example skin cells, into pluripotent stem cells and in turn transform these into neural stem cells and grow them in vitro. These clumps of grey matter spontaneously organize themselves into something like mini-brains, developing axons and dendrites, developing neural connections, and sending each other electrical neural signals. These organoids clearly have the potential to teach a lot about brain development, brain function, and brain disease. They also pose deep ethical questions. Nobody thinks that these organoids are conscious - yet - but the potential is there. Experimenters are already plotting to make them more brain like by providing them with blood supplies and sensory inputs. Quanta takes a look at the nascent ethical concerns: