0

A Galactic Particle Collider And An Image Of 10,000 Galaxies

fb share tweet share

I just got back from a local art fair, so it occurs to me that the Hubble is kind of like its own ready-made exhibit. I get lost in those images more than any paintings or sculptures, and space never fails to generate paradoxes and mind-boggling patterns. Today’s space news involves two such offerings: a particle collider and the best picture of the Milky Way, along with thousands of other galaxies.

While we have painstakingly created our own impressive particle colliders, the cosmos can do us one better. Five billion light years away, there’s a collision of galaxy clusters that are forming an accelerator estimated to be a million times stronger than the Large Hadron Collider. Clusters of this sort are the largest structures in the universe, and can consist of thousands of galaxies that continue piling up over billions of years as a result of collisions between smaller groupings.

0

Museum Regrows Van Gogh’s Ear

fb share tweet share

EarsLookingAtYouMost people have heard the story about Vincent van Gogh severing his ear. The tale has grown into a sort of morbid legend — some versions have him sending it to an unrequited love. According to other stories, he had a psychotic episode, or perhaps Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder. A few years ago, a couple of German historians said fellow artist and friend Paul Gauguin cut off van Gogh’s ear with a sword during a fight. Then, apparently, he brought the ear to a prostitute, who was understandably not thrilled — she didn’t accept severed ears as payment. The new theory is that van Gogh took the blame because he didn’t want to get his “friend” in trouble because he was obsessed with him, and that the two took a pact of silence, even though Gauguin skipped town the next day. Regardless of which version of events one believes, it’s hard to deny that van Gogh’s ear lives on in infamy. And now, thanks to science, I mean that literally.

1

Today Is The 60th Anniversary Of Alan Turing’s Death

fb share tweet share

turingMost people know of Alan Turing as the inventor of the Turing Test, which he devised in 1950 to test a machine’s intelligence. The Turing test is really a test of a computer’s ability to “converse” like a human — the test consisted of a human essentially instant messaging or text chatting with either another human or a machine in another room. If, during the course of that text conversation, the human believed he was chatting with a human but was actually chatting with the machine, the machine has passed the test. These days, there’s a modern iteration of the Turing Test called the Loebner Prize, which, in addition to offering a grand prize of $100,000 for a computer who can effectively trick the judges into thinking it’s human (which no one has ever won — the competition will end when this happens), it offers a prize for the most human computer and the most human human. It can be said that the test doesn’t measure intelligence as much as it measures a computer’s ability (or a programmer’s ability) to mimic human speech, typos, inanities, curse words, slang, and all. I could go on about the Turing Test forever, but on the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s death, I wanted to explore some of the other details of his life, and the controversy surrounding his death.

1

Researchers Find Evidence Of The Planet That Crashed Into Earth To Form The Moon

fb share tweet share

MoonBack in the 1970s, scientists first hypothesized that the moon was formed when another planet, now called Theia, collided with a young Earth, roughly 4.5 billion years ago. The problem with that theory, though, is that computer models indicated that the moon would then have the same composition as the other planet, but the Earth and the moon are very similar in composition. In 2012, scientists found a way to reconcile that discrepancy — if the Earth was rotating much faster than it is now, then a big chunk of Earth’s mantle broke off during the collision, slowing the Earth’s rotation down and explaining why the Earth and the moon are so similar. But now, there’s another explanation — researchers have found material from Theia in a lunar rock found by Apollo astronauts, and it turns out Theia’s composition isn’t so different from Earth’s.

0

Thwart Glassholes With This Wi-Fi Disrupting Program

fb share tweet share

banned glassThe Google Glass-capades continue. After the recent assaults on Glass wearers in San Francisco, as well as bars banning the device and people being (understandably) ticketed for wearing it while driving, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a way to remotely disable the device.

Julian Oliver, an artist born in New Zealand, now based in Berlin, creates art, holds workshops, and teaches classes that include creative hacking, augmented reality, video game development, and more. His time in Berlin has made him especially sensitive to Google’s privacy invasions, particularly regarding Streetview. He sees Glass as the latest iteration of these infringements. On his website, where he first posted about “glasshole.sh,” he quotes from the Cypherpunk Manifesto, a doctrine that the NSA has essentially wiped their asses with: “Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.”

4

Is Going To Mars A NASA Pipe Dream?

fb share tweet share

MarsBoth NASA and President Obama—at least, early on, before budget realities called for revisions—have outlined goals to get humans to the Red Planet by 2030. Whether or not that’s actually going to happen is up for debate. According to the National Research Council, the space agency’s current plan won’t get us there, and to continue to pursue this course “is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.” In other words, NASA just got busted.

Congress authorized the report, which took the NRC 18 months and cost more than $3 million dollars. One of the findings is that on its current trajectory, NASA sorely lacks the funding to make a manned Mars mission happen, even if Obama’s vision pans out. Hmm…where have we heard that before?