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Old 03-05-2012, 04:20 PM   #1041
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I'll never forget how bad I felt when they kicked big dog. I wonder what the cheetah would look like if you put it on ice or kicked it....
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Old 03-05-2012, 04:44 PM   #1042
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:22 PM   #1043
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Old 03-06-2012, 02:49 AM   #1044
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That's awesome and scary as all hell at the same time...
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Old 03-06-2012, 04:31 PM   #1045
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:18 PM   #1046
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What do you guys think about making a separate Engineering/Technology thread? It seems things of technological inovation may not always have a place in the world of science since often there isn't anything scientifically new, just new applications of existing knowledge and new designs.
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:25 PM   #1047
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What do you guys think about making a separate Engineering/Technology thread? It seems things of technological inovation may not always have a place in the world of science since often there isn't anything scientifically new, just new applications of existing knowledge and new designs.
i like this idea, since as you said in engineering you are applying current knowledge to create something and science is more searching for the unknown.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:32 AM   #1048
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:42 AM   #1049
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:04 PM   #1050
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:15 PM   #1051
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What do you guys think about making a separate Engineering/Technology thread? It seems things of technological inovation may not always have a place in the world of science since often there isn't anything scientifically new, just new applications of existing knowledge and new designs.
I don't think it makes much of a difference. The people interested in engineering/tech will be interested in science - might as well keep it in the same thread since there aren't that many of us
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:18 PM   #1052
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I don't think it makes much of a difference. The people interested in engineering/tech will be interested in science - might as well keep it in the same thread since there aren't that many of us
agreed. there isnt that much traffic in here.
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:35 PM   #1053
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Article on the Higgs Bosen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/sc...er=rss&emc=rss
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:50 AM   #1054
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Solar sails suck.

In a 2002 paper, Laser Elevator: Momentum Transfer Using an Optical Resonator (available at your local school/library, possibly electronically - J. of Spacecraft and Rockets 2002), Thomas R. Meyer et. al. talk about a neat way to get a lot more speed out of light reflection than with a regular solar sail. The basic physics are pretty simple, and it's a fun subject to think about.

When a photon hits a solar sail, it gives the sail momentum. If the photon has momentum P and bounces off a stationary sail, it looks like this:


Think of where the energy is in this system. Before it hits, the photon has energy E. After it bounces, the photon still has roughly energy E. But the sail's moving, so where did it get its kinetic energy? (Remember, energy - unlike momentum - has no direction.)

The answer lies in the word "roughly". The photon loses a tiny fraction of its energy to Doppler shifting when it's reflected, but only a tiny fraction. It is this tiny fraction that goes into pushing the sail. This is a phenomenally small amount of energy - far less than a percent of what the photon has. That is, not much of the photon's energy is being used for motion here.

This is why solar sails are so slow. It's not that light doesn't have that much energy, it's that it has so little momentum. If you set a squirrel on a solar sail and shone a laser on the underside, do you know how much power would be required to lift the squirrel? About 1.21 gigawatts.


This is awful. If we were lifting the squirrel with a motor, railgun, or electric catapult, with 1.21 gigawatts we could send it screaming upward at ridiculous speeds.

This is where Meyer and friends come in. They've point out a novel way to extract momentum from the photon: bounce it back and forth between the sail and a large mirror (on a planet or moon, perhaps).


With each bounce, the photon loses a little more energy and adds another 2P to the sail's momentum. The photon can keep this up for thousands of bounces - in their paper, Meyer et. al. found that with reasonable assumptions about available materials and a lot of precision, you could extract 1,000 times the momentum from a photon before diffraction and Dopper shifts killed you. This means you only need 1/1,000th the energy to levitate the squirrel - a mere megawatt.

This isn't too practical for interstellar travel. It requires something to push off from, and probably couldn't get you up to the necessary speeds. It may, they suggest, be useful for getting stuff to Pluto and back, since (somewhat like a space elevator) it lets you generate the power any old way you want (a ground nuclear station, solar, etc). But more importantly, it's kind of neat - it helped me realize some things about photon momentum that I hadn't quite gotten before. It's like Feynman says, physics is like sex - it may give practical results, but that's not why we do it.

Now we'll let things get sillier. I spent a while trying to brainstorm how to use this with a solar sail (that is, using the sun). I imagined mirrors catching the sun's light and letting it resonate with a sail.


But you really need lasers for this - regular light spreads out too fast. Maybe a set of lasing cavities orbiting the sun ...

Supplemented by a Dyson sphere ...

And since by this point we'll probably have found aliens ...

Why settle for interstellar communication when you can have interstellar war? And we could modulate the beam to carry a message - in this case, "**** YOU GUYS!"
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:37 AM   #1055
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good note to end on.
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:42 AM   #1056
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I love the brain, and this is extremely cool. Once we can model memories in a computer we're that much closer to manipulating our own brains.

http://newswise.com/articles/scienti...y-code-cracked
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Newswise - TUCSON, Ariz. -- Despite a century of research, memory encoding in the brain has remained mysterious. Neuronal synaptic connection strengths are involved, but synaptic components are short-lived while memories last lifetimes. This suggests synaptic information is encoded and hard-wired at a deeper, finer-grained molecular scale.

In an article in the March 8 issue of the journal PLoS Computational Biology, physicists Travis Craddock and Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona demonstrate a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons.

Microtubules are cylindrical hexagonal lattice polymers of the protein tubulin, comprising 15 percent of total brain protein. Microtubules define neuronal architecture, regulate synapses, and are suggested to process information via interactive bit-like states of tubulin. But any semblance of a common code connecting microtubules to synaptic activity has been missing. Until now.

The standard experimental model for neuronal memory is long term potentiation (LTP) in which brief pre-synaptic excitation results in prolonged post-synaptic sensitivity. An essential player in LTP is the hexagonal enzyme calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). Upon pre-synaptic excitation, calcium ions entering post-synaptic neurons cause the snowflake-shaped CaMKII to transform, extending sets of 6 leg-like kinase domains above and below a central domain, the activated CaMKII resembling a double-sided insect. Each kinase domain can phosphorylate a substrate, and thus encode one bit of synaptic information. Ordered arrays of bits are termed bytes, and 6 kinase domains on one side of each CaMKII can thus phosphorylate and encode calcium-mediated synaptic inputs as 6-bit bytes. But where is the intra-neuronal substrate for memory encoding by CaMKII phosphorylation? Enter microtubules.

Using molecular modeling, Craddock et al reveal a perfect match among spatial dimensions, geometry and electrostatic binding of the insect-like CaMKII, and hexagonal lattices of tubulin proteins in microtubules. They show how CaMKII kinase domains can collectively bind and phosphorylate 6-bit bytes, resulting in hexagonally-based patterns of phosphorylated tubulins in microtubules (Figure). Craddock et al calculate enormous information capacity at low energy cost, demonstrate microtubule-associated protein logic gates, and show how patterns of phosphorylated tubulins in microtubules can control neuronal functions by triggering axonal firings, regulating synapses, and traversing scale.

Microtubules and CaMKII are ubiquitous in eukaryotic biology, extremely rich in brain neurons, and capable of connecting membrane and cytoskeletal levels of information processing. Decoding and stimulating microtubules could enable therapeutic intervention in a host of pathological processes, for example Alzheimer's disease in which microtubule disruption plays a key role, and brain injury in which microtubule activities can repair neurons and synapses.

Hameroff, senior author on the study, said: "Many neuroscience papers conclude by claiming their findings may help understand how the brain works, and treat Alzheimer's, brain injury and various neurological and psychiatric disorders. This study may actually do that. We may have a glimpse of the brain's biomolecular code for memory."
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:49 AM   #1057
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I love this thread.
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:57 PM   #1058
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agreed. there isnt that much traffic in here.
39k views is not too shabby.

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I love the brain, and this is extremely cool. Once we can model memories in a computer we're that much closer to manipulating our own brains.
Ordinary soldiers have sometimes shown a battlefield sixth sense that has saved lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the U.S. military wants to better understand that "spidey sense" and train troops to tap their inner superhero instincts.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research pointed to sixth sense research about how "humans can detect and act on unique patterns without consciously and intentionally analyzing them," according to a special notice posted on Feb. 29. It hopes to encourage such intuition in the brains of new soldiers, Marines and other troops with little or no battlefield experience.

Having intuition allows for split-second detection of patterns in the midst of uncertain scenarios a possibly life-saving action in the face of an ambush or area rigged with roadside bombs.

But intuition stands apart from step-by-step, time-consuming analytical thinking because it happens both rapidly and subconsciously. A soldier may see, smell or hear something that gets subconsciously organized within hundreds of milliseconds to create the "feeling or impression of a solution" leading up to a sudden insight about the battlefield situation.

The U.S. military also pointed to studies suggesting a sixth sense can arise from "implicit learning" absorbing information without being aware of the learning process rather than building up expertise through years of practice. Ordinary examples of implicit learning include bike riding, learning new languages or developing intuition about how other people may act.

First, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) plans to measure the workings of both intuition and implicit learning. Next, it would create a working model of such thinking that could also reflect individual soldiers' differences, adapt to new situations, and account for the influence of battlefield stress or fatigue.

In the end, virtual battlefield simulations could help train soldiers' intuitions as well as collect information about their performance, ONR explained in its special notice. The U.S. military already uses game-like simulators to prepare soldiers for battlefield scenarios or even to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

http://www.livescience.com/18850-mil...intuition.html
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:09 PM   #1059
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There are theories floating around out there that look at the brain as a receiver/decoder in a field of waves of varying frequencies (Frank Wilczek actually has a theory of everything that makes use of 'the grid' as he calls it) and in certain situations it is able to "tune in" to things that we're are normally aware of. It's really interesting to look at the brain from a passive perspective like that instead of the active role we see it playing.

But enough of the metaphysical....
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:32 AM   #1060
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I've been talking with a friend at work who has had a theory about how gravity works, but no physicists to talk to about it. I'm not very knowledgable on the matter, but maybe someone here can shed some light on it. I'm just regurgitating what he told me...

Basically, he believes that gravity is the result of massive objects interacting with a neutrino field. That since neutrinos repel themselves and are traveling at the speed of light, they've formed sort of channels where they ride parallel to each other in three dimensions... sort of like a grid. And since they're going the speed of light, it's analogous to an electron orbiting a nucleus - even though the electron is theoretically a point and there is 99.999% free space, its going so fast that it appears to be a solid 'fuzz', or in this case a uniform density neutrino field. When something like a planet travels through the field and the neutrinos (some, not all?) change their course, the repulsive force used to change direction is imparting an equal and opposite force on the object, which would be gravity. This isn't far off the illustration I saw in a string theory where planets were sitting in gravity 'wells', although that sort of contradicts itself.

He had a whole diagram and explanation with how it can compare exactly to the law of gravitation, which involves the inverse square of the distance between them. Totally blew my mind, but I couldn't prove it right or wrong. Any input?
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