Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for January 25th, 2012

The Pirate Bay filesharing site offers 3D objects

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

“This shows a 3d print of a mathematical sculpture I produced using shapeways.com. This model is available at http://shpws.me/3gur
The MakerBot Replicator is the kind of personal 3D printer that could help with the Pirate Bay’s plans Image: MakerBot IndustriesThe Pirate Bay, one of the internet’s most well-known sites for downloading copyrighted material such as music, films and ebooks, has launched a new category of digital downloads: physical objects.Writing on the site’s blog, a Pirate Bayer calling himself WinstonQ2038 explained the thinking behind the new category: “We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able and feasible to become physical.”You’ll need a 3D printer to take advantage of the files on offer, meaning it is not quite as simple as downloading an MP3, but the move opens up the possibility of intellectual property infringement for physical objects.Other sites for sharing 3D printer files already exist. For example, Shapeways, where last year one user received a cease-and-desist order from movie studio Paramount after creating a 3D replica of a prop from the film Super 8, causing him to take the file down. The Pirate Bay works differently, offering Bittorrent links for users to download files rather than hosting them directly, making it more resilient to legal attempts to shut it down.Objects currently listed in the Physibles category include a 3D version of the Pirate Bay logo, a toy race car and a model robot. The latter two are potentially infringing versions of existing designs, but WinstonQ2038 claims the site has more egalitarian aims: “The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people.”We’ll have to wait and see – 3D printed food is currently limited to the likes of chocolate – but if this takes off, we could expect the physical equivalent of the digital rights management DRM techniques used by media companies to protect MP3s and other media files. Bank notes are already printed with a special design that scanners won’t copy – perhaps all objects will have to be similarly marked in the future.

via One Per Cent: The Pirate Bay filesharing site offers 3D objects.

“Accused of being fake, witchcraft and simply impossible.. This kinetic sculpture is inspired by the unlimited freedom of 3d printing, it wobbles and turns with a slight movement of the hand. Now give it a good spin or puff of air and it erupts in erratic and wild behavior. This is the 5cm / 2″ version, see the Gyro the Forms section for other shapes and sizes. Corner stand available.separately.”

“This is a full scale motorcycle printed on a 3D printer from Inventor”

I don’t think you can download the plans to print your own motorcycle yet… but in time…

Posted in - Video, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Can this largest solar storm since 2005 make people more emotional?

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

We’ve been getting hit by the sun according to the Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Washington Post:

The largest solar storm since 2005, which hit Earth over the weekend and caused northern lights called auroras, peaked Tuesday after the Sun released a solar flare of radiation and plasma. As Brian Vastag reported: Fast on the heels of a solar storm that delivered a glancing blow over the weekend — triggering bright auroras in Canada and Scandinavia — the sun released an even more energetic blast of radiation and charged plasma overnight that could disrupt GPS signals and the electrical grid Tuesday, especially at high latitudes, space weather experts warned Monday. Already, the storm could be affecting satellite communications as streams of radiation from the sun bounce across the Earth’s magnetic field, which extends above the surface into space.

I found a number of claims about solar storms changing people’s moods:

“Recently we are experiencing an intensive amount of solar activity on the Sun which is affecting both the Earth and Humans.” – www.carliniinstitute.com

“Solar flares affect, the Central Nervous System(stomach lining), all brain activity (including equilibrium), along with human behavior and all psycho-physiological (mental-emotional-physical) response. Solar flares can cause us to be, nervous, anxiousness, worrisome, jittery, dizzy, shaky, irritable, lethargic, exhausted, have short term memory problems and heart palpitations, feel nauseous, queasy, have prolonged head pressure and headaches” – www.bibliotecapleyades.net

Most importantly, the solar flares affect the emotions. With these surges of energy and information coming from the sun, it is increasingly difficult for people to control the emotions by ‘talking ourselves down’. Managing the emotions is now something we must be aware of every day – especially anger. Our old tricks to avoid or suppress our anger will no longer work. Now, anger must become fuel for transformation. – catalystyogi.com

In searching for goodevidence, I found the following: More suicides and hospital deaths correlated with space proton flux, cosmic rays connected with traffic accidents, and less melatonin during solar flux that significantly changes geomagnetic activity… but melatonin doesn’t seem to change people’s moods much .

  1. (1) Monthly suicide rate was correlated with space proton flux (r=0.42,P=0.0001) and with geomagnetic activity (r=–0.22,P=0.03). (2) Total hospital and MI-related deaths were correlated with solar activity parameters (r=0.35,P<0.001) – springerlink
  2. Environmental physical activity (EPA) is considered as one of main regulators of human homeostasis. Evidence is growing that components of this activity through the “human factor” (i.e., changing human physiological and psychological status) can affect the dynamics of traffic accidents (TA)—the modern life epidemic. This paper presents results of studies conducted in order to reveal the potential influence of EPA [solar (SA), geomagnetic (GMA) and cosmic ray (CRA) activities] on the number of TA and related casualties in the years of the maximum and declining phase of SA cycle 23 (2000–2005). We selected the 7,160 most severe TA and their related 7,558 deaths and 1,647 severe injuries, registered in the Grand Baku Area (Azerbaijan, middle latitudes), for analysis. A significant increase of TA and victims was observed during the whole year and also during the last months of the year. The monthly numbers of TA and victims were inversely related to SA (probability p = 0.0002), and non-significantly to background GMA, but were significantly affected by major geomagnetic disturbances and storms. A strong correlation between CRA variations (cosmic ray intensity measured by ground-based neutron monitors on the Earth’s surface) and the number of TA (p = 0.001) has been observed. It was found that the number of TA which occur within a month depends significantly on the particular month of the year, the CRA, and the SA levels (inverse correlation). The increase of the number of TA is also significantly linked to geomagnetic storms, but not to steady GMA. These effects can be related to changes in human functional and behavioral markers provoked by EPA influences. – link
  3. Factors other than light may affect variations in melatonin, including disturbances in the geomagnetic field. Such a possibility was tested in Alta, Norway, located at latitude 70° N, where the aurora borealis is a result of large changes in the horizontal component (H) of the geomagnetic field. … A 3-hour mean value for the local geomagnetic activity index, K, was used for approximately the same 24-hour span. A circadian rhythm was found to characterize both melatonin and K, the peak in K (23:24) preceding that of melatonin (06:08). During the span of investigation, a circannual variation also characterized both variables. Correlation analyses suggest that changes in geomagnetic activity had to be of a certain magnitude to affect the circadian amplitude of melatonin. If large enough (> 80 nT/3 h), changes in geomagnetic activity also significantly decreased salivary melatonin concentration. – link.

  4. The function of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland primarily at night, has not been definitively established in humans. To determine if pharmacologic doses of melatonin had any behavioral effects it was administered acutely to 14 healthy men. Their mood, performance, memory and visual sensitivity were assessed. Plasma melatonin concentration was assayed as well. Melatonin significantly decreased self-reported alertness and increased sleepiness as measured by the Profile of Mood States and the Stanford Sleepiness Scale self-report mood questionnaires. The effects were brief. Melatonin also affected performance, slowing choice-reaction time but concurrently decreasing errors of commission. Sustained fine motor performance was not impaired after melatonin administration nor were the tests of memory and visual sensitivity that were administered. It is concluded that melatonin, administered orally in pharmacological quantities, has significant but short acting sedative-like properties. – link


Posted in Mind, Space | Leave a Comment »

Russian Scientist: Life Spotted on Venus

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

VenusAn article published in the Solar System Research magazine reported Several objects resembling living beings were detected on photos made by a Russian landing probe in 1982 during a Venus mission.

Leonid Ksanfomaliti of the Space Research Institute of Russia’s Academy of Sciences published research that analyzed the photos from the Venus mission made by a Soviet landing probe, Venus-13, in 1982.

The photos feature several objects, which Ksanfomaliti said, resembled “a disk,” “a black flap” and “a scorpion.” All of them “emerge, fluctuate and disappear,” the scientist said, referring to their changing location on different photos and traces on the ground.

“What if we forget about the current theories about the nonexistence of life on Venus, let’s boldly suggest that the objects’ morphological features would allow us to say that they are living,” Solar System Research quoted Ksanfomaliti as saying.

No data proving the existence of life on Venus, where the ground temperature is 464 degrees Celsius (867 degrees Fahrenheit), has ever been found.

via Life Spotted on Venus – Russian Scientist | Science | RIA Novosti.

Posted in Aliens | 1 Comment »

New mathematical study: our Galaxy should have been colonized by now

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

A recent article in the Economist alerted me to a recent paper by Thomas Hair and Andrew Hedman that profoundly reaffirms the conundrum that is the Fermi Paradox, an observational problem that is sometimes referred to as the Great Silence.

What’s fascinating about the Hair and Hedman paper is that they are not cosmologists or astrobiologists, but rather mathematicians—and it is through the lens of number-cruching that they sought an answer to the question of how long it would take a civilization to colonize its local region given a specific set of parameters. And their findings are disturbing: No matter how they reworked the numbers, they came to the same conclusion: the Galaxy should be colonized by now:

To arrive at their conclusion Dr Hair and Mr Hedman assumed that outer space is dotted with solar systems, about five light years apart. They then asked how quickly a single civilisation armed with the requisite technology would spread its tentacles, depending on the degree of colonising zeal, expressed as the probability that intelligent beings decide to hop from one planet to the next in 1,000 years (500 years for the trip, at a modest one-tenth of the speed of light, and another 500 years to prepare for the next hop).

All these numbers are necessarily moot. If the vast majority of planets is not suitable, for instance, the average distance for a successful expedition might be much more than five light years. And advanced beings might not need five Earth centuries to get up to speed before they redeploy. However, Dr Hair and Mr Hedman can tweak their probabilities to reflect a range of possible conditions. Using what they believe to be conservative assumptions (as low as one chance in four of embarking on a colonising mission in 1,000 years), they calculated that any galactic empire would have spread outwards from its home planet at about 0.25% of the speed of light. The result is that after 50m years it would extend over 130,000 light years, with zealous colonisers moving in a relatively uniform cloud and more reticent ones protruding from a central blob. Since the Milky Way is estimated to be 100,000-120,000 light years across, outposts would be sprinkled throughout the galaxy, even if the home planet were, like Earth, located on the periphery.

Crucially, even in slow-expansion scenario, the protrusions eventually coalesce. After 250,000 years, which the model has so far had the time to simulate, the biggest gaps are no larger than 30 light years across. Dr Hair thinks they should grow no bigger as his virtual colonisation progresses. That is easily small enough for man’s first sufficiently powerful radio transmissions (in the early 20th century) to have been detected and for a reply to have reached Earth (which has been actively listening out for such messages since the 1960s). And though 50m years may sound a lot, if intelligent life did evolve more than once, it could easily have done so billions of years before this happened on Earth. All this suggests, Dr Hair and Mr Hedman fear, that humans really do have the Milky Way to themselves. Either that or the neighbours are a particularly timid bunch.

So, the next time somebody smugly shrugs off the Fermi Pardox by suggesting that “it takes too long to colonize the Galaxy” or that “there hasn’t been enough time,” or that “the Galaxy is too big,” tell them to shut-up and read this paper.

via Sentient Developments: New mathematical study reveals that our Galaxy should have been colonized by now.

Or Gene really did know something and you can blame the Prime Directive.

In the universe of Star Trek, the Prime Directive, Starfleet‘s General Order #1, is the most prominent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets. The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations. It has special implications, however, for civilizations that have not yet developed the technology for interstellar spaceflight (“pre-warp”), since no primitive culture can be given or exposed to any information regarding advanced technology or the existence of extraplanetary civilizations, lest this exposure alter the natural development of the civilization.

- wikipedia


Posted in Aliens, Space | 1 Comment »

A $30 Nickel and a Short History of Hollow Spy Coins

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

During the Cold War, Spies from both the East and West used Hollow Coins to ferry secret messages, suicide poisons, and microfilms undetected.

On May 1st, 1960 U2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union and taken captive. In his possession was a hollow silver dollar containing a poisoned needle that was to be used to take his own life in such a circumstance. For one reason or another, he did not use it and was held for 21 months by the Soviets.

He was then exchanged for Soviet spy KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel) at the Glienicke Bridge, in Berlin, Germany.

Colonel Fisher was also no stranger to hollow coins…his original capture by the United States FBI was directly related to a hollow nickel that was used to transport microfilm. Read about the Hollow Nickel Case on the USA FBI Website. Just click on the green FBI button below.

On the “List of Products” page is a complete list of our fully functional hollow spy coins. They are all precision machined from actual coins, and are absolutely indistinguishable from a solid coin to the naked eye.

They can be safely handled without danger of separation, and could easily circulate without detection.

These products are proudly made in The USA.

Although the technology of the hollow coin is not new, the data media is. Four of our coins are specially machined to secure the MicroSD Memory Card, which has capacities of several gigabytes.

To place your order click on “List of our Products”.

via http://spy-coins.com/

Posted in Technology | Leave a Comment »

What causes the Black Drop Effect?

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

http://www.sas.org.au/astrophotography/renato/blackdrop.jpgThe black drop effect is the apparent smearing of the edge of Venus against the edge of the sun during a transit of Venus. The ligament joining the two objects makes it harder to time the exact second when the edges appear to make contact, thus diminishing the value of using a transit of Venus to measure the size of the solar system as Edmond Halley and others had proposed. While there have been many proposed theories over the years, the true cause of the effect was revealed during a transit of Mercury, which was observed by the TRACE spacecraft. The cause of the black drop effect is limb darkening and point-spread function. Astronomer Jay Pasachoff explains:

Glenn Schneider and I worked out the cause of the black-drop effect using spacecraft observations of the 1999 transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun. Given that our telescope was in space (NASA’s Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, known as TRACE) and that Mercury has no atmosphere, the fact that we detected a black-effect meant that an atmosphere was not necessary to cause it.

Our analysis showed that the black-drop effect for Mercury (and, by extension, for Venus, whose atmosphere is too thin in the physical “up” dimension to cause the effect that lasts about a minute after second contact and before third contact) was caused by two effects conjoined. First, each optical system has an inherent blurriness, and the early telescope used for the transits of 1761 and 1769 were blurrier than today’s telescopes, even amateur ones. (Technically, that blurriness is known as the “point-spread function”; that simply means how much an image of a point is spread out.)

Second, the Sun is a ball of gas, without a solid edge. So why does the Sun look as though it has a sharp edge? Actually, any gas (think of a foggy day) has a certain “opacity,” the percentage (actually an inverse factor of the fundamental number e) by which light is dimmed. At opacity 1, the light is dimmed by 1/e, approximately 1/3; at opacity 2, the light is dimmed by 1/e squared, or approximately 8; at opacity 3, the light is dimmed by 1/3 cubed, or approximately 20, with very little light getting through (only 5%). The angle over which the Sun’s gas is transparent to opaque is less than the angle that the eye can resolve (about 1 arc minute). Further, at the extreme edge of the Sun, we are looking through the solar gas at a great angle. Since the opacity totals up at a slant, we reach high opacity at a relatively high level in the solar atmosphere, Since the sun gets cooler as you go outward, that higher level is cooler, and therefore darker.

So now we know that at the extreme edge–and it turns out to be in that last little angle over which we see the black-drop effect–the Sun’s gas is relatively dark. Combined with the inherent blurriness of the telescope, that darkness seems to extend from Venus’s dark silhouette out to past the solar edge. And that is what we call the black-drop effect.

Jay M. Pasachoff

Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy

Williams College

Williamstown, MA 01267

via What causes the Black Drop Effect?.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

The False Memory Archive: Remembering things that never happened

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

Despite knowing better, many of us cling to the notion that memory is a reliable record and trawling through it can be similar to flipping through an old photo album. But what about the memories – sometimes vivid in nature – of things that never were?

Examining the false stories that we can create for ourselves is the aim of a new initiative led by artist Alasdair Hopwood. As part of a residency at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit led by Chris French at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Hopwood aims to explore what false memories reveal about our sense of identity.

To do this, he has created the False Memory Archive, a collection of people’s fabricated recollections either jotted down after talks he has given or submitted online at the project’s website. At a discussion of the project at Goldsmiths this week, Hopwood recounted how he had hoped to get 50 submissions over the course of his year-long residency funded by the Wellcome Trust. A very low estimate, he soon learned: “We got 70 in the first week.”

Our appetite for understanding and improving memory is tremendous, and French is hopeful that the false memory project will raise awareness about the intricacies of remembering. “People have so many misconceptions about the way memory works,” he says. In part, that’s because memories are so infrequently challenged. The few times they are, he says, are in the courts, after anomalous claims – like seeing aliens or the Lochness monster – or, he adds with a wry smile, in romantic relationships. …

Hopwood has already been intrigued by the detailed and often bizarre recollections pouring in, but he isn’t yet sure what will come of this project – whether the false memories should be left to speak for themselves, or if they will inspire works of visual art or a combination of both. “I don’t want to make a work that is overtly illustrative,” he says.

An accomplished satirist, whatever Hopwood makes of these misleading memories, the results should certainly be hard to forget.

To add your own false memories, go to falsememoryarchive.com.

via CultureLab: Remembering things that never happened.

The photo above is from the following:

Boundary extension is a phenomenon we’ve discussed a lot on Cognitive Daily. It’s typically described as a memory error: We remember scenes as having bigger boundaries than what we originally saw. Take a look at these two pictures of Jim:If you only saw picture A by itself, then later you’d remember seeing a picture that looks more like picture B. If you look at them side-by-side, it’s easy to see that picture A is cropped closer than picture B, but if you see the pictures separately, then it’s likely you’ll misremember the first picture has having broader boundaries than it really has. That’s boundary extension.

via ScienceBlogs

Posted in Mind | Leave a Comment »

Telescope to be built in depths of Mediterranean sea

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

The £210 million deep sea observatory will detect elusive particles known as neutrinos as they bombard the Earth from outer space.

Usually these high-energy particles pass straight through our planet unnoticed, but scientists hope that the new telescope will allow them to pick up traces the particles leave and use them to view the universe in an entirely new way.

The EU funded project, which has just been selected as a key priority in a review of European astrophysics infrastructure, promises to reveal new details about some of the most powerful events in our universe, including supernova and even the Big Bang.

The telescope, known as the Multi-Cubic Kilometre Neutrino Telescope or KM3NeT, is also expected to reveal entirely new phenomena that still remain undiscovered as they are undetectable using conventional methods for viewing the sky.

“It is really going to open a new window on our universe,” said Dr Lee Thompson, a reader in neutrino physics at the University of Sheffield who is working on the KM3NeT project.

“Much of what we know about the universe to date has been gleaned from looking at different frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum such as visible light and X-rays.

“Using neutrinos to probe the universe is a completely new and fresh idea, so it is going to give us an entirely new perspective. …

“There are objects out there that we know are emitting neutrinos but there could be things out there that cannot be seen with the telescopes we currently use.”

A small prototype of the KM3NeT telescope is already operational off the south coast of France and it is hoped work on a larger prototype will begin within the next three years.

via Telescope to be built in depths of Mediterranean sea – Telegraph.

Posted in Physics, Space | Leave a Comment »

Scientists discover new clue to the chemical origins of life

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

Organic chemists at the University of York have made a significant advance towards establishing the origin of the carbohydrates (sugars) that form the building blocks of life.

A team led by Dr Paul Clarke in the Department of Chemistry at York have re-created a process which could have occurred in the prebiotic world.

Working with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, they have made the first step towards showing how simple sugars –threose and erythrose—developed. The research is published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.

All biological molecules have an ability to exist as left-handed forms or right-handed forms. All sugars in biology are made up of the right-handed form of molecules and yet all the amino acids that make up the peptides and proteins are made up of the left-handed form.

The researchers found using simple left-handed amino acids to catalyse the formation of sugars resulted in the production of predominately right-handed form of sugars. It could explain how carbohydrates originated and why the right-handed form dominates in nature.

Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living — everything up to that point is chemistry.

“We are trying to understand the chemical origins of life. One of the interesting questions is where carbohydrates come from because they are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. What we have achieved is the first step on that pathway to show how simple sugars –threose and erythrose—originated. We generated these sugars from a very simple set of materials that most scientists believe were around at the time that life began.”

via Scientists discover new clue to the chemical origins of life.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

Rice lab mimics Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids inside a single atom

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2012

Rice University physicists have gone to extremes to prove that Isaac Newton’s classical laws of motion can apply in the atomic world: They’ve built an accurate model of part of the solar system inside a single atom of potassium.

In a new paper published this week in Physical Review Letters, Rice’s team and collaborators at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Vienna University of Technology showed they could cause an electron in an atom to orbit the nucleus in precisely the same way that Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids orbit the sun.

The findings uphold a prediction made in 1920 by famed Danish physicist Niels Bohr about the relationship between the then-new science of quantum mechanics and Newton’s tried-and-true laws of motion.

“Bohr predicted that quantum mechanical descriptions of the physical world would, for systems of sufficient size, match the classical descriptions provided by Newtonian mechanics,” said lead researcher Barry Dunning, Rice’s Sam and Helen Worden Professor of Physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Bohr also described the conditions under which this correspondence could be observed. In particular, he said it should be seen in atoms with very high principal quantum numbers, which are exactly what we study in our laboratory.”

… They succeeded by applying a radio frequency field that rotated around the nucleus itself. This field ensnared the localized electron and forced it to rotate in lockstep around the nucleus.

A further electric field pulse was used to measure the final result by taking a snapshot of the wave packet and destroying the delicate Rydberg atom in the process. After the experiment had been run tens of thousands of times, all the snapshots were combined to show that Bohr’s prediction was correct: The classical and quantum descriptions of the orbiting electron wave packets matched. In fact, the classical description of the wave packet trapped by the rotating field parallels the classical physics that explains the behavior of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.

Jupiter’s 4,000-plus Trojan asteroids — so called because each is named for a hero of the Trojan wars — have the same orbit as Jupiter and are contained in comma-shaped clouds that look remarkably similar to the localized wave packets created in the Rice experiments. And just as the wave packet in the atom is trapped by the combined electric field from the nucleus and the rotating wave, the Trojans are trapped by the combined gravitational field of the sun and orbiting Jupiter. …

via Rice University | News & Media.

Posted in Physics | 1 Comment »


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