Feb 26, 2017

Esoterica

ringoffire


'Ring Of Fire' Eclipse Set To Blaze In Southern Skies

If you're in the southern hemisphere and you happen to look up Sunday morning — or, for everyone else, if you happen to have Internet access — you may have the chance to see an annular solar eclipse. Unlike a total solar eclipse, this one will leave just a sliver of sunlight shining at the rim of the moon's shadow as passes between Earth and the sun.

The effect is a bit like an inept hide-and-seeker standing behind a bush he's just a little too big for — or, to adopt a simile closer to Johnny Cash's heart, like a burning "ring of fire." Though the moon may slide in front of the sun, the moon will be a little too far from Earth — and thus, from our vantage point, too small — to conceal the sun entirely.

The event will be visible above "parts of the Southern Hemisphere, including Chile, Argentina and Angola," NASA says.



NASA Just Found A Solar System With 7 Earth-Like Planets

Today, scientists working with telescopes at the European Southern Observatory and NASA announced a remarkable new discovery: An entire system of Earth-sized planets. If that’s not enough, the team asserts that the density measurements of the planets indicates that the six innermost are Earth-like rocky worlds.

And that’s just the beginning.

Three of the planets lie in the star’s habitable zone. If you aren’t familiar with the term, the habitable zone (also known as the “goldilocks zone”) is the region surrounding a star in which liquid water could theoretically exist. This means that all three of these alien worlds may have entire oceans of water, dramatically increasing the possibility of life. The other planets are less likely to host oceans of water, but the team states that liquid water is still a possibility on each of these worlds.

. . .

The system is just 40 light-years away. On a cosmic scale, that’s right next door. Of course, practically speaking, it would still take us hundreds of millions of years to get there with today’s technology – but again, it is notable in that the find speaks volumes about the potential for life-as-we-know-it beyond Earth.

Scientists Are About to Switch on a Telescope That Could Photograph a Black Hole's Event Horizon

Black holes are among the most fascinating objects in the known Universe. But despite the fact that they're suspected to lurk at the centre of most galaxies, the reality is that no one has ever been able to actually photograph one.

That's because black holes, as their name implies, are very, very dark. They're so massive that they irreversibly consume everything that crosses their event horizon, including light, making them impossible to photograph. But that could be about to change, when a new telescope network switches on in April this year.

Called the Event Horizon Telescope, the new device is made up of a network of radio receivers located across the planet, including at the South Pole, in the US, Chile, and the French alps.

The network will be switched on between 5 and 14 April, and the results will put Einstein's theory of general relativity through its paces like never before.

This Town Adopted Trauma-Informed Care—And Saw a Decrease in Crime and Suspension Rates

At Lincoln, students and teachers mingled in a natural way, unlike traditional school settings, where student cliques often dominate campus. Even in cold weather, principal Sporleder stood bundled up at the school’s entrance greeting students with a high-five and a smile. “I’m happy that you’re here,” he said as students rushed past him.

But the relationship between students and staff at Lincoln wasn’t always so symbiotic. When Sporleder first arrived at the school in April 2007, he said, about five or six gangs roamed the halls and an intern with little administrative experience was running the school. The building was in a constant state of chaos. Students freely hurled profanities. So Sporleder took a hard line by handing out automatic three-day out-of-school suspensions for every “f--- you.”

Then, in the spring of 2010, he attended a workshop in Spokane, Washington, on the impacts of stressful childhood experiences. Keynote speaker John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, explained how toxic stress overfills the brain with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Sporleder suddenly understood that his students’ behavior wasn’t completely in their control; their brains were affected by toxic stress. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning that my discipline was punitive and it was not teaching kids,” he said. He hunted for curriculum to bring this understanding into the classroom, but found none. So he set out on a mission to bring trauma-informed care to his students.

Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish?

Europeans didn’t return to Greenland until the early 18th century. When they did, they found the ruins of the Viking settlements but no trace of the inhabitants. The fate of Greenland’s Vikings—who never numbered more than 2,500—has intrigued and confounded generations of archaeologists.

Those tough seafaring warriors came to one of the world’s most formidable environments and made it their home. And they didn’t just get by: They built manor houses and hundreds of farms; they imported stained glass; they raised sheep, goats and cattle; they traded furs, walrus-tusk ivory, live polar bears and other exotic arctic goods with Europe. “These guys were really out on the frontier,” says Andrew Dugmore, a geographer at the University of Edinburgh. “They’re not just there for a few years. They’re there for generations—for centuries.”

So what happened to them?

New Dead Sea Scrolls cave discovered

Excavations on the storied Judean cliffside revealed a new Dead Sea Scrolls cave, full of scroll storage jars and other antiquities, the first such discovery in over 60 years.

The discovery upends a decades-old theory in the archaeological community that Dead Sea Scrolls were only found in certain caves at the Qumran cliffs, which are managed by Israel in the West Bank.

"Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea Scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave," said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, one of the project's lead archaeologists.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

In a new book, “The Enigma of Reason” (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber take a stab at answering this question. Mercier, who works at a French research institute in Lyon, and Sperber, now based at the Central European University, in Budapest, point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context.

Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

“Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves,” Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective.

Automation Nightmare: Philosopher Warns We Are Creating a World Without Consciousness

Recently, a conference on artificial intelligence, tantalizingly titled “Superintelligence: Science or Fiction?”, was hosted by the Future of Life Institute, which works to promote “optimistic visions of the future”.

. . .

A worry for Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is creating a world devoid of consciousness. He sees the discussion of future superintelligences often presume that eventually AIs will become conscious. But what if that kind of sci-fi possibility that we will create completely artificial humans is not going to come to fruition? Instead, we could be creating a world endowed with artificial intelligence but not actual consciousness.

. . .

Chalmers is known for his work on the philosophy of mind and has delved particularly into the nature of consciousness. He famously formulated the idea of a “hard problem of consciousness” which he describes in his 1995 paper “Facing up to the problem of consciousness” as the question of ”why does the feeling which accompanies awareness of sensory information exist at all?"

Introducing Open Access at The Met

As of today, all images of public-domain works in The Met collection are available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). So whether you're an artist or a designer, an educator or a student, a professional or a hobbyist, you now have more than 375,000 images of artworks from our collection to use, share, and remix—without restriction. This policy change to Open Access is an exciting milestone in The Met's digital evolution, and a strong statement about increasing access to the collection and how to best fulfill the Museum's mission in a digital age.

The Met has an incredible encyclopedic collection: 1.5 million objects spanning 5,000 years of culture from around the globe. Since our audience is really the three billion internet-connected individuals around the world, we need to think big about how to reach these viewers, and increase our focus on those digital tactics that have the greatest impact. Open Access is one of those tactics.

The images we're making available under a CC0 license relate to 200,000 public-domain artworks in our collection that the Museum has already digitally catalogued. This represents an incredible body of work by curators, conservators, photographers, librarians, cataloguers, interns, and technologists over the past 147 years of the institution's history. This is work that is always ongoing: just last year we added 21,000 new images to the online collection, 18,000 of which relate to works in the public domain.

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