Daily Archives: January 8, 2014

Galactic Views (116)


SPACE WATCH

Hubble Frontier Field Abell 2744

NASA – This long-exposure Hubble Space Telescope image of massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744 (foreground) is the deepest ever made of any cluster of galaxies. It shows some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected in space.

The immense gravity in Abell 2744 is being used as a lens to warp space and brighten and magnify images of more distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did longer than 12 billion years ago, not long after the big bang.

The Hubble exposure reveals almost 3,000 of these background galaxies interleaved with images of hundreds of foreground galaxies in the cluster. Their images not only appear brighter, but also smeared, stretched and duplicated across the field. Because of the gravitational lensing phenomenon, the background galaxies are magnified to appear as much as 10 to 20 times larger than they would normally appear. Furthermore, the faintest of these highly magnified objects is 10 to 20 times fainter than any galaxy observed previously. Without the boost from gravitational lensing, the many background galaxies would be invisible.

The Hubble exposure will be combined with images from Spitzer and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to provide new insight into the origin and evolution of galaxies and their accompanying black holes.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

Roman Fever

BOOK REVIEW

Rome’s Last Citizen, Authors: Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni.

By Rob Goodman – Across time and place, the breakdowns of republican governments share eerie similarities, as political conflicts spill beyond the bounds of the norms designed to hold them in check. Rome’s example warns us that a cycle of crisis politics, once entered into, grows increasingly difficult to escape. There is reason to believe that we’ve entered into just such a cycle.

Political elites aren’t simply bound by written rules; they’re bound as well by unwritten rules that are developed and refined in practice. And yet our reliance on unwritten rules leaves us vulnerable. Built over generations of conflict, compromise and accommodation, norms can be discarded in an instant. They are far easier to break than to build—and breaking them only takes the defection of one side. more> http://tinyurl.com/o5jnwlo

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

By Alexis C. Madrigal – Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies.

Using large teams of people specially trained to watch movies, Netflix deconstructed Hollywood. They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata. This process is so sophisticated and precise that taggers receive a 36-page training document that teaches them how to rate movies on their sexually suggestive content, goriness, romance levels, and even narrative elements like plot conclusiveness.

And now, they have a terrific advantage in their efforts to produce their own content: Netflix has created a database of American cinematic predilections. The data can’t tell them how to make a TV show, but it can tell them what they should be making. When they create a show like House of Cards, they aren’t guessing at what people want. more> http://tinyurl.com/jvlnojb

Inside a Beating Silicon Heart

By Joann Muller – If it were a model of his own heart, Dr. Julius Guccione, a cardiac researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, would have seen it racing. “This is something doctors have been trying to get to since before the 1900s,” he said.

The advent of technologies like magnetic resonance imaging and echocardiography, he said, have been a “dream come true” for measuring abnormal motion in a patient’s heart. But by modeling a beating heart in 3-D, the hope is that one day doctors will be able to diagnose and treat patients based on the unique forces at work within each patient and even rehearse open-heart surgery on an individual before opening up his chest.

Last year Dassault Systèmes combined its nine software brands, including Catia, Simulia and Enovia, into one 3D Experience Platform, which clients can use to model and simulate not only the way a product is designed or manufactured but even how it is bought, feels or is used. more> http://tinyurl.com/przeu4u

Full employment, not inequality, should be the top economic priority

By Ezra Klein – It’s perhaps useful to begin with what I was not saying. I’m not saying inequality isn’t a serious problem.

This whole conversation is moot if inequality is a primary reason for mass joblessness and weak growth. I don’t find the evidence on that score hugely compelling. We’ve had nearly full employment during periods of high inequality (say, 2005) and we’ve had high unemployment during periods of relative equality (say, 1982). The same is true internationally: Some relatively equal countries suffer from extremely high unemployment (Portugal, for instance) while some relatively unequal countries are seeing fast growth and low unemployment (Singapore, say).

But inequality is great politics — as you can tell by the number of politicians taking up the banner — and making the deficit your central worry right now is absolutely nuts. more> http://tinyurl.com/lv4l9p5

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CONGRESS WATCH My Predictions for 2014, Steve Chabot

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Updates from Senator Mike Lee

CONGRESS WATCH

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CONGRESS WATCH Expiring Unemployment Insurance: Interactive Map, Ways and Means Committee/US Congress New Economic Analysis: $400 Million Drained from State Economies in Unemployment Benefits This Week Alone, Ways and Means Committee/US Congress New State Data: Record-low 25% of Jobseekers Now … Continue reading