Daily Archives: June 9, 2014

Galactic Views (129)


Grand Swirls from NASA’s Hubble

NASA – This new Hubble image shows NGC 1566, a beautiful galaxy located approximately 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish). NGC 1566 is an intermediate spiral galaxy, meaning that while it does not have a well-defined bar-shaped region of stars at its center — like barred spirals — it is not quite an unbarred spiral either.

The small but extremely bright nucleus of NGC 1566 is clearly visible in this image, a telltale sign of its membership of the Seyfert class of galaxies. The centers of such galaxies are very active and luminous, emitting strong bursts of radiation and potentially harboring supermassive black holes that are many millions of times the mass of the sun.

NGC 1566 is not just any Seyfert galaxy; it is the second brightest Seyfert galaxy known. It is also the brightest and most dominant member of the Dorado Group, a loose concentration of galaxies that together comprise one of the richest galaxy groups of the southern hemisphere. This image highlights the beauty and awe-inspiring nature of this unique galaxy group, with NGC 1566 glittering and glowing, its bright nucleus framed by swirling and symmetrical lavender arms.

This image was taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. A version of the image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by Flickr user Det58.

Image Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Flickr user Det58

This is no way to fix the problem of billionaires buying elections

By Dana Milbank – For those concerned about money corrupting democracy, finding a fifth justice is easier than assembling the supermajorities needed for an amendment.

In a sense, the system is self-correcting: If Republicans continue on their current course, they’ll eventually hand Democrats a liberal majority on the Supreme Court.

Koch billions can’t have the same impact in a presidential race, where spending is well past saturation. And at the rate Republicans are alienating Latinos, single women and young voters — due in part to far-right lawmakers whose seats have been bought with unchecked contributions — there may not be another Republican president for some time. more> http://tinyurl.com/kasbnxm

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jody Williams on How Our Choices Shape the World


My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, Author: Jody Williams.

By Maria Popova – “People say, “Oh, I’m not interested in politics.” Every single thing you do is politics, because the interaction of human beings is politics writ large.

“I believe that we have to feel empowered to make that choice. And if we choose to feel passionate about something and do nothing, it is a choice — you’ve chosen to do nothing. And, believe me, there are other people who will step into that gap, take your power, and use to accomplish what they want.” more> http://tinyurl.com/q53xz9l

Updates from GE

Scientists Use “Big Bang” Supercomputer to Build Better Jet Engine
GE – Recently the world’s second most powerful computer called Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have been helping GE engineers to build a better jet engine.

Jet engines started out as complicated creatures ever since GE built the first one in the U.S. in 1941, and their design has gotten exponentially more intricate since.

Injectors atomize liquid jet fuel and spray it into the combustion chamber where it burns and generates energy for propulsion. “They are one of the most challenging parts to design and very expensive to produce,” Madhu Pai, an engineer in the Computational Combustion Lab at GE Global Research, says. (The next-generation LEAP jet engine is the world’s first engine with 3D-printed injectors.)

The time and processing power the engineers have at their disposal is equal to running 10,000 computer processors simultaneously for over 9 months. “The supercomputer gives us a microscopic view of the inside of the injector,” Pai says. “We can study the processes occurring in regions hidden behind the metal or where the fuel spray is too dense. This allows us to better understand the physics behind the design.”

This is physics with practical implications. Pai says that small changes to fuel nozzle geometry could lead to significant changes in engine performance. “These high-fidelity computer simulations help us understand how air and fuel mix and burn, and eventually reduce the number of trials. Ultimately, we want to build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions.” more> http://tinyurl.com/mcfr5o9

The battle against the high frequency traders

By Andrew Smith – The algorithms at the heart of this world were run not by finance or programming people, but by “quants”: quantum physicists, climate scientists, theoretical mathematicians.

Some of the most formidable minds in the world were now employed in a technological arms race, a hidden war stalked by million-dollar predator algorithms that could swarm those of the larger, slower players – typically, pension and mutual funds – in the same way a shoal of piranhas might an ox, cutting them to shreds and pocketing the profits.

The regulators couldn’t keep up. If they tried, the algos simply mutated. In the last seven years, the trading environment has changed out of all recognition, spurred largely by the introduction of new regulation at the end of 2007.

Designed to increase transparency, this forced brokers to offer clients the best possible price across all 13 US exchanges, meaning that price information had to be synchronised – a fiercely difficult technical challenge that rendered the market hard to monitor and abruptly brought Einsteinian physics into play, as data raced between exchanges at light speed. more> http://tinyurl.com/nhhelnv