By Steve Paulson – Consciousness is a buzzing business in neuroscience labs and brain institutes. But it wasn’t always this way. Just a few decades ago, consciousness barely registered as a credible subject for science.
Why were humans able to create civilizations that have transformed the planet?
We don’t have a precise answer. We have big brains and are, by some measure, the most intelligent species, at least in the short term. We’ll see whether we’ll actually survive in the long term, given our propensity for mass violence. And we’ve manipulated the planet to such an extent that we are now talking about entering a new geological age, the Anthropocene.
But it’s unclear why whales or dolphins—some of which have bigger brains and more neurons in their cortex than we do—why they are not called smarter or more successful. Maybe because they have flippers and live in the ocean, which is a relatively static environment. With flippers, you’re unable to build sophisticated tools.
Of course, human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer. more> https://goo.gl/bmNgK6
By W. Zhu, J.P. Winterstein, W.D. Yang, L. Yuan, R. Sharma and G. Zhou – Using a state-of-the-art microscopy technique, experimenters at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have witnessed a slow-motion, atomic-scale transformation of rust—iron oxide—back to pure iron metal, in all of its chemical steps.
In a new effort to study the microscopic details of metal oxide reduction, researchers used a specially adapted transmission electron microscope (TEM) at NIST’s NanoLab facility to document the step-by-step transformation of nanocrystals of the iron oxide hematite (Fe2O3) to the iron oxide magnetite (Fe3O4), and finally to iron metal.
By lowering the temperature of the reaction and decreasing the pressure of the hydrogen gas that acted as the reducing agent, the scientists slowed down the reduction process so that it could be captured with an environmental TEM—a specially configured TEM that can study both solids and gas. The instrument enables researchers to perform atomic-resolution imaging of a sample under real-life conditions—in this case the gaseous environment necessary for iron oxides to undergo reduction–rather than under the vacuum needed in ordinary TEMs. more> https://goo.gl/8lJIAH
Posted in Economic development, Economy, Education, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Electronics, Industrial economy, NIST, Physics, Technology, Transmission electron microscope
By Lawrence M. Krauss – Each time we peel back one layer of reality, other layers beckon. So each important new development in science generally leaves us with more questions than answers. But it also usually leaves us with at least the outline of a road map to help us begin to seek answers to those questions.
The successful discovery of the Higgs particle, and with it the validation of the existence of an invisible background Higgs field throughout space (in the quantum world, every particle like the Higgs is associated with a field), was a profound validation of the bold scientific developments of the 20th century.
As elegant as this idea might be, it is essentially an ad hoc addition to the Standard Model of physics—which explains three of the four known forces of nature, and how these forces interact with matter. It is added to the theory to do what is required to accurately model the world of our experience. But it is not required by the theory. The universe could have happily existed with massless particles and a long-range weak force (which, along with the strong force, gravity, and electromagnetism, make up the four known forces). We would just not be here to ask about them. Moreover, the detailed physics of the Higgs is undetermined within the Standard Model alone. The Higgs could have been 20 times heavier, or 100 times lighter.
Why, then, does the Higgs exist at all? And why does it have the mass it does? (Recognizing that whenever scientists ask “Why?” we really mean “How?”) If the Higgs did not exist, the world we see would not exist, but surely that is not an explanation. Or is it? Ultimately to understand the underlying physics behind the Higgs is to understand how we came to exist. When we ask, “Why are we here?,” at a fundamental level we may as well be asking, “Why is the Higgs here?” more> https://goo.gl/UCn3w8
Four-Stroke Engine Cycle Produces Hydrogen from Methane and Captures CO<sub2
By John Toon – When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.
By adding a catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent to the century-old four-stroke engine cycle, researchers have demonstrated a laboratory-scale hydrogen reforming system that produces the green fuel at relatively low temperature in a process that can be scaled up or down to meet specific needs. The process could provide hydrogen at the point of use for residential fuel cells or neighborhood power plants, electricity and power production in natural-gas powered vehicles, fueling of municipal buses or other hydrogen-based vehicles, and supplementing intermittent renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics.
Known as the CO2/H2 Active Membrane Piston (CHAMP) reactor, the device operates at temperatures much lower than conventional steam reforming processes, consumes substantially less water and could also operate on other fuels such as methanol or bio-derived feedstock. It also captures and concentrates carbon dioxide emissions, a by-product that now lacks a secondary use – though that could change in the future.
Unlike conventional engines that run at thousands of revolutions per minute, the reactor operates at only a few cycles per minute – or more slowly – depending on the reactor scale and required rate of hydrogen production. And there are no spark plugs because there’s no fuel combusted. more> https://goo.gl/h4K7fV
- Likelihood of Dieting Success Lies Within Your Tweets, Ben Snedeker
- New Partnership to Advance Production Standards in Biomanufacturing, Josh Brown
- Simulated Ransomware Attack Shows Vulnerability of Industrial Controls, John Toon
- DNA “Barcoding” Allows Rapid Testing of Nanoparticles for Therapeutic Delivery, John Toon
- Size Matters for Marine Protected Areas Designed to Aid Coral, John Toon
- Cholera Bacteria Stab and Poison Enemies so Predictably, Ben Brumfield
- Looking for Entangled Atoms in a Bose-Einstein Condensate, John Toon
- Team Demonstrates Digital Health Platform for Department of Veterans Affairs, John Toon
- Eating in the blink of an eye, Jason Maderer
- Internet of Things Center Continues to Grow, Make Global Impact, Lance Wallace
- Weaver Wins JDRF Fellowship
- Trio of Petit Institute labs link tendon overuse injury to degenerative changes in shoulder cartilage, Jerry Grillo
- Liquid Assets, Erin Peterson
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Climate change, Cybersecurity, Georgia Tech, Health, Manufacturing, Physics, Technology
The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, Author: Margaret Wertheim.
Physics on the Fringe, Author: Margaret Wertheim.
African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design, Author: Ron Eglash.
By Margaret Wertheim – The world is full of mundane, meek, unconscious things materially embodying fiendishly complex pieces of mathematics. How can we make sense of this? I’d like to propose that sea slugs and electrons, and many other modest natural systems, are engaged in what we might call the performance of mathematics.
Rather than thinking about maths, they are doing it.
In the fibers of their beings and the ongoing continuity of their growth and existence they enact mathematical relationships and become mathematicians-by-practice. By looking at nature this way, we are led into a consideration of mathematics itself not through the lens of its representational power but instead as a kind of transaction.
Rather than being a remote abstraction, mathematics can be conceived of as something more like music or dancing; an activity that takes place not so much in the writing down as in the playing out.
Since at least the time of Pythagoras and Plato, there’s been a great deal of discussion in Western philosophy about how we can understand the fact that many physical systems have mathematical representations: the segmented arrangements in sunflowers, pine cones and pineapples (Fibonacci numbers); the curve of nautilus shells, elephant tusks and rams horns (logarithmic spiral); music (harmonic ratios and Fourier transforms); atoms, stars and galaxies, which all now have powerful mathematical descriptors; even the cosmos as a whole, now represented by the equations of general relativity.
The physicist Eugene Wigner has termed this startling fact ‘the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’.
Why does the real world actualize maths at all? And so much of it?
Even arcane parts of mathematics, such as abstract algebras and obscure bits of topology often turn out to be manifest somewhere in nature. more> https://goo.gl/ifKV2Z
Posted in Book review, EARTH WATCH, Education, History, Nature, Science
Tagged Earth, Ecology, Mathematics, Nature, Physics, Technology
By Paul Blanchard – Up to now, our technological progress has largely been a matter of trial and error. We make something new, evaluate its performance, then alter some part of the fabrication process and see whether it performs better or worse, all without direct knowledge of what is changing at the atomic level.
But if we could see what’s going on at that scale—if we could map out each individual atom and understand the role that it plays—we could create new and better materials not through blind experimentation, but through design.
For all that we’ve been able to accomplish while ignoring them, the fact is that individual atoms matter. The speed of a transistor, the efficiency of a solar cell, and the strength of an I-beam are ultimately determined by the configuration of the atoms inside. Today, new and improved microscopy techniques are getting us closer and closer to the goal of being able to see each and every atom within the materials we make—a very exciting prospect.
Over the past three years, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a team working with one such new and improved microscopy technique, a method called 3-D atom probe tomography, or APT for short. APT is very different from conventional microscopy—at least, the sort of microscopy that I’m accustomed to. In conventional microscopy, we shine a beam of light particles or electrons on our specimen, whatever it is we want to look at, and create a magnified image using lenses or by mapping how our beam bounces off it.
In atom probe tomography, on the other hand, we don’t just look at our specimen—we literally take it apart, atom-by-atom. more> https://goo.gl/c0VdE3
Posted in Economic development, Education, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged 3-D atom probe tomography, APT, Electronics, Physics, Technology, Test & measurement
The Health Informatics Revolution
By John Toon – Using massive data sets, machine learning, and high-performance computing, health analytics and informatics is drawing us closer to the holy grail of health care: precision medicine, which promises diagnosis and treatment tailored to individual patients. The information, including findings from the latest peer-reviewed studies, will arrive on the desktops and mobile devices of clinicians in health care facilities large and small through a new generation of decision-support systems.
“There are massive implications over the coming decade for how informatics will change the way care is delivered, and probably more so for how care is experienced by patients,” said Jon Duke, M.D., director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Health Analytics and Informatics.
“By providing data both behind the scenes and as part of efforts to change behavior, informatics is facilitating our ability to understand patients at smaller population levels. This will allow us to focus our diagnostic paths and treatments much better than we could before.”
Georgia Tech’s health informatics effort combines academic researchers in computing and the biosciences, practitioners familiar with the challenges of the medical community, extension personnel who understand the issues private companies face, and engineers and data scientists with expertise in building and operating secure networks tapping massive databases.
“It takes all of these components to really make a difference in an area as complex as health informatics,” said Margaret Wagner Dahl, Georgia Tech’s associate vice president for information technology and analytics.
“This integrated approach allows us to add value to collaborators as diverse as pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, large private employers, and federal agencies.” more> https://goo.gl/63pIZd
- Climate Change: Potentially Good News on Methane and Peat Carbon, R.M. Wilson, J.P. Chanton, et al.
- Construction Begins on Transformational Coda Project, Laura Diamond
- Georgia Tech to Play Key Role in New Federally-Funded Chemical Processing Initiative, Lance Wallace
- ‘Spooky’ Sightings in Crystal Point to Extremely Rare Quantum Spin Liquid, Ben Brumfield
- Simple Processing Technique Could Cut Cost of Organic PV and Wearable Electronics, John Toon
- White House Highlights Georgia Tech-Created Computer Science Teaching Tool, Jason Maderer
- Manufacturing comes to Life, Josh Brown
- Composite Repairs Revisited, Josh Brow
- 3-D Printing Gets a Heart, Josh Brown
- Legacy Equipment Learns New Tricks, Josh Brown
- A Honey of an Idea, Shelley Wunder-Smith
- See the Unseen, Josh Brown
- Genomics Technique Could Accelerate Detection of Foodborne Bacterial Outbreaks, John Toon
- $17 Million Contract Will Help Establish Science of Cyber Attribution, John Toon
- Hybrid Approach Predicts and Confirms Structure of Complex Metal Nanoparticles, Brian E. Conn, Aydar Atnagulov, Bokwon Yoon, Robert N. Barnett, Uzi Landman, Terry P. Bigioni
- Secret Phenotypes: Disease Devils in Invisible Details, Ben Brumfield
- Actually, Men and Women Don’t Communicate Differently, at Least In Writing, Jason Maderer
- Catching Molecular Dances in Slow Motion by Adding White Noise, Ben Brumfield
- Noninvasive Visual Stimulation May Illuminate a Path for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment, Walter Rich
- The Gift of Investment, Michael Baxter
Posted in Broadband, Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, Leadership, Media, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Climate change, Earth, Electronics, Georgia Tech, Industrial economy, Manufacturing, Physics
No Laughing Matter: The World Is Running Out Of Helium, But It Won’t Hold These MRI Engineers Down
By Tomas Kellner and Dorothy Pomerantz – MRI machines explore the body by using powerful magnets and pulsing radio frequency signals. For the magnets to work, MRI manufacturers such as GE use liquid helium to cool them to minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 269 Celsius), just above absolute zero. At that temperature, they lose all electrical resistance and become superconducting.
“When you power up a super-cooled magnet, it can produce the same magnetic field for a thousand years with no more power required,” MR engineer and inventor Trifon Laskaris told GE Reports. The problem is that some machines need as much as 8,000 liters of the helium, and the world is running out of it, to the chagrin of radiologists and party-store owners alike.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Helium Privatization Act of 1996 got the government out of the business of producing the gas. But sales from the huge U.S. helium reserve stored in porous rock deep underneath Amarillo, Texas, kept down prices and gave private producers few incentives to enter the market. The shortage followed. more> https://goo.gl/emDpN3
Posted in Business, Economy, Energy, Healthcare, Product, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, GE, Government, Health, Helium, MRI, Physics, Technology, United States
By Michael White – he functionality we crave, such as smart power management for longer battery life, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for more connectivity, are more cost-effective when implemented at established nodes between 40 nm and 180 nm. Consequently, the high consumer demand for these capabilities is driving increased demand for ICs manufactured using these processes.
In a nutshell, the nodes that best support radio frequency (RF) and mixed-signal IC designs with low power, low cost and high reliability are seeing a much higher demand than in the past.
The other dynamic driving a longer than expected life of established nodes—40/45 nm and 32/28 nm in particular—is the wafer cost trend at 20 nm and below. 20 nm and below are well-suited for advanced CPUs, application processors, etc., but from a price/performance perspective, they are generally a poor fit for sensors, connectivity, analog mixed-signal (AMS) applications, etc.
Although you wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading press releases each week, designs at 65 nm and larger still account for approximately 43% of all wafer production and 48% of wafer fab capacity. Even more significant, nodes 65nm and larger account for approximately 85% of all design starts (Figure). Clearly, established nodes are not fading away any time soon. more> http://goo.gl/n9QKCj
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Net, Product, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Electronics, Internet, Physics, Productivity, Sensor, Technology