(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)
A relatively long read --
Jacob D. Bekenstein, Scientific American: Information in the Holographic Universe.
"The second law of thermodynamics summarizes the familiar observation that most processes in nature are irreversible: a teacup falls from the table and shatters, but no one has ever seen shards jump up of their own accord and assemble into a teacup. The second law of thermodynamics forbids such inverse processes.... This law is central to physical chemistry and engineering; it is arguably the physical law with the greatest impact outside physics."
> The 2nd law of thermodynamics is essentially a statistical rule, not what most of us would consider fundamental theory. The standard model and the theory of relativity are ‘fundamentally’ deeper descriptions of nature that describe matter, energy and their interaction through forces such as electromagnetism and gravity. But --
> While relativistic theories do account for time, and in some respects even model it, they don't explain a very fundamental aspect of time: it only goes one way. The second law of thermodynamics is still the only rule we have in physics that tries to put an arrow on time.
> Now that I'm forty, this entropy stuff is getting more and more important to me.
"Ryan Scranton of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and his colleagues have detected a fingerprint of dark energy in the afterglow of the Big Bang, radiation called the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The CMB is slightly hotter where there are more galaxies. Dark energy is the only explanation, the researchers argue."
Nature: Stars with metal harbour planets.
"‘If you look at metal-rich stars, 20% have planets -- that's stunning,’ says astronomer Debra Fischer at the University of California, Berkeley."
Nature: Top of sky is receding. We may be pushing the stratosphere away.
"The researchers computer-modelled five possible causes for the shift, three human and two natural. They looked at changes in greenhouse-gas levels, sunlight reflected from airborne solid particles, atmospheric ozone concentration, the Sun's output of heat and light, and dust injected into the atmosphere by volcanoes."
Jim Moore's Weblog: Chump Change.
"Bush is blowing everyone's mind by raising $200 million for his 2004 ‘primary’ and general election campaign.... Everyone thinks this is a lot of money. Hell, I think it is a bargain. Chump change, given what is at stake. Bush and the Republicans will then turn around and control one point three trillion dollars a year -- for four years. That is a lot of Haliburton contracts."
[via Scripting News.]
Phayul, Tibet: New Discoveries In The Himalayan-Tibet Collision Zone.
"Recent findings from the International Deep Profiling of Tibet and the Himalaya (INDEPTH) project have revealed a high-velocity vertically oriented zone in central Tibet ranging from 100 to 400 kilometers in depth. This feature may represent the Indian lithosphere that was dragged down into the mantle at the start of the collision, which can account for most of the shortening between India and Asia."
This one is old, but it's so great I don't mind repeating it --
Objective Creation Education: 2001 Creation Science Fair.
"Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; ... social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker."
Bravo TV: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
"They are the Fab Five: an elite team of gay men dedicated to extolling the simple virtues of style, taste and class. Each week their mission is to transform a style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man from drab to fab in each of their respective categories: fashion, food & wine, interior design, grooming and culture."
Scientific American: Frozen Stars. Black holes may not be bottomless pits after all.
"For now, these ideas are barely more than scribbles on the back of an envelope, and critics have myriad complaints about their plausibility."
Nice little hurricane we're having today.
My wife is forty years old.
Newsweek: $1 Billion a Week.
"Why did the administration rush into this war so ill prepared for what would come after? Supposedly there was a clear and present danger from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, but even if it was present, clearly it wasn't imminent. No such weapons were used and none have been found. While administration hawks were pushing hard for war, however, they airily dismissed questions about the long-term cost of occupying post-Saddam Iraq. Some suggested there might not be a long term."
> Strong words from Newsweek's writers. I would have been much more impressed if they had made some of these points before the U.S. invasion.
Agence France-Presse: Marriage 'tames' geniuses, criminals.
"The data remarkably concur with the brutal observation made by Albert Einstein, who wrote in 1942: ‘A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.’"
"‘I don't believe the pattern is inevitable,’ says married octogenarian evolutionary theorist John Maynard Smith of the University of Sussex, UK. ‘My productivity went up after 30.’ Maynard Smith, who published his most influential work at 50, teaches and writes books to this day."
Scientific American: Gigantic Jets Connect Thunderclouds to the Ionosphere.
"During a thunderstorm over the South China Sea last summer Han-Tzong Su of the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and his colleagues recorded five separate gigantic jets that attained altitudes of 90 kilometers. Depending on the shape their upper halves took on, the lightning streaks were classified as tree jets or carrot jets."
Science News: Record Breaker: A planet from the early universe.
"The planet lies near the center of the globular cluster M4, a dense grouping of stars about 12.5 billion years old. Old stars such as these are metal poor because they formed before subsequent generations of stars had produced heavy elements in abundance."
Nature: Dark matter may be undetectable. Super-WIMPs might hide ninety percent of the universe.
"Currently, one of the leading suspects for the inexplicable gravitational pull that stars and galaxies experience are WIMPs -- weakly interacting massive particles." ...
> Also --
"The super-WIMPs proposal is ... an exploration of the consequences of theories that try to unite quantum mechanics with gravity -- one of the central challenges for modern physics."
"Mark Cooper, an economist at the Consumer Federation of America, criticized the new effort.... ‘They barely even talk the talk, forget walking the walk,’ Cooper said."
Associated Press: Houston population hops over 2 million mark.
"It was the fourth U.S. city to hit the milestone, following New York, Los Angeles and Chicago."
Houston Business Journal: Houston to host Men's Final Four in 2011.
"Other cities tapped to host the Men's Basketball Final Four for the 2008-2011 selection period are San Antonio for 2008, Detroit for 2009 and Indianapolis for 2010."
> How do I get tickets?