Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #960 - And now, some SCIENCE

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #960 - And now, some SCIENCE - Nanobots, Global Warming, The War on Science, Unsolved Science Mysteries - oh, and the door opening robot

Hi Mom,

This is just a collection of various science news, plus a huge share on unsolved mysteries of science from one of my newly discovered favorite sites: FUTURISM.

Then, some snips from SF author David Brin's blog on the complexity of brains and trying to replicate their computational power with computers. I snipped the end of that investigation, so if you're curious, read the whole explanation on the firing of synapses and dendrites and so on. Next, I clipped some of Brin's collection of environmental stuff (and OLD sharks!) as well as his pot shot (deserved) at the WAR ON SCIENCE AND ALL FACT FINDING PROFESSIONS, which I support being loudly and proudly in opposition to.

But first, door opening robots made in Boston!

That's all for now. Good read and viewings here. See you tomorrow, Mom.




GEE, THIS BRAIN IS COMPLEX - quantum entanglement!

So, Moore’s law might require us to make compact boxes with quadrillions or circuit elements. Nor does it stop there. Because now we get to… quantum.

Yes, there are the incredible speculations of Roger Penrose and his colleagues, who suggest that the tiny microtubule organelles within neurons engage in some degree of quantum entanglement -- (we've already seen there's some entanglement in chloroplasts) -- that helps to create consciousness in ways that go beyond just computation. Woof!

== Surprises of science ==

This Alaskan city is warming so fast, algorithms removed the data because it seemed unreal. And yes, freakishly strong snow in the U.S. southeast is a symptom of warming! Attend a community college science class.

Amazing. Greenland sharks reach maturity at about 150 years of age and some have been measured (by pulsing Carbon 14 in their eye lenses) at 400+ years old.

And while we’re in the Arctic: Want cognitive dissonance?  Trump's newly signed National Defense Authorization Act includes a significant discussion of the effects of climate change -- going so far as to call it a “direct threat to the national security of the United States.”

We’ve know this for years. The U.S. military is a fact-centered profession, and thus unable to screech denialist incantations, while the Russians build 12 new major naval and marine bases on the Arctic Ocean. Of course, this is one reason why the War on Science and All Fact-using Professions has now expanded to include the FBI, Intel Agencies and the US military officer corpse… now denounced by confederate loonies as “deep state” traitors.


ORIGINALLY - https://futurism.com/2018-unsolved-scientific-mysteries/

Humans have made a staggering amount of scientific and technological progress over the past century. We’ve created technology that has transformed our society; scientific advances have helped us answer fundamental questions about who we are and the world that we inhabit. And, yet, mysteries persist.
Why are we compelled to sleep every night? Why are we still not able to “see” dark matter? And where the heck are all the aliens?
People have debated questions like these for decades — sometimes centuries. Fortunately, our unfaltering will to uncover the world’s mysteries has brought us closer to some answers than ever before. Here are six mysteries that still keep scientists up at night, and how close they are to solving them.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Why do we need sleep? This may seem like a straightforward question, but the answer is far more complex than you might think. There have been countless attempts to find a definitive reason as to why humans need to sleep every night, but scientists are still unable to offer a single, definitive answer.
Findings in sleep science have shed some light on the intricacies of sleep stages and brain activity, but ultimately, they have merely offered pieces to an ever-growing, incomplete puzzle. It doesn’t help that we don’t have much to compare ourselves to — as sleeping patterns and brain activity in other animals often deviate significantly from those of humans, further mystifying our understanding of sleep.
Jerry Siegel, a psychiatry professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, has been studying the sleeping habits of animals to understand why humans need to enter a hibernation-like state every night.
“Our understanding and orientation [of sleep] is different than in any other animal because most of us would like to stay awake 24 hours a day. But in the natural world, animals that use a lot of energy are not going to survive,” Siegel tells Futurism. Nature values inactivity — for instance, winter hibernation allows certain animals to recover and store energy when it is not needed. “Across species, energy savings is the main evolutionary impulse for sleep,” Siegel explains. African elephants, for example, only sleep for two hours a day in the wild, likely because they need the rest of that time to feed in order to give their large bodies enough energy to function.
The energy saving theory is one of several that scientists use to explain why we sleep. As scientists have created tools that can track brain activity during the act of sleep, they have come closer to finishing the puzzle and uncovering all of sleep’s mysteries.
For example, the brain has mechanisms in place allowing it to purge itself of unnecessary information during sleep. “Sleep is the price we pay for learning,” Giulio Tononi, a psychiatry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tells New Scientist. Tononi and his team conducted experiments on sleeping mice and found that, after sleep, synapses were significantly smaller than those before sleep.
Tononi’s team concluded that the brain needs to allow this activity to diminish in order to solidify information it gathered while it was awake. The brain is bombarded with information during the day, and it reinforces it with strong neural connections. To mix the new information in with all of the existing information, those connections need to weaken to “absorb” it. In other words, sleep allows the brain to make new information pliable enough to fit in with all of the old.
While this theory elegantly describes the brain’s process of making new information stick during sleep, Tononi and other neuroscientists have yet to prove that sleep is actually required for this to happen.
To fully understand sleep, sleep scientists need a better sense of the neurobiological processes of the brain during both wake and sleep cycles. For instance, how come some of us are able to sleep through extremely noisy environments, and some of us can’t? Once we are able to measure exactly how awake or asleep the human brain is, it will bring us even further to knowing all there is to know about sleep.
But one thing has remained clear as ever: Without sleep, we are far worse off. “We know that, if you are sleep-deprived, you have lapses in attention that are actually correlated with intrusions in sleep,” Siegel says. Not getting enough sleep has a direct affect on how much attention you can pay to the world around you. “Certainly when you are driving, losing alertness just for two seconds can be lethal.”

What Is Dark Matter, And Why Can’t We See It?

We don’t know what it looks like. We can’t see it. But it makes up more than 26 percent of the matter in the known universe. Since Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn hypothesized its existence in 1922, we have come to know it exists because of how it interacts with the matter we can observe, but dark matter is still mysteriously invisible to us.

Most of the matter that’s visible to us is made of neutrons, protons, and electrons. But dark matter does not adhere to these classifications. It’s made up of different types of particles we haven’t yet been able to categorize and that interact with light and matter in a completely different way. Dark matter does not absorb, reflect, or emit light. But its gravitational influence does bend light as it passes nearby — that kind of observation is how scientists know that dark matter exists.
Researchers have been studying this phenomenon, trying to unravel its mysteries, almost since its inception. More recently, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) has brought us closer to actually doing so — researchers there are working to identify the invisible material by accelerating tiny particles and then studying the energy and momentum involved in their movements when they collide at high speeds.
Recent studies suggest that gravitational wave detectors could allow us to “see” dark matter for the first time. But the truth of the matter (so to speak) is that we are still very much in the dark about one of the most abundant entities in our universe.

How Was the Universe Created?

We are inching closer to piecing together the earliest moments of the universe, but its true origin is still a mystery. “Any theories or models of ‘creation’ are incredibly speculative at this point,” Paul Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University and chief scientist at the Center of Science and Industry, tells Futurism.


Perhaps the best-known theory about the beginning of the universe is the Big Bang theory, in which the universe expanded from an extremely hot and dense singularity around 13.8 billion years ago. But people misunderstand if they think that matter simply exploded into being from nothing, Sutter says. “The Big Bang happened everywhere in the universe simultaneously; it’s not an explosion in space but an explosion of space.” Yet, the exact process of what caused this (and of course, what was there beforehand) remains unknown.
“The earlier we go in the history of the universe, the less we understand,” Sutter says. While we have caught brief glimpses of the universe when it was only 300,000 years old, scientists are still speculating about the extreme forces at play during the universe’s first moments.
Like all good mysteries, a question that seems simple yields more questions that must be solved before we can find the answer to the initial question. “We’re prevented from knowing the very earliest moments (like, less than 10^-40 seconds) because we don’t fully comprehend the quantum aspects of gravity,” Sutter says.
To this end, to fully understand the creation of our universe, we will need to have a comprehensive understanding of the laws of physics that govern matter and antimatter. This is a bit of a problem, as CERN recently confirmed that the Standard Model of particle physics may have to be turned on its head, as it doesn’t account for the majority of the matter the Big Bang produced.
Once we have fully understood the nature of antimatter and how it interacts with matter, we won’t have a final answer to the origin of the universe, but we will come much closer to understanding how it came to be.

Where is Planet Nine?

Beyond the Kuiper belt, a mysterious cluster of objects is orbiting the Sun. They orbit even more distant from the Sun than Neptune, but some of the objects’ trajectories don’t seem to fit the expected pattern. Most of them circle around Neptune, kept in the planet’s orbit by its powerful gravity. But a handful of these objects seem to be pulled out of place by something with much greater mass.
Konstantin Batygin, assistant professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology, believes that these peculiarities are at least partially caused by the existence of Planet Nine — a yet-to-be-discovered ninth planet in our solar system.
Think of the solar system as a giant disc. The orbits of these strangely behaving objects seem to bend the disc upwards at its edge. Planet Nine needs to be massive to have this kind of influence — a bigger mass than Earth, even. However, despite its apparent mass, we have not yet been able to prove its existence. In part, this is because we only just started looking for it; scientists first started theorizing about its existence in 2014.
However, that’s not the only reason that the planet remains undiscovered. “We haven’t found it yet because it is staggeringly dim,” Batygin says. “With the best telescopes around, we could just barely detect it, we think.” Infrared analysis is out of the question because the instruments are simply not sensitive enough. That forces astronomers to look for reflected light — an even more challenging task than infrared analysis. This is because any light that Planet Nine reflects has to travel from the Sun to the far reaches of the solar system, bounce off Planet Nine, and then arrive back to Earth. Reflected light diminishes exponentially as it crosses a distance; the properties of reflected light are stacked against us finding Planet Nine.
However, with advancements in technology, a more sensitive telescope may be able to register light reflected from it, once and for all confirming Planet Nine’s existence. Astronomers are also using computer simulations to estimate its orbit to get a better sense of where it will be and when. It’s possible that Planet Nine may be simply at a point in its orbit that makes it too distant to be observed.

Why Do These Sounds Make My Brain Tingle?

You might have encountered them on YouTube: thousands of videos narrated in hushed voices and accompanied by soft sounds, like massaging a textured piece of fabric or the faint hum of a hair clipper. A specialized microphone gives you the sensation that you are there. For some people, the sound creates the sensation of a scalp massage.

The result of this experience: a relaxing, tingling sensation in the brain in about 90 percent of the population. But why it happens, and why it doesn’t work for everyone, is still unknown.
Craig Richard, a professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at Shenandoah University and founder of ASMR University, has been studying this peculiar sensation since 2013. “We are at the very beginning of unraveling the science behind ASMR,” Richard tells Futurism. While past biological studies have shown that functional connectivity (regions of the brain that light up on a fMRI) is different in brains that experience ASMR than in those that don’t, ASMR remains a mystery. Why is it that only a certain percentage of humans experiences it? Why does it even exist? “I don’t think there will ever be one explanation that satisfies everyone,” he says.

Where Is Intelligent Alien Life?

The universe is billions of years old. Considering the age and sheer vastness of our cosmos, it’s hard to comprehend why we haven’t found other signs of intelligent life. Basic probability indicates that we should have found extraterrestrials by now, so where are they?
Astronomers and physicists have put forth many theories in their attempts to explain. One theory suggests there is a great cataclysmic event that stops any civilization from ever making contact, while another proposes that aliens are trapped beneath thick layers of ice and rock on distant moons.
If extraterrestrial life does exist in our solar system, researchers suggest that it is likely microbial, as opposed to intelligent alien life. These alien organisms are thought to be on small, icy planets, such as the moons of Saturn or Jupiter. Scientists at NASA have conducted studies to investigate the composition and state of the large oceans on these moons because, they predict, the presence of abundant water might allow alien life to thrive. But so far, these are only educated guesses based on findings of NASA’s Galileo satellite and extensive scanning and observation. NASA is planning to get a closer look by traveling to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa within the next decade.
But even if we did find alien life, would we be able to recognize it? Looking for familiar carbon-based lifeforms that use water as life support might limit us in our quest to find alien life. Scientists must be able to fully distinguish alien messages from all the other noise in space — and even that is far from simple. What if their message is indistinguishable from other frequencies? What if they don’t want to be found?
In any case, the search is far from over. In fact, in many ways, the search is only just beginning.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 962 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.20 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #959 - Haunted, Lucid, A World of Sleepers - Musical Monday 1802.19

Jack Kirby 1976
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #959 - Haunted, Lucid, A World of Sleepers - Musical Monday 1802.19

Hi Mom,

This is a lot of last week's soundtrack. No Bandcamp this week.

Next week is going to be dedicated to various great women in music, starting with Fergie and her smoking rendition of the National Anthem from last night's All Star Game.

Today is just music.



Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 961 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - date - time

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #958 - Kirby's Black Panther

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #958 - Kirby's Black Panther

Hi Mom,

Despite being buried in work, extra buried because I was sick last week, so I did not maintain my usual pace, I took a break and went to see Black Panther today, Sunday, long after the time stamp on this post (more like 4 p.m.).

I feel I earned this break as I worked many hours both Saturday and Sunday before quitting for special events (Saturday night Liesel and I went to a Chinese New Year party).

I will not offer a full review yet, and I am building a curated repository of interesting articles, but I will say that the Black Panther lives up to the hype. It is as good as they're saying. I am glad I stopped working long enough to go see it and enjoy it.

So, here, for more of the comic book connection, material from the man who created the character: Jack Kirby.

Don't be disturbed by Kirby's use of "a black" and "blacks" in the quote below. He was not racist. And he loved this character. He did a great deal of the ground work for the character's heritage and African ancestry, and he did so with pride, respect, and great love.

In all the wonder and hype surrounding the film, let's not forget Jack Kirby's role as the characters creator, and though many have followed and contributed wonderful stories and elements to his lineage and development, Kirby is KING.

Jack Kirby's Black Panther

More than a half-century after Marvel Comics introduced the first black superhero in issue 52 of The Fantastic Four, the media is heralding the arrival of the first black superhero on the big screen: And it's the same character.

This is a reflection of two things, how painfully slow we make progress in the United States (if we make it at all), and how ahead of the curve Jack Kirby was.

Kirby, with Stan Lee, created the Black Panther in the mid 1960s acknowledging that Marvel had black readers, but no black characters.

Kirby, in his own gruff manner (he was  a World War II combat vet who chain-smoked Roi-Tan cigars), put it this way:

"I came up with the Black Panther because I realized I had no blacks in my strip. I’d never drawn a black. I needed a black. I suddenly discovered that I had a lot of black readers. My first friend was a black! And here I was ignoring them because I was associating with everybody else. It suddenly dawned on me — believe me, it was for human reasons — I suddenly discovered nobody was doing blacks. And here I am a leading cartoonist and I wasn’t doing a black."

“I really think my father created and introduced the Black Panther because it was the right thing to do at the time,” said Kirby's son Neal“It broke all the stereotypes—a black super hero with a scientific brain. It’s no secret that my father was very socially liberal, and I think he saw this as his personal way of making a statement and ‘joining’ the civil rights movement.”

Kirby initially named the character the Coal Tiger and did this character design. However, this was quickly changed to Black Panther - a name that pre-dates the black rights movement group of the late 1960s.

Black Panther made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #51 in a story plotted and penciled by the artist and scripted and edited by Lee. 

The character made appearances in Captain America and The Avengers and in a solo, backup strip in Daredevil before landing his own series, in Jungle Action, starting in 1973. This was a memorable run, not created by Kirby, but scripted by Don McGregor with art from Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, (not that) Billy Graham and others.

Kirby, who'd been working for DC Comics for several years, returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s and did a 12-issue stint on a new Black Panther series, which he wrote, drew and edited, from 1977-78.

Here's a selection of art from that series and from Kirby's 1960s work on the character.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #957 - Gun violence - Gun Homicide Rates by State

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #957 - No More AR-15 - Gun Homicide Rates by State

Hi Mom,

I am still trying to wrap my head around another mass shooting, and the astounding fact that it's the eighteenth such shooting of the year and it's only mid-February.

This is a catch all post. I am not going to write too much in the way of original content because I can hardly do better than many of the articles I am linking. Mainly, this is a place to post resources and a guide for me to come to terms with this horrible situation and what is to be done. "Thoughts and prayers" has become a tired, hackneyed, and empty platitude. Not that hearts are not shared with those who lost loved ones, but the sympathies are not as useful and powerful as action. And yet calls for action are cried after each tragedy, and then, before anything happens (if anything of significance ever will), there's another mass shooting.

And among all the material to read and ponder as the actions that need to happen are considered and debated (too much debate), one things bothers me especially much, and I find it difficult to get it out of my head. In his usual petty and churlish manner, Trump used his message of condolence to make needless commentary, to get in a "dig" on his agenda about immigrants, terrorism, and the alleged might and right of America by writing that "no child, teacher, or anyone else should feel unsafe in an American school."



One student from the school called Trump a "fucking piece of shit" in response to his message on Twitter.


Some dispute these statistics: see DETRACTORS. Some vary mass shootings in general versus those in schools. But does debating these numbers matter? Can we really argue that there is not a problem because the numbers are in dispute by people who want to deflect from the issue that America has a gun problem and it's hardly a new problem.






Gun homicide rate map of America


 / ROB BESCHIZZA / 5:59 AM THU FEB 15, 2018

At r/DataIsBeautiful, academiaadvice posted this map of U.S. gun homicidesper 100,000 residents between 2007-2016.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - https://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html - Tools: Excel, Datawrapper. Rates are expressed on an annual basis, covering the years 2007-2016. Raw CDC data

By comparison, here's gun ownership rates:

Idaho's relatively low gun homidice rate (about 1.2 per 100k) still outstrips those of heavily urban democracies like the UK (0.23) and Japan (0.1). The variation within U.S. regions conceals the general scale of the killing on a whole (5.3 per 100k). And that particular number excludes about half the gun deaths in America—gun deaths that are as less likely elsewhere as the homicides are. One we decide to ignore the obvious correlation -- absolute thresholds of gun owenership and availability -- the more significant obscure ones become.


SNAP MAPS take viewers inside Parkland High School

Snapchat's coverage of the school shooting provides another example of how easily accessible, location-centric curation can add to public understanding of the news. But with such a sensitive topic, both created and viewed by a typically young user demographic, it also raises questions about how a company that started as a playful photo sharing app can ethically, safely, and accurately report on a national tragedy.

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Kristi Gilroy (R), hugs a young woman at a police check point near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a gunman yesterday, on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested the suspect after a short manhunt, and have identified him as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz.
From the "no big surprise department":


And also no big surprise:


Public awareness that antagonistic bots flood the Twitter debate hasn’t stopped them from achieving their goals of ratcheting up the vitriol—even amid a live tragedy like the Parkland shooting. The goal, after all, isn't to help one side or the other of the gun control debate win. It's to amplify the loudest voices in that fight, deepening the divisions between us.

And yet sadly, a "cure" for MASS SHOOTINGS MAY NOT EXIST - REASON.COM

Outrage is an appropriate response to the carnage in Parkland, but it's not an answer. Those demanding dramatic action accuse those who disagree of enabling murder. But it's no sin to reject false remedies.


Mass shootings are a horrific problem that is peculiarly resistant to solutions. To a great extent, public policy is impotent. Until the advocates of new restrictions can make the case that they would make a difference, little is likely to happen.
What answers do they offer? One is reinstituting the federal ban on "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. Another is expanding the federal background check system to cover private sales. Another is to make it easier to flag people with mental health problems and bar sales to them.
These are not necessarily wrong, but they are unpromising. Though an AR-15 may be particularly useful for mass shootings, there are many substitutes that fire just as rapidly and use equally destructive ammunition. A ban on high-capacity magazines would be a puny impediment to someone like the killer in Parkland, Florida.

People want simple answers. It light of a tragedy of this scope and when considered along with all the other tragedies in schools and out (Las Vegas concert and Orlando nightclub as two of the worst), many people want more gun control, believing that it will magically solve the problems that cause these shootings to happen. Also, people against gun control often argue simplistically about the Constitution and the need for weapons to overthrow the government, unwilling to bend, unwilling to even consider that America has a gun problem, clinging to weapons, as Charlton Heston announced in a famous proclamation for the NRA that would have to be "pried from my cold, dead hands."

The answer may lie in the causes not the guns.

When someone compares US school shootings or even mass shootings with those in other countries, it does not matter what the numbers are and if they are exact or accurate. It's more accurate that this problem does not exist in any other countries (excluding war torn ones with separate issues) in the numbers seen in America. These countries have different cultures and national sensibilities. They have different health care systems and different values. Perhaps the answers lie in those ways of life. Because what we have seen so far in our country is hate, anger, and rage. And before I lay the blame for that at the feet of this so-called president, the problems were already there, the new administration has only made some people more bold about expressing their hatred, bigotry, and rage.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 959 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.17 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.