Tag Archives: Science

Have You Heard of the Breakthrough Prize?

Have you heard of the Breakthrough Prize? Probably not. I hadn’t until I came across the article “Breakthrough Prize awards scientists $22 million and star status” about it last fall.

What is the Breakthrough Prize? The Breakthrough Prizes honor important, primarily recent, achievements in the categories of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics. Recipients of the award receive $3 million each in prize money. They are also recognized in an “Acadamy Awards like” televised award ceremony. The ceremony is intended both to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists.

The Breakthrough Prizes have been awarded every year since 2013. More than $200 million have been awarded over the life of the Breakthrough Prizes. As they say on their website:

Knowledge is humanity’s greatest asset. It defines our nature, and it will shape our future. The body of knowledge is assembled over centuries. Yet a single mind can extend it immensely. Einstein reimagined space and time. Darwin distilled the chaos of life to a single idea. Turing figured out what it means to think. Great scientists enrich us all. They enable technologies that ease our lives, but they also show us what’s beyond our horizons.

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We have all seen those in entertainment or sports fields recognized in lavish ceremonies. The Breakthrough Prize attempts to give similar recognition to the scientists and mathematicians that are shaping our future.

 

Study Shows Dark Roast Coffee Helps to Protect Your DNA

coffee
Coffee – I came across an article a short time ago that gave further reasons to drink coffee. In the study “Consumption of a dark roast coffee blend reduces DNA damage in humans: results from a 4-week randomised controlled study” published in the European Journal of Nutrition helps protect your DNA.

In this test, participants were split into one group that drank water and another that drank coffee. At the end of a month, those who had been drinking the coffee had fewer breaks in their DNA strands. The official conclusion of the test:

Our results indicate that regular consumption of a dark roast coffee blend has a beneficial protective effect on human DNA integrity in both, men and women.

Just one more test that indicates that drinking coffee in reasonable amounts is good for you.

EM Drive Does Not Perform well in Tests

Propulsion – I have been watching the stories in the media on the EM Drive for a while now. If you are new to this, the EM Drive is a resonant cavity thruster. In simple terms, it is an electrically powered thruster that requires no fuel. It was proposed by Roger Shawyer in 2001. Most consider the EM Drive to be impossible as it defies currently known physics.

Previous tests of an EM Drive prototype by NASA showed some success. The EM Drive was subjected to more strict testing by a team at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany led by Martin Tajmar. They presented their results at the Aeronautics and Astronautics Association of France’s Space Propulsion conference on May 16, 2018. Their tests are not supportive of the claims made for the EM Drive.

The results presented by Tajmar is reviewed in the video above by Scott Manley. Tajmar and his team had not totally given up on the EM Drive at the time of their report. They plan further testing, but the prospect of this being the solution to propulsion hoped for is dim.

References:

  1. ‘Impossible’ EM drive doesn’t seem to work after all
  2. EmDrive: Not Quite (Yet?) the Answer to Space Travel

Hot Coffee Better for You than Cold Brewed

coffee

Coffee – Personally I like hot coffee. Now there is some scientific proof that hot coffee is better for you than the ever more popular cold brewed coffee. I read that today in the article “Hot brew coffee has higher levels of antioxidants than cold brew“. Specifically:

the researchers [from Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University] found that hot-brewed coffee has higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to be responsible for some of the health benefits of coffee.

Their report was published Oct. 30 in Scientific Reports (Scientific Reports is an online multidisciplinary, open access journal from the publishers of Nature) “Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee“.

So buy some freshly roasted coffee beans, grind them yourself, and brew up some healthy coffee!

Museum Day 2018

Today is Museum Day 2018 in the US. Nearly 1,500 US museums are participating in Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day this year, when institutions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer free admission to anyone with a Museum Day ticket.
Museum visitors can download tickets for participating museums online by visiting Smithsonian magazine’s website. Tickets provide free admission for two people, and they can be downloaded through 3 p.m. on September 22. Some museums are holding their open house on Sunday the 23.

You can use this Smithsonian site to search for Museums near you that are participating. See if there is a participating institution near you and go explore a museum today!

Would You Upload Your Memories to a Computer After You are Gone?

I don’t know if this is creepy or just a sign of the future.

The startup Nectome, a company in California founded by computer scientist Michael McCanna and engineer Robert McIntyre, is working towards preserving your memories. They plan to do this by preserving your brain after death and then mapping its connectome—the web of synapses that connect neurons. While the company has raised more than $1 (US) million for further research, their plan is not without controversy.

Assuming this was affordable and it works, would you consider preserving your memories?

See the article “Would You Want Your Memories Uploaded to a Computer After You Die?” if you want to learn more.

A Space elevator is Being Launched in Orbit Today​?

Space – Yes, a space elevator is being launched into orbit today, but don’t get your hopes up for a ride to space.

This is only a scale model for testing purposes. The model will consist of two cube sats (roughly 4″ on a side) connected together by a 10-meter steel cable. A container with an internal motor will move along the cable between the satellites. This experiment is being conducted by Shizuoka University in Japan.

While we are many years away from a true space elevator, once in place they will bring significantly lower costs to putting materials into orbit. While they were thought to be impossible when first proposed, today’s modern materials, such as carbon nanotubes, may make them a reality one of these days. If you are interested, read the article “A Japanese Company is About to Test a Tiny Space Elevator… in Space“.

macOS New App Release – International Space Station 2

Product Announcements – Tension Software of Milano, Italy has released International Space Station 2 for macOS, which allows users to see the position of the the International Space Station over an interactive map of the world or an interactive tridimensional representation of the globe.

With a simple view users will be able to see if the International Space station will be visible (naked eye) from their local position in the next hours. Using the application (release 1) I did it many time and success is granted and also the ‘Wow effect’ from the one you show it in the sky. Many people has no idea the space station can be seen naked eye (if you know when to look and where)

With a simple click anyone can also see the live webcam stream coming from the International Space Station. Users will watch the astronauts activities with video and audio, all live.

Calculation of the position of the station is very accurate, the app uses the latest NASA code optimized for Mac to calculate it. Users don’t get an approximated position, they get the exact position, speed and altitude of the Station updated every second.

The route path is visualized over the map to evaluate if the station is coming near your position in the next hours (when meteorological and light condition are adequate you can see it without any instruments, just observing the sky naked-eye).

Time of day matters, you can’t see it during the day but only when you have dark sky and the station still get the sun light, so usually after sunset for around 3 hours and before dawn (for a period of 3 hours).

Every year during the summer I had the possibility to see it many times in a month and many nights you have 2 valid passages (distanced by the time it spend for a world circle with is around 90 minutes at 27 000 Km/h – 17 000 MPH)

You can zoom, move and resize the map as you like at any time and on the map you see exactly from where it’s coming and where to look to catch it After some time you will become expert to spot it in the sky as soon as it is on the horizon.

The application downloads at regular time, once per day when you startup it, from our server, the latest orbital parameters to calculate the orbit, so the calculation obtained for the position is always accurate and perfect because the app uses the most updated orbital parameters.

No user action required, the app does it all alone. Our own server provides always updated NASA data to your app when it requires it.

International Space Station is easy and fun to use, anyone can use it even if it uses sophisticated satellite orbit calculation with the same alghoritm used by pro orbital calculation software.

  • Perfect results as using pro orbital software but in an easy to use app
  • Offers 6 different types of map/3D globe on macOS 10.13 (5 on previous release, plain map not available till 10.12, and only 3 types on macOS 10.10)
  • Customizable latitude/longitude format
  • Measure units in Km and Km/h or NM and MPH
  • Zoomable interactive Map and 3DGlobe showing also night/day areas
  • ‘Keep Centered’ function
  • Circle area of visibility moving with the station* Autodetect of your position and circle area of visibility around your position
  • Includes a PDF User Guide

Plus it offers fast access via your web browser to various dedicated area:

  • Page Station at NASA
  • Nasa station blog
  • Web Cam stream on board of the station
  • Audio stream from the station
  • Facebook page of the station
  • Twitter NASA astronauts
  • Twitter ESA astronauts
  • YouTube presence
  • Flickr presence

Requires an internet connection for Apple Map visualization, data update once a day, web cam stream and web pages access. Position is calculated locally using the latest algorithm for orbit computation coded for macOS. We have also a version for the iPhone and the iPad with similar features. Search on the iOS App Store for ‘ISS Track 2’

What’s new in release 2.0:

  • Now uses native Apple MapKit
  • 6 different type of maps
  • Till 12 hours of station trajectory
  • User position visualization
  • Visibility circle also around the user
  • Improved algorithm
  • Various optimizations
  • Various Bug fixes

Device Requirements:

  • macOS
  • 13.4 MB

Pricing and Availability:
International Space Station 2 is just $6.99 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Education category.

Coffee and Caffeine – Of Course There Is An Algorithm​ For Optimum Consumption

coffee
Coffee – Many of us brew coffee first thing in the morning and begin our daily consuption. The U.S. Army researched the consuption of coffee and found that there is an algorithm we can follow to achieve optimum alertness. The results of the study indicates that people’s performance on an attention task can be improved by up to 64 percent. When the algorithm is followed, caffeine consumption can be reduced by up to 65% while still maintaining elevated levels of performance.

As a result of the research a web-based tool 2B‐Alert Web has been developed to help predict a person’s alertness based on their sleep time and caffeine consumption.

The study “Caffeine dosing strategies to optimize alertness during sleep loss” was published in the Journal of Sleep Research on May 28, 2018.

I don’t drink coffee intending to enhance my alertness these days. I drink it because I simply like the taste. However, if you are in a position where alertness is essential to your job, this may be something to look into.