Author Topic: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)  (Read 37991 times)

Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2021, 09:09:00 AM »
I'm sure many of you know about this Youtube channel Veritasium...  Here's a nice video on "potash" where the name for potassium comes from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMDJA4UvXLA

Does a nice potassium in water explosion demonstration!
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2021, 11:55:40 AM »
This was a story I think I missed at the time (late 2001) because our family was moving from Berkeley to Oregon and I was trying to re-configure the UofO probe lab which was in a bit of a mess, because the previous staff person had left about 6 months prior and the students, well you know.

But recently I came across a book (Plastic Fantastic) in my office bookshelf which I probably bought some time later when I started teaching a freshmen seminar on critical thinking called "Weird Science". Well I finally got around to reading it and it's an absolutely fascinating (true) story about one of the biggest cases of scientific fraud, and in the physical sciences!

I mean, we all know about various medical science frauds (e.g., cloning, vaccine toxicity) but in the physical sciences?  And this was at Bell (Lucent) Labs, a highly regarded research institution.

Anyway, here is a link to the wiki page on the scandal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6n_scandal

The book (Plastic Fantastic) is very much worth a read. Head spinning how he got away with the deceit for so long.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2021, 04:10:37 PM by Probeman »
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #32 on: September 01, 2021, 11:19:25 AM »
I've mentioned the Youtube channel Veritasium in a previous post (see above), but their latest video is quite interesting and of some significance to anyone using a computer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaZ_RSt0KP8

The part on satellites and high radiation environments reminded me of the high threshold logic (HTL) chips utilized in the 1970s by ARL on the SEMQ microprobe vacuum logic:

https://probesoftware.com/smf/index.php?topic=1275.0

The story I heard was that ARL decided to use these HTL chips for their vacuum logic circuits. These chips which were originally designed to run at 15 volts (as opposed to 5 volts in normal TTL chips) for better reliability in high radiation environments such as space. 

Unfortunately for whatever reason, the vacuum logic in the SEMQ was extremely unstable, and one time at UC Berkeley the logic circuit closed the 12" sample chamber isolation valve while the stage was in the analysis position, shearing off the entire stage assembly and venting the sample and spectrometer chamber to air through the diffusion pump, thus coating all the mechanicals and lenses with a polymerized coating of hard plastic.

That was my first introduction to EPMA- repairing all that damage.
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2022, 09:16:08 AM »
Quote
In 1655 the English mathematician John Wallis published a book in which he derived a formula for pi as the product of an infinite series of ratios. Now researchers from the University of Rochester, in a surprise discovery, have found the same formula in quantum mechanical calculations of the energy levels of a hydrogen atom.

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/647922

Weird, right?
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2022, 08:19:47 AM »
Here's an article about some research going on in my CAMCOR lab at UofO:

https://phys.org/news/2022-04-quantum-weirdness-electron-microscopes.html

The instrument itself is a heavily modified JEOL Auger instrument we got from NIST a few years ago, and is actually located in the microanalytical lab next to my Cameca SX100 (you can see microanalytical lab through the windows in the right side of the picture, where you can just make out the monitors of the FEI Quanta instrument which is on the other side of the SX100 from the instrument being discussed in the article). 

The instrument shown in the picture in the article is actually the FEI dual beam FIB next door in the nano-fabrication lab!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2022, 08:40:05 AM by Probeman »
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2022, 09:41:15 AM »
Here's an article about some research going on in my CAMCOR lab at UofO:

https://phys.org/news/2022-04-quantum-weirdness-electron-microscopes.html

The instrument itself is a heavily modified JEOL Auger instrument we got from NIST a few years ago, and is actually located in the microanalytical lab next to my Cameca SX100 (you can see microanalytical lab through the windows in the right side of the picture, where you can just make out the monitors of the FEI Quanta instrument which is on the other side of the SX100 from the instrument being discussed in the article). 

The instrument shown in the picture in the article is actually the FEI dual beam FIB next door in the nano-fabrication lab!

Here's a pic of the actual beast, uh, I mean instrument:

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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2022, 05:35:03 PM »
Mind blown. Electrons don't transfer energy, fields do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oI_X2cMHNe0

Now I'm trying to think through how this occurs in an electron beam...
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2022, 09:14:33 AM »
This article caught my eye due to its name "MICROSCOPE", but it's actually a high precision test of Galileo's original falling weights experiment:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/09/220914102259.htm

Not sure if MICROSCOPE is an acronym or what, but 10^-15 precision is pretty darn good!

And here we thought 2-3 PPM sensitivity was impressive:

https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/msa/ammin/article-abstract/96/2-3/274/45333/Improved-electron-probe-microanalysis-of-trace

Though Joe Boro's recent quartz paper claims 1-2 PPM for Ti in quartz:

https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/msa/ammin/article-abstract/106/4/620/595713/Titanium-diffusion-profiles-and-melt-inclusion

And also do check out Acosta's recent paper on quartz thermodynamics:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016703720302891
« Last Edit: September 15, 2022, 09:34:19 AM by Probeman »
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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #38 on: October 10, 2022, 08:38:45 AM »
Just finished the book "The Alignment Problem" by Brian Christian, and I highly recommend it.

https://www.amazon.com/Alignment-Problem-Machine-Learning-Values/dp/0393635821

Quote
A jaw-dropping exploration of everything that goes wrong when we build AI systems and the movement to fix them.

Today’s “machine-learning” systems, trained by data, are so effective that we’ve invited them to see and hear for us―and to make decisions on our behalf. But alarm bells are ringing. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not, in the end, do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge. Researchers call this the alignment problem.

Systems cull résumés until, years later, we discover that they have inherent gender biases. Algorithms decide bail and parole―and appear to assess Black and White defendants differently. We can no longer assume that our mortgage application, or even our medical tests, will be seen by human eyes. And as autonomous vehicles share our streets, we are increasingly putting our lives in their hands.

The mathematical and computational models driving these changes range in complexity from something that can fit on a spreadsheet to a complex system that might credibly be called “artificial intelligence.” They are steadily replacing both human judgment and explicitly programmed software.

In best-selling author Brian Christian’s riveting account, we meet the alignment problem’s “first-responders,” and learn their ambitious plan to solve it before our hands are completely off the wheel. In a masterful blend of history and on-the ground reporting, Christian traces the explosive growth in the field of machine learning and surveys its current, sprawling frontier. Readers encounter a discipline finding its legs amid exhilarating and sometimes terrifying progress. Whether they―and we―succeed or fail in solving the alignment problem will be a defining human story.

The Alignment Problem offers an unflinching reckoning with humanity’s biases and blind spots, our own unstated assumptions and often contradictory goals. A dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, it takes a hard look not only at our technology but at our culture―and finds a story by turns harrowing and hopeful.

Two quotes from the book apply to all the sciences, the first is a well known quote and no explanation is necessary:

Quote
"All models are wrong, but some are useful. "
George E. P. Box

But the next one is more thoughtful though I couldn't find the original source but was attributed to Hannah Arendt:

Quote
"The danger is not that our models are false, but that they might become true."

That is to say: uncertainty is a good thing in science, particularly in regards to our models. We need to remain flexible and open to new data and interpretations of that data.

We should remember that a model is a simplification of reality which fosters understanding and assists in our calculations and helps us to make predictions of nature. A model can always be improved by taking a closer look at reality.  In other words, we must never assume our models to be exact representations of reality.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2022, 06:33:36 PM by Probeman »
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2022, 09:23:32 AM »
"One of the greatest damn mysteries of physics': The most precise astronomical test of electromagnetism yet"

https://phys.org/news/2022-11-greatest-damn-mysteries-physics-precise.html
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2022, 09:20:24 AM »
A new look at the ‘mineral kingdom’ may transform how we search for life: Research also shows Earth may have been ready for life to form earlier than typically thought.

"For the first time, scientists have cataloged every different way that every known mineral can form and put all of that information in one place. This collection of mineral origin stories hints that Earth could have harbored life earlier than previously thought, quantifies the importance of water as the most transformative ingredient in geology, and may change how researchers look for signs of life and water on other planets."

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/earth-mineral-kingdom-classification-crystal-search-life
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2022, 09:33:58 AM »
I found this article quite interesting:

"Maintenance of the software that’s used for the hardest physics calculations rests almost entirely with a retiree. The situation reveals the problematic incentive structure of academia"

https://www.quantamagazine.org/crucial-computer-program-for-particle-physics-at-risk-of-obsolescence-20221201/
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #42 on: December 12, 2022, 08:59:01 AM »
The strongest (toughest) alloy in the world is CrCoNi:

"Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory just measured the highest toughness ever recorded, of any material, while investigating a metallic alloy made of chromium, cobalt, and nickel, called CrCoNi. The material was found to be highly malleable with impressive resistance to permanent deformation."

https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2852159842388/the-toughest-material-on-earth-has-just-been-found-and-the-structure-is-just-grains

"The toughness of this material near liquid helium temperatures (20 kelvin, -424 Fahrenheit) is as high as 500 megapascals square root meters. In the same units, the toughness of a piece of silicon is one, the aluminum airframe in passenger airplanes is about 35, and the toughness of some of the best steels is around 100. So, 500, it’s a staggering number," said research co-leader Robert Ritchie, a senior faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and the Chua Professor of Engineering at UC Berkeley."

When I first saw this formula I thought, oh yeah, they'll need to correct for the Co Kb on Ni interference!   :)
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #43 on: December 18, 2022, 09:18:03 AM »
I'm sure by now everyone has seen the reports in the mass media about the nuclear fusion ignition "breakthrough" at Livermore National Lab.

Unfortunately, it's not quite the "breakthrough" that being reported as "net positive" when in fact that net calculation did not include the energy required to operate the massive lasers. It can only be called "net positive" if one only counts the light energy actually impinging on the pellet deuterium-tritium pellet.  Operation of the lasers took roughly 100 times the energy generated and that doesn't include the energy to otherwise run this massive facility.

Even worse, the reporting in the mass media completely missed the actual purpose of this test, which was not at all related to energy production which still decades into the future if ever, but is instead an atomic weapons testing program:

https://thebulletin.org/2022/12/the-energy-departments-fusion-breakthrough-its-not-really-about-generating-electricity/
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 09:20:33 AM by Probeman »
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Probeman

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Re: Science in the News (please post articles of general interest here)
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2022, 11:16:13 AM »
This might be behind a paywall, not sure since I'm a subscriber, but these colorized SEM images of forest soils and their inhabitants are quite stunning:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/article/meet-the-marvelous-creatures-that-bring-soil-to-life-feature



Scroll down if you are allowed, and be prepared to be impressed with the skill and art of the microscopists!
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