July 14, 2016

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

A book by Jame Gleick

In 2011 alone, 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 trillion gigabytes) of data was created. Currently we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, satellites keeping track of deep space events, DNA sequencing, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

You can check out a sliver of the data we generate in a single minute in this infograph - but keep in mind that these numbers are from 2011 which means that by now most of them will have increased by a factor of 2. Here's another infograph, one that takes a look at how big data is changing the IT landscape and how it will continue to do so in the future > - annual data generation is expected to increase 4300% by 2020... mindboggling!

The possibilities are limitless. Literally every industry and branch of science will ultimately be affected. Big data can help us to better understand everything from diseases to the environment, it can help alleviate traffic problems and reduce waste, under specific circumstances it even allows us to predict the future. When you take into account developments like Adam, the robot scientist and Eureqa, a software tool that can detect equations and hidden mathematical relationships in your data, the future looks bright indeed. Unfortunately, big data also has a dark side but more on that next sunday.

Adam: http://www.wired.com/2011/04/robot-scientist-language/
Eureqa: http://www.creativemachineslab.com/
Big Data: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data

BBC Horizon: The Age of Big Data
In Los Angeles, a remarkable experiment is underway; the police are trying to predict crime, before it even happens. In London, one trader believes that he has found the secret of making billions with maths and In South Africa, astronomers are attempting to catalogue the entire cosmos. These very different worlds are united by one thing - an extraordinary explosion in data.

Horizon meets the people at the forefront of the data revolution, and reveals the possibilities and the promise of the age of big data.

Crystallization made Crystal Clear

The crystallization process consists of two major events, nucleation and crystal growth. Nucleation is the initial process that forms the site upon which additional particles are deposited during the subsequent crystal growth phase. When solute molecules dispersed in a solvent gather into clusters, they elevate solute concentration in a small region. Normally these clusters redissolve but under the right operating conditions (temperature and supersaturation), they reach a critical size and become stable nuclei. It's this nucleation process that determines the crystal structure, arranging the atoms in a defined and periodic manner. Both nucleation and growth will continue to occur simultaneously while the supersaturation exists.

Enough talk, now watch NurdRage electrically crystallize metal out of a solution down below!

Some more fun with crystals; Crystal Garden Growing Time Lapse - and you might also want to check out Mexico's giant crystal cave; goo.gl/FBFn9

Bonus: Timelapse of Crystals Growing

June 5, 2016

Sea lice mob devours pig from the inside out

Finding a dead body in the ocean may be gruesome, but for forensic scientists it can also be perplexing. Although the way a body decomposes on land is well understood, little is known about how human remains fare underwater.

Now a pioneering experiment lead by forensic scientist Gail Anderson from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, is using dead pigs as a model for humans to gain insight. In this video, a pig carcass is tracked as it turns to bones in the ocean, capturing the scavengers that visit the body. Sharks are unable to tuck in since it's enclosed, giving sea lice exclusive access to the remains. They enter orifices in droves to feast on the animal from the inside out and congregate on the cage bars to prevent other arthropods, like shrimp, from getting a bite. "By the end of the fourth day, the sea lice had left and the pigs were reduced to bones," says Anderson.

Shrimp arrive to pick at the skeleton, eventually removing all the cartilage. The team then recovered the bones which, strangely, were jet black for a period of 48 hours. "This is something that has never been seen before," says Lynne Bell, a member of the team. "Colleagues are working to identify the micro-organisms collected close to the bone, which may help to identify the unique chemistry of the change."

Stick around till the end for a surprise visitor. :)

Interested in the science behind decay? Check this out;
After Life: The Science of Decay


Hands on with Raytheon's new Exoskeleton

This piece of technological wizardry is brought to you by Raytheon which is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics.

Evolution on Acid

Nudibranchs or sea slugs come in a truly stupendous amount of shapes, sizes and colors.

50 Shades of Nudibranch

The Three Laws of Robotics

The three laws form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's robotic-based fiction, appearing in his Robot series and the stories linked to it. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov's robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them and references, often parodic, appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

The original laws have been altered and elaborated on by Asimov and other authors. Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.


Here they are, straight from Asimov himself.

Will the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN probe become a maven on the topic of Mars?

Only time will tell but NASA has a track record when it comes to delivering explorers to our red neighbor in one piece. If all goes well, MAVEN will help us determine how Mars lost almost all of its atmosphere and water. Humans seem to be rather fond of water and oxygen so this isn't just interesting from a scientific point of view, it might also help us safeguard our own planet to make sure that such a runaway process doesn't happen here.

MAVEN will perform measurements from a highly elliptical orbit over a period of one Earth year, with five "deep dips" at 150 km (93 mi) minimum altitude to sample the upper atmosphere. The MAVEN spacecraft will carry three instrument suites, and they include:

Particles and Field (P&F) Package
> Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) - measures solar wind and ionospheric electrons
> Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) - measures solar wind and magnetosheath ion density and velocity
> SupraThermal And Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC) - measures thermal ions to moderate-energy escaping ions
> Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) - determines the impact of SEPs on the upper atmosphere
> Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) - determines ionospheric properties and wave heating of escaping ions and solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) input to atmosphere
> Magnetometer (MAG) - measures interplanetary solar wind and ionospheric magnetic fields

Remote Sensing (RS) Package
> Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer (IUVS) - measures global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere
> Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) Package - measures the composition and isotopes of neutral gases and ions

MAVEN is expected to reach Mars in September 2014. By then, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on board the Curiosity rover will have made similar surface measurements from Gale crater, which will help guide the interpretation of MAVEN's upper atmosphere measurements. MAVEN's measurements will also provide additional scientific context with which to test models for current methane formation in Mars.

Launch T-minus: 1h 25m
Watch MAVEN take off live here; http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv

Looking for more info on Mars? http://wondreal.blogspot.be/2016/06/mars-red-planet.html