Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 2, 2020

in rsslog •  7 months ago  (edited)

A stone circle in Scotland is colocated with evidence of an ancient lightning strke; A discussion of simplicity and complexity in physics models; A $100 trashcan that replaces its own bags; A short retrospective look at the impact of gaming on society; and a Steem essay discussing several aspects of particle physics


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  1. Lewis stone circle has star-shaped lightning strike - A December 11 paper is published online and details evidence for one or more lightning strikes at the center of Callanish Stones Site XI in Scotland. The paper says that there is a star shaped magnetic anomaly that was left behind after a single large lightning strike or many smaller ones. The one-time stone circle is 4,000 years old and only has a single stone that remains standing, and the lightning strike occurred more than 3,000 years ago. The rest of the stones of the circle are now laying flat or burried under peat that began covering the site about 3 millennia ago. Richard Bates says that in the UK, evidence of old lightning strikes is very unusual and that the link between the lightning and the stone circle is not likely to be a coincidence. He also notes that it is not known whether the lightning struck a rock or tree at the center of the circle, or whether the circle itself attracted lightning. -h/t RealClear Science

  2. The Simple Truth about Physics - Using the cosmologists' model of the early universe as an example, this article by Harvard's Abraham Loeb argues that although many researchers tend to search for complicated models, the simple models are usually the ones that are most successful. The cosmology model, for example, is over one hundred years old and was long thought to be a naive simplification, but current data suggests that it is largely complete. In short, the essay suggests that, "Our task as scientists is to explain phenomena based on the simplest theory whose predictions can be tested further by new experiments." It goes on to note that many scientists use complexity as a smoke-screen to guard against scrutiny. Instead, he says that his own practice is to maximize simplicity by describing just what he understands, and clearly detailing the things that are unknown. While arguing against unnecessary complexity, however, the article does not argue against all complexity in science. It concludes as follows, "Although simple insights appear trivial in retrospect, discovering them is a rare privilege. Complex arguments which are born after tedious labor can be regarded as fruits that are in plain sight but difficult to reach. Rare insights, on the other hand, are low-hanging fruits often hidden from view. These two options are the only ones left when all the visible low-hanging fruits are already picked up."

  3. This $100 smart trash can changes and replaces its garbage bags — see how it works - This post contains an animation of a trashcan that launched in November for a price of $100, after a successful campaign on indiegogo. The trash can ties-off a full trash bag so the operator can remove the bag, and then it installs its own new bag. The can comes in white or teal colors, and it weighs about 8 pounds when empty. The can only works with its own custom trash bags and storage rings, which cost about $0.24 per bag, as compared to $0.144 per bag for glad bags from Amazon. For a higher cost, the company also offers its trash bags with recyclable rings. At publication time, the product was available on the company's web site, but teal was sold out.

  4. Video games: scourge or savior? - This article takes a retrospective look at three articles on the topic of gaming from articles that were published in 1983, 1993, and 2002. In 1983, Will Pac-Man Consume Our Nation’s Youth? pointed to evidence of linkages between arcade gaming and theft by gaming devotees, but also cited advocate who said that gaming offered a good substitute for bad vices. In 1993, Video Games That Teach? pointed to the promise of educational gaming but acknowledged that efforts until that time had been unsatisfactory. In 2002, From Playstation to PC anticipated virtual reality and massive multi-player gaming and also said that gaming is one of the primary software uses that pushes the boundaries of hardware development.

  5. STEEM PARTICLE PHYSICS: Deep Inelastic Scattering, Time dilation and The Higgs Boson. - In this essay, @emperorhassy discusses some of the physics behind the concept of deep inelastic scattering, time dilation, the Higgs boson, quarks, particles, anti-particles, and dark matter. The essay begins by reporting on the results of a 1968 experiment that confirmed protons can be split into smaller particles, called quarks, in a process known as scattering. When this is accomplished with high-energy, short-wavelength photons, the process is known as deep inelastic scattering, and this is one of the prime investigation tools of modern particle physics. The essay goes on to describe how collider systems are able to produce particles with more mass and longer lives than their stationary targets. Next, the essay notes that theory and research from the 20th and 21st centuries describes particles and antiparticles for three generations in the quark and lepton family, and it concludes by saying that classical physics components like atoms and nuclei exist and behave according to deeper quantum mechanical (QM) properties of quarks, but that the explanation for the deeper QM truths are currently unknown (Reminds me of Infinite in All Directions). This post is the last of a six-post series, so you may want to also review the earlier posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @emperorhassy.)


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