Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Linkage 17/10/09

New view reveals how DNA fits into cell
'Cells are tidy packers, cramming DNA into nuclei to create a tangle-free, dense ball with pieces that are still accessible, researchers report October 9 in Science. The findings, based on a new three-dimensional view of the whole human genome, solve a long-standing biological mystery and may lead to a deeper understanding of how genes operate.'
(A beautiful and painstaking piece of research - my favourite biology story of the year, so far).

New Type Of Flying Reptile: Darwin's Pterodactyl Preyed On Flying Dinosaurs
'An international group of researchers from the University of Leicester (UK), and the Geological Institute, Beijing (China) has identified a new type of flying reptile, providing the first clear evidence of an unusual and controversial type of evolution.'

Sniffer bees

Asteroid Is Actually A Protoplanet, Study Of First High-resolution Images Of Pallas Confirms

'Britney E. Schmidt, a UCLA doctoral student in the department of Earth and space sciences, wasn't sure what she'd glean from images of the asteroid Pallas taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. But she hoped to settle at least one burning question: Was Pallas, the second-largest asteroid, actually in that gray area between an asteroid and a small planet?'

First black hole for light created on Earth
'An electromagnetic "black hole Movie Camera" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.
'The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity.'

Physicists Calculate Number of Universes in the Multiverse
'If we live in a multiverse, it's reasonable to ask how many other distinguishable universes we may share it with. Now physicists have an answer.'
(And it isn't 42.)

The Chemistry of Information Addictions
(Go on. Click. You know you want to.)


Blogger George Berger said...

Thanks for posting that article on the Multiverse. I've seen the notion of many worlds (i.e. universes) before. It's used in modern metaphysics and (in another form) in the "many worlds" interpretation of elementary quantum mechanics. I have great trouble taking either notion seriously, but the one you link to makes perfect sense (although its maths are well over my head). I guess this is close to Greg Egan's notion in "Diaspora."
The idea that there is a plurality of "regions" (where?) that act like universes goes back to Boltzmann. In an article in "Nature" and in his "Lectures on Gas Theory" (my translation of a book title) he argued that such a plurality makes perfect mathematical and physical sense. In particular, Boltzmann argued that an arrow of time might hold in our region (assuming that many exist), and that time's arrow in another region might be counterdirected to ours. the whole collection of regions is the universe. He used his statistical mechanics to theorise about this, got into a furious debate with Mach and Ostwald (disbelievers in atoms), and became so depressed that he killed himself. Shortly after his death Einstein developed the statistics of Brownian motion and Perrin wrote a book about the motion's atomic basis. Boltzmann was vindicated but his version of the multiverse idea remained speculative.

October 17, 2009 4:08 PM  

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