Daily Bulletin for 04/24/2017

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04/24/2017
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How Western Civilization Could Collapse

Rachel Nuwer, BBC Future

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more would begin to teeter.

Will El Nino Return in 2017?

Adam Wernick, Public Radio International

El Nio began affecting the world’s weather in 2015 and ended barely a year ago. Typically, El Nios occur three to seven years apart, but dramatic winter flooding in California followed by unprecedented rains that buried Peru in deadly mudslides may be a signal that El Nio is returning.

Ancient Carvings Depict Comet Hitting Earth

NewScientist

Ancient symbols carved into stone at an archaeological site in Turkey tell the story of a devastating comet impact that triggered a mini ice age more than 13,000 years ago.Evidence from the carvings, made on a pillar known as the Vulture Stone, suggests that a swarm of comet fragments hit the Earth in around 11000 BC.

Hernandez’s Brian Will Be Donated to CTE Research

Belson & Bidgood, NYT

Aaron Hernandez’s death was ruled a suicide on Thursday by Massachusetts officials, who also said that his brain would be released to an academic center that has researched the links between brain disease and football.The ruling appeared to end a surreal standoff that arose a day after the death of Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder.

Alpha Centauri Becoming Popular Destination

Elizabeth Howell, Air & Space

The launch of Breakthrough Starshot a year ago, backed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, has re-opened the idea of exploring nearby starsfirst by telescope, and eventually by spacecraft. While the group is holding a second Breakthrough Discuss conference this week to highlight its progress so far, other groups, large and small, are getting in on the action.

More to Science Than Government-Funded Jobs

Hank Campbell, Sci 2.0

For the better part of this century, the federal government has promoted the notion that only government-funded science is real science, and the private sector is the icky kind that, let’s face it, the kind of people who overwhelmingly prefer to stay in academia dislike.

What Will a Black Hole’s Event Horizon Look Like?

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

Earlier this month, telescopes from all around the world took data, simultaneously, of the Milky Way’s central black hole. Of all the black holes that are known in the Universe, the one at our galactic center — Sagittarius A — is special. From our point of view, its event horizon is the largest of all black holes.

Five Scientists Explain Why They Didn’t March

Dorie Chevlen, Science News

Saturday’s march coverage focused, naturally enough, on those who turned out in the streets. But Science’s Dorie Chevlen spent some time talking with those who didn’t march, for one reason or another.Turns out not marching can be a sensitive topic: When Dorie posted a note looking for non-marchers on a march-related website, several commenters called for her post to be removed, accused her being a troll, and even suggested she was a Russian operative trying to wreak havoc.

How The March For Science Found Its Voice

Ed Yong, The Atlantic

They marched for science, and at first, they did so quietly. On Saturday, as thousands of people started streaming eastward from the Washington Monument, in a river of ponchos and umbrellas, the usual raucous chants that accompany such protests were rarely heard and even more rarely continued.

Seven Takeaways From the March for Science

Andrew Joseph, Stat

Perhaps it was fitting that it poured rain on the March for Science here.The rallies and marches Saturday with hundreds of thousands of people attending events around the world served as a turning point for scientists, when many of them left the sterility of their labs and entered the muck that is politics.

Could Consciousness Be Quantum?

Karla Lant, Futurism

Despite all the research we’ve done, we still know relatively little about how the human brain works, and we know even less about the mystery of consciousness. Scientists disagree about whether consciousness exists at all outside the illusions of our own collective imagination. Some believe it exists independently although we’ve yet to understand its origins have brought quantum physics into the discussion.

How the March for Science Misunderstands Politics

Andrew Jewett, Atlantic

This Saturday, in Washington, D.C., and around the world, scientists and their supporters will hit the streets. From Ketchikan to Buenos Aires to Bhutan, marchers will demand that politicians support scientific research, publish its results widely, and base their policies on those results.

Why the Science March Split in Memphis

Anna Vlasits, Wired

Almost immediately after the inauguration of Donald Trump, scientists and science-affiliated groups started talking about a March for Science. This weekend, it’s finally happeningand in aggregate, Saturday’s events may be the largest demonstration of scientists ever.

The Failed Experiment That Changed the World

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

In science, we don’t simply perform experiments willy-nilly. We don’t put things together at random and ask, “what happens if I do this?" We examine the phenomena that exist, the predictions our theories make, and look for ways to test them in ever-greater detail.

The Modern Chemistry of Ancient Fossils

Brandon Keim, Anthropocene

Many phenomena signify the Anthropocene, our age of ubiquitous human impact: urbanization, tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss, the topography of Earth’s radically altered surface. Add to that list, perhaps, the very composition of fossils deposited hundreds of millions of years ago, yet already suffused by our chemical legacy.

The Limits of Information

Daniel Robinson, The New Atlantis

There is a long, winding, and vexing wrangle among philosophers on the nature and validity of our knowledge of the physical world. Take the example of color. A stroll through the garden reveals a busy bee extracting nectar from a yellow rose. I see the yellow rose owing to certain pigments in the cone receptors of my retina.

A New Way to Violate Local Causality

Lisa Zyga, PhysOrg.com

For the first time, physicists have experimentally demonstrated the violation of “bilocal causality"a concept that is related to the more standard local causality, except that it accounts for the precise way in which physical systems are initially generated. The results show that it’s possible to violate local causality in an entirely new and more general way, which could lead to a potential new resource for quantum technologies.

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