science

Jacob’s Ladder electrical arc device

After watching the movie Powder and hearing an electrical arc device referred to as Jacob’s Ladder, I looked into it and found this Jacob’s Ladder page on the Popular Science website (where this image comes from). I was familiar with the term in a religious context, but I didn’t know that’s what the name for this device is.

Top environmental problems: Selfishness, greed, and apathy alvin April 2, 2018 - 7:51pm

I saw this quote by Gus Speth on Facebook and Twitter, and wanted to share it here. As Mr. Speth says, the top environmental problems aren’t biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change, they’re selfishness, greed, and apathy (mostly the first two, in my opinion).

Mashable asked astronauts if they think aliens exist

Mashable asked astronauts if they think aliens exist. Here’s part of the article I found interesting:

“The math isn’t easy. How many stars are in the universe? Well, that depends on the size of the universe. We’re able to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), radiation formed around 400,000 years after the Big Bang. It tells us the observable universe goes back around 14 billion years. But there could be something beyond the CMB, or even other universes contained in a massive ‘multiverse.’”

“Within the constraints of the observable universe, there could be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or septillion) stars, according to astronomer David Kornreich. (He conceded to Space.com that the number could be a gross underestimate.)”

A story about a black-hole merger

“About 1.1 billion years ago, two black holes coalesced. They had danced around each other for billions of years, losing energy and swinging closer, until they could no longer resist each other's embrace. Spiraling in, they merged, and released a quaking shout of gravitational waves that echoed across the cosmos.”

Phil Plait on syfy.com has a nice story about a black-hole merger.

A scientific study to capture images of your brain on LSD

QZ.com published information about a scientific study to capture images of your brain on LSD. Quotes from the article:

“Nutt’s study ... was the first to use brain imaging to show the effects of LSD ... it showed that the drug weakens the rhythm of alpha brainwaves, which are known to be stronger in humans than other animals, and are considered a signature of high-level consciousness.”

“The study also found that LSD causes brain activity to become less coordinated in regions that make up the brain’s ‘default mode network,’ which is responsible for maintaining a stable sense of self. The greater the drug’s effect on the brain, the more participants experienced ego-dissolution, where the self melds with world around you.”

From the accompanying video: “LSD can also make people lose their sense of self ... as the higher-level network disintegrates, and normally estranged parts of the brain begin to interact, people’s thoughts and the outside world start to feel like the same thing.”