Archive for April 2013

Kessler syndrome: Earth would end up as a prisoner of space debris.

April 29, 2013

space debris from satellites and spaceships orbiting around the Earth:

Due to differences in orbital speed can reach 56,000 km / h, the space debris measuring an inch are real bullets that can seriously damage operational satellites. Those that exceed 10 cm can cause explosions generating, in turn, a new cloud of debris.

This is called the Kessler Syndrome. Donald Kessler was a consultant for NASA. By 1978, he had considered a kind of reaction in chain produced by the collisions between debris. Their number would increase exponentially. Earth would end up as a prisoner. Space exploration, and even the use of artificial satellites would be impossible for many generations.

It is now necessary to collect these debris:

Motivation could come from the capital already invested in satellites. The 1000 operational spacecraft around the Earth have cost $ 100 billion. The economic impact of their destruction would be dozens of times higher than this figure. Telecommunications, weather, navigation (GPS), broadcast (television) and surveillance missions of climate change depend on these satellites.

Source:
http://www.slate.fr/life/71767/debris-spatiaux-qui-va-faire-le-menage-de-espace

Tim Fain, violonist, plays the “Second Knee Play” from Philip Glass 1976 opera “Einstein on the Beach”

April 28, 2013

 

Performed at NYC The Metropolitan Museum of Art

April 2012

“The longest, and in many ways most rewarding, piece on the bill also was the most recent — Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin that Glass composed for Fain in 2010. The 20-minute piece is part of a seven-movement suite clearly modeled after the Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas. Indeed, it is far less beholden to Glass’ trademark repeating melodic cells and undulant arpeggios than it is to linear, neo-baroque propulsiveness.”

“Playing from memory, Fain tore through the furious double stops, rhapsodic melodic flights and other Glassian-Bachian flourishes like a possessed dervish”

“(Then were performed) three selections from the music Glass wrote with the Gambian griot (oral tribal historian) master and composer, Foday Musa Suso, for director JoAnne Akalaitis’ 1989 Guthrie Theatre production of Jean Genet’s final play, “The Screens.” Couched in long-lined violin melody over broken piano chords, the music took on emotional urgency particularly in the slow blues, “The Orchard.””

“Another arrangement for violin and piano, that of a 2010 piano trio piece, “Pendulum,” sent resonant string chords and rapid articulations fanning out across a high-energy landscape lined with bravura flourishes in the piano”

“Three sections from “Metamorphosis” traded in syncopated rhythms, pulsing major-minor chords and, in “Metamorphosis” No. 2, a delicate reimagining of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedies.” “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” a section from “Hydrogen Jukebox,” Glass’ 1988 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg, had the pianist-composer playing live accompaniment to Ginsberg’s recorded recitation of his antiwar verses. “I declare the end of the (Vietnam) war!” shouted the taped poet, in a paroxysm of political and erotic passion.”

“Both Glass and Fain gave themselves solo encores, Glass with “Closing” (from “Glassworks”), Fain with the “Second Knee Play” from the composer’s landmark 1976 opera, “Einstein on the Beach.” The latter, supercharged solo may be the last word in how fast any fiddler can move his bow across the strings of a violin. You had to hear it to believe it. Fain was astonishing.”

 

Source:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-25/entertainment/ct-ent-0625-glass-review-20120625_1_philip-glass-ravinia-concert-keyboard-pieces

lack of empathy is marked by a diminished response in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala

April 24, 2013

“A marked lack of empathy is a hallmark characteristic of individuals with psychopathy,”

Relative to non-psychopathic criminals, psychopaths are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repetitive crime and violence in society

Searchers recorded prisoners’ minds responses to a series of scenarios depicting people being intentionally hurt. The prisoners were also tested on their responses to seeing short videos of facial expressions showing pain.

The high response in the insula in psychopaths was an unexpected finding, as this region is critically involved in emotion and somatic resonance

the diminished response in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala is consistent with the affective neuroscience literature on psychopathy. This latter region is important for monitoring ongoing behavior, estimating consequences and incorporating emotional learning into moral decision-making, and plays a fundamental role in empathic

“The neural response to distress of others such as pain is thought to reflect an aversive response in the observer that may act as a trigger to inhibit aggression or prompt motivation to help,”

Source
http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-psychopaths-neurally-equipped.html

Without the project the Mont would have been completely landlocked within 30 years.

April 24, 2013

the Roman Catholic churches at Mont-St.-Michel and Chartres were the sublime symbols of a medieval unity of vision, founded on God. Those churches expressed “an emotion, the deepest man ever felt – the struggle of his own littleness to grasp the infinite.”

a visitor can still feel some of that awe, especially at dawn and dusk, when the light spreads over the salt flats and the sea, or streams through the cloister and stained glass of the Abbaye du Mont-St.-Michel, known as La Merveille since at least the 12th century.

At the abbey,there are only 13 nuns and monks now

The new bridge (work in progress):
The original idea was to leave passengers more than half a mile from the island, so they could walk over the oak planks of the new bridge and experience the sense of pilgrimage of the past. But merchants argued that the walk was too long and too slow, and that locals who like to come for a drink or dinner overlooking the sea would be put off.

Less tourists because of the long walking along the new bridge: the mayor said:
“We’re in France, and anything that changes anyone’s habits a priori we don’t like. But those same people in a few years will see the beauty of the site, and this moaning will disappear.”

The new bridge will help desilting of the bay:
The salt marshes have already retreated about 2,000 feet as the river does its work. it is only when the new bridge is finished and the old causeway is finally destroyed sometime in 2015 that the full process of desilting will begin. Without the project the Mont would have been completely landlocked within 30 years.

Source:
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/world/europe/restoring-the-sea-and-the-romance-to-mont-st-michel.xml

60 Ghz home wireless technologies ready for 2014

April 23, 2013

the new-fangled radio connections operate in the unlicensed 60-gigahertz band, where bandwidth is abundant and capable of providing data rates that rival those of fibre-optics.

Already Wi-Fi connections working at frequencies in the 2.4-gigahertz or 5-gigahertz bands have begun to replace USB (universal serial bus) cables for connecting computers to printers, keyboards and mice where data rates are modest. But the new 60-gigahertz connections look like being more than a match for even the “SuperSpeed” version of USB 3.0.

The 60-gigahertz band resides in the EHF (extremely high frequency) part of the spectrum, which spans frequencies from 30 gigahertz to 300 gigahertz. Beyond these reside the far infra-red and visible-light regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Oxygen molecules in the atmosphere resonate at 60 gigahertz, absorbing energy from radio waves at this frequency and attenuating them severely. Rain also causes such signals to fade. Even the normal humidity of the atmosphere takes its toll on the distance these so-called millimetre waves can travel. (At 60 gigahertz, the wavelength is 5mm.) They are also blocked by foliage and walls, and antennas need to be within line-of-sight of one another.

But for some applications, such restrictions can be a definite advantage —as in device-to-device communication over distances of up to ten metres (33 feet) or so. Such radio waves are ideal for beaming high-definition video from a computer to a television set across a living room, or for connecting a tablet to a docking station a few centimetres away.

Portable devices fitted with 60-gigahertz radio chips can swap vast amounts of data almost instantly when brought within range of one another. Their antennas need be only a couple of millimetres in size—making them small enough to be embedded in the radio chip itself.

adaptive beamforming:
This technique uses an algorithm on the transmitter side to determine where the receiver is located. It then focuses the signal between the two devices into a pencil-thin beam.

Apart from allowing even faster data transmission over longer distances, pencil beams provide extremely secure connections. With conventional Wi-Fi, which broadcasts in all directions, eavesdroppers can be outside in the carpark. To intercept a pencil beam they have to be in the same room—in the beam’s actual path—to have any chance of success.

Two 60Ghz wireless technologies:
One, an industry-led initiative known as WirelessHD, has been around since 2008. The other, a standard backed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) known as WiGig, published its specification in 2010. In IEEE terminology, WiGig is known as 802.11ad.

WirelessHD and WiGig do broadly the same thing. In their present incarnations, both are capable of transmitting data at around seven gigabits a second—ten times faster than the slickest form of Wi-Fi networking today—and have peak data rates of around 30 gigabits a second.

Source:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/04/gigabit-wi-fi?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/unpluggingcables

The disrupted metabolism of sugar, fat and calcium is part of the process that causes the death of neurons in Alzheimer’s disease.

April 22, 2013

important parts of the nerve cell that are involved in the cell’s energy metabolism operate in the early stages of the disease

In the Alzheimer’s disease brain, plaques consisting of so called amyloid-beta-peptide (Aβ) are accumulated.

the nerve cells of patients with Alzheimer’s disease have problems metabolising for example glucose and calcium,

these disorders are associated with cell death. The metabolism of these substances is the job of the cell mitochondria, which serve as the cell’s power plant and supply the cell with energy.

for the mitochondria to do this, they need good contact with another part of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The specialised region of ER that is in contact with mitochondria is called the MAM region

the deactivation of certain proteins in the MAM region disrupt the contact points between the mitochondria and the ER, preventing the delivery of energy to the cell and causing cell death.

Although in early stage Alzheimer’s disease Aβ has not formed large, lumpy plaques, symptoms still appear, implying that Aβ that has not yet formed plaque is toxic to neurons.

When nerve cells are exposed to low doses of Aβ, it leads to an increase in the number of contact points between the mitochondria and the ER, causing more calcium to be transferred from the ER to the mitochondria. The resulting over-accumulation of calcium is toxic to the mitochondria and affects their ability to supply energy to the nerve cell.

Source:
http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-early-stage-alzheimer-disease.html

lost promises of digital life

April 19, 2013

Politically, we were promised that social networks were the remedy to dictatorships and democracies way to revitalize. Doubtless social networks helped tipping the statues of Arab despots, but the crisis of democracy remains.

We were promised a transparency that would be incompatible with the shenanigans of politicians and central bankers. On the contrary, internet, dematerialising money and blowing up state borders, has accelerated the deregulation of financial markets.

We were promised the end of unearned incomes and an open and competitive economy. we are witnessing the creation of a series of monopolies: a single search engine, Google, a single social network, Facebook, a single e-commerce site, Amazon, a single playback software and digital media library manager, Apple IPad, etc.. Moreover they are all American. In addition, each of them is trying to lock us in its standard and aims to be the “empire.”

We were told of an indefinite extension of our meeting space and knowledge. In fact, the algorithms used by the search engines always refer us to sources of information – or misinformation – we already visit, allowing “self-propaganda”, and to the small community of people who think like us, live like us, use the same products and services as we do. It is not the best way to further meeting!

Finally, the digital should be the occasion of such an increase in labor productivity that we should spend most of our lives on holiday. In reality, those who still have a paid job have never been so busy and available and have their privacy invaded by their professional lives, while a large number of jobs disappear as a result of scanning and cutting of the value chain.

source

http://www.franceculture.fr/emission-la-chronique-de-brice-couturier-les-promesses-non-tenues-de-la-revolution-numerique-2013-04