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August 25 2016

Joe Biden: "Peace For Our Time"
"The settlement of the Syrian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Near East may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the Turkish President, Herr Erdoğan, ... I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
Tags: politics

August 12 2016


"The signal"
by "Pale Red Dot - A search for Earth-like planets around Proxima Centaury"

"So while we are convinced there is a signal in the Doppler measurements of Proxima, previous data do not allow to confirm its presence and clarify its origin. The long term variability of Proxima spoiled our attempts to combine data from previous observations so we needed a dedicated campaign. Combination of UVES and HARPS data at different cadences suggest that the star is showing a smoothly varying Doppler signal. Since the UVES survey set an upper limit between 2-3 Earth masses and if the signal is not activity induced, it must correspond to a planet smaller than that (between 1-2 Earth masses). The signal might well be caused by stellar activity, which should be quasi-periodic as opposed to the strict periodicity of the orbital motion of a putative planet. [...]"
Tags: science
Reposted byastronomygroupp856

August 11 2016

Leaving the EU...

Long-term persistence

by Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, Luigi Zingales
Journal of the European Economic Association. doi:10.1111/jeea.12177 (Jul 2016)

We study whether a positive historical shock can generate long-term persistence in development. We show that Italian cities that achieved self-government in the Middle Ages have a higher level of civic capital today than similar cities in the same area that did not. The size of this effect increases with the length of the period of independence and its intensity. This effect persists even after accounting for the fact that cities did not become independent randomly. We conjecture that the Middle-Age experience of self-government fostered self-efficacy beliefs—beliefs in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals—and this positive attitude, transmitted across generations, enhances civic capital today. Consistently, we find that fifth-graders in former free city-states exhibit stronger self-efficacy beliefs and that these beliefs are correlated with a higher level of civic capital.
Tags: politics

August 10 2016

7955 9e60 500
Explaining disappearing stars... (KH 15D)
Tags: science

August 09 2016

"No object was presented during the final video. The silent videos precluded the use of false verbal suggestions, and participants were not asked leading questions about the objects. Nevertheless, 32% of participants reported having visual impressions of non-existent objects."

The Phantom Vanish Magic Trick: Investigating the Disappearance of a Non-existent Object in a Dynamic Scene
by Matthew L. Tompkins, Andy T. Woods, Anne M. Aimola Davies
Frontiers in Psychology, dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00950 (21 Jul 2016)
Tags: science

August 05 2016

2108 2d58 500
... approaching steadily (with minor course corrections Jan & Jul 2012) ...

KIC 8462852 Faded Throughout the Kepler Mission
by Benjamin T. Montet, Joshua D. Simon
http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.01316 (3 Aug 2016)

KIC 8462852 is a superficially ordinary main sequence F star for which Kepler detected an unusual series of brief dimming events. We obtain accurate relative photometry of KIC 8462852 from the Kepler full frame images, finding that the brightness of KIC 8462852 monotonically decreased over the four years it was observed by Kepler. Over the first ~1000 days, KIC 8462852 faded approximately linearly at a rate of 0.341 +/- 0.041 percent per year, for a total decline of 0.9%. KIC 8462852 then dimmed much more rapidly in the next ~200 days, with its flux dropping by more than 2%. For the final ~200 days of Kepler photometry the magnitude remained approximately constant, although the data are also consistent with the decline rate measured for the first 2.7 yr. Of a sample of 193 nearby comparison stars and 355 stars with similar stellar parameters, 0.6% change brightness at a rate as fast as 0.341 +/- 0.041 percent per year, and none exhibit either the rapid decline by >2% or the cumulative fading by 3% of KIC 8462852. We examine whether the rapid decline could be caused by a cloud of transiting circumstellar material, finding while such a cloud could evade detection in sub-mm observations, the transit ingress and duration cannot be explained by a simple cloud model. Moreover, this model cannot account for the observed longer-term dimming. No known or proposed stellar phenomena can fully explain all aspects of the observed light curve.
Tags: science

July 24 2016

"What the world’s oldest calculator tells us about the ancient Greeks' view of the universe", by Mike Edmunds, The Conversation, 20 July 2016
Reposted byastronomygroup astronomygroup

July 16 2016

"Sehr bezeichnend für seine Anlagen waren nun die Spiele des kleinen Albert. Meist waren es Geduldspiele, Laubsägearbeiten, Erstellung komplizierter Bauten mit dem bekannten Ankersteinbaukasten, am liebsten aber der Bau vielstöckiger Kartenhäuser, womit er seine Musse ausfüllte." Maja Winteler-Einstein, sister of Albert Einstein.

Anker-Steinbaukasten children's building blocks by F. Ad. Richter & Cie., Rudolstadt, [Germany], c.1880s
Provenance: The set has passed by direct descent from Albert Einstein to the present owner.

Christie's, London, Valuable Books And Manuscripts,
Price Realized: $83,000 (13 July 2016)
Tags: untagged
Reposted bysofias sofias

July 15 2016

"Soldiers: free / Turks: 1.75 Lira / Syrians: 3.00 Lira"
Tags: politics

July 13 2016


Tracking the will to attend: Cortical activity indexes self-generated, voluntary shifts of attention
by Leon Gmeindl, Yu-Chin Chiu, et al.
Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, DOI: 10.3758/s13414-016-1159-7 (June 2016)

The neural substrates of volition have long tantalized philosophers and scientists. Over the past few decades, researchers have employed increasingly sophisticated technology to investigate this issue, but many studies have been limited considerably by their reliance on intrusive experimental procedures (e.g., abrupt instructional cues), measures of brain activity contaminated by overt behavior, or introspective self-report techniques of questionable validity. Here, we used multivoxel pattern time-course analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data to index voluntary, covert perceptual acts—shifts of visuospatial attention—in the absence of instructional cues, overt behavioral indices, and self-report. We found that these self-generated, voluntary attention shifts were time-locked to activity in the medial superior parietal lobule, supporting the hypothesis that this brain region is engaged in voluntary attentional reconfiguration. Self-generated attention shifts were also time-locked to activity in the basal ganglia, a novel finding that motivates further research into the role of the basal ganglia in acts of volition. Remarkably, prior to self-generated shifts of attention, we observed early and selective increases in the activation of medial frontal (dorsal anterior cingulate) and lateral prefrontal (right middle frontal gyrus) cortex—activity that likely reflects processing related to the intention or preparation to reorient attention. These findings, which extend recent evidence on freely chosen motor movements, suggest that dorsal anterior cingulate and lateral prefrontal cortices play key roles in both overt and covert acts of volition, and may constitute core components of a brain network underlying the will to attend.
Tags: science

July 04 2016

Allegory of science
by Moses Haughton the Elder, c. 1790
(Historical Portraits Image Library)
Tags: arts
Reposted bypaintingsgruetzeno-longer-kore

July 03 2016


June 30 2016

I see dead salmon...

Cluster failure: Why fMRI inferences for spatial extent have inflated false-positive rates
by Anders Eklund, Thomas E. Nichols, and Hans Knutsson
PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1602413113 (28 Jun 2016)

Functional MRI (fMRI) is 25 years old, yet surprisingly its most common statistical methods have not been validated using real data. Here, we used resting-state fMRI data from 499 healthy controls to conduct 3 million task group analyses. Using this null data with different experimental designs, we estimate the incidence of significant results. In theory, we should find 5% false positives (for a significance threshold of 5%), but instead we found that the most common software packages for fMRI analysis (SPM, FSL, AFNI) can result in false-positive rates of up to 70%. These results question the validity of some 40,000 fMRI studies and may have a large impact on the interpretation of neuroimaging results.
Tags: science

June 29 2016

8370 dddb 500

Relative Likelihood for Life as a Function of Cosmic Time
by Abraham Loeb, Rafael A. Batista, David Sloan
http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.08448 (27 Jun 2016)

Is life most likely to emerge at the present cosmic time near a star like the Sun? We address this question by calculating the relative formation probability per unit time of habitable Earth-like planets within a fixed comoving volume of the Universe, dP(t)/dt, starting from the first stars and continuing to the distant cosmic future. We conservatively restrict our attention to the context of "life as we know it" and the standard cosmological model, LCDM. We find that unless habitability around low mass stars is suppressed, life is most likely to exist near 0.1 solar-mass stars ten trillion years from now . Spectroscopic searches for biosignatures in the atmospheres of transiting Earth-mass planets around low mass stars will determine whether present-day life is indeed premature or typical from a cosmic perspective.
Tags: science
Reposted byastronomygroupsoratadonaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftsofiasmariekneipemetafnordblubber

June 15 2016

Saturn's F ring fender bender (13 Jun 2016)
Tags: untagged
Reposted byastronomygroupRemulanerjalokim0ztarlego-rojoMrHobbesanewryzmJonae

June 14 2016


The social contingency of momentary subjective well-being
by Robb B. Rutledge, Archy O. de Berker, Svenja Espenhahn, et al.
Nature Communications 7/11825, 13 June 2016

Our results provide striking quantitative confirmation that an individual’s subjective reports of momentary well-being in a social context reflect not only how well things are going relative to expectations, but also how things are going relative to other people, even when outcomes for others are both independent from, and irrelevant to, the subjects’ own earnings. [...] Increasing inequality in many countries lends urgency to the need to understand the impact of this disparity, both at individual and societal levels. Our demonstration that inequality aversion reduces momentary well-being aligns with wider observations of inequality’s negative impact on societal well-being. Culturally entrained aversion to inequality such as ‘Janteloven’ observed in Scandinavia may therefore play an important role in shaping well-being in those countries, which rank highly in international well-being surveys. The fact that individual differences in well-being measures were predictive of social preferences suggests these parameters reflect values that are at least part of a stable variation in generosity between individuals, variation that has been difficult to explain using economic approaches alone. Our findings also highlight an important issue for future research: our subjects experienced inequality in social trials where they were unable to influence their partner’s decision. Understanding how instrumental control impacts well-being could shed additional light on the mediating role of agency in the emotional impacts of societal inequality.
Tags: science
Reposted byscience science
Dissolving phantom of 750 GeV

"No significant deviation with respect to the standard model expectation is found, and limits at 95% confidence level are set on the production cross section of narrow resonances with masses between 200 GeV and 2 TeV."
  --CMS Collaboration, CERN, 12 Jun 2016
Tags: science

The Sundial and Convivium Scene on the Mosaic from the Rescue Excavation in a Late Antique House of Antioch
by Hatice PAMİR & Nilüfer SEZGİN
ADALYA XIX, 2016 (13 Jun 2016, forthcoming)

"The figurative panel, in terms of its subjects and stylistic iconography, reflects characteristics of the 3rd and 4th century A.D. dominant in the Antioch mosaics. According to the coin found in the house, its construction occurred between 276-337 A.D., and this fits with the date of the mosaic panels as well. In the figurative panel, the depiction of bathing and the convivium  – phenomena which were the most important activities of Roman socio-cultural life – are expressed. A city-dweller trying to find a place for himself among the elite class by getting out of the bath and then hurrying to attend dinner (the most important event of the day) is depicted in a comical manner. While the sundial and parasite themes are seen in the Antioch mosaics, the skeleton motif used in the panel to express convivium is seen here for the first time in the repertoire. The skeleton seen in the Pompeii mosaics and the theme of death used by Latin poets to understand the value of life reflects Roman traditions and a Roman philosophy of life as well as provide information about the landlord’s own world view. The way that the skeleton rests its left arm on the cushion and the drinking cup in its hand, the way it extends its feet and the relaxed reclining position with his feet together, as well as the way it raises its hand to its head, suggest the continuity of life in the face of death and the power of life.
    In this recently found mosaic panel, the decisive moment of ‘a parasite attending dinner’, inspired by Antiquity’s famous parasite Chaerephon attending a dinner, the ‘bath theme’ with the black figure, and the convivium scene with the banqueting skeleton figure are all depicted. Roman social life of the period is truly reflected through this ironic narration."

"The Greek etter Theta with a line above it is depicted linearly with black tesserae above the sundial. In the ancient Greek alphabet, Theta is the ninth letter and the equivalent of the number 9. When the sundial and Theta are used together, it indicates that the ninth hour has already passed, and there is a very short time until the tenth hour."

June 08 2016

The Inscriptions of the Antikythera Mechanism (Almagest, VII/1)

June 07 2016

Loop I
"Today, we still have not resolved the mystery of how this giant celestial structure formed but we do now have the best image of it, thanks to ESA’s Planck satellite." (7 Jun 2016)
Tags: science
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