Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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JD
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Advances in water desalination technology may greatly increase efficiency and lifespan of devices:
https://phys.org/news/2020-10-marangoni ... r-sea.html
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Researchers have found a room-temperature superconductor
Yet while researchers celebrate the achievement, they stress that the newfound compound — created by a team led by Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester — will never find its way into lossless power lines, frictionless high-speed trains, or any of the revolutionary technologies that could become ubiquitous if the fragile quantum effect underlying superconductivity could be maintained in truly ambient conditions. That’s because the substance superconducts at room temperature only while being crushed between a pair of diamonds to pressures roughly 75% as extreme as those found in the Earth’s core.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Hugh Akston wrote: 15 Oct 2020, 15:32 Researchers have found a room-temperature superconductor
Yet while researchers celebrate the achievement, they stress that the newfound compound — created by a team led by Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester — will never find its way into lossless power lines, frictionless high-speed trains, or any of the revolutionary technologies that could become ubiquitous if the fragile quantum effect underlying superconductivity could be maintained in truly ambient conditions. That’s because the substance superconducts at room temperature only while being crushed between a pair of diamonds to pressures roughly 75% as extreme as those found in the Earth’s core.
Ahem
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Aresen wrote: 15 Oct 2020, 15:38
Hugh Akston wrote: 15 Oct 2020, 15:32 Researchers have found a room-temperature superconductor
Yet while researchers celebrate the achievement, they stress that the newfound compound — created by a team led by Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester — will never find its way into lossless power lines, frictionless high-speed trains, or any of the revolutionary technologies that could become ubiquitous if the fragile quantum effect underlying superconductivity could be maintained in truly ambient conditions. That’s because the substance superconducts at room temperature only while being crushed between a pair of diamonds to pressures roughly 75% as extreme as those found in the Earth’s core.
Ahem
Sorry you posted that story in the wrong thread. Better luck next time.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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The apparent discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus may have actually been an artifact of the data analysis, unfortunately:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswith ... is-absent/
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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This is a bit short on details, but it is now being suggested that the popular "collapse" theory of Easter Island is not correct:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/east ... t-be-wrong
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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JD wrote: 28 Oct 2020, 13:25 This is a bit short on details, but it is now being suggested that the popular "collapse" theory of Easter Island is not correct:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/east ... t-be-wrong
There's plenty of evidence of an environmental collapse driven by deforesation and the introduction of rats, but that may not have led to the tribal wars and cannibalism that Jared Diamond and Thor Heirdahl theorized.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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This is not really "joys of life", but they're going to decommission the Arecibo radio telescope. :-( Apparently it just can't be fixed safely and cost-effectively. I know that it had a good run and everything comes to an end eventually, but it's been a part of science longer than I've been alive. When I was a kid, Arecibo was one of the coolest things ever.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/11/19/215 ... able-break
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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JD wrote: 19 Nov 2020, 18:46 This is not really "joys of life", but they're going to decommission the Arecibo radio telescope. :-( Apparently it just can't be fixed safely and cost-effectively. I know that it had a good run and everything comes to an end eventually, but it's been a part of science longer than I've been alive. When I was a kid, Arecibo was one of the coolest things ever.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/11/19/215 ... able-break
Crap. Decommission an aircraft carrier instead and use a fraction of the money to refurbish Arecibo.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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New discovery of a polymer which can be "losslessly" de-polymerized and re-polymerized, and is based on a common existing material.
https://www.princeton.edu/news/2021/01/ ... e-plastics
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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JD wrote: 23 Oct 2020, 11:40 The apparent discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus may have actually been an artifact of the data analysis, unfortunately:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswith ... is-absent/
Follow up:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02 ... bably-not/
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Researchers have discovered a microbe in Switzerland's Lake Zug which has mitochondria-like symbiotes, and these symbiotes generate ATP for the host, but they do it using nitrates instead of oxygen, which has never been observed before.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/03 ... ions-past/
https://scitechdaily.com/unprecedented- ... iscovered/
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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The nitrate thing is apparently new, but endosymbiotes besides mitochondria and chloroplasts are actually pretty common. It makes sense that endosymbiosis would happen more than twice because the first two were so successful. It's a good evolutionary strategy.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Muons: 'Strong' evidence found for a new force of nature
Prof Allanach has given the possible fifth force various names in his theoretical models. Among them are the "flavour force", the "third family hyperforce" and - most prosaic of all - "B minus L2".
I do like "Flavour Force", but I'm holding out for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Eh, not so much. The measurement very clearly disagrees with previous theoretical calculations, to a degree that edges close to physicists' standard of statistical significance. (Not to be confused with social scientists' standard of statistical significance.) However, last summer a very good group of theorists published a calculation with a different technique, and they get a number that matches up quite well with the new measurement.

Who's right? Hard to say, but right now I'd say it's a coin toss. These calculations aren't just a matter of plugging some numbers into formulas, they're very elaborate things done in many iterative steps of ever more accurate approximations. And they need to be right to many, many decimal places in order to be at all useful. A tiny error anywhere can matter a whole hell of a lot. The people with the more widely accepted answer are good, but the people with the new calculation are not crackpots.

My wager: The new measurement will hold up. Both calculations will need to be revised. When they are revised, both calculations will agree reasonably well with the new measurement. No "new forces."
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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thoreau wrote: 07 Apr 2021, 16:46 Eh, not so much. The measurement very clearly disagrees with previous theoretical calculations, to a degree that edges close to physicists' standard of statistical significance. (Not to be confused with social scientists' standard of statistical significance.) However, last summer a very good group of theorists published a calculation with a different technique, and they get a number that matches up quite well with the new measurement.

Who's right? Hard to say, but right now I'd say it's a coin toss. These calculations aren't just a matter of plugging some numbers into formulas, they're very elaborate things done in many iterative steps of ever more accurate approximations. And they need to be right to many, many decimal places in order to be at all useful. A tiny error anywhere can matter a whole hell of a lot. The people with the more widely accepted answer are good, but the people with the new calculation are not crackpots.

My wager: The new measurement will hold up. Both calculations will need to be revised. When they are revised, both calculations will agree reasonably well with the new measurement. No "new forces."
Obviously I defer to thoreau on the actual physics, but as an interested layman, I can only say I've been down the whole 'this could mean our entire model has to be revised' road too many times. Show me the anti-gravity/ftl/time travel first, then I'll say 'wow'.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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My standards aren't so strict; I just wait until it actually comes up in the science news again as anything more than "something that didn't pan out, and this is why".

In practice, this gets the same results when it comes to major paradigm shifts.

(It does make me perpetually eye-rolly at the pertetual university announcements that, due to some trivial bullshit done by a few of their grad students, we're only twenty years away from practical fusion.)
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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For me, it comes down to this: One group of very good theorists tried to extrapolate some fairly well-understood physics to a situation where the calculations are much harder, and they got a result that doesn't match up with experiment. The other group of very good theorists tried to tackle the hard calculations directly and got a result that almost exactly matches the experimental results. Occam's Razor says that it would be a pretty damn big coincidence if they made mistakes that just HAPPENED to match the Exotic New PhysicsTM that this experiment supposedly has evidence of.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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Humans can taste the difference between normal water and heavy water: https://www.sciencealert.com/there-s-on ... ts-confirm

This points towards "nuclear quantum effects in chemical systems", which is pretty wild-sounding.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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No. It points to taste receptor molecules being sensitive to the frequency at which the molecules attaching to them vibrate. Bonds in heavy water vibrate at a different frequency than regular water because the deuterium is heavier and moves more slowly.
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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thoreau wrote: 12 Apr 2021, 11:01 No. It points to taste receptor molecules being sensitive to the frequency at which the molecules attaching to them vibrate. Bonds in heavy water vibrate at a different frequency than regular water because the deuterium is heavier and moves more slowly.
I defer to your knowledge, Dr. T; chemistry was never my strong suit. Is that a normal phenomenon, though, chemical reactions being sensitive to vibrational frequency?
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Re: Mo's moderately interesting sci/tech thread

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I did a bit more googling. Vibrational effects are actually controversial in this context, but relevant in some interactions. Other properties of heavy water, like bond length and strength, are definitely going to be relevant to how it interacts with a taste receptor. And the mass of an atom does affect bond length and bond strength.
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