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Review of "THE HEART OF THE MATTER" Ignacio Garcia-Valino, Plaza Janes

He Heart of the Matter Ignacio Garcia-Valino, is not a book of science fiction, although part of his argument takes place in scientific circles and many of the dilemmas posed the protagonist are rooted in particle physics.The Heart of the Matter

The book tells the life of Lucas Frias, a promising specialized in quarks and subatomic particles, working at CERN and who has sacrificed everything for his career scientist. The death of his partner in a car accident that Luke used to make a parenthesis in his life and while trying to investigate the causes of the accident of your partner realize that almost did not know.

At the same time, the author places the character in various settings around the world (Geneva, Madrid, Paris, Chile, etc.) and makes him interact and discuss Science with such diverse types as psychics, mentalists, ultra skeptics, and of course, other particle physicists.

The book contains an interesting quote that the author extracts from a fable by John Godfrey Saxe and that reads as follows:

Hace mucho tiempo, en un bosque del Indostán, se reunieron cuatro ciegos que presumían de sabios, porque podían reconocerlo todo a través de las manos. Fue a visitarlos un estudiante, para aprender de su sabiduría, pero antes decidió probar si su fama era cierta. Se internaron en el follaje y el hombre les pidió que reconocieran lo que les ofrecía.
One of them said he had a snake in his hands, as he touched something elongated that was moving. The second said he was touching a stout tree with a rough bark. The third claimed that it was tied to a rope hanging from some high branch. The last one hit a firm and solid surface, and concluded that it was a wall. Everyone believed they were right.
The student warned that the four were wrong, therefore, playing only the parts, had been unable to recognize the whole. Thus one had felt a trunk; the other, a leg; the third, the tail, and the fourth, the elephant's side
.”

This fable is used by the author to illustrate the state of Particle Physics, indicating that scientists, like the sages of Hindustan, try to understand the nature of this branch of science as the elephant of the fable: fragmenting and crumbling it. In the end, as in the fable, they fail to unify the theories.

Although the author does not openly indicate this, he is making a clear allusion to the theories of the Weak Nuclear Force, the Strong Nuclear Force, the Electromagnetic Force and the Force of Gravity, which separately all make sense, but there is still no theory the only one that can explain them together.

The book is entertaining, and the scientific speculations are interesting and treated from a very rational point of view.

The only criticism is that at the plot level, the book is simple and only develops one plot line. At the character level, again it is simple, and only two characters gain dimension: the protagonist and his partner.

Still, it is a book that reads quickly and leaves a good taste in your mouth. Perhaps I would not give a 100% recommendation, but 90%.

Review of "THE CODEX OF ATLANTIS" Stel Pavlou of - The Factory

codice atlantidaFollowing my "Year Atlantis", this Christmas I read "The Codex of Atlantis" No. 1 in sales in the United States and Italy (as indicated by the editors in Spain). Just in case, the editors have published Thrillers collection rather than on Science Fiction, which is where it really should be, I guess to see if the sales figures are emulated in other countries. (I get? ... I think you go for the 5th edition).

The book is interesting and well written to be read evasion.

A nivel de teorías sobre la Atlántida es bastante original. Parte de la base de que los atlantes eran una sociedad avanzada, con conocimientos más allá de los de nuestro tiempo en campos como la nanotecnología, conductividad, estados físicos, etc. Sus construcciones eran a escala planetaria y aún quedan algunos restos de ellas. Como en las teorías de Platón, fueron destruidos por el Diluvio… aunque en el libro vemos que el Diluvio es la consecuencia de una catástrofe a nivel de Sistema Solar, que puede volver a repetirse.

According to the thesis of the book, all the monuments of antiquity are connected and are actually part of a machine on a planetary scale, capable of saving humanity or condemn it. The task of the players is to try to be the first of these premises, rather than the total annihilation of the human species.

... And they do, but just barely.

As a curiosity, commenting at one point in the book, talking about the biological timing of the banks of jellyfish, the author uses to explain the resonance and makes one of the protagonists explain how Huygens in 1660 when he was ill in bed, he noticed that the pendulums of two of its timepieces ranged at the same time when the clocks were coming. If they moved causing them to lose the pace, they came back after a while to move in coordination. If the clocks are separated, they not tuned.

This reminded me of a video demonstration of this same effect, but this time, illustrating tuning 3 metronomes.

This tuning approach is the same that governs the movements of groups of animals: groups of fireflies, flocks of birds that change direction, fish stocks, etc.

I like to find non-academic books that leverage to popularize science!

The operating system we saw in Minority Report is here

Just because of being based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, Minority Report and promised ... but also the team of Steven Spielberg worked thoroughly in the creation of all future technology to give credibility to the story and to justify the advances that had led society where no one commits crimes ... why the police stops them before of (Pre-Crime) occurs.

Watch the trailer of the film:

Watch the trailer of the film:

Well, this technology is already a reality. And we can see it in action in the video that appears in this post Engadget.

Impresses the capacity of the screen, use gloves operator and the interaction between the screen and the work surface. Play games with this interface has to be a pass.

Hopefully soon have a commercial use.

It postponed until 2016 ESA mission to Mars

Bad news for those who were hoping to see the colonization of Mars over the next 20 years: the European Agency Space (ESA) announced a couple of days ago, it will be delayed for at least three years, plans to send Mars ExoMars, the European vehicle designed to explore the surface of that planet.

Budgetary constraints have forced the ESA to postpone the launch of the ExoMars from 2013 to 2016. This is the second postponement of the operations of the vehicle after being postponed from 2011 to 2013.

According to the authorities of the ESA, the project was intended to be of smaller dimensions, but as scientists were advancing they were expanding the scope and objectives of the mission. Right now the estimated cost of ExoMars is 1,200 million euros, which is more than twice the initial budget.

Clearly, the countries participating in the ESA (starting with the Italians, who are leading this mission) have asked those responsible for the project to try to reduce the costs of the same, but still bad we weigh the economic situation now it makes it more prudent to postpone the project for a while.

The problem with postponing the project is that it is not something that can be left from one year to another ... if the ship that will carry the Exomars does not come out in November 2013 loses the launch window and must wait until January or February 2016, when the position of Mars will be favorable for launches from Earth.

A real shame.

To encourage a bit, here's a video with an explanation about how the mission will scan the Martian soil.

Additional information:

Video on Titan made from data from the Huygens

This video was a synthesis after the data collected by the Huygens probe one year after landing on the planet Titan.

In the video we can see the area where the probe landed, clouds and winds on the planet, as well as channels (possibly created by the erosion of liquid methane flowing from somewhere, probably rain).

The interviews are interesting. The images also ... and it seems to have found ice crystals!

Huygens Titan's surface mapping

Awesome video in which we can see how the Huygens probe, after leaving the Cassini spacecraft descends into Titan's surface and in the meantime will cartografiándola.

Music and special effects do not think they ship ... but how to map the planet and go watching win resolution as it gets closer, it's awesome.

Video of the Huygens probe landing on Titan

Simulation of the landing of the Huygens probe on Titan Planet after a journey through the Solar System that lasted seven years aboard the Cassini spacecraft.

The ESA Huygens probe has successfully gone through the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and landed 'safely' on its surface. This is the simulation of the landing which has prepared the ESA to illustrate the event.

Europe reaches new frontier - Huygens descends on Titan

Today, after a journey through the Solar System that lasted seven years aboard the Cassini spacecraft, the Huygens probe ESA has successfully crossed the atmosphere of Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, and landed 'safely' in its surface.

It is not "the final frontier" ... but of course, it is a major milestone for European space exploration.

Lanzamiento de la Cassini

Tras soltarse de la nave Cassini el 25 de diciembre, Huygens ha alcanzado la atmósfera exterior de Titán después de un viaje de 20 días y 4 millones de kilómetros en solitario. La sonda inició su descenso por las capas de la brumosa atmósfera de Titán desde una altitud de 1.270 km a las 11:13 CET. Durante los tres minutos siguientes, Huygens tuvo que desacelerar de 18.000 a 1.400 km/h. Varios paracaídas redujeron su velocidad a menos de 300 km/h. A una altura de unos 160 km, los instrumentos científicos de la sonda quedaron expuestos a la atmósfera de Titán. A unos 120 km, el paracaídas principal fue reemplazado por otro más pequeño para finalizar el descenso; se espera que el aterrizaje se realice a las 13:34 CET. Los datos preliminares indican que la sonda ha aterrizado en buen estado, probablemente sobre tierra firme.

La sonda transmitió datos a la nave Cassini durante cuatro minutos a lo largo de su descenso, y siguió enviándolos durante al menos tanto tiempo como Cassini permaneció sobre el horizonte de Titán. La certeza de que Huygens estaba ‘viva’ se obtuvo ya a las 11.25 de hoy, cuando el radiotelescopio de Green Bank recogió una débil pero inconfundible señal de radio procedente de la sonda. Los radiotelescopios en Tierra siguieron recibiendo la señal de Huygens durante mucho más tiempo previsto.

Data from Huygens, forwarded by CImagen of Titánassini were received by the station Deep Space NASA and sent immediately to the European Center for Space Operations ESA in Darmstadt, Germany, which is taking place right now scientific analysis.

"Titan has always been a goal of the Saturn system where it is critical to obtain data 'field' via a catheter. It is a fascinating world and we look forward to the scientific results, "said Professor David Southwood, Director of the scientific program of the ESA.

“Los científicos responsables de la sonda Huygens estamos encantados. La larga espera ha merecido la pena,” dijo el Dr. Jean-Pierre Lebreton, responsable de la misión Huygens por parte de la ESA. Se espera que Huygens ofrezca las primeras muestras directas y detalladas de los compuestos químicos de la atmósfera de Titán y las primeras fotografías de su superficie oculta, además de enviar un ‘informe meteorológico’ completo.

One of the main reasons for sending Huygens to Titan is the study of its atmosphere, composed mostly of nitrogen and methane-rich. In addition, its surface may contain many chemical compounds that existed on the Earth formed. Combined with the Cassini observations, Huygens will provide an unprecedented view of Saturn's mysterious moon.

"The descent to Titan was a unique opportunity in life. The achievement test today to trust this part of the mission to our European partners was the best option, "said Alphonse Diaz, Associate Administrator NASA scientist.

La misión Cassini-Huygens es el resultado de una cooperación entre la NASA, la Agencia Espacial Europea y ASI, la Agencia Espacial Italiana. El JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), una división del California Institute of Technology de Pasadena, gestiona la misión para el Departamento de Ciencia Espacial de la NASA, Washington. JPL ha diseñado, desarrollado y montado la nave Cassini.

“El trabajo en equipo de Europa y EE.UU., de sus científicos, sus industrias y las agencias ha sido extraordinario y ha representado la base del enorme éxito alcanzado hoy”, concluye Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Más información en www.esa.int

See how it works Google Scholar, Google's new search

At the end of last week Google put online the beta version Google Scholar, Its new search engine to locate technical information among all articles, studies, theses, white papers, case studies, Technical reports, research, documentation research centers and universities, books, etc ... published.

It has not even been a month since Google launched its Google Desktop Search tool that has pleasantly surprised us again throwing Google Scholar.

The initial image is very similar to Web search engine Google, however, we have introduced a search topic and give the button "search"We ordered a results window with no commercial information without ads appear. Sorting criteria take into account the content of the documents, the author, the publication in which the document appears, in a similar way as it does for the Web version with links-inThe number of citations to that article in other documents. Finally, it draws attention to the links shown are not unique, as the same article may be published in different media. Even it has links to documents referenced by studies (even they can not exist on the Web), similar to the concept links-out Web version.

To limit searches by author, allows us to include in the filter box seeker "author:" we can write alone or with the theme or concept we are looking to limit the number of results to be obtained.

Turning to practice, I have dedicated myself to making a few searches in the two versions of Google to see the real differences. The first search I've done is "eye tracking technology". The Web version has given me references and four ads 1,040,000. The first 10 results, 4 are companies that sell such technology-related solutions. The remaining 6 are studies or related technical information. In contrast, the results shown by 13,600 Google Scholar 100% are technical, not commercial references or advertisements appearing ... so perfect!

I have taken a second example, "web metrics". The results have been curiously very similar. Of seven advertisements and 2,050,000 results for the Web version, 40% were technical results and 60% commercial results. For version Google ScholarThey have been 28,000 the results, all technical again.

Finally, mention the authors whose technical documents have not yet been indexed they should ask their school, college or publisher to contact Google Scholar to include such content. Google Scholar moment does not allow direct publication by the author of reports and documents. More information is available in the FAQ.

Definitely a tool that will be talking in the research community from now.

Invent a robot that hunts flies for energy and self-sufficient

Although it seems a joke, it is not. The New Scientist magazine has published in its Monday edition, this great invention. A robot that uses the sugar in the exoskeleton of the flies and allows (while flies from view) the robot does not need another power source.

If we read well the article we see that the thing is not as simple as it seems at first glance. Input power the robot obtained by breaking polysaccharide chains of the exoskeleton of the flies is very low and only allows the robot to move 2 centimeters every 12 minutes.

On the other hand, there is the problem of making the flies come ... but that have worked out well. The robot uses a flavor, synthesized from human feces, which attracts flies into a funnel that sucks up the digestive tract. Hahahaha ... you can not deny that is well thought out.

Robotic Anecdotes aside, the investigations that led to the invention of this robot open up endless possibilities:

  • The energy of the polysaccharides can be used to supplement the solar energy to manufacture any kind of "thing" that needs to be energetically autonomous. (How about a robot that when not shine, eat potatoes, beets, ... or GM soy?).
  • Production of electricity for households may attempt be made from the feces and organic waste, home users own: which would reduce the amount of waste that cities need to collect, process and eliminate. The most abundant polysaccharide in nature are starch and cellulose ... our wastes are filled with them. 50 gr. sugar can remain alight 40w bulb for 8 hours.
  • The use of sugar batteries to replace batteries in mobile phones and other devices that need to be recharged by plugging into the mains.
  • How about a water filter potabilice waste and generate electricity? Ideal for a spacecraft or orbital station. In general, ideal for any closed ecosystem.

Links to deepen the topic:

The New Scientist article where the invention of the robot is explained, and where they explain in detail how the energy of a sugar is transformed into a stream of electrons capable of producing the energy needed by the robot.
The New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6366)

website where they explain how the energy of sugar (or any polysaccharide) into electrical energy is transformed:
Geobacter (http://www.geobacter.org/)

Article about bulbs that run on sugar cubes:
Sugar batteries (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2899)