My picks, 2015-30

These are the latest articles and videos I found most interesting.

  1. The Z Machine – Can We Make A Star?
  2. Finding Earth’s Twin
  3. NASA Reveals Solar Winds Stripped Mars’s Atmosphere
  4. Your Brain’s Wetware Formulates Opinions Without Asking
  5. The Bowerbird’s Grand Performance! – Life Story
  6. Whitetip Reef Sharks hunting at night at Cocos Island
  7. Mars: Death of a Planet
  8. Spider Dances For His Life!! – Life Story
  9. Tiger uses a storm to hunt Stag – The Hunt

The Z Machine – Can We Make A Star?

BBC

Professor Brian Cox visits The Z Machine, the world’s most powerful laboratory radiation source as it prepares to fire up. Taken from Can We Make A Star?


Finding Earth’s Twin

Space Rip

Among the methods astronomers have used to discover extra solar planets, the most successful is a technique called transit photometry. It measures changes in a star’s brightness caused when a planet crosses in front of its star along our line of sight.

Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope have employed this technique to become the most successful planet-hunting spacecraft to date, with more than a thousand established discoveries and many more awaiting confirmation. Future missions carrying improved technology are now in the works.

How much can they tell us about alien planetary systems similar to our own?A great deal, according to a recently published study. It shows that in the best-case scenarios, these upcoming missions could uncover planetary moons, ringed worlds similar to Saturn, and even large collections of asteroids.

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has used this technique to become the most successful planet-hunting spacecraft to date, with more than a thousand established discoveries and many more awaiting confirmation. Missions carrying improved technology are now planned, but how much more can they tell us about alien planetary systems similar to our own?

A great deal, according to recently published studies by Michael Hippke at the Institute for Data Analysis in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, and Daniel Angerhausen, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. They show that in the best-case scenarios upcoming missions could uncover planetary moons, ringed worlds similar to Saturn, and even large collections of asteroids.


NASA Reveals Solar Winds Stripped Mars’s Atmosphere

Wall Street Journal

NASA’s Mars-orbiting Maven spacecraft has discovered that the sun likely stripped away the red planet’s once-thick atmosphere and water.


Your Brain’s Wetware Formulates Opinions Without Asking

Big Think

“There’s no more central message of psychology than the fact that most of what goes on in our heads we have no access to.” Nisbett’s latest book is (Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking).

Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/richard-ni…

Transcript – There’s no more central message of psychology than the fact that most of what goes on in our heads we have no access to. We have no idea that it’s going on. And that becomes clearer and clearer in every passing year. There’s more and more research showing we perceive things that have an influence on us. We have no idea. We don’t even notice that they’re there to have an impact.

I was at a world economic forum a while back and there were a bunch of economists and psychologists and political scientists and physicians and government people and business people. And our job was to think of ways to get people to do things that are in society’s interests. And the word incentivize came up over and over again. And usually that was followed by some kind of idea about a monetary reward or a monetary fine of some sort. And I was the lone social psychologist and I’m thinking, you know, incentives can backfire often. Not only they’re not effective, they can actually – I mean why am I offering you this money for doing that unless maybe you’d rather not. I mean why am I threatening you with punishment unless it’s a fairly attractive thing. What social psychologists have learned in the context here of social influence is that what other people are doing has often been vastly more powerful than anything you can do in the way of incentives. A lovely example of this is the state of California recently started hanging tags on people’s doors if they were using more electricity than their neighbors. It says you’re using more electricity than your neighbors. And they cut down significantly.

The state has so far saved hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity costs and billions of tons of CO2 have not been poured into the atmosphere because of the hangtag. And monetary incentives I don’t think could have had that magnitude of effect. And there are experiments you can do – you can take people absolutely from A to Z, turn around 180 degrees and they have no recognition that they have changed their attitude. They think the attitude they have now is the attitude when they began the discussion. But you know because you’ve checked them way before that in an experiment you’ve done you know what their attitude was. And you’ve rigged things so that they’re getting information and opinions that are going to push them in a particular direction.

So context, especially social context, have effects on us that are just beyond our recognition. If you and I meet for the first time over coffee I’m probably going to think, you know, you’re a swell guy. I mean I’d like to get to know him better. God forbid we meet over iced tea because I’m going to think kind of a cold fish. So ambient temperature in a room, the ambient temperature of what you’re touching influences your judgment about a person. You put people in a blue or green environment they’re more creative. And keep them the heck out of a red environment. Although if you are on a dating website wear a red shirt if you want to get more hits. So the element that influences us most, most powerfully and most constantly is the behavior and the attitudes of other people. Social psychologists just keep finding the extent of which we are powerfully influenced by other people’s behavior.


The Bowerbird’s Grand Performance! – Life Story

BBC

The Bowerbird puts on a show to impress the female but will it be good enough? Taken from Life Story.


Whitetip Reef Sharks hunting at night at Cocos Island

Blue World

In this excerpt from season 4 of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, dozens of Whitetip Reef Sharks at Cocos Island are hunting at night.


Mars: Death of a Planet

Space Rip

This is the story of a discovery made on St. Patrick’s Day, 2015. We learned just how much Mars is at the mercy of our sun. During a solar outburst that hit Mars that day, the NASA spacecraft Maven measured an accelerated loss of molecules in its upper atmosphere.

In its early days, Mars appears to have had enough surface water to cover the entire planet to a depth of 140 meters, and an atmosphere that was thick enough to hold it there. But a more active sun in those days began a long slow process of steadily eroding the Martian air and sending it out into space. The water dried up, and whatever life forms had developed had no chance to thrive and evolve on the surface.


Spider Dances For His Life!! – Life Story

BBC

What can a spider do to impress a female when faced with mating or being killed? Taken from Life Story.


Tiger uses a storm to hunt Stag – The Hunt

BBC

A tiger, the world’s largest forest predator, uses the noises and darkness of a storm to get within striking distance of deer in India.

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