Tyler Simko

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Tyler Simko

Quantumaniac is where it’s at - and by ‘it’ I mean awesome.

Hi! My name is Tyler Simko. Over here, I post a ton of astronomy / math / general science in an attempt to make your brain feel good. My aim is to be as informative as possible while posting fascinating things that hopefully enlighten us both to the mysteries of our truly wondrous universe(s?). Plus, how would you know if the blog exists or not unless you observe it?

Boom, just pulled the Schrödinger’s cat card. Now you have to check it out - trust me, it said so in an equation somewhere.

Please check out my web design company, O8 Labs, we build websites and mobile apps - let us build yours!

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currentsinbiology:


These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack
There is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria.
A team of scientists led by Manfred Auer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used cutting-edge 3-D microscopy to identify a new mechanism for bacterial networking. They observed elaborate webs of a common soil bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus, connected by thread-like membranes. This system of cellular pipelines suggests that some bacteria have evolved complex ways to deliver molecular cargo out of sight from snooping neighbors. Their work appears in the journal Environmental Microbiology.

Myxococcus xanthus biofilm devouring a colony of Escherichia coli. Credit: James Berlemanc

currentsinbiology:

These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack

There is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria.

A team of scientists led by Manfred Auer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used cutting-edge 3-D microscopy to identify a new mechanism for bacterial networking. They observed elaborate webs of a common soil bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus, connected by thread-like membranes. This system of cellular pipelines suggests that some bacteria have evolved complex ways to deliver molecular cargo out of sight from snooping neighbors. Their work appears in the journal Environmental Microbiology.

Myxococcus xanthus biofilm devouring a colony of Escherichia coli. Credit: James Berlemanc

Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Improving Microscopy

Eric BetzigStefan W. Helland William E. Moerner have been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for enabling microscopes to gaze at smaller structures than anyone thought possible.  Scientists believed that microscopy would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light for a long time, many even started to consider it a physical limit after microscopist Ernst Abbe declared it so in 1873. Nonetheless, these three scientists circumvented that supposed limit - and changed the world of microscopy.

Using this new micro-microscopy, what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists can now visualize incredibly small features:

They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

From the Nobel Prize committee

Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.

Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.

Read the full press release here

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Chemical Reactions Filmed

I saw an inspiring post on Colossal today about Beautiful Chemistry, a new collaboration between Tsinghua University Press and University of Science and Technology of China that “seeks to make chemistry more accessible and interesting to the general public.”

This project involved the creation of several short films that capture a number of beautiful and exciting chemical reactions. Filmed and edited by Yan Liang, you can check out the full post (with the video) here

skunkbear:

There’s another lunar eclipse this year and it’s happening tomorrow night! (That’s Tuesday night — in other words the wee hours of Wednesday morning). Europe and Africa will be left out this time around, but viewers in North America and Asia will get the chance to see the moon pass through the earth’s shadow. Details from NASA here.

This eclipse is extra special because it might be a rare selenelion.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce that word, but here’s what it means: the refraction of light through Earth’s atmosphere makes both sun and moon appear higher in the sky then they really are. So at moonset/sunrise on Wednesday morning, a few lucky observers east of the Mississippi might glimpse the sun and the eclipsed moon AT THE SAME TIME! Geometrically impossible, and well worth setting your alarms for.

I put approximate moonset times in this GIF, but you should look up the specific schedule for your location here.

Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 Awarded for Work on LED Lights

This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.
When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.
They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.
White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights.
The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.
The invention of the blue LED is just twenty years old, but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.

Source: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
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Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 Awarded for Work on LED Lights

This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.

When Isamu AkasakiHiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.

They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.

White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights.

The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.

The invention of the blue LED is just twenty years old, but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.

Source: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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'Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes' - Jules Verne

Fellow science-enthusiasts,

As you may know, I’ve been using this super awesome icon as a link to my Twitter on this blog for years now:

image

So cool, science. 

I just realized it was pointing to the wrong account - oops.  My twitter is actually @tylersimko. Please check it out - thanks!

fouriestseries:

Atomic Models

Evidence-based theories on the structure of atoms have been around since the early 1800s. Dalton’s billiard ball model was the first on the map, and with further discoveries and experiments — like Thompson’s discovery of the electron and Rutherford’s gold foil experiment — improved models of atomic structure were introduced.

The first GIF above shows Rutherford’s planetary model, which was proposed in 1911. In his model, negatively-charged electrons orbit an incredibly small, dense nucleus of positive charge. Despite being a completely incorrect model, most people still think this is what atoms really look like*. This is not an atom. It’s physically impossible for electrons to stably orbit like this, and the idea of orbiting electrons was entirely replaced by 1926.

I can’t say what an atom actually looks like, but the most accurate model we have today is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The location of an electron is determined by a probability distribution, called an atomic orbital, which tells us the probability of an electron existing in any specific region around a nucleus. The second image shows the surface around a hydrogen nucleus on which an excited electron is most likely to exist.

Mathematica code posted here.

*Advertisements and popular science articles incorrectly represent atoms all the time. Even the US Atomic Energy Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency use the Rutherford model in their logos!