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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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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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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Formerly Unknown Mathematics Professor Receives “Genius Grant”

The MacArthur Fellows Program, commonly known as the “Genius Grant” just announced their recipients for 2014. As always, they are extremely impressive experts at the top of their respective fields - but for me, one in particular stuck out.

The Simons Foundations starts telling the story like this: 

On April 17, a paper arrived in the inbox of Annals of Mathematics, one of the discipline’s preeminent journals. Written by a mathematician virtually unknown to the experts in his field — a 50-something lecturer at the University of New Hampshire named Yitang Zhang — the paper claimed to have taken a huge step forward in understanding one of mathematics’ oldest problems, the twin primes conjecture.

Unknown ‘experts’ are always making similarly large claims to prestigious institutions, but this paper was different. The reception Zhang received was incredible: “The main results are of the first rank,” the author had proved “a landmark theorem in the distribution of prime numbers.”

Zhang was a researcher that no one seemed to know, his talents had been overlooked his entire career: “after he earned his doctorate in 1991 that he had found it difficult to get an academic job, working for several years as an accountant and even in a Subway sandwich shop.”

“Basically, no one knows him,” said Andrew Granville, a number theorist at the Université de Montréal. “Now, suddenly, he has proved one of the great results in the history of number theory.”

Read more about Zhang’s incredible discovery here and here.  

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O8 Labs

Hey guys - a few of you have wondered why I’ve been posting less often lately, and I can finally answer!

For the past few months, I’ve been working on building a new web development company, O8 Labs. We build websites, design logos, launch marketing / rebranding campaigns, and much more importantly, we even have a science pun in our name: the slogan is “Breathing life into web development,” and our name comes from Oxygen’s atomic numberWhoa, this guy must really love science, you must be thinking - and you’d be right. 

If you or anyone you know needs a:

  • personal website
  • portfolio
  • business website
  • logo design
  • marketing campaign
  • social media design
  • or really anything else web-related!

Feel free to reach out to me at tyler@o8labs.com for a quote!

Please reblog this to spread the word, and remember us anytime you or someone you know may be in need of our services. Thanks so much guys, and in the meantime, check out our website and follow us on Twitter

TONIGHT (2/4/14): Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham

Be sure to watch Bill Nye debate Ken Ham tonight (7PM EST). Here’s the livestream

Hawking’s Revolutionary New Proposal on Black Holes

In a calculation-free, very short new paper posted on the arXiv preprint server last week, Stephen Hawking made some big claims. Hawking effectively dismisses the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary beyond which nothing, even light, can escape. This event horizon is what most people really think of as a black hole - a funnel-like boundary that once you’re in, you’re in. 

Event horizons have been a practical staple of black-hole ideology for decades, and a dismissal of their existence would elicit groans and labels of “crank” if coming from nearly any other physicist, but Hawking’s status as perhaps the most respected scientist in the world ensures respect for his proposal. In their stead, Hawking has proposed a much friendlier “apparent horizon,” which could release matter and energy moving at around the speed of light after holding them inside for a brief period - although in a more “garbled form,” as Nature writes. 

Hawking’s new work is an attempt to solve a paradox that has been confounding physicists for nearly two years, known as the black-hole firewall paradox. A team from the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, believed that when adding quantum theory to black holes, the event horizon must be transformed into a highly energetic “firewall” that would consume anything falling in. Unfortunately for the team, this firewall would break pace with general relativity, which says that crossing the event horizon should be generally uneventful. 

Since the introduction of the firewall paradox, physicists have been wondering if relativity or quantum theory would be correct. However, Hawking says that both theories can remain perfectly intact, and black holes simply do not have an event horizon to produce a firewall. As Nature writes, “The key to his claim is that quantum effects around the black hole cause space-time to fluctuate too wildly for a sharp boundary surface to exist.”

Although the paper has yet to be peer reviewed, it is being examined critically and will spark a flurry of new research. Surely more exciting work will be published in the near future - stay tuned! 

More: Nature, New Scientist

Image Sources: Huff Post, Wiki

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Today marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh computer.

On January 24th, 1984 - “Steve Jobs,” the LATimes writes, “sporting a goofy bow tie — stepped onto a stage in Cupertino, Calif., and unveiled the Macintosh. However deeply cynical we have grown about product launches, there is no doubt about how genuine the enthusiasm was in the auditorium that day.”

Read the rest of the LATimes article here

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Bill Nye Slated to Debate Creationist Ken Ham

This is going to be good. The upcoming debate has already garnered a good deal of media attention, with some secularists criticizing Nye for debating Ham at all, speculating that the debate will give Ham’s ideas a sense of legitimacy that he doesn’t deserve. 

What do you guys think? Let me know! 

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Just in case any of y’all missed this (sorry for posting at 1 a.m. - I was too excited to wait)!

Bill Nye Slated to Debate Creationist Ken Ham

This is going to be good. The upcoming debate has already garnered a good deal of media attention, with some secularists criticizing Nye for debating Ham at all, speculating that the debate will give Ham’s ideas a sense of legitimacy that he doesn’t deserve. 

What do you guys think? Let me know! 

Follow Quantumaniac on Twitter

Scientists Discover Origin of Icicle Ripples

ScienceNews, in the November 30th issue, is running a story that comes from physicists reporting in the October New Journal of Physics. Called “On the origin and evolution of icicle ripples,” Antony Chen and Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto seem to have discovered the secret to icicle ripples - just add salt.

As ScienceNews reports, the pair:

built a tabletop machine that allowed nearly ice-cold water to drip through a nozzle onto a slowly rotating support, where the water froze.

Distilled water produced an unrippled, carrot-shaped icicle. When the scientists added a pinch of sodium chloride, or table salt, regularly spaced ripples formed. When they added more, the ripples became wildly irregular.

The researchers have not been able to find a theory to explain why salt is crucial to ripple formation. Fortunately, nature doesn’t need a theory; the team found that water running off Toronto roofs had enough dissolved ions to make ripples on its own.

Check out the full story and video here

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