Of Hagfish, Geckos and Dragonflies

first_img(Visited 41 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterest Some of the most unlikely creatures are making headlines because of their potential for advancing technology.Hagfish clothing:  Yuck! Hagfish, marine creatures without jaws, look like something out of a horror movie.  When attacked, they disgorge gobs of sticky slime from glands on the sides of their bodies.  You can see the goop in a photo on the BBC News, with its surprising headline, “Hagfish slime: The clothing of the future?”  Strange as it seems, Canadian researchers see wealth creation in the slime.  When its fibers get stretched out, they become soft and silky, like lycra or nylon, but renewable.  “Scientists believe hagfish slime or similar proteins could be turned into tights or breathable athletic wear, or even bullet-proof vests.”  Other amazing facts: a four-foot hagfish can contain hundreds of kilometers of slime threads.  The silky threads bear resemblance to spider silk, even though the creatures are unrelated.  A hagfish fossil said to be 330 million years old already had the slime-making technology.Wet gecko adhesion:  Previous biomimetics entries (8/27/02, 12/06/06, 8/16/12) have described gecko toes’ amazing adhesive properties.  Now, according to National Geographic, the next challenge is understanding how the toes continue to adhere when wet—even underwater (cf. 10/18/10).  Researchers at the University of Akron, publishing in PNAS, are taking up the challenge.  It’s all theory at this stage, but they feel, “Our findings provide insight into how geckos may function in wet environments and also have significant implications for the development of a synthetic gecko mimic that retains adhesion in water.”  A press release from the university described how they harnessed geckos to tease out the secrets of their clingy wet feet.Dragonfly copter:  Festo, the company that developed the SmartBird flying robot that resembles a seagull (see 3/28/11), now has a robotic four-wing helicopter called the BionicOpterthat resembles a dragonfly (see press release with video clip).  It’s lightweight, highly integrated, and has 13 degrees of freedom for complex flight maneuvers.  Substantially larger than the insect, it is operated by a wireless remote control.  Festo claims it has “mastered the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly,” but theirs cannot yet lay eggs and hatch babies.  “Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.”Speaking of dragonflies, they are becoming popular subjects for wildlife watchers, Live Science says.  A blog post from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service described how these insects (neither dragons nor flies) are garnering a “swelling fan base” –You might call dragonflies the stunt pilors [sic] of the insect world. They wear flashy colors, dart at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, boast ancestors that predate dinosaurs … and they even mate in mid-air.Dragonflies are harmless to humans and are also conveniently active in the daytime, making them attractive subjects for watching, with their jewel-like wings and bright colors.  “Dragonfly festivals are popping up across the country and a crop of new field guides are making the rounds around American towns and cities,” the blog said.  National wildlife refuges, like 4 listed in the blog, are excellent places for viewing them.  More interesting facts: dragonflies have almost 360° vision, they keep mosquitoes at bay, and they are indicators of clean water.Biomimetic Briefs: From ear to smartphone app (Medical Xpress); from jellyfish to seafloor mapper (Live Science); from squid beak to medical implants (PhysOrg).What’s not to love about the biomimetics revolution?  It’s turning people’s attention back to the wonderful designs in nature; it’s promising advances in technology to improve our lives; and it’s 100% Darwin-free.  Turn your kid onto dragonflies.  Take a nature walk where they are likely to be found.  Teachable moment: explain to him or her that if something works, it isn’t by accident.  Numerous technical constraints have to be satisfied for flight.  When the flight is superb, as with dragonflies, you know the technical design is even more superb.  Then wow the kids with the fact that some fossil dragonflies had wingspans over two feet!last_img read more

Don’t Assume Science and Reality Are Equivalent

first_imgScientists and philosophers have questioned for centuries if science is a true reflection of reality. Most just assume it is.Last week, Science Magazine reviewed a book that shook up the science world in 1979: Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts, by Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar. In his review titled “Arbiters of truth, then and now,” Joseph Swift re-introduced a question that has dogged science for centuries, even as far back as Plato and Aristotle: is science an accurate reflection of external reality?The question seems absurd to many people. Of course it is, they assume, rattling off a list of technological innovations that sprang from science: refrigerators (confirming thermodynamics), space heaters (confirming electrodynamics), lasers (confirming quantum theory), and atom bombs (confirming relativity and atomic theory). Why even doubt that science reflects reality? The question is much more nuanced than initial impressions suppose.Surprisingly, Swift readily acknowledges the problem. In their 1979 book, when “social construction” theory was rising, Latour and Woolgar doubted whether cell biologists were “discovering” reality instead of “manufacturing” it. They observed scientists at the Scripps Institute and how they worked. Basically, Latour and Woolgar turned scientists into their lab rats. Swift says,During his time in Guillemin’s lab, Latour noticed the defining role that language played in bringing well-hidden facts to light. He argued that it was not the experiment per se but the scientist’s interpretation of an experiment’s result that made phenomena real.Latour watched how scientists debated and discussed their “findings.” He concluded that the point where scientists reached a consensus appeared arbitrary. Naturally, “Scientists found this troubling.” The social constructionists began deconstructing not only science, but art and literature, claiming that what these experts said was not truth but interpretation. After the social construction movement was spent, scientists dug in with a return to “scientific realism” that assumed that their work accurately reflects reality, and that is the situation largely today, even though the postmodernism spawned in the 1970s and 1980s survives in cultural contexts.Pragmatism Is Not RealityThe philosophers of science, however, were not convinced. They remind scientists of a long history of doubt about science and the nature of reality by leading scientists and philosophers. Logical positivism, a strong attempt to equate science with reality, failed in the 1930s. One problem is that something may “work” without being “True” with a capital T. You can treat light as a particle in one experiment, and it works. You can treat it as a wave in another experiment, and that works. But what is light? To this day, after decades of quantum theory and nuclear physics, we don’t know. Scientists take “wave/particle duality” as a given, but do not understand it. Many other things in science are useful but not necessarily true. Pragmatism is not the same as realism.Science Is HistoricalIn addition, science has an intrinsic historicity. Did the neutron exist before it was discovered? While the intuitive answer is, “Yes, of course; it was there all the time,” scientific objects do not exist until they are defined, and there was no definition of a neutron, or an electron, or a neutrino, until those particles were defined by the theory that incorporated them to explain certain observations. People oblivious to neutrons in the 19th century and prior were very comfortable with their concept of reality in their day, but was it true? Phlogiston was “real” until it was overturned by oxygen theory. Newton’s concepts of space, mass and time were not just improved on by Einstein, but replaced. The Ptolemaic system was real until it was replaced by the Copernican system, even though Ptolemy’s system worked for most human needs throughout its 1,500-year tenure. Here’s the lesson for us: We don’t know how many theories scientists believe in today are ripe for replacement in the future. The concepts of a “gene” or a “species” are ones to watch.Occult ForcesAnother issue is that science routinely deals with unobservable realities, like black holes, the interiors of stars, the core of the Earth, dark matter and dark energy, and much more. Some of these are placeholders for ignorance, because they work for the consensus paradigm of the day. Einstein famously inserted a fudge factor, the Cosmological Constant, into his equations, in order to maintain the static universe he believed in at the time. He called that the biggest mistake of his life. But later, the Cosmological Constant made another appearance within a different paradigm.Looking back at Latour’s bombshell book about the “social construction” of science, Swift ends with this optimistic opinion:Forty years after its publication, Laboratory Life remains prescient in its ability to encourage scientists to see that descriptions of reality and reality itself are not the same thing. The gap that separates the two can, however, be made smaller by good science. While we may never touch reality, we can certainly get very close.Thus Swift acknowledges that science and reality are not the same. But what is “good science”? How can the scientist reach outside the theory in order to judge that it is good? Swift is just whistling a cheerful tune in the dark here.Realism About RealityJames Zimring is less optimistic in his new book, What Science Is and How It Really Works, which he introduces in The Scientist. Although he is a practicing scientist, he is well aware of the pitfalls of “affirming the consequent,” a logical fallacy that assumes the effect of a cause is the true cause. Examples of scientists misled by this fallacy are legion. Zimring acknowledges, “scientific theories are always underdetermined by the available data.”This is not “ivory-tower semantics,” Zimring asserts, as he gives examples of both good and bad predictions that were assumed to identify real causes. Like Swift, Zimring doesn’t want to give fodder to the “anti-science rhetoric” in social media, but but he insists we have to face the ‘reality’ that science is not necessarily about truth. He concludes,One could argue that we live in a time of sound bites and simplicity that cannot tolerate nuanced thinking. If scientists don’t bang the gong of “truth,” then it may only hasten the dismissal of science as just another opinion. However, I would argue that this position does not give the intended audience enough credit, and that claiming absolute truth ultimately does more harm than good, not only for the interface of science with the public, but for the practice of science. If data are sacrosanct to the sciences, then let us embrace the historical data on science itself.An excerpt of Zimring’s book has been posted separately on The Scientist. In it, Zimring discusses examples of “phantom entities” (what we called “occult forces” and “unobservable reality” above) that “never have existed at all, other than the idea of them.” Zimring accuses today’s science of having its own phlogistons. One cannot use the success of a theory, he says, to judge it is correct in the sense of absolutely true.One of the very worst occult forces in science today is Natural Selection. It explains everything; therefore it must be true, evolutionary biologists insist. We have shown over and over that NS is a vacuous concept, a tautology, equivalent to the Stuff Happens Law (e.g., Nov 14-15, 2019). Think about it as you read Zimring’s articles.If you are interested in exploring more of the science-vs-reality debate, I have found great value in the course “Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It” by Steven Goldman (Lehigh U), offered by The Teaching Company. In 24 half-hour lectures, Goldman traces the debate from the Greeks to the present day, and exhibits detailed knowledge of theories in astronomy, relativity, quantum theory and much more, from which he draws many examples. You’ll learn a lot about the history of science, and find out at the end why the debate is not resolved, and probably never will be. Note: The course is frequently on sale, and MP3 download is sufficient for most people.One caution: Goldman gives a bad review of Intelligent Design in lecture 23, showing his bias, but in so doing violates some of the very principles he taught in earlier lectures! For instance, he agrees there are no criteria for separating science from pseudoscience, but then claims that scientists are qualified to decide what is science. That is absurd; they are among the least qualified to do so, since many of them are highly invested in their own paradigms, and have never studied philosophy of science. There is an upside to listening to him, though; it can be an exercise in practicing the baloney-detecting skills you have learned here at CEH. (For more rebuttal, you can buy the lecture series on Intelligent Design by Michael Behe, Goldman’s colleague at Lehigh. Behe responds in detail to many of the criticisms against ID.) (Visited 315 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Video: Joel Stave Misses On Crucial 4th Down Throw, Iowa Wins Heartland Trophy

first_imgWisconsin flag bearer runs across the field.LINCOLN, NE – OCTOBER 07: A cheerleader for the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a score against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)Wisconsin entered the season as Big Ten West favorites, but after this afternoon’s game, things in that division have been thrown for a loop. The Iowa Hawkeyes pulled off an upset of the No. 19 Badgers in Madison, winning the Heartland Trophy for the first time since 2009. Wisconsin had a chance to take the lead, but Joel Stave fired incomplete on a 4th & 2, looking for tight end Troy Fumagalli on the play.Not the best throw here pic.twitter.com/bsIn9uOFBm— Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) October 3, 2015He looked for a pass interference call, and there was some contact, but the refs held their flags, and Iowa was able to take a knee and win the game.The Heartland Trophy comes BACK to Iowa City! #IOWAvsWIS I’m done bragging now. pic.twitter.com/di1hbirdu1— Y2Jason Strasburg (@Strasconsin) October 3, 2015Iowa is 5-0 with the win, and a favorable schedule ahead. This year could be a big one for Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes.last_img read more

Trippier admitted that the last year has been crazy for him

Trippier admitted that the last year has been crazy for him

first_imgKieran Trippier made his international debut less than one year ago – and now, he is about to be included in England’s starting eleven in the upcoming World Cup in Russia.The Tottenham Hotspur full-back admitted that the last year has been a bit crazy for him as he was called up to the national team for the first time and now, he is about to be given a chance to play in the World Cup.Trippier spoke about his current feelings as he said, according to tottenhamhotspur.com:Victor Wanyama, Tottenham Hotspur, Premier LeaguePochettino admits Wanyama remains in his Spurs plans Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Kenyan international, Victor Wanyama, was the protagonist of a summer transfer saga, but in the end, he is set to stay at Tottenham Hotspur.“I made my England debut last year and if I thought then about having the chance to go to the World Cup and even starting…it’s an unbelievable feeling.”“I grew up watching the World Cup and to now actually be a part of it, I’m speechless really.”“To be involved in a World Cup, just to be there and part of the squad and now people talking that I could start, it’s incredible. I can’t wait and whatever happens, I’ll give my all.”last_img read more

Chelsea Conte in a rift with The Blues

Chelsea Conte in a rift with The Blues

first_imgChelsea boss Antonio Conte has declared and insists he is the coach of Chelsea despite their pursuit of Maurizio Sarri, reports in England claims.There have been reports that Chelsea will replace Conte with Sarri and the claims have thickened up as there were reports today that Sarri will be confirmed Chelse boss next week. However, the former Italy CT made it obvious he was no longer happy at Stamford Bridge which made supporters and fans expect he’d leave this summer.The blues are yet to agree on a fee with Napoli, where Sarri is still under contract even though Chelsea is yet to terminate Conte’s contract too.Maurizio Sarri, JuventusMaurizio Sarri satisfied despite Juventus’ draw at Fiorentina Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Maurizio Sarri was satisfied with Juventus’ performance on Saturday afternoon after finishing a tough game at Fiorentina 0-0.On the other hand, a member of Chelsea’s technical staff told the players to report for pre-season fitness tests this weekend but Conte made it clear that he doesn’t want the squad back together until Monday, and that he still very much considers himself the man in charge, according to Football Italia.This means Conte is not even planning to resign from the position, which would leave the Premier League side having to pay off his contract in full, as well as those of all his staff.While Sarri is piping low until his deal to take over matures, it appears Chelsea are not so keen at resolving things with either Conte or Napoli.last_img read more

Benjamin Pavard reacts to Bayern Munich links

Benjamin Pavard reacts to Bayern Munich links

first_imgFrench defender Benjamin Pavard admits his flattered by the rumours linking him with Bayern Munich, but insists he remains in the dark over his futureThe 22-year-old made a name for himself at the 2018 World Cup in the summer, where his impressive displays helped France on their way to a second world title.Due to this, Pavard was a target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs in the last transfer window.While the Frenchman remained at VfB Stuttgart in the end, reports in Germany have stated that a deal is already in place for him to join Bayern this summer for €35m.Jadon SanchoMerson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.However, Pavard claims to have no knowledge of such a deal and insists his focus lies with Stuttgart at the moment.“I feel well. I don’t know what will happen in the summer yet,” said Pavard on Sportbuzzer.“It’s nice to hear something like that. But I’m focusing on Stuttgart and want to get as many points as possible.”Pavard has featured in all 13 of Stuttgart’s Bundesliga games with the club only 16th in the standings.last_img read more

High surf advisory until Saturday at 8 pm

High surf advisory until Saturday at 8 pm

first_img Ed Lenderman, Posted: November 30, 2018 Updated: 5:39 PM November 30, 2018 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwittercenter_img Ed Lenderman 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsOCEAN BEACH (KUSI)- A little bit of everything, make that a lot of everything, on the coast: rain squalls, amid brief sunshine, gale-force winds and the constant of a pounding surf- and the pounding included the underside of the Ocean Beach Pier.Amid a high surf advisory– it lasts until Saturday night, and waves roiling the pier and then starting to break outside of it– lifeguards closed the pier just before 8 a-m.By the way the surf advisory was accompanied by a county health warning: No one should go into the water for 72 hours because of the high bacteria levels from urban runoff that accompany a big storm.There weren’t any surfers in the water anyway– no form in this white water. High surf advisory until Saturday at 8 p.m.last_img read more