trends and news in science, technology, web 2.0, and how discoveries in these fields relate to psychology, religion, and art.

Thursday, March 23

Scientists Progress Towards Quantum Theory of Gravity

Scientists have measured the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field for the first time in a laboratory. Under certain special conditions the effect is much larger than expected from general relativity and could help physicists to make a significant step towards the long-sought-after quantum theory of gravity.

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New Study Declares Atheists the Most Distrusted Minority

A new study conducted at the University of Minnesota states that atheists are the most distrusted minority group, rating lower in the survey of over 2,000 homes than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other commonly discriminated minority groups. Atheists are also the most likely group that parents forbid their children to marry the study says.

Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study'¬ís lead researcher states, "¬ďAtheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years."

It seems that most people now believe that freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion. After years of social tolerance coming in to the fold of the majority, the usual targets for discrimination are no longer acceptable to Americans. The majority it seems must always target a group of people to discriminate against, so they decide what core values it takes to become an American, and they decide that belief in God is one of those core values.

At any given point in American history there has been a minority group who was discriminated against with "permission" from the majority. This sort of 'Us-verse-them' mentality has led to horrible acts agianst all minorities, but as time progressed it focused more on single groups such as blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Muslims, and gay and lesbians. Now it atheistsstsAtheistssts are not a racial group, and they are enough of the outsider that the majority doesn't care if they are discriminated against.

The core values of the average American person say that an atheist is a criminal, a vagrant with no sense of morality. These are just stereotypes, the non-belief in a being does not evoke any specific way of living.

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Saturday, March 18

Google Wins!

Google will not have to hand over any user's search queries to the government. That's what a federal judge ruled today when he decided to drastically limit a subpoena issued to Google by the Department of Justice. (You can read the entire ruling here and the government's original subpoena here.)

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Thursday, March 2

Senate Approves Patriot Act Renewal

"The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to renew the USA Patriot Act, after months of pitched debate over legislation that supporters said struck a better balance between privacy rights and the government's power to hunt down terrorists."

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Wednesday, March 1

51 Year Old Hobbyist, from Mexico, Builds His Own Jetpack, from Scratch

Lozano is not a rocket scientist. He is not a stuntman. He is an animated, often goofy granddad who is afraid of the sight of blood. And he made his own jetpack.

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Tuesday, February 28

Gifting Ubuntu, one McDonalds at a time

This guy burns 20 copies of Ubuntu and heads to his local McDonalds. After convincing the manager to let him pass them out there by demonstrating Ubuntu with a live CD, he leaves 20 copies. The next day, they're all gone. Next step? Burn 30 more for 'ol Mickey Dee's.

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Sunday, February 26

Florida Voting Machine Logs Reveal Anomalies

The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.

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Hitching a Ride Out of a Gluttonous Black Hole

"With his piece published in Physical Review Letters on February 14, Lloyd attempts to show that quantum information does escape black holes, and that this information is useful and can have lasting impacts on how we understand our universe."

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Scientists can now predict memory of an event before it even happens.

Scans of brain activity, published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience, indicate that the brain can actually get into the 'right frame of mind' to store new information and that we perform at our best if the brain is active not only at the moment we get new information but also in the seconds before.

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Friday, February 24

What Are Quantum Dots?

There has been quite a bit of news concerning quantum dots recently (and I expect even more in the future) so I wanted to write about exactly what they are. Quantum dots could lead to many exciting breakthroughs, including programmable matter, quantum computers, lasers, solar cells, and biological sensors.

Most of the lasers are made by quantum wells and wires. The quantum well is built by placing a circuit in a negative, or "N," layer of metal. You sandwich this layer between two positive, "P," layers. In a PNP sandwich the electrons become trapped in the N layer and groups of electrons and "holes" form above the PNP sandwich. The causes photons to emitted directly from the surface, producing a laser.

A quantum dot is basically a very tiny structure (think nano scale) that traps electrons. If you also put a small layer of N and surround it completely by P you get a quantum dot. When you add current to the circuit, the electrons have no place to go, the positive layers keep them trapped, and they begin to act like waves. There is another place that electrons act this way, in atoms. A quantum dot could allow you to add electrons one at a time, and produce phenomena that are quite like atoms, only larger.

The most intriguing application of quantum dots currently being researched is programmable matter. If large amounts of artificial atoms could be made and the amount of electrons controlled in each dot, then you could create matter that you could program have the characteristics of any element. Another application is in solar cells, quantum dots could catch more energy from the sun than current solar cells, up to three times as much.

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