Have you ever noticed that almost every barn you have ever seen is red? There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the chemistry of dying stars. Seriously.
Yonatan Zunger is a Google employee who decided to explain this phenomenon on Google+ recently. The simple answer to why barns are painted red is because red paint is cheap. The cheapest paint there is, in fact. But the reason it’s so cheap? Well, that’s the interesting part.
Red ochre—Fe2O3—is a simple compound of iron and oxygen that absorbs yellow, green and blue light and appears red. It’s what makes red paint red. It’s really cheap because it’s really plentiful. And it’s really plentiful because of nuclear fusion in dying stars. Zunger explains:
The only thing holding the star up was the energy of the fusion reactions, so as power levels go down, the star starts to shrink. And as it shrinks, the pressure goes up, and the temperature goes up, until suddenly it hits a temperature where a new reaction can get started. These new reactions give it a big burst of energy, but start to form heavier elements still, and so the cycle gradually repeats, with the star reacting further and further up the periodic table, producing more and more heavy elements as it goes. Until it hits 56. At that point, the reactions simply stop producing energy at all; the star shuts down and collapses without stopping.
As soon as the star hits the 56 nucleon (total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus) cutoff, it falls apart. It doesn’t make anything heavier than 56. What does this have to do with red paint? Because the star stops at 56, it winds up making a ton of things with 56 neucleons. It makes more 56 nucleon containing things than anything else (aside from the super light stuff in the star that is too light to fuse).
The element that has 56 protons and neutrons in its nucleus in its stable state? Iron. The stuff that makes red paint.
And that, Zunger explains, is how the death of a star determines what color barns are painted.
I think he was 90% of the reason I watched this show.
Hyperbole and a Half posted again, and everyone needs to read it because:
- If you are depressed, it will resonate with you like whoa.
- If you are not depressed, it will clarify some stereotypes about depression that need to be said. An explanation like this has been needed for a LONG time.
- If you know someone who is depressed, you’ll be better at interacting with them after reading this.
punks not dead
Heosemys spinosa is an endangered species.
punks almost dead
you guys cant even understand my level of excitement and my high expectations for this movie.
Over 15 years ago, Vint Cerf, “one of the fathers of the Internet,” and some of his pals at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory started an absurdly ambitious project. They wanted to create a computer network in space, one that would let nodes located anywhere from the International Space Station to the surface of Mars communicate seamlessly across hundreds of thousands of miles. They call it the Interplanetary Internet—or InterPlaNet, if you will—and according to a new Wired interview, Cerf is getting closer to fulfilling his decades old ambition of networking the celestial bodies.
There’s only one problem: Vint Cerf works for Google now. Back in the 1990s when he got involved in this interplanetary Internet idea, Cerf was working hard to preserve the founding principles of the web and joined the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999. It’s fairly safe to say that there was a non-profit spin on these gigs, despite the fact that the Internet has become a profit-making machine. No wonder Google was interested in hiring the guy who practically invented the damn thing.
The specifics of Cerf’s role at Google are unclear. When he was hired in 2005, the Associated Press reported that Google hired the sextagenarian “to float more ideas and develop new products, adding another weapon to the online search engine leader’s rapidly growing arsenal of intellect.” The report adds, “Cerf’s official title will be ‘chief Internet evangelist,’ but he is determined to be more than a figurehead or detached visionary.”
But isn’t it a little unsettling that a project as huge as an interplanetary Internet is being masterminded by an employee of Google—which dominates the web to an incomparable degree—even if he is just a figurehead? The technology’s already being tested, and it’s no longer a hypothetical idea. It makes you wonder how much access to this new network Google will have. Maybe there’s even a Google Galactic Fiber business plan floating around Mountain View, probably underneath a pile of discarded Google Glass prototypes.
It might feel unsettling, but there a couple of reasons to believe that everything is going to be okay. Google is not going to take over the galaxy any time soon. For one, Cerf works for Google, but he’s not exactly an evangelist, at least for Google’s products. He’s publicly condemned the company’s viewpoint on certain issues in the past, and just last year declared that Google’s grasp on the search market isn’t really as firm as people might think.
The other encouraging thing about the future of the interplanetary Internet is how the space industry is making a successful transition from being a public works project to being a private enterprise. With companies like SpaceX making deliveries to the ISS more cheaply than governments could, it’s apparent that we’re on the cusp of a potentially huge new industry, and the billions of dollars worth of funding that companies like Google can provide will come in handy soon. While some may get anxious about a massive corporation like Google or Virgin expanding into space, it’s actually much to the public’s advantage to have a guy like Vint Cerf dictating the basic rules.
Cerf has spent pretty much his entire life building and preserving a free and open Internet. It’s unclear if Google is even interested in space, and even if they were bullish about playing a key role, past experience suggests that Cerf won’t have any problem telling them when they’re wrong.
straighten your back, mate
NOW GO ON
woah thanks i really needed that today
tumblr user demeaniac doing little favors for tumblr one post at a time
FUCK THIS POST HAS SHOWED UP LIKE 10 TIMES TODAY AND I HAVE BEEN HUNCHED OVER EVERY FUCKING TIME
PLEASE KEEP THIS GOING it is the best reminder for me ever and I always need it omg
This is for saying yes.
She’s got me sobbing all the way to 04:37.
A bird story. [via]
How Would You Like Your Assistant - Human or Robotic?
Roboticists are currently developing machines that have the potential to help patients with caregiving tasks, such as housework, feeding and walking. But before they reach the care recipients, assistive robots will first have to be accepted by healthcare providers such as nurses and nursing assistants. Based on a Georgia Institute of Technology study, it appears that they may be welcomed with open arms depending on the tasks at hand.
More than half of healthcare providers interviewed said that if they were offered an assistant, they preferred it to be a robotic helper rather than a human. However, they don’t want robots to help with everything. They were very particular about what they wanted a robot to do, and not do. Instrumental activities of daily living (IDALs), such as helping with housework and reminding patients when to take medication, were acceptable. But activities daily living (ADL) tasks, especially those involving direct, physical interactions such as bathing, getting dressed and feeding people, were considered better for human assistants.
The findings will be presented April 27- May 2 at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris, France.
“One open question was whether healthcare providers would reject the idea of robotic assistants out of fear that the robots would replace them in the workplace,” said Tracy Mitzner, one of the study’s leaders and the associate director of Georgia Tech’s Human Factors and Aging Laboratory. “This doesn’t appear to be a significant concern. In fact, the professional caregivers we interviewed viewed robots as a way to improve their jobs and the care they’re able to give patients.”
For instance, nurses preferred a robot assistant that could help them lift patients from a bed to a chair. They also indicated that robotic assistants could be helpful with some medical tasks such as checking vitals.
“Robots aren’t being designed to eliminate people. Instead, they can help reduce physical demands and workloads,” Mitzner said. “Hopefully, our study helps create guidelines for developers and facilitates deployment into the healthcare industry. It doesn’t make sense to build robots that won’t be accepted by the end user.”
This study complements the lab’s prior research that found older people are generally willing to accept help from robots. Much like the current research, their preferences depended on the task. Participants said they preferred robotic help over human help for chores such as cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. Getting dressed and suggesting medication were tasks viewed as better suited for human assistants.