Observing Beams from Black Holes

Observing Beams from Black HolesTalking about science fiction coming to life – have you checked out black holes lately? They are actually looked upon as the Death Star beam of nature. They provide powerful energy jets that blast out from the region of black holes just as deadly rays would from a Star Wars weapon. Observing beams from black holes is definitely one of the amazing events of science.

Scientists Took a Closer Look

Now a group of prominent scientists that are being directed by the University of Southampton are moving even closer to comprehending this incredible cosmic event – which is referred to as relativistic jets – simply by calculating how rapidly they ‘switch on’ and begin brightly emitting after they’re launched.

The manner in which these jets form themselves is still a mystery. One theory implies that they form inside an ‘accretion disc’ — where matter gets drawn right into the orbit of an emerging black hole. It is the extreme gravity inside this disc that will twist and stretch magnetic fields, and will squeeze hot, magnetized disc material referred to as plasma to the point it will erupt into several oppositely poled magnetic pillars across the rotational axis of the black hole.

Figuring Out How the Beams are Emitted

Plasma moves across the focused jets and picks up incredible speed, and shoots along vast regions of space. At some point, the plasma begins to shine brightly, but how and where this occurs in the jet is heavily debated by many scientists.

A brand new study that was recently published by an global group of scientists who were led by Dr Poshak Gandhi have shown exactly the way they utilized some very precise multi-wavelength observations of V404 Cygni. This is a known binary system and consists of a black hole and a star that are orbiting one another very closely. In this system, the black hole feeds off material from the star which winds up falling through the disc — to shed some light on this heatedly debated phenomenon.

V404 Cygni exists approximately 7,800 light years away inside Cygnus constellation, and weighs about as much as 9 of our Suns combined. Dr Gandhi and his associated collected the data back in June 2015, at the time that V404 Cygni was radiating one of the most intense and brightest ‘bursts’ of light ever seen from a black hole – it was so bright that it was even visible to the small telescopes which are used by amateur astronomers, and had enough energy to rip up an Earth-type planet.

They had been utilizing telescopes that were located in space and on Earth at the very same time. They observed a 0.1-second delay among the X-ray flares which were blasted in the vicinity of the black hole, the place that the jet is formed, and the vision of bright light flashing, which marked the moment that the accelerated jet plasma started to shine.

Amazingly, the ‘blink of an eye’ delay measured the distance of about 19,000 miles which the beam traveled, which is totally impossible for any current telescope to resolve.

Dr Gandhi stated that: “Scientists have been observing jets for decades, but are far from understanding how nature creates these mind-bogglingly vast and energetic structures.

“Now, for the first time, we have captured the time delay between the appearance of X-rays and the appearance of optical light in a stellar-mass black hole at the moment jet plasma is activated. This lays to rest the controversy regarding the origin of the optical flashes, and also gives us a critical distance over which jet plasma must have been strongly accelerated to speeds approaching that of light.”

Read more >> https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030131241.htm

How Do You Build a Conscious Robot?

How Do You Build a Conscious RobotA conscious robot? Really? Most of us are at least a little bit familiar with subconscious thought and also conscious thought, but the surprising news that there are actually three types of consciousness according to a new study and review. In fact, these new concepts which may help scientists create fully conscious artificial intelligence (AI) as well one day. And even though this AI technology has advanced at an extremely rapid pace, there are still many ways in which computers fall way short of actual human performance which could affect building a conscious robot.

Artificial Intelligence is still Way Short of Human Consciousness

“Human consciousness is not just about recognizing patterns and crunching numbers quickly,” claims this study and review co-author Hakwan Lau, who is a neuroscientist from the University of California, Los Angeles. “Figuring out how to bridge the gap between human and artificial intelligence would be the holy grail.”

In order to deal with this controversial question asking if computers could ever develop a true consciousness, these scientists first wanted to figure out exactly how consciousness would arise within the human brain. While they are attempting this, they were able to outline these three levels of consciousness.

Three Levels of Consciousness Have Been Discovered

And the three levels might become a road map for creating a real conscious AI. “If you want to make your robots conscious, this is what we suggest you think about,” Lau said.

The first of these levels is called C0. This consciousness level pertains to the unconscious functions which take place inside human brains, like speech and face recognition, according to this recent review. The majority of calculations performed by the brain will occur at this level, the scientists claim — in other words, folks are not even aware that these functions and calculations are even taking place.

In spite of recent developments within AI technology, machines still function mostly at this consciousness level, the entire researchers claim.

The second consciousness level is called C1, which encompasses the abilities to process decisions after sorting through a huge repertoire of thoughts and evaluating lots of possibilities. The scientists suggest this ability to have a thought which could dominate the mind has evolved to guide a huge variety of behaviors.

C1 has even been observed within human infants and even in animals. For example, the researchers observed that thirsty elephants knew how to find and go to the nearest water hole, even one that was 30 miles away. Decision making at this level requires a lots of neural circuits to collect information from either memory or the environment, then pick the best option among many, and carry out this one decision across time while conducting an amalgam of operations, like as navigating terrains to accomplish the final goal.

In humans as well as other primates, the pre-frontal cortex of a brain functions as the central hub to process information, where lots of actions as described within C1 consciousness are taking place.

The last level is called C2 which involves “metacognition,” a term for abilities to evaluate your thoughts and also computations — or the capability to become self-aware. Consciousness at the C2 level will result in feelings that are subjective, that allow people to realize their mistakes and then make corrections. Self-awareness is what also allows people to figure out the things they know and the things they do not know which will lead to curiosity. They see curiosity as a trigger that pushes people to learn more about they know or don’t know.

The researchers have pointed out that there are actually some robots that have accomplished portion of C2 consciousness, as they evaluate their progress in learning to solve problems. However, researchers suggest that human consciousness could be developed from certain specific computations. “Once we can spell out in computational terms what the differences may be in humans between conscious and unconsciousness, coding that into computers may not be that hard,” Lau said. So much for the conscious robot.

Read more >> https://www.livescience.com/60789-how-to-make-a-conscious-robot.html

Reasons People Are Happier about the Economy When Their Party Is in Power

Reasons People Are Happier about the Economy When Their Party Is in PowerAre people more apt to believe that things are going great with their finances if the current leaders of the county’s politics align with theirs? Does this make a difference in your view of the economy?

A recent study that was posted in the publication Journal of Financial Markets, indicates that people’s overall optimism toward the economy and the stock market is very much influenced by their political party affiliation and the existing political climate in the nation.

Praising the Ruling Party

When a person’s favorite party holds power, that person tends to be much more optimistic in their view of the economy. Investors will pump more of their money into very risky bets, and show a preference for a high market beta, value and small-cap stocks, claim the scientists. And they often show a lower inclination to invest in local stocks.

“The political identity of an individual is an important source of her degree of optimism towards the U.S. economy, ” according to these researchers. “Republicans are less optimistic about the domestic economy when Democrats are in power and, similarly, Democrats grow less optimistic about the economy when Republicans come to power.”

Polls Support the Study

In addition, an Economist/YouGov poll that was taken recently indicates just how true that really is. Even a year or so ago, and after very similar unemployment job report numbers are being reported, Republicans still viewed the economy in a very negative light. According to a July 2016 poll, about 48% of all Republicans claimed that the economy was going badly, and just 6% had a positive viewpoint. And in an August 2017 poll, about 42% of all Republicans view the economic news as mostly positive, and just 13% felt that the news was not good.

Amazingly, about 5 times as many Republicans can recite the jobless rate reported today as compared to the less than 5% who knew it one year ago. This is the very same metric that was considered as a “poor” indication of the health of the economy. Today, there are only 17% of all Republicans who won’t trust it.

With the Democrats, the reverse is partially true. Joblessness is  a major concern of 10% more Democrats than it was in 2016.

Why do these shifts happen? Scientists claim investors will become more bullish over domestic markets and the overall whenever their preferred party has the power because they will be apt to agree with all economic policies that are being approved and implemented, and they feel a lot more confident that their party will can improve the welfare of the country. This sort of shift in optimism can greatly influence their views of risk and reward. This viewpoint greatly affects all decisions they will make regarding investment and also how well their portfolio will be doing.

“In particular, because of their increased optimism levels when their own party comes to power, individuals are more likely to believe that financial assets are undervalued and would produce superior future performance,” claimed the researchers. “Those individuals may also perceive the markets to be less risky and would therefore exhibit a greater willingness to hold riskier portfolios.”

Scientists look at the examples that an investor could increase their overall risk and exposure of their portfolios whenever their preferred party is ruling. In other words, they “may overweight stocks with higher market betas and exhibit a stronger preference for riskier small-cap and value styles.”

Read more >> http://bigthink.com/hope-optimism/why-people-are-happier-with-the-economy-if-their-party-is-in-power

Brain Shock Treatments Could Trigger Rage in People with Depression

Brain Shock Treatments Could Trigger Rage in People with DepressionThe practice of jolting the brain in order to provide relief to those who have depression can actually trigger furious fits in a very small amount of people, psychiatrists are warning.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has seen an increase in use to treat a several conditions, ranging addiction and depression all the way to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). When it is done, electrodes are attached to a scalp where they emit a small weak current that are supposed to enhance and strengthen electrical circuits inside the brain.

When it is used for treating depression, the current is generally applied directly to a person’s left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – the brain region that regulates emotions. Now there is strong evidence that the procedure will truly lift the mood in some depressive people.

But on the other hand, it does appear to create rage in a few rare cases, claims Ming-Chyi Huang  and Galen Chin-Lun Hung from Taipei City Hospital located in Taiwan.

These people have recently revealed that two patients in their psychiatric facility have experienced uncharacteristic outbursts of rage and fury immediately after getting tDCS treatments.

They Had Urges to ‘Tear Everything Apart’

The very first incident was with a 39 year old lady who was suffering from severe depression, low energy levels, as well as suicidal thoughts and had not responded well to any treatment of antidepressants. Immediately after the tDCS application, she got very agitated and  began screaming angrily and was overcomes with the urge to “tear everything apart”.

This woman did not have any prior record of angry or violent behavior. She then went back to her normal behavior after about 4 hours. Over the next 4 days, her depression level score saw an improvement from 42 to 17 when scored on the 60-point scale. She experienced no additional episodes of fury and rage, but reported that she felt a little restless and “keyed up” with energy for about eight weeks following the treatment.

Began Screaming and Cursing

The second incident happened to a 28 year old lady with very major case of depression and OCD. She also had not benefited at all from antidepressant medication and struggled just to leave her house. But within a few hours following her second application of tDCS, she grew intensely angry and started cursing very loudly, began fist clenching and crying. The very same thing occurred again right after her third application.

This woman was normally quite passive, and she returned to normal after about 30 minutes. And she also reported having no additional attacks. Her score of depression fell from 23 to 16 four weeks later and also saw an improvement in her OCD.

Camilla Nord who comes from the University of Cambridge has claimed to have seen one case of tDCS-related rage during her study of over 100 people who received the treatment. This woman who was suffering from depression had reported feelings of intense anger and rage during practically every one of her 8 tDCS sessions.

The exact reason for these outbursts after tDCS treatments still remains a mystery. Some think that the treatment could be causing a surge within the dopamine reward system inside the brains of some people. This could lead to behavioral anger and excitability, but experts agree that this is totally speculative. “It would be impossible to know the neural basis of this switch because no one has ever examined it,” claims one scientist.

Read more >> https://www.newscientist.com/article/2151621-brain-zap-therapy-may-throw-people-with-depression-into-a-rage/

A Cool Neutron Star Collision that Happened Nearby

A Nearby Neutron Star Collision May Cause Problems for EarthMany moons ago in a faraway galaxy there were two neutron stars that collided and gave everyone a magnificent light show. Then after spending billions of years circling one another, what was left of these two stars spiraled thousands more times around one another prior to one final collision that occurred a considerable fraction of speed of light, they in likelihood created a black hole.

Feeling a Massive Collision

This merging was so massive and violent that literally shook the entire universe. It emitted energy that was equivalent to the energy of about 200 million suns into the space-time fabric which is referred to as gravitational waves. These waves flowed away from this merger like a ripple within a pond, and eventually it would wash across the Earth—where it would be detected by the premiere gravitational-wave detectors which exist on our planet. One of these were built in the United States by LIGO, and the other was built in Europe by Virgo observatories.

However, these intense gravitational waves weren’t the only byproduct of the star merger. This major event emitted some electromagnetic radiation as well—in other word, light. This marked the very first time that astronomers successfully captured both gravitational waves as well as light from one solitary source. This first light detection from the star merger was actually a very brief, yet fabulous blast of gamma rays, along with a potential birth cry of a black hole that was detected by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. Hours after that, the astronomers used ground-based telescopes to pick up even more light from this star merger—which was called “kilonova”—that was created as debris from this intense merger continued to expand and cool. For several weeks, an astronomical global community observed this kilonova while it gradually disappeared faded from full view.

Kilonova Observed by the World

While the astronomers examined and evaluated the aftermath of the star merger in different light wavelengths, they observed signs of many heavy elements that had formed instantly. Astronomers had been predicting for a long time that a merging of neutron stars was most likely responsible for the forming of elements like titanium and gold , and other neutron-rich metals which aren’t known to originate in stars. Almost everything that they observed within the ever changing light of the star merger’s kilonova turned out to match their predictions, even though none of them definitively, observed this merger spitting out any gold nuggets.

Even though this event was visually witnessed across a separation of about 130 million light-years from Earth, the merger was still bright, big, and glorious. There is no doubt that neutron stars are rare by themselves—let alone seeing two of them about to merge—it is very unlikely that such an event will occur this close to Earth again anytime soon.

But let us imagine for a moment that if we could, and it were to occur in the Milky Way or even in one of its many satellite galaxies. Or perhaps if it were to occur in our own immediate space neighborhood, what would that be like and what exactly would we be able to see?  Would our world survive such an event?

Although LIGO is able to actually hear mergers like this and other massive object collisions, astronomers were very fortunate to even detect this stellar event.

Read more >> https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-nearby-neutron-star-collision-could-cause-calamity-on-earth/

 

If You Daydream Then You May Be Smarter Than Your Peers

If You Daydream Then You May Be Smarter Than Your PeersDid you ever get yourself in hot water by daydreaming during class or even during an important meeting at work? Maybe now you can tell them that your daydreaming could be a sign of your great intelligence and also creativity – at least this is what a new study has discovered.

Daydreaming May Actually Be a Good Thing

During this study, a research team looked specifically at how the urge to allow your mind wander during your daily life could be connected directly your cognitive skills and abilities. We all know that daydreamers often get hammered for being inattentive or distracted, but these findings imply that those who daydream often have higher intellectual and higher creative abilities than people who do not daydream regularly.

“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings, or schoolchildren who are too intellectually advanced for their classes,” commented Eric Schumacher, who is a psychology professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is the study’s co-author. “While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”

Evaluated Over 100 People as They Daydreamed

These scientists actually measured brain activities of over 100 people that had been asked to focus their minds on one single point located right in front of them for 5 minutes as they lay inside an MRI machine. These tests uncovered the regions of the brain that actually worked together while in a “awake resting state” — to put this another way, in a daydreaming state.

Even though there are some areas of the brain that work independently, other areas need to work with each other in order to complete a task. One common network of these interacting brain areas is known as a “default mode network,” and is extremely active during the time when a person daydreams.

After that, the study participants were requested to undergo a test that served to measure their creative and intellectual abilities, and then they answered a questionnaire to ascertain exactly how often that their mind actually wandered in their daily lives.

After the scientists compared and evaluated the data, they discovered that those participants who claimed to daydream the most actually got higher scores on their intellectual and creative ability tests and also had “more efficient” brain processes as evaluated by the MRI machine. This was often they were compared to those people who claimed to daydream less often, and these people also had “less efficient” brains via the MRI.

More efficient brain processes actually indicate a higher capacity to think, which often leads the mind to wander as they perform simple tasks, researchers have said. One common sign of a highly efficient brain is when they have the ability to drift in and out of discussions and never missing a beat.

“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention, and you can’t,” Schumacher stated. “Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.”

But there are also some are other things to consider as well, like the motivation of a person to remain focused on a specific task. The scientists claimed that more research would be required to enhance our understanding of whether daydreaming is helpful or harmful.

Read more >> https://www.livescience.com/60768-daydreaming-creativity-intelligence.html

How Lead Poisoning Crippled the Roman Empire

How Lead Poisoning Crippled the Roman EmpireArchaeologists from the University of Sheffield have been investigating exactly how lead poisoning affected the overall human health of the Roman Empire.

This exciting new research is being led by two people. The first is University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology Professor Maureen Carroll and the second is Dr Tracy Prowse who comes from McMaster University in Canada. They are the first to study and investigate the production of lead and also its use within the Roman Empire, and they are evaluating archaeological as well as skeletal evidence at a site within Roman Italy.

Lead was Very Abundant in Ancient Rome

We are finding that inside the ancient Roman world, we find that lead was an abundant commodity and was considered to be very valuable. In fact, it had lots of uses that were specifically outlined in ancient written sources as well as through the artefacts that were obtained at Roman archaeological sites.

Because of the horrific toxicity found in lead, this has caused modern authors to make some pretty sensational claims about how lead poisoning helped cause the Roman Empire to fall because of its heavy use in water pipes, aqueducts, household items, and even medicine.

Evaluation of Remains Where Lead were Heavily Used

Amazingly, we find that the true production, it uses, and the physical impact of this metal on public health in ancient Rome has actually not been studied before. Until this study came along, there had been no previous evaluations on the remains of those who were known to be heavily exposed to lead. There is strong archaeological evidence for lead use and production at the site where those people had worked and lived.

This new international team is now investigating all this archaeological evidence pertaining to lead production and its use at a rural Roman estate located in Vagnari, Italy. They are studying the physical remains of those Romans that had been exposed to lead on a routine basis.

The research of Professor Maureen Carroll had revealed previously that several Roman Imperial leaders had produced wine on a huge scale during their personal lives, has stated: “Our project focuses on the site of a rural estate which Roman emperors used as a source of revenue through agriculture and industry. Thanks to our previous research, we have the advantage of knowing exactly where people lived on the site and where some of them worked with toxic lead on a regular basis. These people were buried in the village cemetery.”

“The village’s inhabitants almost certainly were of varying social status, from slaves to free-born, and from local workers to immigrant labourers and tenants, so this research will give us an important insight into lead production and exposure among different tiers of Roman society.”

Dr Prowse also stated: “This project integrates research expertise from various disciplines to explore the entire picture of lead production and consumption at a rural Roman estate.

“It gives us new insights ranging from the physical context of manufacturing in the estate’s village, the procurement and processing of ores, to the physiological effects of lead production on men, women and children living and dying in the area. It will also give us a new understanding of the long-term consequences of lead in the environment and the associated risks to human health.”

Each year, Archaeology students who study at the University of Sheffield take part in excavation and research activities at Vagnari. This project provides graduate students and young scholars with the opportunity to train and learn about advanced scientific techniques, data gathering, as well as scholarly discourse.

Read more >> http://www.heritagedaily.com/2017/10/deadly-lead-lead-poisoning-affected-roman-empire/117150