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Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out of Galactic Core

Article Excerpt:

Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.

Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.

Weighing more than 1 billion suns, the rogue black hole is the most massive black hole ever detected to have been kicked out of its central home.

“Black holes reside in the center of galaxies, so it’s unusual to see a quasar not in the center.” The team calculated the black hole’s distance from the core by comparing the distribution of starlight in the host galaxy with that of a normal elliptical galaxy from a computer model.

“To our surprise, we discovered that the gas around the black hole was flying away from the galaxy’s center at 4.7 million miles an hour,” said team member Justin Ely of STScI. This measurement is also a gauge of the black hole’s velocity, because the gas is gravitationally locked to the monster object.

According to their theory, two galaxies merge, and their black holes settle into the center of the newly formed elliptical galaxy.

Astronomers have evidence of black-hole collisions for stellar-mass black holes, but the process regulating supermassive black holes is more complex and not completely understood.

Source: Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out of Galactic Core

The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death

Article Excerpt:

America’s self-reliance obsession makes it more acceptable to applaud working yourself to death than to argue that doing so points to a flawed economic system.

“Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began.

Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public-relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication-the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees.

Perhaps, as Lyft suggests, Mary kept accepting riders while experiencing contractions because “She was still a week away from her due date,” or “She didn’t believe she was going into labor yet.” Or maybe Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system.

Source: The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death

What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?

Article Excerpt:

Cognitive skills are important, but so are harder-to-measure strengths that fall under the heading of what is sometimes called character.

Children in continuously married two-parent families did better than children with single parents.

In a 2011 paper, “The American Family in Black and White,” Heckman argues that a key factor in determining a child’s future prospects is whether he or she grows up in a one- or two-parent family, a gap that has become apparent “Between the environments of children of more educated women and the environments of children of less educated women.”

Fewer than 10 percent of women with college degrees in 2011 bore children outside of marriage, Heckman writes.

Children of such marriages appear to be at a major advantage compared to children from other unions.

Talk less to their children and are less likely to read to them daily.

Disadvantaged mothers encourage their children less and tend to adopt harsher parenting styles.

Disadvantaged parents tend to be less engaged with their children’s school work.

There are good reasons to think that children are key to the socioeconomic differences in marriage behavior.

For college graduates, they argue, “Marriage has become the commitment device that supports intensive joint investments in children,” a cooperative “Joint project of raising economically successful children.”

Source: What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?

The problem isn’t that life is unfair – it’s your broken idea of fairness

Article Excerpt:

Unless you’re winning, most of life will seem hideously unfair to you.

The truth is, life is just playing by different rules.

We don’t live in a world where everyone has to kill each other to prosper.

“I’m better than this.” These idle impulses may comfort us at night, but they’re not how the world sees us.

What exactly can you and have you done for the world?

The same rule applies to all talents, even unsavoury ones: get naked for one person and you might just make them smile, get naked for fifty million people and you might just be Kim Kardashian.

If you don’t accept this, then the judgement of the world will seem very unfair indeed.

Rule #3. Our idea of fairness is self interest.

It’s why we have referees in sports games and judges in courtrooms: we have an innate sense of right and wrong, and we expect the world to comply.

The problem isn’t that life is unfair; it’s your broken idea of fairness.

Our idea of fairness isn’t actually obtainable.

Can you imagine how insane life would be if it actually was ‘fair’ to everyone? No-one could fancy anyone who wasn’t the love of their life, for fear of breaking a heart.

Most of us get so hung up on how we think the world should work that we can’t see how it does.

Source: The problem isn’t that life is unfair – it’s your broken idea of fairness

How to Learn New Things as an Adult

Article Excerpt:

A new book explores the psychology of mastering skills and absorbing information.

Quick, what’s the capital of Australia? No Googling! Did you get it? Or are you sure you learned it at some point, but forgot right around the time that you forgot how the Krebs cycle works? In his new book, Learn Better, author and education researcher Ulrich Boser digs into the neuroscience of learning and shows why it’s so hard to remember facts like that one.

What does it mean to learn something? Is it to memorize something? How do you know when you’ve learned something? Really what we want to do is to be able to think in that way, so that it shifts our reasoning abilities.

If we want to learn to learn to become a car mechanic, you want to learn the reasoning abilities of a car mechanic.

Why is teaching other people such an effective learning strategy? It’s not that different from explaining ideas to yourself.

People underestimate how much they forget, and people who are able to revisit their learning at a regular rate end up learning a lot more.

Anki is one, and they have, I think, a really nice model, which is, you’re learning at your rate of forgetting.

You have these moments where your brain is thinking through the day, making connections, and what’s important, I think, for people who are trying to learn more effectively, is to make organized time for that.

Source: How to Learn New Things as an Adult

Animal behaviour: The ecological impact of spiders

Article Excerpt:

Arachnids eat as much animal food as all of the humans on Earth.

Spiders sit high in the pantheon of species that have an outsized terror-to-danger ratio.

In 1957 William Bristowe, a British arachnologist, wondered whether British spiders might kill prey equivalent in mass to all of the people then living in Britain.

In research published this week in the Science of Nature, Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel, in Switzerland, and Klaus Birkhofer of Lund University, in Sweden, attempt to put some numbers on spiders’ dining habits.

Starting with the available data on the mass of spiders found per square metre in Earth’s main habitat types-forests, grasslands, fields of crops and so on, they calculated the amount of prey required in each habitat to support the weight of spiders there, based on spiders’ known food requirements per unit of body weight.

Their conclusion was that there are 25m tonnes of spiders around the world and that, collectively, these arachnids consume between 400m and 800m tonnes of animal prey every year.

This puts spiders in the same predatory league as humans as a species, and whales as a group.

Arachnophobes should consider this: without spiders, there would be an awful lot more other creepy-crawlies around.

Source: Animal behaviour: The ecological impact of spiders

Why Complexity is Different

Article Excerpt:

One of the hardest things to explain is why complex systems are actually different from simple systems.

We define the complexity profile as the amount of information necessary to represent a system as a function of scale.

The complexity at the finest scales is finite because of quantum uncertainty and is equal to a universal constant, 1/k B ln(2), times the entropy for a system in equilibrium, where k B is Boltzmann’s constant.

According to the complexity profile, each piece of information about a system has a size - the largest scale at which we can begin to detect that piece of information.

This also means that systems that look different on a microscopic scale may not look different at the macroscopic scale, and their mathematical descriptions become the same.

The result is that these two seemingly different types of systems map mathematically onto each other.

Scientists use the normal distribution for many different biological and social systems.

Even though the specific systems are very different, the dependencies that give rise to their behaviors, and the behaviors themselves, are related mathematically.

The mathematical representation of one system at a particular scale may correspond to the behavior of other systems despite different underlying components.

Source: Why Complexity is Different

Why It’s Better To Animate a Film Alone, Even If It Takes 4 Years

Article Excerpt:

‘Nova Seed’ is sci-fi auteurship at it’s best.

DiLiberto’s path to auteur illustrator started long before the first sketches of the half-lion Neo Animal Combatant was tasked with saving the world from Dr. Mindskull in Nova Seed.

DiLiberto estimates the film includes roughly 1,000 scenes, which required a pace of one scene a day to meet his self-imposed four-year deadline.

“It’s a weird thing in my brain, I really do enjoy every job. I even punch my own animation paper. Nobody wants to do that, that’s why they sell it prepunched. Scanning would be the next job you’d give to the intern, but for me it’s an opportunity to take a break and look at the artwork,” says DiLiberto.

After a few years in Japan, DiLiberto and his wife lamented that they couldn’t return to Canada to visit family.

“The disadvantage is that it’s fully time-consuming. You almost have to sacrifice your favorite thing. I am a die-hard film fan, I love going to the movie theater even if there’s nothing good playing, but I don’t even remember the last time I watched a movie. To make a movie, there’s no time for enjoying film, and that sucks.”

Source: Why It’s Better To Animate a Film Alone, Even If It Takes 4 Years

We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost?

Article Excerpt:

Scientists disagree about whether bringing extinct species back from the dead will result in a net loss of global biodiversity.

“If you have the millions of dollars it would take to resurrect a species and choose to do that, you are making an ethical decision to bring one species back and let several others go extinct,” Dr. Bennett said.

In their study, Dr. Bennett and his collaborators tried to approximate the costs of re-establishing and maintaining 16 species that went extinct in the last millennium, including the Lord Howe pigeon and Eastern rat-kangaroo from Australia, and the laughing owl and Waitomo frog from New Zealand.

Because the price of genetically reconstructing extinct species is still unknown, the scientists focused on how much it would cost just to reintroduce and maintain these particular species in the wild once they had already been engineered.

In New Zealand, the researchers calculated, the funds required to conserve 11 extinct species would protect three times as many living species.

In New South Wales, reviving five extinct species was similar to saving more than eight times as many living species.

Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and author of the controversial book “The Population Bomb,” said that conservation is vastly underfunded and there is no guarantee that restoring extinct species will work.

Source: We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost?

Gödel and the limits of logic

Article Excerpt:

Born on April 28, 1906, in Brno, Moravia, Gödel was the second of two children of Rudolf and Marianne Gödel, expatriate Germans whose families were associated with the city’s textile industry.

The Circle brought Gödel into contact with scholars such as philosopher of science Rudolf Carnap and mathematician Karl Menger and helped to acquaint him with the literature of mathematical logic and philosophy.

During this period, Gödel suddenly acquired international stature in mathematical logic.

As Norwegian logician Thoralf Skolem demonstrated a few years after Gödel’s work, even if all statements that are true of the natural numbers are taken as axioms, there will still be other structures, essentially different from the natural numbers, that also satisfy the axioms.

Extensions of Gödel’s ideas have allowed the derivation of several results about the limits of computational procedures.

This article was adapted from Gödel and the limits of logic by JW Dawson.

Trained as a logician, during the years 1982-84 he catalogued Gödel’s papers at the Institute for Advanced Study, work that provided the basis for his 1997 biography Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Gödel.

Source: Gödel and the limits of logic