[Popular STEM] Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for May 16, 2020

in Popular STEM2 months ago (edited)

A Steem video-essay with a microscope view of a Nematode and a Rotifer; IEEE Spectrum's weekly selection of awesome robot videos; Direct evidence that aging-related cognitive decline is influenced by gut microbes; For the first time in a century, a Viking ship is set to be excavated in June; and an argument that Stephen Wolfram's computational framework for physics does not yet qualify as a scientific theory

Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for
May 16, 2020


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  1. Steem @thelovelybrenda: - In this steem post, the author and videographer embeds a youtube video with an under-the-microscope battle between a Nematode and a Rotifer. The organisms are found in a sample of waste water from the author's employment at a water treatment plant.

    Here is the video, but click through and give the post an upvote.

    Feel free to use the comments here to post and discuss your favorite video from the linked page.

  2. Video Friday: This Robotic Basketball Hoop Won’t Let You Miss - This week's weekly selection of awesome robot videos from IEEE Spectrum includes: People and animals using iRobot Roombas for entertainment during the pandemic lockdown; A robotic basketball backboard from Stuff Made Here that assists the ball into the hoop; A new soft-robot with a cheetah-inspired design that is built for speed; A video of Boston Dynamics' Spot on social-distancing patrol; and more...

    Here is a video of the basketball backboard. It makes use of the Windows operating system, physics, linear algebra, and computer vision. It was built with a combination of machining, welding and 3D printing:

  3. Age-related shifts in gut microbiota contribute to cognitive decline in aged rats - A study in rats provides direct evidence that the microbiome in the gut contributes to cognitive decline in aging. Researchers performed a fecal transplant from old rats into young rats and observed symptoms that relate to aging in the younger ones. -h/t Daniel Lemire

  4. Archaeologists Will Excavate a Viking Ship for the First Time in Over 100 Years - Discovered in 2018 with ground penetrating radar, a ship in Gjellestad, Norway is set to be excavated beginning in June. The researchers had hoped to move more slowly and deliberately, but after discovering that the ship is being attacked by fungus, and situated above groundwater in a silty and sandy area, they stepped up the schedule. If not excavated, the researchers think that the remainder of the ship may not survive much longer. The ship is located beneath a burial mound in an area that seems to have been a Viking cemetery. This will be the first time in over a hundred years that a buried Viking ship is excavated. Previous excavations were in 1868, 1880, and 1904. -h/t RealClear Science

  5. 3 Simple Reasons Why Wolfram's New 'Fundamental Theory' Is Not Yet Science - As discussed in Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 14, 2020 and other posts in this series, Stephen Wolfram has extended the ideas from his book, A New Kind of Science, in a way that he thinks might lead to a new fundamental theory of physics. Wolfram believes that the nature of the universe is fundamentally discrete, and that nature can be described through successive computations that make use of some basic fundamental rules. This contrasts with Freeman Dyson who believed that the universe is continuous, hence the title of his book, Infinite in All Directions. This article by Ethan Siegel comments on Wolfram's ideas, claiming that a new scientific theory needs to duplicate the success of a previous theory, solve problems that previous theories cannot solve, and deliver new and testable predictions. As-of yet, Siegal asserts that Wolfram's idea for a unified framework cannot do any of those things. The author concludes as follows:
    Much like String Theory, we won't know whether this path is the road to a new fundamental theory of everything or whether it's a blind alley irrelevant for our reality until we get to the end. But unlike String Theory, it is not yet clear that all of General Relativity or Quantum Field Theory can even be extracted from this approach. Until this (or any) new idea can reproduce all of the successes of our pre-existing leading theories, solve problems they cannot solve, and make novel-but-testable predictions, it will not meet the necessary criteria of a scientific theory.

    Years ago, when I read Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, I was left with the impression that what he described was an intractable search problem. I have similar thoughts about his new 3D extensions. He might be correct, but finding the right theoretical universe and rules from an infinity of possibilities seems like finding a proverbial needle in a haystack. It remains to be seen whether crowdsourcing the work will make it tractable. -h/t RealClear Science

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