NEWWorthy particle found – Xi-cc-plus-plus

To software engineers, this newly discovered — though predicted — particle sounds like an extension to the C++ programming language.  In actuality, the Xi-cc-plus-plus is a new kind of particle made up of two charm quarks.  Here’s the detailed (pdf) slide presentation.

It’s a heavy particle, and one of the most important findings about the Xi so far is that it helps to confirm the Standard Model.  In the long term, it might also help to refine our understanding of quantum chromodynamics.

Could this be a future U.S. electoral map?

Climate Central shows a map of the United States showing projected economic impact from climate change by 2080-2099.  The focus of the report is on the potential for economic and devastating impact, especially to the poor.

But could there be an interesting political impact as well by 2080 or even much earlier?  Voters in states who see there could be tragic consequences from ignoring climate change — particularly voters in the southeast — may vote in large numbers for politicians who support policies to deal effectively with climate change.  It is hard to say what climate change positions major political parties in the U.S. will take in 2025, 2050, or 2075.  But looking at today’s politics, that might mean a shift towards more votes for one party over another in those states.

If one counts just the states with a fair amount of the browns or darker colors on the map at Climate Central, particularly noticing the southern half of the country, that’s about 280 electoral votes in a presidential election.  Maybe that didn’t count for enough in the 2016 election, but by 2020, 2024, and onward, politicians should take note.  Climate change could have considerable impact on our nation’s economy, but it might also have a powerful impact on politics as well.

Globe Earth clip art

2D magnets

It’s too early to tell how useful 2D magnets are for anything other than experiments, since there is more research required to make them work at room temperature.

But the fact that physicists have figured out how to make magnets that are one atom thick, sure sounds pretty NEWWorthy.  They might eventually be used in consumer electronics.  Perhaps there will be uses in smartphones or computers.

As a person who enjoys the sport of disc golf, I wonder how strong the magnet will be.  If I could place a tape-thin-like magnet on my disc, that wouldn’t change the characteristics of my disc, could I then use any kind of extending pole (like a golf ball retriever) with a magnet on the end to retrieve it?  Probably not, but it’s a thought.

Magnetic Field clip art

Better humans?

I intended the title of this piece on artificial intelligence (AI) and humans to have more than one meaning.  It can refer to AI being better than human performance on the job.  In other words, when will AI better (surpass) humans in various jobs?   But it can also refer to when we can expect to see better humans.  I’ll spend a little time on each of these topics.

First, MIT Technology Review recently reported on the topic of “Experts predict when AI will exceed human performance.”  It would be amazing to see an AI beat college students in the Putnam Math competition by 2050, but that’s the prediction.  If it happens, that will certainly be NEWWorthy. You can see a sample Putnam problem every day on Harvard’s website.

Then there’s the issue of better humans.  I’ll simply say that we might all be better off if every human considered these 10 things (in the video below “10 Ways to be a Better Human”) before making big decisions.

Using atmospheric gravity waves to monitor hurricanes

Science Daily reports on “How atmospheric waves radiate out of hurricanes…The waves, known as atmospheric gravity waves, are produced by strong thunderstorms near the eye and radiate outward in expanding spirals.”

Atmosphere gravity waves can sometimes be seen in satellite imagery, and are known to create interesting shapes in the clouds.

Researchers now hope to monitor hurricane and typhoon wind speed from long distance with barometers and anemometers.  It is possible that this could improve future forecasts.

80 years to witness = 80 years to process?

According to Science Alert, it took 80 years to witness the first real evidence of a quantum distortion in empty space.  Very exciting news to those who enjoy studying distortions around the magnetic fields of neutron stars.

But it may take another 80 years or more before most of us learn to appreciate the consequences on physics and society of this discovery.

Science emojis

The journal Nature recently discussed an Emojicon draft proposal to introduce more science emojis to the keyboard.  With any luck, in a year or so we’ll be seeing and using these new science-related emojis.

Anyone who’s ever taken Chemistry knows what a flask is.  Hopefully the new flask emoji will look like the one on the top (below).  Depending on our new President and his administration, as well as Congress, it’s too early to know how science research will fare over the next four years.  If things do not go well for science (and NASA, for that matter) research funding, however, the new flask emoji may look more like the one on the bottom.