Science & Technology


Death of the traditional family: "Different is the new normal," report author claims

Traditional Family
© Thinkstock
The days of a traditional 1950s family where Dad goes off to be the breadwinner and Mom stays home to take care of the kids is long gone, replaced by a "peacock's tail" of various family unit structures, University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen claims in a new report prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF).

In his paper "Family Diversity is the New Normal for America's Children," Cohen reports that only 22 percent of children currently live in a married male-breadwinner family, while 23 percent are cared for by a single mother. Seven out of every 100 live with a parent cohabitating with an unmarried partner, while six live with either a single father or grandparents.

The single largest group of children (34 percent) lives with dual-earner married parents, the study said, but that group represents just slightly over one-third of the whole. That is a far cry from six decades ago, when 65 percent of all kids under the age of 15 were living with a family of married parents where only the father was part of the workforce.

"Different is the new normal. There hasn't been the collapse of one dominant family structure and the rise of another. It's really a fanning out into all kinds of family structures," Cohen told Brigid Schulte of The Washington Post on Thursday. "The big story, really, is the decline of marriage. That's what's really changed."

Body upgrades may be nearing reality, but only for the rich

© the
Arnold Schwarzenegger gets upgraded to a killer robot in Terminator 2.
Homo sapiens were not always so special. In the ancient past, other human forms lived beside us. The Neanderthals in Eurasia. Small, hobbit-like humans in Indonesia. The mysterious Denisovans in the Ural mountains.

But our time alone may be nearing its end. Through the power of technology, humans are set to take on the role of Intelligent Designer. We can upgrade ourselves and surmount evolution. Ultimately, we can become entirely new beings that set the stage for a posthuman future.

The scenario has played out for decades in science fiction but the prospect is raised more seriously by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, in his latest book, Sapiens. In it he sees trouble ahead. The latest human enhancements will be accessible only to the rich, leading to a 21st-century society more unequal than any that came before.

The revolution Harari has in mind is borne of engineering and exploits mechanical, electronic, chemical and genetic progress. In place of treatments that correct biological deficits, like failing hearts, poor hearing and weak eyesight, will be procedures that improve on natural performance, making the fortunate recipients biologically better than the rest.

"In the 20th century, the main task of medicine was to bring everybody to a certain level of health and capability. It was by definition an egalitarian aim," Harari told the Guardian. "In the 21st century medicine is moving onwards and trying to surpass the norm, to help people live longer, to have stronger memories, to have better control of their emotions. But upgrading like that is not an egalitarian project, it's an elitist project. No matter what norm you reach, there is always another upgrade which is possible."

Another failed climate prediction: Laughable new paper claims 99.999% certainty global warming over past 25 years is man-made

I was tipped off to this paper by a Tweet from SkS Reichfurher John Cook, and I started on writing a rebuttal, but discovered The Hockey Schtick had already done a complete job, so I've reposted it here.

Anthony The Hockey Schtick writes: A new paper published in a journal called Climate Risk Management claims a ridiculous degree of "certainty" of 99.999% that global warming over the past 25 years is man-made. The claim is made based upon climate models already falsified at confidence levels of 98%+.

According to the authors,
"there is less than a one in one hundred thousand chance of observing an unbroken sequence of 304 months [25.3 years] (our analysis extends to June 2010) with mean surface temperature exceeding the 20th century average."
Fundamental problems with this claim [which is basically the falsified IPCC attribution claim of 95% certainty on steroids] include:

There is no statistical difference between the rate of warming over the 27 years from 1917-1944 and the 25 years from 1975/1976 to 2000:
Climate models fail to simulate the [natural with 99.999% certainty] observed warming between 1910 and 1940
    Not being able to address the attribution of change in the early 20th century to my mind precludes any highly confident attribution of change in the late 20th century." - Judith Curry

Comment: There are an extraordinary number of signs that the planet is cooling, has been for a while and we are probably entering an ice age. See:
  • Global Cooling - Methods and testable decadal predictions
  • Ice Age cometh: Global cooling consensus is heating up - cooling over the next one to three decades


New research aims to shed light on a cosmological enigma - dark matter

dark matter
© Credit: University of Kansas / KU News Service
The distribution of dark matter in the universe as computed within the two-component flavor-mixed dark matter paradigm.
Astrophysicists believe that about 80 percent of the substance of our universe is made up of mysterious "dark matter" that can't be perceived by human senses or scientific instruments.

"Dark matter has not yet been detected in a lab. We infer about it from astronomical observations," said Mikhail Medvedev, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, who has just published breakthrough research on dark matter that merited the cover of Physical Review Letters, the world's most prestigious journal of physics research.

Medvedev proposes a novel model of dark matter, dubbed "flavor-mixed multicomponent dark matter."

"Dark matter is some unknown matter, most likely a new elementary particle or particles beyond the Standard Model," Medvedev said. "It has never been observed directly, but it reveals itself via gravity it produces in the universe. There are numerous experiments around the world aimed at finding it directly."

Medvedev's theory rests on the behavior of elementary particles that have been observed or hypothesized. According to today's prevalent Standard Model theory of particle physics, elementary particles - categorized as varieties of quarks, leptons and gauge bosons - are the building blocks of an atom. The properties, or "flavors," of quarks and leptons are prone to change back and forth, because they can combine with each other in a phenomenon called flavor-mixing.
Blue Planet

How advanced are Earthlings on a cosmic yardstick?

evolution question
How far can we evolve and stay in balance with the earth and technology?
We humans like to think ourselves pretty advanced - and with no other technology-bearing beings to compare ourselves to, our back-patting doesn't have to take context into account. After all, we harnessed fire, invented stone tools and the wheel, developed agriculture and writing, built cities, and learned to use metals.

Then, a mere few moments ago from the perspective of cosmic time, we advanced even more rapidly, developing telescopes and steam power; discovering gravity and electromagnetism and the forces that hold the nuclei of atoms together.

Meanwhile, the age of electricity was transforming human civilization. You could light up a building at night, speak with somebody in another city, or ride in a vehicle that needed no horse to pull it, and humans were very proud of themselves for achieving all of this. In fact, by the year 1899, purportedly, these developments prompted U.S. patent office commissioner Charles H. Duell to remark, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

We really have come a long way from the cave, but how far can we still go? Is there a limit to our technological progress? Put another way, if Duell was dead wrong in the year 1899, might his words be prophetic for the year 2099, or 2199? And what does that mean for humanity's distant future?

Comment: Back in March, 2013, NASA told Congress to "pray" if a meteor similar to the one that hit Russia is ever three weeks away from the U.S. During that House Committee hearing, NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. told Congress that the U.S. doesn't have the proper equipment to identify a small meteor (the size of Russia's meteor). Bolden said, "The reason I can't do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off. We are where we are today because, you know, you all told us to do something and between the administration and the Congress, the funding to do that did not - the bottom line is always - the funding did not come." [This is pathetic. Let's start a war.]

As a species, we will not rise above a doomsday scenario as long as we allow lies, injustice and propaganda to blind us to what is real and secret agendas for the few to take priority over what is in all mankind's best interest and longevity. We apparently do not learn from our mistakes. If we haven't figured out why we are here and how to genuinely progress for the good of all, how will we stay the course, find our place in the balance of the universe and our connection to the realm of the cosmos? We will do what we will do...perhaps too little, too late. There are lessons...and apparently they are worth repeating.


Astronomers led by Southern Connecticut State University say that 50% all planets in the universe may have two suns

Astronomers led by Southern Connecticut State University say that half of all planets in the universe may have two suns. This image shows an artist's concept of the circumbinary planet Kepler-16b - the first planet known to definitively orbit two stars. The cold planet, with its gaseous surface, is not thought to be habitable
* The finding was made by observing stars already found to host planets

* The team found that 50 per cent of such stars were in binary systems

* This means more planets than thought are orbiting multiple stars

* Some of the planets may never-ending day time, while others would just have an unusually bright second star among others in their night sky

Imagine a world where it's never night time; when one sun moves below the horizon another takes its place, providing endless light.

This might sound like a sci-fi scenario, but research now suggests that this could be far more common than thought.

In fact, up to 50 per cent of stars hosting planets may actually be in binary systems, providing their worlds with odd characteristics not seen in our solar system.

Sunday's close flyby of asteroid 2014 RC

Asteroid 2014 RC
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Based on brightness, astronomers estimate the asteroids’s size at 60 feet. Times indicated on the graphic are EDT or Eastern Daylight Time.
Guess who's dropping by for a quick visit this weekend? On Sunday, a 60-foot-wide (20-meters) asteroid named 2014 RC will skim just 25,000 miles (40,000 km) from Earth. That's within spitting distance of all those geosynchronous communication and weather satellites orbiting at 22,300 miles.

Size-wise, this one's similar to the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains region in February 2013. But it's a lot less scary. 2014 RC will cleanly miss Earth this time around, and although it's expected back in the future, no threatening passes have been identified. Whew!

New Silicon Valley in Crimea

General view from Ai-Petri peak in the Crimean mountains on Yalta
Crimea's authorities are looking at creating a kind of a Crimean Silicon Valley in the territory of the peninsula, acting head of republic Sergei Aksyonov said in an article that was published in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday.

He said such innovation hub would host advanced communications and microelectronics facilities. At the same time, he called to take into account experience and achievements of the Soviet-era periods. "We can recall the productions of Photon television sets, ship-repair plants and shipyards, canned foods industry, agro-industrial gardening and greenhouse facilities, unique production of essential oil plants, etc," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

He called to make more active use of advanced technologies in industrial and agrarian sectors. For these ends, he said it would be expedient to set up a Crimean branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He said that the Crimean authorities were finalizing programmes of infrastructure development on the peninsula. A special council, in his words, was established to evaluate the quality and expediency of investment projects in Crimea.

"The most important thing for us is to see to it that an investor be registered in Crimea, pay taxes here and create jobs for locals," he said. He admitted that the current level of investments - of about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars - was not enough. "Investors are keeping a close eye on the development of the political situation linked with sanctions against Russia and Crimea.

Because existing methods of mass slaughter aren't efficient enough, US scientists working on mind-controlled drones for military use

University researchers in Texas say they are designing a new type of drone - one that could be controlled simply and only with a soldier's mind.

If successful, the project would allow soldiers to command future drones in ways beyond simple navigational commands. While troops would be able to order a drone to "move left" and "move right," it would potentially enable them to command the vehicles to travel over specific geographic installations and send critical data back to their operators.

According to My San Antonio, the project is currently underway at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where graduate students recently demonstrated a hovering drone operated via a cell phone app while one researcher sat - his head covered in sensors - and focused intently on the unnamed aerial vehicles' activity.

Comment: While the infrastructure is crumbling, a large percentage of the people are on food stamps, society is on the verge of collapse, the US government sees fit to spend huge amounts of money researching more efficient methods of mass killing. Those are all the signs of a collapsing empire, soulless, brutal and corrupted to the core. Those who learn from history know how it will end; those who do not, will perish.


Extinct underwater volcano discovered beneath Pacific Ocean

Underwater Volcano
© Image courtesy of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center
The newly discovered seamount rises up some 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) from the seafloor near the Johnston Atoll, at a depth of about 16,730 feet (5,100 m) under the Pacific Ocean.
Lurking some 3.2 miles (5.1 kilometers) beneath the Pacific Ocean, a massive mountain rises up from the seafloor, say scientists who discovered the seamount using sonar technology.

The seamount is about two-thirds of a mile high (1.1 kilometers), researchers said. Seamounts, rocky leftovers from extinct, underwater volcanoes, are found on ocean floors around the world. The newly discovered seamount is about 186 miles (300 km) southeast of Jarvis Island, an uninhabited island in a relatively unexplored part of the South Pacific Ocean, experts said.

"These seamounts are very common, but we don't know about them, because most of the places that we go out and map have never been mapped before," James Gardner, a University of New Hampshire research professor who works at the university's NOAA Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center, said in a statement. [See Images of the Newfound Pacific Ocean Seamount]