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Legionnaires': The Other Disneyland Outbreak

14 January 2018 - 12:06pm
Clay Jones, Sci-Based Medicine
Late last year, multiple news outlets covered an outbreak of a serious infectious disease traced to Disneyland. No, it wasn't another cluster of measles cases, or even of pixie dust-induced lung cancer. This time it was an even deadlier infection, and thankfully one that is much more difficult to catch, known as Legionnaires' disease.A total of 15 cases of Legionnaires' disease were diagnosed during the outbreak, with 11 of the 15 having visited Disneyland from late August through October. The other four cases occurred in people who had been in Anaheim during this window but who had not...
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A Speed Limit for Quantum Computers?

14 January 2018 - 12:05pm
Sebastian Deffner, The Conversation
Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change.
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Fundamental Physics Is Frustrating Physicists

14 January 2018 - 12:05pm
The Economist
DEEP in a disused zinc mine in Japan, 50,000 tonnes of purified water held in a vast cylindrical stainless-steel tank are quietly killing theories long cherished by physicists. Since 1996, the photomultiplier-tube detectors (pictured above) at Super-Kamiokande, an experiment under way a kilometre beneath Mount Ikeno, near Hida, have been looking for signs that one of the decillion (1033) or so protons and neutrons within it (of which a water molecule contains ten and eight respectively) has decayed into lighter subatomic particles.
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Epistemologists Give the Gift of Doubt

13 January 2018 - 12:19am
Jonathan Rydberg, Massive
Anthony Magnabosco has an unusual interest that consumes all the time he can give to it. It's not something he collects, nor is it something he makes. It's something he tries to inspire in others: healthy skepticism. He calls himself a street epistemologist, and in a quest for truth, he's trying to better his understanding of what people believe and why. Epistemology is a philosophically complicated subject, but it's essentially the study of knowledge what it is, and how it's formed.
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Debating the Creation of a Military Space Corps

13 January 2018 - 12:19am
Steven Corneliussen, Phys Today
America's military needs a space corps, asserted the headline on a 22 December Wall Street Journal op-ed. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Trump on 12 December, had established no such new US military branch. An early version of that annual bill, however, one which passed the House, did call for a space corps. The space-corps concept may be deferred legislatively, but it's drawing media attention.
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Don't Fear the Robopocalypse

13 January 2018 - 12:18am
Lucien Crowder, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, has pretty good credentials when it comes to autonomous weapons. If you've ever heard of Directive 3000.09, which established the Defense Department's guidelines for autonomous weapons, Scharre led the working group that drafted it. And he's got a relevant book due out in April: Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War.
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Toxic Thaw Syndrome

13 January 2018 - 12:18am
Dan Zukowski, Hakai Magazine
On a small island in the Beaufort Sea, brown muck slides down tall cliffs, oozes into mud pools, and slithers into the ocean. It's summer, and the permafrost is thawing. As the sediment enters the sea, it clouds the coastal waters, releasing organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. But that's not all.
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The Greatest Myths About the Spanish Flu

13 January 2018 - 12:18am
Richard Gunderman, The Conversation
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the great influenza pandemic of 1918. Between 50 and 100 million people are thought to have died, representing as much as 5 percent of the world's population. Half a billion people were infected.
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