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First Artificial Black Hole Created

Yup, folks, it’s happened. Set the Apocalypse Watch to red, for humanity has taken one small step in astrophysics, and one giant leap forward toward our ultimate doom. Scientists at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China have created the world’s first artificial black hole. CERN: 0, China: 1.

To better explain how the impossible happened, a brief introduction to metamaterials is necessary. You may have heard of metamaterials before – the big story was that these man-made materials could bend light around an object, rendering it invisible. Physicists have proclaimed many other possible applications of metamaterials: recreating the Big Bang, protecting buildings from earthquakes, and, of course, every physicist’s favorite DIY project: creating a black hole.

Researchers Qiang Cheng and Tie Jun Cui have created a metamaterial from which microwave frequencies cannot escape. They arranged 60 layers of circuit boards in concentric circles and coated them with copper. Patterns were etched into the copper patterns that can either resonate at microwave frequency, or not. Now, black holes absorb light because their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull. However, the metamaterial created by Cheng and Cui doesn’t work on that level – instead, the material essentially re-routes the incoming microwaves, capturing it in a labyrinthine maze which it can never escape from.

Currently, the metamaterial is only able to absorb microwave frequencies, but they are working on one that will be able to absorb visible light as well.

Possible applications of this metamaterial are endless: harvesting visible and solar light for energy, for one. The article ends with this chilling one-liner: “The prospect of a black hole in every household may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have real-life versions of Homers’ and Peters’ having access to those kinds of machines, if you get what I mean.

Source: Technology Review

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Face or Body?

When you ask a guy what they prefer in a woman, most will typically choose from one of two obvious responses: “Boobs” or “Butt.” A select few may go with “pretty face,” but that’s likely because a girl is asking them and they don’t want to look like a horny jerk. The same hold true for chicks, by the way – just take a look at this commercial and try and tell me those girls are interested in anything but his “Hot Bod.” The question boils down to this: When choosing someone to date, do you focus on their face, or their body?

Researchers have found that whether you prefer face or body mostly depends on your intentions for the person. Depending on if you’re looking for a one night stand or a lifelong soulmate, you’ll be unconsciously checking for different things.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked 375 college students to choose who to date based entirely on seeing photographs of just their face or just their body. Nearly every single student chose their date based on seeing only the person’s face – except for one particular sex: men not ready or willing to settle down.

Men looking for an easy night of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am,” evaluate you as a whole: face, body and all (well, minus your personality. They’re not looking for a night of conversation, if you know what I mean). 75 percent of men looking for long term relationships chose their dates based on their face. Men looking for a less committed engagement chose 50/50 based on both faces and bodies.

Jaime Confer, one of the researchers, explains the rationale behind the findings: “Cues of immediate fertility which are more important to a man pursuing short-term relationships are more densely concentrated in her body than in her face. Where as her face may have more cues of reproductive value like age and health. Skin and wrinkling gives a cue to her age-men…want to make sure she’s not at the tail end of the fertility window.”

So, men looking for short term flings are making their choices based on the pure need to spread their seed. They’re looking for fertile, healthy women to; which is all due to the unconscious pulse of genes wanting to keep their line intact. So, think twice next time you’re evaluating people for dating material. Which part of their body do you focus on? It may give you a clue as to whether you consider them long term or short term material.

Sources: Scientific American

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Let Your Bracelet Make Your Decisions For You

Not content with only being the brand on your 42″ HD TV, Phillips has now decided to tap into another market: your emotional well-being. Teaming up with ABN AMRO, and the duo have conceptualized the EmoBowl and EmoBracelet. No, these items aren’t designed to make you suddenly want to listen to Dashboard Confessionals, wear black eyeliner or style your bangs to hang annoyingly over your eyes. They have been designed with online investors who work from home in mind.

The concept video shows a harried investor, eyes darting from his newspaper, to the stock ticker trailing across the TV, to his computer where he buys and sells stocks at a madman’s pace. He actually lives in a surprisingly normal-looking home; I just assumed that all investors dwelled in deep underground lairs adorned with walls of TV’s broadcasting global trends, ever-ringing phones and monkey henchmen performing intricate calculations to determine every minute trend change in the stock exchanges.

Color me disappointed.

Anyway, the investor is sitting in his boring, normal-looking house, in his boring, normal-looking chair wearing an odd, futuristic bracelet around his wrist, which emits ever-changing constellations of soft, glowing dots as it monitors his pulse rate. In the foreground is the “EmoBowl, “which reflects the rate of his pulse with colors ranging from yellow to red.

As he wipes the sweat from his brow, he glances at the EmoBowl, which has transitioned from a soothing yellow to an alarming red color, he then closes his laptop and gets a glass of water; one can only assume the EmoBowl and EmoBracelet have kept him from making a terrible financial blunder.

The basic concept here is that when people are nervous, or upset, or just going crazy, their pulse quickens. During this state, people tend to make more rash decisions. The EmoBracelet monitors your pulse – if it reaches a heightened level, then the EmoBowl will turn red, encouraging the person to stop, take a breather, pop a Xanex, and then return to work once the EmoBowl returns to yellow.

I can see applications for this beyond online investors. Having a heated argument with a loved one? Take a look at your EmoBowls and then have some makeup sex. Getting too engrossed in a sports match at your local bar with opposing fans looking to break some beer bottles? Pop some peanuts into your EmoBowl and laugh it off with a brewskie. OK, so maybe those aren’t the best applications for such an invention, but perhaps you can come up with something better.

Source: Engadget

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You Humans Relax, We Robots Will Handle Mars

Since sending manned missions to scout Mars has proven to be a hassle and a half, researchers at Caltech have come up with a better (and much cooler) solution: fleets of intelligent robots.

At the moment, space operations concerning Mars are handled such: Instructions are sent to unmanned spacecraft drifting around and on the surface of Mars. Since Mars isn’t quite located in NASA’s backyard, it takes several minutes for the information to be sent to and processed by the machines. That’s all fine and dandy for non time-sensitive procedures, but if an insectoid alien race hell-bent on the destruction of all other life forms comes about, you’d want to get that tell-tale hint a of nearby intelligent civilization out of the way, pronto.

So, Professor Fink (Not to be confused with the loveable quack, Professor Frink, of Simpsons fame) has come up with a solution; him and his team are developing software that will allow robotic explorers to act autonomously. He states: “In the future, multiple robots will be in the driver’s seat. One day an entire fleet of robots will be autonomously commanded at once. This armada of robots will be our eyes, ears, arms and legs in space, in the air, and on the ground, capable of responding to their environment without us, to explore and embrace the unknown.”

Key words: without us. As in, making decisions on their own. As in, directing other robots on their own. As in, maybe deciding that pesky human race that created them is a little too self-important for their own good and deserves a good dose of nuclear holocaust. Can’t you just imagine it? A fleet of autonomous, rational space explorers commanding squadrons of rovers and satellites; without the need for constant supervision and commands from Base Control – sounds like the birth of a Cylon race to me. Remember: “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”

Source: Telegraph

Lauren Admire is a Cylon.

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