• The Middle East’s cold war, explained
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    The Middle East’s cold war, explained

    The Middle East is one of the most complex regions in the world: Currently there are 4 failing states and 3 wars, with major powers increasingly taking opposite sides. Countless armed militias and terrorist groups are spreading violence across borders. The region has seen conflict after conflict going back well into the 20th century. But among all the uprisings, civil wars, and insurgencies, two countries always seem to be involved: Saudi Arabia and Iran. They’re bitter rivals, and their feud is the key to understanding conflicts in the Middle East. The Saudis and Iranians have never actually declared war on each other. Instead, they fight indirectly by supporting opposing sides…

  • Did Google Just Achieve ‘Quantum Supremacy’?
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    Did Google Just Achieve ‘Quantum Supremacy’?

    Quantum computers are on the horizon, and they’ve been stuck there for quite some time. All the theoretical advantages they promise over classical computers, like speeding up drug development, helping to manufacture room temperature superconductors, and cracking encryption remain just that: theoretical. However, a leaked paper from Google claims that for the first time a quantum computer used its unique quantum properties to absolutely dominate a classical computer in a specific task, demonstrating what’s known as “quantum supremacy.” The paper was posted in September of 2019 on NASA’s website, since NASA and Google are collaborating on the project. Almost as suddenly as it appeared, it was taken down again. But…

  • Your Gut Microbes Are Controlling Your Mind, Here’s What You’ll Do For Them
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    Your Gut Microbes Are Controlling Your Mind, Here’s What You’ll Do For Them

    The average human being hosts tens of trillions of microbes in and on our bodies, most of which reside in our intestines. Depending on the person, 2-6 pounds of our entire weight could be purely microbial. That’s a lot of roommates who aren’t paying rent, if you ask me. It turns out these microbial passengers are both giving back to us and potentially sabotaging us… Scientists are calling this the gut-brain axis… And some have even named it your ‘second brain.’ It turns out that the teeming and diverse community in our gut — acts as a collective unit with a mind of its own—quite literally. That’s right—we’re talking microbial…

  • Could Everything We Know About String Theory Be Wrong?
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    Could Everything We Know About String Theory Be Wrong?

    The elusive ‘theory of everything’. A theory that could resolve the most fundamental roadblock in our understanding of how the universe behaves… and tie everything neatly up with string…. It’s been 50 years since string theory was first proposed, and new work call into question not only essential parts of the theory itself, but also our working understanding of the universe. Let’s start at the beginning. We have two primary ways to describe how all the ‘stuff’ in our universe behaves: one big and one small. The first is Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which tells us how gravity interacts with space and time to form the world around us.…

  • Is Our Entire Universe Held Together By One Mysterious Number?
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    Is Our Entire Universe Held Together By One Mysterious Number?

    There’s a number that holds some of the deepest secrets in the universe. It’s responsible for how chemical reactions happen, how stars burn, and is so key to our existence that if it were off by just a few percentage points — you, me, all of this, might not even be here. And somehow, it comes out to 1/137. It’s a number that’s baffled scientists for nearly a century, and according to physicist Richard Feynman, is “one of the biggest damn mysteries in physics.” 1/137, otherwise known as the fine structure constant, or alpha, is a fundamental constant of nature. These numbers are the laws of the cosmos, governing everything…

  • We’re Close to a Universal Quantum Computer, Here’s Where We’re At
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    We’re Close to a Universal Quantum Computer, Here’s Where We’re At

    What you’re looking at is a hermetically sealed glass laboratory. Scientists here are engineering special chips that could power the next computing revolution: a universal quantum computer. Chances are you’ve heard of quantum computer and that they’re going to change everything. “So quantum computers have the potential to completely change how we use technology in the future.” “The computational power is off the charts.” “What’s about to happen with quantum computing is about to make the past look incredibly slow.” Quantum computer are new kinds of machines that promise an exponential growth spurt in processing power, capable of tackling problems our computers today can’t solve. While an encryption busting/global problem…

  • Robert Reich: What is Universal Basic Income?
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    Robert Reich: What is Universal Basic Income?

    You see this little gadget? Let’s call it an “iEverything.” You can’t get it yet, but if technology keeps moving as fast as it is now, the iEverything will be with us before you know it; a combination of intelligent computing, 3D manufacturing, big data crunching, and advanced biotechnology. This little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you everything you need. There’s only one hitch. As the economy is now organized, no one will be able to buy it because there won’t be any paying jobs left. You see, the iEverything will do… everything. I’m exaggerating a bit in order to make a point about…

  • Why Turkey is invading Syria
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    Why Turkey is invading Syria

    This plume of smoke is rising from a town in Syria. A similar scene unfolded in another town about a hundred kilometers away. These attacks were the result of Turkish airstrikes on October 9th 2019, when Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria began. The long-planned Turkish military operation in Northeast Syria has been launched. Turkey pushing ever deeper into Syria. At least 160,000 civilians are believed to have fled the fighting in the border area. Over the next several days, the Turkish military moved further into Syria and attacked several other towns. All of these attacks are concentrated here, on this strip of land in Northeast Syria. It’s part of an…

  • Could SpaceX’s Plans for Universal Internet Ruin Astronomy?
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    Could SpaceX’s Plans for Universal Internet Ruin Astronomy?

    SpaceX recently launched its first batch of 60 satellites into low-Earth orbit, getting us one step closer to global internet coverage. Dubbed Starlink, this program will eventually form a mega constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites hovering about 550km above Earth. But as the twinkling post-launch satellite train moved its way across the sky, astronomers across the globe watched and wondered—are these things always going to be so…bright? Many astronomers fear that Starlink will interfere with scientific observations. Starlink’s solar-powered, roughly 225kg satellites communicate with one another through optical and radio links, and connect with ground terminals that can operate from pretty much anywhere. These satellites are expected to dramatically improve…

  • This timeline shows confederate monuments are about racial conflict
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    This timeline shows confederate monuments are about racial conflict

    Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop? The Confederate monuments President Trump mentions are more than innocent markers of American history. Many exist to celebrate the Confederate cause to preserve the rights of whites over minorities. These monuments can traced back to the Civil War. But most of the sites and symbols were actually created during periods of racial conflict…