Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calculating the Day of the Week

A Method for Accelerating Conway's Doomsday Algorithm preprint.
A simplified version of Conway's Doomsday Algorithm for calculating the day of the week of any calendar date.

The surprising effect of handling objects on subsequent decision-making

Incidental Haptic Sensations Influence Social Judgments and Decisions in Science.
Touch is both the first sense to develop and a critical means of information acquisition and environmental manipulation. Physical touch experiences may create an ontological scaffold for the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal conceptual and metaphorical knowledge, as well as a springboard for the application of this knowledge. In six experiments, holding heavy or light clipboards, solving rough or smooth puzzles, and touching hard or soft objects nonconsciously influenced impressions and decisions formed about unrelated people and situations. Among other effects, heavy objects made job candidates appear more important, rough objects made social interactions appear more difficult, and hard objects increased rigidity in negotiations. Basic tactile sensations are thus shown to influence higher social cognitive processing in dimension-specific and metaphor-specific ways.

Evolution of Microbial Cooperation

A Generalization of Hamilton’s Rule for the Evolution of Microbial Cooperation in Science.
Hamilton’s rule states that cooperation will evolve if the fitness cost to actors is less than the benefit to recipients multiplied by their genetic relatedness. This rule makes many simplifying assumptions, however, and does not accurately describe social evolution in organisms such as microbes where selection is both strong and nonadditive. We derived a generalization of Hamilton’s rule and measured its parameters in Myxococcus xanthus bacteria. Nonadditivity made cooperative sporulation remarkably resistant to exploitation by cheater strains. Selection was driven by higher-order moments of population structure, not relatedness. These results provide an empirically testable cooperation principle applicable to both microbes and multicellular organisms and show how nonlinear interactions among cells insulate bacteria against cheaters.

Ice Age Terminations

The Last Glacial Termination in Science.
A major puzzle of paleoclimatology is why, after a long interval of cooling climate, each late Quaternary ice age ended with a relatively short warming leg called a termination. We here offer a comprehensive hypothesis of how Earth emerged from the last global ice age. A prerequisite was the growth of very large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, whose subsequent collapse created stadial conditions that disrupted global patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation. The Southern Hemisphere westerlies shifted poleward during each northern stadial, producing pulses of ocean upwelling and warming that together accounted for much of the termination in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Rising atmospheric CO2 during southern upwelling pulses augmented warming during the last termination in both polar hemispheres.

Velocities in Globular Clusters

Testing Newtonian gravity in the low acceleration regime with globular clusters: the case of omega Centauri revisited preprint.
Stellar kinematics in the external regions of globular clusters can be used to probe the validity of Newton's law in the low acceleration regimes without the complication of non-baryonic dark matter. Indeed, in contrast with what happens when studying galaxies, in globular clusters a systematic deviation of the velocity dispersion profile from the expected Keplerian falloff would provide indication of a breakdown of Newtonian dynamics rather than the existence of dark matter. We perform a detailed analysis of the velocity dispersion in the globular cluster omega Centauri in order to investigate whether it does decrease monotonically with distance as recently claimed by Sollima et al. (2009), or whether it converges toward a constant value as claimed by Scarpa Marconi and Gilmozzi (2003B). We combine measurements from these two works to almost double the data available at large radii, in this way obtaining an improved determination of the velocity dispersion profile in the low acceleration regime. We found the inner region of omega Centauri is clearly rotating, while the rotational velocity tend to vanish, and is consistent with no rotation at all, in the external regions. The cluster velocity dispersion at large radii from the center is found to be sensibly constant. The main conclusion of this work is that strong similarities are emerging between globular clusters and elliptical galaxies, for in both classes of objects the velocity dispersion tends to remain constant at large radii. In the case of galaxies, this is ascribed to the presence of a massive halo of dark matter, something physically unlikely in the case of globular clusters. Such similarity, if confirmed, is best explained by a breakdown of Newtonian dynamics below a critical acceleration

Omega Centauri ESO

While this paper asserts that globular clusters cannot contain dark matter, it didn't actually seem to provide the reason why not. Upon googling, I didn't stumble upon a really definitive explanation of this, and it seemed that other researchers may disagree.

Quantum Lithography

On the efficiency of quantum lithography - preprint.
Quantum lithography promises, in principle, unlimited feature resolution, independent of wavelength. However, in the literature at least two different theoretical descriptions of quantum lithography exist. They differ in to which extent they predict that the photons retain spatial correlation, and while both predict the same feature size, they differ vastly in predicting how efficiently a quantum lithographic pattern can be exposed.
Until recently, essentially all experiments reported have been performed in such a way that it is difficult to distinguish between the two theoretical explanations. However, recently an experiment was performed which gives different outcomes for the two theories. We comment on the experiment and show that the model that fits the data unfortunately indicates that the trade-off between resolution and efficiency in quantum lithography is very unfavorable.