"There will be dozens and dozens of papers about it over the years. This is just the beginning," Wellesley professor Bevil Conway tells the Los Angeles Times. The pieces in Current Biology are united in the idea that we all see the dress differently because we make different assumptions about the color of the light illuminating it, the LA Times reports. "You have in your head an internal model of what the colors of the world are, and that helps you resolve ambiguities," Conway notes. Your brain isn't getting enough information from the bad picture of the dress that was circulating, he tells the The New York Times, "so the brain has to turn to the internal model and say, ‘Hey, guru, what do you think is going on out there?'" Also among the findings:
• Brains that think the dress is being colored by a blue sky will ignore blue; the dress, for them, is white and gold. But if we're perceiving the dress as being lit by an orange incandescent bulb, it's a blue and black dress that we see (which is correct, given normal lighting, the LA Times reminds us).
• Overall, a study finds, 57% of people see blue and black, 30% see white and gold, and 11% see blue and brown, according to a poll of 1,400 people (2% see other colors). Women and elderly people have higher odds of seeing a white and gold outfit, while men and younger folks tend to see the actual colors of blue and black, according to the same study, led by Conway. Researchers theorize that could be because women and older people are awake more in the daytime, so they have more of a tendency to assume a blue sky is affecting their perceptions.
• There's also the possibility that bluish shadows are coming into play, notes a study led by Michael Webster of the University of Nevada, Reno. That gets us into the habit of ignoring the color blue. In fact, when researchers replaced the blue with yellow, people stopped disagreeing about the color, with most clearly seeing the yellow: "When you see a bluish tint you attribute it to the light, and when you see a yellowish tint you attribute it to the object," Webster says. That study found participants were evenly divided in seeing white and gold or blue and black, the New York Times reports.
• As for that frustrating lace: A pixel analysis shows it as brown, Conway tells the New York Times. Some saw it as gold, it seems, because their brains told them it was shiny.
Text from: http://www.newser.com/story/206885/studies-pour-in-to-finally-shed-light-on-the-dress.html
Mathematics is weird.
While waiting for my advisor to read the introduction - the only novel part of the thesis, the rest is a collection of published papers - I got back to the fun part: layout management.
Thanks to the precious help of my personal debugger and beta tester Francesca Arici I think I have the thesis LaTeX class ready.
I guess now I'm stuck with the boring science to separate the wondrous headers/footers and fill between the meticolously computed side margins.
I particularly like how these data come from astrophysics, rather than high-energy particle collision experiments. Having a theory of quantum gravity will probably be the greatest achievement of physics, but it is still to come. This has given many scientists the opportunity to basically make up any kind of theory, covering behind the fact that it should account for systems of such high energy that we cannot probe them with the current tecnology. Being able to finally start chopping off some of the many branches that have grown on the tree of quantum gravity proposals is definitely good news.
Modern cosmology is dominated by two fundamental theories: general relativity, which describes the structure of space and time as manifold that interacts with mass/energy (aka gravity), and quantum theory, which describes the fundamental interactions of protons, electrons, light, etc. (aka quanta). Both models are strongly supported by experimental and observational evidence. The problem is that each theory makes fundamental assumptions about the way the universe works, and they contradict each other at a basic level. This isn’t a problem if you are interested in things on a large scale, such as planets and galaxies (general relativity), or things on a small scale such as nuclear fusion (quantum theory). The contradiction arises when you want to understand objects that are both very dense and interact at high energies, such as black hole interiors, the big bang, etc. So one of the challenges of modern cosmology is to develop a unified theory of quantum gravity, which would combine the predictions of general relativity and quantum theory in a consistent way.
There are lots of approaches to quantum gravity, including string theory and loop quantum gravity, that try to unify these two models, but one of the big challenges is that many of their predictions are difficult if not impossible to verify. But new observations of distant quasars has put some observational constraints on the type of unified model the universe might allow.
The research focuses on a property common to most unified theory approaches, known as quantum foam. The idea behind quantum foam is that at a fundamental level the quantum aspect of things dominates. This means that on a small enough scale, the precise nature of space and time itself breaks down into a nebulous flurry of quantum fluctuations or quantum foam. In this approach the structure of space and time we see around us is a macroscopic approximation arising out of this foam, just as a table appears solid when in fact it is a dynamic interaction of atoms and molecules. The scale at which the foamy nature of spacetime becomes evident is known as the Planck scale, which is about 10 billionths of the width of a proton. That’s far too small for us to probe directly.
But it turns out that this quantum foam (assuming it exists) should interact very slightly with light. Basically, a photon traveling through spacetime has a tiny chance of interacting with the quantum foam in such a way that its wavelength and direction could be changed. The chances of such an interaction is so small as to almost be zero, but over a billion light year journey it would have a measurable effect. Depending on the quantum foam modal, distant light could appear blurred at certain wavelengths so that our view of distant quasars would become too blurry to be observed.
Based upon observations of distant quasars, the team found no evidence of any quantum foam blurring. Given the constraints of their observations, this means that spacetime is completely smooth down to a scale of at least a thousandth of the width of a proton. This is actually precise enough to eliminate some quantum foam models. In particular, it eliminates one popular model known as the holographic model. As the authors point out, while the holographic model is a popular model relying upon the holographic principle, this research doesn’t invalidate the holographic principle itself.
So to the limits of observation, there is no evidence for a quantum foam. Whether it exists but has more subtle effects is something that will require further research.
Paper: E. S. Perlman et al. New Constraints on Quantum Gravity from X-ray and Gamma-Ray Observations. ApJ 805 10 doi:10.1088/0004-637X/805/1/10 (2015)
After only three days of fiddling with the code, I could get the header and the footer of my thesis to work just the way I want.
Scientific content is irrelevant.
Happy Mother's day.
My Mother is a strong, God-fearing woman. In addition to doing the usual duties of a farmer’s wife, she focused on helping others in the community. To this day she still volunteers at the local elementary school, tutoring children who are struggling with reading.
Science was not something she strongly embraced, particularly on topics like evolution and cosmology. So what to do with a child who had a deep interest in science? Early on she could help make baking soda volcanoes, or collect and categorize leaves for a school project, but as her son delved more deeply into books and starting rambling about black holes and subatomic particles it became something she struggled to understand.
Rather than ignoring or discouraging her son’s interests, she focused on what she knew to be true. The universe is a wondrous creation. When I looked at the moons of Jupiter with a small telescope, and saw their positions change night after night, she watched them too, and noted their wondrous precision. When I wanted to get up at 3am to see a meteor shower, or a lunar eclipse, she was there, and filled with awe. She helped me find the Andromeda galaxy in the night sky, and was amazed at how distant a galaxy could be.
She didn’t necessarily believe all the things scientists said about the universe, but she saw wonder in all of it, and tried to instill that sense of awe in her son. She also made it clear that the knowledge we gain about the universe doesn’t diminish its awe.
The sense of wonder she instilled in me is part of what drove me to become an astrophysicist. The importance of doing good in the community, which she nurtured in me, is part of the reason I write this blog. To this day my Mother isn’t entirely sure what I do, but she’s proud of the scientist I’ve become.
While it is worth celebrating scientists who were also mothers, it is also worth celebrating those who were mothers of scientists. God knows I wasn’t an easy child to raise, and yet my Mother did it with grace while managing a farm.
And that makes her a wonder.
- Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi AvanzatiPh.D. student, 2011 - present
- University of Rome La SapienzaMatematica, 2006 - 2009
- University of Rome La SapienzaMatematica (LS), 2009 - 2011
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