(Please excuse the fact that I’m
posting my science news via gizmodo, I just take it as it comes.)
Quasi crystals have been known for a bit, but "nobody had found a
naturally occurring quasicrystal until Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt
stumbled upon one in 2007" (Gizmodo,
Also, Neal Stephenson, in his mindf***ing Anathema, makes reference to
a similar aperiodic repetition in his telling of a mindgame similar to chess
where one tries to arrange different tiles in a crazy complex pattern that looks
random but in fact uses some deep math to get there...(I think the game is
called a tangram.)
“The trio readily acknowledges that they have no idea if such crystals
actually exist in the real world but suggest it might be possible that they are
in atomic nuclei or in electrons in solids—finding them would be a challenge,
however, because they would have to be seen in action, a single snapshot would
not convey the motion required to see the symmetry. They also suggest that
their new crystal structure could lead to some new math as was the case when
static crystal structure math led to applications in number theory and even
error correction in computer applications.”
Crystallizing proteins is hard—really hard. Unlike the simple atoms and molecules that make up common crystals like salt and sugar, these big, bulky molecules, which can contain tens of thousands of atoms each, struggle to arrange themselves into the ordered arrays that form the basis of crystals.
"What allows an object like a protein to self-assemble into something like a crystal is a bit like magic," Charbonneau said.
Shout out to one of the most epic scifi novels I've read in a while,
The Three Body
Problem by Liu Cixin (and perhaps the first major Chinese scifi novel to be translated into
The book is about a race of people that live on a world of more than
one sun called Trisolaris, which sucks, so they want Earth. The thing about the
three body problem, or living on a world with more than one sun, is that it's
really hard to predict what's going to happen next - do we get one day of 5,000
degree heat because one sun is too close or 5,000 years of subzero temperatures
because all the suns are too far away.
Trisolarians dehydrate themselves and roll up like a piece of paper so
they can't be damaged as easily, and they get stored in a big old pyramid for a
hundred or a thousand years until it's safe to come back out again. The book is
well written, full of hyperbolic machinations, and supertight on the physics.
If you haven't already, see what's in the mind of a Chinese scifi writer (as a
Westerner raised on Western scifi and Western ideologies, it's very eye-opening
and refreshing to read something like this).
Also, how could I forget, they make a human computer, with
hundreds of thousands of living people, all performing calculations together to
crack the three body problem that plagues their civilization...
And so, in conclusion, this goes out to Cixin Liu:
First things first, that's not a picture of me, although it could be any one of us. It's a painting by Alex Grey.
Next, the Limbic Signal is an extension of my book Hidden Scents: The Language of Smell in the Age of Approximation. It's a work of non-fiction that tries to understand the dearth of information on the topic of Smell. In other words, you can't Google smells, so I'm here to spark interest in your hidden sense, and to help you find answers where a text-based search algorithm cannot. The blog Network Address is a personal archive that I like to keep online for easy access.
I'm a thirty-something male from Suburbia, New Jersey, and worked for some time as a high school visual arts instructor, and more recently as a technical consultant. In my spare time I am an independent researcher and writer.
Hidden Scents The Language of Smell in the Age of Approximation is my first attempt at authoring a work of non-fiction, and serves as a response to the dearth of information on the topic of Smell.