Flooding public spaces with far-UVC light, a type of ultraviolet light that’s harmless to humans, could finally spell the end of seasonal flu epidemics. Germicidal UV tube. Image via Wikimedia. Continuous but low doses of far-ultraviolet C light (far-UVC) will kill airborne flu viruses while leaving human cells unscathed, new research has found. Continue Reading →
In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo put his signature on a bill that allows testing of self-driving and self-parking cars on New York public highways. The new law was part of a budget bill and will be in effect for one year.
Under the law, each vehicle that is being tested is required to have a human driver in the driver’s seat as it is being operated. Each vehicle is also required to carry at least $5 million in liability insurance.
Up until the law was signed, testing of self-driving vehicles was banned because New York law requires there be at least one hand on the steering wheel of a vehicle in operation at all times.
New York joins several other states that have passed laws to allow testing of self-driving vehicles, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. As more and more states allow testing of these vehicles – and looking to the future when they may actually become part of commuters’ daily lives – the question of liability in the event of a traffic accident has become a legal issue open for debate and one that needs to be determined once and for all.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Society of Automotive Engineers, there are six different levels of automation in self-driving vehicles. If a vehicle is at level two, one, or zero, then it is considered to be operated by the human sitting in the driver’s seat. Any level above two, then it is the vehicle that is behind the operation.
Many legal analysts predict that as self-driving vehicles become part of society, vehicle manufacturers will begin to bear accident fault responsibility. This will create the need for more specific tort legislation to be passed, as well new regulation in the insurance industry.
Upon hearing of the passage of the self-driving vehicle testing bill, Attorney Goldstein commented, “It is important for all accident attorneys to become very familiar with the new law – as well as keep themselves well informed of this developing industry – in order to be fully prepared to successfully represent a victim who has been injured in a self-driving vehicle accident.”
Found in ongoing Western Wall plaza excavations, the minuscule clay piece is inscribed in ancient Hebrew script, ‘To the governor of the city’ Past and present collided last week when an extremely rare seal impression discovered in Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza and bearing the inscription “To the governor of the city” was presented to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Continue Reading →
A Japanese researcher has developed — by accident– a new type of glass that can be repaired simply by pressing it back together after it cracks. The discovery opens the way for super-durable glass that could triple the lifespan of everyday products like car windows, construction materials, fish tanks and even toilet seats. Continue Reading →
He is patron saint to all, from virgins to murderers. Now, evidence of the final remains of St. Nicholas are shored up by two — conflicting — archaeological finds For St. Nicholas devotees, 2017 will be remembered as the miracle of the carbon dating: the year scientists proved that the legendary third-fourth century Christian bishop’s relic could be authentic. Continue Reading →
By Amanda Borschel-Dan When drones buzzed at the heart of a Lachish region military training area this Sukkot, they came up with an unusual find. The camera-equipped aircraft discovered what appeared to be a rare 2,200-year-old Idumean palace or temple — one of only a handful in the country. Continue Reading →
— Andy Wendt (@AndyWendt) November 29, 2017
The rare frilled shark is considered a “living fossil,” as its makeup has remained unchanged for 80 million years. This summer, researchers found one alive and thriving off the coast of Portugal, adding evidence regarding the resilience of this ancient sea creature. Continue Reading →
If you are lacking in thoughts to keep you up at night, may I submit for your consideration the melting of the Arctic permafrost. The frozen subterranean soil in the Earth’s polar regions accounts for about 25 percent of the Northern Hemisphere. Continue Reading →
The past few decades have ushered in an amazing era in the science of cosmology. A diverse array of high-precision measurements has allowed us to reconstruct our universe’s history in remarkable detail.
And when we compare different measurements – of the expansion rate of the universe, the patterns of light released in the formation of the first atoms, the distributions in space of galaxies and galaxy clusters and the abundances of various chemical species – we find that they all tell the same story, and all support the same series of events.
This line of research has, frankly, been more successful than I think we had any right to have hoped. We know more about the origin and history of our universe today than almost anyone a few decades ago would have guessed that we would learn in such a short time.
But despite these very considerable successes, there remains much more to be learned. And in some ways, the discoveries made in recent decades have raised as many new questions as they have answered.
One of the most vexing gets at the heart of what our universe is actually made of. Cosmological observations have determined the average density of matter in our universe to very high precision. But this density turns out to be much greater than can be accounted for with ordinary atoms.
After decades of measurements and debate, we are now confident that the overwhelming majority of our universe’s matter – about 84 percent – is not made up of atoms, or of any other known substance. Although we can feel the gravitational pull of this other matter, and clearly tell that it’s there, we simply do not know what it is. This mysterious stuff is invisible, or at least nearly so. For lack of a better name, we call it “dark matter.” But naming something is very different from understanding it.
For almost as long as we’ve known that dark matter exists, physicists and astronomers have been devising ways to try to learn what it’s made of. They’ve built ultra-sensitive detectors, deployed in deep underground mines, in an effort to measure the gentle impacts of individual dark matter particles colliding with atoms.
They’ve built exotic telescopes – sensitive not to optical light but to less familiar gamma rays, cosmic rays and neutrinos – to search for the high-energy radiation that is thought to be generated through the interactions of dark matter particles.
And we have searched for signs of dark matter using incredible machines which accelerate beams of particles – typically protons or electrons – up to the highest speeds possible, and then smash them into one another in an effort to convert their energy into matter. The idea is these collisions could create new and exotic substances, perhaps including the kinds of particles that make up the dark matter of our universe.
As recently as a decade ago, most cosmologists – including myself – were reasonably confident that we would soon begin to solve the puzzle of dark matter. After all, there was an ambitious experimental program on the horizon, which we anticipated would enable us to identify the nature of this substance and to begin to measure its properties. This program included the world’s most powerful particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider – as well as an array of other new experiments and powerful telescopes.
But things did not play out the way that we expected them to. Although these experiments and observations have been carried out as well as or better than we could have hoped, the discoveries did not come.
Over the past 15 years, for example, experiments designed to detect individual particles of dark matter have become a million times more sensitive, and yet no signs of these elusive particles have appeared. And although the Large Hadron Collider has by all technical standards performed beautifully, with the exception of the Higgs boson, no new particles or other phenomena have been discovered.
The stubborn elusiveness of dark matter has left many scientists both surprised and confused. We had what seemed like very good reasons to expect particles of dark matter to be discovered by now. And yet the hunt continues, and the mystery deepens.
In many ways, we have only more open questions now than we did a decade or two ago. And at times, it can seem that the more precisely we measure our universe, the less we understand it. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, theoretical particle physicists were often very successful at predicting the kinds of particles that would be discovered as accelerators became increasingly powerful. It was a truly impressive run.
But our prescience seems to have come to an end – the long-predicted particles associated with our favorite and most well-motivated theories have stubbornly refused to appear. Perhaps the discoveries of such particles are right around the corner, and our confidence will soon be restored. But right now, there seems to be little support for such optimism.
In response, droves of physicists are going back to their chalkboards, revisiting and revising their assumptions. With bruised egos and a bit more humility, we are desperately attempting to find a new way to make sense of our world.