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The Fermi Paradox - Wait But Why PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this: Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?” A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. Galaxy image: Nick Risinger When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” As many stars as there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe—so for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there’s a whole galaxy out there. So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. But it hasn’t. Where is everybody?

100,000 Stars 8 Great Instagram Brand Campaigns When I first got on Instagram (wayyyyy back in 2011) the burgeoning social network had fewer than 5 million users and was still largely untapped as a marketing channel for many small and big brands. A year and a half later, Instagram is on version 3.0, has over 80 million users, has been acquired by Facebook and 40% of the Interbrand 100 are now using the service for social media marketing. It probably comes as no surprise that many of the top brands on Instagram are the same ones who are extremely active on other social channels, and were early adopters of the photo network. MTV, Starbucks, Burberry and Nike are the top 4 brands on Instagram, all with more than 300,000 followers and high engagement rates. Here’s a look at 7 creative brand campaigns using Instagram: J’Espere Que Tu Vas Bien Crowdsourced Movie-Poster Campaign Giorgio Armani Frames of Life Unsurprisingly as both technology early adopters and lovers of the Polaroid, fashion brands are particularly taken with Instagram. Red Bull

Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. “This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work. The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like “amplituhedron,” which yields an equivalent one-term expression. Locality is the notion that particles can interact only from adjoining positions in space and time.

NASA Releases New High-Definition View of Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’ Photo New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team. New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light, detail. New view of the Pillars of Creation, infrared light. 2015 v. 1995 ‘Pillars of Creation’ comparison. One of the most iconic images ever produced by NASA is the “Pillars of Creation” photograph taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. Now Hubble has revisited the famous pillars, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks with the newer Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009. In addition, NASA says that although the original photograph was titled Pillars of Creation, the newer imagery suggests the columns might also contain a fair amount of destruction: Although the original image was dubbed the “Pillars of Creation”, this new image hints that they are also pillars of destruction.

Free Online Student Organizer | Schoolbinder Eliezer Yudkowsky on Bayes and science: what? By Massimo Pigliucci It is no secret that my already normally skeptical baloney detector now jumps to deep orange alert any time I hear the word “singularity.” I was not too impressed with David Chalmers’ lecture about it at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and I debated singularitarian guru Eliezer Yudkowsky on BloggingHeadsTV on the same topic. My later encounters with that particular group of techno-optimists and futurists have not improved my opinion of the whole shebang a bit. Still, in the spirit of open inquiry and of keeping myself on my own toes, I devoted about an hour to reading three not-so-recent posts by Yudkowsky on the theme of quantum mechanics, science and Bayesianism (the philosophy of science related to Bayesian statistics). I actually intended to read only one of Yudkowsky’s posts, intriguingly entitled “The Dilemma: Science or Bayes?” But I was disappointed. Now, I should hasten to say that I don’t really have a dog in this fight. So there.

8 math talks to blow your mind Mathematics gets down to work in these talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions. Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designs When Ron Eglash first saw an aerial photo of an African village, he couldn’t rest until he knew — were the fractals in the layout of the village a coincidence, or were the forces of mathematics and culture colliding in unexpected ways? Here, he tells of his travels around the continent in search of an answer. How big is infinity? Arthur Benjamin does “Mathemagic” A whole team of calculators is no match for Arthur Benjamin, as he does astounding mental math in the blink of an eye. Scott Rickard: The beautiful math behind the ugliest music What makes a piece of music beautiful? Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and the art of roughness The world is based on roughness, explains legendary mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot.

Journal of Nuclear Physics