Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thanks, Chris Evans

Saw this on Twitter.

Source: Twitter.
To say that Chris Evans portrayal of Captain America is iconic would be the understatement of the year. I would easily rank him up there with Christopher Reeves, Hugh Jackman, and Evans' co-star Robert Downy, Jr.. He managed to do something that I didn't think was possible: he made Captain America a star. What I mean is that on the surface, you wouldn't expect Captain America to make a successful transition from comic to big screen. After all, we're talking about a patriotic superhero decked in a red, white, and blue costume named Captain America.

And yet, Chris Evans made him seem as big of a deal as any of the other more well known and popular heroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman. Even in the Avengers movies when the character is sharing the screen with the likes of Iron Man and Thor, Cap still holds his own by dint of Chris Evans' presence in the costume.

I take my hat off to Chris Evans, thank him for giving us a great Captain America, and wish him the best. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Nerd Trash Person of the Month for October: Jodie Whittaker

No surprise there. The new season of Doctor Who starts this month and we'll finally get to see the first female incarnation of The Doctor in action!

Source: PIP/CAMERA PRESS / The Times.

Via: Daily Jodie Whittaker Twitter.

Via: Daily Jodie Whittaker Twitter.

Via: Daily Jodie Whittaker Twitter.

Notes on a Blog: New header

It was time for a change.

The woman is some actress named Aisling Knight from a movie called Charlotte Wakes. I came across the picture and knew immediately that I had to use it as a header for this blog. There's another version without the blue background, but I thought it was a bit too NSFW because you could still see her nipples despite my best efforts at position the text.

Here's the official trailer for Into the Spider-Verse starring Spider-Ham and some other people

Spider-Ham, Spider-Ham, does whatever a Spider-Ham can.

Arthur Ashkin, Donna Strickland, and Gerard Mourou awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for lasers

And it's been getting a lot of buzz because in addition to Ashkin not being the oldest Nobel Laureate, Donna Strickland is just the third woman and the first in 55 years to win the Physics Prize. What's interesting is that they won the award for two completely different things. Arthur Ashkin creating something called "optical tweezers", while Strickland and Mourou's award is for "their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses." according to the Nobel Prize's press release. Scientific American also has an article about it.

I'll be honest, I have like zero clues about what that means because while I love science, I'm still a plebe when it comes to understanding a lot of it, which is why I'm trying to educate myself on the subject. Fortunately, the official Nobel Twitter posted a handy-dandy graphic explaining Ashkin's accomplishment and it's pretty neat-o.

Interestingly, this article in Quanta Magazine says that work based on Ashkin's discovery led to other physicists winning the Nobel Prize in 1997 and 2001.

There's no helpful graph for Mourou and Strickland's achievement, but Quanta Magazine gives a rundown on what they did:
Mourou, most recently of the École Polytechnique in France, and Strickland, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, developed a way to create extremely short, intense laser pulses. Now called chirped pulse amplification, the method is used in corrective eye surgeries and has become the standard in physics laboratories around the world.

Strickland was a Ph.D. student working with Mourou at the University of Rochester when they discovered the trick for amplifying laser pulses in 1985. That trick was to first stretch out a short pulse of laser light using an “optical grating,” so that the high-frequency component of the pulse lags behind the low-frequency component. This stretched-out, “chirped” pulse could then be amplified without damaging the laser. The pulse was then passed through a second grating to recompress it. “Different people were trying to get short pulses amplified in different ways,” Strickland explained. “It was thinking outside the box to stretch first and then amplify.”
Their discovery has a wide range of applications from biology to materials science to medicine, so they should be quite pleased with themselves. All three of them.

Monday, October 1, 2018

So who wants watch a timelapse video of fungi growing? Nobody? Well, too bad!

It is oddly fascinating to watch this stuff grow.

Scientists who discovered immunotherapy cancer treatment awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine

And rightly deserved to. James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo both discovered a new way to fight cancer by unleashing the body's own immune system on it.
Working in the 1990s, both scientists studied proteins that regulate the immune system and keep it in check. For Allison, this protein was CTLA-4 protein, while Honjo studied a protein called PD-1. Both CTLA-4 and PD-1 regulate the immune system and keep it from being too aggressive. Therefore, it’s possible to use an antibody to target these proteins and shut them down. When these proteins are shut down, and the brakes “released,” our body’s immune system can go on the attack against cancerous tumors, a form of treatment today called immunotherapy. (Both proteins brake the immune system, just in different ways.)
Even better, their two methods for "releasing" the immune system could be even more effect together. These two men are going to be responsible for potentially millions of people surviving their cancer, making the disease less of a death sentence than it currently is now. The power of science, folks.