The String Unravels

from NPR

Has Physics Gotten Something Really Important Really Wrong?

A detailed view of the blackboard with theoretical physics equations at The European Organization for Nuclear Research commonly know as CERN on April 19 in Geneva, Switzerland.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Sometimes the most important step one can take in science is back.

When the path towards progress in a field becomes muddied, the best response may be to step away from all the technical specifics that make up day-to-day practice and begin pulling up the floorboards. In other words, rather than continuing to push on the science, it may be best to ask about the unspoken philosophies supporting that research effort.

This week, I have the immense privilege of attending a workshop asking about this approach in the storied domains of foundational physics and cosmology.

Two of the workshop organizers, physicist Lee Smolin and philosopher Roberto Unger, published a book last year called “The Singular Universe and The Reality of Time“. It represented their own attempt to rewire the philosophical underpinnings of physics. As the workshop gets underway, I thought it might be useful for 13.7 readers to get an overview of its main ideas (I’ll eventually do a post on the meeting and its discussions as well).

To begin with, it’s important to understand how much cosmology and physics has gotten right. Our ability to map out the history of the universe back to a fraction of an instant after its inception is a triumph of the human intellect and imagination. And because that history could not be told without a detailed description of matter and forces at a fundamental level, it’s clear we’ve done something remarkable — and remarkably correct.

It’s the next steps down into reality’s basement, however, where the trouble seems to begin. Some researchers now see popular ideas like string theory and the multiverse as highly suspect. These physicists feel our study of the cosmos has been taken too far from what data can constrain with the extra “hidden” dimensions of string theory and the unobservable other universes of the multiverse. Of course, there are many scientists who continue to see great promise in string theory and the multiverse. But, as Marcelo and I wrote in The New York Times last year, it all adds up to muddied waters and something some researchers see as a “crisis in physics.”

Smolin and Unger believe this crisis is real — and it’s acute. They pull no punches in their sense that the lack of empirical data has led the field astray.

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

From Toronto to Boston

from CBS Boston

How ‘American Gothic’ Crew Transformed Toronto Into Boston

By Liam Martin

Home from "American Gothic" (CBS)Home from “American Gothic” (CBS)

TORONTO (CBS) — If the house and the neighborhood at the center of the new CBS thriller “American Gothic” looks like they could be found on Chestnut Hill, that’s by design.

“Well, that’s encouraging to hear,” Tim Owen told WBZ’s Liam Martin with a laugh.

Owen is the location manager of the murder mystery, and he was speaking to Liam in Toronto, not Boston — despite the fact the show is set in the Hub.

“We all kind of develop a kind of checklist of what makes Boston what it is when we see it visually,” Owen said.

He has had to turn to that checklist for this project, finding the parts of Toronto that can fit.

[ click to continue reading at CBS Boston ]

Jaws At Linda Mar

from KRON

Great White Shark spotted off Pacifica beach


PACIFICA (KRON) — As temperatures begin to climb and people expected to hit the coast this weekend to beat the heat, police are warning beachgoers about a possible shark roaming in the waters off Pacifica.

According to police, a white shark was spotted at around 10 a.m. off of Linda Mar Beach. A surfer in Pacifica said he was only 20 feet away from a great white shark this morning.

“While shark sightings are not frequently reported, we do realize the Pacific Coast is part of the natural habitat for white sharks,” police said.

[ click to continue reading at KRON ]

‘Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers’ by Michael Gross

from The Daily Mail

Group sex, a speed addiction and an affair with 18-year-old Anjelica Huston: The weird world of photographer Terry Richardson’s dad revealed in shocking new book


Dad: Terry Richardson is now a father himself, having had two kids - Rex and Roman - with girlfriend Alex Bolotow (left)Dad: Terry Richardson is now a father himself, having had two kids – Rex and Roman – with girlfriend Alex Bolotow (left)

Terry Richardson is the bad boy of fashion photography: his sexually explicit, in-your-face shoots – sometimes involving real sex acts – have earned him a following that includes Lady Gaga, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent.

He’s also been accused of pressuring models into sex by Danish model Rie Rasmussen, a claim he denies. But as controversial as his own career has been, it can’t hold a candle to his father’s.

An amphetamine-addicted schizophrenic, Bob Richardson turned the world upside down for the fashion industry – and for young Terry, who was drawn into his disturbing world of group sex, hard drugs and violent outbursts.

The startling story was revealed by the NY Post Saturday in an excerpt from ‘Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers’ by Michael Gross.

Born in 1928 to a Catholic family in Long Island, New York, Richardson – initially a graphic designer – didn’t pick up a camera until 1963, when he was 35.

But when he did, he went at the job hard, telling himself he had to become a ‘legend’ in the industry and injecting himself with amphetamine-laced vitamin supplements that would let him for for days at a time without sleeping.

Fractious, arrogant, brilliant and driven, Richardson was infamous in the 1960s for causing a ruckus on sets, ruining clothing, going into tremendous outbursts and infuriating his clients.

‘I’m told you’re a genius, but I don’t see it,’ Charles Revson, owner of Revlon, told him one time.

‘Get your eyes examined,’ Richardson barked at him.

His arms bruised by needle tracks from self-administered amphetamine shots, Richardson shot glamorous models for Paris Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, bringing a gritty rock ‘n’ roll ethos that was revolutionary at the time.

But he pushed himself too far, working day and night in the grip of an ever-growing drug dependency.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Mail ]

Bill Cunningham Gone

from The New York Times

Bill Cunningham, Legendary Times Fashion Photographer, Dies at 87


First Thought Films/Zeitgeist Films

Bill Cunningham, who turned fashion photography into his own branch of cultural anthropology on the streets of New York, chronicling an era’s ever-changing social scene for The New York Times by training his busily observant lens on what people wore — stylishly, flamboyantly or just plain sensibly — died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by The Times. He had been hospitalized recently after having a stroke.

Mr. Cunningham was such a singular presence in the city that, in 2009, he was designated a living landmark. And he was an easy one to spot, riding his bicycle through Midtown, where he did most of his field work: his bony-thin frame draped in his utilitarian blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers (he himself was no one’s idea of a fashion plate), with his 35-millimeter camera slung around his neck, ever at the ready for the next fashion statement to come around the corner.

Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts.

In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham snapped away at changing dress habits to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.

At the Pierre hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top-wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle — he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen — for B-boys in low-slung jeans.

In the process, he turned into something of a celebrity himself.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Jeff Russo on Scoring ‘American Gothic’

from Billboard

Tonic’s Jeff Russo on Scoring ‘American Gothic,’ ‘Fargo’ & Marvel’s ‘Legion,’ Plus the 20th Anniversary of ‘Lemon Parade’


Jeff Russo, the composer for new CBS series, “American Gothic.” / JUSTINE UNGARO

It’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV and not hear music by Jeff Russo. The Fargocomposer, who is also a guitarist with the Grammy-nominated band Tonic, scores a staggering six television series either currently airing or in production.

His newest, American Gothic, co-produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, debuts Wednesday on CBS. The 13-episode drama, starring Virginia Madsen, Juliet Rylance and Justin Chatwin, revolves around a prominent Boston family whose patriarch may be involved in an series of unsolved murders.

“It’s just super thrilling to have the word ‘Amblin’ associated with anything I’m working on,” Russo, 46, says. “I’m thrilled to be under the same fold as someone as great as Steven Spielberg and John Williams, who is probably my favorite composer of all time.”

In addition to Season 3 of FX’s Fargo, for which he earned an Emmy nod for best original dramatic score in 2014, Russo is also working on Fargo producer Noah Hawley’s new Marvel series Legion, the third season of Starz’s 50 Cent-produced drama Power, upcoming HBO limited series The Night Of, and ABC’s Kevin Williamson-helmed 2017 show Time After Time. 

Russo talked to Billboard about each series, as well as the 20th anniversary of Tonic’s debut album, 1996’s Lemon Parade, best known for the Mainstream Rock Songs chart-topper “If You Could Only See.”

American Gothic, CBS (June 22)
“We do the show with a small orchestra, about 16 strings and five woodwinds, but it is understated. The idea was we didn’t want to be heavy-handed with the music because when you do that, all of a sudden, you’re melodrama. This show is left of center — like the grandson who’s a little weird — and that was part of the choice to lean toward the oddity of it. We’re trying to give the show a more cinematic and cable feel. A lot of times on network television, you have wall-to-wall music and shows tend to lean on music to help build the narrative, whereas in movies and cable, we have a way of allowing the dialogue to do what it’s going to do, allowing the emotion to land and then play. We’re trying to score it less and let the score be more meaningful. We’re definitely not playing the emotion or the drama on the nose.”

[ click to continue reading at Billboard ]


from The Wichita Eagle

‘American Gothic’ hits close to home for BTK’s daughter


“I think it’s important to remember that there are actual people who died, 10 people who lost their lives and 8 families – that’s including mine – that were destroyed and forever separated by my dad’s actions,” said Kerri Rawson, Dennis Rader’s daughter. Travis Heying File photo

“American Gothic,” a new CBS show this summer, is about a serial killer “S.B.K.” and possibly the killer’s family. It looks as though it was inspired or at least informed by a serial killer familiar to Wichitans.

Corinne Brinkerhoff, the show’s creator, (a writer on “The Good Wife), said in “Entertainment Weekly,” that “Gothic” “reminds” her of a case she grew up knowing in Kansas, about a church deacon and Boy Scout mentor who turned out to be a serial killer, unbeknownst to his own family.

That sounds much like the story of Dennis Rader of Park City, who in 2005 was arrested and identified as the serial killer BTK, who operated in Wichita from 1974 to 2005. Rader killed 10 people in and around Wichita, and for 31 years until his capture taunted police and the public by sending cryptic (and badly spelled) clues.

In the “Gothic” episode that ran Wednesday evening, it was clear that the show is about not only a serial killer but the dysfunctional and varied Hawthorne family of Boston. Two family members, snooping through the basement, find an Ikea box filled with silver bells, which look a lot like the little silver bells the killer S.B.K (Silver Bells Killer) leaves with his victims.

[ click to continue reading at The Wichita Eagle ]

A Massive Game Of Clue

from The Wrap

‘American Gothic’ Showrunner on Why the Set Is Like a ‘Massive Game of Clue’



“The fun of shooting is that they can all kind of look at each other with suspicion,” Corinne Brinkerhoff tells TheWrap about keeping the mystery going even for the cast

Coming off of light-hearted dramedy “Jane The Virgin,” CBS’ serial killer drama “American Gothic” seemed like a swerve for writer/producer Corinne Brinkerhoff, but the first-time showrunner tells TheWrap that the two have more in common than you might think.

“Believe it or not there’s actually quite a bit of comedy in ‘American Gothic,’” she said. “I know it sounds illogical, but I think one of the ways people deal with traumatic situations is with gallows humor. It’s certainly what I do, and I love that.”

The CBS summer series is about a prominent Boston family that discovers its newly deceased patriarch (Jamey Sheridan) may have been a notorious serial killer, and that his widow (Virginia Madsen) or one of his four adult children may have been his longtime accomplice.

Below, Brinkerhoff describes her first outing as a showrunner, how she ended up being an executive producer on two shows at once, and how the mystery of “American Gothic” remains elusive, even for the cast.

[ click to continue reading at The Wrap ]

ACE Mozart

from The Telegraph

Mamma Mia! listening to Mozart lowers blood pressure…but ABBA has no impact


MozartMozart’s Symphony No 40 in g minor lowered blood pressure 

Relaxing to a soothing Mozart symphony can lower the blood pressure as much as cutting salt from the diet or exercising, a new study has shown.

But for people concerned about their heart, it might be wise to stay clear of ABBA, which has no impact at all.

Scientists in Germany played Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in g minor, dances by Johann Strauss and songs by ABBA to 60 volunteers, monitoring their blood pressure before and after the experiment.

They found that Mozart lowered systolic blood pressure (the pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats) by 4.7 mm Hg, Strauss 3.7  mm Hg but the Swedish pop group made no significant difference.

Diastolic blood pressure (when the heart rests between beats) also fell by 2.1 mm Hg for Mozart and 2.9 mm Hg for Strauss.

[ click to continue reading at The Telegraph ]

A Visual Nod To The Masters

from The New York Post

‘American Gothic’ goes arty with a visual nod to masters

By Robert Rorke

‘American Gothic’ goes arty with a visual nod to mastersVirginia Madsen (above) strikes a pose similar to Whistler’s mother (below).Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/CBS

One doesn’t expect to see great American works of art referenced in a new television series. But Corinne Brinkerhoff, executive producer of “American Gothic,” is determined to change that.

Her new show, which takes its title from the painting by Grant Wood, is about a wealthy Boston family trying to cover up a scandal when police suspect one of its members may be the “Silver Bells Killer.” Each of the 13 episodes is named after a famous painting.

The titles are well chosen, as Brinkerhoff and her team of eight writers have made the paintings “organically part of the episode.” For example, Wednesday’s premiere is called “Arrangement in Grey and Black” (more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother”), and based on the 1871 painting by James McNeill Whistler. In the final scene actress Virginia Madsen, who plays devious matriarch Madeline Hawthorne, is posed, with some modifications, as the figure in the painting: seated and seen in profile, against a gray backdrop with one framed work of art on the wall.

“We matched some of our favorite paintings to what is going to happen in each episode,” says Brinkerhoff (“The Good Wife”), who spoke to The Post about how some of the renowned canvases will be captured this season.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]

Screaming Women Cool.

from The Sun UK

INTRODUCING RAGE-ERCISE New fitness trend sweeping the UK sees women screaming and popping balloons bearing their angry words

Ladies also jump up and down on bubble wrap and pummel pillows with baseball bats in the Tantrum Club classes


CRAZY WOMEN‘We are a bunch of women who believe that we operate differently to men when it comes to emotions’

IN a world where we are taught to restrain ourselves and hold our emotions in, it can be a bit of a relief to finally let it all out.

Introducing Tantrum Club, the rage-ercise workshops where women are encouraged to scream, shout and pummel their way to inner peace.

Club founder Adele Theron wanted to create a space for stressed mums and city workers to stop suppressing and really let go of all those negative emotions.

Clutching baseball bats carrying the ‘it’s tantrum time’ slogan and wearing goggles, the ladies prepare to lay into a pile of pillows as part of the self empowerment and anger management classes.

Female participants are also urged to yell as loudly as they can, jump up and down on rolls of bubble wrap, and write their ANGRIEST thoughts on balloons – before popping them.

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Earth’s Quasi-moon


Surprise! Newfound Asteroid Is ‘Quasi-Moon’ of Earth

By Mike Wall

The newfound asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth.The newfound asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It seems the moon is not Earth’s only cosmic companion.
The newly discovered asteroid 2016 HO3 orbits the sun in such a way that the space rock never strays too far from Earth, making it a “quasi-satellite” of our planet, scientists say.

“One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Wednesday (June 15).

“This new asteroid is much more locked onto us,” Chodas added. “Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”

Indeed, 2016 HO3 is the best example of an Earth quasi-satellite ever found, scientists said.

[ click to continue reading at ]


from The New York Post

The world’s most terrifying roller coasters

By Michael Kaplan

rcPhoto by evyuangga

Japanese thrill-freaks jaded by high-tech, high-speed coasters and flumes strap in for Zen-like thrills in the city of Okayama.

A Brazil-themed amusement park there, appropriately called Brazilian Park Washuzan Highland, boasts an attraction called SkyCycle that requires riders to provide the power. Pedaling tandem bikes and controlling their own destiny, they move along on frighteningly narrow tracks, without the benefit of visible barriers, and rise 50 feet in the air. Parachutes are not provided.

A water-torture of a thrill ride, SkyCycle ramps up the fright factor with a no-tech approach: There’s nothing to prevent bikes from rear-ending one another, tight turns add to the adventure and safety precautions appear minimal. Riders gingerly pedal up a roller coaster-style track with seemingly little to stop them from plummeting 50 feet to the ground.

According to the Daily Mail, it is one of the amusement park’s top attractions and ranks among the world’s scariest rides.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]

The Story Of My Best Friend

from The Atlantic

A New Origin Story for Dogs

The first domesticated animals may have been tamed twice.


Katie Salvi

Tens of thousands of years ago, before the internet, before the Industrial Revolution, before literature and mathematics, bronze and iron, before the advent of agriculture, early humans formed an unlikely partnership with another animal—the grey wolf. The fates of our two species became braided together. The wolves changed in body and temperament. Their skulls, teeth, and paws shrank. Their ears flopped. They gained a docile disposition, becoming both less frightening and less fearful. They learned to read the complex expressions that ripple across human faces. They turned into dogs.

Today, dogs are such familiar parts of our lives—our reputed best friends and subject of many a meme—that it’s easy to take them, and what they represent, for granted. Dogs were the first domesticated animals, and their barks heralded the Anthropocene. We raised puppies well before we raised kittens or chickens; before we herded cows, goats, pigs, and sheep; before we planted rice, wheat, barley, and corn; before we remade the world.

“Remove domestication from the human species, and there’s probably a couple of million of us on the planet, max,” says archaeologist and geneticist Greger Larson. “Instead, what do we have? Seven billion people, climate change, travel, innovation and everything. Domestication has influenced the entire earth. And dogs were the first.” For most of human history, “we’re not dissimilar to any other wild primate. We’re manipulating our environments, but not on a scale bigger than, say, a herd of African elephants. And then, we go into partnership with this group of wolves. They altered our relationship with the natural world.”

Larson wants to pin down their origins. He wants to know when, where, and how they were domesticated from wolves. But after decades of dogged effort, he and his fellow scientists are still arguing about the answers. They agree that all dogs, from low-slung corgis to towering mastiffs, are the tame descendants of wild ancestral wolves. But everything else is up for grabs.

Some say wolves were domesticated around 10,000 years ago, while others say 30,000. Some claim it happened in Europe, others in the Middle East, or East Asia. Some think early human hunter-gatherers actively tamed and bred wolves. Others say wolves domesticated themselves, by scavenging the carcasses left by human hunters, or loitering around campfires, growing tamer with each generation until they became permanent companions.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Fast Times Forever

from The Conversation

Why high school stays with us forever

by Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox College

Sometimes, conformity can lead to cringeworthy moments – bad hairstyles among them. John Philip Green/flickrCC BY

For better or worse, many of us never forget high school: the unrequited romantic crushes, chronic embarrassment, desperate struggles for popularity, sexual awakening, parental pressure and, above all else, competition – social, athletic, academic.

There’s even an entire genre of entertainment that revolves around high school. “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Mean Girls,” “Heathers,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” all revisit the conflict and angst of these years.

What is it about this period of our lives that makes it seem more meaningful and memorable than any other?

My research experience as an evolutionary psychologist leads me to believe that many factors interact to make our teenage memories so vivid. But the main driver is the collision between the hardwiring of our brains that took place across several million of years of evolution and the odd social bubble created by high school, which poses an unprecedented social challenge to our prehistoric minds.

In other words, the world that we evolved to be successful in (a small, stable group of interrelated people of various ages) is very different from the holding pen full of teenagers brimming with hormones that populate our world during the high school years.

[ click to continue reading at The Conversation ]