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Nanoparticle trapped with laser light temporarily violates the second law of thermodynamics

Objects with sizes in the nanometer range, such as the molecular building blocks of living cells or nanotechnological devices, are continuously exposed to random collisions with surrounding molecules. In such fluctuating environments the fundamental laws of thermodynamics that govern our macroscopic world need to be rewritten. An international team of researchers from Barcelona, Zurich and Vienna found that a nanoparticle trapped with laser light temporarily violates the famous second law of thermodynamics, something that is impossible on human time and length scale.

They report about their results in the latest issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Surprises at the nanoscale
Watching a movie played in reverse often makes us laugh because unexpected and mysterious things seem to happen: glass shards lying on the floor slowly start to move towards each other, magically assemble and suddenly an intact glass jumps on the table where it gently gets to a halt. Or snow starts to from a water puddle in the sun, steadily growing until an entire snowman appears as if molded by an invisible hand. When we see such scenes, we immediately realize that according to our everyday experience something is out of the ordinary. Indeed, there are many processes in nature that can never be reversed. The physical law that captures this behavior is the celebrated second law of thermodynamics, which posits that the entropy of a system – a measure for the disorder of a system – never decreases spontaneously, thus favoring disorder (high entropy) over order (low entropy).

However, when we zoom into the microscopic world of atoms and molecules, this law softens up and looses its absolute strictness. Indeed, at the nanoscale the second law can be fleetingly violated. On rare occasions, one may observe events that never happen on the macroscopic scale such as, for example heat transfer from cold to hot which is unheard of in our daily lives. Although on average the second law of thermodynamics remains valid even in nanoscale systems, scientists are intrigued by these rare events and are investigating the meaning of irreversibility at the nanoscale.



Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest






Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- The no-win party

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Goal!

Toles Toon- "Nobody goes there, it's too crowded"

Climate change will mean way less sushi—and way more jellyfish

To anyone on land, climate change can seem subtle. The sea, however, is changing alarmingly. The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the second of three reports on the impacts of global warming—offers the scary forecast that the hotter the planet, the higher the risk of ”abrupt and irreversible changes” (pdf, p.13) to ecosystems.
We’ve already tipped past some of those ”tipping points” in the oceans, though. By the middle of the century, global warming will have thoroughly reshuffled marine ecosystems (pdf, p.16). That will leave some areas with more sea life to catch, but will thin out the marine populations in more temperate climes. The complex interplay of these and other factors will invite the invasion of a few marine species, driving others to new, less hospitable habitats—and even extinction.
Fish don’t like it hot

Since fish are lousy at adapting to hotter water, they simply move to where it’s cooler. This, says the IPCC report, will hurt commercial fishing in a big way. Fishing populations in the equatorial areas disappear, pushing more fish and marine invertebrates toward the poles. That means fishing fleets will have to travel farther, driving up costs. And some species won’t survive these strange new habitats.
The red and yellow areas in the map below show where fish catches will decrease the most. Many of these are close to shore, where commercially valuable species tend to congregate because food is more plentiful. There are lots of blue areas where fish populations are predicted to increase, but they’re smaller to begin with. The IPCC is vague on whether this will reduce the total global fish supply, but catching those fish will certainly be harder.

​This chart projects global redistribution of around 1,000 commercial fish and invertebrate species and its impact on annual catch weight.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


The Japanese will keep hunting whales, even though they’ve lost their appetite for them

By Gwynn Guilford

The International Court of Justice just ordered Japan to temporarily stop killing whales in the Antarctic, calling Japan’s bluff on the “scientific research” behind whale hunts that kill nearly 1,000 whales there a year. In other words, it ruled that hunting and killing whales, then selling their meat at a loss to public schoolchildren and at bargain-basement prices in grocery stores isn’t science.
That’s a big deal. But while the ICJ’s decision will halt the ¥795 million ($9.94 million) Antarctic “research” operations of Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (the non-profit that runs the hunts), Japanese whale-hunting will continue. The government still invests ¥715 million in its whaling activities in the north Pacific.
This is but the latest blow to Japan’s whaling program, which has long been struggling. ICR sold only ¥2 billion in whale meat last year—down from ¥7 billion in 2004—even as the government is expected to inject ¥5 billion in total this fiscal year, reports the Associated Press. The problem? Fewer and fewer people want to eat whale meat. Once a common dish in postwar Japan, demand has since fallen sharply, as the Japanese public finds it increasingly unappetizing. The meat is now mainly consumed in specialty restaurants, schools and in a few coastal whaling towns.

But even as stockpiles of the meat in Japanese ports continue to rise, hitting 4,600 tons (4,173 tonnes) in 2012, up from less than 2,500 tons a decade earlier, the industry refuses to give up. The ICR’s latest marketing tack is to promote the meat as “a nutritious food that enhances physical strength and reduces fatigue.” In a desperate bid to cover the mounting debts of ICR’s whaling program, the Japanese government shunted some $23 million earmarked for disaster recovery after the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami in 2011.

more (warning disturbing image at link)


Customers Who Don't Know What Words Mean: Restaurant Horror Stories

Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where Kitchenette relates the weirdest, grossest, or just plain funniest stories to come out of working in the food industry. Today, we bring you people who do not understand simple concepts like "gluten-free" and "veggie subs" and "smoked salmon," and who are angry about it. Enjoy.

"I worked at Subway in high-school and on a slow-day, a lady came in and asked for a 'tomato, lettuce, and cheese sub.'

Easy enough, so I set about making it for her. Mid-way through the process, she stopped me and asked, "I don't see a 'tomato, lettuce, and cheese sub' on the board. Where is it?!" I replied, "Oh, well, it's just a veggie sub…" She curtly responded, "No, I don't want a 'veggie sub', I want a sub with tomato, lettuce, and cheese. That's all. I told you!" I replied, "Yes, ma'am, that's what I'm making." Her: "But where is it on the board?" Me: "It's on the board. It's a veggie sub; that's what I have to charge you for." Her: "I'm not having a veggie sub!" Me: "Yes…you…are?" Her: "I'M NOT A VEGETARIAN!"

This went on until she became so irate that she told me to stop because she was going to a competing sub franchise "where they understood English" and didn't try to rip her off (at the time, a foot-long veggie sub was the cheapest item on the menu at $3.99). She then flipped me off and made a failed attempt at slamming the front door with a spring-loaded door closer that slowed down the process. Fun Fact: She was meaner and more disrespectful than the guy who robbed the place with a machete two weeks later."


LPD: The Libertarian Police Department (satire)


I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole 474 million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down… provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said, “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”



Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest







Fighting Back

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