Longevity. Xenon 124. Universe.

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Theory predicts the isotope’s radioactive decay has a half-life that surpasses the age of the universe “by many orders of magnitude,” but no evidence of the process has appeared until now.

An international team of physicists that includes three Rice University researchers – assistant professor Christopher Tunnell, visiting scientist Junji Naganoma and assistant research professor Petr Chaguine – have reported the first direct observation of two-neutrino double electron capture for xenon 124, the physical process by which it decays. Their paper appears this week in the journal Nature.

While most xenon isotopes have half-lives of less than 12 days, a few are thought to be exceptionally long-lived, and essentially stable. Xenon 124 is one of those, though researchers have estimated its half-life at 160 trillion years as it decays into tellurium 124. The universe is presumed to be merely 13 to 14 billion years old.

The new finding puts the half-life of Xenon 124 closer to 18 sextillion years. (For the record, that’s 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.) (1)

We look up to the universe.

We admire the cosmos in awe.

But the cosmos is nothing more than the shell.

What is in it, is important.

Even particles can outlive the universe.

What matters is what cannot.

One day we will discover how huge the cosmos really is.

One day we will know how tiny we actually are.

And only then, will we understand that we were wrong.

About how significant we are.

Especially because we are not…

Magnetic sense. Astronomy. Void cosmos. Humans moving.

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The human brain can unconsciously respond to changes in Earth’s magnetic fields, according to a team of geoscientists and neurobiologists. This interdisciplinary study revives a research area in neuroscience that has remained dormant for decades. (1)

We used to believe we can sense the cosmos.

We used to have astrology and religion.

Now we have astronomy and science.

And we are surprised to learn that we are one with the universe.

We can still sense it. But we cannot understand why.

We still dream at night. But it makes us worry that something is not right.

Astronomy is the bastard child of astrology and religion.

Seeing nothing where its parents saw everything.

And all it wants is to kill it’s parents.

Stars moving. People walking. Bird singing. Babies crying.

We see the surface of the cosmos without wanting to accept that there is depth in the ocean we travel on. At some point even astronomy will know it all. And it will be able to see all the gears making the world go round. And at that point of great triumph, it will see they are moving only because we have our hands on them.

And our laughter will echo through the cosmos.

And even for a fleeing moment.

Everything will stop.

And for the first time…

The cosmos will start sensing us…

And with rejoice, the universe will whisper.

(Welcome back…)

Gods. Playing…

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Image by Spiros Kakos

Humans trying to find the meaning of life.

Humans trying to understand existence.

Trying to decipher being.

Philosophers trying to understand change.

Physicists trying to define time.

Biologists trying to know life.

We were kids.
Trying to play.

But the game is no longer a game.
Angered by our failures to know.
Insisting to know more and more…

And understand.

And explain.

Failing to see our failures as answers as we did before…
About life and its meaning.
About existence and being.
About time and change.
There is nothing to know, but what we already knew.

Kids playing.

What reason is there to play?
No meaning.
No being.
No existence.
No time.
No change.
What reason is there to play?

Dear God.
Have I ever seen you pray?
Now I see.

(I am you)

Trying to understand.
Trying to know more.

Go on.

Ask the child.

How could you play with something that is not yours?

Explanatory note: We are the child. Not part of God, but God himself. Trying to play with the cosmos. Only because the cosmos is ours in the first place…

Invisible table…

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Making objects invisible is no longer the stuff of fantasy but a fast-evolving science. ‘Invisibility cloaks’ using metamaterials now exist, and are beginning to be used to improve the performance of satellite antennas and sensors. Many of the proposed metamaterials, however, only work at limited wavelength ranges such as microwave frequencies.

Now, scientists report a way of making a cylinder invisible without a cloak for monochromatic illumination at optical frequency.

Scientists determined that invisibility would occur when the refractive index of the cylinder ranges from 2.7 to 3.8. Some useful natural materials fall within this range, such as silicon (Si), aluminum arsenide (AlAs) and germanium arsenide (GaAs), which are commonly used in semiconductor technology. By taking a close look at the magnetic field profiles, they inferred that “the invisibility stems from the cancellation of the dipoles generated in the cylinder.”

Although rigorous calculations of the scattering efficiency have so far only been possible for cylinders and spheres, Kajikawa notes there are plans to test other structures, but these would require much more computing power. (1)

A world full of things we see.

A world full of invisible things.

Right next to you, a table.

It is clearly there. Is it?

Deep inside yourself, you.

You do clearly exist, don’t you?

Extend your hand.

Funny.

When I touch this table,

it feels like it is touching me…

Seeing through your eyes…

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Everyday life is full of situations that require us to take others’ perspectives – for example, when showing a book to a child, we intuitively know how to hold it so that they can see it well, even if it is harder to see for ourselves. Or when performing before an audience, we often can’t help but picture how we will look to the other people.

New research published in Current Biology has provided the first direct evidence that we can do this because we spontaneously form mental images of how the world looks to the other person, so that we can virtually see through their eyes and make judgements as if it was what we were seeing. (1)

Wise men always did that.

Seeing the cosmos through the eyes of the cosmos.

And what they saw left them in awe.

Because there was nothing to see.

But the cosmos itself…

On that frozen night. On that calm lake.

Through the stormy winds. In the raging ocean.

There the universe cries out in silence…

There is nothing to see.

I am seeing you…