Vulture made a custom Arrested Development emoji set; if only this was real.
What is the smallest unit of time you can conceive? A second? A millisecond? Hard to say seeing as how time is relative. Under the right circumstances, hours can fly by and seconds can feel like a lifetime. But unfortunately for physicists, time is not something that can be delt with so philosophically. And since they deal with cosmological forces both infinitesimally large and small, they need units that can objectively measure them. When it comes to dealing with the small, Planck Time is the measurement of choice. Named after German physicist Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, a unit of Planck time is the time it takes for light to travel, in a vacuum, a single unit of Planck length. Taken together, they part of the larger system of natural units known as Planck units.
Originally proposed in 1899 by German physicist Max Planck, Planck units are physical units of measurement defined exclusively in terms of five universal physical constants. These are the Gravitational constant (G), the Reduced Planck constant (h), the speed of light in a vacuum (c), the Coulomb constant(ke or k), and Boltzmann’s constant (kB, sometimes k). Each of these constants can be associated with at least one fundamental physical theory: c with special relativity, G with general relativity and Newtonian gravity, with quantum mechanics, with electrostatics, and kB with statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. They were invented as a means of simplifying the particular algebraic expressions appearing in theoretical physics, especially in quantum mechanics.
Ultimately, Planck time is derived from the field of mathematical physics known as dimensional analysis, which studies units of measurement and physical constants. The Planck time is the unique combination of the gravitational constant G, the relativity constant c, and the quantum constant h, to produce a constant with units of time. They are often semi-humorously referred to by physicists as “God’s units” because eliminate anthropocentric arbitrariness from the system of units, unlike the meter and second, which exist for purely historical reasons and are not derived from nature. Some challenges to Planck’s Time have been mounted. For example, in 2003 during the analysis of the Hubble Space Telescope Deep Field images, some scientists speculated that where there are space-time fluctuations on the Planck scale, images of extremely distant objects should be blurry. The Hubble images, they claimed, were too sharp for this to be the case. Other scientists disagreed with this assumption however, with some saying the fluctuations would be too small to be observable, others saying that the speculated blurring effect that was expected was off by a very large magnitude. A unit of Planck Time can be expressed (in the third picture).
Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/79418/planck-time/#ixzz2U4Nz4Ov1
Turns out, that old “practice makes perfect” adage may be overblown.
New research led by Michigan State University’s Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people differ in level of skill in two widely studied activities, chess and music.
In other words, it takes more than hard work to become an expert. Hambrick, writing in the research journal Intelligence, said natural talent and other factors likely play a role in mastering a complicated activity.
“Practice is indeed important to reach an elite level of performance, but this paper makes an overwhelming case that it isn’t enough,” said Hambrick, associate professor of psychology.
The debate over why and how people become experts has existed for more than a century. Many theorists argue that thousands of hours of focused, deliberate practice is sufficient to achieve elite status.
“The evidence is quite clear,” he writes, “that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice.”
Hambrick and colleagues analyzed 14 studies of chess players and musicians, looking specifically at how practice was related to differences in performance. Practice, they found, accounted for only about one-third of the differences in skill in both music and chess.
So what made up the rest of the difference?
Based on existing research, Hambrick said it could be explained by factors such as intelligence or innate ability, and the age at which people start the particular activity. A previous study of Hambrick’s suggested that working memory capacity – which is closely related to general intelligence – may sometimes be the deciding factor between being good and great.
While the conclusion that practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough, Hambrick said there is a “silver lining” to the research.
“If people are given an accurate assessment of their abilities and the likelihood of achieving certain goals given those abilities,” he said, “they may gravitate toward domains in which they have a realistic chance of becoming an expert through deliberate practice.”
RNA Catalyzed Electron Transfer on Early Earth
A new study shows how complex biochemical transformations may have been possible under conditions that existed when life began on the early Earth.
The study shows that RNA is capable of catalyzing electron transfer under conditions similar to those of the early Earth. Because electron transfer, the moving of an electron from one chemical species to another, is involved in many biological processes – including photosynthesis, respiration and the reduction of RNA to DNA – the study’s findings suggest that complex biochemical transformations may have been possible when life began.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/05/rna-catalyzed-electron-transfer-early-earth
Fields arranged by Reality based upon the Fields arranged by purity from XKCD.
Original xkcd linked above: