Archive for October 16th, 2012

October 16, 2012

Virus as Life

virus

Opinions differ on whether viruses are a form of life, or organic structures that interact with living organisms. They have been described as ‘organisms at the edge of life,’ since they resemble organisms in that they possess genes and evolve by natural selection, and reproduce by creating multiple copies of themselves through self-assembly. Although they have genes, they do not have a cellular structure, which is often seen as the basic unit of life.

Viruses do not have their own metabolism, and require a host cell to make new products. They therefore cannot naturally reproduce outside a host cell (although bacterial species such as chlamydia are considered living organisms despite the same limitation). Accepted forms of life use cell division to reproduce, whereas viruses spontaneously assemble within cells. They differ from autonomous growth of crystals as they inherit genetic mutations while being subject to natural selection. Virus self-assembly within host cells has implications for the study of the origin of life, as it lends further credence to the hypothesis that life could have started as self-assembling organic molecules.

October 16, 2012

Anti-nationalism

just people

burn your flag

Anti-nationalism denotes the sentiments associated with the opposition to nationalism, arguing that it is undesirable or dangerous. Some anti-nationalists are humanitarians or humanists who pursue an idealist form of world community, and self-identify as world citizens.

They reject chauvinism, jingoism, and militarism, and want humans to live in peace rather than perpetual conflict. They do not necessarily oppose the concepts of countries, nation states, national boundaries, cultural preservation or identity politics.

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October 16, 2012

Deutsche Physik

Philipp Lenard

Deutsche Physik (literally: ‘German Physics’) or ‘Aryan Physics’ was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein and other modern theoretically based physics, labeled ‘Jewish Physics’ (German: ‘J├╝dische Physik’). The term was taken from the title of a 4-volume physics textbook by Philipp Lenard in the 1930s.

This movement began as an extension of a German nationalistic movement in the physics community which went back as far as World War I. In 1915, during fighting between the German army and Belgian resistance fighters after the German invasion in Belgium, the library of the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven caught fire when German troops looted and set fire to the town. The loss of the library led to a protest note by British scientists, which was signed also by eight distinguished British scientists, namely William Bragg, William Crookes, Alexander Fleming, Horace Lamb, Oliver Lodge, William Ramsay, Baron Rayleigh, and J.J. Thomson, and in which it was assumed that the war propaganda mentioned corresponded to real behavior of German soldiers.

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October 16, 2012

Uranium Club

heisenberg by david levine

‘Uranprojekt,’ informally known as the ‘Uranverein’ (‘Uranium Club‘), was an attempted clandestine scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce atomic weapons during World War II.

This program started in April 1939, just months after the discovery of nuclear fission in January of that year, but ended quickly, due to German invasion of Poland, where many notable physicists were drafted into the Wehrmacht (Nazi military). However, the second effort began under the administrative auspices of the Wehrmacht’s Heereswaffenamt (HWA, ‘Army Ordnance Office’) on the day WWII began (September 1, 1939).

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