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Comment Not exactly... (Score 1) 387

This is a crisis of high energy physics, not physics in general. For example, condensed matter physics is doing just fine on both the theory and experimental side.
And by the way, we also have cool particles: Cooper pairs, Dirac fermions, (probably) Majorana fermions. Just to name a few :)

-- Sincerely, condensed matter physicist :)

Comment Interrupt requests (Score 2) 309

My peak productivity is roughly from 5 PM to 8 PM. It has nothing to do with my mental state or caffeine intake. It is simplt because that is the time when I can concentrate on my work without being interrupted almost continuously by emails, telephone calls, my boss, my coworkers etc.

Submission + - Two mutations triggered an evolutionary leap 500 million years ago (uchospitals.edu)

Taco Cowboy writes: "Changes in just two letters of the genetic code in our deep evolutionary past caused a massive shift in the function of one protein and set in motion the evolution of our present-day hormonal and reproductive systems," said Joe Thornton, PhD, professor of human genetics and ecology & evolution at the University of Chicago

In a feat of "molecular time travel" the researchers resurrected and analyzed the functions of the ancestors of genes that play key roles in modern human reproduction, development, immunity and cancer. By re-creating the same DNA changes that occurred during those genes' ancient history, the team showed that two mutations set the stage for hormones like estrogen, testosterone and cortisol to take on their crucial present-day roles

"If those two mutations had not happened, our bodies today would have to use different mechanisms to regulate pregnancy, libido, the response to stress, kidney function, inflammation, and the development of male and female characteristics at puberty," Thornton said

Understanding how the genetic code of a protein determines its functions would allow biochemists to better design drugs and predict the effects of mutations on disease. Thornton said the discovery shows how evolutionary analysis of proteins' histories can advance this goal, Before the group's work, it was not previously known how the various steroid receptors in modern species distinguish estrogens from other hormones

They found that just two changes in the ancient receptor's gene sequence caused a 70,000-fold shift in preference away from estrogens toward other steroid hormones. The researchers also used biophysical techniques to identify the precise atomic-level mechanisms by which the mutations affected the protein's functions. Although only a few atoms in the protein were changed, this radically rewired the network of interactions between the receptor and the hormone, leading to a massive change in function


Submission + - One-time pad from Caltech offers uncrackable cryptography (technologyreview.com)

zrbyte writes: One-time pads are the holy grail of cryptography — they are impossible to crack, even in principle. However, the ability to copy electronic code makes one-time pads vulnerable to hackers. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, have found a way round this to create a system of cryptography that is invulnerable to electronic attack. Their solution is based on a special kind of one-time pad that generates a random key through the complexity of its physical structure, namely shining a light through a diffusive glass plate.

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