The Battle of Antietam, which happened on Sept. 17, 1862, is considered the bloodiest day in American military history. Historians estimate that about 3,650 Union and Confederate soldiers died during the 12-hour engagement. One of those who fell that day was the brother of a Union colonel who would one day lead what is now called Penn State.
If you are going to the football game, the name may be familiar.
Sometimes, science is all about not having the foggiest idea about how something happens, but trying really hard to find out the truth. It also means not being afraid to go in potentially weird directions.
Jason Wright, Penn State associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, is doing just that. He’s one of the astronomers trying to find out if — set the synthesizer on spooky and cue the weird music — a giant alien structure is causing the weird dimming of a star called KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby’s Star.
Located about 1,500 light-years from Earth, Tabby’s Star has undergone rapid and erratic dimming that typical cosmic phenomena — a rotating planet, for example, or comets — may not explain. While not proven or even likely, Wright suggests that an alien megastructure cannot be taken off the table as a possibility.
In this chat at the SETI Institute, (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute), Wright offers more information about Tabby’s Star and what it might — and might not — mean for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Members of the news media interested in talking to Wright should contact Barbara Kennedy at 814-863-4682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somewhere along our evolutionary path, humans developed the ability to tolerate smoke — which can be full of toxic chemicals.
This genetic mutation may have given early humans a few advantages for survival, says Gary Perdew, the John T. and Paige S. Smith Professor in Agricultural Sciences. Cooking food on a campfire in a cave or heating a shelter with fire could have been fatal without this adaptation, for instance.
On a recent episode of the Naked Scientists (listen to the excerpt above), Perdew discussed this genetic change, as well as how he and his team found that Neandertals didn’t have similar protection. Perdew suggests that this could be one reason that human civilization flourished and the Neandertals, well… went up in smoke.
Countering terrorist recruitment messages requires systematic analysis of the message using communication theory as a guide.
In the example above, Kurt Braddock, lecturer in communication arts and sciences at Penn State, and John Horgan, professor of psychology at the Global Studies Institute, Georgia State University, examine the recruitment narrative of Andre Poulin.
The number of headlines — and Facebook memes — about Pokémon Go suggest that the game has reached craze status, but could it be more than just a fad? As one of the first augmented reality applications to make it to the mainstream, Pokémon Go may mean more for the virtual and augmented reality industries than a bunch of people wandering around the park trying to find Pikachus. It could be the birth of a brand new industry.
To help us look at the game craze in context, as well as offer some predictions about the future of Pokémon Go, AR, and VR, we brought in S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, to offer his insights on this now global phenomenon.
Matt Swayne: What’s the difference between augmented reality — AR — and virtual reality — VR?
S. Shyam Sundar: The difference lies in the degree to which they incorporate the real world. In VR, the entire environment is artificially created, while in AR, artificial elements are superimposed on the real world, creating a mixed reality. In VR, the user enters a virtual world whereas in AR, objects from the virtual world enter the real world.