Alphabet: Antitrust Suits Will Weaken Google's Dominance - Seeking Alpha

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Alphabet: Antitrust Suits Will Weaken Google's Dominance - Seeking AlphaAlphabet: Antitrust Suits Will Weaken Google's Dominance - Seeking AlphaPosted: 06 Jul 2020 08:14 AM PDTIntroductionIn this write-up, I will discuss the antitrust risks Alphabet (GOOG) is currently facing. In my opinion, Alphabet is facing the most substantial antitrust risks out of all the big tech firms, but this has been overshadowed for years by controversies surrounding Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN). There are tons of reports from reputable news agencies mentioning that the DOJ and a group of states are separately investigating Google's dominance in multiple market segments. However, the sources in these reports are most often anonymous sources or Google's direct competitors like DuckDuckGo. Therefore it might be a possibility that these reports are partially incorrect. In this article, I will discuss Google's dominance in-depth, discuss in which market segments G…

“After a century of searching, scientists find new liquid phase - Science Daily” plus 1 more

“After a century of searching, scientists find new liquid phase - Science Daily” plus 1 more


After a century of searching, scientists find new liquid phase - Science Daily

Posted: 11 Jun 2020 08:02 AM PDT

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder's Soft Materials Research Center (SMRC) have discovered an elusive phase of matter, first proposed more than 100 years ago and sought after ever since.

The team describes the discovery of what scientists call a "ferroelectric nematic" phase of liquid crystal in a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The discovery opens a door to a new universe of materials, said co-author Matt Glaser, a professor in the Department of Physics.

Nematic liquid crystals have been a hot topic in materials research since the 1970s. These materials exhibit a curious mix of fluid- and solid-like behaviors, which allow them to control light. Engineers have used them extensively to make the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in many laptops, TVs and cellphones.

Think of nematic liquid crystals like dropping a handful of pins on a table. The pins in this case are rod-shaped molecules that are "polar" -- with heads (the blunt ends) that carry a positive charge and tails (the pointy ends) that are negatively charged. In a traditional nematic liquid crystal, half of the pins point left and the other half point right, with the direction chosen at random.

A ferroelectric nematic liquid crystal phase, however, is much more disciplined. In such a liquid crystal, patches or "domains" form in the sample in which the molecules all point in the same direction, either right or left. In physics parlance, these materials have polar ordering.

Noel Clark, a professor of physics and director of the SMRC, said that his team's discovery of one such liquid crystal could open up a wealth of technological innovations -- from new types of display screens to reimagined computer memory.

"There are 40,000 research papers on nematics, and in almost any one of them you see interesting new possibilities if the nematic had been ferroelectric," Clark said.

Under the microscope

The discovery is years in the making.

Nobel Laureates Peter Debye and Max Born first suggested in the 1910s that, if you designed a liquid crystal correctly, its molecules could spontaneously fall into a polar ordered state. Not long after that, researchers began to discover solid crystals that did something similar: Their molecules pointed in uniform directions. They could also be reversed, flipping from right to left or vice versa under an applied electric field. These solid crystals were called "ferroelectrics" because of their similarities to magnets. (Ferrum is Latin for "iron").

In the decades since, however, scientists struggled to find a liquid crystal phase that behaved in the same way. That is, until Clark and his colleagues began examining RM734, an organic molecule created by a group of British scientists several years ago.

That same British group, plus a second team of Slovenian scientists, reported that RM734 exhibited a conventional nematic liquid crystal phase at higher temperatures. At lower temperatures, another unusual phase appeared.

When Clark's team tried to observe that strange phase under the microscope they noticed something new. Under a weak electric field, a palette of striking colors developed toward the edges of the cell containing the liquid crystal.

"It was like connecting a light bulb to voltage to test it but finding the socket and hookup wires glowing much more brightly instead," Clark said.

Stunning results

So, what was happening?

The researchers ran more tests and discovered that this phase of RM734 was 100 to 1,000 times more responsive to electric fields than the usual nematic liquid crystals. This suggested that the molecules that make up the liquid crystal demonstrated strong polar order.

"When the molecules are all pointing to the left, and they all see a field that says, 'go right,' the response is dramatic," Clark said.

The team also discovered that distinct domains seemed to form spontaneously in the liquid crystal when it cooled from higher temperature. There were, in other words, patches within their sample in which the molecules seemed to be aligned.

"That confirmed that this phase was, indeed, a ferroelectric nematic fluid," Clark said.

That alignment was also more uniform than the team was expecting.

"Entropy reigns in a fluid," said Joe MacLennan, a study coauthor and a professor of physics at CU Boulder. "Everything is wiggling around, so we expected a lot of disorder."

When the researchers examined how well aligned the molecules were inside a single domain, "we were stunned by the result," MacLennan said. The molecules were nearly all pointing in the same direction.

The team's next goal is to discover how RM734 achieves this rare feat. Glaser and SMRC researcher Dmitry Bedrov of the University of Utah, are currently using computer simulation to tackle this question.

"This work suggests that there are other ferroelectric fluids hiding in plain sight," Clark said. "It is exciting that right now techniques like artificial intelligence are emerging that will enable an efficient search for them."

Coauthors on the new paper include CU Boulder researchers Leo Radzihovsky, professor of physics; David Walba, professor of chemistry; and Xi Chen, Eva Korblova and Renfan Shao. Dengpan Dong and Xiaoyu Wei of the University of Utah were also coauthors.

Inside one woman's dogged hunt to find Forrest Fenn's buried treasure - New York Post

Posted: 13 Jun 2020 04:43 PM PDT

Miriam de Fronzo was simply too late.

She heard the news that a bronze chest full of gold and jewels had been found somewhere in the Rocky Mountains while she was on the last leg of a three-day road trip to New Mexico in her own pursuit of the riches last weekend.

"I was completely distraught," said de Fronzo, 50, who has spent much of her time and a good part of her savings over the last three and half years deciphering cryptic clues left by an enigmatic Santa Fe art and antiques dealer who says he hid the $2 million treasure in 2010.

Forrest Fenn, 89, created the treasure hunt that saw some 350,000 people from around the world race into mountain wilderness to follow strange clues he buried in a 24-line poem and his self-published autobiography, "The Thrill of the Chase."

In pursuit of the bounty over the last 10 years, some quit their jobs, others blew through their savings and marriages, and five men died.

Jeff Murphy was among those that went missing searching for Fenn's treasure.
Jeff Murphy was among those that went missing searching for Fenn's treasure.

On June 6, Fenn suddenly announced in a blog post that the treasure — a 42-pound chest loaded with pre-Columbian gold artifacts, ancient Chinese jade carvings and antique coins — had been found.

"It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago," said Fenn, who said that he made two trips in his car to hide the precious cache.

But Fenn refused to say exactly where it was found, nor will he reveal the identity of the finder-keeper.

"The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned," Fenn told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, adding that the hunter sent him a photo as proof of the find. "He's from back East."

Fenn, who has readily admitted that he sold forged art at his gallery in the past, has said little else, and has not made the image of the "found" treasure chest public. He did not return phone or email messages from The Post.

So far, his announcement, which effectively ended the treasure hunt, has resulted in a great deal of bitterness and even a lawsuit.

"This is all really heartbreaking. When I heard the news last week I just freaked out," said Barbara Andersen, a Chicago lawyer who claims she spent tens of thousands of dollars on 20 trips to New Mexico and had communicated her findings in dozens of emails to Fenn over the years.

She alleges her computer was hacked and her "solve stolen" by a man she doesn't know who had been threatening her with texts over the last few months. She filed suit against Fenn and the "unknown defendant" in Chicago federal court on Monday, two days after Fenn's announcement.

The unidentified hunter "found the precise location of the Forrest Fenn treasure not because he solved the puzzle, but because he intentionally hacked Andersen's computer and e-mails … and stalked Andersen physically at the location site," the lawsuit charges.

82-year-old art collector FORREST FENN, from Santa Fe, has sparked a treasure hunt by burying a chest full of rare coins and gold dust in a remote New Mexican mountain range.
82-year-old art collector FORREST FENN, from Santa Fe, has sparked a treasure hunt by burying a chest full of rare coins and gold dust in a remote New Mexican mountain range.ZUMAPRESS.com

Andersen, 47, who refuses to give up the search, spoke to The Post from a campsite in New Mexico. She said that she was first drawn to the state after Fenn offered a clue in a blog post where he showed a picture of a beat-up hat with a large hole in it.

"If you look closely the hole is in the shape of the state of New Mexico," said Andersen, who has made the trips to search for the treasure accompanied by her dog, Cupcake.

Thousands of others are also furious at Fenn, a transplanted Texan and former Air Force pilot who flew in hundreds of combat missions during the Vietnam war, and has long run the Old Santa Fe Trading Company where he has a vast collection of arrowheads and native American art.

"Why aren't you showing us the picture?" demanded Terry Kasberg, a Florida realtor who has spent the last four years searching for the treasure, and belongs to a Facebook group of more than 4,000 ardent treasure seekers — "Treasures Galore" — devoted to sharing information about the search for Fenn's cache. He said he has read Fenn's book 23 times searching for clues.

"Everyone is really concerned because there is a real lack of transparency," he told The Post. "It has left everyone in a depressed state of mind."

De Fronzo, a massage therapist and mother of two from St. Petersburg, Fla., is also depressed. But after nearly four years of poring over Fenn's poem and reading and re-reading his autobiography in search of clues, she is convinced that Fenn is telling the truth.

Last week when she finally solved Fenn's puzzle, she bundled her family into a rented Chevy Blazer for the journey to New Mexico — her fourth expedition into the Rocky Mountains in pursuit of Fenn's El Dorado. De Fronzo had solved parts of the puzzle in the past, but had missed small clues when she headed into the mountains, she said. Now she was "absolutely certain" she knew where to look.

Many hunters before her thought the same. Five of them never came back, including Michael Sexson, 53, who was found dead in March of this year after he and a companion got stuck in snow near the Utah/Colorado border after they rented snowmobiles, armed with a few bottles of water and chocolate bars to face extremely cold temperatures, rescuers said. His unnamed companion, a 63-year-old man, survived.

In the summer of 2017, Jeff Murphy, 53, plunged to his death in Yellowstone National Park; Eric Ashby, 31, died in a raft on the Arkansas River, and 52-year-old Colorado pastor Paris Wallace's remains were found floating in the Rio Grande. Randy Bilyeu, 54, went missing in January 2016; his skeletal remains were discovered seven months later, also along the Rio Grande, in New Mexico.

Although Fenn called the deaths "tragic," he never called off the hunt.

"If someone drowns in the swimming pool we shouldn't drain the pool," Fenn told the New York Times in 2017. "We should teach people to swim."

After Sexson's death earlier this year, he warned people not to head to the mountains in winter, and repeated that the treasure was not hidden in a place that was dangerous to travel to. A year earlier he told the newspaper that he invented the hunt to give families a reason to "get off their couches" and experience nature.

forrest-fenn-3

Forrest Fenn's map and poem which contained clues to where his treasure was buried.

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Miriam De Fronzo's research for finding Fenn's treasure

Eve Edelheit

forrest-fenn-8
Trying to decipher his poem.

Eve Edelheit

Christian Hackenberg is betting on his big right arm to...

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Last week, de Fronzo and her family got off their couch and headed back to nature.  "I panicked when I solved it," de Fronzo told The Post. "I just couldn't imagine that in 10 years no one else had figured it out."

De Fronzo first heard about the treasure hunt when a news item about Fenn flashed on her TV screen in November 2017. Intrigued, she Googled Fenn, and bought his memoir, which is only available through a Santa Fe bookstore.

De Fronzo, who has a gift for puzzles and once participated in a treasure hunt for tokens in state parks, got to work almost immediately. She used Google maps and a series of anagrams — words created from the re-arranged letters of other words.

In his book, Fenn himself had narrowed the search to four states — New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. De Fronzo soon narrowed it even further to New Mexico.

For de Fronzo, the key to the mystery was a reference to rainbows in a description that came before Fenn's cryptic poem in his memoir.

"The sentence above the poem says that it contains nine clues which followed precisely will 'lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure,'" said de Fronzo, who has memorized every word of Fenn's poem.

She said she has gotten to know Fenn "very well" from reading and re-reading his work. She says that he admits to often misspelling words and not paying very close attention to grammar — elements that became important in her search when the anagrams often led to misspelled words.

"I tend to use some words that are not in the dictionary and others that are," said Fenn in his memoir. "I bend a little."

De Fronzo knew that she would also have to "bend a little" to solve the mystery. Still, for the longest time, she couldn't make sense of the first stanza of the poem, she said.

It wasn't until after her second trip to New Mexico that she went back to struggle with the verse, which begins, "As I have gone alone in there/And with my treasures bold." She found that after she removed conjunctive words such as "and" and "with" and then played around with the remaining letters, the first clue was confirmed. The resulting anagram was "HE'LL USE RAINBOWS ORDER TO FIND CHEST."

The second verse of the poem instructs the searcher to start the quest "where warm waters halt," adding that the site is not far from "the home of Brown." De Fronzo already knew that the first color in the sequence of colors of the rainbow is red and that the mention of "warm waters" was probably a hot spring.

The Red River in New Mexico is known for hot springs, which is close to Eagle Nest Lake, an area that is often referred to as "the home of Browns," a reference to the area's famed trout fishing.

In the third stanza, a reference to "meek" and an anagram of letters spelled out "yellow." When she pulled out the letters for the color, and reordered the remaining letters in the stanza, she came up with "BOATER TURN HERE LAST RD E" — a reference to the nearby Tolby Day Use Area, a campsite in Cimarron Canyon State Park popular with boaters, and a road going east.

The color green was prominent in the fourth verse of the poem, she said, which led her to nearby Green Mountain. The verse also refers to a "blaze." At first de Fronzo had no idea what that meant, but then spotted the "blaze" when she pored over a Google Earth map of the area: the sharply curving switchbacks of Summit Road on Green Mountain formed the shape of flames.

"When she anagrammed the remaining 42 letters in the verse, it read, "USE TOLBY CAMP FIND AN ACCESS TO RIVER AT HUT TWO."

The fifth stanza contained no reference to a rainbow color but the letters she anagrammed spelled the command: LEAVE GO DOWN TO RIVER."

Palisade cliff in Cimarron Canyon State Park, New Mexico.
Palisade cliff in Cimarron Canyon State Park, New Mexico.Getty Images/iStockphoto

The final stanza contained blue, indigo and violet — the final colors in the rainbow's sequence. When she anagrammed the letters in the colors, she formed the clue "FOR FORTY WILE BLUE" which she interpreted to mean "follow the river for 40 feet." The remaining letters in the stanza allowed her to spell out "GOLD AT THE OL LOG RAINBOW SOLVED" and "YOU GET IT" which solved the puzzle. With all of the extra letters that she had left over from the other verses, de Fronzo was able to form "MY CHEST"

"Metaphorically, I found the chest in the poem," she told The Post. "It's brilliant."

Despite her crafty detective work, she endured a frustrating series of hits and misses, she said, that saw her and her husband traveling back and forth to New Mexico, sometimes battling dangerous winter storms and three feet of snow.

Armed with a shovel, rubber boots and hand-held metal detectors, they spent one fruitless 16-hour day at the Tolby camp on their second trip. Clues in the poem, such as "wire" led them to a barbed-wire enclosure where they dug a three-foot hole, convinced they would find the buried treasure. But they returned home empty-handed.

"I'm sure it must be illegal to dig a hole in a state park, but we did it," she said, adding that they spent between $2,000 and $3,000 on each of their trips to the Rocky Mountains.

They traveled three times to the area in 2019, and were planning a fourth trip in April that was canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, she said. Eager to continue the search when the pandemic had eased, they left on June 5 to try again. Just four hours from their destination, Fenn posted on his blog that the treasure was found.

"I just turned around," de Fronzo recalled. "I was so disappointed. The treasure was only 20 feet away from where I had been looking. I had walked by it each and every time."

Eric Ashby, Jeff Murphy and Randy Bilyeu went missing searching for the treasure.
Eric Ashby, Jeff Murphy and Randy Bilyeu went missing searching for the treasure.

She believes that Fenn's 10-by-10-inch chest was hidden under an old log covered in mud and leaves, 40 feet down the river from the first campsite, and about 200 feet from the parking lot of the Tolby campgrounds. On her first trips, she said she walked too far, and started digging in the vicinity of the furthest campsites.

"My solution was just a tiny bit off, and I was simply looking too far," she said, adding that she had brought her two sons on two of the trips who were excited at the prospect of finding the treasure.

Although de Fronzo regrets not completing her trip last week, she has no doubt that Fenn is telling the truth about the treasure.

"I think he is an honorable man. People have gotten their knickers in a knot and cried 'hoax' for years, but this was no hoax. I never had any reason to doubt what he said."

Fenn congratulated the thousands of hunters who had made the journey over the years on his web site when he announced the end of the search. He also promised to provide more details and photos "in the coming days." He has been silent since his June 6 announcement.

De Fronzo and others are anxiously awaiting the proof.

"I have to say that the whole thing was fun," she said. "I wish the timing hadn't been so horrible, but I learned a lot about history and geography. I saw sites I had never seen. My kids saw mountains for the first time in their lives."


PUZZLING POETRY

New Mexico art collector Forrest Fenn included this poem in his 2010 memoir. It contains clues that point to the location of his chest full of artifacts and coins:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it's no place for the meek.
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There'll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

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