Science and Technology: News & Views

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by RPK, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Moon News

    Window onto an abyss: Cave skylight on the Moon


    Researchers on JAXA's Kaguya lunar orbiter have discovered an open pit on the Moon that is likely a window onto a sublunar world -- a skylight into a subsurface cavern. Junichi Haruyama, Kazuyuki Hioki, Motomaro Shirao, Tomokatsu Morota, Harald Hiesinger, Carolyn van der Bogert, Hideaki Miyamoto, Akira Iwasaki, Yasuhiro Yokots, Makiko Ohtake, Tsuneo Matsunaga, Seiichi Hara, Shunsuke Nakanotani, and Carlé Pieters describe the feature in a paper now in press in Geophysical Research Letters: "Possible lunar lava tube skylight observed by SELENE cameras."

    A probable cave skylight on the Moon

    [​IMG]


    This dark hole, 65 meters in diameter, may be a window onto a subsurface cavern on the Moon. It was photographed by the Kaguya Terrain Camera on May 20, 2008, in a photo of the Marius Hills region of the lunar nearside. Credit: ISAS / JAXA / Junichi Haruyama et al.

    First, some context. The Moon will be a difficult, but not impossible, place to set up a permanent human outpost. Lacking a protective atmosphere, its surface is bathed in punishing solar radiation, not to mention a continuous rain of micrometeorites; and over the course of a lunar day (that is, about a month) its temperature ranges over more than 200 degrees Celsius (more than 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Many workers imagining future human habitation of the Moon have advanced the idea of setting up the colony inside a shelter that would provide some protection from the hazards of space radiation and the challenge of insulating against such extremes of temperature.

    Digging such a shelter would be a major engineering project; we could get a head start on things if we could find a natural cave. The Moon doesn't have Earth-type limestone rocks bathed in acidic subsurface water, but there is another type of environment that might produce underground caverns: hollow lava tubes. The Moon once had active volcanic geology that has left its surface carved by numerous "sinuous rilles", some of which may once have been underground lava tubes like the ones that form on the flanks of Kilauea today. But while there are lots of rilles to be seen on the Moon, no one has ever confirmed the presence of an enclosed tube, with an intact roof, that could be used as a shelter. One study did find several possible locations where there were likely intact tubes present next to collapsed tube sections (link takes you to a 1.4 MB PDF of a paper by Cassandra Coombs and Ray Hawke), but could not confirm the presence of intact tubes. There are probably lots of intact tubes, but how to find where they're hidden?

    The answer is to look for skylights, black holes in the lunar surface that are openings onto sublunar caverns. Skylights are common on Earth, and they've even been seen on the flanks of Martian volcanoes. But despite decades of searching, no one has ever discovered a lunar skylight.

    Until now. Haruyama and his coauthors examined Kaguya Terrain Camera photos of an area on the Moon that is populated by numerous rilles, the volcanic complex of the Marius Hills on the lunar nearside. And their search was rewarded with the discovery of exactly one black hole too deep to be an impact crater. The hole is located at 303.3°E and 14.2°N and is, suggetively, in the middle of a small rille. It is nearly circular, 65 meters in diameter, and is equidistant from the rille walls, 250 meters on either side. Previous missions did not image it at high enough resolution to allow scientists to distinguish it from a small impact crater.

    Kaguya imaged it nine times, five with the Terrain Camera and four with the lower-resolution Multi-band Imager, at a wide variety of solar incidence angles and camera look angles. A little trigonometry allowed Haruyama et al. to determine that the hole is 80 to 88 meters deep, with very steep walls. The fact that it's deeper than it is wide means it's definitely not an impact crater. But is it a cave skylight? Its location in the dead center of a rille is suggestive, but volcanic environments have a couple of other ways to make pits, such as volcanic vents. But Haruyama et al. determined that a skylight into an underground lava tube is the most likely explanation for this feature; moreover, they figured out that the cavern should be at least 370 meters wide. That's quite a lot of space to work with!

    The team searched for more skylights in the region, but only found this one, and as far as they know, it's the only one anybody has ever spotted on the Moon. They concluded: "This is a potentially important discovery for both studies of lunar volcanology and future human outposts....the Marius Hills region has long been considered an important and accessible exploration target, both scientifically and technically. Indeed, the discovery of the Marius Hills Hole further supports the importance of the Marius Hills region as a future exploration target."

    This hole is probably not the place we'd establish a permanent base. I imagine that a place that requires a vertical descent and ascent wouldn't be optimal. You'd probably really want one that you could drive into -- an intact tube next to a collapsed part, like the possible ones identified by Coombs and Hawke, and probably ideally with a north- or south-facing opening so it wouldn't get blasted by sunlight at either end of the lunar day. I'm smiling now, because I'm thinking about how far humans have come as a species: we're beginning to expand into space, but we're still doing what our forebears did hundreds of thousands (or more) years ago, looking for a nice cave to establish our hearth in.




    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Lunar Orbiter IV image 157-H2: Marius Hills; location of cave skylight
    The Marius Hills are a complex of volcanic domes and flows located to the south of Oceanus Procellarum, on the west side of the lunar nearside. This image is centered at 13.36°N/56.27°W and includes part of the flat Oceanus Procellarium (top) and the Marius Hills (center). Numerous sinuous rilles flow from the Marius Hills to the west. The most prominent rille, at the left edge below center, is Rima Galilei. The white rectangle outlines a region observed by the Kaguya terrain camera to contain what is likely an intact cave skylight. Credit: NASA

    [​IMG]


    Kaguya captured this photo of n unnamed rille within the Marius Hills region of the Moon on May 20, 2008. The pixel scale is about 10.8 meters. The rille's topography is very subdued; it has likely been partially filled with lava from a later flow since it originally formed. Credit: ISAS / JAXA / Junichi Haruyama et al.

    [​IMG]

    Thurston lava tube is located on Kilauea. When lava flows out onto the surface, it cools on top and may form a solid roof. The roof insulates the still-liquid lava below it, allowing it to continue to flow. Lava may flow through tubes like these for many kilometers. At the end of the eruption, the lava can drain completely out of the tube, leaving a hollow remnant of the flow that forms an underground cavern. This lava tube is about 3 meters in height. Credit: P. Mouginis-Mark, LPI


    COURTESY-http://www.planetary.org/home/
     
  2. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    scientfic News and updates

    Seeing Previously Invisible Molecules For The First Time

    A team of Harvard chemists led by X. Sunney Xie has developed a new microscopic technique for seeing, in color, molecules with undetectable fluorescence. The room-temperature technique allows researchers to identify previously unseen molecules in living organisms and offers broad applications in biomedical imaging and research.

    The scientists' results are published in the Oct. 22 issue of Nature. Partial funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    Fluorescence is a phenomenon in which an electron in a molecule absorbs energy from light and moves to a higher energy level or excited state. The energy of the light is contained in a unit called a photon.

    After a very brief stay at the excited state, the electron returns to its previous energy level, or ground state, by emitting a new photon. The energy of the released photon is discharged in wavelengths of detectable visible light lasting only a few billionths of a second.

    Many biologically important colored molecules such as hemoglobin--an oxygen-transport protein in red blood cells--absorb light but do not fluoresce. Instead, the electrons in these molecules release their additional but transient energy by converting it to heat.

    "Since these molecules do not fluoresce, they have literally been overlooked by modern optical microscopes," Xie said.

    To detect non-fluorescent molecules in biological systems, Xie and his team developed a new type of microscopy based on stimulated emission.

    Stimulated emission was first described by Albert Einstein in 1917, and was the basis for today's lasers. In a nutshell, it is a process by which an excited-state electron, perturbed by a photon having the correct energy, drops to its ground state producing an additional photon.

    Xie's new microscopic technique generates and records a stimulated emission signal by using two carefully timed input and output pulse trains. In the input pulse train, a modulator switches the intensity of the excitation beam on and off at five megahertz, or MHz. The modulation creates a stimulated emission signal at the same frequency. Each train has an incredibly short pulse duration of approximately 200 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is equal to one billionth of one millionth of a second or 10-15 seconds.

    The signal produced by the non-fluorescent molecules provides a highly sensitive image of previously "invisible" molecules.

    One of the several possible applications of the scientists' invention is mapping in color the delivery of non-fluorescent drugs to their target cells. Another possible use is imaging tiny structures such as blood vessels including individual red blood cells and single capillaries (see images).

    The structure and hemoglobin-dynamics of blood vessels play a major role in many biomedical processes. Two example processes are the transition of tumors from a dormant to malignant state and oxygen delivery in the brain.

    Current established imaging technologies like MRIs and CT scans either lack the spatial resolution needed to resolve individual capillaries or require external contrast agents.

    Fluorescent labels such as the green fluorescent protein, or GFP, are extensively used for observing the activity of biomolecules and distinguishing target molecules in a cell. The GFP labeling technique provides well-defined images. However, the bulky protein can disturb delicate biological pathways, especially when it is larger than the biomolecules it is illuminating.

    Xie's team mapped the delivery of a non-fluorescent drug molecule and imaged blood vessels without fluorescent labels.

    Their new technique is also capable of imaging non-fluorescent proteins in cells of live Escherichia coli bacteria.

    "While earlier studies made use of similar pump-probe experiments to provide images of fluorescent molecules with spatial resolution comparable to that of confocal fluorescence microscopy and high temporal resolution, this study, for the first time, makes use of stimulated emission microscopy to image non-fluorescent molecules," said Zeev Rosenzweig, a program director in the NSF Division of Chemistry.

    Although potential photo-damage, and the complexity and cost of the system still need to be addressed for the technique to gain wide applicability, "there is no doubt that the study provides a unique way to image a wide range of molecules currently inaccessible to today's state-of-the-art optical microscopes," notes Rosenzweig.

    "This is just the beginning," added Xie. "Many interesting applications of this new imaging modality are forth coming."

    Source : National Science Foundation

    courtesy

    Nanotechnology Now - Press Release: "Seeing Previously Invisible Molecules for the First Time: New microscopic technique reveals previously unseen molecules in color"

    Seeing previously invisible molecules for the first time
     
  3. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Gamma-ray photon race ends in dead heat; Einstein wins this round



    Racing across the universe for the last 7.3 billion years, two gamma-ray photons arrived at NASA's orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope within nine-tenths of a second of one another. The dead-heat finish may stoke the fires of debate among physicists over Einstein's special theory of relativity because one of the photons possessed a million times more energy than the other.

    For Einstein's theory, that's no problem. In his vision of the structure of space and time, unified as space-time, all forms of electromagnetic radiation - gamma rays, radio waves, infrared, visible light and X-rays - are reckoned to travel through the vacuum of space at the same speed, no matter how energetic. But in some of the new theories of gravity, space-time is considered to have a "shifting, frothy structure" when viewed at a scale trillions of times smaller than an electron. Some of those models predict that such a foamy texture ought to slow down the higher-energy gamma-ray photon relative to the lower energy one. Clearly, it did not.
    Even in the world of high-energy particle physics, where a minute deviation can sometimes make a massive difference, nine-tenths of a second spread over more than 7 billion years is so small that the difference is likely due to the detailed processes of the gamma-ray burst rather than confirming any modification of Einstein's ideas.
    "This measurement eliminates any approach to a new theory of gravity that predicts a strong energy-dependent change in the speed of light," said Peter Michelson, professor of physics at Stanford University and principal investigator for Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT), which detected the gamma-ray photons on May 10. "To one part in 100 million billion, these two photons traveled at the same speed. Einstein still rules."
    Michelson is one of the authors of a paper that details the research, published online Oct. 28 by Nature.
    Physicists have yearned for years to develop a unifying theory of how the universe works. But no one has been able to come up with one that brings all four of the fundamental forces in the universe into one tent. The Standard Model of particle physics, which was well developed by the end of the 1970s, is considered to have succeeded in unifying three of the four: electromagnetism; the "strong force" (which holds nuclei together inside atoms); and the "weak force" (which is responsible for radioactive decay, among other things.) But in the Standard Model, gravity has always been the odd man out, never quite fitting in. Though a host of theories have been advanced, none has been shown successful.

    But by the same token, Einstein's theories of relativity also fail to unify the four forces.
    "Physicists would like to replace Einstein's vision of gravity - as expressed in his relativity theories - with something that handles all fundamental forces," Michelson said. "There are many ideas, but few ways to test them."
    The two photons provided rare experimental evidence about the structure of space-time. Whether the evidence will prove sufficient to settle any debates remains to be seen.
    The photons were launched on their pan-galactic marathon during a short gamma-ray burst, an outpouring of radiation likely generated by the collision of two neutron stars, the densest known objects in the universe.
    A neutron star is created when a massive star collapses in on itself in an explosion called a supernova. The neutron star forms in the core as matter is compressed to the point where it is typically about 10 miles in diameter, yet contains more mass than our sun. When two such dense objects collide, the energy released in a gamma-ray burst can be millions of times brighter than the entire Milky Way, albeit only briefly. The burst (designated GRB 090510) that sent the two photons on their way lasted 2.1 seconds.

    http://esciencenews.com/files/images/200910282200550.jpg

    In this illustration, one photon (purple) carries a million times the energy of another (yellow). Some theorists predict travel delays for higher-energy photons, which interact more strongly with the proposed frothy nature of space-time. Yet Fermi data on two photons from a gamma-ray burst fail to show this effect, eliminating some approaches to a new theory of gravity



    courtesy
    Gamma-ray photon race ends in dead heat; Einstein wins this round

    Gamma-ray photon race ends in dead heat; Einstein wins this round - Physorg | Eureka! Science News
     
  4. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Internet turns 40 with birthday party

    LOS ANGELES: Technology stars, pundits, and entrepreneurs joined the Internet's father on Thursday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his
    culture-changing child.

    "It's the 40th year since the infant Internet first spoke," said University of California, Los Angeles, professor Leonard Kleinrock, who headed the team that first linked computers online in 1969.

    Kleinrock led an anniversary event that blended reminiscence of the Internet's past with debate about its future.

    "There is going to be an ongoing controversy about where we have been and where we are going," said Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the popular news and blog website that bears her name.

    "It is not just about the Internet; it is about our times. We are going to need desperately to tap into the better angels of our nature and make our lives not just about ourselves but about our communities and our world."

    Huffington was on hand to discuss the power the Internet gives to grass roots organisers on a panel with Kleinrock and Social Brain Foundation director Isaac Mao.

    "The Internet is a democratising element; everyone has an equivalent voice," Kleinrock said. "There is no way back at this point. We can't turn it off. The Internet Age is here."

    Internet turns 40 with birthday party - US - World - The Times of India
     
  5. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Researchers discover new wrinkle in ancient ocean chemistry


    Scientists widely accept that around 2.4 billion years ago, the Earth's atmosphere underwent a dramatic change when oxygen levels rose sharply. Called the "Great Oxidation Event" (GOE), the oxygen spike marks an important milestone in Earth's history, the transformation from an oxygen-poor atmosphere to an oxygen-rich one, paving the way for complex life to develop on the planet.



    Two questions that remain unresolved in studies of the early Earth are when oxygen production via photosynthesis got started and when it began to alter the chemistry of Earth's ocean and atmosphere.



    ASU scientists, working with collaborators at other institutions, have been pursuing these questions in a series of studies of ancient rocks from Western Australia. The latest of these studies appears in the Oct. 30 issue of the journal Science.



    The new findings corroborate previous results that oxygen production began in Earth's oceans at least 100 million years before the GOE, but also go a step further in demonstrating that even very low concentrations of oxygen can have profound effects on ocean chemistry. This research was led by geoscientists at the University of California, Riverside, working with Ariel Anbar, an astrobiologist and biogeochemist. Anbar, a co-author on the research, is a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry and the School of Earth and Space Exploration in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.



    To arrive at their results, the researchers analyzed 2.5 billion-year-old black shales from Western Australia. Essentially representing fossilized pieces of the ancient seafloor, the fine layers within the rocks allowed the researchers to page through ocean chemistry's evolving history. These rocks were obtained under the leadership of Anbar, with support from the NASA Astrobiology Institute of which ASU is a member.



    Specifically, the shales revealed that episodes of hydrogen sulfide accumulation in the oxygen-free deep ocean occurred nearly 100 million years before the GOE and up to 700 million years earlier than such conditions were predicted by past models for the early ocean. Scientists have long believed that the early ocean, for more than half of Earth's 4.6 billion-year history, was characterized instead by high amounts of dissolved iron under conditions of essentially no oxygen.



    "The conventional wisdom has been that appreciable atmospheric oxygen is needed for sulfidic conditions to develop in the ocean," said Chris Reinhard, a doctoral student at UCR and lead author of the research paper. "We found, however, that sulfidic conditions in the ocean are possible even when there is very little oxygen around, below about 1/100,000th of the oxygen in the modern atmosphere."



    Reinhard explained that at even very low oxygen levels in the atmosphere, the mineral pyrite can weather on the continents, resulting in the delivery of sulfate to the ocean by rivers. Sulfate is the key ingredient in hydrogen sulfide formation in the ocean.



    Timothy Lyons, a professor of biogeochemistry at UCR, whose laboratory led the research, explained that the hydrogen sulfide in the ocean is a fingerprint of photosynthetic production of oxygen 2.5 billion years ago.



    "A pre-GOE emergence for oxygenic photosynthesis is a matter of intense debate, and its resolution lies at the heart of understanding the evolution of diverse forms of life," he said. "We have found an important piece of that puzzle."



    "These data don't make much sense unless there were at least small amounts of oxygen in the environment. The simplest explanation is oxygen-producing photosynthesis long before concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere were even a tiny fraction of what they are today," said Anbar. "The results are beautifully consistent with our previous results. The story just gets stronger and stronger the more we look at these ancient sediments."


    The researchers argue that the presence of small amounts of oxygen may have stimulated the early evolution of eukaryotes - organisms whose cells bear nuclei - millions of years prior to the GOE.



    "This initial oxygen production set the stage for the development of animals almost two billion years later," Lyons said. "The evolution of eukaryotes had to take place first."



    The findings also have implications for the search for life on extrasolar planets.

    "Our findings add to growing evidence suggesting that biological production of oxygen is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the evolution of complex life," Reinhard said. "A planetary atmosphere with abundant oxygen would provide a very promising biosignature. But one of the lessons here is that just because spectroscopic measurements don't detect oxygen in the atmosphere of another planet doesn't necessarily mean that no biological oxygen production is taking place."

    Anbar, Reinhard and Lyons were joined in the research by Clint Scott of UCR and Rob Raiswell of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

    The two-year study was supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA

    courtesy

    Researchers discover new wrinkle in ancient ocean chemistry | ASU News

    A new wrinkle in ancient ocean chemistry | Eureka! Science News
     
  6. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Windows 7: Beyond the Hoopla



    You know good service when you get it. The waiter is unobtrusive, yet your food arrives on time, your glass is refilled without asking, and your conversations are not interrupted. So it is with Windows 7, Microsoft's new operating system released to the public last week. Release copies have been in use for several months and they're very close to the real thing on shelves now.

    The news is good: Windows 7 runs quickly, takes up less resources, leaving more room for your programs and files, is less intrusive with messages and easier to navigate. Windows 7 will replace Vista and its predecessor XP. Yes, Windows 7 will soon be the only Microsoft operating system built into new computers.

    Once the hoopla dies down from the Windows 7 launch, which included boxed party kits complete with streamers, Microsoft napkins, balloons and a free copy of Windows 7 to lucky recipients, consumers who are not buying a new computer must decide whether or not to upgrade their system. Consider the following:

    Are you a Vista or an XP user? If you use Vista and like it, there is no rush to upgrade. Know Windows 7 runs faster, uses less disk space and has some snappy new features like automatically positioning two windows side by side for easy comparisons. If you like trying new things, proceed with confidence. Microsoft has made it easy to upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista, perhaps it's their way of making amends to many users who hated Vista and went back to XP. The upgrade costs $120 for Home Premium, the most popular version.

    College students can purchase it for $30 through January 3, 2010.

    XP users have a dilemma. There is no easy way to go from XP to Windows 7. And perhaps this is the penalty for sticking with XP. Take a look at how you use your computer. "XP is rock solid," said Dale Edwards, Vice President of Information Technology for iMed Group, "There is no reason to upgrade if most of what you do is email and work in Microsoft Office."

    If you're happy with XP and don't anticipate any drastic change in how you use your computer, forget the upgrade. It's simply more trouble than it's worth. However, if you need more speed and run multiple programs, and don't want to buy a new computer for at least 12 months, bite the bullet and upgrade.

    The best way to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 is by doing a clean or fresh installation of the operating system. That means you'll have to save all of your files and software programs to an external hard drive first. Don't forget to make a copy of your emails and email contacts if you use Outlook or any other email provider that is not web-based. AOL, Yahoo Mail and gmail users are safe because the data is stored online, not on the computer.

    Also, make a copy of your favorites or bookmarks from your web browser whether that's Internet Explorer or Firefox. You may not remember all those sites you love when you start from scratch! Once everything is saved, install Windows 7. Now you can transfer your files and programs back to your computer.

    Once Windows 7 is up and running, you may encounter compatibility problems with software and peripherals like printers and scanners, but don't panic. If you have trouble with a software program or a peripheral, right click the associated icon on your desktop, and then select Troubleshoot Compatibility. Windows 7 will determine how best to run it, and from then on, it should work just fine. Don't expect perfection, but the improvements you'll experience with Windows 7 will usually outweigh the problems.

    It's early days for Windows 7, so we will have to wait until more users experience the system for a final verdict on upgrading. Bottom line: there's no compelling reason to upgrade if you are satisfied with your current system. When you purchase a new computer, you'll get Windows 7, and that's soon enough.

    Windows 7: Beyond the Hoopla | LiveScience
     
  7. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Internet could run out of web addresses next year: Report

    The world could well run out of Internet addresses next year, unless urgent action is taken to switch to a new generation of net addresses, the European Commission has warned.

    According to the commission, businesses urgently need to upgrade to Internet protocol version six or IPv6, a new version of the Internet's addressing protocol, which will hugely increase the number of available addresses.

    The IPv6 system has been ready for over a decade and is providing 340 trillion, trillion, trillion web addresses. But, not many companies are actually ready to migrate to the new platform.

    In fact, a survey, conducted by the Commission, found that few companies are prepared for the switch from the current naming protocol, IPv4, to the new regime, IPv6, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

    The IPv4 and IPv6 protocols refer to the way in which web addresses are created and assigned. Each website has a unique IP address, represented by a string of numbers, such as 192.168.1.1, which are then given a user-friendly web address to make them easier to remember.

    The IPv4 protocol uses 32-bit addresses, which enables the web to support around 4.3 billion unique addresses while IPv6 uses 128-bit web addresses, creating billions of possible new web addresses.


    The EC survey found that of the 610 government, educational and other industry organisations questioned across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, just 17 per cent have upgraded to IPv6.

    The Commission has warned that the timely deployment of the protocol is vital to the growth and stability of the Internet. Detlef Eckert, Director in Commission's information society and media directorate-general, said: "In the last 10 years, the Internet has become hugely important worldwide from a socio-economic perspective.



    "Only by ensuring that all devices connected to the internet are compatible with IPv6 can we stay connected and safeguard sustainable growth of the Internet and the global digital economy, now and in the years to come."

    Internet could run out of web addresses next year: Report
     
  8. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    University of Utah celebrates telescope's 'first light'

    The University of Utah will celebrate the initial observations or "first light" of its new $860,000 research telescope in southwest Utah during a Wednesday, Nov. 11, symposium and reception on the Salt Lake City campus.


    The new Willard L. Eccles Observatory's 32-inch reflecting telescope took its first pictures the night of Oct. 15. The "first light" photo is an edge-on view of the spiral galaxy NGC 891, says Wayne Springer, who heads the project and is an associate professor of physics and astronomy.

    The new observatory, with a telescope built by DFM Engineering, is located at an elevation of about 9,600 feet on Frisco Peak, near Milford, Utah.

    To celebrate initial operation of the observatory, the university's Department of Physics and Astronomy will hold a "first light" celebration on Nov. 11, with a symposium at 4 p.m. in room 103 of the James Fletcher Building, followed by a 5 p.m. reception in the building's rotunda. The public and news media are invited.

    Springer says sources of the observatory's funding included $600,000 from the Willard L. Eccles Foundation, $160,000 from the Ezekiel R. and Edna W. Dumke Foundation, $40,000 from the university, and another $60,000 yet to be raised.

    He also is applying for a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation so the Frisco Peak telescope can be operated by remote control from campus, 250 miles away. Springer hopes it can be operated remotely by the end of summer 2010.

    The university announced plans for the telescope in 2006, and Springer says he is "relieved, excited and exuberant" that it has started observing the sky.

    For several months, astronomers mainly will be "tweaking it" - making adjustments and calibrations and evaluating observing conditions, he says. Scientific observations should begin in earnest next spring, and Springer says he hopes students will be able to use it even sooner - if another grant is approved for a tracked, all-terrain vehicle needed to reach the observatory during the snowy months.

    "I'm very excited about the possibilities with an observatory located on a mountaintop in a region with dark skies," he says. "We will certainly utilize the facility for education of students and for public outreach opportunities," including star parties in Salt Lake City that will use the telescope by remote control


    University of Utah celebrates telescope's 'first light'
     
  9. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    London, Nov 10 (ANI): Scientists from City University London have developed what they call ‘fear detector’ that can smell human fear.

    The device depends upon recognising a pheromone - or scent signal - produced in sweat of a scared person.

    The researchers hope that the novel equipment would make it possible to identify individuals at checkpoints who are up to no good.

    Terrorists with murder in mind, drug smugglers, or criminals on the run are likely to be very fearful of being discovered. However, calm they might appear on the surface, their bodies could give them away.

    ‘The challenge lies in the characterisation and identification of the specific chemical that gives away the signature of human fear, especially the fear in relation to criminal acts,” the Telegraph quoted Professor Tong Tun, the team leader, as telling The Engineer magazine.

    Although the research is at an early stage, the researchers’ aim is to develop a prototype device in the next two to three years.

    They will look at the obstacles to reliable detection such as the effects of perfume, and natural differences between individuals.

    US scientists had earlier provided evidence that smell of fear is real. They had studied the underarm secretions of 20 terrified novice skydivers.

    The researchers also found that people appear to respond unconsciously to the sweat smell of a frightened person.

    During the study, researchers put absorbent pads under the armpits to soak up sweat from the skydivers.

    The other volunteers were not told the true nature of the experiment, and asked them to sniff the samples through a nebuliser.

    The brain scans showed that the scent of sweat from the scared skydivers triggered a heightened response in brain regions associated with fear. (ANI)



    Human fear-smelling device could help spot terrorists
     
  10. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Glacier retreat in Antarctic opens up new carbon sink

    London, Nov 10 (IANS) Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula.
    This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die, phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for millennia.

    Scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) estimate that this new natural ’sink’ is taking an estimated 3.5 million tonnes of carbon from the ocean and atmosphere each year.

    Lloyd Peck, professor from BAS, who led their study, says: “Although this is a small amount of carbon compared to global emissions of greenhouse gases… it is nevertheless an important discovery.

    “It shows nature’s ability to thrive in the face of adversity. We need to factor this natural carbon absorption into our calculations and models to predict future climate change.”

    Peck and his colleagues compared records of coastal glacial retreat with records of the amount of chlorophyll (green plant pigment essential for photosynthesis) in the ocean.

    They found that over the past 50 years, melting ice has opened up at least 24,000 sq km of new open water (as big as Wales) - and this has been colonised by carbon-absorbing phytoplankton, said a BAS release.

    The study authors said this new bloom is the second largest factor acting against climate change so far discovered on earth (the largest is new forest growth on land in the Arctic).

    These findings were published this week in Global Change Biology.
     
  11. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Fingerprint technology beats world’s toughest tests

    London, Oct 27 (IANS) A technology that can identify partial, distorted, scratched, smudged or warped fingerprints in just a few seconds has scored top marks in the world’s two toughest technical fingerprint tests.
    The novel technology, developed by the University of Warwick (UW), can cope with the often worn and ravaged builders’ thumbprints.

    UW researchers consider the entire detailed pattern of each print and transform the topological pattern into a standard coordinate system.

    This allows the researchers to “unwarp” any fingerprint that has been distorted by smudging, uneven pressure or other distortion and create a clear digital representation of the fingerprint that can then be mapped on to an “image space” of all other finger prints held on a database.

    Instead of laboriously comparing a print against each entry in a database, any new print scanned by the system is unwarped and overlaid onto a virtual “image space” that includes all the fingerprints available to the database.

    It does not matter whether it’s a thousand or a million fingerprints in the database - the result comes back in seconds.

    This technology has now been snapped up by Data Collection Strategies (DCS) for the construction industry that has just deployed it for security and staff management on six building sites.

    Rodney Holland, managing director, DCS, said: “This is the first time I have seen a biometrics system that works reliably with the type of poor quality fingerprints we see routinely in the construction industry.”

    The technology has impressed more than just the construction industry. In the past week, the technology has been examined by two of the world’s most respected technical fingerprint benchmarking tests, said an UW release.

    Tests by the National Physical Laboratory ranked Warwick Warp’s fingerprint technology best overall for accuracy. A test of 36 finger print technologies by the US’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ranked Warwick third overall.
     
  12. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    fullstory

    Martian bugs' fossils found on comet landed 13,000 years ago

    London, Nov 26 (PTI) The fossilised remains of Martian bugs have been found on a meteorite that crashed into the Antarctic some 13,000 years ago.

    The comet, named Allen Hills 84001, was found in 1996 and sparked a controversy with both NASA and then US President Bill Clinton announcing the possible discovery of life from Mars.

    Initially, it was believed that the fossils were bacteria from Earth that contaminated the meteorite while it lay in the frozen wasteland.

    But according to a leaked report from the US space agency, scientists now believe the fossilised remains originated on Mars, The Daily Mail reported.

    Using advanced High Resolution Electron Microscopy, which was not available 13 years ago, experts looked specifically at carbonate discs and magnetite crystals.

    The scientists, led by Kathie Thomas-Keprta, concluded that "unusual chemical and physical properties" in the meteorite were intimately associated within and throughout these carbonate discs.
     
  13. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Scientists develop plasma-based prototype device

    London, Nov 26 (PTI) Scientists have designed a prototype device that kills germs from hands, feet and even underarms in a jiffy without harming the skin.

    The prototype device can kill off bacteria, viruses, and fungi in just seconds by creating Plasma, commonly known as the fourth state of matter besides solid, liquid and gas.

    Plasma is a sea of atoms that produces a cocktail of chemicals in air which kill bacteria but are harmless to skin.

    An exposure to the plasma of only about 12 seconds reduces the incidence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands by a factor of a million, lead researcher Gregor Morfill wrote in New Journal of Physics.

    "It's actually similar to what our own immune system does," said Morfill of Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
     
  14. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    Scientists aim to generate power from air flow around moving vehicles

    A group of researchers at the City College of New York (CCNY) is developing a new way to generate power for planes and automobiles based on materials known as piezoelectrics, which convert the kinetic energy of motion into electricity.

    About a half-inch by one inch in size, these devices might be mounted on the roof or tail of a car or on an airplane fuselage where they would vibrate inside a flow, producing an output voltage. The power generated would not be enough to replace that supplied by the combustion engines, but it could run some system - such as batteries that would be used to charge control panels and other small electronic devices such as mobile phones. Led by CCNY professor Yiannis Andreopoulos, the researchers are currently attempting to optimize these devices by modelling the physical forces to which they are subjected in different air flows - on the roof of a car, for instance, or on the back of a truck. “When the device is placed in the wake of a cylinder - such as on the back of a truck - the flow of air will cause the devices to vibrate in resonance,” said Andreopoulos. On the roof of car, they will shake in a much more unsteady flow known as a turbulent boundary layer. In Minneapolis, Andreopoulos and his colleagues will soon present wind tunnel data showing how the devices work in both situations.

    “These devices open the possibility to continuously scavenge otherwise wasted energy from the environment,” said Andreopoulos.

    The Hindu : Sci-Tech : Scientists aim to generate power from air flow around moving vehicles
     
  15. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Google India launches driving direction on Google Maps- Internet-Infotech-The Economic Times

    Google India launches driving direction on Google Maps
    16 Dec 2009, 1830 hrs IST, ECONOMICTIMES.COM

    Google India has launched driving directions for users of Google Maps. Users can now navigate around locations using Google Maps on their desktops and mobile phones using landmarks like petrol stations, banks, schools, railway stations, bus stops, local businesses & traffic circles and signals. India is the first country globally to get this feature on Google Maps.

    Indians are more comfortable finding way on the streets using landmarks. Typically many roads in India are not marked with road signs and even if they are, the signs are not visible. In some cases people do not even know the road names. For instance, a friend asks you for directions to your house for a new year party, or to that nice picnic spot you recommended to celebrate a new year’s eve, you scribble some lines on a piece of paper or explain that they should take a turn from a petrol pump or a bus stop or a grocery shop! Google today enables this activity online and share with friends and family.

    In India, Google has collected good landmark data through user-created "Points of Interest" in Google Map Maker. Google’s new algorithm determines which of these landmarks are most useful for navigation, based on importance, and closeness to the turns that the user is making and other available signals. With this launch, Google will now combine landmark data, counted turns ("the 2nd right"), intersection names, and road names, and try to use whatever information is most relevant and useful.

    Google is providing two kinds of landmarks, to identify where users need to turn, and to provide confirmation that they're on the right track. Google also encourages users to help make directions even better for millions of users in India by enriching landmarks data via Google Map Maker.
     
  16. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Delhi HC gets India?s first e-court - Delhi - City - The Times of India

    Delhi HC gets India’s first e-court
    Smriti Singh, TNN 16 December 2009, 03:01am IST

    NEW DELHI: With gavel-hammering judges moving over to touchscreen handbooks, Delhi high court created history on Tuesday by showcasing the first e-courtroom in the country.

    The court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat looked unlike any other courtroom, with a sleek, wide LCD screen on the wall and a touchscreen handbook replacing the bulky files as the HC launched its first eco-friendly initiative to go paperless and also bring about speedy justice.

    Cumbersome paperwork has been replaced by digitalized files and judges can directly access them on a display monitor. With a target of digitalizing all documents within two years, the court has launched a pilot project which went on smoothly on the first day.

    Though 33 matters were listed for the day, around 18 cases were disposed of within the first two hours, which on a routine basis take the entire day. The judge used his special LCD touchscreen to make corrections and his digital signature to certify the copy.

    The lawyers gave the concept a thumbs-up, saying there were no glitches during the proceedings. ‘‘We will be able to get rid of our bulky files. Now we have to carry only a USB device or CD of our case, which is much easier,’’ said Swagat Sharma, a lawyer who appeared in the e-court. Some counsel, however, still preferred to use their paper files, an option given to them for the time being to enable them to adjust to accessing case files from their laptops.

    The court has already digitalized around 5.5 crore papers pertaining to various cases upto 2007. It is also considering recording the statement of witnesses through video-conferencing to avoid procedural delays.
     
  17. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Big Bang's Bangalore link: BEL detectors were a hit with CERN

    [​IMG]

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    Team BEL hands over the first prototype module to Dr Anna, Scientist, CERN, Geneva. Photo: BEL


    Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) contributed to the Big Bang experiment carried out by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) recently. One of India’s leading Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU), BEL supplied 32-channel silicon strip sensors to the Large Hadron Collider to detect subatomic particles generated after high-energy particle beams collided. “The BEL-made detectors were placed near the point of collision so as to capture the properties of these particles, thus giving an insight into the aftermath of the Big Bang explosion,” I.V. Sarma, BEL’s director of research & development, told Aviation Week.

    http://tarmak007.blogspot.com/
     
  18. Prince

    Prince Regular Member

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    Early bird species 'could not flap wings'

    Some of the earliest species of bird would probably have been unable to flap their wings because their feathers were too weak, new evidence suggests.
    [​IMG]
    Researchers believe species such as Archaeopteryx, which lived 140 million years ago and is considered to be the first true bird, may not have been capable of powered flight.
    Fossil studies of Archaeopteryx, which experts say looked like a feathery dinosaur with wings, show that the species had thinner shafts on its feathers than those of modern birds.
    A team led by Robert Nudds, from the University of Manchester, calculated that the feathers would have been too feeble for flapping wings and barely strong enough to support gliding from tree to tree.
    The same was true of Confuciusornis, a later bird that lived 100 million years ago.
    The researchers wrote in the journal Science: ''If Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis were flapping fliers, they must have had a feather structure that was fundamentally different from that of living birds."
    Early-bird-species-could-not-flap-wingsl
     
  19. Agantrope

    Agantrope Senior Member Senior Member

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    Water ‘present when Earth was born

    In what could make scientists rethink their understanding of how Earth formed, researchers claim to have found evidence that water was present during the birth of our planet.

    An international team, led by Manchester University, has discovered that volatile elements - most likely to include water - were present during the violent process of the Earth’s birth between 30 and 100 million years after the solar system was created - a minute period in geological terms.

    According to the researchers, the findings mean that comets and asteroids were unlikely to have brought the bulk of volatile elements to Earth - as commonly thought.

    They have based their findings by using high precision equipment to measure abundances of Silver isotopes contained in rocks. The readings showed the moderately volatile element Silver was present in large amounts towards the final stages of the Earth’s formation, the ‘Science’ journal reported.

    The radioactive isotope Palladium 107 decays to Silver 107, which was present during the formation of the solar system. The decay of Palladium 107 creates anomalies in the abundances of Silver isotopes, which can be measured and used for dating, even though Palladium 107 is no longer present on Earth, say the researchers.

    The findings give a new boost to a 30 year old model, which suggests that volatile elements were already present in the final stages of the Earth's birth. How much of these elements were lost during impacts like the one that formed the moon, however, is still not well known.

    Lead researcher Dr. Maria Schonbachler said: “The sensitive equipment we use works in much the same way as when you might carbon date a rock or artefact - but on a scale which enables us to go back billions of years. And those measurements allow us to detect transition from volatile-depleted to volatile-enriched building blocks as the accumulation of Earth proceeded. As we know what happened to the moderately volatile Silver, it's very likely that the same thing happened to the highly volatile water.”

    “Though I accept that about 85 per cent of the Earth’s mass was built without volatile elements the rest of it was and that’s quite an important difference in our understanding of the Earth's geological history,” she said

    “We don't now need any theories about how water came to Earth - such as comets and asteroids - it was most likely here almost from the beginning. And water is what made Earth habitable for life.”

    http://beta.thehindu.com/sci-tech/article429830.ece?homepage=true
     
  20. Agantrope

    Agantrope Senior Member Senior Member

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    U.S. explorer traces asteroid near Tadpole Nebula

    NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has sent images of an asteroid marching across Tadpole Nebula.

    As WISE scanned the sky on a recent mission, it caught the asteroid passing by in our solar system, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said Thursday.

    The asteroid, 1719 Jens, left tracks across the image, seen as a line of yellow-green dots around the Tadpole Nebula, a star-forming region at 12,000 light years from the earth, Xinhua reported.

    The space rock, discovered in 1950, orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It has a diameter of 19 km, which rotates every 5.9 hours along its own axis and orbits the sun every 4.3 years.

    A second asteroid was also observed cruising by, the JPL said.

    The apparent motion of asteroids is slower than satellites because asteroids are much more distant, and thus appear as dots that move from one WISE frame to the next, rather than streaks in a single frame, said the JPL.

    The Tadpole region is chock full of stars as young as only a million years old - infants in stellar terms - and masses over 10 times that of our sun, the JPL said.

    WISE is an all-sky survey, snapping pictures of the whole sky, including asteroids, stars and galaxies.

    http://beta.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/article430068.ece
     

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