Science Photo of the Week

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Science Photo of the Week
« on: 16/05/2004 07:03:10 »
In view of the success of Question of The Week (QOTW), I thought we should have a scientific image of the week.

Please keep these scientifically relevant. Each image should be accompanied by a few lines of description, and a reference / acknowledgement of the source if it is not yourself.

Please do not converse about the photos in this forum, it's intended as an image library. Instead start a separate thread to discuss them.

I reserve the right to remove inappropriate images or comments.

TNS
« Last Edit: 18/01/2012 15:23:44 by BenV »

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"Residents of Tainan learned a lesson in whale biology after the decomposing remains of a 60-ton sperm whale exploded on a busy street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours."

Source : MSNBC

[attachment=3410]

Links : Naked Scientists Radio Show coverage of this story 1st February 2004 http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/news/news/523/
« Last Edit: 30/11/2013 20:17:09 by CliffordK »

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  Dying Star Sculpts Rungs of Gas and Dust

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Astronomers may not have observed the fabled "Stairway to Heaven," but
 they have photographed something almost as intriguing: ladder-like
structures surrounding a dying star. A new image, taken with NASA's
Hubble Space Telescope, reveals startling new details of one of the
most unusual nebulae known in our Milky Way. Cataloged as HD 44179,
this nebula is more commonly called the "Red Rectangle" because of its
 unique shape and color as seen with ground-based telescopes.

I acknowldege that I 'borrowed' this info from the hubble website and
that I did not take this picture myself....my ladder is just not tall
enough !!


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« Last Edit: 01/01/2006 04:11:14 by neilep »
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The particles were seen in arteries with calcified aneurysms
(Image: American Physiological Society)


Doctors claim to have uncovered new evidence that the tiny particles
known as "nannobacteria" are indeed alive and may cause a range of
human illnesses.

The existence of nannobacteria is one of the most controversial of
scientific questions - some experts claim they are simply too small to
 be life forms.

But US scientists report they have now isolated these cell-like
structures in tissue from diseased human arteries.

Source: BBCi News

Link for more info:

http://www.msstate.edu/dept/geosciences/4site/nannobacteria.htm

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« Last Edit: 01/01/2006 04:13:02 by neilep »
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Imaging Study Shows Brain Maturing

The brain's center of reasoning and problem solving is among the last
to mature, a new study graphically reveals. The decade-long magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) study of normal brain development, from ages 4
 to 21, by researchers at NIH's National Institute of Mental Health
 (NIMH) and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) shows that
such "higher-order" brain centers, such as the prefrontal cortex,
don't fully develop until young adulthood.



Time-Lapse Imaging Tracks Brain Maturation from ages 5 to 20

-- Constructed from MRI scans of healthy children and teens, the
time-lapse "movie", from which the above images were extracted,
compresses 15 years of brain development (ages 5 - 20) into just a few
 seconds. Red indicates more gray matter, blue less gray matter. Gray
 matter wanes in a back-to-front wave as the brain matures and neural
 connections are pruned. Areas performing more basic functions mature
 earlier; areas for higher order functions mature later. The
prefrontal cortex, which handles reasoning and other "executive"
functions, emerged late in evolution and is among the last to mature.
 Studies in twins are showing that development of such late-maturing
areas is less influenced by heredity than areas that mature earlier.
(Source: Paul Thompson, Ph.D., UCLA Laboratory of Neuroimaging


Source:   NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health
 


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NASA has announced new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including the discovery of significant amounts of icy organic materials sprinkled throughout several "planetary construction zones," or dusty planet-forming discs, which circle infant stars.
These materials, icy dust particles coated with water, methanol and carbon dioxide, may help explain the origin of icy planetoids like comets. Scientists believe these comets may have endowed Earth with some of its water and many of its biogenic, life-enabling materials.

Out of the dust, a planet is born as depicted in this artist's illustration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)


SOURCE NASA

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« Last Edit: 10/11/2004 17:48:09 by neilep »
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Sources : Genome News Network (top), CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) (below).

Electron micrographs showing particles of the 100 nm diameter SARS coronavirus, so named because the particles carry a corona (crown) of glycoproteins around their envelope

The virus is a relative of the common cold and first appeared in China in late 2002.
« Last Edit: 30/06/2008 08:26:36 by Karen W. »

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SATURN'S STORM ALLEY


Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

This image shows several dark storms confined to a region below 30
degrees south latitude in Saturn's atmosphere. This turbulent region
has produced quite a few storms during Cassini's approach to Saturn,
 including some that have merged. A number of other interesting
smaller-scale atmospheric features are also becoming visible.


The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on
 May 11, 2004, from a distance of 26.4 million kilometers (16.4
million miles) from Saturn through a filter centered at 750
nanometers. The image scale is 157 kilometers (98 miles) per pixel.
Contrast in the image was enhanced to aid visibility.


SOURCE  SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM



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Record-Breaking Ice Core May Hold Key to Climate Variation


Image: BAS

Scientists have successfully drilled through an Antarctic ice sheet to extract the longest ice core ever recovered, according to a report published today in the journal Nature. The cylinder of ice dates back nearly three quarters of a million years and will help researchers better understand our planet’s history of cyclical climate variation. "This has the potential to separate the human-caused impacts from the natural and place it in a much clearer context," explains James White of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who was not involved in the research but penned a commentary on the find for this week’s issue of the journal Science.

Source: Scientific American

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Saturn's moon reveals violent past

Phoebe may be a captured comet CLICK (Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Images of Saturn's battered, icy moon Phoebe have been captured by the Cassini spacecraft

The mysterious moon is an outsider, lying further out than any of Saturn's other major moons, and being the only major moon to orbit backwards. Because of these quirks it has been suggested that Phoebe was either an asteroid or comet captured by the giant planet's gravitational field.

The new pictures show that most of the moon is dark, but impacts have blasted holes in the surface to reveal much brighter material underneath, which is probably a mixture of ices. So Phoebe looks like a dirty snowball - the term coined to describe comets.

SOURCE:NewScientist.com news service



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Insect enjoys warmer UK climate

Experts say its arrival in the UK is a clear sign of climate change




An insect that normally inhabits warm countries has been found living and breeding in the UK, entomologists say.
The green "shield" bug, which attacks a broad range of crops, is usually seen in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Australia, North America and Africa.

Its arrival in Britain is a clear sign of climate change, claim experts from the Natural History Museum, London.

"I'm always reluctant to invoke global warming but it's the only explanation," said curator of beetles, Max Barclay.

Stink bugs

The green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula) is similar to the UK's native green shield bug (Palomena prasina), but is paler in colour and has a longer, narrower shape. Also, unlike its British cousin, the green vegetable bug has no brown markings.

The insects - sometimes known as "stink" bugs, because of the foul odour they emit when threatened - are regular stowaways to the UK.

They often get shipped in with imported vegetables but, until recently, they have not been able to stand Britain's cold climate.

Now three healthy colonies have been found in London - two in the Queen's Park area and one in Kings Cross.


SOURCE BBC NEWS

I've seen these little critters the last couple of years...I just figured they were an insect I hadn't seen before......well...in a way I was right. I've never smelt the pong but that's probably because I'm an angel, and I've never threatened one !![}:)]

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Countdown to private space trip

SpaceShipOne, the first private manned spacecraft, is undergoing final preparations before its historic flight to the edge of space on Monday.
The craft, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, will be launched into the sky by its carrier, White Knight, then rocket upwards to 100km (62 miles).

No private craft has ever been so high. In May, it reached 64km (40 miles) in a test flight, doubling its last best.

"It's all been done privately on essentially a shoestring budget compared to what the governments spend," former Nasa astronaut Rick Searfoss told the BBC. "It's a whole different model and we should all be excited about the prospects it can lead to."

The attempt over California's Mojave Desert is due to launch at 1330 GMT.



Leading the way
On Monday, SpaceShipOne will attempt to become the first private vehicle to take an individual above the Earth’s atmosphere.

The rocket plane, developed in just a few years by the Californian company Scaled Composites, has room for a pilot and two passengers.

The passenger seats will be empty for the first space flight.



Two steps up
SpaceShipOne is carried to more than 14km (47,000ft), slung beneath the White Knight craft.

SpaceShipOne is then released and glides for a few seconds before the pilot lights the rocket and points the vehicle straight up.

Its speed will exceed Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound).



Out of this world
SpaceShipOne will just break the Earth’s atmosphere.

The pilot will experience three minutes in a near-weightless environment.

At the top of its flight, the vehicle must adjust its wings into a high-drag configuration so that when it falls back to Earth its speed is controlled and heating of the airframe is minimised.


SOURCE BBC NEWS

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SpaceShipOne rockets into history

Melvill climbs from SpaceShipOne after landing as Allen approaches. Credit: William Harwood

MOJAVE, Calif. - A privately-built rocket plane soared into space today, boosting a 63-year-old test pilot on a thrilling, at times scary ride out of Earth's discernible atmosphere and into history as the first non government-sponsored astronaut.
The successful voyage sets the stage for a possible attempt later this summer to win the coveted Ansari X-Prize, a $10 million award that will go to the first team that can launch a privately developed, manned craft on sub-orbital flights to space twice in two weeks.
But SpaceShipOne, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and built by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan, will not fly again until Rutan's team of pilots and engineers figures out what triggered the failure of a critical flight control system during the climb to space.
"There is no way we would fly again without knowing the cause and without assuring we have totally fixed it because it's a very critical system," Rutan told reporters later. He called it "the most serious flight safety systems problem that we have had in entire program."
Based on a preliminary analysis of flight data, engineers believe a component called a trim actuator failed, causing the sleek rocket plane to suddenly roll as it streaked through the extreme upper atmosphere.
Pilot Mike Melvill quickly activated a backup system that "saved the day," but by the time the roll problem was corrected, SpaceShipOne was off course. It re-entered the atmosphere 22 miles from its planned 5-by-5 mile re-entry zone.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM
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<font size="5">INCREDIBLE DISCOVERY OF NEW SEA HORSE FOUND</font id="size5">



Sorry...but seeing as I'm clearly the only contributor to this thread, I think I'm entitled to bring a little laughter here too......besides...you got to admit...that's a great piccy eh ?]

<font color="blue">'Men are the same as women...just inside out !'</font id="blue">
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Hubble IMAX film gives ride through space and time

Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI)

This unforgettable cosmic journey is presented in the award-winning IMAX short film, "Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time," which transforms images and data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope into a voyage that sweeps viewers across the cosmos. Using the 650-megapixel-mosaic image created by the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), more than 11,000 galaxy images were extracted and assembled into an accurate 3-D model for the three-minute movie. The large-format film was created by a team of Hubble image and visualization experts in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md. The film was directed by Frank Summers, an astrophysicist and science visualization specialist.

Galaxies are vast assemblages of stars, gas, and dust. And viewers experience these majestic cities of stars on a movie screen as tall as a five-story building. The film opens with looming images of two mature galaxies that are relatively nearby Earth, and then pans through the vibrant and diverse panorama of thousands of galaxies in the GOODS mosaic.

The ensuing 3-D journey through these galaxies provides more than just a new perspective in space, it also takes the audience back in time. Because light takes time to cross space, the galaxies farther away from Earth are seen further back in cosmic history. The virtual voyage reveals galaxies as they appeared billions of years ago, when they were still in the process of forming.

SOURCE...SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM


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Rings of success

Close encounter: The Cassini spacecraft has captured this image of Saturn.

AUSTRALIA will be the ears of the world when a tiny spacecraft named Cassini completes a seven-year journey to Saturn on Thursday.
Cassini will fly through Saturn's outer rings to establish itself in the planet's orbit early on Thursday afternoon.
The Canberra deep space communication complex at Tidbinbilla will tune its three main antennas to pick up the faint success signal.
Cassini will spend four years orbiting the planet taking pictures and analysing the composition of its rings, moons, how the planet was formed and why it has rings.


SOURCE: HERALDSUN.NEWS.COM
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Many questions remain about cloning

Cloning creates potentially dangerous abnormalities in embryos, researchers have warned at a German conference.
Scientists from Cornell University in New York, US, found cloned mice embryos had significant development problems.

Far fewer problems were seen in embryos fertilised using conventional methods of assisted reproduction, such as IVF.

The team told the European Fertility Conference in Berlin its study on rodents offered further proof that reproductive cloning was unsafe.

Sixty-eight mouse eggs were fertilised using conventional assisted reproduction techniques (ART) and cloning.

It was found far fewer of the cloned embryos reached the blastocyst stage at which embryos are three to five days old.

The researchers also observed unusual patterns of genetic development in the clones.

Call for a ban

Dr Takumi Takeuchi, who led the research, said: "We found significantly impaired development in the cloned embryos compared with those derived from more conventional ART techniques and this has made us more convinced that reproductive cloning is unsafe and should not be applied to humans."


SOURCE..BBC NEWS

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Cassini mission hinges on Wednesday's engine firing
 

Cassini fires its engine to enter orbit around Saturn as illustrated in this artist's concept. Credit: NASA/JPL

After a seven-year voyage from Earth, NASA's $3.3 billion Cassini probe is racing toward a make-or-break rocket firing Wednesday, a 96-minute maneuver designed to put the craft in orbit around the ringed planet Saturn for a four-year scientific odyssey.

Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., sent final commands to Cassini over the weekend, setting the stage for main engine ignition at 10:35:42 p.m. Wednesday.

Operating more than 930 million miles from Earth - so far it takes radio signals an hour and 23 minutes to make a one-way trip - Cassini's on-board computer system must carry out the all-important rocket firing on its own.
To achieve orbit around Saturn, the 12,600-pound Cassini must reduce its velocity by about 1,400 mph using a rocket engine that only produces 100 pounds of push. As a result, the engine must fire for 96.4 minutes to put Cassini into the desired orbit.

If the engine shuts down early, the computer will switch to a spare. But the end result must be roughly the same - 96 minutes of braking - or Cassini might not be able to achieve its long-awaited mission.


SOURCE...SPACEFILGHTNOW.COM

UPDATE 1st July 2004
Cassini successfully arrives at Saturn
NASA's $3.3 billion Cassini probe completed a seven-year, 2.2-billion mile voyage tonight, firing its main engine for a nerve-wracking 96 minutes to successfully brake into orbit around the ringed planet Saturn.
Throughout the all-or-nothing rocket firing, flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., could only sit and wait, monitoring events that had already taken place 934 million miles away.

At that distance, radio signals, moving at 186,000 miles per second, needed an hour and 24 minutes to complete a one-way trip between Saturn and Earth. As a result, Cassini's on-board computer was responsible for carrying out the most critical maneuver since launch Oct. 15, 1997, a maneuver that simply had to work or the mission would end in failure.

To everyone's relief, Cassini's main engine fired up on time at 10:36 p.m. EDT and shut down at 12:12 a.m., putting the craft in its planned initial orbit around Saturn.



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First pictures from Saturn orbit show rich ring detail

The first batch of photographs snapped by the Cassini Saturn orbiter earlier today reached the Jet Propulsion Laboratory around 8:30 a.m., zoomed-in shots of the planet's myriad rings showing a ghostly tapestry of icy, back-lit particles arrayed in sharply defined bands.

One of the images taken by Cassini from orbit of Saturn shows a close-up view of the planet's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL

Much brighter shots showing the rings from the sunlit side were expected to reach Earth later this morning, but scientists were elated at the initial results.

"Look at that structure, it's so regular!" marveled imaging team leader Carolyn Porco as a picture came in showing well-defined bands of brightness and darkness. "I'm wondering if we're looking at a density wave. This looks like it might be a density wave, but I'm not quite sure."

Density waves, caused by gravitational interactions with nearby moons, are thought to be "kissing cousins" of the waves that produce the spiral structure seen in galaxies like Earth's Milky Way.

SOURCE SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Ancient African Skull Fills Gap, Fuels Debate


Remains of the hominids that lived in Africa between a million and half a million years ago are frustratingly rare in the fossil record. Bones from this time period have been recovered in Europe and Asia, but the paucity of finds from Africa has prevented a full understanding of just what members of the species Homo erectus looked like. Indeed, some paleontologists posit that hominids from this time period should be divided into multiple lineages, whereas others suggest that there was simply wide variation within H. erectus. A discovery described today in the journal Science is helping to fill the fossil gap.
Richard Potts of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and his colleagues found 11 fragments of a single hominid skull during excavations at an archaeological site in Olorgesailie, Kenya. Together these finds mark the first discovery of ancient human bone at the site since exploration began in 1942. Based on radiometric dating and sedimentary evidence, the team estimates that the fossil is between 900,000 and 970,000 years old. The skull is from an adult or near-adult and shares some features with H. erectus. If it is a member of this species, it is a very petite representative. The researchers note that it is the smallest individual yet known from the time interval spanning 1.7 million and half a million years ago. Because many of the tools recovered from the same site are large and would have required significant strength and size to handle, Potts and his collaborators conclude that there was wide physical variation in the population to which this hominid belonged, with both large and small individuals present.
Other researchers interpret the new find differently, however. “[The skull] doesn't look like anything else we know so far,” contends Jeffrey H. Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh, who penned an accompanying commentary in Science. He argues that a number of the fossils categorized as H. erectus show too much variation from the original, or type, H. erectus skull discovered in the late 19th century in Java to be considered members of the same species.

SOURCE SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.COM

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Sticky bees combat insect pests

The mites have killed off many colonies
A powder that exploits the natural stickiness of honey bees could help control a devastating insect pest.
The Varroa mite is endemic in British hives and in large numbers can sap a bee colony's strength.

The powder has proved useful in helping spread chemical anti-mite agents much more widely around a hive than other mite-controlling substances.

The powder could help suppress the mite to low levels and ensure the usefulness of other controls is not exhausted

Mite damage


Varroa destructor: Mites make bees susceptible to disease
A Varroa species of mite was first discovered in Britain in 1992 but was thought to be present in hives long before then.

The first outbreak devastated honey bee numbers, with many keepers losing up to 75% of their colonies.
Chemical controls known as pyrethroids have proved effective in controlling Varroa but lax use has produced mites resistant to them.

Beekeepers fear this means mite numbers are set to boom again leading to more lost colonies.
But now Southampton-based Exosect has developed a novel way of distributing another Varroa-controlling chemical around hives.

The Exomite system uses a powder that can be made to stick to the bee by exploiting its natural electrostatic charge.

The wax powder being used as a carrier medium is a harmless food grade substance.

The charged powder can be dosed with oils, such as thymol, used in other anti-mite products.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS




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New view of a stellar nursery
EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE

Credit: European Southern Observatory
Orion the Hunter is perhaps the best-known constellation in the sky, well placed in the winter for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and instantly recognisable. Just below Orion's belt (three distinctive stars in a row), the hilt of his sword holds a great jewel in the sky, the beautiful Orion Nebula. Bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, the nebula, also known as Messier 42, is a wide complex of gas and dust, illuminated by several massive and hot stars at its core, the famous Trapezium stars.
For astronomers, Orion is surely one of the most important constellations, as it contains one of the nearest and most active stellar nurseries in the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live. Here tens of thousands of new stars have formed within the past ten million years or so - a very short span of time in astronomical terms. For comparison: our own Sun is now 4,600 million years old and has not yet reached half-age. Reduced to a human time-scale, star formation in Orion would have been going on for just one month as compared to the Sun's 40 years.

In fact, located at a distance of 1500 light years, the Orion Nebula plays such an important role in astrophysics that it can be argued that our understanding of star formation is for a large part based on the Orion Nebula.

It is thus no surprise that the Orion Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the night sky.


SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM






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Cassini photos thrill, mystify scientists
New pictures of Saturn's enigmatic moon Titan, taken by cameras aboard the Cassini probe that are capable of penetrating the thick smog-like haze that blankets the frigid world, show strange looking surface features and a deck of methane clouds the size of Arizona. But so far, the instruments have not detected reflections from the surfaces of lakes or small seas of liquid hydrocarbons many scientists believe must form in the ultra-cold environment
But like the sun glint off rivers and lakes visible from airplanes on Earth, the reflections in question can only be seen in a small region of Titan, about 1 percent of the visible surface, based on the relative positions of the sun and Cassini.

"If we go by 30 times and we haven't seen it, we're going to start getting worried," said Kevin Baines, a member of Cassini's Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team. "But I'd say so far, just going by once, it may have been that the specular reflection point was a continent, a dry area. So the planet could have plenty of liquids and we just got faked out. We don't know," he said in a telephone interview. "It's just 1 percent of the planet, we shouldn't reach any conclusions from that."

Cassini's first flyby of Titan, the day after the craft braked into orbit around the ringed planet, was at a distance of more than 200,000 miles. In October, the nuclear-powered probe will pass within just 745 miles of Titan and "we really expect to get a great view then," said Elizabeth Turtle, a member of the Cassini imaging team.




Piercing the ubiquitous layer of smog enshrouding Titan,
 this combination of images from the Cassini visual and infrared
 mapping spectrometer reveals an exotic surface covered with a
variety of materials in the southern hemisphere. Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.


A mosaic of Titan's south polar region acquired as Cassini
passed by at a range of 339,000 kilometers (210,600 miles) on July 2.
 These images were acquired through special filters designed to see
through the thick haze and atmosphere. The surface features become
more blurry toward the limb, where the light reflected off the surface
 must pass through more atmosphere before reaching the camera. The
 bright spots near the bottom represent a field of clouds near the
 south pole. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.



SOURCE: SPACEFIGHTNOW.COM


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Ultraviolet pictures hint at origin of Saturn's rings

The best view ever of Saturn's rings in the ultraviolet indicates there is more ice toward the outer part of the rings, hinting at ring origin and evolution, say two University of Colorado at Boulder researchers involved in the Cassini mission.

From the inside out, the "Cassini division" in faint red at left is followed
by the A ring in its entirety. The A ring begins with a "dirty" interior of red
followed by a general pattern of more turquoise as it spreads away from the planet,
 which indicates denser material made up of ice. The red band roughly three-fourths of
the way outward in the A ring is known as the Encke gap.


This image shows the outer C and inner B rings respectively from left to right,
 with the inner B ring beginning a little more than halfway across the image. The general pattern
is from "dirty" red particles to the denser ice shown in turquoise as the ringlets spread outward.

The ring system begins from the inside out with the D, C, B and A rings followed by
the F, G and E rings. The red in both images indicates sparser ringlets likely made of "dirty," and possibly smaller, particles than in the denser,
 icier turquoise ringlets.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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How to fail at being a star
HARVARD-SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS NEWS RELEASE

At the 13th Cambridge Workshop on "Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun," Dr. Kevin L. Luhman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) announced the discovery of a unique pair of newborn brown dwarfs in orbit around each other. Brown dwarfs are a relatively new class of objects discovered in the mid-1990s that are too small to ignite hydrogen fusion and shine as stars, yet too big to be considered planets. "Are brown dwarfs miniature failed stars, or super-sized planets, or are they altogether different from either stars or planets?" asks Luhman. The unique nature of this new brown dwarf pair has brought astronomers a step closer to the answer

Newly discovered young brown dwarfs with masses of 50 and 25 times the mass of Jupiter orbit each other at a distance of about 20 billion miles (six times the distance of Pluto from the Sun). Credit: K. Luhman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

One possible explanation for the origin of brown dwarfs is that they are born in the same way as stars. Stars form in huge interstellar clouds in which gravity causes clumps of gas and dust to collapse into "seeds," which then steadily pull in more and more material until they grow to become stars. However, when this process is studied in detail by computer, many simulations fail to produce brown dwarfs. Instead, all the seeds grow into full-fledged stars. This result led some astronomers to wonder if brown dwarfs and stars are created in different ways.

"In one alternative that has been proposed recently," explains Luhman, "the seeds in an interstellar cloud pull on each other through their gravity, causing a slingshot effect and ejecting some of the seeds from the cloud before they have a chance to grow into stars. These small bodies are what we see as brown dwarfs, according to that hypothesis."
Testing these ideas for the birth of brown dwarfs is hampered by the fact that brown dwarfs are normally extremely faint and hard to detect in the sky. For most of their lives, they are not hot enough to ignite hydrogen fusion, so they do not shine brightly like stars, and instead are relatively dim like planets. However, for a short time immediately following their birth, brown dwarfs are relatively bright due to the leftover heat from their formation. As a result, brown dwarfs are easiest to find and study at an age of around 1 million years, which is newborn compared to the 4.5 billion year age of our Sun.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHT.COM




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Clearing Up Blurry Vision: Scientists gaze toward causes of myopia
Next time you can't make out a distant highway sign, blame your parents. Scientists in the United Kingdom have found that myopia, or nearsightedness, is predominantly hereditary, and they're beginning to unravel the genetic mechanism that causes the vision problem.

Roughly a third of people in the United States suffer from myopia—they clearly see close objects, such as words in a book, but things in the distance appear blurry. The anatomic root of the problem is an elongation of the eye as it grows, causing incoming light to focus in front of the retina, instead of squarely on it, explains Christopher J. Hammond of St. Thomas' Hospital in London.

Using a noninvasive technique, Hammond measured the sizes of the eyeballs of 280 sets of fraternal adult twins and 226 sets of identical twins. By mathematically modeling the differences in the eye sizes, Hammond found that genes accounted for 89 percent of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and other refractive vision problems, he reports in the August American Journal of Human Genetics.

To investigate what regions of DNA in the general population might have a connection to myopia, Hammond scanned the entire genome of the fraternal twins and found four sections linked to the eye problem. The most strongly linked segment contains 44 genes, including one specified as PAX6, which is already well-known to vision researchers. From fruit flies to humans, this gene is fundamental to eye growth in nearly all species that scientists have examined.
To investigate what regions of DNA in the general population might have a connection to myopia, Hammond scanned the entire genome of the fraternal twins and found four sections linked to the eye problem. The most strongly linked segment contains 44 genes, including one specified as PAX6, which is already well-known to vision researchers. From fruit flies to humans, this gene is fundamental to eye growth in nearly all species that scientists have examined.


If scientists can determine the genetic mechanisms for myopia, they might develop targeted pharmaceutical agents that can halt or slow the excessive eye growth that causes it.





ODD EYES. Elongated, myopic eyeball (top) focuses light in front of the retina, making distant images appear blurry. Normal eye (bottom) focuses light directly on the retina.
E. Roell


FULL STORY http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040710/fob1.asp

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS. ORG

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Intelligence

Key Points
 
  • Many claim there is not one kind of intelligence, but at least eight different types, including verbal, spatial and emotional intelligence  
  • Argument rages as to whether intelligence is biologically or socially determined

     
     
  • The brain weighs less than 2.5% of our total bodyweight, but accounts 20% of our energy consumption when we're at rest. It burns oxygen and glucose at ten times the rate of other body organs
  •  
  • Each year 10,000 people take the MENSA IQ test - 2,500 pass to become members. Over the last century, the UK's average IQ has risen about 3 points every decade
 
 
  IQ depends on your culture, class and gender because of the way tests are written. Controversially, in the 1920s IQ tests were used to assess the suitability of immigrants for US citizenship  


What is intelligence?

Defining intelligence is highly problematic. Is there an 'intelligence' that equips us to solve all kinds of problems and answer all questions, regardless of their nature? Or are there different intelligences that help us deal with particular problems and solutions? The scientific community is divided on the issue.
One of the main tenet's underpinning the idea of a single entity 'intelligence' is the concept of 'General Intelligence', or 'g'. Devised by English Psychologist, Charles Spearman, in the early 20th Century 'g' was a statistical measure of performance across a variety of tests.

Spearman found that the same people who did well in a variety of mental tests tended to use a part in their brains that he termed 'g'. This 'g' laid the foundation for the notion of a single intelligence, which enables us to undertake everyday mental tasks.

A recent study seems to endorse Spearman's theory. Research has found that a part of the brain called the 'lateral prefrontal cortex' is the only area of the brain to increase in blood flow when volunteers tackle complicated puzzles.

Spearman's concept, however, is still highly controversial with many people questioning both the statistical process and the simplistic nature of 'g'. There is also a body of research that states that our mental ability is a function of social factors such as education and not one's inherent biological make-up.
Intelligence and the brain
The early Greeks thought the brain was the home of your soul, rather than your intellect. They believed that thinking happened somewhere around the lungs! Not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the brain seen as an organ of intelligence and thought, when the concept of the mind emerged.

Using new forms of technology, scientists have been able to look at how the brain performs when we undertake different tasks. Roll the pointer over the brain below to find out how our brain processes language.

 
SOURCE: BBC SCIENCE AND NATURE


 


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Cassini exposes Saturn's two-face moon Iapetus


The moon with the split personality, Iapetus, presents a perplexing appearance in the latest images snapped by the Cassini spacecraft.
One hemisphere of the moon is very dark, while the other is very bright. Scientists do not yet know the origin of the dark material or whether or not it is representative of the interior of Iapetus.


Iapetus (pronounced eye-APP-eh-tuss) is one of Saturn's 31 known moons. Its diameter is about one third that of our own moon at 1,436 kilometers (892 miles). This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on July 3, 2004, from a distance of 3 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Iapetus. The brightness variations in this image are not due to shadowing, they are real.

During Cassini's four-year tour, the spacecraft will continue to image Iapetus and conduct two close encounters. One of those encounters, several years from now, will be at a mere 1,000 kilometers (622 miles).

Iapetus was discovered by the Italian-French astronomer Jean Dominique Cassini in 1672. He correctly deduced that the trailing hemisphere is composed of highly reflective material, while the leading hemisphere is strikingly darker.

This sets Iapetus apart from Saturn's other moons and Jupiter's moons, which tend to be brighter on their leading hemispheres. Voyager images show that the bright side of Iapetus, which reflects nearly 50 percent of the light it receives, is fairly typical of a heavily cratered icy satellite. The leading side consists of much darker, redder material that has a reflectivity of only about 3 to 4 percent.
Iapetus is odd in other respects. It is in a moderately inclined orbit, one that takes it far above and below the plane in which the rings and most of the moons orbit. It is less dense than many of the other satellites, which suggests a higher fraction of ice or possibly methane or ammonia in its interior.

SOURCE SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM


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Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree
 
 Research suggests chocolate may have health benefits
 
 Chocolate cravings may be a symptom of addiction
 
 Chocolate contains the same 'happy' chemicals found in some recreational drugs.


A Stack of chocolate relaxing yesterday.

The first chocolate bars
In the 1800s, solid chocolate became popular, with the invention of moulding processes. Mechanical grinders crushed cocoa beans to a fine powder that could be heated and poured into moulds, forming shapes as it cooled.

Dutchman Coenrad Van Houten perfected the extraction of cocoa butter from cocoa beans in 1825. The beans are crushed to a paste, which is subjected to very high pressure, forming chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. The extracted butter is smoothed and treated to remove any odours.

In the 1880s, Rudolphe Lindt of Switzerland started adding extra cocoa butter during chocolate manufacture, to make it smoother and glossier. Cocoa butter melts at around 97°F, which is human body temperature. That's why chocolate melts in the mouth.

Some Cocoa Pods hanging around yesterday.


Chocolate craving
 
The love of chocolate goes beyond the call of sweetness. Chocolate can induce craving in a way that other sugary products like toffee or marshmallow don't. Chocolate makes us feel good, but can it really be addictive?
General sweetness aside, there are various chemical elements specific to chocolate that may help to stimulate cravings. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 chemicals and it is not known how all of these affect humans.

A Cup of chocolate...err..yesterday !

Many women report particular chocolate cravings when pre-menstrual. This is possibly because chocolate contains magnesium, a shortage of which can exacerbate pre-menstrual tension. Similar cravings during pregnancy could indicate mild anaemia, which chocolate's iron content may help to cure.

Love drug?

Chocolate contains a natural 'love drug'. Tryptophan is a chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy - hence the name of the designer drug that also works by increasing serotonin levels.

A chocolate orgy earlier today !


Lust drug?While tryptophan could be considered 'chocolate's ecstasy', another chemical called phenylethylamine has earned the nickname 'chocolate amphetamine.' High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenylethylamine works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centres and reaches peak levels during orgasm.


A Cake with some chocolate sauce earlier today !



 
Chocolate chemistry
Like other sweet food, chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, natural body hormones that generate feelings of pleasure and well-being.General sweetness aside, there are various chemical elements specific to chocolate that may help to stimulate cravings. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 chemicals and it is not known how all of these affect humans.

Many women report particular chocolate cravings when pre-menstrual. This is possibly because chocolate contains magnesium, a shortage of which can exacerbate pre-menstrual tension. Similar cravings during pregnancy could indicate mild anaemia, which chocolate's iron content may help to cure.


Err..not chocoltate but coffee beans !!...
SOURCE: BBC
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NASA's Mars rovers roll into martian winter
As winter approaches on Mars, NASA's Opportunity rover continues to inch deeper into the stadium-sized crater dubbed "Endurance." On the other side of the planet, the Spirit rover found an intriguing patch of rock outcrop while preparing to climb up the "Columbia Hills" backward. This unusual approach to driving is part of a creative plan to accommodate Spirit's aging front wheel.


A picture from Spirit. Credit: NASA/JPL
 
Spirit, with an odometer reading of over 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles), has already traveled six times its designed capacity. Its right front wheel has been experiencing increased internal resistance, and recent efforts to mitigate the problem by redistributing the wheel's lubricant through rest and heating have been only partially successful.


A new picture from Opportunity showing the floor of Endurance Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL
Opportunity will roll down even farther into the crater in the next few days to see if this trend continues. It also will investigate a row of sharp, teeth-like features dubbed "Razorback," which may have formed when fluid flowed through cracks, depositing hard minerals. Scientists hope the new data will help put together the pieces of Meridiani's mysterious and watery past. "Razorback may tell us more about the history of water at Endurance Crater," said Dr. Jack Farmer, a rover science-team member from Arizona State University, Tempe.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW









A Martian yesterday

   



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New martian meteorite found in Antarctica
NASA NEWS RELEASE
CREDIT: NASA


The new specimen was found by a field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) on Dec. 15, 2003, on an ice field in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 km (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2-gram (1.6-pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM




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Doughnut-shaped cloud has 'black hole' filling
NASA NEWS RELEASE
An international team of scientists has found more evidence that massive black holes are surrounded by a doughnut-shaped gas cloud which, depending on our line of sight, blocks the view of the black hole in the center.



An artist's concept shows a dark doughnut-shaped ring deep in the core of a galaxy encircles what appears to be a supermassive black hole. Credit: ESA
 


Using two European Space Agency orbiting observatories, INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton, scientists looked "edge on" into this doughnut, called a torus, to see features never before revealed in such clarity. They could infer the doughnut structure and distance from the black hole by virtue of light that was either reflected or completely absorbed. How the doughnut forms, however, remains a mystery.
Black holes are objects so dense and with gravity so strong that not even light can escape from them. Scientists say that "supermassive" black holes are located in the cores of most galaxies, including our Milky Way galaxy, and contain the mass of millions to billions of suns confined within a region no larger than our Solar System.

Supermassive black holes appear to be surrounded by a hot, thin disk of accreting gas and, farther out, the thick doughnut-shaped torus. Astronomers often view black holes that are aligned face-on or at a slight angle in relation to Earth, thus avoiding the dark, enshrouding torus to study the hot accretion disk.



An image of NGC 4388 in infrared wavelengths, captured by ground-based Subaru telescope. We see the entire galaxy. The black hole (and its accretion disk and doughnut ring) would be just a dot in the galaxy core. Seeing galaxies in all wavelengths -- that is, with radio, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes -- reveals the entire workings the galaxy, from star creation (birth) to black hole activity (death). Credit: NAOJ/Subaru


NGC 4261 is an elliptical galaxy, unlike NGC 4388, a spiral galaxy. However, both galaxies share a common bond -- that is, a supermassive black hole at their core. This Hubble Space Telescope image zooms into the galaxy center to reveal what appears to be a doughnut-shaped cloud around a bright core (an active black hole). Credit: NASA/HST/WFPC2

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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A day in the lives of galaxies

SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
 
Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Blakeslee and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University

This link downloads a larger version of the above piccy but be warned, if you have a slow connection (I don't..so there nyahh nyahh nyahh !!) it might take a while (700k)http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hu/db/2004/21/images/a/formats/print.jpg

Like a photographer clicking random snapshots of a crowd of people, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken a view of an eclectic mix of galaxies. In taking this picture, Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys was not looking at any particular target. The camera was taking a picture of a typical patch of sky, while Hubble's infrared camera was viewing a target in an adjacent galaxy-rich region.

The jumble of galaxies in this image, taken in September 2003, includes a yellow spiral whose arms have been stretched by a possible collision [lower right]; a young, blue galaxy [top] bursting with star birth; and several smaller, red galaxies.

But the most peculiar-looking galaxy of the bunch -- the dramatic blue arc in the center of the photo -- is actually an optical illusion. The blue arc is an image of a distant galaxy that has been smeared into the odd shape by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. This "funhouse- mirror effect" occurs when light from a distant object is bent and stretched by the mass of an intervening object.

In this case the gravitational lens, or intervening object, is a red elliptical galaxy nearly 6 billion light-years from Earth. The red color suggests that the galaxy contains older, cooler stars.

The distant object whose image is smeared into the long blue arc is about 10 billion light-years away. This ancient galaxy existed just a few billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was about a quarter of its present age. The blue color indicates that the galaxy contains hot, young stars.

SOURCE SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Deep-Sea Cukes Can't Avoid the Weather: El Niño changes life 2.5 miles down
LOW LIFE. The sea cucumber Scotoplanes globosa, a species with appendages, lives miles below the ocean surface but grew more abundant after an El Niño and a La Niña.

That's the conclusion of a 14-year study of sea cucumbers, brittle stars, and other mobile bottom dwellers off the California coast, says Henry A. Ruhl of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. What links the top to the bottom is the fall of dead plankton and other debris that provides food in the depths, he and Kenneth L. Smith Jr., also of Scripps, say in the July 23 Science. They link changes in the abundance of certain species some 2.5 miles underwater to the El Niño and La Niña weather shifts between 1997 and 1999.

Marine scientists have discussed possible associations between year-by-year surface weather and deep-sea life. But "there are few actual examples in the modern ocean," comments Andrew Gooday of the Southampton Oceanography Center in England.

"There has been a paradigm shift," Gooday says. "If you go back 30 years, the idea was that the deep-ocean floor was very stable." In the 1970s, though, biologists found evidence that even creatures living at great depths reproduce in accord with the surface seasons. As evidence has appeared for longer-term changes in deep-sea communities, marine scientists have come to see the ocean floor "as a more dynamic environment," says Gooday.

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS.ORG

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Cassini's rear-view image of Saturn's moon Titan released
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


A day after entering orbit around Saturn, Cassini sped silently past Titan, imaging the moon's south polar region. This natural color image represents Cassini's view only about two hours after closest approach to the moon.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
The superimposed coordinate system grid in the accompanying image at right illustrates the geographical regions of the moon that are illuminated and visible, as well as the orientation of Titan -- lines of longitude converge on the South Pole above the center of the image. The yellow curve marks the position of the boundary between day and night on Titan.

Images taken through blue, green and red filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained using the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on July 2, 2004, from a distance of about 347,000 kilometers (216,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase angle of 62 degrees. This view is an improvement in resolution of nearly a factor of four over the previously released natural color view of Titan (see PIA06081). The image scale is 21 kilometers (13 miles) per pixel.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com

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Stellar pair shot out from supernova birthplace
NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE
Posted: July 28, 2004

Astronomers studying data from the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and other telescopes have concluded that a binary pair of stars forming an energetic microquasar was blasted out of the cluster in which it was born by a supernova explosion some 1.7 million years ago. This is the first time that a fast-moving stellar pair has been tracked back to a specific star cluster.




The microquasar, circled in red, and stars of the cluster (yellow) in visible-light image. Green arrow indicates microquasar's motion in sky and yellow arrow indicates star cluster's motion. Red arrow indicates microquasar's motion relative to (away from) star cluster. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF


The scientists analyzed numerous observations of a microquasar called LSI +61 303, and concluded that it is moving away from a star cluster named IC 1805 at nearly 17 miles per second.

A microquasar is a pair of stars, one of which is either a dense neutron star or a black hole, in which material sucked from a "normal" star forms a rapidly-rotating disk around the denser object. The disk becomes so hot it emits X-rays, and also spits out "jets" of subatomic particles at nearly the speed of light.


SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM


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Titan's purple covering points to a fuzzy past

CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


Encircled in purple stratospheric haze, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, appears as a softly glowing sphere in this colorized image taken on July 3, 2004, one day after Cassini's first flyby of that moon. Titan has a dense atmosphere composed primarily of nitrogen with a few percent methane. The atmosphere can undergo photochemical processes to form hazes.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Images like this one reveal some of the key steps in the formation and evolution of Titan's haze. The process is thought to begin in the high atmosphere, at altitudes above 400 kilometers (250 miles), where ultraviolet light breaks down methane and nitrogen molecules. The products are believed to react to form more complex organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen that can combine to form the very small particles seen as haze.

This ultraviolet view of Titan has been falsely colored. The main body is colored pale orange as seen in true color images. Above the orange disc are two distinct layers of atmospheric haze that have been brightened and falsely colored violet to enhance their visibility. It is not currently understood why there are two separate haze layers. This and other questions await answers as the four-year Cassini tour continues, with many more planned flybys of Titan. The upcoming October 2004 flyby of Titan will be 30 times closer than that of July 2.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.com


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Terra spacecraft snaps image of Hurricane Alex
NASA PHOTO RELEASE

NASA's Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Hurricane Alex, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, at noon EDT on Tuesday, August 3. Around that time, the Category 2 storm was pounding North Carolina's Outer Banks with winds of up to 100 miles an hour. It's expected to eventually turn east and head out to sea.

The resolution on this photo, from Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), is 2 kilometers per pixel

LINK TO A MUCH LARGER PICTURE http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/63308main_image_feature_201_jwfull.jpg

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Gamma-ray burst was a new type of cosmic explosion
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY NEWS RELEASE

Astronomers have identified a new class of cosmic explosions that are more powerful than supernovae but considerably weaker than most gamma-ray bursts. The discovery strongly suggests a continuum between the two previously-known classes of explosions.

 

This illustration describes a model for a gamma ray burst, like the one detected by Integral on December 3. A jet of high-energy particles from a rapidly rotating black hole interacts with surrounding matter. Credit: CXC/M. Weiss
Although the burst was the closest gamma-ray burst to Earth ever studied (all the others have been several billion light-years away), researchers noticed that the explosion was extremely faint--releasing only about one-thousandth of the gamma rays of a typical gamma-ray burst. However, the burst was also much brighter than supernovae explosions, which led to the conclusion that a new type of explosion had been found.

Both supernovae and the rare but brilliant gamma-ray bursts are cosmic explosions marking the deaths of massive stars. Astronomers have long wondered what causes the seemingly dramatic differences between these events. The question of how stars die is currently a major focus of stellar research, and is particularly directed toward the energetic explosions that destroy a star in one cataclysmic event.



SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Atlantic ridge reveals underwater wonders

  SOURCE:NewScientist.com news service



Caught at a depth of 1.7 km, this bright red squid is thought to be new to science (Image: Richard Young)
Scientists studying the submerged peak of the mid-Atlantic ridge believe they have found several new species of fish and squid.
The first extensive scientific expedition to collect specimens and analyse the depths along the ridge, the MAR-ECO study, has also revealed the first evidence of spinning plankton blooms as well as a set of mysterious oceanic tracks.

Shallow depths


Other possible discoveries include a new species of anglerfish, a bulbous-shaped fish found in a shallower region than other anglerfish, at a depth of about 1 km. Several apparently new species of Ophidiiformes, a common deep sea fish with a long thin tail, were also found.
The scientists studying the ridge have so far collected some 80,000 different specimens during extensive trawls. They believe they may have uncovered between 45 and 50 new species in all, but further analysis is needed to confirm this.

A puzzling set of tracks, resembling burrows were found at a depth of 2000 metres (Image: MAR-ECO)

Straight tracks


Another remarkable discovery, made using echo sounders aboard one vessel, was of colossal spinning ring-like plankton structures. At least four clearly defined rings of interacting planktonic organisms were found. The structures are interesting because of the key role plankton plays in sustaining marine life.

At a depth of 2000 metres, along the seabed that marks the peak of the ridge on the seamount north of the Azores, the researchers also discovered a puzzling set of straight tracks, resembling burrows roughly 5 cm apart. They confess to having no idea how and by what the tracks were made.










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Spitzer shows dying star that goes out with a ring

NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE

A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the shimmering embers of a dying star, and in their midst a mysterious doughnut-shaped ring.

"Spitzer's infrared vision has revealed what could not be seen before - a massive ring of material that was expelled from the dying star," said Dr. Joseph Hora, a Spitzer scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "The composition of the ring and how it formed are mysteries we hope to address with further Spitzer studies."




Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
These cosmic beauties last a relatively brief time, about a few thousand years, in the approximately 10-billion-year lifetime of a star. The name "planetary nebula" came from early astronomers who thought the rounded clouds looked like planets.:

SOURCE: (as if you didn't know by now)..SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Lighting the Way for Water: New strategy for steering drops with finesse

Alexandra Goho

Several years ago, a team of researchers in Japan used a beam of light to move drops of oil around on a surface. They could not do the same thing with water drops, however. Now, with inspiration from lotus leaves, a second team has succeeded in manipulating water with a beam of ultraviolet light. That could open new routes for controlling biochemical reactions, the scientists say.



PHOTO SWITCH. Ultraviolet light can move a water drop along a rough photosensitive surface (left), whereas a drop on a smooth photosensitive surface (right) stays put and spreads out.
R. Rosario


The difficulty of moving drops of water with light stems from the way water molecules interact with surfaces. In previous experiments, Antonio Garcia and his colleagues at Arizona State University in Tempe tried to sidestep that challenge by manipulating the drops on very smooth surfaces. Yet, while the front end of the drop would move toward the light, the back end would stick to the surface.
The new water-controlling tactic could improve microfluidic chips that many researchers are designing for applications ranging from medical diagnostics to environmental monitoring. In such devices, microscopic valves and pumps direct tiny amounts of fluid through specified channels and into specific microchambers

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS.ORG

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Savvy Sieve: Carbon nanotubes filter petroleum, polluted water
Alexandra Goho

Bridging the gap between the nanoworld and the macroworld, researchers have created a membrane out of carbon nanotubes and demonstrated its potential for filtering petroleum and treating contaminated drinking water.

Scientists have long valued carbon nanotubes for their high strength and thermal properties yet it's been a challenge to assemble nanotubes into useful materials large enough for people to hold in their hands.



CLEAR PASSAGE. The wall of this tube-shaped filter is made of a single layer of densely packed carbon nanotubes.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, have now devised a method for making such large-scale structures and found an application for them.

The researchers injected a solution of benzene and ferrocene—the materials needed to assemble the carbon nanotubes—into a stream of argon gas and then sprayed the mixture into a quartz tube. The tube was located inside a furnace heated to 900°C.

A dense forest of carbon nanotubes formed on the inner walls of the quartz tube, yielding a hollow black cylinder. The researchers carefully removed the cylinder, which measured several centimeters long and up to a centimeter in diameter. It was composed of trillions of nanotubes. Each nanotube was only a few hundred microns long, essentially the thickness of the carbon cylinder's wall.

SOURCE:SCIENCNEWS.ORG

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Disk shows signs of planets
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII NEWS RELEASE


The sharpest image ever taken of a dust disk around another star has revealed structures in the disk which are signs of unseen planets.



Dust grains orbiting the star AU Mic. The light from the star itself has been been removed from the center of this image, which was obtained with the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea. Irregularities in the shape of the disk indicate the presence of unseen planets in orbit around the star. The image is 100 Astronomical Units wide (9.3 billion miles), about the size of our solar system. Image Credit: M. Liu, IfA-Hawaii/Keck Observatory

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Out from the shadows: Two new Saturnian moons
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


With eyes sharper than any that have peered at Saturn before, the Cassini spacecraft has uncovered two moons, which may be the smallest bodies so far seen around the ringed planet.




This image shows the tiny 'worldlet,' temporarily dubbed S/2004 S1, as it makes its way around the planet. A white box frames the moon's location in the image. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The moons are approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) across -- smaller than the city of Boulder, Colorado. The moons, located 194,000 kilometers (120,000 miles) and 211,000 kilometers (131,000 miles) from the planet's center, are between the orbits of two other saturnian moons, Mimas and Enceladus.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com

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How old is the Milky Way?
EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE


Observations by an international team of astronomers with the UVES spectrometer on ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory have thrown new light on the earliest epoch of the Milky Way galaxy.



This ESO image shows the globular cluster NGC 6397, located at a distance of approx. 7,200 light-years in the southern constellation Ara. It has undergone a "core collapse" and the central area is very dense. Credit: ESO

The first-ever measurement of the Beryllium content in two stars in a globular cluster (NGC 6397) - pushing current astronomical technology towards the limit - has made it possible to study the early phase between the formation of the first generation of stars in the Milky Way and that of this stellar cluster. This time interval was found to amount to 200 - 300 million years.


The age of the stars in NGC 6397, as determined by means of stellar evolution models, is 13,400 +/- 800 million years. Adding the two time intervals gives the age of the Milky Way, 13,600 +/- 800 million years.

The currently best estimate of the age of the Universe, as deduced, e.g., from measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background, is 13,700 million years. The new observations thus indicate that the first generation of stars in the Milky Way galaxy formed soon after the end of the ~200 million-year long "Dark Ages" that succeeded the Big Bang.

The age of the Milky Way

How old is the Milky Way ? When did the first stars in our galaxy ignite ?

A proper understanding of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way system is crucial for our knowledge of the Universe. Nevertheless, the related observations are among the most difficult ones, even with the most powerful telescopes available, as they involve a detailed study of old, remote and mostly faint celestial objects.

Source: Saceflightnow.com

Full story: http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0408/17milkyway/




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Latest colour pictures from Cassini look like artwork
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE

NASA has released three new stunning color pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft exploring the planet Saturn. The images show the giant planet, its golden rings and several moons.



FIRST IMAGE: Saturn's atmosphere is prominently shown with the rings emerging from behind the planet at upper right. The two moons on the left of the image are Mimas and Enceladus.

This image was taken on August 8, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera in red, green, and blue filters. This image was taken 8.5 million kilometers (5.3 million miles) from Saturn. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility.


SECOND IMAGE: Saturn's rings appear golden as the planet's shadow drapes across nearly the whole span of the rings. In the upper left corner is Saturn's moon Mimas.

This color image was taken on August 15, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera, using the red, green, and blue filters. The image was taken 8.8 million kilometers (5.5 million miles) from Saturn. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility




THIRD IMAGE: Saturn and its rings are prominently shown in this color image, along with three of Saturn's smaller moons. From left to right, they are Prometheus, Pandora and Janus.

Prometheus and Pandora are often called the "F ring shepherds" as they control and interact with Saturn's interesting F ring, seen between them.

This image was taken on June 18, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera 8.2 million kilometers (5.1 million miles) from Saturn. It was created using the red, green, and blue filters. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility.


Links to larger pictures:
1 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06423.jpg
2 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06424.jpg
3 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06422.jpg

Source : Spaceflightnow.com

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Virtual veins give nurses a hand
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online science and technology staff  

A virtual reality hand, complete with vital veins, that "feels" could help trainee nurses practise their jabs.
The tactile 3D virtual reality system uses force feedback technology that is usually found in video game controllers, known as haptics.

It could help in learning sensitive venopuncture skills on a variety of hand types, instead of plastic models.

The system, developed by UK Haptics, is still at an early stage, but could be used for training nurses next year.
Haptics is the term for physical sensors that provide a sense of touch at skin level and force feedback information from muscles and joints.  



The hand has realistic and complex vein structures

Nurses sit in front of a PC wearing 3D goggles. A mirror in front of them lets them see the projected hand image in 3D too.
All the nurse has to do is sit in front of the machine and stick the cannula, which they see as a syringe, into the hand.
The system feeds back information about pressure, and blood appears to fill the syringe when the vein has been punctured.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS

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They didn't have that kind of technology back in the Dark Ages when I was in school.  We just got the real thing to practice on.
 

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Deepest image of exploded star uncovers bipolar jets
NASA NEWS RELEASE
A spectacular new image of Cassiopeia A released today from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has nearly 200 times more data than the "First Light" Chandra image of this object made five years ago. The new image reveals clues that the initial explosion, caused by the collapse of a massive star, was far more complicated than suspected.




This spectacular image of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A is the most detailed image ever made of the remains of an exploded star. The one million second image shows a bright outer ring (green) ten light years in diameter that marks the location of a shock wave generated by the supernova explosion. A large jet-like structure that protrudes beyond the shock wave can be seen in the upper left. In this image, the colors represent different ranges of X-rays with red, green, and blue representing, low, medium, and higher X-ray energies. Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang et al.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com



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