Science Blast: Now, A New Way To Fuel Your Black Hole!

This image of the ‘jellyfish’ galaxy JO204 shows clearly how material is streaming out of the galaxy in long tendrils to the lower-left; red shows the glow from ionized hydrogen gas and the whiter regions are where most of the stars in the galaxy are located; some more distant galaxies are also visible. Image credit: ESO / GASP Collaboration.This image of the ‘jellyfish’ galaxy JO204 shows clearly how material is streaming out of the galaxy in long tendrils to the lower-left; red shows the glow from ionized hydrogen gas and the whiter regions are where most of the stars in the galaxy are located; some more distant galaxies are also visible. Image credit: ESO / GASP Collaboration.

MUSE Observations of ‘Jellyfish’ Galaxies Reveal New Way to Fuel Supermassive Black Hole

‘Jellyfish’ galaxies can be found only in galaxy clusters and are very rare: to date, just over 400 candidate galaxies have been found.

The ‘tentacles’ of these galaxies are produced in galaxy clusters by a process called ram-pressure stripping. Their mutual gravitational attraction causes galaxies to fall at high speed into galaxy clusters, where they encounter a hot, dense gas which acts like a powerful wind, forcing tails of gas out of the galaxy’s disc and triggering starbursts within it.

Six out of the seven jellyfish galaxies observed by Dr. Poggianti and co-authors were found to host a supermassive black hole at the center, feeding on the surrounding gas. This fraction is unexpectedly high — among galaxies in general the fraction is less than one in ten.

“This strong link between ram pressure stripping and active black holes was not predicted and has never been reported before,” Dr. Poggianti said.

“It seems that the central black hole is being fed because some of the gas, rather than being removed, reaches the galaxy center.”

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Science Blast! Cutting Edge!

10 Incredible Cutting-Edge Technologies In Development

MIKE FLOORWALKER 

Freediving - Guillaume Nery Prepares for World Record Attempt

Inventors have long sought an underwater breathing apparatus that doesn’t store oxygen, but extracts it from the water the way gills do. Israeli inventor Alon Bodner has come close.

The device, aptly named LikeAFish, works by using a centrifuge to lower the pressure of water within an airtight chamber. Since only a little oxygen is contained in water, the device must move about 190 liters (50 gallons) per minute in order for the average person to breathe comfortably. Despite this, the only real barrier to implementation is size and weight, but it’s close enough that the device has been under consideration for military use for several years now.

Such a system would obviously allow for longer “bottom time” without the need for refilling oxygen and would decrease the amount of nitrogen the diver is exposed to. According to Bodner’s website, the company spent 2012 “quietly designing a prototype to be installed on board a naval submarine,” so they may be very close to solving the size and weight issues of previous prototypes.

9Agricultural Robots

Robot Farm

Agricultural robotics are, somewhat surprisingly, still in their infancy. While unemployment seems to be leveling off, there is still talk of a possible general labor shortage in the near future—particularly in agriculture. Many companies worldwide are attempting to bring various types of robot farmhands to market, but in robotics (where government and academic projects still lead the way) it tends to take longer than in some other, more commercial industries for such projects to obtain funding, produce a product, and prove its viability.

But the technology is coming along, and it’s easy to imagine it implemented on a wide-scale basis before too long. One Boston company that was able to raise nearly $8 billion in private funds in 2011 has developed a robot that it claims could perform 40 percent of the manual labor currently performed on farms. A Japanese research company has developed a robot that performs stereo imaging of strawberries to determine their ripeness before picking them, and MIT has a cherry tomato garden that is managed by a small crew of robots equipped with vision sensors. Of course, the main advantage to robot farm workers is the fact that they can work around the clock and never get tired.

8Sunscreen Pills

Sunburn

An effective sunscreen that can be administered orally has been sought after for some time now. One doctor claims that a fern extract, containing the compound polypodium leucotomos, can act as such. He cites a human study showing less sun damage to the skin of those who were administered the active ingredient (though he did have to admit that there were only 12 people involved).

Also promising is a study at King’s College in London, which has determined a method by which coral protects itself from UV rays through its relationship with a symbiotic algae that lives within it. The algae produces a chemical compound which is converted by the coral into its own UV-blocking sunscreen, benefiting not only the coral and the algae but also the fish that feed on the coral. This transference has led scientists to believe that if the compound can be isolated, it could potentially be modified into a human oral sunscreen that would protect both the skin and the eyes. Said Dr. Paul Long, head of the three-year project, “There would have to be a lot of toxicology tests done first but I imagine a sunscreen tablet might be developed in five years or so. Nothing like it exists at the moment.”

7Paper-Thin, Flexible Computers and Phones

Flexible computer pic WEB

In early 2013, consumer electronics shows debuted a prototype by European firm Plastic Logic of a product called the Papertab. That would be a portmanteau of “paper” and “tablet” and it is pretty much what it sounds like: a fully functional, touch screen tablet computer that is not only as thin as a sheet of paper, but as flexible as one too, and possesses the same reflective qualities. The company envisions such machines being ubiquitous within five to 10 years, as they could be inexpensive and interactive. A consumer could have several lying around, multi-tasking with different media all in service of one project.

A joint project between two American and Canadian universities has been creatively dubbed the Paperphone. Queens University director Dr. Roel Vertegaal has largely the same vision of the project. “This is the future,” he says. “Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years.” The machine is the size of a regular smartphone, with a 9.4-centimeter (3.7 in) display, but again, paper-thin and flexible. Users can give the phone commands by using “bend gestures.” It consumes no power when not in use and is considerably harder to damage than an ordinary phone.

Read on for Tooth Regeneration, Holographic TV, Real Time Google Earth, Wireless Electricity, Ultra High Speed Tube Trains, and Sustainable Fusion Reactors.

 

Science Blast: Still Time To Gain Superpowers from Fukushima

Despite the pulpy headline, matters at Fukushima are actually still quite serious. When it comes to this damaged nuclear plant, we are not out of danger yet–especially as what may be a WWII bomb has been discovered on the premises.

Suspected WWII-Era Bomb Discovered at Fukushima Power Plant

A TEPCO employee looks at a destroyed reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty 

The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is still severely damaged from the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami that crippled it in March 2011. But now, the area is facing another threat: What is thought to be an undetonated World War II-era bomb was discovered on the grounds of the power plant, according to news sources.

Excavation workers discovered the more-than-70-year-old weapon under a parking lot that is undergoing maintenance, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), announced Aug. 10, according to The Mainichi, a Japanese news outlet. The bomb was found about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) away from the damaged No. 1 and No. 4 reactors, The Mainichi reported.

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Science Blast: Spare Us, Florence!

Tomorrow, Asteroid Florence will show us her kind mercy…or not!

(3122) Florence will pass safely by Earth on September 1, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles. Image credit: University of Colorado.(3122) Florence will pass safely by Earth on September 1,
at a distance of about 4.4 million miles.
Image credit: University of Colorado.

Asteroid Florence to Fly Safely Past Earth on September 1

Florence [full name (3122) Florence] is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size.

The space rock was discovered by Schelte ‘Bobby’ Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in March 1981.

According to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, the asteroid is “named in memory of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), English nurse and hospital reformer, who almost singlehandedly established trained nursing as an honorable profession for women.”

“She transformed the English field hospitals during the Crimean War and was known there for her quiet dignity, her rigorous discipline and her determination.”

“Florence Nightingale is most remembered as The Lady of the Lamp for her courage, compassion and devotion to the injured troops as she visited the hospital wards after a full day’s work.”

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Science Blast! Polluted Indian River Drives Dogs…Blue?

Who’s a Blue Boy?

Indian Dogs Tinted by Polluted River

Science Blast! Two Years of Dino-Slaying Night!

Imagine a night that lasts two years. Dinosaurs going berserk as they slowly starve to death. Who could survive such terrible conditions? Only the most adventurous pulp hero!

And yet, it might have actually happened!

An illustration of an asteroid impacting Earth.
Credit: Image courtesy NASA

Tremendous amounts of soot, lofted into the air from global wildfires following a massive asteroid strike 66 million years ago, would have plunged Earth into darkness for nearly two years, new research finds. This would have shut down photosynthesis, drastically cooled the planet, and contributed to the mass extinction that marked the end of the age of dinosaurs.

These new details about how the climate could have dramatically changed following the impact of a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid will be published Aug. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with support from NASA and the University of Colorado Boulder, used a world-class computer model to paint a rich picture of how Earth’s conditions might have looked at the end of the Cretaceous Period, information that paleobiologists may be able to use to better understand why some species died, especially in the oceans, while others survived.

Scientists estimate that more than three-quarters of all species on Earth, including all non-avian dinosaurs, disappeared at the boundary of the Cretaceous-Paleogene periods, an event known as the K-Pg extinction. Evidence shows that the extinction occurred at the same time that a large asteroid hit Earth in what is now the Yucatán Peninsula. The collision would have triggered earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions.

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Science Blast: Make It Rain…Diamonds

Scientists recreate diamond rain thought to exist on Neptune and other gas giants. Now that sounds like loot worthy of a great pulp adventure!

By conducting experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source — one of the world’s most powerful X-ray lasers — an international team of researchers led by HZDR physicist Dr. Dominik Kraus was able to demonstrate that hydrocarbon compounds split into carbon and hydrogen inside ice giants such as Neptune, shown here. The carbon turns into a “diamond shower.”

Credit: Greg Stewart / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Scientists create ‘diamond rain’ that forms in the interior of icy giant planets

SLAC’s X-ray laser and Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument allow researchers to examine the exotic precipitation in real-time as it materializes in the laboratory

In an experiment designed to mimic the conditions deep inside the icy giant planets of our solar system, scientists were able to observe “diamond rain” for the first time as it formed in high-pressure conditions. Extremely high pressure squeezes hydrogen and carbon found in the interior of these planets to form solid diamonds that sink slowly down further into the interior.

The glittering precipitation has long been hypothesized to arise more than 5,000 miles below the surface of Uranus and Neptune, created from commonly found mixtures of just hydrogen and carbon. The interiors of these planets are similar — both contain solid cores surrounded by a dense slush of different ices. With the icy planets in our solar system, “ice” refers to hydrogen molecules connected to lighter elements, such as carbon, oxygen and/or nitrogen.

Researchers simulated the environment found inside these planets by creating shock waves in plastic with an intense optical laser at the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) instrument at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

In the experiment, they were able to see that nearly every carbon atom of the original plastic was incorporated into small diamond structures up to a few nanometers wide. On Uranus and Neptune, the study authors predict that diamonds would become much larger, maybe millions of carats in weight. Researchers also think it’s possible that over thousands of years, the diamonds slowly sink through the planets’ ice layers and assemble into a thick layer around the core.

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