Science & Technology
Sat, 29 Dec 2007 16:56 CST
The chance that a rogue mini-world - asteroid 2007 WD5 - will smack into Mars on January 30th has increased from 1.3 percent to 3.9 percent.
That's the new estimation from officials at the Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), stemming from several sky watching teams in Alaska, New Mexico, and in Arizona.
Sat, 29 Dec 2007 16:49 CST
For scientists, a maze has been a useful tool for examining the analytic capacity of animals - chiefly mice and rats.
Seven years ago, however, a simple experiment demonstrated that a plant can identify the shortest route to food in a maze, prompting researchers to conclude that, "This remarkable process of cellular (analysis) implies that cellular materials can show a primitive intelligence."
The plant was one of the lower fungi, a slime mould, which is a thin organism that spreads across cool, shady, moist places. There are 550 different species of this type of mould in a variety of colours, some of them spectacularly beautiful. The experiment, led by Toshiyuki Nakagaki at the Bio-Mimetic Control Research Centre in Nagoya, Japan, is reported in Nature, 2000, 407:470.
Sat, 29 Dec 2007 10:37 CST
The frozen carcass of a 37,000-year-old baby mammoth unearthed this summer in Siberia arrived in Japan on Saturday for tests that researchers hope will shed new light on the internal structure of the ancient beasts, an official said.
Clearly, "climate change" is what killed this mammoth, so quickly that ice covered it before it could be scavenged. Although, the article mentions that its tail and ear were bitten off, this could have happened recently, after the ice thawed. The time of it's death, 37,000 years ago coincides, within error, with the mass die-off of other mammals by a suspected meteorite strike in Russia or North America
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 21:50 CST
Beginning each New Year and lasting for nearly a week, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower sparkles across the night sky for nearly all viewers around the world.
Its radiant belongs to an extinct constellation once known as Quadran Muralis, but any meteors will seem to come from the general direction of bright Arcturus and Boötes.
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 18:51 CST
Ancient Pueblo Indians brewed their own brand of corn beer, a new study suggests, contradicting claims that the group remained dry until their first meeting with the Europeans.
Archaeologists recently found that 800-year-old potsherds belonging to the Pueblos of the American Southwest contained bits of fermented residue typical in beer production.
Before the discovery, historians thought a pocket of Pueblos in New Mexico did not have alcohol at all, despite being surrounded by other beer-making tribes, until the Spanish arrived with grapes and wine in the 16th century.
The tests were done using a highly sensitive set of scanning technologies at Sandia National Laboratories, a U.S. government facility that usually employs the gadgetry for national defense.
|Sandia researcher Ted Borek used gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyze vapors produced by mild heating of pot samples.
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 13:20 CST
An international archeological expedition to Lake Issyk Kul, high in the Kyrgyz mountains, proves the existence of an advanced civilization 25 centuries ago, equal in development to the Hellenic civilizations of the northern coast of the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
Miguel Angel Gutierrez
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 10:24 CST
Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.
Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political centre for the Aztec elite.
|A general view shows the 'Plaza de las Tres Culturas', or the plaza of the three cultures, in the central Tlatelolco area of Mexico City December 27, 2007. Archeologists have discovered the ruins of the 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought. The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signaling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed.
The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signaling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed.
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 10:05 CST
It has to be some sort of record. At no time over the five decades of sending robot craft into the heavens have so many spacecraft been on duty at such a variety of far-flung destinations or en route to their targets.
Ballistic buckshot of science gear is now strewn throughout the solar system - and in some cases, like Voyager hardware - have exited our cosmic neighborhood to become an interstellar mission.
But the march of time has also meant that more nations have honed the skills and know-how to explore the solar system. For example, Europe has dispatched probes to the Moon, Mars and Venus - and their Rosetta spacecraft is on a 10-year journey to investigate a comet in 2014.
Meanwhile, Japan's Kaguya and China's Chang'e 1 lunar orbiters have each just settled into an aggressive campaign of surveying the Moon. India is set to orbit the Moon with its Chandrayaan-1 in 2008, and the German space agency is also prepping for a future robotic lunar mission as is the United Kingdom.
All this action at the Moon - including the rekindling of Russian and U.S. lunar missions - bodes well for bolder ventures ever-deeper into the solar system by multiple nations.
|The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is operating its Kaguya Moon orbiter. The probe has made the world's first continuous reflectance spectra of the far side of the Moon in the visible and near infrared region - enabling a precise determination of the type and breakdown of minerals on the lunar surface.
Charles Q. Choi
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 10:02 CST
New technology could clean toxic messes from mines and create electricity at the same time.
Contaminated water seeping from coal and metal mines is a serious environmental hazard that endangers the safety of drinking water supplies and the health of plants and animals. This caustic pollution - loaded with metals such as arsenic, lead, copper, iron and cadmium - is currently difficult and costly to treat.
Environmental engineers at Pennsylvania State University are now developing a device that could both fight this environmental problem and provide a new source of energy.
The researchers tested a lab-scale version of their invention on fluids tainted with iron, similar to polluted water from mines. The device attacked the dissolved iron, removing electrons from it. This generated electricity while at the same time making the iron insoluble, thus efficiently pulling this contaminant from the water.
Fri, 28 Dec 2007 09:48 CST
The widow of TV "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin announced Thursday she will launch non-lethal research of whales in Antarctic waters next year in hopes of showing that Japan's scientific whale kill is a sham.
Tokyo has staunchly defended its annual cull of more than 1,000 whales as crucial for research, saying it is necessary to kill the whales to properly gather information about their eating, breeding and migratory habits.
Environmentalists and anti-whaling nations say the slaughter is commercial whaling in disguise, because much of the meat from the whales ends up being sold commercially.
Terri Irwin said that a whale watching program she started to honor her late husband would expand into scientific research in 2008. Steve Irwin, the high-profile wildlife show host and environmental campaigner, was killed by a stingray last year off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.