Science & Technology

Comet 2

Geminid meteor shower to occur December 12 - 14

Geminid meteors

Peak viewing for the 2014 Geminid meteor shower will probably occur on from late evening December 13 through dawn on December 14.
The peak night of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower will probably occur on the night of December 13 (morning of December 14). The night before (December 12-13) may offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. Geminid meteors tend to be few and far between at early evening, but intensify in number as evening deepens into late night. A last quarter moon will rise around midnight, but Geminid meteors are bright! This shower favors Earth's Northern Hemisphere, but it's visible from the Southern Hemisphere, too. If you're at a temperate latitude in the Southern Hemisphere, try waiting a little later - until close to midnight - to see the beginning of the Geminid shower.

Comment: In December 2012 NASA was able to catch one of the brightest fireballs observed by its network of meteor cameras in over four years of operation.

NASA video captures 2012 Geminid meteor shower fireball


Mastodons weren't hunted to extinction by Ice Age humans - they simply froze to death, new study finds

© National Post
Paleontology student Hillary McLean pieces together a tusk of an ancient mastodon, part of an extensive discovery unearthed from Snowmass, Colo., inside a workroom at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Despite popular belief that North American mastodons were hunted to extinction by Ice Age humans, a new Canadian-led study is claiming that the prehistoric beasts simply froze to death.

"To think of scattered populations of Ice Age people with primitive technology driving huge animals to extinction, to me is almost silly," said Grant Zazula, chief paleontologist for the Yukon Territory and the study's lead author.

"It's not human nature just to see everything in your path and want to kill it," he said.

The paper, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, carbon dated 36 mastodon bones from across Canada and the United States.
Comet 2

Rosetta's comet findings fuel debate on origins of Earths oceans

comet 67p water
© Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam
First measurements of comet's water ratio
ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet's oceans.

The measurements were made in the month following the spacecraft's arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov - Gerasimenko on 6 August. It is one of the most anticipated early results of the mission, because the origin of Earth's water is still an open question.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
© ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
Comet on 20 November. This mosaic comprises four individual NAVCAM images taken from 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 20 November 2014. The mosaic has been slightly rescaled, rotated, and cropped, and measures roughly 4.2 x 5.0 km.
One of the leading hypotheses on Earth's formation is that it was so hot when it formed 4.6 billion years ago that any original water content should have boiled off. But, today, two thirds of the surface is covered in water, so where did it come from?

In this scenario, it should have been delivered after our planet had cooled down, most likely from collisions with comets and asteroids. The relative contribution of each class of object to our planet's water supply is, however, still debated.

Comment: Take a good look at Comet 67's close-up. Does that look like an "icy snowball"? Yet the scientists interviewed on mainstream media will mindlessly quote those words when discussing this or that comet and profess to be puzzled when the pictures don't fit their expectations, even though the last few years of research have produced many such images. But they hang on to their theories for dear life. A marginalized, but much better explanation can be found in the Electric Universe theories of Wallace Thornhill.


Quantum teleportation of subatomic particles reaches 15.5 miles across optical fiber

© GAP, University of Geneva (UNIGE)
These crystals captured and stored quantum information at the end of the teleportation.
A new distance record has been set in the strange world of quantum teleportation.

In a recent experiment, the quantum state (the direction it was spinning) of a light particle instantly traveled 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) across an optical fiber, becoming the farthest successful quantum teleportation feat yet. Advances in quantum teleportation could lead to better Internet and communication security, and get scientists closer to developing quantum computers.

About five years ago, researchers could only teleport quantum information, such as which direction a particle is spinning, across a few meters. Now, they can beam that information across several miles.

Scientists estimate that there are nearly 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean

garbage in the ocean
We know the oceans are home to tons of plastic garbage, from discarded nylon fishing nets that ensnare sea turtles to packing straps that strangle the life out of marine mammals. But because all that plastic is coming from everywhere, it's difficult to tell how much of it, exactly, is floating around - an important question, given its pernicious effects on the ecosystem and possible toxic repercussions to humanity's dinner plate.

Thanks to an international research effort spanning six years, we now have a much better idea of the sheer bulk of plastic water pollution. The minimum count is 5.25 trillion plastic particles littering the seas, say scientists in a new study in PLOS ONE. All those teeny bits - the result of the gradual breakdown of larger plastics, as well as escaped nurdles and microbeads used in cosmetics - add up to 269,000 tons, or about the weight of 2,150 adult blue whales.
Cell Phone

More veiled Russophobia? Forbes names YotaPhone 2 'most disruptive smartphone' of 2014

© AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev
Head of Yota Devices Vladislav Martynov holds a Yotaphone with a dual screen during its presentation in central Moscow on December 2, 2014.
For once being disruptive is a good thing. Forbes magazine describes the new Russian designed YotaPhone 2 as 2014's Most Disruptive Smartphone. The review calls it exciting and innovative and is "a rare beast" with both a radical and conformist design.

Comment: Reviewer Ewan Spence failed to provide any real reasons for using the word 'disruptive' in the article title.

According to reviewer Ewan Spence, the developers created a product which combines features which makes it stand out among other smartphones. They are modern and innovative designs; the second e-Ink display on the back of the device and its unique software.

The model features a power-saving electronic paper-like screen on the back that displays basic information like a clock and message alerts and can also be used to read books. There are special apps just for the display and games are available too. A second regular display lights on only when needed for more complex tasks.

Comment: Yes, there is a learning curve for using the product, as well as distinct advantages when compared to the products of established market leaders like Samsung and Apple. Every company faces challenges when they release their products. In fact, YotaPhone 2 did extraordinarily well considering the fact that it is a new product and it is competing with established global leaders. This is not 'disruptive' as Forbes claims. It is disruptive to the sales of Samsung and Apple.It has become normal for Western leaders and their authoritarian followers to criticize anything Putin promotes.

Fireball 2

Russian scientist spies mountain-sized asteroid heading our way

In a video posted online Sunday, astrophysicist Vladimir Lipunov says the newly discovered asteroid could collide with Earth during its three-year orbital cycle. A giant meteor exploded over a Russian city in 2013.

Comment: What is NASA doing other than making self-calming statements like 'one-in-a-thousand-years' and 'there is no threat'? The NASA "gorilla" consumes 16 billion American tax dollars every year. And yet they're doing nothing to inform the public, or protect them, against what is probably humanity's biggest existential threat.


10 things you didn't know about spiders

© Wikimedia Commons
Just saying the word "spider" can elicit responses of fear or awe from people, but regardless of which side you fall on, there's a good chance that there is quite a bit you don't know about eight-legged arachnids. That's because, simply put, spiders are amazing creatures. There are 40,000 different species of spiders living on every continent except Antarctica, and nearly every one of those species is poisonous. Spiders can range in size from tiny to nearly the size of a small puppy. Here are some other amazing facts about these curious creatures.

Comment: Certainly amazing creatures deserving respect.


Biochemist captures images of liquid, crystallized DNA

liquid crystal DNA
© bibliotecapleyades
Liquid crystal DNA
These fascinating images, that on first inspection look like a Grateful Dead gatefold, are actually liquid DNA molecules crystallizing. They were captured by the artist and biochemist Linden Gledhill for a new project called MSSNG.

MSSNG is an ambitious program launched by the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. As scientists sequence the DNA of 10,000 families affected by autism, all the data collected will be made available as open source to other researchers around the world in an attempt to fill in the missing pieces surrounding the condition.

Paying attention makes touch-sensing brain cells fire rapidly and in sync

A step toward cracking the code of how brains work.

Whether we're paying attention to something we see can be discerned by monitoring the firings of specific groups of brain cells. Now, new work from Johns Hopkins shows that the same holds true for the sense of touch. The study brings researchers closer to understanding how animals' thoughts and feelings affect their perception of external stimuli.

The results were published Nov. 25 in the journal PLoS Biology.

"There is so much information available in the world that we cannot process it all," says Ernst Niebur, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Many researchers believe the brain copes with this by immediately throwing away most of what we take in -- that's called selective attention. But we need to be certain that what is thrown away is really the irrelevant part. We investigated how our neurons do that."

Comment: There is enough research to indicate, that consciously paying attention prevents one's brain from deteriorating. More so, ignoring reality and just going through the motions of life makes one open to myriad harmful influences and manipulation. If we are to become functioning and thinking human beings, we must make an effort to be aware and always pay attention.
'Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the world will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the 'past.' People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the 'Future.' -- Cassiopaeans, 09-28-02
Pay attention to this: