Science & Technology

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:


Scientists find brain mechanism that keeps us reaching for the glucose

© Unknown
British scientists have found a brain mechanism they think may drive our desire for glucose-rich food and say the discovery could one day lead to better treatments for obesity.

In experiments using rats, researchers at Imperial College London found a mechanism that appears to sense how much glucose is reaching the brain and prompts animals to seek more if it detects a shortfall. In people, the scientists said, it may play a role in driving our preference for sweet and starchy foods.

Glucose, a component of carbohydrates, is the main energy source used by brain cells.

Comment: As far as changing the diet goes, here is the latest science:


Ripples in space-time fabric could reveal 'strange stars'

purple quark
The three valence quarks that make up each proton account for about one percent of its mass; the rest comes from interactions among the quarks and gluons.
By looking for ripples in the fabric of space-time, scientists could soon detect "strange stars" - objects made of stuff radically different from the particles that make up ordinary matter, researchers say.

The protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms are made of more basic particles known as quarks. There are six types, or "flavors," of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange. Each proton or neutron is made of three quarks: Each proton is composed of two up quarks and one down quark, and each neutron is made of two down quarks and one up quark.

strangelet chart
Strangelet atom reaction.
In theory, matter can be made with other flavors of quarks as well. Since the 1970s, scientists have suggested that particles of "strange matter" known as strangelets - made of equal numbers of up, down and strange quarks - could exist. In principle, strange matter should be heavier and more stable than normal matter, and might even be capable of converting ordinary matter it comes in contact with into strange matter. However, lab experiments have not yet created any strange matter, so its existence remains uncertain.

One place strange matter could naturally be created is inside neutron stars, the remnants of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. Neutron stars are typically small, with diameters of about 12 miles (19 kilometers) or so, but are so dense that they weigh as much as the sun. A chunk of a neutron star the size of a sugar cube can weigh as much as 100 million tons.

Under the extraordinary force of this extreme weight, some of the up and down quarks that make up neutron stars could get converted into strange quarks, leading to strange stars made of strange matter, researchers say.

Comment: You would think that the Earth should be experiencing gravity waves continuously since they should be coming from any cosmic event that significantly disturbs the fabric of space-time, as they describe it. If you think about other kinds of waves, granted we primarily have knowledge about those that take place on the planet, we have earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves and airwaves as models. Every time you walk into a room, you are disturbing the air around you. A land mass creaks and you have radiating ground waves. These are observable because they are motion and we are equipped with motion sensors. So, if a dying star explodes into a supernova, the force expelled should send a literal tsunami of telltale gravitational waves. These should be detectable if they are there. Any particle possesses wave properties.

The first LIGO hunted the waves for nearly a decade and found none - limited range and sensitivity? or inadequate filters? Or, is the space-time aspect a not-fully-understood game-changer? According to Einstein's theory of relativity, when a gravitational wave arrives, space-time is distorted. Are we unable to detect this motion because we are in the same space-time as the occurrence, or because we are within our own gravity wave or because what is relative just is?

Strangelets have been thought to be a concern of sorts. Some scientists believe their composition has the properties that would "puncture" planets and leave tracer exit craters. Others speculate that when a strangelet comes into contact with ordinary matter, it hits a nucleus that is immediately catalyzed and converted into strange matter, and the process keeps going until all matter in the vicinity is converted. If true, you can imagine the problem, especially when scientists produce this peculiar particle in the collider at Brookhaven. The "strange matter" hypothesis remains unproven and no one, so far, has witnessed the little assimilator in action!

Strange stars sure make strange articles!


NASA's 'Curiosity' discovers more evidence for lakes, and possibly life, on Mars

© Handout/AFP/Getty Images
Artist's depiction shows water in Gale Crater on Mars
Billions of years ago, a lake once filled the 96-mile- (154-km) wide crater being explored by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, bolstering evidence that the planet most like Earth in the solar system was suitable for microbial life, scientists said on Monday.

The new findings combine more than two years of data collected by the rover since its sky-crane landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012.

Scientists discovered stacks of rocks containing water-deposited sediments inclined toward the crater's center, which now sports a three-mile (5 km) mound called Mount Sharp. That would mean that Mount Sharp didn't exist during a period of time roughly 3.5 billion years ago when the crater was filled with water, Curiosity researchers told reporters during a conference call.

Comment: Evidence of water was also discovered a year ago: And "unambiguous evidence for a shoreline" was discovered in 2009:


Dominant ravens sabotage others' relationships

If we're lucky, this is behavior we haven't seen since high school. The coolest individuals can't stand to see others gaining social status, so they cut down any peers who are starting to elevate themselves. Ravens have to live with this behavior all the time. When the top-dog birds see others building new relationships, they attack these birds or put themselves in the middle. They may as well be spreading rumors or defacing each other's lockers.

Wild ravens living in Austria were the ones to reveal this behavior to scientists. The ravens, a group of about 300 birds in the Austrian Alps, have discovered that a local zoo is a convenient source of food. So the wild birds hang around the captive animals year-round (they especially like the wild boar enclosure) and steal their provisions. Because of this, they're used to seeing humans nearby.

For years, scientists have been capturing these birds, marking them with colored leg bands, and studying their social behavior. Now University of Vienna cognitive biologist Jorg Massen and his coauthors asked whether the most dominant birds might be sabotaging those lower down in the group.

Animal Magnetism: How the magnetic field influences animal navigation

© Revwarheart.
The migration of the monarch butterfly seems like it’s magic, but it’s actually guided by the magnetic field.
Sometimes, ecology is quite visible. When an owl catches a mouse, we see that connection very clearly. When a river floods, we see how water shapes a landscape.

Ecology can also be less visible. The soil is a good example of this: There is so much life in that brown material beneath our feet, but since we live on top of it, soil life can be difficult for us to visualize.

Sometimes, ecology is invisible.

What forces guide monarch butterflies as they migrate to a place they've never seen? When animals interact with the Earth's magnetic field, these invisible influences play a big role in animals' behavior.

Is intelligent design the answer? Laying out the evolutionary logic

Monday we published a paper in the journal BIO-Complexity that demonstrates that enzymes can't evolve genuinely new functions by unguided means. We argue that design by a very sophisticated intelligent agent is the best explanation for their origin. I want to take some time to lay out our argument against evolution and for intelligent design. It's important, because it reveals the logical fallacy in most evolutionary thinking.

Comment: You can read Gauger's response to Larry Moran's rebuttal here. It's amazing the lengths that neo-Darwinists will go to avoid the obvious: that their theories are woefully incomplete, violate common sense, and are founded on unfounded and unverifiable speculations. But the alternative is just too frightening: that intelligence might be somehow a fundamental aspect of reality. That's not even to say 'God' has to enter the equation (as Thomas Nagel argues). But it seems that even the possibility of such a theistic explanation is enough to give materialists the willies. Perhaps underneath that hard, rational exterior, they're just really closet God-fearers, terrified that such a cosmic superpower might exist and smite them with his holy wrath for being so obtuse.