Science & Technology


Newly Discovered Galaxy Cluster In Early Stage Of Formation Is Farthest Away Ever Identified

UC Irvine scientists have discovered a cluster of galaxies in a very early stage of formation that is 11.4 billion light years from Earth - the farthest of its kind ever to be detected. These galaxies are so distant that the universe was in its infancy when their light was emitted.

The galaxy proto-cluster, named LBG-2377, is giving scientists an unprecedented look at galaxy formation and how the universe has evolved. Before this discovery, the farthest known event like this was approximately 9 billion light years away.

Two galaxies interacting
©University of California - Irvine
Two galaxies interacting.

Two Yellow Supergiant Eclipsing Binary Systems Discovered: First Of Their Kind Ever Found

Astronomers have spied a faraway star system that is so unusual, it was one of a kind -- until its discovery helped them pinpoint a second one that was much closer to home. In a paper published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Ohio State University astronomers and their colleagues suggest that these star systems are the progenitors of a rare type of supernova.

yellow supergiant
©Kevin Gecsi, Ohio State University
Ohio State University astronomers and their colleagues have discovered a new type of star system, one that may be the progenitor of a rare type of supernova. The star system is called a "yellow supergiant eclipsing binary" -- it contains two very bright, massive yellow stars that are very closely orbiting each other. In fact, the stars are so close together that a large amount of stellar material is shared between them, so that the shape of the system resembles a peanut.
Bizarro Earth

Alpine iceman reveals Stone Age secrets

Some 5,300 years after his violent death, a Stone Age man found frozen in the Alps is slowly revealing his secrets to a global team of scientists.

But despite more than a decade of high-tech efforts by geneticists, botanists and engineers many questions about his life and death remain unsolved.

©South Tyrol Archaeology Museum
Archeologists believe the mummy may have been a shaman.

New Breed Of Cognitive Robot Is A Lot Like A Puppy

Designers of artificial cognitive systems have tended to adopt one of two approaches to building robots that can think for themselves: classical rule-based artificial intelligence or artificial neural networks. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and combining the two offers the best of both worlds, say a team of European researchers who have developed a new breed of cognitive, learning robot that goes beyond the state of the art.

©ICT Results
A new robot is able to learn by itself and can solve increasingly complex tasks with no additional programming.

3-D Imaging: First Insights Into Magnetic Fields

3-D images are not only useful in medicine; the observation of internal structures is also invaluable in many other fields of scientific investigation. Recently, researchers from the Hahn-Meitner-Institute (HMI) in Berlin in cooperation with University of Applied Sciences in Berlin have succeeded, for the first time, in a direct, three-dimensional visualisation of magnetic fields inside solid, non-transparent materials.

magnetic field of a dipol magnet
©Hahn-Meitner-Institut Berlin
The magnetic field of a dipol magnet visualized by spinpolarized neutrons.

Huge Meteorite Impact Found In UK -- Britain's Largest

Evidence of the biggest meteorite ever to hit the British Isles has been found by scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen. The scientists believe that a large meteorite hit northwest Scotland about 1.2 billion years ago near the Scottish town of Ullapool.

©University Of Oxford
If there had been human observers in Scotland 1.2 billion years ago they would have seen quite a show.

Previously it was thought that unusual rock formations in the area had been formed by volcanic activity. But the team report in the journal Geology that they found evidence buried in a layer of rock which they now believe is the ejected material thrown out during the formation of a meteorite crater. Ejected material from the huge meteorite strike is scattered over an area about 50 kilometres across, roughly centred on the northern Scottish town of Ullapool.

Neurons Hard Wired To Tell Left From Right

It's well known that the left and right sides of the brain differ in many animal species and this is thought to influence cognitive performance and social behaviour. For instance, in humans, the left half of the brain is concerned with language processing whereas the right side is better at comprehending musical melody.

Now researchers from University College London (UCL) have pinpointed for the first time the left/right differences in how brains are wired at the level of individual cells. To do this, a research team led by Stephen Wilson looked at left and right-sided neurons (nerve cells) in a part of the brain called the habenula.

By causing habenular neurons to produce a bright green fluorescent protein they saw that they form remarkable "spiral-shaped" axons, the long nerve fibres that act as the nervous system's transmission lines.

Cuneiform clay tablet translated for the first time, Describes Asteroid Impact

A cuneiform clay tablet that has puzzled scholars for over 150 years has been translated for the first time. The tablet is now known to be a contemporary Sumerian observation of an asteroid impact at Köfels, Austria and is published in a new book, A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels' Impact Event.

Baffling Clay Tablet Finally Translated: Asteroid Struck Earth 5000 Years Ago, Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

A clay tablet that has baffled scientists for 150 years has been identified as a witness's account of the asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Cuneiform Tablet
©London Times
The clay tablet, which is 6cm in diameter

Smart Clothes: Textiles That Track Your Health

Garments that can measure a wearer's body temperature or trace their heart activity are just entering the market, but the European project BIOTEX weaves new functions into smart textiles. Miniaturised biosensors in a textile patch can now analyse body fluids, even a tiny drop of sweat, and provide a much better assessment of someone's health.

smart textiles
BIOTEX weaves new functions into smart textiles. Miniaturized biosensors in a textile patch can now analyze body fluids, even a tiny drop of sweat, and provide a good assessment of someone's health.

It is 7 o'clock in the morning. You check yourself in the mirror, adjust your collar, and consider the hectic day ahead. But at least you know that the stress won't damage your health, for this is no ordinary set of clothes you are wearing. Embedded within the fabric are numerous sensors, constantly monitoring your vital signs. If danger signs are detected, the garment is programmed to contact your doctor - and send a text message telling you to take it easy.