Science & Technology


Nasa Optimistic Causes of Soyuz Ballistic Descent Will Be Removed

NASA is concerned by the two consecutive ballistic descents of the Russian manned Soyuz spacecraft, but is certain that Russia will identify and remove their causes, Deputy Director of the Human Space Flight Program-Russia Mark Bowman told journalists on Monday.


Mystery Of Infamous 'New England Dark Day' Solved By Tree Rings

At noon, it was black as night. It was May 19, 1780 and some people in New England thought judgment day was at hand. Accounts of that day, which became known as 'New England's Dark Day,' include mentions of midday meals by candlelight, night birds coming out to sing, flowers folding their petals,and strange behavior from animals. The mystery of this day has been solved by researchers at the University of Missouri who say evidence from tree rings reveals massive wildfires as the likely cause, one of several theories proposed after the event, but dismissed as 'simple and absurd.'

Comment: For an in-depth look at dendochronology and some "really dark nights" see The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets by Laura Knight-Jadczyk.

Monkey Wrench

Neolithic tools found in western Iran


Iranian and Belgian archeologists have found Neolithic stone tools in Iran's Yafteh Cave located in the western Luristan Province.

The tools and other remains found in the cave's late Ice Age sediments show that Persian Neolithics were very similar to their European peers.


Where did all the sunspots go - an ice age cometh?

The spotless Sun, as it appeared yesterday at 12:48 p.m. The Sun's spotlessness is giving rise to speculation of another Little Ice Age.

With the debate focused on a warming Earth, the icy consequences of a cooler future have not been considered

You probably haven't heard much of Solar Cycle 24, the current cycle that our sun has entered, and I hope you don't. If Solar Cycle 24 becomes a household term, your lifestyle could be taking a dramatic turn for the worse. That of your children and their children could fare worse still, say some scientists, because Solar Cycle 24 could mark a time of profound long-term change in the climate. As put by geophysicist Philip Chapman, a former NASA astronaut-scientist and former president of the National Space Society, "It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age."

Comment: What has SoTT been saying for ages?


Where Mathematics And Astrophysics Meet

The mathematicians were trying to extend an illustrious result in their field, the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. The astrophysicists were working on a fundamental problem in their field, the problem of gravitational lensing. That the two groups were in fact working on the same question is both expected and unexpected: The "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" is well known throughout the sciences, but every new instance produces welcome insights and sheer delight.

Einstein rings
©NASA, ESA, and the SLACS Survey team: A. Bolton (Harvard/Smithsonian), S. Burles (MIT), L. Koopmans (Kapteyn), T. Treu (UCSB), and L. Moustakas (JPL/Caltech)
Einstein rings produced by a galaxy behind the lensing galaxy. The sources are actually extended and that is why one sometimes sees arcs rather than complete rings.


Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo

In 2005, Museum Victoria's expedition to the Gogo fossil sites in north Western Australia, led by Dr John Long, made a swag of spectacular fossil discoveries, including that of a complete fish, Gogonasus, showing unexpected features similar to early land animals.

©Museum Victoria
Placoderm gives birth.

Stop Web Site Appears Down's (AMZN) Web site appeared to down early Friday afternoon.

Several Dow Jones employees in various locations were unable to call up the site.

Attempts to contact Amazon weren't immediately successful.


Building mirrors on the moon


When astronomers peer up at the sky through the lens of a telescope situated on the Earth's surface, they have to deal with the adsorbtion and blurring of light by the Earth's atmosphere. This is one of the reasons space-based telescopes can be so powerful: the light they observe is not affected by the atmosphere. New work presented at this week's meeting of the American Astronomical Society describes how astronauts could build mirrors - capable of powering telescopes or reflecting solar light - with relative ease on the lunar surface using materials found there.

Evil Rays

Data show Antarctic ice stream radiating seismically

A seismologist at Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have found seismic signals from a giant river of ice in Antarctica that makes California's earthquake problem seem trivial.

Douglas A. Wiens, Ph.D., Washington University professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and colleagues combined seismological and global positioning system (GPS) analyses to reveal two bursts of seismic waves from an ice stream in Antarctica every day, each one equivalent to a magnitude seven earthquake. The GPS analyses were performed by Pennsylvania State and Newcastle University researchers.


Asteroid may have killed Iceman

BERGAMO, Italy -- A British scientist said a prehistoric mummy known as the Iceman may have been killed by an asteroid.