Science & Technology
Map


Umbrella

Meteoroids Hit Atmosphere In Atomic-Size Blasts

Secret data from military satellites in orbit thousands of miles above Earth show that the planet is continually bombarded by big meteoroids that explode in blasts the size of atomic detonations. The data, from spacecraft meant to watch for rocket firings and nuclear explosions, were declassified recently by the Defense Department and are to appear later this year in a book.

From 1975 to 1992, the satellites detected 136 explosions high in the atmosphere, an average of eight a year. The blasts are calculated to have intensities roughly equal to 500 to 15,000 tons of high explosive, or the power of small atomic bombs. Experts who have analyzed the data are publishing it in the book, Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, say that the detection rate is probably low and that the actual bombardment rate might be 10 times higher, with 80 or so blasts occurring each year.
Telescope

Very Large Array Retooling For 21st-century Science

An international project to make the world's most productive ground-based telescope 10 times more capable has reached its halfway mark and is on schedule to provide astronomers with an extremely powerful new tool for exploring the Universe. The National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope now has half of its giant, 230-ton dish antennas converted to use new, state-of-the-art digital electronics to replace analog equipment that has served since the facility's construction during the 1970s.

VLA Antennas
©NRAO/AUI/NSF
VLA antennas getting modern electronics to meet new scientific challenges.
Info

Very Young Found To Process Fear Memories In Unique Way

Very young brains process memories of fear differently than more mature ones, new research indicates. The work significantly advances scientific understanding of when and how fear is stored and unlearned, and introduces new thinking on the implications of fear experience early in life.

baby fear
©iStockphoto
Very young brains process memories of fear differently than more mature ones, new research indicates. The work significantly advances scientific understanding of when and how fear is stored and unlearned, and introduces new thinking on the implications of fear experience early in life.
Clock

Most Accurate Clock Ever: 'Crystal Of Light' Clock Surpasses Accuracy Of NIST-F1 Fountain Clock

A next-generation atomic clock that tops previous records for accuracy in clocks based on neutral atoms has been demonstrated by physicists at JILA, a joint institute of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder. The new clock, based on thousands of strontium atoms trapped in grids of laser light, surpasses the accuracy of the current U.S. time standard based on a "fountain" of cesium atoms.

stronium clock
©Greg Kuebler/JILA
JILA's strontium atomic clock is now the world's most accurate clock based on neutral atoms.
Stormtrooper

Scientists search for the seat of evil

At the forefront of the brain or buried near its stem is the glue of civility. It is here, science believes, that nature first raises its hand in discipline.

Psychopaths
©Signs of the Times

Comment: Check the Political Ponerology Blog and the Political Ponerology site.

Gear

'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark': Russia's Academy of Sciences may elect businessmen, politicians

Certain Russian politicians and businessmen could be elected members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), a leading Russian business daily said Monday.

Kommersant said that Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin, leading banker Garegin Tosunyan, Khabarovsk Region governor Viktor Ishayev and senator Gleb Fetisov would be likely to seek election to the RAS.

"I believe if a person occupies a public position and is a good academic, he should not be banned from becoming an RAS member," academician Alexander Chubaryan said.
Light Saber

Laser Beam Believed To Set Record For Intensity

If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory.
Sheeple

Sheep in human clothing - scientists reveal our flock mentality

Have you ever arrived somewhere and wondered how you got there? Scientists at the University of Leeds believe they may have found the answer, with research that shows that humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals.
Bulb

Scientist postulates 4 aspects of 'humaniqueness' differentiating human and animal cognition

Shedding new light on the great cognitive rift between humans and animals, a Harvard University scientist has synthesized four key differences in human and animal cognition into a hypothesis on what exactly differentiates human and animal thought.

In new work presented for the first time at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Marc Hauser, professor of psychology, biological anthropology, and organismic and evolutionary biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, presents his theory of "humaniqueness," the factors that make human cognition special. He presents four evolved mechanisms of human thought that give us access to a wide range of information and the ability to find creative solutions to new problems based on access to this information.

"Animals share many of the building blocks that comprise human thought, but paradoxically, there is a great cognitive gap between humans and animals," Hauser says. "By looking at key differences in cognitive abilities, we find the elements of human cognition that are uniquely human. The challenge is to identify which systems animals and human share, which are unique, and how these systems interact and interface with one another."
Bulb

MIT: No easy answers in evolution of human language

The evolution of human speech was far more complex than is implied by some recent attempts to link it to a specific gene, says Robert Berwick, professor of computational linguistics at MIT.

Berwick will describe his ideas about language in a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Sunday, Feb. 17. The session is called "Mind of a Toolmaker," and explores the use of evolutionary research in understanding human abilities.

Some researchers in recent years have speculated that mutations in a gene called Foxp2 might have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human language. That was based on research showing that the gene seems to be connected to language ability because some mutations to that gene produce specific impairments to language use, and because our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, lack both these gene mutations and the capacity for language. But the claim that the gene mutation is directly connected to the development of language is very unlikely to be right, says Berwick, who holds appointments in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Top