Science & Technology


Earth's changing magnetism revealed

Earth's Magnetism
© Press Association
Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field's weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the western hemisphere.
These high-resolution images show the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects our planet.

They have been released by the European Space Agency (ESA) from its three-satellite Swarm Mission which was launched last year.

Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field's weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the western hemisphere.

In other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the magnetic field has strengthened since January.

The latest measurements also confirm the movement of magnetic North towards Siberia.

These changes are based on the magnetic signals stemming from Earth's core.

Drone helicopter will target civilians

© Desert Wolf
The Orwellian use of non-lethal weapons that can have deadly results just got another boost. A South African company called Desert Wolf ("Be Anywhere, See Everywhere") has developed a drone called the Skunk Riot Control Copter which can be equipped with pepper spray and 4 high-capacity paint ball barrels to strafe the target crowd of protesters.

While this is the first announcement that states an intention to imminently deploy this type of weaponry, it is not the first of its type; non-lethal weapons-equipped drones have been in development for quite some time and are a hair's breadth away from seeing action across the planet.

The widespread acceptance of pepper spray - a chemical weapon that is stated as such by the founder of the product - has found its way into the hands of police and military the world over. As an increasing number of locations become flashpoints for unrest among worsening economic conditions and manufactured conflicts, the evolution of non-lethal weapons continues to be touted as a more humane way to address uprisings. The global drone arms race and the proliferation of non-lethal weapons creates a tempting integration of both technologies.

Comment: Related...

Terminator Obama-2013: The Rise of Domestic Killer Drones

Hysteria! U.S. states await key drones decision - and the billions that could follow

Bats, butterflies, roaches, mosquitoes, and birds: The coming micro-drone revolution


University of Texas astronomers discovery possible sister to sun

© ESO/L. Calcada
A star has been found that may be a sister of our Sun, born in the same cloud of gas and dust in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Sun, the Earth and the other planets coalesced some 4.54 billion years ago within a such a cloud, probably with thousands of other stars. This age comes from radiometric measures of radioactive isotopes and their decay products in meteorites, the oldest rocks we can handle, while there is plenty of observational evidence for ongoing star formation elsewhere in the galaxy.

Only last week, news emerged of more than 300 previously-unrecognised clusters of young stars, still largely obscured by dust. In time, and usually within a few hundred million years, such stars emerge from their dusty cocoons and drift apart to follow their own orbits about the centre of the galaxy. Being built from the same raw material gives each of the stars precisely the same chemical makeup, while their orbits too can point to a shared origin.

These clues have been used by a team of astronomers led by the University of Texas to identify the Sun's potential sibling. Still unnamed but known as HD 162826 or by a number of other catalogue designations, it is plainly visible through binoculars high in our summer night sky. Our chart depicts a band of sky more than 50° wide and centred some 70° high in our SSE at midnight at present. Vega in Lyra is by far the most obvious star, though the equally-bright Arcturus in Bootes stands another 15° beyond the chart's right-hand border.

Scientists pin down elusive gravitational constant

Gravitational Force
© marekuliasz/Shutterstock
In equations formulated by Sir Isaac Newton, the force of gravity grows with the mass of two objects and gets weaker the more distant the objects are from each other.
A fundamental constant that sets the size of the gravitational force between all objects has finally been pinned down using the quirky quantum behavior of tiny atoms.

The new results could help set the official value of the gravitational constant, and may even help scientists find evidence of extra space-time dimensions, said study co-author Guglielmo Tino, an atomic physicist at the University of Florence in Italy.
Take 2

Why forensic science isn't really science and how it could be killing innocent people

Nine days before death row inmate Earl Washington's scheduled execution, his lawyers informed the state of Virginia that it was about to murder an innocent man. Forensic analysis of semen introduced at trial had convinced the jury that Washington, whose mental abilities matched those of a 10-year-old, had brutally raped and murdered a young woman in 1982. Washington's lawyers uncovered evidence that the analysis was faulty. The state halted the impending execution, and following a gubernatorial pardon, Washington was released from prison in 2001. He had been there for 17 years.

How could forensic evidence, widely seen as factual and unbiased, nearly send an innocent person to his death? The answer is profoundly disturbing - and suggests that for every Earl Washington freed, untold more are sent to their deaths. Far from an infallible science, forensics is a decades-long experiment in which undertrained lab workers jettison the scientific method in favor of speedy results that fit prosecutors' hunches. No one knows exactly how many people have been wrongly imprisoned - or executed - due to flawed forensics. But the number, most experts agree, is horrifyingly high. The most respected scientific organization in the country has revealed how deeply, fundamentally unscientific forensics is. A complete overhaul of our evidence analysis is desperately needed. Without it, the number of falsely convicted will only keep growing.

Asteroid-turned-comet 2013 UQ4 Catalina brightens

C/2013 UQ4
© Novichonok and Prystavski
Comet C/2013 UQ4 Catalina as imaged from the iTelescope observatory at Siding Spring, Australia.
Though ISON may have fizzled in early 2014, we've certainly had a bevy of binocular comets to track this year. Thus far in 2014, we've had comets R1 Lovejoy, K1 PanSTARRS, and E2 Jacques reach binocular visibility. Now, and asteroid-turned-comet is set to put on a fine show this summer for northern hemisphere observers.

Veteran stargazer and Universe Today contributor Bob King told the tale last month of how the asteroid formerly known as 2013 UQ4 became comet 2013 UQ4 Catalina. Discovered last year on October 23rd 2013 during the routine Catalina Sky Survey searching for Near Earth Objects based outside of Tucson Arizona, this object was of little interest until early this year.

Nanotechnology: Reduction of particle size modifies magnetic properties of materials

Nano technology
© Unknown
Iranian researchers from Isfahan University of Technology modified the properties of a magnetic material by using nanotechnology, which has many applications in various industries.

Barium ferrite is a magnetic material that is used in the production of permanent magnets, magnetic sorption environment and microwave adsorbents. Size, structure, and magnetic properties of the material highly depend on the production conditions and the nature of the raw material used in the production process.

According to the supervisor of the research, Dr. Parviz Kameli, effort was made in this research to investigate the produced barium ferrite nanoparticles and the effect of re-cooking temperature on magnetic properties of the final product.

In the present studies, various methods, including sol-gel or hydrothermal methods, have usually been used for the production of barium ferrite nanoparticles. But in this research, the nanoparticles have been produced through co-precipitation method in the presence of high concentration of hydroxide ions and low process temperature.
Fireball 2

Fireball meteors emit unique radio wave signals

After 50 years of trying, physicists have tuned in to the radio waves emitted by fireballs streaking through Earth's atmosphere.

A meteor with a tail as bright, or brighter, than Venus is known as a fireball - the Chelyabinsk meteor that broke apart over Russia early last year is an example. At its brightest, the Chelyabinsk fireball appeared brighter than the sun.

Fireballs ionise nearby air as they barrel through Earth's atmosphere, generating a super-bright plasma trail. In 1958, Gerald Hawkins, then at Boston University, predicted that this plasma should produce radio waves as it cools. But hunts for these radio emissions were inconclusive at best.

Now we know that Hawkins was right. Kenneth Obenberger at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and his colleagues were searching for mysterious events called radio bursts in data from the Long Wavelength Array, an observatory in New Mexico. Radio bursts show up as points of radiation in images. But to the team's surprise, analysis of 11,000 hours of data included evidence of 10 low-frequency radio bursts that appeared smudged across the sky.

Comment: The Obenberger team and New Scientist seem to be behind times, perhaps this stems from being loyal to mainstream models?
The plasma tails of certain meteors do become turbulent, says Keay, and they are permeated by a magnetic field: Earth's. "The plasma is swirling so fast that the magnetic field can be scrambled up like spaghetti." And therein lies a source of energy for VLF waves.

~Colin Keay, Listening to Leonids (2001)
The team should read Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book, which drops plenty of explanations from the winning Electric Universe model. Demystifying phenomena like how fireballs not only produce VLF radio waves but also electrophonic phenomena which make simultaneous seeing and hearing of fireballs possible (despite being too far removed by the speed of sound), a possible source for the strange sounds heard all over the world these latest years. These and many other not commonly acknowledged interactions of our plasma rich universe, are explained there in perfectly sound and ordinary terms, such as lightning.

Arrow Down

US citizens to be guinea pigs for GMO banana experiments

GMO bananas uganda
© AFP Photo / Seyllou Diallo
A vitamin-enhanced 'super-banana' developed by scientists is to be tested on humans. The trials are to take place in the US over a six-week period. Researchers aim to start growing the fruit in Uganda by 2020.

The bananas are 'super' because they have been genetically engineered to have increased levels of vitamin A - a deficiency of which can be fatal.

Hundreds of thousands die annually worldwide from vitamin A deficiencies, while many others go blind, the project's leader told AFP.

"The consequences of vitamin A deficiency are dire with 650,000-700,000 children worldwide dying...each year and at least another 300,000 going blind," Professor James Dale stated.

"Good science can make a massive difference here by enriching staple crops such as Ugandan bananas with pro-vitamin A and providing poor and subsistence-farming populations with nutritionally rewarding food," Dale said.

The project was created by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Comment: The biotech and Big Ag industries usually try to pull the wool over the public eyes by claiming that these franken-foods will somehow be more beneficial. However real research on the effects in humans and animals has shown repeatedly that they cause devastating health consequences.

GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food in Humans
How to Win a GMO Debate: 10 Facts Why Genetically Modified Food is Bad
Could GMOs be behind your digestive problems?

Comet 2

New Comet: P/2014 L2 (NEOWISE)

Cbet nr. 3901, issued on 2014, June 15, announces the discovery of a comet (~ magnitude 16.5) by the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) team on images taken with the NEOWISE satellite on 2014, June 07.4. The new comet has been designated P/2014 L2 (NEOWISE).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 12 unfiltered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely on 2014, June 15.4 from H06 (iTelescope network, New Mexico) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet with a tail nearly 15" long in PA 250 with coma about 8" in diameter.

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)
P/2014 L2, Neowise
© Remanzacco Observatory
M.P.E.C. 2014-L61 assigns the following preliminary elliptical orbital elements to comet P/2014 L2: T 2014 Aug. 4.59; e= 0.43; Peri. = 190.6; q = 2.11; Incl.= 5.20