Science & Technology


Move Over, Silicon: Advances Pave Way For Powerful Carbon-Based Electronics

The new technology could find almost immediate use in radio electronics, such as cell phones and other wireless devices that require high power output.

Bypassing decades-old conventions in making computer chips, Princeton engineers developed a novel way to replace silicon with carbon on large surfaces, clearing the way for new generations of faster, more powerful cell phones, computers and other electronics.

Ursid Meteors

Comet 8P/Tuttle is coming and it is bringing a meteor shower with it. "We could be in for a Merry surprise on Dec. 22nd when Earth passes through a trail of comet dust," says astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute.

Previous returns of Comet Tuttle to the inner solar system have been attended by outbursts of meteors, most recently in 1980 and 1994. During those flurries, dozens of meteors per hour streamed from the constellation Ursa Minor--hence the name of the shower, "the Ursids."

©Chris Schur
Comet 8P/Tuttle photographed Dec. 2nd by Chris Schur of Payson, AZ. The 7th magnitude comet is visible through binoculars in the constellation Cassiopeia.
Better Earth

Dutch cops to ditch helicopters for airships in green bid

Dutch police Thursday said they would do their bit to fight climate change by using airships instead of helicopters to monitor protests and port security in Rotterdam.

"We want to do our little bit," the Police Chief for Rotterdam, Aad Meijboom, told the ANP news agency.


10,000 Earths Worth Of Fresh Dust Found Near Star Explosion

Astronomers have at last found definitive evidence that the universe's first dust - the celestial stuff that seeded future generations of stars and planets - was forged in the explosions of massive stars. The findings, made with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, are the most significant clue yet in the longstanding mystery of where the dust in our very young universe came from.

Scientists had suspected that exploding stars, or supernovae, were the primary source, but nobody had been able to demonstrate that they can create copious amounts of dust - until now. Spitzer's sensitive infrared detectors have found 10,000 Earth masses worth of dust in the blown-out remains of the well-known supernova remnant Cassiopeia A.

"Now we can say unambiguously that dust - and lots of it - was formed in the ejecta of the Cassiopeia A explosion. This finding was possible because Cassiopeia A is in our own galaxy, where it is close enough to study in detail," said Jeonghee Rho of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Rho is the lead author of a new report about the discovery appearing in the Jan. 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

This beautiful bulb might look like a Christmas ornament but it is the blown-out remains of a stellar explosion, or supernova. The remains, called Cassiopeia A, are shown here in an infrared composite from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Silicon gas is blue and argon gas is green, while red represents about 10,000 Earth masses worth of dust. Yellow shows areas where red and green overlap. The fact that the red and green do overlap indicates that this supernova is synthesizing dust and gas together. This is the smoking gun indicating that supernovae were significant suppliers of fresh dust in the very early universe -- something that was hard to demonstrate prior to the Spitzer observations.

Traffic jam mystery solved by mathematicians

Mathematicians from the University of Exeter have solved the mystery of traffic jams by developing a model to show how major delays occur on our roads, with no apparent cause. Many traffic jams leave drivers baffled as they finally reach the end of a tail-back to find no visible cause for their delay. Now, a team of mathematicians from the Universities of Exeter, Bristol and Budapest, have found the answer and published their findings in leading academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Asteroid on track for possible Mars hit

Talk about your cosmic pileups.

An asteroid similar to the one that flattened forests in Siberia in 1908 could plow into Mars sometime in the next few weeks, scientists said.

Researchers attached to NASA's Near-Earth Objects Program, who like to call themselves the Solar System Defense Team, have been tracking the asteroid for days.

The scientists, based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, put the chances that it will hit the Red Planet at about 1 in 300. That's better odds than any known asteroid has ever had of hitting Earth, except for the Siberian strike, the scientists said.

Meteors May Set Off Explosions of Biodiversity

If you woke up this morning and the newspaper headline screamed Meteor Headed for Earth, you'd think: That's not good. And you'd probably be right. But sometimes a little cosmic bombardment can be just what the doctor ordered. In a study published online in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers in Sweden say that 470 million years ago, meteor showers might have boosted our biodiversity.

Time is running out - literally, says scientist

Scientists have come up with the radical suggestion that the universe's end may come not with a bang but a standstill - that time could be literally running out and could, one day, stop altogether.

Hubble telescope photo of a supernova. Scientists use these to study distant galaxies
Monkey Wrench

Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation

Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.

In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.


Archaeologists find mysterious neolithic structure in Orkney dig

The sands of time have been rapidly eroding at the Orkney Bronze Age site, the Links of Noltland. Before everything is lost to the sea around the island of Westray, Historic Scotland have been carrying out a thorough excavation to learn everything they can.

The dig at the ancient dune-protected houses has now turned up an unexpected and impressive discovery dating to Neolithic times, archaeologists have announced following the conclusion of their work.