Science & Technology


The Belfast camera snapping planets across the universe

Ten new planets have been discovered by astronomers at Queen's University, it can be revealed today.

The extra-solar planets were spotted by high-tech "WASP" cameras on the Canary Islands and South Africa during a six month period.

Don Pollaco
Queen's scientist Dr Don Pollacco says the Belfast-built cameras have sparked a planet-finding production line


NASA's GLAST Satellite Gets Twin Solar Panels In Prep For Launch

Preparations for launching NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope (GLAST) satellite are underway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. NASA KSC's "NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report" on March 20, noted that GLAST's twin solar panels have been attached. The panels will provide electrical power for GLAST after its launch into earth orbit.

At the Astrotech payload processing facility, General Dynamics technicians check GLAST before the installation of the solar arrays, as an overhead crane is lowered over it.


Smallest Black Hole Ever Discovered Has Amazing Tidal Force

Using a new technique, two NASA scientists have identified the lightest known black hole. With a mass only about 3.8 times greater than our Sun and a diameter of only 15 miles, the black hole lies very close to the minimum size predicted for black holes that originate from dying stars.

black hole
In this top-down illustration of a black hole and its surrounding disk, gas spiraling toward the black hole piles up just outside it, creating a traffic jam. The traffic jam is closer in for smaller black holes, so X-rays are emitted on a shorter timescale.


Mysterious Crater Widens to Antarctica

A new report of tiny beads of meteor impact glass strewn high in Antarctica's Transantarctic Mountains may expand a debris field to a tenth of Earth's surface -- despite no sign of the crater which spewed out the molten rock 800,000 years ago.


Transparent Computer Monitors? Engineers Make First 'Active Matrix' Display Using Nanowires

Engineers have created the first "active matrix" display using a new class of transparent transistors and circuits, a step toward realizing applications such as e-paper, flexible color monitors and "heads-up" displays in car windshields.


Shooting Star Shower Spotted on Mars

A shower of shooting stars has been recorded by instruments on Mars for the first time, astronomers say.

Meteors have been spotted before by the Mars rovers, but no device has ever detected a full shower until now.

United Kingdom astronomers predicted the event by tracking a comet's path near Mars, then comparing their forecast with Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) satellite data of the red planet's ionosphere - the upper reaches of atmosphere teeming with charged particles.

Monkey Wrench

British team makes mixed human animal embryos

Human Embryo
The Newcastle cybrids lived for three days
and the largest grew to contain 32 cells

Embryos containing both human and animal material have been created in Britain for the first time, a month before the House of Commons is to vote on new laws to regulate the controversial research.

A team at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne announced tonight that it had successfully generated "admixed embryos" by adding human DNA to empty cow eggs, in the first experiment of its kind in the UK.


Hypercubes Could Be Building Blocks of Nanocomputers

Multi-dimensional structures called hypercubes may act as the building blocks for tomorrow's nanocomputers - machines made of such tiny elements that they are dominated not by forces that we're familiar with every day, but by quantum properties.

Hypercubes in two, three, four, and five dimensions

Evil Rays

Humans have more distinctive hearing than animals, study shows

Do humans hear better than animals? It is known that various species of land and water-based living creatures are capable of hearing some lower and higher frequencies than humans are capable of detecting. However, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere have now for the first time demonstrated how the reactions of single neurons give humans the capability of detecting fine differences in frequencies better than animals.


Mysterious Egyptian Glass Formed by Meteorite Strike, Study Says

Strange specimens of natural glass found in the Egyptian desert are products of a meteorite slamming into Earth between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, scientists have concluded.

Dakhla glass
Fragments of so-called Dakhla glass appear in clumps of ancient lake sediment excavated in Egypt's Western Desert. Scientists have concluded that the glass is the product of a meteorite slamming into Earth between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.