Science & Technology
Robert Roy Britt
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 15:28 CST
For years astronomers have known that the upper atmospheres of Saturn and other giant planets are hotter than can be explained by absorbed sunlight. Today the mystery deepened.
The phenomenon has long been blamed on a mechanism similar to what creates the aurora, or Northern Lights on Earth. On Earth, magnetic energy in the magnetosphere drives the aurora and heats the upper atmosphere.
Michael Prescott's Blog
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 10:06 CST
Item: Nineteenth century physicist William Crookes, later knighted for his contributions to science, conducts a series of seances with the young medium Florence Cook and declares her to be genuine. Crookes' detractors not only allege that he has taken leave of his senses, they insinuate that he is having an illicit affair with Florence. Though there is no evidence to support these claims, they continue to this day. Crookes saves his reputation only by retreating from the study of the paranormal.
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 09:49 CST
What revelations and evils await us with the forthcoming debut of "wikileaks?"
Here is the hype from the placemarker website:
New Scientist Print Edition
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 09:43 CST
To animals unfortunate enough to fall in, it was a death trap. To palaeontologists, it was a sensational discovery. Now the first detailed analysis of a spectacular cache of fossilised prehistoric "marsupial lions", giant wombats and kangaroos, owls and parrots discovered in a cave in Australia suggests that humans killed off the continent's megafauna.
|©Clay Bryce, Western Australian Museum
|First-known complete skeleton of the marsupial 'lion' Thylacoleo carnifex
The cache, found in the Nullarbor Plain in south-central Australia, contains fossils of 69 species of mammal, bird and reptile, and includes many complete skeletons, including the first of a marsupial lion (see above and artist's rendering below). There are also eight species of kangaroo that had never been recorded before.
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 09:13 CST
A molecular scientist who moonlights as a cafe owner developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods, one that eliminates the natural, bitter taste of caffeine.
"This gives people the opportunity if they want to have a glass of milk and want to have caffeine. It will get them going," Dr. Robert Bohannon said.
The amount of caffeine in his creations can vary, but Bohannon can easily put 100 milligrams of caffeine - the equivalent of a 5-ounce (150-milliliter) cup of drip-brewed coffee - into the treats he plans to market under the "Buzz Donuts" and "Buzzed Bagels" names.
Trudy E. Bell
Sat, 27 Jan 2007 18:20 CST
There's evidence in the fossil record that such impacts occur periodically, "once every 26 million years," says Spudis. "Not everyone agrees, but I think it is pretty convincing."
Dr Stephen Juan
Sat, 27 Jan 2007 06:40 CST
Research you really didn't need to know
The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded to research that is not exactly compelling. Here are some "winners" in human research.
Fri, 26 Jan 2007 17:06 CST
Every year hundreds of people die in stampede during the ritual stoning of the pillars at the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
In 2006, 362 people died in the crush at Mina, where pilgrims gathered to perform the ritual. However, this year's ritual, which happened in late December and early January, went off without any incident.
So what was it, pure luck? Certainly not; according to Dirk Helbing of the Dresden University of Technology, Germany, it was sound planning based on the study of crowd dynamics that helped prevent casualties during one of Islam's most holiest traditions.
Fri, 26 Jan 2007 17:03 CST
Paris-based satellite company Eutelsat is investigating "unidentified interference" with its satellite broadcast services that temporarily knocked out several television and radio stations. The company declined to say whether it thought the interference was accidental or deliberate.
The problem began Tuesday afternoon, blocking several European, Middle East and northeast African radio and television stations, as well as Agence France-Presse's news service. All transferred their satellite transmissions to another frequency to resume operations.
Fri, 26 Jan 2007 10:45 CST
UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (25th January) the researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory.
A simple calculation to give the expected temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere balances the amount of sunlight absorbed by the energy lost to the lower atmosphere. But the calculated values don't tally with the actual observations of the Gas Giants: they are consistently much hotter.
It has long been thought that the culprit behind the heating process was the ionosphere, being driven by the planet's magnetic field, or magnetosphere. By using numerical models of Saturn's atmosphere the researchers found that the net effects of the winds driven by polar energy inputs is not to heat the atmosphere but to actually cool it.