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Fireball 3

NASA Scientists find diamonds, other treasures in 'Sutter's Mill' Gold Rush Meteorite

© NASA
Researchers digging deeper into the origins of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, which fell in California's Gold Country in 2012, found diamonds and other "treasures" that provide important new insight into the early days of our solar system. They report their results in thirteen papers in the November issue of Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

"Sutter's Mill gives us a glimpse of what future NASA spacecraft may find when they bring back samples from a primitive asteroid," said consortium lead Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "From what falls naturally to the ground, much does not survive the violent collision with Earth's atmosphere."

Jenniskens found one of the first and one of the most unusual of the Sutter's Mill meteorites before rain hit the area. In his search, Jenniskens was guided by Marc Fries of NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Houston, who describes in detail how Doppler weather radar enabled the rapid and pristine collection of the meteorites. "The two 10-micron diamond grains we found in this meteorite are too small to sparkle in a ring," said Mike Zolensky, space scientist of Johnson, working with associate professor Yoko Kebukawa late of Hokkaido University, Japan, "But their size is much larger than the nanometer-sized diamonds commonly found in such meteorites."
Bulb

Argentine student invents submarine style shoes to replace cane for the blind

© Still from Ruptly video
An Argentine student has invented shoes with ultrasound sensors which allow people with visual impairments to walk without a cane. The shoes vibrate when the wearer approaches an object.

The new shoes for blind people, dubbed 'Duspavoni,' were developed by Juan Manuel Bustamante, a student at Industrial College #4, and presented at the National Science Fair in Buenos Aires on Friday. He says he worked on the project for six months.

"I wish Duspavoni, my creation, could get to revolutionize the lives of people with sight problems, partial or total visual impairment," he told Ruptly.

The shoes have three ultrasound sensors placed inside the sole - in the frontal, lateral, and back areas. The sensors emit ultrasound waves which are reflected by surrounding objects and come back to the sensor. The shoe vibrates depending on the distance and position of the objects.
Magnify

Up to 80 million bacteria sealed with a kiss

© milanmarkovic78 / Fotolia
Couple about to kiss (stock image). As many as 80 million bacteria are transferred during a 10 second kiss, according to research published in the open access journal Microbiome.
As many as 80 million bacteria are transferred during a 10 second kiss, according to research published in the open access journal Microbiome. The study also found that partners who kiss each other at least nine times a day share similar communities of oral bacteria.

The ecosystem of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our bodies -- the microbiome -- is essential for the digestion of food, synthesizing nutrients, and preventing disease. It is shaped by genetics, diet, and age, but also the individuals with whom we interact. With the mouth playing host to more than 700 varieties of bacteria, the oral microbiota also appear to be influenced by those closest to us.

Researchers from Micropia and TNO in the Netherlands studied 21 couples, asking them to fill out questionnaires on their kissing behaviour including their average intimate kiss frequency. They then took swab samples to investigate the composition of their oral microbiota on the tongue and in their saliva.

The results showed that when couples intimately kiss at relatively high frequencies their salivary microbiota become similar. On average it was found that at least nine intimate kisses per day led to couples having significantly shared salivary microbiota.
Bulb

'Starry Night' solar powered bike path unveiled in the The Netherlands

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path
In The Netherlands, solar-powered paths seems to be all the rage. There's SolaRoad, which we blogged about yesterday. And now today, we bring you the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path, which opened to the public this week in the Dutch town of Nuenen, where Van Gogh lived in 1883.

The path, created by local artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde in collaboration with Heijmans Infrastructure, was inspired by Van Gogh's iconic Starry Night painting.

The path is made of thousands of stones that absorb sunlight during the day and then glow at night. Embedded in concrete, the bikeway should last the lifetime of any cement path.
Snowflake Cold

New study suggests hailstones form around a biological embryo

© SCMP Pictures
'freak' giant hailstones - which are becoming more common. A 'sign of the times'?
Hailstones from three Rocky Mountain storms formed around biological material, then bounced around the clouds picking up layers of ice, according to a new Montana State University study.

The discovery of a biological embryo extends previous findings about the formation of snow and rain, applies to hailstones globally and provides basic information about a little-studied topic, said the researchers who published their findings Nov. 6 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

"This is the first paper to really show that biological material makes hailstones," said John Priscu, a renowned polar scientist and professor in MSU's Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences. "Despite the millions in dollars of damage the storm caused in Bozeman (Mont.), the damaging hailstones provided us with a better understanding of hailstone formation, which will help us understand the role of aerosol particles in the formation of precipitation."

Alex Michaud - MSU doctoral student and first author of the paper - normally studies Antarctic microorganisms with Priscu, but he took on a side project after hailstones pummeled Bozeman, Mont., on June 30, 2010.

"If it weren't for his inquisitive nature of how things work, no good would have come from the devastating storm," Priscu said.

Once the storm subsided, Michaud collected hailstones and stored them in an MSU freezer at minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. The hailstones averaged 1.5 inches in diameter. Then Michaud gathered hailstones from two more area storms that occurred in 2010 and 2011. Those averaged about half an inch in diameter.

Examining some 200 hailstones in MSU's Subzero Science and Engineering Research Facility showed that the hailstones formed around a biological embryo, Michaud said. Analyzing stable isotopes of water in an Ohio State University laboratory showed that most of the hailstone embryos froze at relatively warm temperatures, generally above 6.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which corroborates freezing temperatures of biological embryos recovered from the middle of hailstones.

Two different research methods showed that a warm temperature of ice nucleation indicates biological material is the likely nuclei, Michaud said. He added that hailstones grow in such a way that makes them a nice model system for studying atmospheric ice nucleation and cloud processes.

Comment: In order to gain a "better understanding of hailstone formation" and other phenomena, researchers really ought to consider the winning 'Electric Universe' model - see Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, available here.

Question

Extreme storms erupt on Uranus, baffling astronomers

Uranus Storm
© Imke De Pater(UC Berkeley) & W. M. Keck Observatory Images
These infrared images of the planet Uranus show a white spot that is actually a massive storm on the planet. This image was recorded by the Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on Aug. 6, 2014 in the 2.2-micron wavelength.
Uranus is finally having some summer storms, seven years after the planet reached its closest approach to the sun, leaving scientists wondering why the massive storms are so late.

The usually quiet gas giant now has such "incredibly active" weather that some of the features are even visible to amateurs, said Imke de Pater, the project's lead researcher and an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. Astronomers first announced the extreme storms on Uranus in August, and have been trying to understand them ever since.

This is by far the most active weather de Pater's team has seen on Uranus in the past decade, examining its storms and northern convective features. It also paints a different picture of the quiet planet Voyager 2 saw when the NASA spacecraft flew by in 1986.
Comet 2

Philae records audio of comet 67P that sounds a lot like alien "Predator"

© ESA/Rosetta/NavCam
Artist's impression of the 'singing comet' 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
The Rosetta spacecraft and its Philae lander have a lot to teach scientists about what Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks like, is composed of, and even what it smells like, but what does the comet sound like? The day before Philae made history by landing on the surface of the comet, ESA released an audio clip of 67P/C-G singing. Unfortunately, its song is creepy as hell and sounds a lot like Predator, the alien that tried to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Of course, sound waves can't travel through space, so it isn't a direct audio recording. Instead, Rosetta's Plasma Consortium (RPC) picked up variations in the magnetic field around the comet, due to interactions between 67P/C-G's coma and the plasma from the Sun, better known as solar wind. These variations resulted in frequencies between 40 to 50 millihertz, about 10,000 times lower than can be detected by humans. ESA scientists altered the frequency of the comet's song into human hearing range, and discovered it was a series of clicks that are very reminiscent of Predator's growl.
Magic Wand

Dutch designer creates new font to help dyslexic readers navigate text

opendyslexic type face
A designer who has dyslexia has created a font to help dyslexic readers navigate text, designing letters in a way that avoids confusion and adds clarity. And in England, two researchers are compiling a dictionary that favors meaning over alphabetical order.

Roughly 10 percent of the world's population is dyslexic. And as NPR's Nancy Shute reported in 2012, "People with dyslexia are often bright and verbal, but have trouble with the written word."

The people behind two new projects hope they can help change that.

Dutch designer Christian Boer's Dyslexie font has been around for a while, but it's been getting new attention thanks to being featured in the Istanbul Design Biennial.
Comet 2

Rosetta: Concerns for robot probe Philae after uneven landing on comet


Some radio data suggests the probe may be about 1km from the intended landing site
After a historic but awkward comet landing, the robot probe Philae is now stable and sending pictures - but there are concerns about its battery life.

After two bounces, the first one about 1km back out into space, the lander settled in the shadow of a cliff, 1km from its intended target site.

It may now be problematic to get enough sunlight to charge its battery systems.

Launched in 2004, the European Space Agency (ESA) mission hopes to learn about the origins of our Solar System.

It has already sent back the first images ever taken from the crumbling, fractured terrain of a comet.

Philae got to the icy 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on the back of Esa's Rosetta satellite after a 10-year, 6.4 billion-km (4bn-mile) journey, which reached its climax on Wednesday with a seven-hour drop to the surface.


Comment: Icy? All the pictures show a rocky surface devoid of any ice.


After showing an image that indicates Philae's presumed location - on the far side of a large crater that was earlier considered but then rejected as a landing site - the head of the lander team, Dr Stephan Ulamec, said: "We could be somewhere in the rim of this crater, which could explain this bizarre... orientation that you have seen."
Galaxy

Solar-system-wide climate change: Yet more extreme storms on Uranus

infrared images of Uranus
© Credit: Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley) & Keck Observatory images.
These are infrared images of Uranus (1.6 and 2.2 microns) obtained on Aug. 6, 2014, with adaptive optics on the 10-meter Keck telescope. The white spot is an extremely large storm that was brighter than any feature ever recorded on the planet in the 2.2 micron band. The cloud rotating into view at the lower-right limb grew into the large storm that was seen by amateur astronomers at visible wavelengths.
The normally bland face of Uranus has become increasingly stormy, with enormous cloud systems so bright that for the first time ever, amateur astronomers are able to see details in the planet's hazy blue-green atmosphere.

"The weather on Uranus is incredibly active," said Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and leader of the team that first noticed the activity when observing the planet with adaptive optics on the W. M. Keck II Telescope in Hawaii.

"This type of activity would have been expected in 2007, when Uranus's once every 42-year equinox occurred and the sun shined directly on the equator," noted co-investigator Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. "But we predicted that such activity would have died down by now. Why we see these incredible storms now is beyond anybody's guess."

In all, de Pater, Hammel and their team detected eight large storms on Uranus's northern hemisphere when observing the planet with the Keck Telescope on August 5 and 6. One was the brightest storm ever seen on Uranus at 2.2 microns, a wavelength that senses clouds just below the tropopause, where the pressure ranges from about 300 to 500 mbar, or half the pressure at Earth's surface. The storm accounted for 30 percent of all light reflected by the rest of the planet at this wavelength.

When amateur astronomers heard about the activity, they turned their telescopes on the planet and were amazed to see a bright blotch on the surface of a normally boring blue dot.

Comment: As well as these "increasingly stormy" conditions on Uranus, this year we have seen increased volcanic activity on Jupiters moon Io, scientists have been puzzled by the wobble of Saturn's moon Mimas and a major increase in asteroid activity has seen MIT astronomers upgrade the solar system from stable to dynamic

What is causing these recent Solar system wide climate changes?

We have also seen deluges, meteor fireballs, 'thunder-snow', unseasonal tornadoes, 'super-storms' here on the BBM this month.

Could it be part of an overall 'grounding' of our solar system, caused perhaps by the close approach of the system's Twin Sun?

Perhaps something wicked this way comes:



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