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Sat, 30 Jul 2016
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Science & Technology


Quantum mind: Can experienced meditators influence the movement of atomic particles?

© unknown
One of the key mysteries in the realm of quantum physics is the role of the observer, or more precisely, consciousness. As Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner once explained, when this relatively new branch of physics came into being, it was found that "it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."

Very few physicists, however, give this mystery much thought (at least publicly). Bruce Rosenbaum and Fred Kuttner, in their book The Quantum Enigma, note that many of their colleagues "are under the impression that it has been resolved by one or another of the 'interpretations' of quantum theory." Even though, they point out, "most developers of those interpretations...still see a mystery."

In a recent talk at the 'Science of Consciousness' conference in Tucson, Arizona, parapsychologist Dean Radin noted that when it comes to the (quantum physics) 'measurement problem', "everyone offers theories about consciousness, but nobody doesanything about it." So Radin and his team decided to see if they could find experimental evidence of consciousness influencing quantum effects.

Comment: Further reading:


Massive 'lava lamp' blobs deep inside Earth have scientists puzzled

© Ed Garnero, Hongyu Lai, Arizona State University
Mysterious blobs of distinct rock are imaged using waves from earthquakes (model from French and Romanowicz, 2015, Nature).
Two continent-size blobs of hot — and possibly molten — rock can be found deep underground, about halfway to the center of the Earth, according to a new study. These curious structures — each of which is so large that it would be 100 times taller than Mount Everest — could be made up of materials that may shed light on how the Earth formed, the researchers said.

One of the blobs is located beneath the Pacific Ocean, and the other can be found beneath the Atlantic. These underground structures start where the Earth's mantle meets the core, but they send "plumes" up through the rock like a Lava Lamp, the researchers said.

Scientists now think these masses differ from the surrounding rock in more than just temperature. They're also "compositionally distinct," meaning they could contain materials not typically found in the rest of the Earth's mantle. Yet even some of the most basic information about the blobs is still a mystery.

Comment: Further reading:


Mars once had 3 moons besides Phobos and Deimos

© Tokyo Institute of Technology
Mars, Phobos, and Deimos.
International collaboration finds that two small satellites (Phobos and Deimos) orbiting Mars can also be formed by a giant impact like the origin of our Moon. The research is reported in Nature Geoscience, July 2016.

An international team of researchers from Royal Observatory of Belgium, Institut de Physique du Globe, Universite de Rennes 1, Kobe University, and Tokyo Institute of Technology (Earth-Life Science Institute: ELSI) investigated the formation process of a disk produced by a potential giant impact on Mars, and satellites' formation process from this disk.

A huge satellite is quickly formed from this disk first, and it enhances the accretion of Phobos and Deimos in the outer region. After their formation, the huge satellite falls into Mars due to the strong tidal interaction with Mars, and eventually disappears. Only two tiny satellites, that is, Phobos and Deimos were left behind.

Researchers also found that about a half of the disk produced by a giant impact originally come from Mars, so that Phobos and Deimos should contain Martian materials. Recently, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has just started to plan a sample return mission from Martian satellite(s). Returned samples from Martian satellites are expected to have Martian materials.

Enigmatic origin of Martian satellites

Phobos and Deimos are orbiting on the Martian equatorial plane with very circular orbits. They are very small satellites and their masses are less than 10-7 of Mars mass. Because of their irregular shapes and spectral features, many researchers have thought that they were captured objects by Mars coming from the asteroid belt. However, the capture origin cannot easily explain their current circular and coplaner orbits, because captured satellites should have eccentric and randomly oriented orbits like many captured satellites found around Jovian planets.

On the other hand, Mars has the largest crater in our solar system on its northern hemisphere, which is called Borealis. A huge impact can create this crater and also eject a lot of materials around Mars, which may form a disk around Mars. Although formation of Martian satellites from this disk was proposed, little is known about the detailed process of disk formation and satellites' formation.


Angry bees are the inspiration for autonomous, insect sized drones

While the use of military drones is rightly criticized as report after report sanitizes death numbers for public consumption, the future is heading toward a miniaturization of drone technology that makes it increasingly likely that they will take on an even greater role in assassinations and widespread surveillance.

At the heart of this initiative is something known as biorobotics, essentially the agenda to mimic nature in order to produce robotic facsimiles. When applied to drones, biorobotics hopes to harness nature's unique ability to fly through all environments while avoiding obstacles, and ultimately untether these micro-drones from human control.

According to the Society for Experimental Biology, the latest research is focusing on the flight patterns of bees and birds such as the budgerigar to study their vision systems and flight intricacies. The following two videos to demonstrate these principles:

Eye 1

Researchers create thought reading technology

A new study published in the journal Neuroscience suggests that researchers have successfully invented a mind-reading machine that is capable of reading the human thought process.

The research team from the University of Oregon, United States, are said to have developed a system that can read people's thoughts via brain scans, and rebuild the faces they were visualizing in their heads.

Lead researchers, Brice Kuhl and Hongmi Lee reportedly used artificial intelligence (AI) that analyzed brain activity in an attempt to reconstruct one of a series of faces that participants saw. Tech Worm reports that the result was not exact, but the AI got close.

Comment: Next step: Thought control technology.

Comet 2

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for June 2016

During the month of June 2016, 2 new comets were discovered and there was 1 comet recovery. A small asteroid, 2016 HO3, has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come. On June 2nd a small asteroid (1-3 meters wide) hit Earth's atmosphere and exploded over Arizona. Amateur astronomer and comet discoverer Rolf G. Meier died on June 26th, 2016 after a short battle with cancer. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here).
The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram) which reported the official news & designations.

Comet Discoveries

June 05 Discovery of C/2016 K1 (LINEAR)
June 24 Discovery of C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS)
© Remanzacco Blogspot
Comet Recoveries

June 06 Recovery of P/2010 N1 (WISE) as P/2016 GE_216


China set to begin operations of world's largest radio telescope

China's FAST telescope lies among karst peaks (China Daily/Qin Gang)
China on Sunday hoisted the final piece into position on what will be the world's largest radio telescope, which it will use to explore space and help in the hunt for extraterrestrial life, state media said.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 football fields and has been hewed out of a mountain in the poor southwestern province of Guizhou.

Scientists will now start debugging and trials of the telescope, Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope, told the official Xinhua news agency.

"The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life," the report paraphrased Zheng as saying.

Comment: Largest radio telescope being built in China


Light pollution may be tricking trees into budding early

© Jim Richardson/National Geographic Creative
The lights of Chicago shine brightly at night, even under a blanket of clouds. Such light pollution may have a big impact on the planet.
Future springs might arrive earlier than expected.

On Tuesday, scientists in the United Kingdom published a study charting the relationship between light pollution and the timing when trees produce buds. By observing four tree species, they found that on average, artificial light may cause trees to bud more than seven days earlier than their naturally occurring counterparts.

"It's correlative, so we can't prove anything. We can just show that there's a correlation," says Richard Ffrench-Constant, one of the study's authors. The research was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Yet the study suggests that light pollution may be causing spring to come earlier. Or, at least, it's tricking plants into thinking that spring is happening earlier.


NASA spacecraft reveals sounds made when crossing into Jupiter's magnetic field

First close-up view of Jupiter from Voyager 1.
NASA's Juno spacecraft, which is heading towards Jupiter, has entered the planet's magnetic field and has given scientists the chance to hear what it is like to cross from the solar system into "Jupiter's home turf."

Juno has almost completed its 3.2 billion km journey to the gas giant, having left Cape Canaveral in August 2011. Scientists were treated to a strange sound as the spacecraft bore down on Jupiter. After being bombarded with particles in the solar system on its approach, the spacecraft faced dramatically less intensity as it neared the planet because of the magnetosphere protecting Jupiter.

"We can actually listen to what it's like to leave the sun and enter Jupiter," Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton said at a NASA press conference June 30. "Just the sound of it will tell you that it's non-trivial to go into Jupiter."

The sound, which can be heard on the video after about 10 seconds, is actually known as a bow shock. The data was recorded on June 24 when the probe made the crossing.

"The bow shock is analogous to a sonic boom," William Kurth of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, lead co-investigator for the Waves investigation, said in a statement on NASA's website. "The solar wind blows past all the planets at a speed of about a million miles per hour, and where it hits an obstacle, there's all this turbulence."


New study explains how Aurora Borealis produces strange noises

© Sergio Pitamitz, National Geographic Creative
The aurora borealis lights up the sky over a house in Norway.
A new theory offers what may be the best explanation yet for hisses and pops heard during powerful light displays.

Arctic wilderness tales often wax poetic about dazzling displays of northern lights painting the skies. But for at least the past century, some of those stories have also mentioned eerie noises associated with especially powerful auroras.

Witnesses say the sounds are comparable to radio static, like a faint crackling, light rustling, or hissing heard for a few minutes during a strong display. While the weird sounds were long considered folklore, Finnish scientists have not only shown that they really happen, but now the team thinks they know why.

The answer can be traced to charged particles trapped in a layer of the atmosphere that forms during cold nights. These particles rapidly discharge when bursts of material from the sun slam into Earth, producing clapping sounds and other noises, the team reported on June 22 at the Baltic-Nordic Acoustic Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.