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Fri, 20 Oct 2017
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Science & Technology


Japanese researchers discover huge cavern beneath moon's surface which could be suitable for lunar astronaut base

© Stocktrek / Getty Images
Japanese researchers have discovered a cavern stretching 50 kilometers beneath the surface of the moon. It is hoped that the huge subterranean area could be used as a lunar base for astronauts in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has said.

The cavern, believed to be a lava tube created about 3.5 billion years ago, could protect astronauts from the sun's radiation and cosmic rays when they build a base for exploration, according to Kyodo news.

The expansive cavity, located beneath an area with a group of volcanic domes called the Marius Hills, is about 100 meters wide, according to data taken by JAXA's lunar orbiter 'Kaguya.'

Comment: Russia has also been considering lunar caves as bases: Russia Eyes Caves on Moon for Setting Up a Lunar Base


Waves in lakes make waves in the earth, microseismic signals reveal subsurface geology

© Pixabay
Beneath the peaceful rolling waves of a lake is a rumble, imperceptible to all but seismometers, that ripples into the earth like the waves ripple along the shore.

In a study published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth, scientists at the University of Utah report that these small seismic signals can aid science. As a record of wave motion in a lake, they can reveal when a lake freezes over and when it thaws. And as a small, constant source of seismic energy in the surrounding earth, lake microseisms can shine a light on the geology surrounding a lake. "It's kind of a new phenomenon," says Keith Koper, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations and co-author of the study. "We don't really know how it's created."
Discovering quaking lakes

Seismologists have long known that wind-driven ocean waves generate small seismic waves, called microseisms. These microseisms are generated as waves drag across the ocean floor or interact with each other. They are part of the background seismic noise in coastal areas.

"We've recently found that the waves on lakes actually generate these microseisms too," Koper says. Lake microseisms had been previously recorded near the Great Lakes, Canada's Great Slave Lake and Utah's own Great Salt Lake. In the paper, Koper and colleagues present additional observations from Yellowstone Lake and three lakes in China, exploring the characteristics of the respective lakes' microseisms.

Bizarro Earth

Missing mass - what is causing a geoid low in the Indian Ocean?

© European Space Agency
A map modelling the geoid surface. The map shows how water elevation and distribution would change by removing the effects of tides and currents.
The Earth's interior is still a mystery to us. While we have sent missions to probe the outer reaches of our Solar system, the deepest boreholes on Earth go down to only a few kilometres. The only way to learn what's going on deep inside our planet, in the core and the mantle, is by indirect methods.

Many of us might have seen those beautiful pictures of our round, blue planet taken from space, but did you know that our planet actually looks like a bumpy potato? It has its own share of deformations, non-uniform gravity because of the unequal distribution of mass and occasionally, mountains and valleys created by the movements of tectonic plates. Considering that around three-fourths of our planet's surface is made up of oceans, these deformities affect the shape of the oceans too. If we removed the tides and currents from the oceans on the planet, they would settle onto a smoothly undulating shape called a geoid, rising wherever there is high gravity, and sinking where gravity is low, creating what are known as "geoid anomalies." These highs and lows are generated by uneven mass distribution within the deep Earth.

One such point of low gravity is found just south of the Indian peninsula, called the Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL). The geoid low spans a vast extent south of the Indian subcontinent, and is dominated by a significant low of minus 106 metres, or roughly 348 feet, south of Sri Lanka.

"The existence of the Indian Ocean geoid low is one of the most outstanding problems in Earth Sciences," said Attreyee Ghosh, an assistant professor at the Centre for Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, India. "It is the lowest geoid/gravity anomaly on Earth and so far no consensus existed regarding its source. It is remarkable as it means that there is some mass deficit in the deep mantle that's causing the low."

"A low gravitational potential would mean that the ocean surface itself would go down," she said. "So, for a 100 meter (328 feet) geoid low the ocean surface would dip down by 100 meters at that region."

Bizarro Earth

Source of world's largest mud eruption determined to be Indonesian volcano system

© Reuters
Gas emission from the crater of the massive mud volcano in East Java.
On May 29, 2006, mud started erupting from several sites on the Indonesian island of Java. Boiling mud, water, rocks and gas poured from newly-created vents in the ground, burying entire towns and compelling many Indonesians to flee. By September 2006, the largest eruption site reached a peak, and enough mud gushed on the surface to fill 72 Olympic-sized swimming pools daily.

Indonesians frantically built levees to contain the mud and save the surrounding settlements and rice fields from being covered. The eruption, known as Lusi, is still ongoing and has become the most destructive ongoing mud eruption in history. The relentless sea of mud has buried some villages 40 meters (130 feet) deep and forced nearly 60,000 people from their homes. The volcano still periodically spurts jets of rocks and gas into the air like a geyser. It is now oozing around 80,000 cubic meters (3 million cubic feet) of mud each day - enough to fill 32 Olympic-sized pools.

Now, more than 11 years after it first erupted, researchers may have figured out why the mudflows haven't stopped: deep underground, Lusi is connected to a nearby volcanic system.


Scientists discover evidence of extreme methane storms on Saturn's moon Titan

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
According to a study from UCLA, Titan experiences severe methane rainstorms, leading to a the alluvial fans found found in both hemispheres.
Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is a mysterious place; and the more we learn about it, the more surprises it seems to have in store.

Aside from being the only body beyond Earth that has a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere, it also has methane lakes on its surface and methane clouds in its atmosphere. This hydrological-cycle, where methane is converted from a liquid to a gas and back again, is very similar to the water cycle here on Earth.

Thanks to the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission, which concluded on September 15th when the craft crashed into Saturn's atmosphere, we have learned a great deal about this moon in recent years.

The latest find, which was made by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists, has to do with Titan's methane rain storms. Despite being a rare occurrence, these rainstorms can apparently become rather extreme.

Blue Planet

Research sheds new light on how Earth and Mars were created

© Philip J. Carter
Analysing a mixture of earth samples and meteorites, scientists from the University of Bristol have shed new light on the sequence of events that led to the creation of the planets Earth and Mars.

Planets grow by a process of accretion - a gradual accumulation of additional material - in which they collisionally combine with their neighbours.

This is often a chaotic process and material gets lost as well as gained.

Massive planetary bodies impacting at several kilometres per second generate substantial heat which, in turn, produces magma oceans and temporary atmospheres of vaporised rock.


Man & machine will be melded into 1 within 20yrs - IBM expert

© Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters
A senior IBM inventor has predicted that within 20 years humans will be injected with nanomachines that will be able to repair and enhance our bodies and augment our thoughts.

In a submission to the Artificial Intelligence Committee of the UK's House of Lords, John McNamara, who works at IBM's Hursley Innovation Centre, said that the tiny robots will have enormous medical benefits.

"We may see AI nanomachines being injected into our bodies. These will provide huge medical benefits, such as being able to repair damage to cells, muscles and bones perhaps even augment them," McNamara said to the committee, which is weighing up the economic, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence.

Comment: Heavy metals toxicity is responsible for many deceases. If the nano machines are made with metals that body's defense system consider as intruder, this may cause life threatening inflammation and toxicity.

Heavy metal toxicity can ruin your health


Certain faiths are more likely to turn to religion for answers to scientific questions

When it comes to seeking answers to questions about science, evangelical and black Protestants and Mormons are more likely than the general population to turn to religion, according to a new study by researchers from Rice University's Religion and Public Life Program, the University of Nevada-Reno and West Virginia University.

The study, which is slated to appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Public Understanding of Science, is the first to measure whether people would actively consult a religious authority or source of information with a question about science, said lead researcher Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, a professor of sociology at Rice and director of Rice's Religion and Public Life Program.

"Our findings suggest that religion does not necessarily push individuals away from science sources, but religion might lead people to turn to religious sources in addition to scientific sources," Ecklund said.

The study, "Scientists and Religious Leaders Compete for Cultural Authority of Science," is based on a survey of 10,241 Americans who provided information about their confidence and interest in science, their religious characteristics and their political ideology. The sample included a wide range of people, including all religious groups as well as the nonreligious.

Comment: Considering the amount of religion masquerading as science is it any wonder people are confused?
© unknown

Microscope 2

New report warns: More than 30,000 scientific studies could be wrong due to widespread cell contamination dating back 60 years

Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that contaminated cells that have been used in research labs for decades might have influenced the results of more than 30,000 scientific papers.
More than 30,000 scientific papers could be flawed by contaminated cells, a study has found.

The report from Radboud University in the Netherlands revealed that 451 cell cultures used in thousands of experiments are contaminated.

Researchers are warning that these experiments could have led to authorities erroneously approving scores of ineffective treatments.

Some of the contaminated cells' origins date back to 1951, and they have been used in laboratories for upwards of six decades.


The 'Krack' hack attack: Security flaw puts every WiFi network at risk

The Krack Attack is the first flaw found in the WPA Wi-Fi encryption technique in 14 years
Every Wi-Fi connection is potentially vulnerable to an unprecedented security flaw that allows hackers to snoop on internet traffic, researchers have revealed.

The vulnerability is the first to be found in the modern encryption techniques that have been used to secure Wi-Fi networks for the last 14 years.

In theory, it allows an attacker within range of a Wi-Fi network to inject computer viruses into internet networks, and read communications like passwords, credit card numbers and photos sent over the internet.

The so-called "Krack" attack has been described as a "fundamental flaw" in wireless security techniques by experts. Apple, Android and Windows software are all susceptible to some version of the vulnerability, which is not fixed by changing Wi-Fi passwords. Tech companies have issued or are developing updates to fix it.

"It seems to affect all Wi-Fi networks, it's a fundamental flaw in the underlying protocol, even if you've done everything right [your security] is broken," said Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey's Centre for Cyber Security.

"[It means] you can't trust your network, you can't assume that what's going between your PC and router is secure."