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Sun, 30 Apr 2017
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Science & Technology


Europeans develop ultra-fast astronomical camera

The OCam camera
Scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), working together with researchers from three French laboratories, have developed a new ultra-fast camera that can take 1 500 finely exposed images per second. Called OCam, this camera uses the CCD220 detector developed by e2v Technologies in the UK. The team said OCam will be a major component of the next generation of adaptive optics instruments of the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), in particular for the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (SPHERE) instrument.


Lightning Strikes Delay Endeavour's Launch Again

Twice delayed in June, NASA again scratches its mission to the International Space Station after 11 lightning strikes are recorded in the launch area. After a check of all systems, NASA hopes to finally get the mission under way July 12.

NASA called off the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour for a third time July 11 after lightning strikes in the Cape Canaveral area prompted the space agency to move the liftoff to July 12. The mission to deliver equipment to the International Space Station was scratched twice in June due to a mysterious launch pad hydrogen gas leak that appears to be resolved.


Farming Microbes in Tasmania

© Rosemary Grant
Rae Young removing a giant tea bag filled with compost from the brewing unit
A group of progressive farmers in the midlands of Tasmania are restoring the soil food web to 900 hectares of pasture in Tasmania.

They've been successful in getting a Federal Government $104,000 Caring for Our Country grant to put the biology back into the soils on the broadacre.


Copernicus Had Blue Eyes

© Getty Images
A painting of Copernicus. Genetic research has not only identified Copernicus' remains, but has also found that the priest and astronomer had blue eyes, fair skin and light hair color.
Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy, gazed at the sky through bright blue eyes, according to genetic research that has identified the scientist's remains.

Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research -- announced last November -- details the identification of the remains, while also suggesting that Copernicus most likely had blue eyes, fair skin and light hair color.

"This is the end of a search that has lasted for at least two centuries," Swedish and Polish researchers who carried the genetic tests wrote.


Tossing a coin in the microcosm

Bonn physicists take first step towards super-fast search algorithms for quantum computers

When you toss a coin, you either get heads or tails. By contrast, things are not so definite at the microcosmic level. An atomic 'coin' can display a superposition of heads and tails when it has been thrown. However, this only happens if you do not look at the coin. If you do, it decides in favour of one of the two states. If you leave the decision where a quantum particle should go to a coin like this, you get unusual effects. For the first time, physicists at the University of Bonn have demonstrated these effects in an experiment with caesium. Their research will be published in the next issue of the scientific journal Science.


Simulations Illuminate Universe's First Twin Stars

© Ralf Kaehler, Matthew Turk and Tom Abel
This computer-simulated image shows the formation of two high density regions (yellow) in the early universe, approximately 200 million years after the Big Bang. The cores are separated by about 800 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and are expected to evolve into a binary—or "twin"—star system.
Menlo Park, Calif. - The earliest stars in the universe formed not only as individuals, but sometimes also as twins, according to a paper published today in Science Express. By creating robust simulations of the early universe, astrophysicists Matthew Turk and Tom Abel of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Brian O'Shea of Michigan State University have gained the most detailed understanding to date of the formation of the first stars.


Good dancers make the fittest mates

As generations of men with two left feet have learned to their cost, having the dance floor prowess of Mr Bean is no help in the mating game.

To make matters worse for the terminally uncoordinated, it now looks as if women are right to go for men who can strut their stuff like John Travolta or Patrick Swayze - as they are more likely to be strong and to produce healthy offspring.


This document will self-erase in five minutes

© Unknown
This article will self-erase in 10 seconds. At least it would if it had been written on a film that exploits the colour-changing ability of nanoparticles. The technology could make it possible to create documents that wipe themselves clean after they've been read.

A team at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, coated gold nanoparticles with a layer of hair-like molecules called 4-(11-mercaptoundecanoxy) azobenzene or MUA. When zapped with ultraviolet light, these filaments change their shape and charge distribution, causing the nanoparticles to congregate together and change colour.

"The colour of the nanoparticles depends on how close they are to one another," says lead researcher Bartosz Grzybowski. "For instance, gold nanoparticles are red when separated, but become violet, then blue, then colourless as they cluster together."

Arrow Down

Americans favor science, but less than before

The share of Americans who see science as the nation's greatest achievement is down sharply, even as the public continues to hold scientists in high regard.

A new Pew Research Center poll indicates that 27 percent of Americans say the nation's greatest achievements are in science, medicine and technology, more than any category other than don't know.

But that's down from 47 percent in a similar study a decade ago, the center reported Thursday.

The decline comes even as technology reaches out to connect people worldwide via the Internet.


Ice Shouldn't Stop Dune Movement On Mars Or Earth

© NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/The University of Arizona
Cemented layers protrude from a dune in North Polar Region of Mars. This is a subset of HiRISE image PSP_001374_2650.
Planetary scientists have monitored some Martian sand dunes for more than 30 years, and the dunes have not moved during that time, leading scientists to question whether snow and ice trapped inside the dunes might be preventing movement.

However a recent study published in Geomorphology shows that snow and ice are not enough in themselves to stop dune movement. While trapped ice and snow impedes movement of sand dunes in polar climates, compared to their counterparts in warmer areas, this does not entirely stop dune movement, the study shows.

This indicates that other factors are limiting dune movement, said Mary Bourke, a senior research scientist at the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute. Bourke led the study, which covers the longest time period of any cold-climate dune migration and dune dynamics study to date.