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Thu, 23 Mar 2017
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Science & Technology


Herschel telescope 'opens eyes'

Europe's new billion-euro Herschel space observatory, launched in May, has achieved a critical milestone.

The telescope has opened the hatch that has been protecting its sensitive instruments from contamination. The procedure allowed light collected by Herschel's giant 3.5m mirror to flood its supercold instrument chamber, or cryostat, for the first time.

The observatory's quest is to study how stars and galaxies form, and how they evolve through cosmic time.

Grey Alien

Don't believe your lying eyes: Tokoloshe 'could be wired into our brains'

Hold the bricks: the concept of the tokoloshe may have its roots in the primordial neurology of the human brain, experts have suggested.

The theory has been put forward by KwaZulu-Natal neurologist Dr Anand Moodley in a letter co-authored by Canadian neuropsychologist Neil Fournier in the latest issue of the SA Medical Journal.


Black Holes Take Center Stage

A small black hole is shown moving around a massive black hole, creating an extreme mass ratio inspiral (EMRI) and the resulting gravitational waves that scientists attending the Capra Conference hope to use to map spacetime.
Black holes are a common topic for scientific discussion today - but to the astrophysicists, theoretical physicists and mathematicians attending Indiana University's Capra Conference on radiation reaction, predictions still outweigh proof when it comes to black holes and their interstellar antics.

Hosted by IU for the first time in the event's 12-year history, the Capra Conference each year affords scientists an opportunity to compare notes on how much closer they've come to theoretically confirming Einstein's general theory of relativity using predictions about black holes and their interactions with other stellar bodies.

By modeling the effects of gravitational waves produced when smaller black holes, neutron stars or black holes orbit massive black holes, scientists - including Jonathan Thornburg in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Astronomy - believe they may one day be able to quantify the stretching and compressing of spacetime as caused by those same gravitational waves predicted in Einstein's general theory of relativity.


US Air Force May Use Allen Telescope Array For Space Surveillance

© Unknown
The ATA which is operated by the SETI Institute and its partner, the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley is a radio interferometer dedicated to cutting-edge astronomical research. This array of antennas is optimized to receive and process a very wide portion of the radio spectrum and can observe many areas of the sky at once.
An important and high visibility mission of the United States Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is Space Situational Awareness (SSA). Space Surveillance, a key component of SSA, involves using the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) of telescopes and radars to detect, track, identify and catalog all man-made objects orbiting the earth.

Comment: And to possibly track not-so-man-made objects too?

Knowing where orbiting objects are located in space is key to ensuring safe space operations. The significance of the SSA mission has become even more acute with the recent collision of an Iridium Satellite and an inoperable Russian Cosmos Satellite, which destroyed both satellites and created two large fields of space debris.

This debris will be a risk to other satellites for years to come as the debris fields expand and their orbits degrade toward Earth.

AFSPC is exploring opportunities in academia and the commercial sector that could provide suitable cost-effective means for augmenting Space Command's Space Surveillance mission. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), located in Northern California is one such opportunity.


Internet Traffic Growth Exploding, Study Reveals

The Internet is a seemingly endless resource for our watching, listening, and chatting needs. Bandwidth, however, is not. Cisco Systems, the mobile networking company, released a report earlier this week suggesting that global Internet traffic is growing exponentially. Scientific American said that Cisco needed a newer term -- zettabyte, or one trillion gigabytes -- to measure both the amount of uploading and downloading traffic on the Web and the bandwidth required to accommodate it.


Planet-Forming Disk Orbiting Twin Suns Revealed

© Unknown
Submillimeter Array image of the rotating, gaseous disk surrounding the young twin-star system V4046 Sagittarii (located at the white dot in the image). Note the size of the V4046 Sagittarii disk relative to the orbit of Neptune, shown to scale at the lower right (the filled oval at lower left represents the size of the smallest structures that could be detected in the image).
Astronomers have announced that a sequence of images collected with the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) radio telescope system clearly reveals the presence of a rotating, molecular disk orbiting the young binary star system V4046 Sagittarii.

The SMA images of V4046 Sagittarii, which are being presented by UCLA graduate student David Rodriguez in a press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Pasadena, Calif., provide an unusually vivid snapshot of the process of formation of giant planets, comets, and Pluto-like bodies. The results also confirm that such objects may just as easily form around double stars as around single stars like our Sun.

"It's a case of seeing is believing," says Joel Kastner of Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, the lead scientist on the study.


Outlawed: "Important Medical Discovery" ... But Why?

Over many years, Dr. Wilhelm Reich's work and findings on the orgone energy, or life-energy, have been subjected to careful scientific scrutiny and evaluation. This video gives a short introduction, and provides reference books and websites by which the interested viewer can obtain facts and accurate information.

One of my mentors and personal physician, Dr. Lee Cowden, who manages the IntegraMed Academy, has seen a small Orgone Accumulator completely resolve the inflammation of a wrist sprain injury in about 10 minutes, even though the pain and swelling had persisted unabated for three days prior to the treatment.

Sources: OrgoneLab.org


Sunlight Trap Could Lead to New Generation of Solar Devices

© De Luca and Fedullo
(Left) The design for trapping sunlight using two elliptical mirrors, with M1 collecting sunlight and M2 (the zozzaroid) focusing sunlight back to the vertex of M1 and into the blackbody. (Right) The mirrors used in a scheme for steam generation. Image credit: De Luca and Fedullo.
In the Greek legend of Dionysius' ear, Dionysius made a cave shaped like an ellipse in order to hear the words whispered by a prisoner in one of the foci of the cave. Some science museums today feature a similar exhibit, where two people at opposite ends of a room can whisper into giant ellipses and distinctly hear each others' words. This sort of cave, called Dionysius' ear, has also inspired the design of a new sunlight trap proposed by physicists Roberto De Luca and Aniello Fedullo, both of the University of Salerno in Italy.

As the scientists explain in a study to be published in the European Journal of Physics, their sunlight trapping system is the optical equivalent of acoustical Dionysius' ear. The design consists of two parabolic mirrors arranged face-to-face. Sunlight first hits the larger mirror and reflects to the smaller mirror placed a short distance away. Then the light from the smaller mirror reflects back, this time being focused into the vertex of the larger mirror. By confining sunlight into this small region, scientists can ideally trap solar radiation. The sunlight is stored in a blackbody, which consists of a cavity with perfectly reflecting inner walls.

"Through a sunlight trap system, solar radiation is first concentrated in a small region of space and then sent into a blackbody, where it can be stored (not for an arbitrary long time, though) for a variety of uses," De Luca told PhysOrg.com. "For example, after having trapped sunlight in a cavity with perfectly reflecting inner walls, what we call a blackbody, one can think of heating water enclosed in a container placed inside the cavity itself. Other uses of this concept are also conceivable."


Volcanic Eruption Caused Ancient Mass Extinction, Study Says

One of the Earth's largest extinctions was likely caused by a massive volcanic eruption that occurred in what is now southwest China more than 260 million years ago, according to a study.

The eruptions, which spewed about 500,000 cubic kilometers (120,000 cubic miles) of lava over half a million years, killed more than half of the life on the planet in the Middle Permian period, said Paul Wignal, lead author of the study in tomorrow's edition of the journal Science. That loss of life is called the Guadalupian mass extinction.

The eruptions in southwest China's Emeishan province, which left deposits of lava 200 meters (656 feet) deep in some spots, were discovered about a decade ago and Wignal and colleagues were the first to study them, he said. What they found proved to be a rarity -- direct evidence of volcanism and a massive die- off of marine life. "This link between the extinction and the volcanoes are perfect," said Wignal, 45, who teaches at the University of Leeds in Leeds, U.K., in a telephone interview yesterday.


Peculiar, Junior-sized Supernova Discovered By New York Teen

© William Wiethoff
SN 2008ha in UGC 12682
In November 2008, Caroline Moore, a 14-year-old student from upstate New York, discovered a supernova in a nearby galaxy, making her the youngest person ever to do so. Additional observations determined that the object, called SN 2008ha, is a new type of stellar explosion, 1000 times more powerful than a nova but 1000 times less powerful than a supernova. Astronomers say that it may be the weakest supernova ever seen.

Even though this explosion was a weakling compared to most supernovae, for a short time SN 2008ha was 25 million times brighter than the sun. However, since it is 70 million light years away, it appeared very faint viewed from Earth.

The peculiar object effectively bridged the gap between a nova (a nuclear explosion on the surface of an old, compact star called a white dwarf) and a type Ia supernova (the destructive death of a white dwarf caused by a runaway nuclear reaction starting deep in the star). SN 2008ha likely was a failed supernova where the explosion was unable to destroy the entire star.