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Fri, 22 Jun 2018
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A Cluster and a Sea of Galaxies

© ESO/J. Dietrich
The Cluster of Galaxies Abell 315: This wide-field, deep image reveals thousands of galaxies crowding an area on the sky roughly as large as the full Moon.
A new wide-field image released by ESO displays many thousands of distant galaxies, and more particularly a large group belonging to the massive galaxy cluster known as Abell 315. As crowded as it may appear, this assembly of galaxies is only the proverbial "tip of the iceberg," as Abell 315 -- like most galaxy clusters -- is dominated by dark matter. The huge mass of this cluster deflects light from background galaxies, distorting their observed shapes slightly.

When looking at the sky with the unaided eye, we mostly only see stars within our Milky Way galaxy and some of its closest neighbours. More distant galaxies are just too faint to be perceived by the human eye, but if we could see them, they would literally cover the sky. This new image released by ESO is both a wide-field and long-exposure one, and reveals thousands of galaxies crowding an area on the sky roughly as large as the full Moon.

These galaxies span a vast range of distances from us. Some are relatively close, as it is possible to distinguish their spiral arms or elliptical halos, especially in the upper part of the image. The more distant appear just like the faintest of blobs -- their light has travelled through the Universe for eight billion years or more before reaching Earth.


US scientist has genome screened for disease risk

© Unknown
This man knows his genetic destiny.
A US scientist has had all his DNA screened for genes which predict the diseases he may develop in later life.

Stephen Quake's genetic profile was probed for genes linked to dozens of diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

The healthy 40-year-old was told he was at increased risk of heart attack, diabetes and some cancers.

Scientists say the study, published in the Lancet, ushers in a new era of personalised medicine, but raises ethical dilemmas.


African rocks record ancient magnetic field


More auroras would have been seen at lower latitudes
Scientists have managed to push back the date for the earliest known presence of a magnetic field on Earth by about 250 million years.

The evidence is seen in tiny iron minerals that are aligned inside ancient dacite rocks from the Barberton mountains in South Africa.

Analysis of the 3.45-billion-year-old minerals indicates the strength the field was much weaker than today.

Earth's magnetic field protects all life on the planet.

It forms a shield that deflects harmful particles from the Sun around our world, and limits the ability of this "solar wind" to erode our atmosphere.


Maya plumbing, first pressurized water feature found in New World

© Kirk French; Penn State
Interior of the Piedras Bolas aqueduct showing the abrupt reduction in conduit size near the exit.
A water feature found in the Maya city of Palenque, Mexico, is the earliest known example of engineered water pressure in the new world, according to a collaboration between two Penn State researchers, an archaeologist and a hydrologist. How the Maya used the pressurized water is, however, still unknown.

"Water pressure systems were previously thought to have entered the New World with the arrival of the Spanish," the researchers said in a recent issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. "Yet, archaeological data, seasonal climate conditions, geomorphic setting and simple hydraulic theory clearly show that the Maya of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, had empirical knowledge of closed channel water pressure predating the arrival of Europeans."


Headless Statue of Ancient Egyptian King‎ Unearthed

© Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquites (SCA).
A headless granite statue of a Ptolemaic king has emerged from the ruins of an ancient Egyptian limestone temple believed to be the burial site of Queen Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the sculpture was unearthed at Taposiris Magna, a site some 30 miles from the port city of Alexandria, by an Egyptian-Dominican team searching for the tomb of the doomed lovers.


Omni-focus video camera to revolutionize industry

© University of Toronto
The resulting image shown in Figure 1a (taken with a prototype using two-color video cameras) clearly demonstrates how the omni-focused output dramatically differs from that of a conventional camera, shown in Figure 1b. Note that in the omni-focused image, the fingers in the foreground are so sharply focused that even the fingerprints are easily recognized.
University of Toronto, a world-leading research university, announces a breakthrough development in video camera design. The Omni-focus Video Camera, based on an entirely new distance-mapping principle, delivers automatic real-time focus of both near and far field images, simultaneously, in high resolution. This unprecedented capability can be broadly applied in industry, including manufacturing, medicine, defense, security -- and for the consumer market.


Improbable research: The repetitive physics of Om

Indian scientists wield sophisticated mathematics to dissect and analyse the traditional meditation chanting sound 'Om'

Two Indian scientists are wielding sophisticated mathematics to dissect and analyse the traditional meditation chanting sound "Om". The Om team has published six monographs in academic journals. These plumb certain acoustic subtleties of Om, which these researchers say is "the divine sound".

Om has many variations. In a study published in the International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security, the researchers explain: "It may be very fast, several cycles per second. Or it may be slower, several seconds for each cycling of [the] Om mantra. Or it might become extremely slow, with the mmmmmm sound continuing in the mind for much longer periods but still pulsing at that slow rate. It is somewhat like one of these vibrations:


The important technical fact is that no matter what form of Om one chants at whatever speed, there is always a basic Omness to it.


How to Measure Distances in the Night Sky

© unknown
Sometimes, the apparent distance between two celestial objects - the distance we can actually see on the sky - is indicated in terms of angular degrees. But these descriptions can seem like a foreign language to folks who don't pore over star charts every day, so here's a handy primer.

If we measured the distance around the circle of the entire horizon - from north all the way around through east and south and west and back to north again - that would equal 360-degrees.

From the horizon to the point directly overhead (the zenith) would equal 90-degrees; from one horizon point through the zenith and continuing across to the opposite side of the sky would measure 180-degrees.


Astronomers Puzzled over Comet LINEAR's Missing Pieces

© unk.
Astronomers analyzing debris from a comet that broke apart last summer spied pieces as small as smoke-sized particles and as large as football-field-sized fragments. But it's the material they didn't see that has aroused their curiosity.

Tracking the doomed comet, named LINEAR, the Hubble telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile found tiny particles that made up the 2,000-mile-long dust tail and 16 large fragments, some as wide as 330 feet. But the telescopes didn't detect any intermediate-sized pieces. If they exist, then the fundamental building blocks that comprised LINEAR's nucleus may be somewhat smaller than current theories suggest.

The Hubble picture shows that that LINEAR's nucleus has been reduced to a shower of glowing "mini-comets" resembling the fiery fragments from an exploding aerial firework. This picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on August 5, 2000, when the comet was at a distance of 64 million miles (102 million kilometers) from Earth.

Object Name:


Auroras Invade the USA

A high-speed solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field last night, sparking a geomagnetic storm (Kp=5-6) that lasted more than 15 hours. Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border and were spotted in several US states. Joseph Shaw sends this picture from Bozeman, Montana:

© Joseph Shaw
"The red auroras were just visible to the naked eye and easily captured by my Nikon D300," says Shaw. "Excellent treat!"

NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of continued geomagnetic activity over the next 24 hours. High-latitute sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.