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Fri, 24 Feb 2017
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Science & Technology


Fast-spinning pulsar seen stealing from neighbour

A neutron star with a cosmic case of indigestion could help to explain why some of these ultra-dense stellar embers spin much more quickly than others.


Coming soon: First pictures of a black hole

Like a giant pale blue eye, the Earth stares at the centre of our galaxy. Through the glare and the fog it is trying to catch a glimpse of an indistinct something 30,000 light years away. Over there, within the sparkling starscape of the galaxy's core... no, not those giant suns or those colliding gas clouds; not the gamma-ray glow of annihilating antimatter. No, right there in the very centre, inside that swirling nebula of doomed matter, could that be just a hint of a shadow?


Ötzi the iceman: Up close and personal

© South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology / Eurac / Marco Samadelli / Gregor Staschitz
Ötzi the iceman
The new Iceman photoscan website lets you explore the body of the famous Alpine mummy in unprecedented detail. See some of the best images and find out how he lived and died

Ötzi the iceman

Ötzi is a mummified human discovered in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Alps, on the border between Austria and Italy. He died around 3300 BC.

The mummy offers a wealth of information about the humans living in Europe at the time. Ötzi was named after the Ötztal region where he was found.


New archeological dating method created

Manchester, England, -- British scientists say they have developed a new technique called rehydroxylation for dating archaeological objects by using fire and water.

Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh said their simple method promises to become a significant technique for dating ceramic materials, just as radiocarbon dating has become for organic materials such as bone or wood.


2,000 year-old megalith uncovered in Tam Dao

© VietNamNet Bridge
A megalith in Soc Son District, Hanoi.
Researchers from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute and the Hanoi University of Culture have discovered a megalith of nearly 2,000 years old in Tao Dao district, Vinh Phuc province.

The megalith of over three metres long, over one metre wide, and nearly 0.5 metres thick looks like a boat. It is propped up on four big rocks which are buried deep in the earth, which are also megaliths.


Mars: Windy, Wet And Wild: Victoria Crater Unveils More Of Mars' Geologic Past

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Opportunity’s view at Victoria Crater in February 2009.
After thoroughly investigating Victoria Crater on Mars for two years, the instruments aboard the Rover Opportunity reveal more evidence of our neighboring red planet's windy, wet and wild past.

Opportunity's two-year exploration of Victoria Crater - a half-mile wide and 250 feet deep - yielded a treasury of information about the planet's geologic history and supported previous findings indicating that water once flowed on the planet's surface, according to Steve Squyres, Cornell professor of astronomy and the principal investigator for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission. The rover is now heading south toward Endeavor crater, 8.5 miles away.


Mars may have been both cold and wet

London - Mars may have once been both cold and wet, researchers said Wednesday, suggesting a freezing Martian landscape could still have produced water needed to sustain life.

There has been debate over the issue because with some researchers believing water likely formed many features of the planet's landscape and others pointing to evidence indicating that early Mars was cold with temperatures well below the freezing point of water.

Better Earth

Study turns back clock on origins of life on Earth

Chicago - A heavy bombardment by asteroids the size of Ireland was not enough to wipe out life on Earth 3.9 billion years ago, researchers said on Wednesday in a finding that turns back the clock of life by 500 million years.

Many scientists had thought the violent pelting by massive asteroids during the period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment would have melted the Earth's crust and vaporized any life on the planet.

But new three-dimensional computer models developed by a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder shows much of Earth's crust, and the microbes living on it, could have survived and may even have thrived.


Parallel Universes: Are They More Than a Figment of Our Imagination?

The Hollywood blockbuster, The Golden Compass, adapted from the first volume of Pullman's classic sci-fi trilogy, "His Dark Materials" portrays various universes as only one reality among many, but how realistic is this kind of classic sci-fi plot? While it hasn't been proven yet, many highly respected and credible scientists are now saying there's reason to believe that parallel dimensions could very well be more than figments of our imaginations.

"The idea of multiple universes is more than a fantastic invention - it appears naturally within several scientific theories, and deserves to be taken seriously," stated Aurelien Barrau, a French particle physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).


Magnetic "Cactus" Experimentally Demonstrates Mathematical Plant Patterns

© Cristiano Nisoli, Nathaniel M. Gabor, Paul E. Lammert, J.D. Maynard, and Vincent H. Crespi. ©2009 APS
(Left) Mammillaria elongata, or golden star cactus, displays a helical morphology. (Right) A magnetic cactus of dipole magnets on stacked bearings assumes phyllotactic spirals, similar to the biological cactus. With the magnetic cactus, physicists have investigated the dynamics of phyllotaxis.
One of humanity's earliest mathematical inquiries might have involved the geometric patterns in plants. The arrangement of leaves on a branch, seeds in a sunflower, and spines on a cactus appear with an intriguing regularity, providing a simple demonstration of mathematically complex patterns.

In a recent study, researchers have experimentally demonstrated for the first time a celebrated model of "phyllotaxis," the study of mathematical regularities in plants. In 1991, S.L. Levitov proposed a model of phyllotaxis suggesting that the appearance of the Fibonacci sequence and golden mean in the pattern of spines on a cactus can be replicated for cylindrically constrained, repulsive objects. Now, researchers have constructed a "magnetic cactus" with 50 outward-pointing magnets acting as spines, which are mounted on bearings and free to rotate on a vertical axis acting as the plant stem. With this setup, the researchers, from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), have verified Levitov's model, and their study has been published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

In their experiment, the researchers put the system in a low-energy state by mechanical agitation. Then the scientists observed as the magnets (spines) arranged to form phyllotactic spirals, generating a so-called Farey tree of unfavorable angles. The unfavorable angles are fractional multiples of 2π (i.e. 2πi/j, such as 2π/3, 4π/3, etc.). The spines on the magnetic cactus, like those on a plant, form a helix around the cylindrical stem by growing around these particular angles.