Welcome to Sott.net
Tue, 30 Aug 2016
The World for People who Think

Science & Technology


Zoom In on New, Stunning Image of the Carina Nebula

In today's 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, two astronomers from the University of Minnesota discuss Eta Carina, a relatively close enigmatic star in the Carina Nebula. In a sense of great timing, new images also released today from the ESO (European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere) reveal amazing detail in the intricate structures of the Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky. In addition to the gorgeous picture above, enjoy a pan-able image and a video that zooms in on this nebula (also known as NGC 3372), where strong winds and powerful radiation from an armada of massive stars are creating havoc in the large cloud of dust and gas from which the stars were born.

The Carina Nebula is located about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of the same name (Carina; the Keel). Spanning about 100 light-years, it is four times larger than the famous Orion Nebula and far brighter. It is an intensive star-forming region with dark lanes of cool dust splitting up the glowing nebula gas that surrounds its many clusters of stars.


Scientists Eye Debris After Satellite Collision

© AP Photo/ESA
This image provided by the European Space Agency shows and artist impression of catalogued objects in low-Earth orbit viewed over the Equator.
Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites - one American, the other Russian - smashed into each other hundreds of miles above the Earth.

NASA said it will take weeks to determine the full magnitude of the unprecedented crash and whether any other satellites or even the Hubble Space Telescope are threatened.

The collision, which occurred nearly 500 miles over Siberia on Tuesday, was the first high-speed impact between two intact spacecraft, NASA officials said.

"We knew this was going to happen eventually," said Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA believes any risk to the international space station and its three astronauts is low. It orbits about 270 miles below the collision course.


Mexico City: Mass Grave May Be Aztec Resistance Fighters

© AP Photo/Gregory Bull
An archeologist works over a skeleton at the site of a mass grave found in a ruined pyramid in Tlateloco neighborhood in Mexico City.
Archaeologists digging in a ruined pyramid in downtown Mexico City said Tuesday they found a mass grave that may hold the skeletal remains of the Aztec holdouts who fought conquistador Hernan Cortes.

The unusual burial holds the carefully arrayed skeletons of at least 49 adult Indians who were buried in the remains of a pyramid razed by the Spaniards during the 1521 conquest of the Aztec capital.

The pyramid complex, in the city's Tlatelolco square, was the site of the last Indian resistance to the Spaniards during the monthslong battle for the city.

Archaeologist Salvador Guilliem, the leader of the excavation for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, said the Indians might have been killed during Cortes' war or during one of the uprisings that continued after the conquest.

Guilliem said many burials have been found at the site with the remains of Indians who died during epidemics that swept the Aztec capital in the years after the conquest and killed off much of the Indian population.

But those burials were mostly hurried, haphazard affairs in which remains were jumbled together in pits regardless of age or gender.


New Foot-long Tapeworms Identified

© Claire J. Healy
This is a scanning electron micrograph of the scolex (i.e., anterior attachment organ) of Rhinebothrium sp., a tapeworm in the new order Rhinebothriidea.
A major group of tapeworms, parasitic flatworms that can grow to more than 30 feet long in the digestive tracks of humans, fish and other animals while absorbing their nutrients, has been discovered by Canadian researchers.

The new tapeworm group, an order now dubbed Rhinebothriidea and that includes worms that parasitize stingrays and grow up to a foot long, was established as new to science by Claire J. Healy, a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and her colleagues.

Infection with a tapeworm is rare in the United States. People are often unaware they are infected, via an animal or water, but symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and malnutrition. The treatment is a pill that kills the worm and helps the body expel it.


Egypt opens 2,600-year-old sarcophagus with intact mummy - latest find in ancient necropolis

© Associated Press
Egyptian laborers are seen by a shaft that leads to a burial chamber where eight revealed sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis

Illuminated only by torches and camera lights, Egyptian laborers used crowbars and picks Wednesday to lift the lid off a 2,600-year-old limestone sarcophagus, exposing - for the first time since it was sealed in antiquity - a perfectly preserved mummy.

The mummy, wrapped in dark-stained canvas, is part of Egypt's latest archaeological discovery of a burial chamber 36 feet below ground at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. The find, made three weeks ago, was publicly announced Monday and shown to reporters for the first time Wednesday.

Egypt's archaeology chief Zahi Hawass has dubbed it a "storeroom for mummies," because it houses eight wooden and limestone sarcophagi as well as at least two dozen mummies.

Hawass led a group of international media Wednesday into the burial chamber, supervising as one person at a time was lowered into the shaft, holding on to a rope-pulled winch turned by workers above ground.

"It's moments like these, seeing something for the first time, that hold all the passion of archaeology," Hawass said after the mummy was unveiled.


Big Satellites Collide 500 Miles Over Siberia

Cape Canaveral, Florida ― In an unprecedented space collision, a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today. The international space station does not appear to be threatened by the debris, they said, but it's not yet clear whether it poses a risk to any other military or civilian satellites.

"They collided at an altitude of 790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon Washington time," said Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The U.S. space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both objects."


Secret of gorillas' language unravelled

Gorillas have a vast array of gestures with which they communicate, scientists have discovered.

From performing a pirouette to waving their arms about, gorillas use more than 100 different movements to communicate - more than any other mammal.

Gorillas may be our closest relatives, but to a human onlooker some of the actions seem bizarre.

Whereas it is unsurprising that a touch on the arm can be a signal to calm down or an invitation to have a cuddle, it would not be so easy to guess that a pirouette would be a warning that another gorilla should stop a particular action.

Evil Rays

Not everyone cheers as Wi-Fi takes to the skies

For all the annoyance of being crammed into an aluminum tube at 35,000 feet with a bunch of strangers, air travel has offered one benefit: the ability to tell bosses and colleagues, "I'll be on a flight, so you won't be able to reach me."

So much for that excuse.

Wireless Internet service is starting to spread among airlines in the United States - Delta and American have installed it on more than a dozen planes each, and several other carriers are planning to test it.


Deliberate confusion? Scientists losing war of words over climate change

Who understands the probabilities of climate change? Certainly not the general public, if psychological tests on volunteers in the US are to be believed.

The public, it seems, thinks climate scientists are less certain about their conclusions than they actually are. The results could explain why the minority views of "climate sceptics" get proportionally more attention from the general public than those of climate scientists.

Scientists are by their nature reluctant to express results as absolutely certain, and climatologists are no exception. Future projections based on climate models always come with error bars - an indication of how likely the data is to be accurate.


Meet the scoundrels of astronomy

© Wikimedia Commons
Nicolaus Reimers Baer ("Ursus") (1551-1600) Ursus incited a bitter controversy in 1588, when he published a geocentric model of the solar system (pictured) that looked quite similar to Tycho Brahe's. In both models, the planets orbited the Sun, while the Sun orbited the Earth.

History is littered with astronomers who doggedly pursued fame at the expense of the scientific method.

While researching a biographical encyclopaedia, Thomas Hockey of the University of Northern Iowa compiled a list of "really bad" astronomers. Some were combative, while others seem to have stolen ideas or manufactured data, infiltrating the astronomical community "like wolves among the sheep". Hockey discussed them last month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.