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Fri, 28 Apr 2017
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Science & Technology


Fundamental Rule Describes All Galaxies

The more massive a galaxy is, the faster its stars and gas will move. This relationship holds regardless of whether a galaxy looks like an ellipse, a cosmic pinwheel or some other odd shape, a new study finds.

This rule even applies to "train wrecks" left after galaxies collide and merge with one another, which is surprising, said study team member Susan Kassin, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). "It indicates that there is a remarkable regularity to galaxies, irrespective of what they look like," Kassin said.

The new finding, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows that the relation between a galaxy's mass and the orbital speed of its stars and gas is remarkably consistent over a wide range of galaxy shapes and over billions of years of galaxy evolution.

"We think this trend reflects a regularity in the process that led to the formation of galaxies," said study leader Sandra Faber, also of UCSC. "We are not sure where it comes from, but it is a major constituent on galaxy formation."


British Skynet satellite launched

The British military's Skynet 5 satellite has been launched into space from Kourou in French Guiana.

The spacecraft is part of a £3.2bn system that will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and allied forces.


Strange but True: Cats Cannot Taste Sweets

Sugar and spice and everything nice hold no interest for a cat. Our feline friends are only interested in one thing: meat (except for saving up the energy to catch it by napping, or a round of restorative petting...) This is not just because inside every domestic tabby lurks a killer just waiting to catch a bird or torture a mouse, it is also because cats lack the ability to taste sweetness, unlike every other mammal examined to date.

The tongues of most mammals hold taste receptors - proteins on the cellular surface that bind to an incoming substance, activating the cell's internal workings that lead to a signal being sent to the brain. Humans enjoy five kinds of taste buds (possibly six): sour, bitter, salty, umami (or meatiness) and sweet (as well as possibly fat). The sweet receptor is actually made up of two coupled proteins generated by two separate genes: known as Tas1r2 and Tas1r3.


Quantum Spookiness Spans the Canary Islands

The reach of the spooky quantum link called entanglement keeps getting longer. A team has transmitted entangled photons some 144 kilometers (89 miles) between La Palma and Tenerife, two of Spain's Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. Physicist Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna, the group's leader, presented the results to his colleagues this week at the American Physical Society conference.

The distance achieved is 10 times farther than entangled photons have ever flown through the air. When two photons or other particles are in this state, what happens to one determines the fate of the other, no matter how far apart they are. Zeilinger compares the phenomenon with throwing a pair of dice that land on matching numbers every time.

Light Saber

A Hidden Twist In The Black Hole Information Paradox

Professor Sam Braunstein, of the University of York's Department of Computer Science, and Dr Arun Pati, of the Institute of Physics, Sainik School, Bhubaneswar, India, have established that quantum information cannot be 'hidden' in conventional ways, or in Braunstein's words, "quantum information can run but it can't hide."

This result gives a surprising new twist to one of the great mysteries about black holes.

Conventional (classical) information can vanish in two ways, either by moving to another place (e.g. across the internet), or by "hiding", such as in a coded message. The famous Vernam cipher devised in 1917 or its relative the one-time pad cryptographic code are examples of such classical information hiding: the information resides neither in the encoded message nor in the secret key pad used to decipher it - but in correlations between the two.

Evil Rays

Molten sodium mimics Earth's magnetic-field flipping

It has long been known that the Earth's magnetic field flips direction every quarter of a million years or so resulting in the north and south poles changing places. Now physicists in France have witnessed this phenomenon of magnetic-field reversal for the first time in the laboratory, by monitoring a 160-litre vat of swirling molten sodium. Their observations could eventually lead to a better understanding of "dynamo action", which is responsible for celestial bodies like the Earth being able to generate their own magnetic field.

Dynamo action involves the flow of an electrically conducting fluid converting mechanical energy into magnetic energy. In the Earth, the fluid is the liquid iron of the outer core, which is in constant turbulent motion because of convection and the Earth's overall rotation. But such dynamos are difficult to study - particularly when one wants to understand its effects on the scale of the Earth. Experiments require massive amounts of energy to sustain large volumes of swirling molten metal, and it is almost impossible to model the Earth's inner dynamics computationally because of the huge number of variables involved.

Evil Rays

UK military awaits Skynet launch

The British military is set to take one of its most significant steps into the digital age with the launch of the first Skynet 5 satellite.

The spacecraft will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and "friendly" forces across the globe.

It is part of a multi-billion-pound project that will allow the Army, Royal Navy and RAF to pass much more data, faster between command centres.

The Skynet 5A platform lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana, on Saturday.

Comment: Hmmm... now we know Skynet has been around since the 70's, and that this was probably the inspiration for the "skynet" in the Terminator movies, but still, in that movie:

Military software developers created "skynet", a type of artificially intelligent computer software designed to make strategic military decisions, but which unexpectedly becomes self-aware. In a panic, the human creators attempt to shut Skynet down. In the interest of self-preservation, Skynet seizes control of most of the world's military hardware and launches an all-out thermonuclear attack on humanity, leading to a total war between human and machine.

Magic Wand

You Can't Travel Back in Time, Some Scientists Say (Others say you can!)

The urge to hug a departed loved one again or prevent atrocities are among the compelling reasons that keep the notion of time travel alive in the minds of many.

While the idea makes for great fiction, some scientists now say traveling to the past is impossible.


Will Biology Solve the Universe?

For years, scientists have tried to develop a universal theory of everything. Steven Hawking predicts that such a theory will be discovered in the next 20 years. A new theory asserts that biology, not physics, will be the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of the universe, such as quantum mechanics.


Dawn of the GM babies?

Scientists will be able to carry out genetic experiments on human embryos for the first time under controversial Government plans.

Ministers have given the green light to research that some doctors warn raises the disturbing prospect of "genetically modified babies".

Comment: The dawn of GM babies? Hardly. People like Bush and Cheney were obviously genetically modified to be psychopathic. So, GM babies have been around for at least 60 odd years.]

And for those who say such "progress" is inevitable:

"progress" like this is not inevitable, it is chosen. However, what is missing is a little morality among the people who make the decisions on such "progress". Sadly, in a world dominated by amoral people like those in the Bush and Blair governments, mad science like GM babies will always be approved under the banner of "progress".