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Fri, 24 Mar 2017
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Bizarro Earth

The Moon is a Harsh Witness

There's evidence in the fossil record that such impacts occur periodically, "once every 26 million years," says Spudis. "Not everyone agrees, but I think it is pretty convincing."

Magic Wand

Great moments in human research: Ig Nobel Prizes

Research you really didn't need to know

The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded to research that is not exactly compelling. Here are some "winners" in human research.

Book

Researcher studies science of pedestrian motion to make Hajj safer

Every year hundreds of people die in stampede during the ritual stoning of the pillars at the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In 2006, 362 people died in the crush at Mina, where pilgrims gathered to perform the ritual. However, this year's ritual, which happened in late December and early January, went off without any incident.

So what was it, pure luck? Certainly not; according to Dirk Helbing of the Dresden University of Technology, Germany, it was sound planning based on the study of crowd dynamics that helped prevent casualties during one of Islam's most holiest traditions.

Network

Mysterious source jams satellite communications

Paris-based satellite company Eutelsat is investigating "unidentified interference" with its satellite broadcast services that temporarily knocked out several television and radio stations. The company declined to say whether it thought the interference was accidental or deliberate.

The problem began Tuesday afternoon, blocking several European, Middle East and northeast African radio and television stations, as well as Agence France-Presse's news service. All transferred their satellite transmissions to another frequency to resume operations.

Snowflake

Unexpected Cooling Effect Observed In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere

UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (25th January) the researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory.

A simple calculation to give the expected temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere balances the amount of sunlight absorbed by the energy lost to the lower atmosphere. But the calculated values don't tally with the actual observations of the Gas Giants: they are consistently much hotter.

It has long been thought that the culprit behind the heating process was the ionosphere, being driven by the planet's magnetic field, or magnetosphere. By using numerical models of Saturn's atmosphere the researchers found that the net effects of the winds driven by polar energy inputs is not to heat the atmosphere but to actually cool it.

Clock

Paleontologists Discover Most Primitive Primate Skeleton

The origins and earliest branches of primate evolution are clearer and more ancient by 10 million years than previous studies estimated, according to a study featured on the cover of the Jan. 23 print edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Clock

40,000-Year-Old Skull Shows Both Modern Human And Neanderthal Traits

Humans continued to evolve significantly long after they were established in Europe, and interbred with Neandertals as they settled across the continent, according to new research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA.

Saturn

Astronaut urges asteroid-nudging space tractor

Beijing-- NASA astronaut Edward Lu believes America's space agency should design and build a small space tractor that would snuggle up to a planet-threatening astroid and give it a gravitational nudge to change its path to avoid a collision with Earth.

Lu told an audience at the University of Hawaii-Manoa Monday evening the 200 million U.S. dollar to 300 million dollar spacecraft would exert enough gravitational pull to alter an astroid's orbit.

"We're only trying to get a really tiny change in the velocity of the asteroid to prevent an impact," said Lu, a former University of Hawaii solar physicist.

Evil Rays

U.S. develops non-lethal ray gun

Beijing -- A non-lethal ray gun, useful in particular encounter by servicemen, is the new weapon developed by the U.S. military, media reports said Thursday.

The new weapon had its first media demonstration Wednesday.

Comment: Weapons like these are being built to be used against dissidents at home. You can take that to the bank.


Bad Guys

Heat-beaming weapon ready by 2010

THE US Defence Department today unveiled what it called a revolutionary heat-beaming weapon that could be used to control mobs or repel foes in conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The so-called Active Denial System creates an intense burning sensation causing people to run for cover, but no lasting harm, officials said.