Science & Technology
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:40 UTC
The Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) fires a 5-kilowatt beam that can either scramble the drone's circuits and sever its communications with ground control - a "soft kill" - or destroy it outright in a "hard kill," according to the military publication Stars and Stripes.
Vehicles equipped with the MEHEL took part in the 10-day Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment exercises at Fort Sill, Oklahoma last week. A total of 50 drones were shot down, some just a few seconds after being engaged, Army spokeswoman Monica Gutherie said.
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:28 UTC
Ceres, once thought to be an asteroid, is the largest object in the asteroid belt running between Mars and Jupiter and is the only dwarf planet in the inner Milky Way.
NASA's Dawn space probe has been in orbit around Ceres since March 2015.
"Images from Dawn show that landslides, many of which are similar to those seen on Earth, are very common on Ceres, and further the case that Ceres has a lot of water ice involved in its structure," said Britney Schmidt, an associate of the Dawn science team and assistant professor at Georgia Tech, who led the study.
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 18:27 UTC
This phenomenon called 'gravitational lensing' is an effect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity—mass bends light. This means that the gravitational field of a massive object like a galaxy can bend light rays that pass nearby and refocus them somewhere else, causing background objects to appear brighter and sometimes in multiple locations. Astrophysicists believe that if they can find more of these magnified Type Ia's, they may be able to measure the rate of the Universe's expansion to unprecedented accuracy and shed some light on the distribution of matter in the cosmos.
Fortunately, by taking a closer look at the properties of this rare event, two Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have come up with a method a pipeline for identifying more of these so-called "strongly lensed Type Ia supernovae" in existing and future wide-field surveys. A paper describing their approach was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Meanwhile, a paper detailing the discovery and observations of the 4 billion year old Type Ia supernova, iPTF16geu, was published in Science on April 21.
"It is extremely difficult to find a gravitationally lensed supernova, let alone a lensed Type Ia. Statistically, we suspect that there may be approximately one of these in every 50,000 supernovae that we identify," says Peter Nugent, an astrophysicist in Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD) and an author on both papers. "But since the discovery of iPTF16geu, we now have some thoughts on how to improve our pipeline to identify more of these events."
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:07 UTC
Study finds mega-fracking using massive volumes of water triggered earthquake swarms in British Columbia
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00 UTC
The largest earthquake ever triggered by hydraulic fracturing in British Columbia followed industry's use of large volumes of water and occurred during a fracking-triggered swarm of 676 earthquakes between 2014 and 2015, a new study has found.
The earthquake, triggered by the fracking activities of Malaysian-owned Progress Energy, registered 4.6 magnitude. It was about four kilometres underground and about 100 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John in the northern Montney formation. The earthquake could be felt nearly 180 kilometres away from the epicentre.
The study, published by the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America this month, ruled out wastewater injection or pumping methane for underground storage as the cause of the earthquake.
"We found that occurrence of local events is better correlated with hydraulic fracturing operations," it concluded. (Record-breaking seismic activity in other areas, like Oklahoma, has been triggered by mammoth wastewater injections and to a lesser degree, hydraulic fracturing. One damaging 5.8 magnitude quake in 2016 even changed water levels in an Oklahoma creek.)
Comment: It's not just the earthquakes; wastewater from fracking is polluting water supplies and literally making people sick:
- New study: Water and soil contamination from fracking wastewater spills is widespread and persistent
- Study reveals fracking wastewater is a highly toxic form of radioactive waste
- Radioactive drilling waste is 'virtually unregulated': Nobody knows how much is produced or where it is being stored
- New study confirms: Fracking wastewater is cancer-causing
- The Poison Beneath: How Toxic Waste from Injection Wells Could be Endangering the U.S. Water Supply for Years to Come
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:00 UTC
In taking on the monopoly, yet cash-burning premium electric car juggernaut that is Tesla, the key for leading Chinese electric vehicle start-ups such as Future Mobility, WM Motor and Singulato Motors, is that they will produce their cars locally, making them better able to match the Model 3's price, Reuters notes. Tesla is expected to price its Model 3 from $35,000 in the United States. Buyers in China would expect to add 25% to that in import tariffs.
The Chinese strategy is simple: beat the Model 3 in China by making their cars more premium but cheaper than Tesla's mass-market all-electric battery car.
Sat, 15 Apr 2017 23:42 UTC
Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it's also a bit unsettling, since it isn't completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle's sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you'd expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why. The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action. And you can't ask it: there is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:21 UTC
The agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the intriguing mesa, which measures 0.4 kilometers, in the "extensively fractured" Noctis Labyrinthus region on the western end of huge Valles Marineris valley.
"Heavily eroded, with clusters of boulders and sand dunes on its surface, this layered mesa is probably comprised of sedimentary deposits that are being exhumed as it erodes. The layers themselves are visible as faint bands along the lower left edge of the mesa," NASA said.
The creation began inside a lab at Washington State University (WSU), when physicists cooled rubidium atoms to just slightly above absolute zero. This created what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.
When particles are in this state, they move extremely slowly and behave like waves. They synchronize and move in unison as 'superfluid,' which flows without losing energy, according to a WSU press release.
Function, a video series from Fractal NYC, outfitted two piano players with special glasses that track the movement of their eyes. Professor Daniel Beliavsky is a professional pianist and Charlotte Bennett is his student. Since Beliavsky is more experienced, he's more comfortable with the keyboard and looked at the sheet music more than his hands, whereas Bennett spent more time looking down at the keys. Impressively, Beliavsky is able to look ahead to where his hands will be in a few seconds.