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Mon, 29 Aug 2016
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Eggs Fried

Researchers shed light on toddlers' picky eating

The food preferences of toddlers are a mind-boggling enigma. On the one hand, kids under two years old are the most likely age group to accidentally poison themselves—by deciding it's a great idea to guzzle detergent, for instance. Yet, when parents try to coax them into ingesting nutritious, non-lethal options, tots may cook up a fit.

According to a new study, toddlers may actually have some logic to their apparent dietary madness—at least a little logic, that is. By watching toddlers react to people's food preferences, researchers found that the little ankle-biters seem to make generalizations about good eats and who will like them based on social identities. Toddlers expected people in the same social groups to like the same foods and appeared puzzled if that wasn't the case. But if one person expressed a dislike for a food first, toddlers seemed to expect that everyone would follow suit regardless of social identities.

Galaxy

Mysterious supernovas explode twice, giving birth to powerful magnets

© NASA
This artist's illustration of a supernova shows a shell of material being expelled from the dying star, as well as a burst of bright light.
A mysterious kind of supernova that appears to explode twice may be giving birth to some of the most powerful magnets in the universe, a new study finds.

Supernovas are explosions that occur when certain types of stars run out of fuel and "die." These outbursts can briefly outshine all of the millions of other stars in their galaxies.

Recently, scientists detected a very rare class of supernova, known as superluminous supernovas. These star explosions are up to 100 times brighter than other supernovas. The superluminous variety account for less than a thousandth of all supernovas, and only about 30 examples have been studied well.

Comment: Related articles:


Evil Rays

Mama dolphins sing their name to babies in the womb

© vkilikov | Shutterstock.com
Humans aren't the only species whose members speak to their babies in the womb. Dolphin mamas appear to sing their own name to their unborn calves.

New research suggests that dolphin mothers teach their babies a "signature whistle" right before birth and in the two weeks after. Signature whistles are sounds that are made by individual dolphins, which the animals use to identify one another. Calves eventually develop their own signature whistle, but in the first few weeks of life, mothers seem focused on teaching their offspring their signature sound, the scientists said.

"It's been hypothesized that this is part of an imprinting process," Audra Ames, a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, said here on Friday (Aug. 5) at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

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Alarm Clock

Another 'self-driving' Tesla car wreck -- this time in China

© Reuters/Jason Lee
People visit a Tesla Model S car during the Auto China 2016 in Beijing, China, April 25, 2016.
Tesla (TSLA.O) said on Wednesday that one of its cars had crashed in Beijing while in 'autopilot' mode, with the driver contending sales staff sold the function as 'self-driving', overplaying its actual capabilities.

Tesla said it had reviewed data to confirm the car was in autopilot mode, a system that takes control of steering and braking in certain conditions.

The company, which is investigating the crash in China's capital last week, also said it was the driver's responsibility to maintain control of the vehicle. In this case, it said, the driver's hands were not detected on the steering wheel.

Comment:

See also: First autopilot death: Tesla driver killed in crash with tractor-trailer


Microscope 2

Looking for the mysterious missing magnetic monopole

© Shutterstock
You've probably heard of the Higgs boson. This elusive particle was predicted to exist long ago and helped explain why the universe works the way it does, but it took decades for us to detect.

Well, there's another elusive particle that has also been predicted by quantum physics, and it's been missing for an even longer time. In fact, we still haven't spotted one, and not through lack of trying.

It's called the magnetic monopole, and it has a few unique properties that make it rather special.

Comment: See also: Large-Scale Cousin of Elusive 'Magnetic Monopoles' Found


Galaxy

Astronomers discover mysterious trans-Neptunian object with unexplained weird orbit

© ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger
"I hope everyone has buckled their seatbelts because the outer solar system just got a lot weirder." That's what Michele Bannister, an astronomer at Queens University, Belfast tweeted on Monday.

She was referring to the discovery of a TNO or trans-Neptunian object, something which sits beyond Neptune in the outer solar system. This one is 160,000 times fainter than Neptune, which means the icy world could be less than 200 kilometres in diameter. It's currently above the plane of the solar system and with every passing day, it's moving upwards - a fact that makes it an oddity.

The TNO orbits in a plane that's tilted 110 degrees to the plane of the solar system. What's more, it swings around the sun backwards unlike most of the other objects in the solar system. With this in mind, the team that discovered the TNO nicknamed it "Niku" after the Chinese adjective for rebellious.

Arrow Down

US Airforce wants to detonate plasma bombs in the upper atmosphere

© U.S. Air Force/2nd Lt. J. Elaine Hunnicutt
HAARP of Alaska: making the ionosphere more reflective.
Can you hear me now? The US Air Force is working on plans to improve radio communication over long distances by detonating plasma bombs in the upper atmosphere using a fleet of micro satellites.

Since the early days of radio, we've known that reception is sometimes better at night. Radio stations that cannot be picked up by day may be heard clearly at night, transmitting from hundreds of kilometres away.

This is down to changes in the ionosphere, a layer of charged particles in the atmosphere that starts around 60 kilometres up. The curvature of Earth stops most ground-based radio signals travelling more than 70 kilometres without a boost.

But by bouncing between the ionosphere and the ground they can zigzag for much greater distances. At night the density of the ionosphere's charged particles is higher, making it more reflective.

This is not the first time we've tinkered with the ionosphere to try to improve radio communication and enhance the range of over-the-horizon radar. HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Alaska, stimulates the ionosphere with radiation from an array of ground-based antennas to produce radio-reflecting plasma.

Display

Fed up with big business, Minnesota towns create their own internet

Over two dozen rural towns in southern Minnesota, fed up with waiting for corporate high-speed Internet to reach them, have taken it upon themselves to build a fiber optic network of their own — and they're doing it entirely without federal funding.

Last July, POLITICO highlighted the disaster that became of a federal program, signed into life by President Obama in 2009, designed to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities. That program was plagued by mishandling of funds by the department overseeing it, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

"A POLITCO investigation has found that roughly half of the nearly 300 projects RUS approved as part of the 2009 Recovery Act have not yet drawn down the full amounts they were awarded," the news agency writes. "More than 40 of the projects RUS initially approved never got started at all, raising questions about how RUS screened its applicants and made its decisions in the first place."

Ice Cube

Solar physicist's research discovers second solar cycle - sees global cooling ahead

© screen capture/Global Warming Policy Forum
Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University and colleagues, discovered that the sun’s dynamo is actually made of two components – coming from different depths inside the sun.
Recent research by Professor Valentina Zharkova (Northumbria University) and colleagues has shed new light on the inner workings of the Sun. If correct, this new discovery means that future solar cycles and variations in the Sun's activity can be predicted more accurately.

The research suggests that the next three solar cycles will see solar activity reduce significantly into the middle of the century, producing conditions similar to those last seen in the 1600s - during the Maunder Minimum. This may have implications for temperatures here on Earth. Future solar cycles will serve as a test of the astrophysicists' work, but some climate scientists have not welcomed the research and even tried to suppress the new findings.

New Solar Research Raises Climate Questions, Triggers Attacks

To most of us the sun seems unchanging. But if you observe its surface, it is seething with vast explosions and ejections. This activity has its origin in intense magnetic fields generated by swirling currents in the sun's outer layer - scientists call it the solar dynamo.

It produces the well-known 11-year solar cycle which can be seen as sunspots come and go on the sun's surface.

But models of the solar dynamo have only been partially successful in predicting the solar cycle - and that might be because a vital component is missing.

Comment: Professor Zharkova has run up against the need to protect the official global warming narrative.


Galaxy

Scientists: Mysterious supernovas explode twice, giving birth to powerful magnets

© NASA
This artist's illustration of a supernova shows a shell of material being expelled from the dying star, as well as a burst of bright light.
A mysterious kind of supernova that appears to explode twice may be giving birth to some of the most powerful magnets in the universe, a new study finds. Supernovas are explosions that occur when certain types of stars run out of fuel and "die." These outbursts can briefly outshine all of the millions of other stars in their galaxies.

Recently, scientists detected a very rare class of supernova, known as superluminous supernovas. These star explosions are up to 100 times brighter than other supernovas. The superluminous variety account for less than a thousandth of all supernovas, and only about 30 examples have been studied well.

"They are extremely bright and can be seen for up to a year but are incredibly rare, so [they] are difficult to find and measure," said study lead author Mathew Smith, an astrophysicist at the University of Southampton in England. "We don't yet know the physical origin of these cosmic explosions that can be seen out to the beginning of the universe; that's the main focus of current and future searches."

Mysteriously, previous research suggested that some superluminous supernovas appear to explode twice. Before their main explosions, each of these supernovas experience a spike in brightness that lasts a few days.

Now, Smith and his colleagues have analyzed such a "double-peaked" superluminous supernova from almost the moment it occurred, shedding light on its origins. In their new paper, they said most superluminous supernovas may actually be double-peaked.
© Matthew Smith
This graph shows the change in the apparent brightness of a superluminous supernova detected by the Dark Energy Survey. The graph shows an initial bump in brightness, followed by a major spike that represents the main supernova explosion.