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Thu, 02 Dec 2021
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Science & Technology


Infrared light therapy appears to aid dementia patients

infrared light therapy dementia
© Durham University/North News & Pictures
Tracy Sloan with the infrared light therapy helmet. Tracy used the helmet to try and help improve her memory.
Infrared light therapy might have the potential to help people living with dementia, according to researchers.

A pilot study, led by Dr. Paul Chazot, Durham University, UK, and Dr. Gordon Dougal, of Maculume Ltd, found improvements in the memory, motor function and processing skills of healthy people with normal intellectual function for their age.

As a result, the researchers said transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T) - where infrared light is self-delivered to the brain using a specially designed helmet worn by the patient — might potentially also have benefits for people with dementia.

They stressed that more research into the use and effectiveness of the therapy was needed, but that the findings of their pilot were promising.

The research is published in the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.



New evidence suggest Earth tipped on its side 84 million years ago

Hold on to your hats, because scientists have found more evidence that Earth tips over from time to time. We know that the continents are moving slowly due to plate tectonics, but continental drift only pushes the tectonic plates past each other. It has been debated for the past few decades whether the outer, solid shell of the Earth can wobble about, or even tip over relative to the spin axis. Such a shift of Earth is called "true polar wander", but the evidence for this process has been contentious. New research published in Nature Communications, led by the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology's Principle Investigator Joe Kirschvink (also a Professor at Caltech) and Prof. Ross Mitchell at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics in Beijing, provides some of the most convincing evidence to date that such planetary tipping has indeed occurred in Earth's past.
Limestone exposed near Furlo, Italy
© Ross Mitchell
Figure 1.
Scaglia Rossa Limestone exposed near Furlo, Italy, in the Northern Apennine Mountains. Limestone at this locality accumulated on the bottom of a shallow sea, in an arm of the ancient Mediterranean ocean nearly 85 million years ago, during what is called Late Cretaceous time.
True polar wander bears some dissecting. The Earth is a stratified ball, with a solid metal inner core, a liquid metal outer core, and a solid mantle and overriding crust at the surface which we live on. All of this is spinning like a top, once per day. Because the Earth's outer core is liquid, the solid mantle and crust are able to slide around on top of it. Relatively dense structures, such as subducting oceanic plates and massive volcanoes like Hawaii, prefer to be near the Equator, in the same way that your arms like to be out to your side when you are spinning around in an office chair.

Despite this wandering of the crust, Earth' magnetic field is generated by electrical currents in the convecting liquid Ni-Fe metal of the outer core. On long time scales, the overlying wander of the mantle and crust does not affect the core, because those overlying rock layers are transparent to Earth's magnetic field. In contrast, the convection patterns in this outer core are actually forced to dance around Earth's rotation axis, which means that the overall pattern of Earth's magnetic field is predictable, spreading out in the same fashion as iron filings lining up over a small bar magnet. Hence, these data provide excellent information about the direction of the North and South geographic poles, and the tilt gives the distance from the poles (a vertical field means you are at the pole, horizontal tells us it was on the Equator). Many rocks actually record the direction of the local magnetic field as they form, in much the same way that a magnetic tape records your music. For example, tiny crystals of the mineral magnetite produced by some bacteria actually line up like tiny compass needles, and get trapped in the sediments when the rock solidifies. This, "fossil" magnetism can be used to track where the spin axis is wandering relative to the crust.

Arrow Up

Over a thousand cosmic explosions in 47 days detected by FAST

An international research team led by Prof. LI Di and Dr. WANG Pei from National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) caught an extreme episode of cosmic explosions from Fast Radio Burst (FRB) 121102, using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). A total of 1,652 independent bursts were detected within 47 days starting Aug. 29, 2019 (UT).
Fast Radio Burst
Fig. 1 FAST catches a real pulse from FRB 121102.
It is the largest set of FRB events so far, more than the number reported in all other publications combined. Such a burst set allows for the determination, for the first time, of the characteristic energy and energy distribution of any FRB, thus shedding light on the central engine powering FRBs.

These results were published in Nature on Oct. 13, 2021 (US Eastern Time).

FRBs were first detected in 2007. These cosmic explosions can be as short as one-thousandth of a second while producing one year's worth of the Sun's total energy output. The origin of FRBs is still unknown. Although even aliens have been considered in models for FRBs, natural causes are clearly favored by the observations. The recent focuses include exotic hyper-magnetized neutron stars, black holes, and cosmic strings left over from the Big Bang.

Fireball 3

Japanese astronomers record possible impact event on Jupiter

A group of Japanese astronomers just discovered a potential new impact at the planet Jupiter.
Impact Flash Jupiter
Get your scorecards out — Jupiter just took another interplanetary hit. If it's confirmed it would be the 11th observed comet or asteroid strike at the gas giant since the pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter in 1994.

A little more than a month after five amateurs independently recorded a similar flash, a team of astronomers, led by Ko Arimatsu of Kyoto University, filmed this most recent flare in Jupiter's cloud tops at 13:24 UT on Friday, October 15th.

The potential impact flash appears around the 12-second mark in this video of Jupiter made on Friday, October 15th.
Ko Arimatsu / Kyoto University

Fireball 2

Swarm of near-Earth comets linked to recent ice giant Encke's breakup

comet swarm
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Artist's illustration showing a cloud of comet fragments
The longest-studied comets in our solar system have inspired ancient myths, religious fervor and modern scientific controversies. Now, the discovery of 88 asteroids and meteoroids orbitally aligned with one of them, Comet Encke, suggests that they all formed from the relatively recent breakup of an even bigger, icy comet. The findings are welcomed by those who believe Comet Encke and the other products of this astronomical event are responsible for many of Earth's most violent and consequential impacts over the last 20,000 years.

Earlier Evidence

Comet Encke was first observed in 1786 and later identified as the source of numerous annual meteor showers. Known collectively as the Taurids, these showers light up the skies of both the northern and southern hemispheres as Earth passes through a stream of debris created by the comet. (This year, look to the stars throughout November for a glimpse of your own.) In the 1980s, however, astronomer William Napier and astrophysicist Victor Clube suggested that objects larger than your average "shooting star" had arrived from a similar source as the comet.

Comment: Clube's and Napier's hypothesis is being borne out by the worrying increase in fireball counts year-over-year. SOTT's Fire in the Sky section attests to that.


'Volcanic' comet 29P blows its top in superoutburst creating coma wider than Jupiter

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann
© Photographer's website: https://flic.kr/p/2mACGoh
The evolution of the coma of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (centered) Initially observed as a compact bright object, the expanding coma is gradually becoming more transparent to the background stars. All images captured with iTelescope T11, with the initial outburst a 300 sec image due to rapidly changing clouds and only a single useable image, while the other images are a stacked total 720 sec with 120 sec subs. full resolution: https://flic.kr/p/2mACGoh
So you think you know what a comet is? Think again. Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is challenging old ideas. Astronomers call it a comet, but, really, "giant space volcano" might be a better description. It's a 60-km-wide ball of ice orbiting the Sun beyond Jupiter, and it appears to be one of the most volcanically active bodies in the entire Solar System.

Comet 29P just blew its top ... again. In late September 2021, 29P erupted four times in quick succession, blowing shells of "cryomagma" into space. Arizona amateur astronomer Eliot Herman has been monitoring the debris:

"Initially it looked like a bright compact object," says Herman. "Now the expanding cloud is 1.3 arcminutes wide (bigger than Jupiter) and sufficiently transparent for background stars to shine through."

Comment: Rather than the 'ice volcano' theory, Pierre Lescaudron explain in his book Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection that it's more likely that we're witnessing an increase in the comets electrical activity:
The fundamental difference between asteroids and comets is not their chemical composition, i.e. dirty, fluffy icy comets vs. rocky asteroids. Rather, as has long been put forward by plasma theorists, what differentiates 'comets' from 'asteroids' is their electric activity.

When the electric potential difference between an asteroid and the surrounding plasma is not too high, the asteroid exhibits a dark discharge mode1 or no discharge at all. But when the potential difference is high enough, the asteroid switches to a glowing discharge mode.2 At this point the asteroid is a comet. From this perspective, a comet is simply a glowing asteroid and an asteroid is a non-glowing comet. Thus the very same body can, successively, be a comet, then an asteroid, then a comet, etc., depending on variation in the ambient electric field it is subjected to.3
2) An intense circulation of ions and electrons occurs between the asteroid and the surrounding space. The energy provided by this intense transfer 'excites' electrons which generate photons, hence the glow of the asteroid. See: Meichsner, J. Nonthermal Plasma Chemistry and Physics, p.117
Further, similar reports about "bright outburts" were made about comet 67P, but, in this instance, close up photographs were available, and there was no evidence of 'ice volcano' activity: Comet 67P surprises scientists with 'bright outbursts', collapsing cliffs and rolling boulders during Rosetta mission

See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Our solar system may be surrounded by magnetic tunnel-like structure

Galaxy tunnel magnetic
© Haslam et al. (1982) with annotations by J. West.
The Galaxy seen in radio waves in the conventional view with the Galactic centre in the middle of the image.
A Dunlap Institute astronomer has discovered that our solar system may be surrounded by what she describes as a magnetic tunnel that can be seen in radio waves.

Dr. Jennifer West, Research Associate at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, is making a scientific case that two bright structures that are seen on opposite sides of the sky - previously considered to be separate - are actually connected and are made of rope-like filaments. This connection forms what looks like a tunnel around our solar system.

"If we were to look up in the sky," explains West, "we would see this tunnel-like structure in just about every direction we looked - that is, if we had eyes that could see radio light."

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


The mathematics of the amazing sandpile

mathematics sandpile domino theory self organization natue
To understand self-organization in nature, behold the sandpile.

Remember domino theory? One country going Communist was supposed to topple the next, and then the next, and the next. The metaphor drove much of United States foreign policy in the middle of the 20th century. But it had the wrong name. From a physical point of view, it should have been called the "sandpile theory."

Real-world political phase transitions tend to happen not in neat sequences, but in sudden coordinated fits, like the Arab Spring, or the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. These reflect quiet periods punctuated by crises — like a sandpile. You can add grains of sand to the top of a sandpile for a while, to no apparent effect. Then, all at once, an avalanche sweeps sand down from the top in an irregular pattern, possibly setting off little sub-avalanches as it goes.


Drug to calm cytokine storm: Life-saving Russian discovery could be key to stopping body's 'suicide attack' in severe Covid cases

hospital crew
© Sputnik/Ilya Pitalev
Russian intensive care unit at work
A group of Russian scientists have created a drug that may potentially revolutionize the treatment of Covid-19 by defusing the most catastrophic reaction the disease causes in patients, while not destroying their immune response.

The drug, called Leitragin, was developed by the Biomedical Technology Research Center of the Russian Federal Medical and Biology Agency (FMBA), and is currently undergoing clinical trials in Russia. Although its base substance was previously known and used in ulcer treatment medicine by Soviet and Russian doctors, it was the FMBA team that discovered how to apply it for the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19 and, potentially, other deadly diseases that cause life-threatening lung inflammation.

The Russian scientists had tasked themselves with finding a substance that would act as an 'off switch' for the chain reaction that, after being triggered by the invading SARS-CoV-2 virus, actually causes potential organ failure and death. This reaction of the immune system, dubbed the "cytokine storm," has been variously described as our body's overreaction to the virus or a "suicide attack" against the invading pathogen, and even as an evolutionary mechanism to stop the spread of deadly infections with the death of the host.

Trying to stop this uncontrolled immune response while still preserving the body's ability to fight the virus without causing more damage is what scientists and medics in intensive care units across the world have been wrestling with during the Covid-19 pandemic. In that regard, Leitragin is being touted as a game-changer, since its novel mechanism acts in a targeted way, and is said to be completely safe for one's health.

RT interviewed the head of the Russian team of scientists behind Leitragin, and talked to an independent researcher studying cytokine storms, to learn more about the potential of the novel drug.

Snowflake Cold

Scientists 'create' world's coldest temperature inside lab

snowflake cold
© Flickr / Alexey Kljatov
Researchers came closer than ever before to achieving absolute zero

Scientists just broke the record for the coldest temperature ever measured in a lab: They achieved the bone-chilling temperature of 38 trillionths of a degree above -273.15 Celsius by dropping magnetized gas 393 feet (120 meters) down a tower.

The team of German researchers was investigating the quantum properties of a so-called fifth state of matter: Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a derivative of gas that exists only under ultra-cold conditions. While in the BEC phase, matter itself begins to behave like one large atom, making it an especially appealing subject for quantum physicists who are interested in the mechanics of subatomic particles.