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Thu, 21 Jun 2018
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New research says our Milky Way galaxy is larger than original estimates

© YouTube
If NASA can spot a tiny exoplanet millions of miles away just by catching the momentary dip in brightness as it passes in front of a star, you'd think that astronomers would have a pretty good handle on how big our own Milky Way galaxy is.

It turns out that's not the case-originally, the Milky Way was estimated to be around 100,000 light years across, but a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced in 2015 that it was actually 50% larger than that.

Now, recent research from the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics and the National Astronomical Observatories of Beijing has revised that number again- they say the Milky Way's diameter should technically be between 170,000 and 200,000 light-years in length, almost 100 percent larger than our original estimates.


Illusion of scientific consensus: Demotion of Pluto ignores astronomical history

Review of asteroid literature suggests voting isn't right way to define planetary status
Pluto demotion as planet
The International Astronomical Union’s vote in 2006 to demote Pluto to dwarf planet status merely created “the illusion of scientific consensus,” according to a recent paper.
If Dr. Seuss had been an astronomer, Horton the Elephant (who heard a Who) would have said "a planet's a planet, no matter how small."

Even Pluto.

But don't quote Dr. Seuss to the International Astronomical Union. In 2006, the IAU declared Pluto a planet not.

IAU Resolution B5 (not to be confused with Le Petit Prince's asteroid B 612) declared that in order to be considered a planet, a body must clear the neighborhood around its orbit. Pluto, then, doesn't qualify, because its "neighborhood" (way out beyond the orbit of Neptune) is populated by other bodies referred to as trans-Neptunian or Kuiper Belt objects. Two of them, Haumea and Makemake, have been recognized as "dwarf planets," the same designation that the IAU now applies to Pluto.

This demotion of Pluto to dwarf status (no offense intended to dwarfs) makes sense, IAU defenders contend, because the asteroids (orbiting the sun mostly between Mars and Jupiter) aren't planets, either - no one of them has cleared out the orbital neighborhood. After all, nobody would call an asteroid a PLANET. Except actually, nearly everybody called them planets for 150 years after they were discovered. Only half a century or so ago did astronomers stop considering most asteroids to be planets. And that shift had nothing to do with clearing out any neighborhoods, Philip Metzger of the University of Central Florida and colleagues point out in a new paper.


People who wear glasses really are more intelligent - according to genetic research

Harry Potter
© Peter Mountain

It may seem merely a cliche born of centuries of educated people straining their eyes in dimly-lit libraries, but new genetic research suggests those who wear glasses really are more intelligent.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh analysed the genetic data of more than 44,480 people.

They found that, overall, those who were more intelligent were nearly 30 per cent more likely to have genes indicating they require reading glasses than those who scored poorly.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the research also linked higher cognitive ability to genes known to play a part in better cardiovascular health.

The results are based on the most thorough investigation of intelligence genes of its kind to date.


Researchers develop Twitter AI algorithm that can predict when protest will turn violent

Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore in 2015
© Reuters
The Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore in 2015, which were studied by the researchers
Twitter seems a battleground at all times, but it is a very specific type of message that appears before words online turn to actions on the street, say US researchers who developed an algorithm for predicting public violence.

"Our findings suggest that people are more likely to condone violent protest of an issue when they both see it at as a moral issue and believe others share this position, a pattern we refer to as moral convergence," Morteza Dehghani, lead author of the study, which appeared in Nature, told Digital Trends.

The team from the University of Southern California picked the 2015 Black Lives Matter riots in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. With 18 million messages posted on Twitter at the time referencing the riots, and near-hourly swings in the level of hostilities, there was plenty of scope for empirical research.

Russian Flag

Natural selection? Quora answers why Russian women are so beautiful

russian woman
Quora can be an great resource for good information from experts.

We think one important reason that these Quora folks didn't mention is that Russian women have not been psychologically bent by the last 60 years of liberal mass consumerism and gender tinkering. Because of this they are more feminine, more like women one sees in prewar movies, more like how Western women used to be before cultural marxism wrecked them.

We are sure the RI commenters community has a lot to say on this subject.

Why do you think Russian women are so darn amazing?


Russian Defense Minister Shoigu presents video of new Su-57 fighter launching new cruise missile from its weapons bay

Russian Su-57 fighter jet
© DefenseWorld.net
Russian Su-57 fighter jet
Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has presented video of the country's new Su-57 fighter-you can read our full analysis on this often misunderstood aircraft here-launching a new cruise missile from its internal weapons bay. This is the first video we know of not only of this missile being tested, but also of the Su-57s weapons bays in use.

In his statement, Shoigu mentions the Russian Ministry of Defense's large effort to test and evaluate new weapons on the Syrian battlefield, but it's not clear if this launch took place over the war-torn country or not. He says the test occurred in February, which is the same month a pair of Su-57s briefly deployed to Syria under puzzling circumstances. That excursion lasted less than two days and what the aircraft were doing there and why they returned home so quickly remains a mystery. It is possible that the Su-57s were there to test the missile on real targets, or the test could have just as easily occurred on ranges within Russia's own borders.

Life Preserver

Cancer mapping technology could predict the future of a patient's disease

Mapping cancer tumors
© poba / Getty
Cancer Research UK said: “Like computer models that enable weather forecasting, this model could predict the future of a patient’s disease, one month, one year ahead, based on the patterns of genetic changes that their tumors show.
A new computer program could forecast how tumors grow in the same way that meteorologists map the weather, scientists have revealed. The program could one day help doctors to 'stay one step ahead' of the disease.

The new research, published in Nature Genetics, used DNA-reading technology to look at how tumors evolve. The computer program relies on mathematical models that have been used to predict how populations change and develop. The models work backwards using genetic information found in biopsies to determine how the cells evolved, which in turn could allow doctors and scientists to predict how the tumor will progress in the future.

Lead researcher, Trevor Graham, from the Barts Cancer Institute in London, said that the new mapping system is "revealing the secret history of a tumor, which we were never able to observe before. But the biggest thing about this work is that we're looking into the future, to know what a tumor will look like next week, month or even year."


Great Barrier Reef has recovered from five "death events" in the last 30,000 years

great barrier reef
A landmark international study of the Great Barrier Reef has shown that in the past 30,000 years the world's largest reef system has suffered five death events.

Researchers say they were largely driven by changes in sea level and associated environmental change.

However, they say it is still an 'open question' whether it will recover from the current crisis, caused by coral bleaching.

Over millennia, the reef has adapted to sudden changes in environment by migrating across the sea floor as the oceans rose and fell - but say this might not be enough to deal with the current crisis.

Comment: Ocean currents have been shown to be the weakest in over 1,600 years, with an overall drop in temperatures and low oxygen levels, as well as in many areas sea level appears to be dropping (or the land is rising, or both), while at the same time due to increasing storm activity the oceans are becoming more destructive. But as noted in the article, all hope is not lost, our planet seems to always recover:

Blue Planet

Permian extinction occurred during low CO2, cooler climate, increasing ice sheets and sea level drop

The Great Permian Extinction

The Great Permian Extinction:
The synapsid Lystrosaurus survived the extinction and dominated the landscape afterwards
In the past it has been widely reported that high and abruptly changing CO2 concentrations during the Permian led to climate conditions that were "too hot for complex life to survive" on the planet. Today, scientists have determined that the opposite may be true: the Permian mass extinction event occurred during a period of global cooling, expansive ice sheet growth, relatively low CO2 levels, and a marine-habitat-destroying sea level drop of 100 meters.

A year ago, the press release for a paper published in Scientific Reports argued that during the Permian mass extinction event, "the majority of marine species" were killed off by an "extreme cold" period that coincided with widespread glaciation and a dramatic drop in global sea levels.

"Analysis of the newly dated layers showed a significant reduction of seawater levels during the [Permian] extinction event. The only explanation for such a dramatic decrease in water levels is a sudden increase in ice. The ice age lasted just 80,000 years, but the extreme cold was enough to kill off the majority of marine species."

Comment: We can see many similarities on our planet today and this could give us insight into what may have occurred back then. Also, the scientists above do not seem to be factoring in cosmically driven catastrophic events of which there is much evidence in our recent past: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made?

Microscope 2

Is a catastrophic event 200,000 years ago responsible for most of the life on our planet today?

DNA gene
For the planet's 7.6 billion people, 500 million house sparrows, or 100,000 sandpipers, genetic diversity "is about the same," Mark Stoeckle from the Rockefeller University in New York told AFP

Who would have suspected that a handheld genetic test used to unmask sushi bars pawning off tilapia for tuna could deliver deep insights into evolution, including how new species emerge?

And who would have thought to trawl through five million of these gene snapshots-called "DNA barcodes"-collected from 100,000 animal species by hundreds of researchers around the world and deposited in the US government-run GenBank database?

Comment: See also: