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Sat, 22 Oct 2016
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Science & Technology


Cosmochemists Share Results of Cometary Dust Analysis

Steve Simon and Lawrence Grossman of the Geophysical Sciences Department analyzed some of the first samples of a comet ever returned to Earth by a spacecraft. The artist’s rendering above shows the Stardust spacecraft during its close encounter with comet Wild 2, during which the samples were collected.
University cosmochemists Lawrence Grossman and Steven Simon have studied scores of meteorites during their careers, with a few Apollo lunar samples thrown in for good measure. But until 2006, they had never before examined a verified sample of a comet.

Much to their surprise, what they found looked a lot like components of some of the meteorites in their research collection.

"The thing that strikes me about the sample is how similar the mineral identities and the chemical compositions are to the things that we find in carbonaceous chondrites," said Grossman, Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College.

These meteorites contain material that has been unaltered since the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. The cometary grains differ from carbonaceous chondrites in their complete lack of water-bearing minerals, however.


"Blue Straggler" Stars Cannibalize to Stay Young

The core of globular cluster 47 Tucanae contains a number of "blue stragglers"—older stars that glow with the blue light normally seen from young stars (above, circled in yellow). In January 2008, astronomers announced that these blue stragglers are likely members of binary star pairs and are maintaining the appearance of youth by cannibalizing their partners.
In a paper published last week in the journal Nature, the researchers report a strong link between the total number of blue stragglers and the mass of a cluster's core, the dense central region of stars.

Old stars known as blue stragglers keep the appearance of youth by stealing mass from other stars, according to new research.

Christian Knigge of Southampton University in the U.K. and colleagues think most blue stragglers are members of binary star pairs that gradually pull matter from their partners.

This cosmic cannibalism allows smaller, aging stars to swell to sunlike proportions, extending their lives by hundreds of millions of years.

According to the study authors, the new finding refutes a leading theory that such rebirths were the results of stellar collisions.

"Personally, I always actually liked the idea ... that stars like our sun might literally smash into each other and form a new, more massive star," Knigge said of the opposing theory.

"Compared to that, even stellar cannibalism seems almost pedestrian."

Control Panel

Lies Take Longer Than Truths

A new technique that separates truth from lies finds it takes about 30 percent longer to fib.

The computer-based analysis, reported in The Times of London, showed that British test subjects took 1.2 seconds on average to speak reality in recent tests, while prevarications took 1.8 seconds.

The timed antagonistic response alethiometer test (Tara) was developed by Aiden Gregg, a psychologist at the University of Southampton. It involves questions answered on a computer using the keyboard, then an algorithm to see how users did.

In 85 percent of cases, interviewees were slower when they lied.


Feeling Your Words: Hearing With Your Face

© Takayuki Ito/Haskins Lab
This is a listener wired for sounds.
The movement of facial skin and muscles around the mouth plays an important role not only in the way the sounds of speech are made, but also in the way they are heard according to a study by scientists at Haskins Laboratories, a Yale-affiliated research laboratory.

"How your own face is moving makes a difference in how you 'hear' what you hear," said first author Takayuki Ito, a senior scientist at Haskins.

When, Ito and his colleagues used a robotic device to stretch the facial skin of "listeners" in a way that would normally accompany speech production they found it affected the way the subjects heard the speech sounds.


New Evidence of the Cult of Zeus is 3,200 Years Old.

Partying like it's 999 B.C.

It's not hard to see why Zeus was such a popular god with the ancient Greeks. He not only wielded a thunderbolt, but he also got into all sorts of trouble, including liaisons with humans and goddesses - much to the annoyance of his wife, Hera.

Greek gods were figures people could relate to, said archaeologist David Romano of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. And worshiping Zeus apparently involved some serious partying.


Cloned Horses Could Offer Insight Into DNA Possibilities

Before the show-jumping champion Gem Twist died in 2006, his New Jersey owners paid to have a flap of his skin frozen -- hoping to carry something of his prodigious talent into the future.

Veterinary scientists later pulled those skin cells from the freezer and used them to clone a new horse, now a healthy, spirited 5-month-old named Gemini.

As a clone, Gemini carries the same genetic code as Gem Twist, who won Olympic medals and other high honors over his 27-year life. Today, the question is: Will Gemini inherit Gem Twist's exceptional grace, daring and strength?

Ever since the news broke in 1997 about the cloning of Dolly the sheep, pundits have speculated on the possibility of replicating Michael Jordan's jump shot, Babe Ruth's batting power, or Mikhail Baryshnikov's grand jete.

Now, the first cloned athletes are growing up -- and while none are human, they still may show how far DNA can go in endowing extraordinary talents.


Goldmine bug DNA may be key to alien life

© Greg Wanger / Gordon Southam
D. audaxviator lives alone, without light or oxygen 2.8 kilometres down inside a South African goldmine.

A bug discovered deep in a goldmine and nicknamed "the bold traveller" has got astrobiologists buzzing with excitement. Its unique ability to live in complete isolation of any other living species suggests it could be the key to life on other planets.

A community of the bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator has been discovered 2.8 kilometres beneath the surface of the Earth in fluid-filled cracks of the Mponeng goldmine in South Africa. Its 60 °C home is completely isolated from the rest of the world, and devoid of light and oxygen.

Dylan Chivian of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, studied the genes found in samples of the fluid to identify the organisms living within it, expecting to find a mix of species. Instead, he found that 99.9% of the DNA belonged to one bacterium, a new species. The remaining DNA was contamination from the mine and the laboratory.


Close call: weird asteroid skims Earth today

There's a newly-discovered weird asteroid kid on Earth's block, and it's moved in close. Really, really close, in space terms.

Asteroid 2009 BD is cruising by us today at a distance of only about 400,000 miles, according to NASA's Near Earth Object Program. This strange asteroid is estimated to be 5. 7 meters to 13 meters in diameter.


Dinosaurs could survive cold conditions

© Lonely Planet
Dinosaurs could have lived and reproduced in much colder climates than we orginally thought.
Dinosaurs were able to survive colder temperatures than was previously thought, according to new research that casts doubt on theories that they were killed off by plummeting temperatures caused by climate change.

Palaeontologists have unearthed a rich variety of dinosaur fossils in an area that would have been one of the most northerly regions of the world in the period just before the giant reptiles died out, between 65 and 68 million years ago.

At the time, the world was far warmer and the continents were still to move to their current positions. Northeastern Russia, where the remains have been found, would have been just 1,000 miles from the North Pole, inside what is now called the Arctic Circle. Average temperatures would have been around 50F (10C).

Comment: There is ample evidence that when we are bombarded by meteorite/s, there has been noted "fogs", "ill smelling fumes" and such. It could just be possible that not only was the sun blotted out for many months - years even - but there were also foreign bacteria and viruses being strewed about making the dinosaurs sick enough to die.

And maybe the predators were also ingesting the diseases from those they ate who were infected.


Curious Asteroid Flyby

Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 BD is slowly passing by Earth today only 400,000 miles away. The small 10m-wide space rock poses no threat, but it merits attention anyway. The orbit of 2009 BD appears to be almost identical to the orbit of Earth. 2009 BD may be a rare co-orbital asteroid, circling the sun in near-tandem with our planet. Extrapolating the motion of 2009 BD into the future, we see that it remains in the vicinity of Earth for many months to come, never receding farther than 0.1 AU (9.3 million miles) until Nov. 2010. Future observations may reveal the nature of this strange asteroid; stay tuned! [3D orbit] [ephemeris]