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Sun, 24 Jul 2016
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Giant galaxy 'built in reverse' found

© NASA/JPL/Caltech/SDSS/NRAO/L. Hagen and M. Seibert
In optical light, UGC 1382 appears to be a simple elliptical galaxy (left). When astronomers incorporated ultraviolet and deep optical data (centre) they began to see spiral arms, and when that was combined with a view of low-density hydrogen gas (shown in green at right), scientists discovered that UGC 1382 is gigantic.
Scientists have been taken by surprise to discover that a galaxy they thought was tiny and conventional is, in fact, enormous and bizarre - and quite unlike anything they have seen before.

At about 718,000 light-years across, UGC 1382 is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way - 10 times larger than was previously thought. But that isn't the strange part.

Whereas most galaxies have the oldest stars closer to the centre, this one is the reverse.

"The centre of UGC 1382 is actually younger than the spiral disc surrounding it," says Mark Seibert of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, in California.

"It's old on the outside and young on the inside. This is like finding a tree whose inner growth rings are younger than the outer rings."

Seibert and Lea Hagen of Pennsylvania State University found the galaxy by accident while they were looking for stars forming in run-of-the-mill elliptical galaxies - of which they thought UGC 1382 was one.

But when they started looking more closely at images in ultraviolet light through data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), they were amazed to see a vast expanse of stars that shouldn't have been there.


Rise of the machines: 47% of U.S. workforce at risk of losing their jobs to robots

© Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
Self-service checkout aisles at supermarkets are a sign that lower-wage jobs are being taken by machines, says Jason Furman, chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers.
A senior economic adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a warning to lower-wage earners: You risk losing your job to a machine.

"Technological advances in recent decades have brought tremendous benefits but have also contributed to increasing inequality and falling [workforce] participation," said Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a speech in New York last week.

A 2013 study from the University of Oxford found that 47 per cent of existing U.S. employment is at risk of automation. Furman's council took that data and analyzed it to see how it would impact people at different points on the income ladder.

Comment: The signs are all pointing to the fact that the global workforce is becoming obsolete and the ruling elite will soon have little use for the majority of humanity:


New technology opening door for military to control swarms of drones with their minds

A new age of warfare is near — and it's a situation of mind over matter.

Panagiotis Artemiadis, the director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab at Arizona State University, is developing technology that allows a person to control multiple drones using wavelengths generated by his brain.

"I have been working on brain control interfaces and human robot interactions for many years now," Artemiadis, who's also an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, told The Post.

His previous research focused on the mind control of a single machine, such as a robotic prosthetic hand or arm.

"About two years ago I thought of doing the next step: many robots," he said.

A PhD student wearing a skin-tight cap hooked up to 128 electrodes demonstrated the technology in a video uploaded by ASU.

"We're using advanced algorithms to decipher what the person is thinking," the student says. Those signals are then communicated to the robots.

In 2014, the lab was awarded $860,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects and Agency and the US Air Force in order to build the mind-bending technology.

Life Preserver

Ikea to use mushroom-based packaging that will decompose in a garden within weeks

The furniture retailer is looking at using biodegradable mycelium "fungi packaging" as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling.

It's no secret polystyrene is devastating to the environment. But, do you know how exactly that is so? According to a fact-sheet provided by Harvard, polystyrene - which is made from petroleum, a non-sustainable, non-renewable, heavily polluting and fast-disappearing commodity - is not biodegradable, as it takes thousands of years to break down. In addition, it is detrimental to wildlife that ingests it.

Despite this well-known data, humans continue to toss more than 14 million tons of the stuff into landfills every year, according to the French ministry of ecology.

Sadly, until every individual decided to "be the change" and live consciously, styrofoam pollution will continue to be a problem.


Unseen brown dwarfs found lurking deep in the Orion Nebula

© Eso/H. Drass et al
This image of the Orion Nebula star-formation region was captured by Eso's Very Large Telescope in Chile. It is the deepest view ever seen of this region and reveals more very faint planetary-mass objects than expected.
Hidden deep within the Orion Nebula is a host of previously unseen faint brown dwarfs - planetary bodies that are the missing link between large planets and small stars.

An international team spotted this treasure trove of planetary bodies after capturing the deepest and most comprehensive view of the nebula to date using the Hawk-I infrared instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The presence of these low-mass bodies provides an 'exciting insight' into the history of how stars formed within the nebula itself and offers clues to how galaxies and stars of different masses evolve.

The Orion Nebula spans 24 light-years within the constellation Orion. It can be seen from Earth with the naked eye as a 'fuzzy patch' in Orion's 'sword'. Some nebulae, like Orion, are strongly illuminated by ultraviolet radiation from the many hot stars born within them, such that the gas is ionised and glows brightly.


Supernova could cause mass extinction on Earth

Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. A supernova might have occurred around the right time and at the right distance from Earth to contribute to a minor mass extinction several million years ago.
An exploding star hundreds of light-years from Earth may have played a role in a minor mass extinction that happened 2.59 million years ago, new research indicates. Scientists modeled the light and radiation that would have reached Earth from relatively close exploding stars, or supernovae.

The impacts on Earth and its lifeforms could help explain the die-off that happened as the Pliocene Epoch wrapped up and the Pleistocene began, they say.

It's generally accepted that several stars have gone supernova about 300 light years from Earth within the past few million years. Recent evidence for these supernovae comes from two studies published in April. In one, researchers traced the amount of iron-60, a radioactive form of iron, in deep-sea crusts.

Iron-60 is catapulted into space by supernovae or in winds from massive stars; its presence can reveal when a star exploded nearby. Scientists found two influxes of iron-60, one about 1.5 to 3.2 million years ago, another at 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago.

Another group calculated the likely trajectories of recent supernovae, and found that the stars were probably nine times the size of our own sun, and exploded about 300 light years from Earth.

In the new study, scientists were curious about how these recent supernovae might have affected life on Earth, as well as our planet's atmosphere. To cause a truly catastrophic extinction, you'd need a supernova within about 26 light-years from Earth.

"This event is not close enough to have precipitated a major mass extinction, but may have had noticeable effects," wrote the researchers, who recently published the findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Fireball 3

Two meteorites fell at the exact same spot millions of years apart

© Morocco World News
Rabat - Evidence found in the High Atlas Mountains suggests that two meteors fell in the exact same place, potentially millions of years apart. Seven scientists from an international team lead by a researcher at the Hassan II University in Casablanca studied the impact site and found that the impact structure is much older than the meteorite fragments found at the site.

Large meteorites are not decelerated by the atmosphere, so may create impact structures or "shatter cones" when they land. Meteorites are not usually found at impact sites because they are molten or vaporized upon impact, and they are rapidly eroded or broken down by Earth's environment.

This particular site, outside the Village of Agoudal in the High Atlas Mountains, had meteorite fragments at the site, and it was assumed that the meteorite fragments created the impact structure. The new research, which was published by Professor Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane and the research team in the science journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science on June 2016, claims that the impact structure was already present when a second meteor hit the same spot, leaving behind the fragments.

The estimated diameter of the original impact structure is between 1 and 3 km. Scientists used the average rate of erosion in the High Atlas Mountains to estimate how old the structures are. Based on how much the structure wore down over time, the impact structure is probably 1.25 to 3.75 million years old. This makes the impact structure much older than the meteorite fragments found in the same site.

Discoveries like this can help scientists better understand the impact of a meteor falling to Earth. Research will continue to determine how life in the region was affected at the time of the impact.


Scientists create a patch that may make painful insulin injections a thing of the past

Insulin injections are painful, and millions of Americans who suffer from diabetes can attest to that. But this pain may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new invention from researchers at the University of North Carolina and NC State.

This incredible team of researchers has now created a "smart insulin patch" which detects increases in blood sugar levels and secretes doses of insulin into the bloodstream as needed. The relatively hands-off method is a major breakthrough, as scientists have been trying for decades to make regular insulin injections for diabetics unnecessary.

Covered in natural beta cells, the simple synthetic patch would eliminate the pain of injections, and even take out the worry work of monitoring as well. Though it hasn't been tested on humans as of yet, it's already been shown to safely control the blood sugar levels of mice for at least 10 hours at a time.


The dual-use conundrum of gene editing

Dual-use may be best understood by considering the functions of a knife. Used against an enemy, a knife can be deadly. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, a knife may be life-saving, removing a gangrenous appendage or excising a cancerous mass.

Wikipedia defines dual-use this way: "In politics and diplomacy, dual-use is technology that can be used for both peaceful and military aims. More generally speaking, dual-use can also refer to any technology which can satisfy more than one goal at any given time."

Behind the debate over the Iran nuclear deal lurked the dual-use issue. On the one hand, there were those claiming that Iran had every right to develop nuclear power in pursuit of peaceful aims. In the other camp were those who maintained that possession of nuclear technology was a path towards developing nuclear weapons, and in the hands of a regime hostile to America's purported friend and ally, Israel, was too dangerous to be allowed to manifest.

Comment: These mad scientists have no clue as to what they are doing. One shudders to think of the abominations they could bring into being.

See also:
"On the cusp of a new era": The permanent alteration of the human gene pool using new "editing" technology


The overlooked threats of gene editing:
In reality, all genetic editing, especially when it alters the genetic material of subsequent generations, represents a potential threat to the genetic heritage of the entire planet with potential consequences we may still not fully understand. In a world where the "science is final" regarding humanity's impact on the planet's climate, demanding "urgent action" to stop or reverse it, the absence of a similar impetus behind stopping the contamination of our planet's genetic heritage seems suspiciously hypocritical if not utterly reckless and even intentional.


More bad science: fMRI bugs could make decades of research worthless

Art, not quite science.
A whole pile of "this is how your brain looks like" fMRI-based science has been potentially invalidated because someone finally got around to checking the data.

The problem is simple: to get from a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain to a scientific conclusion, the brain is divided into tiny "voxels". Software, rather than humans, then scans the voxels looking for clusters.

When you see a claim that "scientists know when you're about to move an arm: these images prove it", they're interpreting what they're told by the statistical software.

Now, boffins from Sweden and the UK have cast doubt on the quality of the science, because of problems with the statistical software: it produces way too many false positives.

Comment: Just goes to show: when scientists claim the 'know' certain things about the mind, brain, and consciousness, take what they say with a barrel or two of salt.