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Mon, 20 Nov 2017
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Green Light

Lamborghini creates world's first 'self-healing' sports car

Lamborghini has created the world's first self-healing sports car. The Terzo Millennio, which translates as third millennium in Italian, has the ability to detect and repair cracks in its body work.

Using sensors the car can conduct its own health check to detect any damages and self-repair itself by filling the crack with nanotubes to prevent it spreading.

The super car was created in collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

Comment: Have you ever noticed the contrast between human technological development and human moral development?


Brain cell navigation system decoded

© KIT, Weth
Embryonal brain development in the petri dish: During growth, axons (green) of retina neurons read biochemical signals by means of a growth cone (magenta) equipped with molecular antennas at their ends and guide them to their targets to correctly interconnect the visual system of the brain.
The human brain contains roughly 100 billion neurons. Information among them is transmitted via a complex network of nerve fibers. Hardwiring of most of this network takes place before birth according to a genetic blueprint, that is without external influences playing a role. Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now found out more about how the navigation system guiding the axons during growth works. This is reported in the eLife magazine.

Total length of the nerve fiber network in the brain is approximately 500,000 km, more than the distance between Earth and the moon. Growth of the nerve fibers is controlled by a navigation system to prevent incorrect hardwiring. But how exactly do the nerve fibers find their target region during growth? "This is similar to autonomous driving in road traffic," says Franco Weth of the Cell and Neural Biology Division of the Zoological Institute. Vehicles exchange information with each other and with signal transmitters at the roadside to reach their destination. In case of nerve fibers, sensor molecules at their ends serve as antennas. With them, they receive guiding signals in the form of proteins that are positioned along the way, in the target area, and on other fibers crossing the path. Having arrived at the target, axons form interconnections with other neurons, the synapses.

Better Earth

Sponge City Initiative project: China is building 30 'sponge cities' that aim to soak up floodwater and prevent disaster

Yanweizhou Park in Jinhua, eastern China
Like many places around the world, Chinese cities are considering ways to combat flooding in the face of climate change. Increased urban development has made flooding worse, and has turned some neighborhoods into vulnerable waterfront locations.

In 2010, landslides from flooding killed approximately 700 people and left over 300 missing in three-quarters of China's provinces. Just this July, heavy rains pummeled southern China, flooding towns, destroying homes, and killing at least 56 people.

In recent years, fatal floods like these have become regular occurrences. The number of Chinese cities struck by floods has more than doubled since 2008, according to The Economist. Some scientists say that rising global temperatures are making rainfall from storms more destructive and frequent.

The Chinese government is now pursuing an idea that could alleviate the problem: sponge cities.


NASA to test 'space lasers' for communications

© Orbital ATK / Facebook
Antares rocket carrying the S.S. Gene Cernan Cygnus
Saturday marks the day that humanity takes one step closer to the science-fiction realm with space lasers. An American aerospace firm is aiming to create 200 megabits per second (Mbps) connections in space using satellites equipped with lasers.

If successful, this new tech could pave the way for networks of satellite-connected devices to send data, which will be useful for military, tech, and meteorological agencies, to and from space via laser connections. The launch of the new satellites is scheduled for 7am ET on Saturday from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The company, Orbital ATK, will send its Cygnus spacecraft, complete with NanoRacks CubeSats satellites, to the International Space Station. NASA is hoping that the mission will highlight the importance of small sensor spacecraft to the future of space exploration.


Russian billionaire seeks to fund private mission to Saturn moon in search of extra-terrestrial life

Speaking at a Seattle conference, 'A New Space Age', Milner said his science team believes there are three potential locations for extra-terrestrial lifeforms in our solar system: under the surface of Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa, and "the most promising candidate," Enceladus.

Located 1.27 billion miles away from Earth, Enceladus has a surface temperature below -200 Celsius, but is thought to harbor a giant hot sub-surface ocean that shoots up plumes of material hundreds of miles up.

"We formed a little workshop around this idea: Can we design a low-cost, privately funded mission to Enceladus which can be launched relatively soon, and that can look more thoroughly at those plumes, try to see what's going on there?" Milner outlined.

Comment: Milner has to look no further than this strange planet if he's looking for signs of 'extra-terrestrial' life.


China reveals model of a 7,680mph hypersonic strike aircraft on state TV

Chinese state media has revealed the country's first ever images of a model (pictured) of its hypersonic glide vehicle, a nuclear weapons expert has claimed. The secretive missile delivery craft, known as the DF-ZF, could travel at up to ten times the speed of sound.
Chinese state media has revealed the country's first ever images of a model of its hypersonic glide vehicle, a nuclear weapons expert has claimed.

The secretive missile delivery craft, known as the DF-ZF, could travel at up to ten times the speed of sound (7,680 mph/12,360 kph) according to some estimates.

Its speed will ensure the country's nuclear threat can reliably breach the United States' ballistic missile defence shield, which fires incoming strikes out of the air.

The model was briefly shown during a State-run TV special covering the country's JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel.

The innovative setup is the largest of its kind in the world and is capable of testing missiles and aircraft up to 6,900mph (11,100kph).

The news follows a US Navy announcement yesterday that it had successfully test fired a hypersonic missile that could hit 'anywhere in the world' within an hour.

Black Cat

Scientists hope to clone 500,000 year old lion cub

The lion was found frozen in ice in Siberia, Russia.

It survived almost intact for tens of thousands of years, and its fur and facial features are clearly visible.

It was found with its face resting on its paw.

The cub is believed to have been between one and two months old when it died, but experts haven't yet found out how it died.

The body was spotted on the bank of a river by villager Boris Berezhnov in the Abyisky district of Yakutia.

Fireball 3

Extinction of dinosaurs may not have occurred had the asteroid struck in different place

© Getty Images
Artwork depicting extinction of dinosaurs.
The catastrophic asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago may not have been so devastating had it hit almost anywhere else on earth. It means dinosaurs could still rule the earth and humans may never have evolved at all.

That's according to new research by Japanese scientists Kunio Kaiho and Naga Oshima, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. They posit the asteroid, known as the Chicxulub Impactor, which smashed into what was then a shallow sea in modern day Mexico, would not have been so devastating if it hit about 87 percent of anywhere else on the planet.

The roughly six mile (10km) wide asteroid created a crater more 110 miles (176km) across when it smashed into our planet. The collision released more than 1 billion times as much energy as the atomic bomb detonations which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of WW2.


Astronomers discover star that exploded multiple times

© Courtesy of the European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser.
This is an artist’s impression of a supernova explosion.
It's the celestial equivalent of a horror movie villain-a star that wouldn't stay dead.

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Nick Konidaris and Benjamin Shappee discovered a star that exploded multiple times over a period of 50 years. The finding, published by Nature, completely confounds existing knowledge of a star's end of life, and Konidaris' instrument-construction played a crucial role in analyzing the phenomenon.

In September 2014, the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory team of astronomers detected a new explosion in the sky, iPTF14hls.

The light given off by the event was analyzed in order to understand the speed and chemical composition of the material ejected in the explosion.

This analysis indicated that the explosion was what's called a type II-P supernova, and everything about the discovery seemed normal. Until, that is, a few months later when the supernova started getting brighter again.

Type II-P supernovae usually remain bright for about 100 days. But iPTF14hls remained bright for more than 600! What's more, archival data revealed a 1954 explosion in the exact same location.

© Adapted from Arcavi et al. 2017, Nature. Credit: LCO/S. Wilkinson.
An image taken by the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey reveals a possible explosion in the year 1954 at the location of iPTF14hls (left), not seen in a later image taken in 1993 (right). Supernovae are known to explode only once, shine for a few months and then fade, but iPTF14hls experienced at least two explosions, 60 years apart.

Comment: See also:

Rare type Ia supernova discovery ushers in new era for cosmology
Star explodes 4 times in this rare phenomenon
Astronomers Study "Zombie" Stars

Solar Flares

NASA spots rare 7,000mph 'whirlpool' on sun's surface

A stunning new Nasa image shows an extremely rare pattern (circled in red) at the sun's surface. A dark snake-like filament can be seen erupting from the star, but while the formations are normally stretched out like a strand, this one is circular.
A stunning new Nasa image shows an extremely rare pattern streaming from the sun at close to 7,000 miles per hour (11,200 km/h).

A dark snake-like filament can be seen erupting from the star, but while the formations are normally stretched out like a strand, this one is circular like a whirlpool.

This is because it is being yanked back by the star's staggering gravitational pull - which is about 27.9 times that of Earth.

The rare sight, captured by Nasa's orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), has only been seen a 'handful of times', the agency said.

Comment: Also see: