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Thu, 23 Nov 2017
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Science & Technology


Jupiter's mysterious clouds

© Acksblog
Fig. 1. Jupiter clouds which remain unidentified
Most people do not realize that the various colored clouds which cover the entire giant planet Jupiter are still a mystery. The first probe that reached the vicinity of Jupiter was Pioneer 10 in 3 Dec. 1973, roughly 34 years ago. Since that mission another 12 missions have visited the giant, each carrying a different complement of instruments. Juno, currently orbiting Jupiter, has made eight close passes to refine the data of earlier missions without explaining the makeup of the clouds.

Planetary scientists still believe that the giant planets comprise 90% hydrogen and 10% helium, however, this assumption is being seriously challenged by the Juno gravitational, magnetic field and energetic particle data. Admittedly, nothing about the planet is turning out to be what they expected. This science has been plagued by the 'gas giant' assumption, with monumental steps being taken to make the data fit the the hypothetical model, rather than trying to understand their implications. The uniformitarion paradigm is the only one used to interpret data from every planet in the solar system.

Spectrometers can determine gaseous molecules by studying the spectral lines due to their chemical reactions or radiation emitted when high energy particles impact them. Molecules radiate more spectral lines in infrared spectrum when the air molecules impact one another due to collisions with other atoms. However, particulate aerosols suspended in an atmosphere, like volcanic clouds and smoke, usually <1 μm (micron), only radiate in broad spectral regions, seen as different colors, which do not enable the determination of their elemental composition.


Playing God: Beetle with functional third eye developed by genetic researchers (PHOTO)

© Reuters
Indiana University Bloomington researchers created a third eye on a beetle.
US scientists have reported a bizarre breakthrough in genetics - the ability to grow a third eye on a scarab beetle.

Matching up cells is a major part of the scientific puzzle to regenerate limbs. Researchers at Indiana University Bloomington now say they have made a promising step in developing body parts "outside their normal context."

The development comes in the form of manipulating the genetic makeup of a dung beetle to give the creature a third eye at the center of its forehead. Tests on the extra eye showed it grew nerve connections and displayed the response associated with a working eye.

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the study describes the "down-regulation" of a beetle's head gene to produce a "functional compound eye-like structure." Armin P Moczek, a professor in the IU Bloomington Department of Biology, told IU News the discovery centered on disrupting a specific gene called orthodenticle.


Tim Berners-Lee published idea for World Wide Web on this day in 1990

© Pierre Virot / Reuters
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee
On November 12, 1990, the man who would go on to develop the World Wide Web published this proposal for linking and accessing information on the shared interface.

Tim Berners-Lee wanted to initially streamline the collection and distribution of information at the European research center, CERN. By the end of 1990, the British computer scientist had developed a blueprint that still informs the way millions of people consume information.

The vision for Berners-Lee's early World Wide Web are detailed in a funding proposal for the World Wide Web dated November 12, 1990.

Stock Up

Russia's record wheat harvest sees it replace US as agricultural superpower

The US is being pushed out of the grain market as Russia's bumper wheat harvest has dragged down prices to record lows. Russian agricultural exports are booming thanks to a weaker national currency and massive investment.

"We are pushing America aside in some markets, and we are satisfied with this," said Russia's Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Tkachev.

This year Russian farmers are expected to harvest the biggest crop in over a century. Russia will produce at least 83 million tons of wheat in the current growing season, according to estimates by The Wall Street Journal.

Comment: That's non-GMO frankenfood wheat, by the way.


Stunning new photos of Jupiter received from Juno probe

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran
In the most recent flyby, as with the previous eight, Juno's flyby started over Jupiter's north pole.
Traveling above Jupiter at more than 130,000 miles per hour, NASA's $1 billion Juno probe took its ninth set of stunning flyby images on October 24. But the sun slipped between the giant planet and Earth for more than a week, blocking the spacecraft from beaming home its precious bounty of data.

Now that the conjunction is over, however, new raw image data from Juno's ninth perijove - as the spacecraft's high-speed flybys are called - has poured in. Researchers posted it all online on Tuesday, and a community of amateurs and professionals has been busily processing the data to yield colorful and stunning new pictures of Jupiter.

"Brand new Jupiter pics from @NASAJuno Perijove 09! What a blimmin' gorgeous/diabolical planet," Seán Doran, a UK-based graphic artist who regularly processes NASA images, tweeted on Tuesday.

Below are some fresh, close-up images of Jupiter, along with other unbelievable views captured from earlier perijoves.

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.