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Wed, 27 Jul 2016
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Incredibly rare 'ghost fish' recorded alive for first time, 2km down in depths of Pacific Ocean

The 'ghost fish' has never been seen alive before
An incredibly rare 'ghost fish' has been seen alive for the first time ever.

The ethereal deep ocean dweller, measuring just 10cm long, has never before been spotted by researchers, let alone caught on camera.

It lives in the murky depths of the sea - 2km below the surface.

The odd-looking fish is pale, with almost translucent skin and bulbous, glowing eyes.

It is thought to belong to the Aphyonidae family.

Some think the scaly creatures looks like Falcor, the dragon from the cult 1984 movie, 'The NeverEnding Story'.

Fireball 3

Evidence of huge asteroid impact event found in Australia

© A Glikson
Impact spherules.
Scientists have found evidence of a huge asteroid that struck the Earth early in its life with an impact larger than anything humans have experienced.

Tiny glass beads called spherules, found in north-western Australia were formed from vaporised material from the asteroid impact, said Dr Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University (ANU).

"The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes, it would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble," said Dr Glikson, from the ANU Planetary Institute.

"Material from the impact would have spread worldwide. These spherules were found in sea floor sediments that date from 3.46 billion years ago."

The asteroid is the second oldest known to have hit the Earth and one of the largest.

Dr Glikson said the asteroid would have been 20 to 30 kilometres across and would have created a crater hundreds of kilometres wide.

About 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago the moon was struck by numerous asteroids, which formed the craters, called mare, that are still visible from Earth

"Exactly where this asteroid struck the earth remains a mystery," Dr Glikson said.


Smartwatches and fitness trackers could give away your ATM pin number

© CC0
Wearable devices can give away your passwords, according to new research.

In the paper "Friend or Foe?: Your Wearable Devices Reveal Your Personal PIN" scientists from Binghamton University and the Stevens Institute of Technology combined data from embedded sensors in wearable technologies, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, along with a computer algorithm to crack private PINs and passwords with 80-percent accuracy on the first try and more than 90-percent accuracy after three tries.

Yan Wang, assistant professor of computer science within the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University is a co-author of the study along with Chen Wang, Xiaonan Guo, Bo Liu and lead researcher Yingying Chen from the Stevens Institute of Technology. The group is collaborating on this and other mobile device-related security and privacy projects.

"Wearable devices can be exploited," said Wang. "Attackers can reproduce the trajectories of the user's hand then recover secret key entries to ATM cash machines, electronic door locks and keypad-controlled enterprise servers."

Researchers conducted 5,000 key-entry tests on three key-based security systems, including an ATM, with 20 adults wearing a variety of technologies over 11 months. The team was able to record millimeter-level information of fine-grained hand movements from accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers inside the wearable technologies regardless of a hand's pose. Those measurements lead to distance and direction estimations between consecutive keystrokes, which the team's "Backward PIN-sequence Inference Algorithm" used to break codes with alarming accuracy without context clues about the keypad.

2 + 2 = 4

Illusion makes people 'feel' force field around their body

© plainpicture/Dirk Fellenberg
There’s something in the air.
Our brains are aware not just of our bodies but also the immediate space around us. Now, a twist on the classic rubber hand illusion can make people "feel" this space - a sensation they liken to perceiving a "force field".

Neuroscientists have known for decades that our brains contain representations of the area surrounding us, known as peripersonal space. This allows us to grasp objects within our reach and helps to protect us.


Scientific Pac-Man: Micro-organisms unleashed into videogame-style maze

© Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge/YouTube
A group of Norwegian scientists have taken inspiration from '80s cult videogame Pac-Man to create an epic real life version of the computerized maze, involving predatory microorganisms hunting its weaker counterparts.

The team from the University College of Southeast Norway made an awesome simulation of the Japanese arcade classic to understand the dynamics between predator and prey microorganisms.

Single celled euglena and ciliates (the prey) were released into the nutrient laden fluid maze, which had a diameter of less than a millimeter, alongside the multi-celled rotifers (the predators) to analyze their interaction. The unicellular organisms took on the role of Pac-Man while the rotifers acted as "Ghosts" who prey on Pac-Man.

The aim of the interactive research was to figure out how the single celled organisms respond when being hunted by the rotifers in a small three dimensional area.


Learned misperception: Scientists are able to plant false experiences in people's minds

© Watanabe et. al
Participants in a set of experiments were unknowingly trained to associate red with vertical stripes, even when the background was gray or green.
Researchers have made two new scientific points with a set of experiments in which they induced people to perceive colors that weren't really there -- one concerning how the brain works and the other concerning how to work the brain.

Working with colleagues in Japan, the scientists at Brown University used a novel technique to surreptitiously train a small group of volunteers to associate vertical stripes with the color red and -- to a lesser extent as a consequence -- horizontal stripes with the color green.

The first point made by the researchers was that the association was induced by specifically targeting the early visual areas of the brain. Those "V1" and "V2" areas are the first parts of the cortex to process basic visual information coming from the eyes, but scientists had not previously seen associative learning occurring there.

"This is the first clear study that shows that V1 and V2 are capable of creating associative learning," said Takeo Watanabe, the Fred M. Seed Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences at Brown and co-corresponding author of the paper in the journal Current Biology.

The second point is that the association was learned strongly enough that subjects came to perceive the background colors paired with vertical bars as red even when the background was gray or sometimes a bit greenish. That learned misperception was evident in tests as much as five months later.

The demonstration raises the possibility that the training method could be used to induce other enduring associations in the brain, Watanabe said.


A gigantic canyon-shaped hole has opened up in the sun's atmosphere

A canyon-shaped hole has opened up in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing solar wind into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring the structure, which stretches more than 700,000 km from end to end.

The massive structure is called a "coronal hole."

Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where magnetic fields peel back and allow hot gas to escape.

A gaseous stream of solar wind flowing from this opening will reach Earth on July 8th or 9th, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms when it arrives.

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where dark winter skies favor visibility.

Cloud Lightning

Violent volcanic exoplanet may undergo TRILLIONS of lightning flashes in just one hour

An ultra-hot exoplanet not much larger than Earth may experience trillions of lightning flashes in a span of just one hour. Astronomers say the entire surface of this exoplanet, called Kepler-10b, could be made up of constantly erupting volcanoes, causing its atmosphere to be extremely electric
An ultra-hot exoplanet not much larger than Earth may experience trillions of lightning flashes in just one hour.

Astronomers say the entire surface of this exoplanet, called Kepler-10b, could be made up of constantly erupting volcanoes, causing its atmosphere to be extremely electric.

Along with Kepler-10b, researchers have predicted the lightning patterns of numerous exoplanets based on observations from storms throughout the solar system, including those on Earth, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

In a study published recently to the journal arXiv, researchers led by Gabriella Hodosán of the University of St Andrews, UK, investigated the occurrence of lightning on several exoplanets and brown dwarfs.

Eventually, astronomers may be able to detect radiation from these lightning bursts when the planets travel across their stars, according to New Scientist.


Quantum mind: Can experienced meditators influence the movement of atomic particles?

© unknown
One of the key mysteries in the realm of quantum physics is the role of the observer, or more precisely, consciousness. As Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner once explained, when this relatively new branch of physics came into being, it was found that "it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."

Very few physicists, however, give this mystery much thought (at least publicly). Bruce Rosenbaum and Fred Kuttner, in their book The Quantum Enigma, note that many of their colleagues "are under the impression that it has been resolved by one or another of the 'interpretations' of quantum theory." Even though, they point out, "most developers of those interpretations...still see a mystery."

In a recent talk at the 'Science of Consciousness' conference in Tucson, Arizona, parapsychologist Dean Radin noted that when it comes to the (quantum physics) 'measurement problem', "everyone offers theories about consciousness, but nobody doesanything about it." So Radin and his team decided to see if they could find experimental evidence of consciousness influencing quantum effects.

Comment: Further reading:


Massive 'lava lamp' blobs deep inside Earth have scientists puzzled

© Ed Garnero, Hongyu Lai, Arizona State University
Mysterious blobs of distinct rock are imaged using waves from earthquakes (model from French and Romanowicz, 2015, Nature).
Two continent-size blobs of hot — and possibly molten — rock can be found deep underground, about halfway to the center of the Earth, according to a new study. These curious structures — each of which is so large that it would be 100 times taller than Mount Everest — could be made up of materials that may shed light on how the Earth formed, the researchers said.

One of the blobs is located beneath the Pacific Ocean, and the other can be found beneath the Atlantic. These underground structures start where the Earth's mantle meets the core, but they send "plumes" up through the rock like a Lava Lamp, the researchers said.

Scientists now think these masses differ from the surrounding rock in more than just temperature. They're also "compositionally distinct," meaning they could contain materials not typically found in the rest of the Earth's mantle. Yet even some of the most basic information about the blobs is still a mystery.

Comment: Further reading: