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Posts tagged "news"

priceofliberty:

The meteorite that is believed to have wiped dinosaurs off the planet millions of years ago also decimated the evergreen flowering plants of the time, but the harsh conditions that followed the killer impact favored fast-growing, deciduous plants, and helped ancient forests bloom, according to a new study, published in the journal PLOS Biology on Tuesday.

Scientists believe that a chunk of rock, measuring six miles in diameter, hit the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico some 66 million years ago and triggered various natural calamities such as tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanic explosions that led to the extinction of dinosaurs. Now, the new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona, reveals that the properties of deciduous plants helped them cope with the varying “post-apocalyptic” climate conditions on the planet.

“When you look at forests around the world today, you don’t see many forests dominated by evergreen flowering plants,” Benjamin Blonder, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Instead, they are dominated by deciduous species, plants that lose their leaves at some point during the year.”

Read more

(via afro-dominicano)

zubat:

Inspired by the cartwheeling Moroccan desert spider, the Cebrennus rechenbergi, professor Ingo Rechenberg of the Technical University of Berlin has developed a cartwheeling robot. His Tabbot — “Tabacha” means “spider” in the Berber language — mimics the agile spider’s moves. “This robot may be employed in agriculture, on the ocean floor or even on Mars,” Rechenberg said.

(via afro-dominicano)

afro-dominicano:

Mapping the Light of the Cosmos

Figuring out what the structure of the universe is surprisingly hard. Most of the matter that makes up the cosmos is totally dark, and much of what is left is in tiny, dim galaxies that are virtually impossible to detect.

Image: The first image above shows one possible scenario for the distribution of light in the cosmos. Credit: Andrew Pontzen/Fabio Governato

This image shows a computer simulation of one possible scenario for the large-scale distribution of light sources in the universe. The details of how light (and hence galaxies and quasars) is distributed through the cosmos is still not a settled question – in particular, the relative contributions of (faint but numerous) galaxies and (bright but rare) quasars is unknown.

(New research from UCL cosmologists published last week shows how we should be able to find out soon.)

However, astronomers know that on the largest scales, the universe is structured as a vast web made up of filaments and clusters of galaxies, gas and dark matter separated by huge, dark voids. Observational astronomy is making strides forward in mapping out these structures in gas and light, but the smallest galaxies – less than a pixel across in the image above – might never be seen directly because they are simply too faint.

A Hubble image of a nearby faint dwarf galaxy (bottom image) shows the challenge involved in observing these objects even when they are in our galaxy’s vicinity.

These computer models are one way of trying to extrapolate from what we know to what is really there. New research from UCL now shows how we can also use future observations of gas to find out more about this elusive population of tiny galaxies.

This simulated image shows the distribution of light in an area of space over 50 million light-years across. The simulation was created by Andrew Pontzen of UCL and Fabio Governato of the University of Washington.

afro-dominicano:

First Water Ice Clouds Found Beyond Our Solar System

For the first time, astronomers have detected water ice clouds, like the ones that shroud Earth, around a dim celestial body outside of our solar system.

Image: Astronomers have detected traces of water ice clouds in the atmosphere of the brown dwarf WISE 0855, a misfit failed star about 7.2 light-years from Earth. The discovery is the first time water ice clouds have been found beyond the solar system, scientists say Credit: Rob Gizis (CUNY BMCC) via Carnegie Institution/YouTube

Scientists discovered evidence of the alien water ice clouds in infrared images of a newly discovered brown dwarf that’s as cold as the North Pole.

"Ice clouds are predicted to be very important in the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system, but they’ve never been observed outside of it before now," study leader Jacqueline Faherty, who is a fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

Ice water has been found around gas giants in our solar system. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently detected water ice crystals on Saturn that had been churned up from deep inside the ringed planet’s thick atmosphere during a huge storm. Water ice clouds are also hidden underneath Jupiter’s stormy ammonia ice clouds.

Now, scientists found faint signatures of such clouds around the brown dwarf WISE J085510.83-071442.5, or W0855 for short. The object is the coldest brown dwarf ever observed by scientists. It lurks 7.2 light-years away from Earth and was first seen by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Explorer.

(via afro-dominicano)

laboratoryequipment:

Textbooks May be Wrong About VolcanoesIn the typical textbook picture, volcanoes, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian islands, erupt when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth. But that picture is wrong, according to a new study from researchers at Caltech and the Univ. of Miami.New seismology data are confirming that such narrow jets don’t actually exist, says Don Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillian Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at Caltech. In fact, he adds, basic physics doesn’t support the presence of these jets, called mantle plumes, and the new results corroborate those fundamental ideas.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/textbooks-may-be-wrong-about-volcanoes

laboratoryequipment:

Textbooks May be Wrong About Volcanoes

In the typical textbook picture, volcanoes, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian islands, erupt when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth. But that picture is wrong, according to a new study from researchers at Caltech and the Univ. of Miami.

New seismology data are confirming that such narrow jets don’t actually exist, says Don Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillian Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at Caltech. In fact, he adds, basic physics doesn’t support the presence of these jets, called mantle plumes, and the new results corroborate those fundamental ideas.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/textbooks-may-be-wrong-about-volcanoes

New Galactic Supercluster Map Shows Milky Way’s ‘Heavenly’ Home

A new cosmic map is giving scientists an unprecedented look at the boundaries for the giant supercluster that is home to Earth’s own Milky Way galaxy and many others. Scientists even have a name for the colossal galactic group: Laniakea, Hawaiian for “immeasurable heaven.”

Image 1: Scientists have created the first map of a colossal supercluster of galaxies known as Laniakea, the home of Earth’s Milky Way galaxy and many other. This computer simulation, a still from a Nature journal video, depicts the giant supercluster, with the Milky Way’s location shown as a red dot. Credit: [Nature Video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rENyyRwxpHo)

Image 2: This computer-generated depiction of the Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way galaxy containing Earth’s solar system, shows a view of the supercluster as seen from the supergalactic equatorial plane. Credit: SDvision interactive visualization software by DP at CEA/Saclay, France

The scientists responsible for the new 3D map suggest that the newfound Laniakea supercluster of galaxies may even be part of a still-larger structure they have not fully defined yet.

"We live in something called ‘the cosmic web,’ where galaxies are connected in tendrils separated by giant voids," said lead study author Brent Tully, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Honolulu.

Galactic structures in space

Galaxies are not spread randomly throughout the universe. Instead, they clump in groups, such as the one Earth is in, the Local Group, which contains dozens of galaxies. In turn, these groups are part of massive clusters made up of hundreds of galaxies, all interconnected in a web of filaments in which galaxies are strung like pearls. The colossal structures known as superclusters form at the intersections of filaments.

The giant structures making up the universe often have unclear boundaries. To better define these structures, astronomers examined Cosmicflows-2, the largest-ever catalog of the motions of galaxies, reasoning that each galaxy belongs to the structure whose gravity is making it flow toward.

"We have a new way of defining large-scale structures from the velocities of galaxies rather than just looking at their distribution in the sky," Tully said.

(via afro-dominicano)

laboratoryequipment:

Research Uncovers Role of Water in Gold NanocatalysisResearchers from the Univ. of Houston and Trinity Univ. have for the first time provided direct evidence of a water-mediated reaction mechanism for the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide.The work used gold nanoparticles and titanium dioxide as a catalyst to speed the process and determined that water serves as a co-catalyst for the reaction that transforms carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. While researchers have worked with carbon monoxide oxidation using gold catalysts for years and have realized that water can change the reaction, none have previously been able to fully explain why it worked.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/research-uncovers-role-water-gold-nanocatalysis

laboratoryequipment:

Research Uncovers Role of Water in Gold Nanocatalysis

Researchers from the Univ. of Houston and Trinity Univ. have for the first time provided direct evidence of a water-mediated reaction mechanism for the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide.

The work used gold nanoparticles and titanium dioxide as a catalyst to speed the process and determined that water serves as a co-catalyst for the reaction that transforms carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. While researchers have worked with carbon monoxide oxidation using gold catalysts for years and have realized that water can change the reaction, none have previously been able to fully explain why it worked.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/research-uncovers-role-water-gold-nanocatalysis

Traces of One of Universe’s First Stars Detected

An ancient star in the halo surrounding the Milky Way galaxy appears to contain traces of material released by the death of one of the universe’s first stars, a new study reports.

The chemical signature of the ancient star suggests that it incorporated material blasted into space by a supernova explosion that marked the death of a huge star in the early universe — one that may have been 200 times more massive than the sun.

"The impact of very-massive stars and their explosions on subsequent star formation and galaxy formation should be significant," lead author Wako Aoki, of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, told Space.com by email.

(via afro-dominicano)

laboratoryequipment:

Citizen Scientists Save Lives

Citizen scientists are saving the lives of people living in the shadow of deadly volcanoes according to new research from the Univ. of East Anglia.

A report, published today in the Journal of Applied Volcanology, reveals the success of a volunteer group set up to safeguard communities around the “Throat of Fire” Tungurahua volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. More than 600 million people live close to active volcanoes worldwide. The research shows that living safely in these dangerous areas can depend on effective communication and collaboration between volcanologists, risk managers and vulnerable communities.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/citizen-scientists-save-lives

afro-dominicano:

Chilean Devil Rays Found to Be Among the Deepest-Diving Animals in the Ocean

Divers exploring warm waters around the world often encounter Chilean devil rays, gentle marine creatures that can grow up to ten feet long. The rays bask just below the surface, gliding through sunlight-dappled water, oftentimes in groups. Little is known about the striking creatures, however, and marine biologists have always presumed that they live only near the warm, bright surface.

Scientists have just discovered that the rays harbor an impressive secret, however: they regularly undertake epic dives more than a mile deep.

These remarkable dives came as a surprise to researchers who reported the finding today in Nature Communications. In retrospect, they note, the rays’ physiology did hint at this ability.

Chilean devil rays possess a special organ called the retia mirabilia, which is also found in deep-diving species such as great white sharks. In those animals, the veined structure fills with warm blood that exchanges heat between vessel walls. This helps to keep the marine creatures’ brain warm when they descend to freezing depths. But Chilean devil rays, researchers assumed, spent all of their time at the surface. Why would they need such a structure?

To solve the puzzle, an international team of marine biologists attached satellite tags to 15 Chilean devil rays captured off the northwest coast of Africa, near the Azores archipelago. The team monitored the rays’ movements for nine months and found that the animals were tremendously active. They sometimes traversed up to 30 miles of ocean per day, with each covering a distance of up to 2,300 miles over the nine-month period.

Even more impressive, however, was the rays’ diving abilities. They regularly dove below 1,000 feet, with a maximum-recorded depth of 6,062 feet. This means that Chilean devil rays undertake some of the deepest dives ever recorded for marine animals, the team reports.

The journeys into the deep seem to be no sweat for the animals. One individual, for example, dove nearly 4,600 feet six days in a row, and overall, the rays spent more than five percent of their time in deep water.

The deep dives explain the presence of the previously enigmatic retia mirabilia, the team writes. At the depths recorded by the trackers, rays would encounter temperatures as chilly as 37˚F, so the extra flush of warm blood provided by that organ likely makes those dives possible. Additionally, the researchers found that the rays spend more time basking near the water’s warm surface both one hour before and one hour after a deep dive, implying that the animals are preparing for and recovering from encounters with the cold.

The rays aren’t undertaking these dives just for fun, of course. Based on the animals’ movement patterns—oftentimes a quick bee-line descent followed by a slower step-wise ascent—the researchers think they are probably foraging on fish or squid that live well below the surface.

The unexpected findings, the authors write, demonstrate “how little we know” about Chilean devil rays and the role they play in ocean ecosystems. Given that these animals were recently listed as endangered (largely due to a growing demand for their gills by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine), “this ignorance has significant conservation implications,” the team continues. As with any species, the more we know about them, the better equipped we will be for protecting them—and for knowing what we stand to lose should they disappear.

Ancient Asteroid Destroyer Finally Found, And It’s a New Kind of Meteorite

For 50 years, scientists have wondered what annihilated the ancestor of L-chondrites, the roof-smashing, head-bonking meteorites that frequently pummel Earth.

Image: Credit:

Now, a new kind of meteorite discovered in a southern Sweden limestone quarry may finally solve the mystery, scientists report. The strange new rock may be the missing “other half” from one of the biggest interstellar collisions in a billion years.

"Something we didn’t really know about before was flying around and crashed into the L-chondrites," said study co-author Gary Huss of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The space rock is a 470-million-year-old fossil meteorite first spotted three years ago by workers at Sweden’s Thorsberg quarry, where stonecutters have an expert eye for extraterrestrial objects. Quarriers have plucked 101 fossil meteorites from the pit’s ancient pink limestone in the last two decades.

Mysterious find

Geochemically, the meteorite falls into a class called the primitive achondrites, and most resembles a rare group of achondrites called the winonaites. But small differences in certain elements in its chromite grains set the mysterious object apart from the winonaites, and its texture and exposure age distinguish the new meteorite from the other 49,000 or so meteorites found so far on Earth.

"It’s a very, very strange and unusual find," Schmitz told Live Science’s Our Amazing Planet.

The new meteorite was recently reported online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and the study will appear in the journal’s Aug. 15 print edition.

(via afro-dominicano)

afro-dominicano:

Private Team Prepares to Fire 36-Year-Old NASA Probe’s Engine


  A 36-year-old spacecraft controlled by a private team nearly performed an engine firing Wednesday (June 25) to increase its spin, but the maneuver was called off due to concerns that the probe did not receive all commands.
  
  NASA’s International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe, controlled by a group that calls itself the “ISEE-3 Reboot Project,” is expected to be redirected to a more advantageous orbit for Earth communications next week. But first, the team needs to increase the spacecraft’s roll very slightly.
  
  An earlier attempt to increase the roll rate was called off last Friday (June 20) after the team could not confirm the spacecraft received some test commands from Earth. This time around, the group inched closer to making the roll, but decided to stop when the very last command did not get confirmed.

afro-dominicano:

Private Team Prepares to Fire 36-Year-Old NASA Probe’s Engine

A 36-year-old spacecraft controlled by a private team nearly performed an engine firing Wednesday (June 25) to increase its spin, but the maneuver was called off due to concerns that the probe did not receive all commands.

NASA’s International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe, controlled by a group that calls itself the “ISEE-3 Reboot Project,” is expected to be redirected to a more advantageous orbit for Earth communications next week. But first, the team needs to increase the spacecraft’s roll very slightly.

An earlier attempt to increase the roll rate was called off last Friday (June 20) after the team could not confirm the spacecraft received some test commands from Earth. This time around, the group inched closer to making the roll, but decided to stop when the very last command did not get confirmed.

afro-dominicano:

NY Legalizes Medical Marijuana: How Vaping Pot Is Different from Smoking

New York state is set to legalize medical marijuana today, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to sign a bill passed by the state’s legislature last week. But the proposed law is unique, and smoking a joint even for medical reasons will remain illegal.

Under the law, doctors can prescribe marijuana compounds for people who have just a handful of life-threatening and serious conditions, such as cancer and epilepsy. The new law also bars smoking the marijuana flower, and instead limits people to either taking pills, consuming the plant’s oils or extracts, or “vaporizing” the drug.

Experts say that vaporizing cannabis is probably healthier and less irritating to the lungs than smoking it, but this misty consumption method may also be more potent than smoking. And researchers know far less about the long-term effects of “vaping” the compounds in marijuana extracts or oils, compared with the effects of inhaling compounds directly from the plant, experts say.

"We don’t have the same safety data for extracts as we do for the flower," the part of the plant most often burned when smoking marijuana, said Mitch Earleywine, a psychologist at the University at Albany in New York, who studies marijuana use.

Vaping vs. smoking

It’s not exactly news that smoking marijuana can harm the lungs. Burning marijuana produces hundreds of cancer-causing compounds.

"Aside from all the carcinogens in it, you’re going to get soot in your lungs" from smoking marijuana, said Dr. John Malouff, a researcher at the University of New England in Australia, who has conducted research on the perceived benefits of vaporizing marijuana. "Because it’s not filtered in any way," he said of smoking, "it’s really harsh to everything it touches."

Vaporizers come in many forms, from the bulky plug-in tubes to the slim, battery-operated e-cigarette pens. Some heat marijuana flowers until a fine-mist vapor forms that contains cannabinoids, the compounds thought to be responsible for marijuana’s calming and mind-altering effects. Most vape pens, however are used to heat the oils and extracts of marijuana, which are colloquially called “dabs.”

Healthier lungs?

The law’s restriction of marijuana consumption to vaping is sensible from a health perspective, Malouff said.

"If you’re going to approve marijuana for medical use, why would you have people smoke? There’s no medicine that people smoke," Malouff said.

Several studies suggest that vaporizing is better for health than smoked marijuana.

Malouff has found that chronic marijuana users cite reduced lung irritation, as well as improved taste and the absence of a lingering marijuana smell on their clothes and bodies, as key reasons for vaping rather than smoking the plant.

A 2004 study in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics found that vaporized marijuana contained little other than cannabinoids, and a 2007 study found users inhaled fewer toxic compounds and carbon monoxide when vaping compared with smoking marijuana.

And in 2010, Earleywine and his colleague Nicholas Van Dam found that marijuana users who complain of respiratory irritation reported a stark improvement in their symptoms just a month after switching to vaporized forms of marijuana. Those symptoms include asthma, shortness of breath and coughing up phlegm. The researchers also measured objective improvement in the participants’ lung function.

More unknowns

But although vaporizing may sidestep respiratory problems, its physiological effects could be slightly different than those of smoked marijuana. That’s especially true for vaporized extracts, which contain little other than cannabinoids such as THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.

In Malouff’s study, many users reported that vaporized marijuana felt more potent.

By not allowing the smoking of marijuana, lawmakers may have aimed to avoid undercutting the state’s anti-smoking campaigns or to allow police to distinguish legal medical marijuana consumers from illegal pot growers, Earleywine said. But the law could have unintended consequences, as much less is known about the physiology of vaporizing dabs, he said.

In a forthcoming study in the journal Addictive Behaviors, Earleywine and his University at Albany colleague Mallory Loflin have found that compared to marijuana smokers, dab users may more rapidly develop tolerance to the active compounds, and may also have a greater risk of marijuana withdrawal.

afro-dominicano:

These Students Want to Send a Time Capsule to Mars

A student-led project aims to send a time capsule to Mars for future explorers to discover, its organizers announced today (June 23).

Time Capsule to Mars (TC2M), a project of the nonprofit organization Explore Mars, plans to land three small satellites, known as CubeSats, on the surface of the Red Planet within the next five years. The satellites will contain images, videos and other forms of expression from people around the globe, according to the project’s organizers.

If successful, the $25-million mission would be the first privately funded mission to Mars, the first student-led mission to another planet, the first trial of a new propulsion system and the first interplanetary CubeSat, the team said here today in a press briefing.

"We’ve got a lot of firsts, and it’s very exciting," said Emily Briere, a senior at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and the mission’s founder and director.

Briere told reporters that "millions of people from around the world [will be able to] send in their photo, their picture of their dog, their handwritten poem, and feel that they themselves are going to Mars and making an impact."