Category Archives: Science

Hidden Lake Could Be Key To Helping Darfur

Africa

There may be a massive lake beneath Darfur detected by a team using a satellite participating in a search for water from space. The team is led by former NASA Apollo lunar participants, they’re using the satellite equipment to put together pieces of a puzzle that compose a picture of the 12,000 sq. mile mega lake in the western Sudanese province.

Although the lake drained years ago, researchers believe groundwater might still exist. And that just might help to bring a close to the clashes that have left hundreds of thousands dead due to war and strife if they’re successful in digging wells in the correct locations.

Link to Terra Daily with the details.

Alarmist Global Warming Claims Melt Under Scientific Scrutiny

Global Warming

Finally, the mainstream press is calling out Al Gore and some his numerous claims that have been refuted by science. Link to the article in question.

In this case the Chicago Sun-Times is asking him to acknowledge that these were in fact mistakes made in his book and documentary and we should be having a reasoned discussion on the subject, not further driving the Lemmings of society off the cliff with his belief of doom and gloom.

Global Warming – yes I’m sure the global temps are rising faster than we’d like. But it’s more apparent that it’s likely nature that is shaking her lovely Gaia of the flee infestation called ‘man’? Or is it man sending his descendants into a hellish existence on earth hundreds of years from now? Or is it a combination of the two?

I’m inclined to believe it’s the natural order of things and we should learn to ride the storm.

Agree or Disagree? Let’s hear it.

Astronomers spot double star explosion

doublestar_hmed_9a

Scientists have spotted two stellar explosions going off just weeks apart in the same galaxy.

The discovery, made by NASA’s Swift satellite, marks the first time two supernova events have been observed in a single galaxy so close in time.

The blasts occurred in an obscure galaxy located 380 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. Called MCG +05-43-16, the galaxy had never been known to host a supernova before.

Read MSNBC Tech/Science for more

Hurricane simulator to blow real houses down

hurr_simulator

Wind engineers have created the world?s largest portable hurricane simulator, which they will use to blow over vacant buildings with Katrina-strength winds to test how they withstand the fierce forces of a hurricane.

?We want to conduct experiments to evaluate real homes in communities that are impacted by hurricanes,? said project leader Forrest Masters of the University of Florida. ?This simulator also gives us the ability to test home retrofits and new building products aimed at preventing hurricane damage.?

Read more at MSNBC Tech

Rice Engineered to Carry Cholera Vaccine

A team of Japanese researchers has developed a type of rice that can carry a vaccine for cholera, this could one day ease delivery of vaccines in developing countries.

While it’s only the latest of several plants being tested as potential means of producing vaccines, the development is potentially important in medically underserved countries that lack refrigeration to store regular vaccines.

But the work is preliminary, having been tested only in mice.

Read more on this at physorg.com

Corn Stalks Engineered to Self-Degrade into Fuel

Most of you probably know that some percentage of the gasoline your vehicle consumes is a gasoline/ethanol mixture, in the United States ethanol is about 10% of that mixture.

Ethanol can be produced from any biological feedstock (corn, barley, wheat) that contains substantial amounts of sugar or materials that can be converted into sugar (starch, cellulose). In particular, corn contains starch that can relatively easily be converted into sugar. Many larger ethanol producers use a wet-milling process to make corn, which also yields products such as high-fructose corn sweetener.

One challenge with ethanol in order to bring the operational costs down is that the inedible parts of the corn (‘biomass’) are wasted, not converted to fuel. Converting those leaves and stalk is a pretty expensive process.

Livescience is reporting on genetic engineers at Michigan State University that have genetically tailored corn plants to manufacture the appropritate enzymes in their own tissues and will help reduce costs in the conversion process from biomass to ethanol.

A patent has already been issued. Hopefully we can see our dependency on fossil fuels drop due to this sometime in the next decade.

Link

More info:

What Is The Opposite Of Absolute Zero?

Absolute zero is 0 degrees Kelvin or -460 degrees Fahrenheit and where molecular motion stops. It’s one end of the spectrum for measuring heat. So what’s on the high end? What is the ‘hottest’ measurable temperature on the opposite end of the spectrum from Absolute Zero?

The answer is the ‘Planck Temperature‘ or 10^32 degrees Kelvin, or at least in theory that’s the answer.

Scientists believe that the universe experienced the Planck temperature approximately 10^-43 of a second after the Big Bang, and the universe has been cooling off ever since.

As molecules speed up they increase in temperature. As that temp reaches 10^10 Kelvin, the electrons in that matter are now approaching the speed of light and they are increasing in size so that their temperature can continue to increase.

At 10^32 K, each particle is becoming its own black hole and at this point our understanding of space and time collapse and the temperature likely isn’t observable so this is why scientists call Planck’s Temperature the theoretical highest temperature possible.


The Nest Architecture Of The Harvester Ant

A nest created by a mature colony of harvester ants is undeniably spectacular. In a study by the Florida State University, a nest void was filled with a thin slurry of orthodontal plaster poured into the nest entrance. This produced a nearly perfect three-dimensional rendering of the nest’s voids. The hardened cast was excavated and then reassembled to produce the finished cast.

This pic below is one such nest that consisted of 135 chambers and 12 meters of vertical shafts. The top-heavy distribution of chamber area and spacing is typical for the species, as are the helical shafts and the decrease of chamber size with depth.

There are many more pics at the link below, they’re amazing.

Link via Digg

Ant Nest

First Habitable Earth Like Planet Outside Solar System Discovered

Well, before we start running around wondering what this means about life outside Earth and how it will affect science and religion as we know it today, let’s just keep our cool and see if the mainstream media and scientific journals pick it up and run with it as a legitimate inhabitable planet.

The article states that the European Southern Observatory has found an ‘Earth-like’ planet about 50% larger than ours circling the star ‘Gliese 581’ about 20 light years away. And due to it’s proximity to the star it’s at the right distance versus radiation exposure to likely contain H2O.

And H2O might mean life. Life means rethinking our place in the universe and watching some of societies most cherished assumptions now up for debate. (I can only hope! 😀 )

Here’s the story, found it on reddit.com.

Einstein Was Right After All

For the past three years a satellite has circled the Earth, collecting data to determine whether two predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity are correct. Sunday, at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., Professor Francis Everitt from Stanford University provided the first public peek at data that revealed whether Einstein’s theory has been confirmed by the most sophisticated orbiting laboratory ever created.

This is the longest project in NASA’s history, has cost over US$700M and started in 1963. It went on so long that the project was canceled 7 times and of course revived each time. To get a layman’s explanation of the project, listen to the NPR story on Gravity Probe B that was first aired shortly before it was launched in 2004.

From the Stanford Press Release this weekend:

Gravity Probe B has been a great scientific adventure for all of us, and we are grateful to NASA for its long history of support,” Everitt said. “My colleagues and I will be presenting the first results today and tomorrow. It’s fascinating to be able to watch the Einstein warping of space-time directly in the tilting of these GP-B gyroscopes—more than a million times better than the best inertial navigation
gyroscopes.

The GP-B satellite was launched in April 2004. It collected more than a year’s worth of data that the Stanford GP-B science team has been pouring over for the past 18 months. The satellite was designed as a pristine, space-borne laboratory, whose sole task was to use four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure directly two effects predicted by general relativity. One is the geodetic effect—the amount by which the mass of the Earth warps the local space-time in which it resides. The other effect, called frame-dragging, is the amount by which the rotating Earth drags local space-time around with it.

According to Einstein’s theory, over the course of a year, the geodetic warping of Earth’s local space-time causes the spin axes of each gyroscope to shift from its initial alignment by a minuscule angle of 6.606 arc-seconds (0.0018 degrees) in the plane of the spacecraft’s orbit. Likewise, the twisting of Earth’s local space-time causes the spin axis to shift by an even smaller angle of 0.039 arc-seconds (0.000011 degrees)— about the width of a human hair viewed from a quarter mile away—in the plane of the Earth’s equator.

Additional References:

  • Website for the Gravity Prove B project
  • Wikipedia page on the Gravity Probe B
  • Discovery Channel representations on what the gravity effect would ‘look’ like. Pic1, Pic2

Introduction to Randomness and Random Numbers

Random Bitmap

Random.org is run by Dr. Mads Haahr and he provides a True Random Number Service. It’s a true random number generator as opposed to the more common Pseudo Random Number Generator because the site uses atmospheric data as a random source instead of allowing the computer to generate numbers.

The page describing ‘randomness’ is really cool because it’s not just a primer on RNGs but delves into the debate between Quantum Events and Chaotic Systems used by builders of True Random Number Generators.

If you’re not in the mood to check out that excellent article, at least swing by the main page and play with a few of the simple and fun generators like the Bitmap Generator. I just created the 128×128 bitmap at the top.