Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for http://researchblogging.org/ Join me on http://www.facebook.com/Astronasty for all the juicy in-between-posts picture sharing :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Squeezing an Ocean of Water out of Rocks

Amazingly, new studies show that the amount of water in the molten rocks that our proto-earth was comprised of could have been enough to cause massive amounts of steam to settle into significant size oceans at a time much earlier than we first thought.  This could mean that life's development on earth had more time in ideal conditions than we used to think.  It's a fairly radical change to the idea of comets seeding all the water on earth.  It also brings about thoughts that Mars might have had even more water early on than we thought, therefore increasing its chances of once having life inhabiting the planet.  Article on ScienceNOW

There's going to be a NASA press conference on Thursday, with an astrobiologist attending.  Here's the press release that simply tells us so.  The internet is going wild with speculation at the moment.  Everyone's hoping they're going to announce that they've found extra-terrestrial life.
Here's Bad Astronomy trying to calm down the hype. Acupuncture isn't really a pseudoscience anymore!  Experiments recently validate this formerly "shady" practice in a new light.  Article on PhysOrg

Speaking of Cassini, the Article on Universe Today is quality info about Cassini, and features the following video podcast, SpacePod

Video Credit: http://www.spacevidcast.com

Universe Today also has an Article on Russia's plan to clean up the debris we've accumulated in orbit around earth.  This broke in the news about 4 days ago.  I covered it briefly in the day's overflow links.  The whole process will be developing over time, so we're gonna get more and more news on this project.

Today's Article on Discover Blogs: 80 Beats has a different picture and expresses their take on the subject.


Scientists have set their sights on a Lung Cancer Vaccine.  This is fairly huge news, especially if you consider the economics involved in the tobacco trade.  My friend said that if it really seemed like it would reach fruition, now would be the time to invest both in the vaccine makers and the tobacco companies.  Fairly guilt free smoking would change things a lot, I'd imagine.  Article on PysOrg


I'm really glad Ars Technica covered the recent discovery of quantum non-locality and heisenberg's uncertainty principle being intricately linked.  Article on Ars Technica | My take on it from 11/20/2010




TODAY'S OVERFLOW:


We apparently cannot walk in a straight line if we are blindfolded.  Article on NPR Blog: Krulwich Wonders


HAMPSTER BRAINS!?  HAMSTERBRAINZ!? Article on ScienceNews


"Colliding galaxies cause incredibly bright starbust inside cloak of dust" Article on IO9 | This is IO9's take on the article I pointed to (NASA JPL source) in "Today's Overflow" of my Post on 11/24/2010


"Most complicated experiment ever hopes to detect gravitational waves for the first time" Article on IO9


"What Happens When You Mix Every Single Element Together at Once?" Article on Gizmodo


Bioluminescent trees are just around the corner.  A technique using nanoparticles of gold interacting with plant life has produced significant bioluminescence.  Article on NPR Blog: Krulwich Wonders | And how do you make gold nanoparticles?  Add cinnamon!  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

The Milky Way's stars are moving in mysterious ways.  I can hear a U2 endorsement just over the horizon.  Article on PhysOrg


This looks incredible, but there's just too much news today for me to cover everything in depth.  "New particle links dark matter with missing antimatter" Article on PhysicsWorld


The Couch Potato Effect!! Article on PhysOrg

The Poetry of Science

I ran across this video tonight, and I must say, I enjoyed it more than most of the movies I've seen in the past few years.  It left me with wonder in my heart, and a smile on my face.
Our senses as humans are very limited.  It's easy, when tackling enormous questions, to bring, out of the gates, a SLEW of subconscious assumptions made immediately, comparing everything to ourselves and our experiences.  Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson go back and forth, bringing respectively a biologist's point of view and an astrophysicist's point of view, in this very entertaining speaking event.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Videos, Pix, and Follow Ups

Another awe-inspiring Size and Perspective of Us VS the Universe type of deal.  Beautiful, it makes my heart hurt.



Video Credit: morn1415 on YouTube, check his YouTube Channel here.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is copyrighted, so I can't post it.  Strangely, today's picture's connection to astronomy is very loose, but it's pretty regardless.

Here's IO9's Take on the nanosatellite O/OREOS that I covered earlier (my post back on 11/20/2010)

IO9's Take, "Our solar system is home to immigrant comets from alien stars" actually has a GOOD title for this story, as opposed to the one I covered/ridiculed in yesterday's Post (11/27/2010)

Gizmodo's Article "This is what happens when you burn Steel Wool" embedded this fascinating video:


Video Credit: NurdRage on YouTube | I don't know why it's so captivating to watch, but the last burn in slo-mo is just awesome!  Don't try it at home or you're gonna burn the damned house down, I just know it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New way to detect clandestine nuclear reactors globally by tracking antineutrinos

We found a way to accurately detect clandestine nuclear reactors from afar.  The technology is based on detecting the massive amount of antineutrinos emitted, a telltale signature.  The author mentioned a fact I found especially interesting.  When an antineutrino collides into a proton, a neutron and positron are generated.  Not quite proton decay, but really cool.  Article on Physics arXiv Blog | Paper on arXiv

    I find this newly released technology interesting, considering the classified mission of the satellite launched two days ago... I'm not drawing any conclusions but it'd be funny if they were connected, wouldn't it!


"Black Holes Merge With A Flash of Light" by Discover News explains the observations involved in the merging of two supermassive black holes.  Now here comes the technical stuff...  The event will have a specific distinguishable electromagnetic signature within the frequency of visible light, due to accretion disks heating up.  This information will be collected in tandem with Gravity Wave detection, to further confirm the accuracy of the observation.  I covered the gravity wave detector LIGO a while back (check back to this post from 9-18-2010.)  The Discovery article also explains the recent breakthrough in simulations of black hole mergers with large size ratio differences, such as 1:100.  I covered that story a while back as well.  (check back to this post from 11-19-2010.)  The Discovery News article does a good job explaining the idea, but with the links provided here you should be able to truly get a full grasp of what's going on. Article on Discovery News

Check out this mindblowing video showing a 3d version of two black holes of equal size merging, with gravity wave line mapping.




Video Credit: Henze / NASA | Here's NASA's webpage on the subject.


Symphony of Science has a new video/song, "A Wave of Reason."  This truly fills my heart up.  Many thanks, John, for expressing these words in an emotionally moving form.




TODAY'S OVERFLOW:

Diagnosing happiness as a disorder?  That makes me happy...  Uh oh...  Article on Discover Blogs: Discoblog

"Recent Posts in Quantum Computing" Article on Emergent Hive

FCC to add texts and picture texts as acceptable usage for 911 emergency calls.  Article on Gizmodo

National Science Foundation giving financial support of 34.5 Million dollars to University of Wisconsin-Madison for operations at IceCube Neutrino Observatory.  Article on University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Sensory detection and discrimination: Study reveals neural basis of rapid brain adaptation."  Article on PhysOrg


Please Please Please look at the pictures on Bad Astronomy's post Here.  I really wanna steal all those pictures.  Amazing.

"Concussions Change Brains." Article on PhysOrg

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Idea: Facebook App, "Doppleganger," utilizing facial recognition so you can "friend" those who look like you

A quick thought:
Facebook app, titled, say, "Doppleganger," that allows you to friend people (who also have the app) whose faces look just like yours.
Would utilizes licensed facial recognition software, in combination with facebook's rudimentary facial recognition already in place since july 1st (article), which locates a face but not intricate features.  Facebook Statistics says there are 500 million active members.  1% at 1$, imagine!
Thoughts?  Somebody take the idea and roll with it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Calling out Reuters and PhysOrg on journalistic accuracy

Reuters reports that CERN's LHC could possibly soon give actual proof of the existence of dimensions other than our normal four.  (our 4 = 3d plus time) COOL!
Reuters in the same Article reports that the CERN has been "creating millions of simulations of the Big Bang" in the collider...  That's really funky language and I don't like it.  No sir, I don't.
I know I've gone on before about how this kind of wording bothers me.  Browse over the succinct explanation of the lead ion collisions on CERN's Website and notice that they say that they are recreating conditions that existed just after the big bang, and are specifically referring to quark-gluon plasma.  ...  Am I the only one prickly about this? 
NERD RAGE!!!!

Speaking of... I have a problem with vilifying video games in a headline like the following:  "When Video Games Get Problematic, So Does Smoking, Drug Abuse, and Aggression."  In the article it explains that a survey of just over 4000 adolescents showed a a statistical connection with problematic gaming and these other problems; BUT NOTICE THE IMPLICATION OF CAUSE-EFFECT!  The study does not determine in any way that gaming LEADS to these habits/conditions.  This is what I mean by vilifying.  Tsk Tsk.  Article on PhysOrg (I forgive you PhysOrg!)

I love this site so very much, despite the article linked above.  As proof, here are some recent mind-blowers on there:


TODAY'S OVERFLOW: 

Fascinating article about recent high resolution readings of the sun's magnetic fields.  Bubbling plasma on the surface, pushing upward, pulling downward, a 100Km area can have a magnetic field strength 3000 times stronger than the Earth's.  Article on PhysOrg


Maturity mapped out in MRI's:  MRI's show that the five regions of the brain collectively known as the "Default-Mode Network" act out of sync in children, which causes egocentric behavior.  The regions start to act in concert during adolescence, continuing into adulthood, allowing for introspection, empathy, and perspective.  (otherwise, in essence, maturity)  Article on PhysOrg 

Practice makes perfect... But why is that so?  "Discovering the Source of Long-Term Motor Memory" Article on PhysOrg

"Youngest Nearby Black Hole Found (w/Video)" You'll see versions of this article all over the web today.  Article on PhysOrg or the Press Release on the Center for Astrophysics

Here's IO9's take on the ZZ event recorded at the LHC.  It actually explains what's going on, unlike what I did at the end of my post yesterday...  Which was provide a link and make a bunch of nerdy jokes.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Inflaton, Inflatino / A cognitive flaw connecting procrastination, obedience, and addiction

There's a new Paper on inflation released in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.  In the Abstract it states that the theoretical particles "inflaton" and supersymmetric particle "inflatino" might be produced at the LHC at CERN.  It also states that the inflaton would be be "light," and probably "coupled to the Higgs sector."  I don't like the word "light" being used in this context.  It's ambiguous.


I was shown this Article about procrastination on the New Yorker by a friend recently.  A short ways into it, the author references a paper by George Akerlof: "Procrastination and Obedience."  Skipping the rest of the NYer article, I delved into the paper by Akerlof.

There's a cognitive flaw that we humans have, where a conspicuous event carries more importance or weight in internal decision making than it ought to.  If we know credible, statistical info that a purchase of brand A would be superior for our situation as opposed to a purchase of brand B, memorable or salient influences such as anecdotes can cause us to make a decision we specifically know is not the best. We purchase brand B anyway.  These tiny losses add up over time, and depending on the decisions, can cause one's downfall.

A series of wrong decisions can snowball to eventually make you become a person you never wanted to be, or have habits you regard with similar emotional distaste.

Obedience to cults, or uncommonly strong obedience to authority in general can arrise from this cognitive flaw.  Similar to cults, gangs gain followers partly due their recruits falling into this type of thinking.

Addiction also applies.  The tiny liberties taken while starting an addictive habit have an end result the consumer almost never intends.  Smokers seem to always be intending to quit soon, but they procrastinate.  The blaring horn (conspicuous event) is the physical withdrawal, yet smokers are consciously aware of the option that is most beneficial to them: quitting.

The strangest connection to all this is that the aforementioned cognitive flaw is seen quite clearly with a habit we all are aware of succumbing to on occasion: Procrastination.  With procrastination, the ideal path of action that we do not choose is that of maximum productivity.  I haven't read any data on the habits of procrastination being linked statistically to other negative behavior; but the cognitive connection here between such macabre scenarios and procrastination is going to make me look into it... tomorrow.  Well maybe the day after tomorrow, tomorrow I'm busy...  I'll get around to it.

So far as sinning goes, this idea could be said to have been expressed in the cautionary adage "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

You can get the paper if you click this link of a google search and then click the the first pdf link up top.  For some reason I can't link to it directly.




TODAY'S OVERFLOW:

Arsenic (yes THAT arsenic) treatment in early stages of leukemia is having dramatically positive results.  Article on PhysOrg

So I hear Kate Moss is super symmetric.  I'm gonna start calling her Skate Mossino...   "Kate Moss Has A Perfectly Symmetrical Face, Say Scientists." Article on ThaIndian  ... I think that's the nerdiest joke I've ever made.

Tons of SUSY lectures for free on Cambridge's site.  It's an awful lot, and it's amazing you can get stuff like this for free online.

"LHC Sees Its First ZZ Event" Article on PhysicsWorld... Well my eyelids are experiencing a weak force.  I'm gonna have to ZZ myself.  Goodnight!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

GRETINA the biggest baddest new machine w/Video

Atomic nuclei hold secrets waiting to be discovered; and studying gamma rays is the best way to go about it.

"BOOM!" A star explodes.  Through nucleosynthesis, the heavier elements needed for our world to eventually become what it is, are created.  In labs, we create superheavy elements.  We expand the periodic table further and further, stretching out the limits of nature.

Learning more about atomic nuclei, we further our potential in many useful areas.  For example, nuclear power plants using fusion instead of fission would seriously rock the world on its heels.

Now Batman, Iron Man, eat your hearts out.

Superhero and sci-fi movies can't hold a candle to real life.  GRETA, the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking Array, is headed to Cave 4C at the 88-Inch Cylotron at Argonne National Laboratory. 

Spectrometers with crystal sensors can detect gamma rays emitted by atomic nuclei when they spin or undergo transmutation.  The biggest and the baddest is still a baby version of the overall project.  GRETINA, has 7 intricate detector modules and pales in comparison to it's intended final build, GRETA, that will have 30 detector modules in its array.


In the movie Contact, the immensity of the alien contraption is intended to make the audience's eyes widen in wonder.  If you've seen Stargate, then you might remember just how much time is devoted to the machinery itself.  Well this video of GRETINA gives us a glimpse of a machine at the cutting edge of technology that blows them all away.





In action, GRETINA sends its raw data at 10 million signals per second to an electronics array upstairs.  From upstairs, in an instant they sift through the signals and pipe the tracking information for 20,000 gamma rays per second downstairs to be processed via 62 high powered networked computers.

A youtube tour inside the lab during installation is a present I wasn't expecting today.  If you haven't oogled at technology lately, this is your chance.

Article on Berkeley Labs




TODAY's OVERFLOW:

Half our waking hours might be spent daydreaming.  Article on BBC News

X-ray flare recently spewed out of sunspot.  Article on PhysOrg

Newly discovered Vietnamese "self-cloning" lizard.  Article on PhysOrg

Bad news: Alcohol is even worse for us then we thought. Article on PhysOrg

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A call for science journalism to accurately represent facts, without a biased spin, religious or otherwise / "The God Particle" / Lots of Today's Overflow

Two days ago in this Post, I ridiculed BBC News for misrepresenting LHC's lead ion collision in a sensational headline.  Quoting myself here: 
"May I add that I'm disappointed in the sensational spin to the headline on BBC today: "Large Hadron Collider (LHC) generates a 'mini-Big Bang'"  Yes, quark gluon plasma was created, but none of the other sites covering this article have worded today's lead ion collision like this.  There are similarities to the big bang observed here, and the new information is very valuable, but we didn't just birth another universe."
I was further disappointed yesterday by the same actions taken by Gizmodo in their Coverage of the topic, with the headline: "And Man Said, 'Let There Be Light'" with citation to BBC's article.

(I entered a comment with my criticism and it was not approved by their staff; so it didn't get posted.  (waaaah) Luckily I have a soap box, and the right to stand up for an ongoing issue.  Excuse me for my prickly sensitivity today.  I'm having a ruffled feathers moment.)

Today's post is a call for science journalism to accurately represent facts, without a biased spin, religious or otherwise.

It is unnecessary and counterproductive to report a particle collision as a big bang, when temperature and quark gluon plasma is the only relation.  

A similar issue that's relevant is the ongoing effort of scientists diligently but respectfully pressuring the media to stop calling the Higgs Boson the "God Particle."  (Futurepath.org has a good Article explaining the basic controversy)  This title of the Higgs Boson is emotionally charged and mainly used in Religion VS Science debates.  Science and religion can be handled as separate issues, and can coexist just like the assertion of separation of church and state in the American constitution.  There's a difference between religious groups feeling threatened by science and sparking debate, and journalists working religion into science news.  

CERN, the LHC, and other frontiers of science provide new useful information allowing for innovation on endless fronts.  There is beauty and wonder in the new findings scientists discover daily.  The bizarre, extreme, and especially useful discoveries catch the eye of the public effectively enough.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Turning Skin Into Blood / Plasma Rain / Digital Philosophy

"Scientists Turn Skin Into Blood (w/Video)" Interesting Article on PhysOrg.  You'll also find this article reworded all around the web.

Today's a slow day so far as breaking science news, so go ahead and watch this short video awesomeness.  "Plasma Rain," a hundred million tons of it, erupts on the sun and falls back via the sun's gravity. 



Video Credit: SDO/NASA April 19th 2009

Here are a few incredibly fascinating topics.  You could seriously spend days on this stuff, and it could even potentially broaden your horizons.  I don't necessarily subscribe to the ideas, but they blow my mind nonetheless.

"Digital Philosophy" says that all actions and quantities in nature can be boiled down to integers, and further to 0 and 1.  A binary universe if you will.  Interesting isn't it!  http://www.digitalphilosophy.org/

To build on this, there is the "Simulation Argument."  Could it be possible that our universe in not only binary, but down to bare bones, a computer simulation in itself?  Here's an insightful Paper that seems to me to make more sense then it ought to.  These ideas are far out, and it's startling to see a logical and levelheaded argument.  Very cool ideas!

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