Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for ResearchBlogging.org.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Science Pics in the News: Dec. 29, 2010

NASA's Image of the Day: "A southerly looking night view of the upper two-thirds of the Florida peninsula was recorded by the Expedition 26 crew aboard the International Space Station on Dec. 28, 2010"

Image Credit: NASA

A solar flare had fried the brains of the Intelsat Galaxy 15.  Suddenly, we're receiving information from it again.  In the words of Frankenstein: IT'S ALIVE!!!!!  Article on Discovery News

Image Credit: Orbital Sciences

In my RSS reader today, from CDBaby DIY Musician (the server is down at the moment) featured this hilarious picture:

Image Credit:CD Baby I guess...  TinEye is showing 0 Results

HiRISE has a New image:"This observation takes a look at possible dune changes since [Mars two years ago]"

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

"NASA Spacecraft Finds Its 2,000th Comet" on NPR

Image Credit: Karl Battams/SOHO/NASA

NASA/JPL Released a new image today: "Acetylene around Jupiter's Poles"

Image Credit:NASA/JPL/GSFC

Centauri Dreams posted an Article today featuring this picture of the Triangulum Galaxy (M33):


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

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Brain Bloggers survey

Through the Looking Glass is conducting research on "Brain Bloggers."  Step one is a basic survey.  The following provides some insight into me as a writer, as well as the history and current state of this blog.  Thanks to all of you for your readership and support.  Because of you, I can be proud of my efforts. 
They are inviting us to post the survey on our blogs, so here it goes!

Blog URL:
    http://www.astronasty.com

What do you blog about?
    Physics and Astronomy, with spatterings of other breaking news in science

 
Do you feel as if you fit into any particular community, network or genre if science blogging? (e.g. neuroscience, bad science, ex-sbling)
    As a contributor to www.ResearchBlogging.org, my technical articles on physics and astronomy receive a lot of traffic
 
If so, what does that community give you?
    Positive responses have made me feel even more welcome and inspired me to continue writing.

Are you paid to blog?
    My blog mildly promotes my music career via mp3 downloads through various online outlets.  Corresponding sales generate some income.


What do you do professionally (other than blog)?
   Currently unemployed.


How long have you been blogging at this site?
   Since mid Sept. 2010


Have/ do you blogged elsewhere? When? Where?
   No.


Would you describe yourself as a scientist, or as a member of the scientific community? Do you have any formal/ informal training in science? (if so, what area?)
    I am an amateur scientist, science-themed musician, and amateur science journalist.


Do you have any formal training in journalism, science communication, or similar?
   I have an associates degree in science.


Do you write in other platforms? (e.g. in a print magazine?)
   No.


Can you remember why you started blogging?
   I look up a large amount of science news online daily, and finally chose to share what fascinates me most.


What keeps you blogging?
  The steady increase in traffic, as well as positive comments expressing enjoyment and respect for my content.


Do you have any idea of the size or character if your audience? How?
   My traffic began in mid Sept. with 3-4 hits a day, and now has 150-400 hits a day.  www.ResearchBlogging.org has generated a lot of traffic, implying an intelligent readership.  Additionally, ads I had for a while on my site were not clicked on, which is indicative of the demeanor of my readership.  I removed the ads and left only links to my music for sale online.


What’s your attitude to/ relationship with people who comment on your blog?
  I don't get a lot of comments, but when I do, I respond always.  It's a very personal interaction and is normally intelligent banter.


What do you think are the advantages of blogging? What are its disadvantages/ limitations?
   Advantage-  The ability to change topics or style of writing on a whim is very liberating.  Frivolous and silly content, as well as jokes, can be used when and if I want to, without repercussions.   
  Disadvantage- Income difference inherent to independence

Do you tell people you know offline that you’re a blogger? (e.g. your grandmother, your boss)
  Yes.  My blog's name is easy to remember, and the vast majority of those I have told have checked into my blog and given me positive feedback.


Is there anything else you want to tell me about I haven’t asked?
   A good question not asked would be: How often do you post on your blog.  Answer: an average of 6 out of 7 days a week.


-Dj Busby
http://www.astronasty.com

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Theory of Mind is being challenged


[Edit: 12-29-2010 Neurotic Physiology Explained this experiment in much greater detail than what I had found previously.  Click Here for his insightful article.]

 Article on PhysOrg today about Theory of Mind.   Some time ago, I learned about Theory of Mind via the Vignette embedded below, which is quite well done.  Apparently new papers are being released claiming that theory of mind is displayed in the behavior of children under three years old.  This effect was previously thought to not be possible due to the developmental stages of children. 

The description of the experiment, to quote PhysOrg, quoting AAAS:
   "The experiments involved showing the test subject a series of animated videos in which a ball first rolls behind a small wall, and then either stays there, rolls out of view, or rolls away and comes back.
A cartoon character observes different intervals of this process. At the end of each video, the researchers measured how long it took the test subjects to detect the ball. (For the babies, the researchers inferred this based on how long it took the infants to look away from the screen.)
Both the adults’ and infants’ reaction times were faster when the cartoon character’s “belief” about the ball’s location matched the ball’s actual whereabouts. This was the case even when the cartoon character had left the screen by the end of the video.""




Here's the abstract from the actual Paper by Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Ernő Téglás, and Ansgar Denis Endress
"Human social interactions crucially depend on the ability to represent other agents’ beliefs even when these contradict our own beliefs, leading to the potentially complex problem of simultaneously holding two conflicting representations in mind. Here, we show that adults and 7-month-olds automatically encode others’ beliefs, and that, surprisingly, others’ beliefs have similar effects as the participants’ own beliefs. In a visual object detection task, participants’ beliefs and the beliefs of an agent (whose beliefs were irrelevant to performing the task) both modulated adults’ reaction times and infants’ looking times. Moreover, the agent’s beliefs influenced participants’ behavior even after the agent had left the scene, suggesting that participants computed the agent’s beliefs online and sustained them, possibly for future predictions about the agent’s behavior. Hence, the mere presence of an agent automatically triggers powerful processes of belief computation that may be part of a “social sense” crucial to human societies."

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Black Holes, Accretion Disks, Rearranging the Timeline, Oh My!


Recent results of a 7 year experiment at the University of Tel Aviv provide a detailed analysis of the accretion disks of supermassive black holes found at the center of galaxies.  The results provide evidence that differs from current consensus in respect to the timeline and growth of supermassive black holes.

There's an inherent difficulty in studying black holes.  A lesser known aspect of these singularities, accretion disks, are one of the major ways we can study them.  As a black hole gobbles up matter, we can observe a spraying of gas they generate and spit out, as if they've bitten off more than they can chew.  These "accretion disks" (artist's impression below) are viewed in the X-ray spectrum, and are exactly what the scientists at the University of Tel Aviv were studying so carefully.  Combining this information with the models and simulators for the formations of the associated galaxies allowed them to generate a wealth of new inferred information.   (click to embiggen)
Image Credit: NASA / ESA

This spraying of gas is an intriguing phenomenon, so I'll quote Wikipedia's Article on accretion disks here:
   "An accretion disc is a structure (often a circumstellar disk) formed by diffuse material in orbital motion around a central body. The central body is typically a young star, a protostar, a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole. Gravity causes material in the disc to spiral inward towards the central body. Gravitational forces compress the material causing the emission of electromagnetic radiation. The frequency range of that radiation depends on the central object. Accretion discs of young stars and protostars radiate in the infrared; those around neutron stars and black holes in the x-ray part of the spectrum."

The study at the University of Tel Aviv was focused on pinpointing the age and history of growth of black holes of different sizes.  They conclude that the oldest black holes we see, products of some of the first stars in the universe, are the smallest black holes now, yet are growing at the fastest rate.  Breaking conventional models, they measured the epoch of the fastest rate of supermassive black hole growth to have occurred when the universe was at an age of 1.2 billion years old, as opposed to 2-4 billion years old as currently widely accepted.

As of right now, these reports are before the actual paper has been released.  Soon it will appear in the prestigious Astrophysical Journal.

Sources: Article on PhysOrg to American Friends of Tel Aviv University to Source Article.
Prof. Hagai Hetzer, Benny Trakhtenbrot, Prof. Ohad Shemmer, Prof. Paulina Lira (2010). When the Black Hole Was Born Astrophysical Journal 
(This is a preprint citation of as yet unpublished article, to be released in the next issue of Astrophysical Journal.  Info taken from article "When the Black Hole Was Born" .  There will be a possibility for renaming upon publication.)



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Science Pictures and Videos in the News: Dec. 27, 2010

Portal To the Universe led me to this newly released picture of the Eastern Veil Nebula.

Image Credit: D. López (IAC)

On Universe Today, "Cassini Takes Images of Growing Storm on Saturn"

Image Credit:NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Discovery News has an Article today on solar powered pants.  The fabric actually has solar cells that will charge an electronic device in your pocket!  A measly 920$, chump change, right?

Image Credit: Screen grab from Silvr Lining

NASA's Image of the Day, a mosaic image of three nebulae of the Orion Molecular Cloud  (click for huge wallpaper size)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, One Million Galaxies: (click for big wallpaper size)

Image Credit: 2MASS, T. H. Jarrett, J. Carpenter, & R. Hurt


TODAY'S OVERFLOW:

Today's Article on Science Not Fiction: "Would Death Be Easier If You Know You’ve Been Cloned?"

And finally, an informative and though provoking lecture on the value of peer review in science.  Mixture of lighthearted approaches and somber approaches make for a well rounded, meaningful video.  Found via http://richarddawkins.net/ which points to 3 Quarks Daily


Ben Goldacre Talks Bad Science from PopTech on Vimeo.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Science Pictures and Videos in the News: Dec. 26, 2010

It's the holidays, and metaphorical head of the media nods, nods, and dozes.  Now the 26th, people are starting to boot up their computers again.

"Amazing WISE Telescope images reveal runaway stars and cosmic jellyfish" The Flaming Star Nebula, Today's Article on IO9 features this stunning image:

Image Credit: NASA

"Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies' Whitebark Pines" Article on NPR

Image Credit: W. W. Macfarlane

Today an Article on Universe Today shows a really neat picture pointing out the similarities of our eclipsed moon and Mars.

To quote their caption for the picture: Lunar Eclipse photos of the Red Moon taken near Princeton, NJ on an exquisitely clear night with a 250 mm lens and 1 sec exposure. Credit: Ken Kremer. Bottom Left: Red Mars from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA. Right: Red Mars through a telescope in 2010 from The Plantation in Florida (not to scale). Credit: Ernie Rossi

Today on Earth Snapshot, "Kožuf Mountain on Greece-Macedonia Border and Other Nearby Ranges"

Image Credit: Chelys srl

Cheating a bit with "breaking" news here, yesterday the 25th: "Indian Rocket Explodes After Christmas Day Lift-Off" Article on Discovery News

Image Credit: State-run Indian Space Research Organizations' (ISRO) satellite GSAT-5P rocket explodes in mid-air shortly after its launch in Sriharikota, India, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010 (Associated Press) | PhysOrg has an Article today, "Failed rocket launch threatens India's space ambitions" on the potential aftermath.

"Find out what particles are hiding in the air all around you with this awesome map" Article on Gizmodo

Image Credit: NASA map by Robert Simmon, based on MODIS data from NASA Earth Observations
a

Coolest of all, today's Post on World of Weird Things features a BBC clip with an inside peak on NASA's rocket testing site in Mississippi. Absolutely captivating, extremely interesting.  They actually create pure water vapor cloud in the sky with a rocket!



Image Credit: BBC

TODAY'S OVERFLOW:
Here's BBC's Explanation on the evolving story of the concentric circles thought to be found in the Cosmic Backround Radiation.  Verdict is, there's no verdict yet.  Furthermore, doubt is huge on the topic.  You might be more familiar with titles like "Black Holes Collided Before the Big Bang" or "Evidence of Big Bangs Before Ours" (typical examples, not word for word)   It's responsible of them to release this article, especially since they covered the issue when it broke.
To quote the last bit of the article:
"As far as the experts are concerned, incorrect work will either be corrected via Arxiv comments, the standard review process, or more slowly over many years and many papers, or will simply go unnoticed and forgotten.  But as far as the public is concerned, in a situation like [this one] the publicity may happen too fast to get out the news that there were big "  --Dr. Zibin quoted in BBC Article linked above

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Science Pics in the News: Dec. 23, 2010

 "Reactor could make fuel from sun and CO2" Article on New Scientist

Image Credit: Aldo Steinfield/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology


"GOES Satellites Capture Holiday Weather Travel Conditions" Article on NASA

Image Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project


"Pacman caught munching Mimas" Article on New Scientist

Image Credit: NASA / JPL / GSFC / SwRI / SSI | Found via TinEye results to Bob Vardeman's Blog to CosmicBlog who finally credited the damned thing


"Border collie takes record for biggest vocabulary"  Article on New Scientist. This is quite amazing.  This collie has been taught 1022 names of items and can identify them.  Amazing.




"ChemCam Mast Unit Being Prepared for Laser Firing"  Article on NASA
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

"Chasing Chickens in the Lambda Centauri Nebula" Article on NASA

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA


"Latest From Mars: Frosty Landscapes, Ancient Lakebed, Potential Landing Site"  Article on Universe Today (click to embiggen)

Image Credit:NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

"Hubble for the Holidays: A Bauble of a Bubble" Article on Starts With A Bang, features a stunning video, an artist's rendition of a supernova:



Video Credit: http://www.spacetelescope.org/credits/

NASA came out with a serene and literally otherworldly video of "A Blue Sunset On Mars", as seen via our rover.  Induces calm and awe.  Article on Discovery News




Video Credit: NASA/JPL/Kevin MacLeod





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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Astronomy Pictures in the News: Dec. 21, 2010

NASA's Image of the Day: Space Shuttle Discovery's view of the lunar eclipse

Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Cassini released a few amazing pictures today!  This first one is of Saturn's moon Enceladus, photograph taken on the 20th.


Image Credit: NASA/JPL


This Cassini photograph, found on the Planetary Society Blog, captured two of Saturn's moons: Enceladus and Mimas.  The faint sunrise makes it picturesque!  

Image Credit: NASA / JPL / processed by Emily Lakdawalla


This false color photograph of Saturn's moon Rhea is beautiful.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute | found Here

Another false color photograph of Saturn's moon Rhea:

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute | found Here

Here's two of Saturn's moons in false color: Rhea and Dione

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute | found Here


NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter just gave us some great pictures.  Here's some false color topography of OUR moon, showing peaks and valleys through color:


Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/MIT/SVS | found Here with a high resolution option if you're interested.


Maxine over at Scribble - Mind Over Matter added some color to a photograph of an eclipse as seen by Proba-2



Image Credit: ESA/Royal University of Belgium


Starts with a Bang Posted a tribute to hubble on his site today.  My favorite of his images, labeled M82:




Image Credit: NASA I suppose.  TinEye is coming up with 0 results.





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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse Pictures

Last night was the lunar eclipse, coinciding with the winter solstice, and I stayed up REALLY LATE taking pictures.  Excited with having astronomy in my backyard, I used up 4 double A batteries on my camera and managed to get really cold in the process.  Here are the best of the batch of 80 some pics from last night:

Wallpaper Size: (click to enbiggen)

Clear Eclipsed Moon, 1680x1050

Eclipse w/Trees, 1680x1050

Cropped:

Pre-Eclipse



Half Eclipse


Prominent Stars During Eclipse


Lunar Eclipse, close up

It was an incredible amount of fun.  Anyone can feel free to use these pictures.  A link back to the page would be nice when possible.



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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Search For Hidden Dimensions

"Brian Greene: The Search For Hidden Dimensions" Absolutely fascinating!  Toward the end he explains the worth of learning when the theory in question might not turn out to be fact.  He says that studying itself still pays off.  Interesting!



Video Credit: RFD Productions

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Science Pics in the News: Dec. 19, 2010

I love this picture.  Cyborg Medusa Baby for the win! Measuring brain activity:


Image Credit: Found via Article on Gizmodo which links to Cerebral Cortex


EEG on an adult:


Image Credit: Credit: Kevin Whittingstall


A new Article on Universe Today "Magnetic Fields on O-Class Stars" features a great picture displaying the classifications of stars at a glance.  Star classifications are pretty intriguing.  Our sun is a GV2, third from the left in this picture.  From wikipedia: "our Sun has the spectral type G2V, which might be interpreted as "a 'yellow' two tenths towards 'orange' main sequence star." (their choice of pic is only slightly related to the article)

Image Credit: Kieff


Today's Post on Starts With A Bang has a ton of stunning astronomy pictures.  My favorite: HEI0206

Image Credit: (deep breath!) NASA / ESA / H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingsworth (UCSC/LO), M. Clampin (STScl), G. Hartig (STScl) and the ACS Science Team




Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day "M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind"


Image Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI / AURA)


Discovery News's Article today has an especially breathtaking picture of Earth from space:

Image Credit: NASA/ESO


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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Science Pics for Dec. 18, 2010

Today, Lights in the Dark Posted a new picture taken by the Opportunity Mars Orbiter: The Santa Maria Crater

Image Credit: NASA / JPL

IceCube Neutrino Observatory telescope completed!!
Into the Ice: Completing the IceCube Neutrino Observatory « Berkeley Lab News Center
Article on Berkeley Lab

Image Credit: Berkeley Lab

New composite picture: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter "moon illumination map"

The Moon As You've Never Seen It Before

 Article on Gizmodo

Image Credit: NASA/LROC



Technology Review explains a new feature within the advanced search options in google, reading level.  And the Smartest Site on the Internet Is... - Technology Review
Here's how they rate,

Image Credit: Technology Review/Google

Here's my lil' ol' site!

Image Credit: Me/Google

OMG are am I smarter than MIT Tech reveiw!?!?!11? No wai!



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