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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

YouTube Space Lab Competition

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Very few can inspire like Stephen Hawking.





What is the YouTube Space Lab Competition?

"We're asking you to come up with a science experiment for space and upload a video explaining it to YouTube. If your idea wins, it will be performed on the International Space Station and live streamed on YouTube to the world. And we'll throw in some out-of-this-world prizes, too."

Background and specifics of the competition:



Important notes:
Entrants must be ages 14-18.
Video entries should be 2 minutes long.
The above video states the deadline as Dec. 7th.  Since then, the entry deadline has been extended. 
You now have until Dec 14th 2011 to enter.

Get busy!  Get inspired!


Project orchestrated by the joint efforts of Google, YouTube, JAXA(Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), NASA, and ESA.



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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sapolsky Religion Lecture Dissected Part 1/6

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The Biology of Religion:
"Looking at Some Biological Underpinnings of Religiosity"


Sapolsky on Religion Lecture Dissected 


Sapolsky admits that this brilliant lecture is often met with considerable resistance by some religious types.  Here, my goal is to dissect his lecture and provide adequate scholarly references to clarify and validate his argument; to reaffirm that his lecture is based on unbiased science.





This is the beginning a 6 part video lecture.  Timestamps have been created for your convenience.  Academic references follow the notes. 

TIMESTAMPS

Time: 00:00
I. Some opening caveats, disclaimers and fine print

II. Religion and belief

Time: 01:37
    1. A return to the final question of the schizophrenia lecture  

    2. Genes and the advantages of intermediate penetrance: sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis....and schizophrenia?


Time:~01:30

Wright, P., Gill, M., & Murray, R. (1993). Schizophrenia: Genetics and the maternal immune response to viral infection American Journal of Medical Genetics, 48 (1), 40-46 DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.1320480110

From the abstract:
"Thirty years ago, Eliot Slater suggested that the reason schizophrenia was not progressively eliminated from the population was that the responsible gene also conveyed a compensatory advantage in terms of increased resistance to infection. If this selective advantage lies in the antibody response to certain viral infections, this could explain recent studies suggesting that exposure to influenza in the second trimester of gestation increases the risk of later schizophrenia."


Time: 05:54  
    3. The Kety schizophrenia adoption studies: their second discovery, and the continuum of traits.

Time: 07:14
    4. Schizotypal personality disorder: social withdrawal, odd perceptual experiences, a tendency towards concreteness, metamagical belief.

Time: 10:26   
    5. Who are the traditional schizotypals?


Time:~06:00-10:30

On the Kety studies and schizotypals: Verifying the schizotypal personality disorder.  Commentary on inadequacy of diagnosis using the then current DSMIII: 


Torgersen, Svenn (1985). Relationship of Schizotypal Personality Disorder to Schizophrenia: Genetics Schizophrenia Bulletin , 11 (4)

From the abstract:
"The adoptive, family, and twin studies show that schizotypal personality features are found among the relatives of schizophrenics. However it has not been shown that there is a higher risk of schizophrenia among the relatives of schizotypals. An explanation may be that the current DSM-III criteria of schizotypal personality disorder do not adequately define schizotypals genetically related to schizophrenia. While some of the cases that meet DSM-III criteria are within the schizophrenia spectrum, others are unrelated to schizophrenia. There is reason to believe that schizotypals characterized by distant relationship to others, suspiciousness, eccentricity, peculiar communication, and dysfunctional school and work performance are within the schizophrenic sphere with psychotic-like symptoms phenomenologically similar to schizophrenia and diagnosed as schizotypal personality disorders in DSM-III represent decompensation of other personality disorders"


Time: 10:48
                  a. Paul Radin,

Ref. provided by Sapolsky:
"The psychopathology of shamanism is discussed in a number of places. Paul Radin and his thinking are considered in S. Diamond, "Paul Radin," in S. Silverman, ed., Totems and Teachers: Perspectives on the History of Anthropology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981)"

Time: 12:02
[added] Erwin Ackerknecht and Paul Devereux: hearing voices at the right time

Ref. provided by Sapolsky:
"see E. Ackerknecht, "Psychopathology, Primitive M edicine and Primitive Culture," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 14 (1946): 30; J. Silverman, "Shamans and Acute Schizophrenia," American Anthropologist 69 1967)"

Ref. provided by Sapolsky:
"G. Devereux, 'A Sociological Theory of Schizophrenia,' 'Psychoanalytical Review 26 (1939)'"

 Time:~12:15
                b. Alfred Kroeber’s elaboration: “Psychosis or Social Sanction.” The common roots of ‘sanction’ and ‘sanctuary.’

Ref. provided by Sapolsky
"S. Kroeber, "Psychosis or Social Sanction?" Char acter and Personality 8 ( 1940)"

Time: 12:39   
        c. Western cultures and schizotypalism

Time: 13:20-13:47
        [added] revisit: Paul Devereux: hearing voices at the right time





Part of the foundation of Sapolsky's argument insists that schizophrenia and schitzotypal disorders are hereditary.  



Background on the disorders:



Paper specifically on schizotypal disorder:  Here's the complete abstract:

Laguerre A, Leboyer M, & Schürhoff F (2008). [The schizotypal personality disorder: historical origins and current status]. L'Encephale, 34 (1), 17-22 PMID: 18514146

Abstract:
BACKGROUND:
"The schizotypal personality disorder is a recent psychiatric nosological concept developed by Spitzer at the end of the 1970s, based on the analysis of the characteristics of relatives of schizophrenic subjects included in the adoption studies carried out in the same decade by Kety, Wender and Rosenthal.
HISTORICAL ASPECTS:
However, this entity is based on older observations, at the beginning of the past century, showing common behavioural characteristics in relatives of schizophrenics. Its status within our current nosography remains dubious, sometimes classified among personality disorders, sometimes in the schizophrenia spectrum disorders. It is interesting to present the origins of this concept that stem from two complementary approaches: a family approach and a clinical approach of sporadic cases and then to redefine the framework within which the diagnostic approach was based and its continuity, up until our current classifications, the DSM and CIM.
CURRENT STATUS:
The historical origins cannot summarize the disorder and it appears important to redefine the multidimensional characteristics of the schizotypal personality disorder, generally a three-factor model. Indeed, dimensional models of psychosis are becoming established as conceptually and clinically useful. Recent studies on the dimensionality of psychosis show an evolution of the schizotypal concept, initially defined as being part of the schizophrenia spectrum and which now appears to be more broadly linked to a concept of unitary psychosis, including the bipolar disorder.
CONCLUSION:
Dimensions of psychosis seem to be associated with different familial aggregation and risk of psychosis, suggesting that they are underlined by different physiopathological processes. Hence, the dimensional approach can help to disentangle the genetic heterogeneity of the disease.
"





Work supporting the hereditary nature of schizophrenia specifically:

Owen, M., Williams, H., & O’Donovan, M. (2009). Schizophrenia genetics: advancing on two fronts Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 19 (3), 266-270 DOI: 10.1016/j.gde.2009.02.008

From the abstract:
"Recent studies have supported the hypothesis that the high heritability of schizophrenia reflects a combination of relatively common alleles of small effect and some rare alleles with relatively large effects."


Ongoing work to single out schizophrenia/schizotypal genes:


Torgersen, Svenn (2011). Where are the missing pieces of the schizophrenia genetics puzzle? Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 21 (3), 310-316

From the abstract:
"On the basis of recent data from candidate region/gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and their follow-up investigations, the number of genes potentially implicated in schizophrenia has been estimated to be over 1000. However, with regard to the identified odds ratio, it is likely that genetic variants with more definitive effect on schizophrenia phenotype are still missing. The hunt therefore remains open for the genetic variants that would explain the majority of the missing heritability of schizophrenia."

A more recent study:

Kurotaki, N., Tasaki, S., Mishima, H., Ono, S., Imamura, A., Kikuchi, T., Nishida, N., Tokunaga, K., Yoshiura, K., & Ozawa, H. (2011). Identification of Novel Schizophrenia Loci by Homozygosity Mapping Using DNA Microarray Analysis PLoS ONE, 6 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020589


From the abstract:
"An analysis of patients whose parents were first cousins enables the search for autozygous segments in their offspring."


 


 

Lecture by Prof. Robert Sapolsky:
Course: Bio 150/250, Spring 2002 Human Behavioral Biology at Stanford University

Robert Sapolsky is a Professor of Biology, Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. He also works in Neurobiology, Biological Anthropology, and Primatology.
He has released over 180 academic publications.  He recieved his B.A. in Biological Anthropology summa cum laude from Harvard University, then went on to get his PHD in Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University.

Sapolsky's Recommendations:
Some further readings: Mark Saltzman, Lying Awake (a superb novel about the religious implications of temporal lobe epilepsy). David S Wilson, Darwin’s Cathedral. 2002 Univ. Chicago Press. Religious groups as units of selection. Sapolsky. “Circling the blanket for God.” In: The Trouble With Testosterone’ and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament.



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A Psychology Professor on Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience

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Scott Lilienfeld has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Emory since 1994.  He wrote a brilliant article a while back, published in "Observer" Vol.18, No.9 September, 2005.  Aimed at fellow teachers of psychology, he lays out some desperately needed groundwork.

Lilienfeld's focus is teaching his psychology students how to distinguish science from pseudoscience in a methodical fashion.  Once learned, I daresay, these are skills would benefit literally every individual in the public.


Stories of his experiences in class kick off the article and show why these skills are much needed.

The beef of the article is also the title of the article: 
"The 10 Commandments of Helping Students Distinguish Science from Pseudoscience in Psychology"


Read the actual article for an eloquent paragraph on each of these commandments.

First Commandment
Thou shalt delineate the features that distinguish science from pseudoscience.


Second Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish skepticism from cynicism.


Third Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish methodological skepticism from philosophical skepticism.


Fourth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish pseudoscientific claims from claims that are merely false.


Fifth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish science from scientists. 


Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt explain the cognitive underpinnings of pseudoscientific beliefs.


Seventh Commandment
Thou shalt remember that pseudoscientific beliefs serve important motivational functions.


Eigth Commandment
Thou shalt expose students to examples of good science as well as to examples of pseudoscience.


Ninth Commandment
Thou shalt be consistent in one’s intellectual standards.


Tenth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish pseudoscientific claims from purely metaphysical religious claims.



Association for Phychological Science on Lilienfeld: "Much of your current work focuses on revisiting old controversies in the field of psychology and debunking commonly believed myths."

Right on!


My overview pales in comparison to the actual article, which you can find here.




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Friday, November 25, 2011

Exploding Sun, Mars Sunrise

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Bad Astronomy brought to our attention today this awesome video from NASA/SDO's Flickr page:
"NASA Captures Giant Prominence on the Sun"



Video Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

NASA's concise description:
"A giant prominence on the sun erupted on November 15, as seen in this video taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which covers a time frame of about 13 hours. The eruption hurled solar material — electrically charged gas, known as “plasma” -- in the direction of Venus."




Browsing their Flickr page, I came across this recent computer generated image of a sunrise on Mars.  The image is modeled after actual data and is quite beautiful.
"Daybreak at Gale Crater"
Click to enlarge.  This is my current computer wallpaper. 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Robin Ince: Science versus wonder - TED Talk

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I find such solace in these ideas.  We are all so large.  We are all so small.  And this brilliant machine that  we see rattling around can teach us a lot yet.


TED describes itself here: "...a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design."
Visit www.TED.com and RSS them if you'd like to keep track of new releases.


On the theme, teaching the wonders of science is the theme behind Richard Dawkins' new book
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
I highly recommend it.  It's illustrated by one of my favorite artists too, Dave McKean.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Underwater Ice Tornado

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New from BBC, an except of Frozen Planet:
Underwater Ice Tornado, or as BBC calls it "'Brinicle' ice finger of death'"



"When it gets to the ground, it starts to expand, killing everything it touches. The whole process takes five to six hours, according to the team, which is surprisingly fast." -Gizmodo



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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PENGUINS!

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Sorry for the bout of silence this past week.  I had a lot of family business going on.
To start back up on the wrong feet, (not to mention webbed) here's something only with the vaguest connection to science in my opinion.

warning, may be terminally cute.
ENJOY THE PENGUINS!




Found on BBC


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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Birth of the Island Surtsey

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 This amazing piece was filmed by Osvaldur Knudsen in 1963.



If you'd like to read up on the birth of Surtsey, there's PLENTY to read.

If you're more interested in seeing some really cool pics, there's a photo gallery HERE.  I'd like to post some of the pictures, but they prohibit it.

"There has always been great interest in Surtsey, and numerous articles have been written about it. In the field of geological sciences, a total of 288 papers and books on the Surtsey eruption and Surtsey in the period 1963-1990 have been written in 11 different languages. The number of articles on the biology of the island is most likely similar."
-The Surtsey Research Society

The Surtsey Research Society's website has tons of information and seems to be the hub of knowledge on this subject. 



A different locale
More currently, here magma is spewing from beneath the surface of the ocean, forming the newest Canary Island before our eyes.
 
Les tipped me off to Surtsey, leaving a comment on this picture directly above (which was in one of my posts a few days ago) 

pic from Short Sharp Science

Thanks Les!



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Space Station Time Lapse Video

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I found it via Bad Astronomy.
It's pretty popular and new, so if you haven't seen it, you will enjoy!

My commentary?
This is not who we are.  
This is where we live!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Atheist's Nostalgia for Religion

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Here's Robert Sapolsky, professor at Stanford.
You might have to turn the volume up, he's a little quiet.


MY Nostalgia for Religion:
Something that's not often brought up is the religious nostalgia some atheists feel.  I was raised catholic, and became atheist in my teens.  I remember the security of knowing a benevolent God was watching out for me.  I remember the satisfaction of knowing justice will be done during the sorting of the afterlife.
With pride for humanity I remember thinking the most important of the world's secrets have been discovered; that all the most important truths could never be falsified.  

Then atheist, the weight of the world fell from the heavens to the ground.
I am now incapable of accepting anything by faith.
A Trick:
Over the years, I've found perspective that fills in some of the gaps.  I've found that studying Astronomy and Quantum Theory has finally brought me a sense of belonging in the Universe.  We are all insignificant, but while we're here, lets make the best of it.


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Millions of Lives Touched by Christopher Hitchens - CHEERS!

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Christopher Hitchens, a brilliant man and orator, has oesophageal cancer.  This is a YouTube tribute compilation made by those whose lives he has touched deeply. 


 
About Christopher Hitchens:
Identified as a champion of the "New Atheism" movement, Hitchens describes himself as an antitheist and a believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Hitchens says that a person "could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct," but that "an antitheist, a term I’m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence for such an assertion."  He argues that the concept of god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization.
-Wikipedia




Tears were in my eyes.  Cheers, Christopher!





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Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Symphony of Science and a Quick Pretty Sunrise

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Symphony of Science, most famous for his Carl Sagan autotune videos, has a brand new installment.  This one is calmer, serene almost.  The music is great.  I especially like his choice to focus on Neil DeGrasse Tyson in this particular one.  I'm a big fan of his.

John's description:
"A musical celebration of the importance and inspirational qualities of space exploration (human and robotic), as well as a look at some of the amazing worlds in our solar system. Featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, and Carolyn Porco"




Found on NASA's site, a quick 11 seconds of astronomical bliss.

The sun rising from behind earth from the viewpoint of orbit:






Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



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2012 - The Truth About The Upcoming Solar Storms

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Heliophysicist Alex Young explains why we won't need to worry about killer solar storms.



 Video Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


Goddard Space Flight Center's website is a bit unorganized.  They're lax about dating things and they don't seem to understand that embedding videos for streaming is a necessity these days.  I'm fairly certain that the video above was released just now; even though the completion date is stated as earlier in the year.  Don't hold me to that!  They don't bother to state a release date.

Most of the other NASA videos I've posted come from another NASA site I know of that releases in chronological order. 

It's nice to be able to upload brand spankin' new media right when it comes out.  I can only hope it excites you guys as much as it does me! 

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Donut Shaped Air Bubbles Formed by Raindrops

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I'm still scouring ArXiv for awesome science videos.  This one's a beaut:



Credits go to: Marc Buckley, Florian Bernard, Fabrice Veron

Read their paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.3526

I took the liberty of editing the video down a little bit to increase excitement.  The link above has the full video, which is more instructional.  The paper on that same site will fill you in with all the specifics.  For some reason the paper is the abstract; they seem to be one and the same.  I found that odd.
Anyway, enjoy!



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Happy Birthday Carl Sagan!

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NASA and The Sagan Series are celebrating the 77th birthday of the great Carl Sagan.  Spreading reason to the public, touching lives one by one, his influence has been far more important and effective than the credit he is given.  Here's the first installment of The Sagan Series.  We miss you Carl, and the world is a lesser place without your passion.



Follow The Sagan Series through your facebook status feed by "liking" their page at
https://www.facebook.com/thesaganseries

Credits:  
Deep breath now, it's a lot:
FULL CREDIT goes to Michael Marantz for his brilliant original:
http://vimeo.com/2822787
http://michaelmarantz.com/
AND OF COURSE to Carl Sagan.  The Pale Blue Dot.
NASA - http://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision
BBC The Great Rift - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1597624/
Home - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1014762/
BBC Planet Earth - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795176/
Baraka - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103767/
"G20 Protest the Battle of Toronto" http://youtu.be/nOjGdvju-po
BBC Life - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1533395/
"NYC - Mindrelic Timelapse" http://vimeo.com/18554749
"Eye Macro" http://vimeo.com/14199249
"Gulf Oil Spill Effects On Wildlife" http://youtu.be/8Uax5FRWnvs
"Biggest Full Moon HD Video" http://youtu.be/JBOA1uK9cNM
"Gemini Observatory" http://youtu.be/7H3EQGfY9KY
Used with permission wherever possible.
 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shocking Up Close Lightning On Video

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Not a lot of time to blog today, but get a load of these:







Seen at Starts With A Bang, one of my favorites.

-EDIT!  FOUND MORE AWESOME LIGHTNING
Boing Boing just posted an article about tesla coils, towering manmade structures recreating the effects of lightning. What they've built already boggles the mind.  What the have is store is going to be exponentially cooler.







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Friday, November 4, 2011

Hydrodynamics: Wine Swirling and Bursting Water Balloons

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Two more riveting fluid dynamics videos for you to watch.  Again straight from ArXiv:


The First:

"The Hydrodynamics of Wine Swirling"
Read the paper here: "Oenodynamic": Hydrodynamic of wine swirling"


Credits:Martino Reclari, Matthieu Dreyer, Stephanie Tissot, Danail Obreschkow, Florian Wurm, Mohamed Farhat



The Second
"The Science Behind Bursting Water Balloons"
Read the paper here: "Bursting water balloons"



Credits:Hugh M. Lund, Stuart B. Dalziel


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A Display of the Power of Nature

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 Found the first on Gizmodo, 2nd on Io9, of all places.
"Watch this: thousands of starlings take wing in the form of a swirling 'murmuration'"





"Watch This Dam Explosion Free the White Salmon River"
See the raw power of water plowing through the earth by a dam opened


Explosive Breach of Condit Dam from Andy Maser on Vimeo.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Truly Magnificent Collection of Science Vids Released Today

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Let go through them one by one, shall we?
"A Night Flight Over the Mideast"

I think it's stunning!



Video Credit: Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Found at Universe Today


Next in the lot we have an animated NASA/Goddard production:
"Fast-Spinning Star Is Brightest, Youngest Ever Seen"

I've always found neutron stars particularly fascinating.


Video Credit: NASA/etc.  Credits embedded in video. Found: Space.com



In this short pretty clip, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) gives us a glimpse of:
"Largest Sunspot in Years Now on the Sun"



Video Credit:NASA/SDO Found: Universe Today



This next night view of the earth seen from above:



"Japan Space Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa recorded lightning, auroras and the islands of Japan at night during more than 30 hours of Earth observation through windows of the International Space Station."
Video Credit: JAXA/NHK  Found: Space.com


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New NASA Video: Ice Speed and Elevation Changes in Antarctica

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Fresh off the press over at NASA:
"West Antarctic Glacier Ice Flows and Elevation Change"
Beautiful and brand new.  Global warming enthusiasts should find this especially interesting.




"Animation showing ice velocity and elevation change with dates, labels and colorbar."


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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

From ArXiv: The Flight of Flies and Mosquitoes

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Here are two cool ArXiv videos I've found recently concerning the flight of insects.

The first:
"Can mosquitoes fly in the rain?"
I added some original music I wrote way back.  The authors seemed pleased about the idea.
Read the paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.3051



Credits: Andrew Dickerson, Peter Shankles, Nihar Madhavan, David Hu


The second:
"Flight of a Fly"
Read the paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.3372



Credits:Hamarz Aryafar, H. Pirouz Kavehpour



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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NASA Explains The New Twist To Spiral Arms

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Spiral arms have been spotted around a single star for the first time.



Video Credit: NASA
NASA's ScienceCast site

Image Credit: http://www.alizarin.org


If you can't watch the video,

Universe Today describes the story nicely:
"Astronomers have known for some time that a star named SAO 206462 has a disk surrounding it, and have studied it with all available techniques including with Hubble chronographic imagery. But new high contrast observations with the Subaru Telescope has shown a surprising double-spiral feature in the disk, which may point to planets in the act of forming."

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