Keyword: science

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Doomed Star Eta Carinae

    12/30/2012 8:19:01 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | December 30, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Eta Carinae may be about to explode. But no one knows when - it may be next year, it may be one million years from now. Eta Carinae's mass - about 100 times greater than our Sun - makes it an excellent candidate for a full blown supernova. Historical records do show that about 150 years ago Eta Carinae underwent an unusual outburst that made it one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Eta Carinae, in the Keyhole Nebula, is the only star currently thought to emit natural LASER light. This image, taken in 1996, brought out...
  • Modern Science Writers Leave Science Behind

    12/29/2012 2:12:28 PM PST · by neverdem · 42 replies
    Pacific Standard ^ | December 28, 2012 | Alex B. Berezow
    The co-author of a book on partisan science recently examined by Pacific Standard argues that our reviewer was a little too partisan himself. Any book that touches upon politics almost automatically angers half of the American public, regardless of what is written inside of it. It takes a special person—an objective, open-minded and self-critical one—to read and learn from a science book that criticizes people with whom the reader likes and agrees with politically.Recently, Pacific Standard published a review (“Red Science, Blue Science,” January/February 2013) by Wray Herbert, a pop psychology writer,of political writer Chris Mooney’s book The Republican Brain...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zeta Oph: Runaway Star

    12/29/2012 7:53:42 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | December 29, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a ship plowing through cosmic seas, runaway star Zeta Ophiuchi produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this stunning infrared portrait. In the false-color view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, lies near the center of the frame, moving toward the left at 24 kilometers per second. Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty interstellar material and shaping the curved shock front. Around it are clouds of relatively undisturbed material. What set this star in motion? Zeta Oph was likely once a member...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6188 and NGC 6164

    12/28/2012 8:47:24 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 28, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Fantastic shapes lurk in clouds of glowing hydrogen gas in NGC 6188, about 4,000 light-years away. The emission nebula is found near the edge of a large molecular cloud unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara. Massive, young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive stars, that swept up and compressed the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity Rover at Rocknest on Mars

    12/27/2012 3:21:10 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | December 27, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's in this smooth soil on Mars? In late October, NASA's robotic Curiosity rover stopped near a place dubbed Rocknest as it continues to explore Gale Crater on Mars. Rocknest is the group of stones seen near the top left of the above image -- just to the left of Curiosity's mast. Of particular interest was the unusually smooth patch of soil named Wind Drift seen to the left of Curiosity, which was likely created by the Martian wind blowing fine particles into Rocknest's wake. The above image shows part of Mt. Sharp in the background to upper right,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Makemake of the Outer Solar System

    12/26/2012 3:49:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 26, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Makemake is one of the largest objects known in the outer Solar System. Pronounced MAH-kay MAH-kay, this Kuiper belt object is about two-thirds the size of Pluto, orbits the Sun only slightly further out than Pluto, and appears only slightly dimmer than Pluto. Makemake, however, has an orbit much more tilted to the ecliptic plane of the planets than Pluto. Discovered by a team led by Mike Brown (Caltech) in 2005, the outer Solar System orb was officially named Makemake for the creator of humanity in the Rapa Nui mythology of Easter Island. In 2008, Makemake was classified as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Yosemite Winter Night

    12/25/2012 8:30:36 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | December 25, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this evocative night skyscape a starry band of the Milky Way climbs over Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada Range, planet Earth. Jupiter is the brightest celestial beacon on the wintry scene, though. Standing nearly opposite the Sun in the constellation Taurus, the wandering planet joins yellowish Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. Below, Orion always comes up sideways over a fence of mountains. And from there the twin stars of Gemini rise just across the Milky Way. As this peaceful winter night began, they followed Auriga the charioteer, its alpha star Capella near the top of the frame.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hyades for the Holidays

    12/24/2012 3:46:57 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 24, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Recognized since antiquity and depicted on the shield of Achilles according to Homer, stars of the Hyades cluster form the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Their general V-shape is anchored by Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull and by far the constellation's brightest star. Yellowish in appearance, red giant Aldebaran is not a Hyades cluster member, though. Modern astronomy puts the Hyades cluster 151 light-years away making it the nearest established open star cluster, while Aldebaran lies at less than half that distance, along the same line-of-sight. Along with colorful Hyades stars, this stellar holiday portrait locates...
  • Another Look at Fracking

    12/21/2012 10:46:34 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/21/2012 | Jarrett Skorup
    In a speech recently, Gov. Rick Snyder reiterated his support of natural gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). This is a good sign for taxpayers, job seekers and environmentalists. Despite the alarmism, fracking is safe — and much safer than the alternatives. Most of the fear about gas extraction comes from a disingenuous scene from a film in which people light the methane coming through their water pipes on fire because of alleged improper well construction, which has nothing to do with fracking. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing has been going on for...
  • China researchers link obesity to bacteria

    12/20/2012 4:07:35 PM PST · by 2ndDivisionVet · 30 replies
    The New York Daily News ^ | December 20, 2012
    Chinese researchers have identified a bacteria which may cause obesity, according to a new paper suggesting diets that alter the presence of microbes in humans could combat the condition. Researchers in Shanghai found that mice bred to be resistant to obesity even when fed high-fat foods became excessively overweight when injected with a kind of human bacteria and subjected to a rich diet. The bacterium -- known as enterobacter -- had been linked with obesity after being found in high quantities in the gut of a morbidly obese human volunteer, said the report, written by researchers at Shanghai's Jiaotong University....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Hale-Bopp Over Val Parola Pass

    12/22/2012 9:30:25 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 23, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp, the Great Comet of 1997, became much brighter than any surrounding stars. It was seen even over bright city lights. Away from city lights, however, it put on quite a spectacular show. Here Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed above Val Parola Pass in the Dolomite mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail, consisting of ions from the comet's nucleus, is pushed out by the solar wind. The white dust tail is composed of larger particles of dust from the nucleus driven by the pressure of sunlight, that orbit behind the comet. Observations showed that Comet...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Night

    12/22/2012 7:09:21 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | December 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Splendors seldom seen are revealed in this glorious picture from Saturn's shadow. Imaged by Cassini on October 17, 2012 during its 174th orbit, the ringed planet's night side is viewed from a perspective 19 degrees below the ring plane at a distance of about 800,000 kilometers with the Sun almost directly behind the planet. A 60 frame mosaic, images made with infrared, red, and violet filters were combined to create an enhanced, false-color view. Strongly backlit, the rings look bright away from the planet but dark in silhouette against the gas giant. Above center, they reflect a faint, eerie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion over El Castillo

    12/21/2012 4:02:17 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | December 21, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Welcome to the December solstice, a day the world does not end ... even according to the Mayan Calendar. To celebrate, consider this dramatic picture of Orion rising over El Castillo, the central pyramid at Chichén Itzá, one of the great Mayan centers on the Yucatán peninsula. Also known as the Temple of Kukulkan it stands 30 meters tall and 55 meters wide at the base. Built up as a series of square terraces by the pre-Columbian civilization between the 9th and 12th century, the structure can be used as a calendar and is noted for astronomical alignments. In...
  • The Piltdown Warning: Sometimes "settled science" has a way of turning out to be a complete fraud.

    12/21/2012 5:21:22 AM PST · by SeekAndFind · 10 replies
    American Thinker ^ | 12/21/2012 | Bruce Walker
    The left loves to muster the armies of official "science" to discount conservative values and principles. Man-made global warming, of course, is one example. Natural cycles of warming and cooling are indisputable. When Europe was cooler, 10,000 years ago, Britain was not an island, and what would become the English Channel has been called Doggerland, a land bridge between Britain and mainland Europe. Doggerland vanished about 6,500 years ago as natural global warming melted the oceans enough to cause the sea to rise. Later, in the Little Ice Age, Britain endured a natural cooling which caused many crops to fail...
  • Fighting Shaped Human Hands

    12/21/2012 3:34:08 AM PST · by Makana · 33 replies
    The Journal of Experimental Biology ^ | December 19, 2012 | The Journal of Experimental Biology
    — The human hand is a finely tuned piece of equipment that is capable of remarkable dexterity: creating art, performing music and manipulating tools. Yet David Carrier from the University of Utah suggests that the human hand may have also evolved its distinctive proportions for a less enlightened reason: for use as a weapon. In a new study, Carrier and colleague Michael Morgan publish their theory that human hands evolved their square palms and long thumb to stabilise the fist and produce a compact club for use in combat.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M33: Triangulum Galaxy

    12/19/2012 9:29:54 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | December 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way. About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems. As for the view from planet Earth, this sharp composite image, a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 5189: An Unusually Complex Planetary Nebula

    12/19/2012 3:46:15 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 19, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is this nebula so complex? When a star like our Sun is dying, it will cast off its outer layers, usually into a simple overall shape. Sometimes this shape is a sphere, sometimes a double lobe, and sometimes a ring or a helix. In the case of planetary nebula NGC 5189, however, no such simple structure has emerged. To help find out why, the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope recently observed NGC 5189 in great detail. Previous findings indicated the existence of multiple epochs of material outflow, including a recent one that created a bright but distorted torus running...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sun Pillar Over Sweden

    12/18/2012 7:03:07 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | December 18, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen a sun pillar? When the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting, falling ice crystals can reflect sunlight and create an unusual column of light. Ice sometimes forms flat, six-sided shaped crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground. Sunlight reflects off crystals that are properly aligned, creating the sun-pillar effect. In the above picture taken last week, a sun-pillar reflects light from a Sun setting over Östersund, Sweden.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 922: Collisional Ring Galaxy

    12/18/2012 6:58:33 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 17, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this galaxy have so many big black holes? No one is sure. What is sure is that NGC 922 is a ring galaxy created by the collision of a large and small galaxy about 300 million years ago. Like a rock thrown into a pond, the ancient collision sent ripples of high density gas out from the impact point near the center that partly condensed into stars. Pictured above is NGC 922 with its beautifully complex ring along the left side, as imaged recently by the Hubble Space Telescope. Observations of NGC 922 with the Chandra X-ray...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula

    12/16/2012 1:01:56 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The above image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- When Gemini Sends Stars to Paranal

    12/14/2012 9:40:15 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | December 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From a radiant point in the constellation of the Twins, the annual Geminid meteor shower rained down on planet Earth this week. Recorded near the shower's peak in the early hours of December 14, this skyscape captures Gemini's lovely shooting stars in a careful composite of 30 exposures, each 20 seconds long, from the dark of the Chilean Atacama Desert over ESO's Paranal Observatory. In the foreground Paranal's four Very Large Telescopes, four Auxillary Telescopes, and the VLT Survey telescope are all open and observing. The skies above are shared with bright Jupiter (left), Orion, (top left), and the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Umbra World

    12/14/2012 9:35:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | December 14, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On the morning of November 14, sky gazers from around the world gathered on this little planet to stand in the dark umbral shadow of the Moon. Of course, the Moon cast the shadow during last month's total solar eclipse, and the little planet is actually a beach on Green Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The picture itself, the first little planet projection of a total solar eclipse, is a digitally warped and stitched wrap-around of 8 images covering 360x180 degrees. To make it, the intrepid photographer had to remember to shoot both toward and away(!) from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 17: A Stereo View from Lunar Orbit [3D]

    12/13/2012 8:55:00 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 13, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this awesome stereo view of another world. The scene was recorded by Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan on December 11, 1972, one orbit before descending to land on the Moon. The stereo anaglyph was assembled from two photographs (AS17-147-22465, AS17-147-22466) captured from his vantage point on board the Lunar Module Challenger as he and Dr. Harrison Schmitt flew over Apollo 17's landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The broad, sunlit face of the mountain dubbed South Massif rises near the center of the frame, above the dark floor of Taurus-Littrow...
  • Scientists claim that homosexuality is not genetic—but it arises in the womb

    12/11/2012 5:42:41 PM PST · by Olog-hai · 59 replies
    io9.com ^ | Dec 11, 2012 8:00 AM | George Dvorsky
    A team of international researchers has completed a study that suggests we will probably never find a “gay gene.” Sexual orientation is not about genetics, say the researchers; it’s about epigenetics. This is the process where DNA expression is influenced by any number of external factors in the environment. And in the case of homosexuality, the researchers argue, the environment is the womb itself. … Specifically, the researchers discovered sex-specific epi-marks which, unlike most genetic switches, get passed down from father to daughter or mother to son. Most epi-marks don’t normally pass between generations and are essentially “erased.” Rice and...
  • The Folly of Scientism

    12/12/2012 6:07:02 PM PST · by neverdem · 29 replies
    The New Atlantis ^ | Fall 2012 | Austin L. Hughes
    When I decided on a scientific career, one of the things that appealed to me about science was the modesty of its practitioners. The typical scientist seemed to be a person who knew one small corner of the natural world and knew it very well, better than most other human beings living and better even than most who had ever lived. But outside of their circumscribed areas of expertise, scientists would hesitate to express an authoritative opinion. This attitude was attractive precisely because it stood in sharp contrast to the arrogance of the philosophers of the positivist tradition, who claimed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way Over Quiver Tree Forest

    12/11/2012 9:40:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | December 12, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In front of a famous background of stars and galaxies lies some of Earth's more unusual trees. Known as quiver trees, they are actually succulent aloe plants that can grow to tree-like proportions. The quiver tree name is derived from the historical usefulness of their hollowed branches as dart holders. Occurring primarily in southern Africa, the trees pictured in the above 16-exposure composite are in Quiver Tree Forest located in southern Namibia. Some of the tallest quiver trees in the park are estimated to be about 300 years old. Behind the trees is light from the small town of...
  • The Impossibility of Rapid Energy Transitions

    12/11/2012 1:03:35 PM PST · by neverdem · 10 replies
    The American ^ | December 6, 2012 | Kenneth P. Green
    Understanding energy system inertia and momentum is key to judging whether a rapid transition toward any type of energy is feasible. I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this Nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 — never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move...
  • Rubio: “There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth”

    12/06/2012 9:47:52 AM PST · by ksen · 278 replies
    Salon.com ^ | 12/5/2012 | Jillian Rayfield
    After dabbling in creationism earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., clarified that he does believe that scientists know the Earth is “at least 4.5 billion years old.” “There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old,” Rubio told Mike Allen of Politico. ”I was referring to a theological debate, which is a pretty healthy debate. “The theological debate is, how do you reconcile with what science has definitively established with what you may think your faith teaches,” Rubio continued. “Now for me, actually, when...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 604: Giant Stellar Nursery

    12/11/2012 4:15:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | December 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are sometimes born in the midst of chaos. About 3 million years ago in the nearby galaxy M33, a large cloud of gas spawned dense internal knots which gravitationally collapsed to form stars. NGC 604 was so large, however, it could form enough stars to make a globular cluster. Many young stars from this cloud are visible in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope, along with what is left of the initial gas cloud. Some stars were so massive they have already evolved and exploded in a supernova. The brightest stars that are left emit light...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Time-Lapse: A Total Solar Eclipse

    12/10/2012 7:17:29 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | December 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever experienced a total eclipse of the Sun? The above time-lapse movie depicts such an eclipse in dramatic detail as visible from Australia last month. As the video begins, a slight dimming of the Sun and the surrounding Earth is barely perceptible. Suddenly, as the Moon moves to cover nearly the entire Sun, darkness sweeps in from the left -- the fully blocked part of the Sun. At totality, only the bright solar corona extends past the edges of the Moon, and darkness surrounds you. Distant horizons are still bright, though, as they are not in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Astronaut Who Captured a Satellite [from 1984]

    12/08/2012 9:19:40 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | December 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In 1984, high above the Earth's surface, an astronaut captured a satellite. It was the second satellite captured that mission. Pictured above, astronaut Dale A. Gardner flies free using the Manned Maneuvering Unit and begins to attach a control device dubbed the Stinger to the rotating Westar 6 satellite. Communications satellite Westar 6 had suffered a rocket malfunction that left it unable to reach its intended high geosynchronous orbit. Both the previously caught Palapa B-2 satellite and the Westar 6 satellite were guided into the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery and returned to Earth. Westar 6 was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Baku Moonrise

    12/08/2012 10:58:48 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 08, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A Full Moon rises in this waterfront scene. Its colorful, watery reflection is joined by harbor lights and a windowed skyscraper's echo of the western horizon just after sunset. The tantalizing image is a composite of frames recorded at 2 minute intervals on November 28 from the Caspian Sea port city of Baku, Azerbaijan. Still, this Full Moon was not really as big or as bright as others, though it might be hard to tell. In fact, November 28's Full Moon was near apogee, making it the smallest Full Moon of 2012. As it rose over the Baku boardwalk...
  • Media Discussion of my pieces on Bob Costas (John Lott)

    12/08/2012 8:42:20 AM PST · by marktwain · 2 replies
    johnrlott.blogspot.com ^ | 8 December, 2012 | John Lott
    Regarding my first op-ed this last week at Fox News on Costas here is some of the reaction. I will update this later when I have time to put in responses. From Entertainment Weekly: As you can guess, his commentary was closely scrutinized, and while some applauded his effort, many criticized him for broaching a politically taboo subject in the midst of Sunday Night Football. Second-Amendment advocates like Fox News’ John Lott dismissed Costas for his “emotional reaction,” and media-watcher Howard Kurtz said, “If Bob Costas wanted to urge gun control during NFL, he should have made his own case,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth at Night

    12/07/2012 9:13:19 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies
    NASA ^ | December 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This remarkably complete view of Earth at night is a composite of cloud-free, nighttime images. The images were collected during April and October 2012 by the Suomi-NPP satellite from polar orbit about 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface using its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS offers greatly improved resolution and sensitivity compared to past global nightlight detecting instrumentation on DMSP satellites. It also has advantages compared to cameras on the International Space Station. While the space station passes over the same point on Earth every two or three days, Suomi-NPP passes over the same point twice...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 47 Tuc Near the Small Magellanic Cloud

    12/05/2012 9:44:29 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | December 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel of the southern sky. Also known as NGC 104, it roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy along with around 200 other globular star clusters. The second brightest globular cluster (after Omega Centauri) as seen from planet Earth, it lies about 13,000 light-years away and can be spotted naked-eye near the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) in the constellation of the Toucan. Of course, the SMC is some 210,000 light-years distant, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way and not physically close to 47 Tuc. Stars on the outskirts of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Plasma Jets from Radio Galaxy Hercules A

    12/05/2012 9:30:09 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | December 05, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this galaxy emit such spectacular jets? No one is sure, but it is likely related to an active supermassive black hole at its center. The galaxy at the image center, Hercules A, appears to be a relatively normal elliptical galaxy in visible light. When imaged in radio waves, however, tremendous plasma jets over one million light years long appear. Detailed analyses indicate that the central galaxy, also known as 3C 348, is actually over 1,000 times more massive than our Milky Way Galaxy, and the central black hole is nearly 1,000 times more massive than the black...
  • NASA’s Curiosity rover detects organic compounds on Mars

    12/04/2012 8:39:41 PM PST · by smokingfrog · 26 replies
    Open Minds UFO News and Investigations ^ | 12-4-12 | Jason McClellan
    On Tuesday, November 20, Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger told NPR that an upcoming announcement about data from a recently collected soil sample by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument would be “one for the history books.” This comment fueled speculation about the possible discovery of evidence indicating past or present life on Mars. Curiosity rover on December 3 during a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California. Explaining the announcement, Space.com describes that Curiosity “found evidence of chlorine, sulfur, and water in Mars dirt studied by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Center of Saturn's North Polar Vortex

    12/04/2012 8:30:49 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the north pole of Saturn? A vortex of strange and complex swirling clouds. The center of this vortex was imaged in unprecedented detail last week by the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. These clouds lie at the center of the unusual hexagonal cloud system that surrounds the north pole of Saturn. Saturn's north pole precessed into sunlight just a few years ago, with Cassini taking only infrared images of the shadowed region previously. The above image is raw and unprocessed and is being prepared for release in 2013. Several similar images of the region have recently...
  • Far from Electrifying: Electric car hopes never die — but electric realities keep intervening.

    12/03/2012 1:55:45 AM PST · by neverdem · 66 replies
    The American ^ | November 26, 2012 | Vaclav Smil
    Exactly two years ago, in November 2010, the Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn assured reporters that his auto alliance would sell half a million electric vehicles a year by the end of 2013. In 2011, it sold just short of 10,000 electrics, but in April 2012 Ghosn still claimed that the 2012 sales would double to 20,000. On November 15, he had to give up and admit that, after selling less than 7,000 vehicles, the 2012 target cannot be reached. That is just the latest in a less than electrifying saga of modern electric vehicles (this qualification is needed because...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Quadruple Lunar Halo Over Spain

    12/02/2012 9:17:35 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | December 03, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes falling ice crystals make the atmosphere into a giant lens causing arcs and halos to appear around the Sun or Moon. This past Saturday night was just such a time near Madrid, Spain, where a winter sky displayed not only a bright Moon but as many as four rare lunar halos. The brightest object, near the top of the above image, is the Moon. Light from the Moon refracts through tumbling hexagonal ice crystals into a 22 degree halo seen surrounding the Moon. Elongating the 22 degree arc horizontally is a circumscribed halo caused by column ice crystals....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Gegenschein Over Chile

    12/01/2012 9:56:19 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | December 02, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is the night sky darkest in the direction opposite the Sun? No. In fact, a rarely discernable faint glow known as the gegenschein (German for "counter glow") can be seen 180 degrees around from the Sun in an extremely dark sky. The gegenschein is sunlight back-scattered off small interplanetary dust particles. These dust particles are millimeter sized splinters from asteroids and orbit in the ecliptic plane of the planets. Pictured above from 2008 October is one of the more spectacular pictures of the gegenschein yet taken. Here a deep exposure of an extremely dark sky over Paranal Observatory in...
  • Welcome to our new lizard overlords: Alien worlds could be full of super-intelligent dinosaurs

    09/30/2012 9:34:07 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 56 replies
    The Daily Mail ^ | April 12, 2012 | Rob Waugh
    NASA's Kepler telescope scans the skies for 'habitable worlds' - but an American chemist has suggested the whole project might be a terrible idea. Ronald Breslow suggests that life-forms based on slightly different amino acids and sugars could take the form of huge, ferocious dinosaurs that have evolved to have human-like intelligence and technologies. 'We would be better off not meeting them,' says Breslow, who claims that it was a stroke of luck that an asteroid wiped out dinosaurs on earth, leaving the field clear for mammals such as humans. On other worlds, dinosaurs could have evolved into huge, intelligent...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Northern Mercury

    12/01/2012 10:10:52 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | December 01, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Innermost planet Mercurywould probably not be a good location for an interplanetary winter olympics. But new results based on data from the Mercury orbitingMESSENGER spacecraft indicate that it does have substantial water icein permanently shadowed regions within craters near its north pole. The possibility of ice on Mercury has been entertained for years, inspired by the discovery of radar bright, hence highly reflective, regions near the north pole. Highlighted in yellow in this map based on projected MESSENGER images, radar bright regions are seen to correspond with floors and walls of north polar impact craters. Farther from the pole...
  • 40 Years Ago This Month: Apollo 17

    12/01/2012 6:40:27 AM PST · by chimera · 43 replies
    various (NASA, Wiki, et al.) | 12/1/2012 | chimera
    The final flight of any manned space project is special, and on that score the Apollo 17 mission, which began 40 years ago this month, did not disappoint. The final lunar landing mission was a fitting capstone to what was arguably the greatest technological achievement of human history, a tour de force of scientific discovery and engineering virtuosity that has never been duplicated. In this sense, it could reasonably be concluded that NASA saved the best for last. The flight of Apollo 17 was not planned to be the final lunar landing mission. The original Apollo program schedule included missions...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds in Cygnus

    11/30/2012 7:47:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | November 30, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic clouds of gas and dust drift across this magnificent mosaic covering a 12x12 degree field within the high flying constellation Cygnus. The collaborative skyscape, a combination of broad and narrow band image data presented in the Hubble palette, is anchored by bright, hot, supergiant star Deneb, below center near the left edge. Alpha star of Cygnus, Deneb, is the top of the Northern Cross asterism and is seen here next to the dark void known as the Northern Coal Sack. Below Deneb are the recognizable North America and Pelican nebulae (NGC 7000 and IC 5070). Another supergiant star,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day — Super Moon vs. Micro Moon

    11/30/2012 7:40:02 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | November 29, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Did you see the big, bright, beautiful Full Moon Wednesday night? That was actually a Micro Moon! On that night, the smallest Full Moon of 2012 reached its full phase only about 4 hours before apogee, the most distant point from Earth in the Moon's elliptical orbit. Of course, earlier this year on May 6, a Full Super Moon was near perigee, the closest point in its orbit. The relative apparent size of November 28's Micro Moon (right) is compared to the famous May 6 Super Moon in these two panels, matching telescopic images from Bucharest, Romania. The difference...
  • More of Saturn’s Strange Hexagon – In Living Color!

    11/29/2012 5:09:11 PM PST · by lbryce · 30 replies
    Universe Today ^ | November 29, 2012 | John Major
    Yesterday's post on new Cassini'S close-ups of Saturn's mysterious North Pole Hexagon were absolutely breathtaking in the view of the astounding spectacle that nature is capable of. Most of the images involving spectacles such as the Hexagon will usually be skewed to a certain color to dramatize the images to a heightened state of existence. But the images shown here today, on their merit, equally as dramatic but with a truer representation off their color persona that naturally tends to be more staid, neutral, certainly less dramatic as provided by the most recent batch of images provided below. Free Republic:November...
  • Big Bang bashing boffins ‘Big Bounce’ back to BIRTH OF TIME

    11/30/2012 11:27:15 AM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 51 replies
    The Register ^ | 29th November 2012 23:54 GMT | By Richard Chirgwin
    A group of Penn State physicists says the universe we now see could have arisen from a "Big Bounce" rather than a Big Bang. The new work by Penn State, led by professor Abhay Ashtekar, director of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, proposes ways to apply quantum physics "further back in time than ever before – right back to the beginning," the university says in a release. We have a pretty good idea of the large-scale structures of the universe when it was only a few hundred thousand years old. That comes from studying the fingerprint of the...
  • Evolution Isn't Science

    11/29/2012 7:56:08 PM PST · by kathsua · 300 replies
    hutchinson News ^ | 11/27/2012 | KENNETH B. LUCAS
    The new standard for teaching science in public schools should prohibit teaching religious beliefs like evolution as if they were the equivalent of scientific theories. Science should be defined as using experimentation and observation to discover information about physical reality. Explanations of what happened in the ancient past cannot be verified using experimentation and observation. ----------advertisement----------- Contrary to a popular myth pushed by those who want to make science a substitute for religion, science has yet to produce a new explanation for the development of life or the origin of the universe. The idea that the universe came out of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter and Io

    11/28/2012 6:28:42 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | November 28, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On December 3 (UT), Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, will be at opposition, opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky, shining brightly and rising as the Sun sets. That configuration results in Jupiter's almost annual closest approach to planet Earth. So, near opposition the gas giant offers earthbound telescopes stunning views of its stormy, banded atmosphere and large Galilean moons. For example, this sharp series was recorded on the night of November 16/17 from the island of Sardinia near Dolianova, Italy. North is up in the images that show off Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot, and planet girdling...