Keyword: science

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Fornax Cluster of Galaxies

    01/11/2013 3:10:10 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How do clusters of galaxies form and evolve? To help find out, astronomers continue to study the second closest cluster of galaxies to Earth: the Fornax cluster, named for the southern constellation toward which most of its galaxies can be found. Although almost 20 times more distant than our neighboring Andromeda galaxy, Fornax is only about 10 percent further that the better known and more populated Virgo cluster of galaxies. Fornax has a well-defined central region that contains many galaxies, but is still evolving. It has other galaxy groupings that appear distinct and have yet to merge. Seen here,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Orion Bullets

    01/10/2013 3:45:10 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 10, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic bullets pierce the outskirts of the Orion Nebula some 1500 light-years distant in this sharp infrared close-up. Blasted out by energetic massive star formation the bullets, relatively dense, hot gas clouds about ten times the size of Pluto's orbit, are blue in the false color image. Glowing with the light of ionized iron atoms they travel at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second, their passage traced by yellowish trails of the nebula's shock-heated hydrogen gas. The cone-shaped wakes are up to a fifth of a light-year long. The detailed image was created using the 8.1 meter Gemini...
  • How to Destroy Science: Cast Self-Interest as Public Interest

    01/10/2013 12:38:08 AM PST · by Cincinatus' Wife · 7 replies
    The American Thinker ^ | January 13, 2013 | Norman Rogers
    ......................Organized science has become another special interest group lobbying for government favors. The temptation to present special-interest appeals as urgent public necessities has become not just irresistible, but commonplace. It is well-known that global warming skeptics are shut out...... ....The true believers in the threat of global warming use "education" and "communication" as euphemisms for suppressing and marginalizing dissenters. This crowd is strongly tempted by totalitarian solutions. The leading advocate of global warming fear, Dr. James Hansen, wants to put people who don't toe the line on trial for crimes against humanity. Peter Gleick, a scientist, a well-known advocate of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Elusive Jellyfish Nebula

    01/09/2013 4:51:54 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 09, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring telescopic view. Drifting near bright star Eta Geminorum, at the foot of a celestial twin, the Jellyfish Nebula is seen dangling tentacles from the bright arcing ridge of emission left of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, IC 443 is known to harbor a neutron star,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Grand Spiral Galaxy NGC 7424

    01/08/2013 6:47:16 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 08, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The grand, winding arms are almost mesmerizing in this face-on view of NGC 7424, a spiral galaxy with a prominent central bar. About 40 million light-years distant in the headlong constellation Grus, this island universe is also about 100,000 light-years across making it remarkably similar to our own Milky Way. Following along the winding arms, many bright clusters of massive young stars can be found. The star clusters themselves are several hundred light-years in diameter. And while massive stars are born in the arms of NGC 7424, they also die there. Notably, this galaxy was home to a powerful...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

    01/07/2013 4:52:59 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: AE Aurigae is called the flaming star. The surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula and the region seems to harbor smoke, but there is no fire. Fire, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of oxygen, happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible near the nebula center, is so hot it is blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Dark Tower in Scorpius

    01/05/2013 9:26:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | January 06, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In silhouette against a crowded star field toward the constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower. In fact, clumps of dust and molecular gas collapsing to form stars may well lurk within the dark nebula, a structure that spans almost 40 light-years across this gorgeous telescopic portrait. Known as a cometary globule, the swept-back cloud, extending from the lower right to the head (top of the tower) left and above center, is shaped by intense ultraviolet radiation from the OB association of very hot stars in NGC 6231, off the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stereo Helene

    01/04/2013 9:22:05 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | January 05, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and float next to Helene, small, icy moon of Saturn. Appropriately named, Helene is one of four known Trojan moons, so called because it orbits at a Lagrange point. A Lagrange point is a gravitationally stable position near two massive bodies, in this case Saturn and larger moon Dione. In fact, irregularly shaped ( about 36 by 32 by 30 kilometers) Helene orbits at Dione's leading Lagrange point while brotherly ice moon Polydeuces follows at Dione's trailing Lagrange point. The sharp stereo anaglyph was constructed from two Cassini images (N00172886, N00172892) captured during a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sunrise at Tycho

    01/04/2013 6:23:45 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | January 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tycho crater's central peak complex casts a long, dark shadow near local sunrise in this spectacular lunarscape. The dramatic oblique view was recorded on June 10, 2011 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Shown in amazing detail, boulder strewn slopes and jagged shadows appear in the highest resolution version at 1.5 meters per pixel. The rugged complex is about 15 kilometers wide, formed in uplift by the giant impact that created the well-known ray crater 100 million years ago. The summit of its central peak reaches 2 kilometers above the Tycho crater floor.
  • Half the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong

    01/03/2013 7:37:50 PM PST · by neverdem · 83 replies
    Reason ^ | January 2013 | Ronald Bailey
    Old truths decay and new ones are born at an astonishing rate.Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses.In the past half-century, all of the foregoing facts have turned out to be wrong. In the modern world facts change all of the time, according to Samuel Arbesman, author of the new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Current). Fact-making...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Open Star Clusters M35 and NGC 2158

    01/03/2013 6:15:25 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | January 03, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Open clusters of stars can be near or far, young or old, and diffuse or compact. Found near the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, they contain from 100 to 10,000 stars, all of which formed at nearly the same time. Bright blue stars frequently distinguish younger open clusters. M35, on the upper left, is relatively nearby at 2800 light years distant, relatively young at 150 million years old, and relatively diffuse, with about 2500 stars spread out over a volume 30 light years across. An older and more compact open cluster, NGC 2158, is at the lower right....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Einstein Cross Gravitational Lens

    01/02/2013 6:47:13 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | January 02, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Most galaxies have a single nucleus -- does this galaxy have four? The strange answer leads astronomers to conclude that the nucleus of the surrounding galaxy is not even visible in this image. The central cloverleaf is rather light emitted from a background quasar. The gravitational field of the visible foreground galaxy breaks light from this distant quasar into four distinct images. The quasar must be properly aligned behind the center of a massive galaxy for a mirage like this to be evident. The general effect is known as gravitational lensing, and this specific case is known as the...
  • Breakthrough of the Year, 2012

    01/01/2013 11:18:26 AM PST · by neverdem · 18 replies
    Science ^ | NA | NA
    Every year, crowning one scientific achievement as Breakthrough of the Year is no easy task, and 2012 was no exception. The year saw leaps and bounds in physics, along with significant advances in genetics, engineering, and many other areas. In keeping with tradition, Science’s editors and staff have selected a winner and nine runners-up, as well as highlighting the year’s top news stories and areas to watch in 2013
  • Nobel scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini dies in Rome

    01/01/2013 10:16:41 AM PST · by TurboZamboni · 4 replies
    pioneer press ^ | 12-31-12 | Frances D'emilio
    Rita Levi-Montalcini, a biologist who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, died at her home in Rome on Sunday, Dec. 30. She was 103 and had worked well into her final years. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, announcing her death in a statement, called it a great loss "for all of humanity." He praised her as someone who represented "civic conscience, culture and the spirit of research of our time." Italy's so-called "Lady of the Cells," a Jew who lived through anti-Semitic discrimination...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Double Star Cluster

    01/01/2013 8:31:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 01, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Few star clusters are seen to be so close to each other. Some 7,000 light-years away, though, this pair of open or galactic star clusters is an easy binocular target, a lovely starfield in the northern constellation Perseus. Also visible to the unaided eye from dark sky areas, it was cataloged in 130 BC by Greek astronomer Hipparchus. Now known as h and chi Persei, or NGC 869 (above right) and NGC 884, the clusters themselves are separated by only a few hundred light-years and contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun. In addition to being physically...
  • 366 days: 2012 in review

    12/31/2012 10:29:26 PM PST · by neverdem · 7 replies
    Nature News ^ | 19 December 2012 | Richard Van Noorden
    This epic year for science saw the discovery of the Higgs boson and Curiosity’s arrival on Mars, but researchers also felt the sting of austerity. Two of the biggest breakthroughs of this leap year relied on breathtaking amounts of data. The ENCODE project has generated 15 terabytes of data over the past five years to uncover the functions of human DNA sequences; CERN has stored 26 petabytes of data this year alone from its Large Hadron Collider, as physicists worked to prove the existence of the Higgs boson. But data were a source of controversy as well as discovery. Arguments...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn's Rings from the Dark Side

    12/31/2012 6:36:46 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | December 31, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What do Saturn's rings look like from the dark side? From Earth, we usually see Saturn's rings from the same side of the ring plane that the Sun illuminates them -- one might call this the bright side. Geometrically, in the above picture taken in August by the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn, the Sun is behind the camera but on the other side of the ring plane. Such a vantage point gives a breathtaking views of the most splendid ring system in the Solar System. Strangely, the rings have similarities to a photographic negative of a front...
  • 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,...