Laser Cloaking Device; New Device Spots Exoplanets; Malaria Older Than We Thought

Posted April 1st, 2016 at 4:15 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

A 22W laser used for adaptive optics on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. A suite of similar lasers could be used to alter the shape of a planet's transit for the purpose of broadcasting or cloaking the planet. (ESO/G. Hüdepohl)

A 22W laser used for adaptive optics on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. A suite of similar lasers could be used to alter the shape of a planet’s transit for the purpose of broadcasting or cloaking the planet. (ESO/G. Hüdepohl)

Lasers Could Hide Earth from Aliens

Scientists have been scanning the skies and conducting numerous studies in a search for extraterrestrial intelligent life or ETI’s.

Back in 2010 renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned that it might be too dangerous for humans to interact with ETI’s.

While we’re looking for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth, it’s quite possible that alien beings may also be searching for Earth-like planets with advanced civilizations.

They may also be using the same techniques we do such as transiting, or looking for a dip in light as a planet passes in front of a star.

Now, a couple of Columbia University astronomers are suggesting that lasers could be used as cloaking devices that would hide our planet from searches by ETI’s.

Then again, perhaps possible extraterrestrial intelligent beings are doing the same them to hide from us.

Want Active Children? Exercise during Pregnancy

Expectant moms: if you want your baby to grow into a physically active adult, and help prevent obesity, a new study suggests that you’ll need to exercise regularly and stay physically active throughout your pregnancy.

Scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Texas, picked a number of genetically identical female mice that enjoyed running.

The mice were split into two groups. One group was allowed access to running wheels during their pregnancy while the others were denied the privilege.

The Baylor team found that mice born to mothers who exercised throughout their pregnancy wound up being 50 percent more physically active than those born to less active mothers.

The researchers later found that the physically active youngsters continued to be energetic into adulthood.

Several groups of experts already recommend that women who are pregnant without any complications get at least 30 minutes moderate exercise each day.

Rotating Neutron Star Found In Andromeda Galaxy

Italian astronomers say they have observed something never seen before – a fast spinning neutron star in the nearby Andromeda, or the M31, galaxy.

Their findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Neutron stars are very small compacted remains of a star that exploded in a supernova.

Some spinning neutron stars, called pulsars, can produce a focused beam of magnetic radiation which some say resembles a lighthouse beacon.

Since they rotate, their light can appear to be pulsating.

While pulsars and other rotating neutron stars are quite common in our own Milky Way, this marks the first time such an object has been spotted in the Andromeda Galaxy.

The astronomers made their discovery as they were reviewing past data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope.

The WIYN telescope building at sunset. (NOAO/AURA/NSF)

The WIYN telescope building at sunset. (NOAO/AURA/NSF)

New Device Will Help Find Exoplanets

Since 1988, astronomers have found over 2,000 exoplanets or planets outside of our solar system.

To help spot these planets, scientists have used a number of technologies such as the Kepler Space Telescope.

Now NASA is moving on to an even newer and more sophisticated instrument for planet-hunting.

This new cutting-edge device is called NEID, short for NN-Explore Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy.

The instrument will spot the extra solar planets by measuring the tiny “wobbling” of stars.

Nee-id is part of a planned planet-searching partnership between the space agency and the National Science Foundation.

The device will be built by at Pennsylvania State University, and is expected to be completed in 2019.

It will be installed on the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope (pictured above) at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

Malaria Has Been Around Much Longer Than Thought

The World Health Organization describes malaria as a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are spread to people when they are bitten by infected female mosquitoes.

Some think that the disease originated as recently as 15,000 years ago.

Now, researchers at Oregon State University have traced the origins of malaria and find that that it has evolved for at least 100 million years.

They say the first vertebrates to be infected were most likely reptiles and at that time this group of animals included the dinosaurs.

But instead of mosquitoes spreading the malaria parasite to its victims, these prehistoric forms of the disease were carried by other insects such as a family of small flies called the biting midge.

The researchers say that understanding malaria’s evolution could help scientists develop new methods to stop its transmission.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

Comments are closed.