Science Images of the Week

Posted July 18th, 2014 at 5:48 pm (UTC+0)
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Here’s an entertaining animated image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that was take on July 14, 2014 by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system aboard the European Space Agency’s comet hunting spacecraft Rosetta.  The image was taken from a distance of around 12,000 km and is made up of a sequence of 36 images that were taken once every 20 minutes. (© ESA/Rosetta/IMPS)

Here’s an animated image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken July 14, 2014, by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system aboard the European Space Agency’s comet hunting spacecraft Rosetta. The image was taken from a distance of around 12,000 km and is made up of a sequence of 36 images snapped once every 20 minutes. (© ESA/Rosetta/IMPS)

German astronaut and photo bug Alexander Gerst, currently a crewmember aboard the ISS, Tweeted another spectacular photo from space on July 17, 2014.  Here you see the Earth as the Sun’s light reflects off the water. (Reuters/NASA)

German astronaut Alexander Gerst, a crew member aboard the International Space Station (ISS), tweeted this spectacular photo of Earth with the Sun reflecting off the water,  taken July 17, 2014. (Reuters/NASA)

 

On July 17, 2014 Russian scientists said that they believe that changing temperatures may be responsible for creating this 60-meter wide crater that was recently discovered in far northern Siberia.  Scientists from the Scientific Research Center of the Arctic developed the theory since they found that 80% of the giant crater is made of ice and that there were no traces of an explosion, which eliminated a meteorite strike as its origin. (AP)

Russian scientists believe changing temperatures could be responsible for creating this 60-meter-wide crater recently discovered in far northern Siberia. This frame grab was made July 16, 2014. Scientists developed the theory after determining that 80 percent of the giant crater is made of ice and they found no traces of an explosion, which eliminates a meteorite strike as its origin. (AP)

 

Carrying over 1,361 kg of supplies for the International Space Station, the Cygnus spacecraft aboard this Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, July 13, 2014. (Reuters/NASA)

The Cygnus spacecraft aboard this Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, July 13, 2014, carrying over 1,361 kg of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS). (Reuters/NASA)

Three days after its launch here’s the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, shown here in a NASA-TV screen grab, as it’s being grasped by the ISS’ robotic arm, Canadarm on July 16, 2014.  (AP/NASA-TV)

Three days after its launch, the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, shown here in a NASA-TV screen grab, is grasped by the International Space Station’s robotic arm, July 16, 2014. (AP/NASA-TV)

Taking a leisurely stroll down a set of stairs is the latest version of Honda's Asimo humanoid robot.  With enhanced intelligence and more nimble hand dexterity, the new robot was introduced to the public at an exhibition held near Brussels on July 16, 2014.  (Reuters)

Taking a leisurely stroll down a set of stairs is the latest version of Honda’s Asimo humanoid robot. With enhanced intelligence and more nimble hand dexterity, the new robot was introduced to the public at an exhibition near Brussels on July 16, 2014. (Reuters)

Officials with NASA’s Curiosity mission on July 15, 2014 released a photo of this rock that the Mars rover encountered in its travels across the Red Planet.  Scientists said the rock is actually an iron meteorite.  The scientists named the meteorite "Lebanon". (NASA)

Officials with NASA’s Curiosity mission released a mosaic photo, on July 15, 2014, of a rock encountered by the Mars rover. Scientists said the object is actually an iron meteorite they’ve named “Lebanon”. (NASA)

European Space Agency engineers are shown in this photo released on July 15, 2014, performing final tests on its Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV.  The engineers to make sure that the spacecraft can withstand the extreme conditions it will experience from liftoff to separation from its Vega rocket during its scheduled November 2014 launch. (© ESA)

In this photo released July 15, 2014, European Space Agency engineers perform final tests on the Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, ensuring the spacecraft can withstand the extreme conditions it will encounter from lift off to separation from its Vega rocket, during its scheduled Nov. 2014 launch. (© ESA)

On Saturday, July 12, 2014 the world was treated to a remarkable sight in the night sky; a “supermoon”.  Also called a perigee moon, it’s shown here rising over the Queens borough of New York.  Scientists say that a “supermoon” takes place when the moon is close to the horizon, making it appear larger and much brighter than other “regular” full moons. (AP)

On July 12, 2014 ,the world was treated to the remarkable sight  of a “supermoon” in the night sky. Also called a perigee moon, it’s shown here rising over the Queens borough of New York. Scientists say a supermoon occurs when the moon is close to the horizon, making it appear larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP)

This is NASA’s custom-fitted research C-130 aircraft as its being prepared for a series of research flights on July 15, 2014.  The customized airplane will fly the skies above an are of the Southern Rocky Mountains, in Colorado, known as the Front Range to conduct detailed studies of local air pollution. (AP)

This is NASA’s custom-fitted research C-130 aircraft, on July 15, 2014, as it’s prepared for a series of research flights. The customized airplane will fly the skies above an area of the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado, known as the Front Range, to conduct detailed studies of local air pollution. (AP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Images of the Week

Posted July 11th, 2014 at 7:22 pm (UTC+0)
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A monsoon lightning storm strikes the Mandalay Bay Resorts and Casino and Luxor hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada late July 7, 2014. (Reuters)

A monsoon lightning storm strikes the Mandalay Bay Resorts and Casino and Luxor hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada,  July 7, 2014. (Reuters)

No that’s not a real crocodile… On July 5, 2014 workers at Crocodile Park in metro Manila carefully unloaded a 21-foot crocodile robot called "Longlong" from the roof of a van.  The lifelike robot croc, that contains thousands of mechanisms, was inspired by Lolong, the largest saltwater crocodile to have been in captivity. (Reuters)

No, that’s not a real crocodile. On July 5, 2014, workers at Crocodile Park in Manila carefully unloaded a 21-foot crocodile robot called “Longlong” from the roof of a van. The lifelike robot croc, which contains thousands of mechanisms, was inspired by Lolong, the largest saltwater crocodile to have been in captivity. (Reuters)

Low rain clouds are shown here passing over a group of wind turbines at the Capital Wind Farm near Tarago, Australia on July 9, 2014. (REUTERS)

Low rain clouds pass over a group of wind turbines at the Capital Wind Farm near Tarago, Australia, on July 9, 2014. (Reuters)

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket that’s topped with a Cygnus spacecraft is raised on a launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. on July 10, 2014. The spacecraft, scheduled for launch on July 13th, will deliver over 3,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.  (NASA)

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, topped with a Cygnus spacecraft, is raised on a launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, on July 10, 2014. The spacecraft, scheduled for launch on July 13, will deliver over 3,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. (NASA)

Two Gallimimus dinosaur skeletons were put on display on at the United States Attorney's Office of Southern District in New York on July 10, 2014. American authorities agreed to return the remains of 18 dinosaurs to Mongolia after an investigation revealed that they had been smuggled into the US. (Reuters)

Two Gallimimus dinosaur skeletons on display at the United States Attorney’s Office of Southern District in New York on July 10, 2014. American authorities agreed to return the remains of 18 dinosaurs to Mongolia after an investigation revealed they’d been smuggled into the U.S. (Reuters)

NASA and ESA, the European space agency, released this image; captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, of the spiral galaxy NGC-1433 on July 11, 2014.  Known as a Seyfert galaxy, which makes up about 10% of all galaxies, the NGC-1433 is about 32 million light-years from Earth. (Reuters)

NASA and ESA, the European space agency, released this image, which was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, of the spiral galaxy NGC-1433 on July 11, 2014. Known as a Seyfert galaxy, which makes up about 10 percent of all galaxies, the NGC-1433 is about 32 million light-years from Earth. (Reuters)

A group of Bengal tigers are having a good time playing in a pool of water at the zoo in the city of Malabon in the Philippines on July 11, 2014. (Reuters)

A group of Bengal tigers enjoy a pool of water at the zoo in the city of Malabon in the Philippines on July 11, 2014. (Reuters)

Residents of Tokyo are reassured by twin rainbows that appeared at sunset, July 11, 2014, over city skyscrapers after Typhoon Neoguri passed through the region (Reuters)

Residents of Tokyo are reassured by twin rainbows that appeared at sunset, July 11, 2014, over city skyscrapers after Typhoon Neoguri passed through the region (Reuters)

A humanoid robot developed by researchers and students from the University of Bordeaux was displayed at the LaBRI workshop in Talence, France on July 7, 2014. This robot along other humanoid robots will compete at the annual 2014 world "RoboCup Championship” that will take place in Brazil from July 21 to 24.  (Reuters)

A humanoid robot developed at the University of Bordeaux was displayed at the LaBRI workshop in Talence, France on July 7, 2014. This robot, along other humanoid robots, will compete in the annual 2014 world RoboCup Championship which will take place in Brazil from July 21 to 24. (Reuters)

Science Scanner: Leonardo da Vinci Might be Wrong and is Planet Mercury a Hit-and-run Victim?

Posted July 9th, 2014 at 5:56 pm (UTC+0)
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Scientists Catch Photosynthesis in Action

Schematic of photosynthesis (At09kg via Wikimedia Commons)

Photosynthesis (At09kg via Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers have snapped the very first images of photosynthesis as it happens.

Photosynthesis is the process which plants use to convert light energy into chemical energy, which is then stored as sugar.

Using the U.S. Department of Energy’s LCLS x-ray laser, the world’s most powerful, the researchers imaged the part of photosynthesis that breaks down water molecules into protons, electrons and oxygen.

Besides providing an energy supply for plants, photosynthesis also produces oxygen, something we all need, as a byproduct.

 

Gorillas Communicate With Odor

Male silverback gorilla (Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons)

Male silverback gorilla (Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons)

New research shows that silverback gorillas not only use auditory and visual means to connect with each other, but they also use odor as a form of social communication.

The British team that conducted the research said that while not much is known about this form of chemical communication, past studies suggest that all life forms, including humans, use this chemical signaling to connect with each other.

To reach their findings, the researchers studied a group of wild western lowland gorillas in the Central African Republic and compared the odor strength of a male silverback, recognized as the group’s leader, to the observed arousal levels of other members.

 

Was Leonardo da Vinci Wrong?

Possible self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (Wikimedia Commons)

Possible self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (Wikimedia Commons)

Leonardo da Vinci may have been wrong concerning “fracture and friction”, two fundamental elements behind the mechanics of earthquakes.

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found evidence that links the two processes of how things break to how things slide (or friction), which is the opposite of what had been thought for centuries.

Some 500 years ago, da Vinci explained friction as he described how the force is created when blocks slide over each other.  The fracturing process, on the other hand, has always been considered to be unrelated.

But the Israeli researchers found that friction generated by the sliding blocks can only be produced if their surfaces are fractured first.

 

Planet Mercury a Hit-and-Run Victim?

New study shows that Mercury and other unusually metal-rich objects in the solar system may be relics left behind by hit-and-run collisions in the early solar system. (NASA)

New study shows that Mercury and other unusually metal-rich objects in the solar system may be relics left behind by hit-and-run collisions in the early solar system. (NASA)

Scientists at Arizona State University say they might know why Mercury’s composition is so iron-rich.

Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, has always puzzled scientists. Studies over the years have shown that the composition of this tiny, blazing hot planet is radically different from other rocky or terrestrial planets, such as Earth, Venus and Mars.

While metallic iron only makes up about 32 percent of Earth’s core, researchers have found Mercury’s core is more than twice as rich in iron at 65 percent of its total mass.

The researchers believe that the difference in composition between Mercury may be due to collisions with other objects in the early history of the solar system.

It’s thought that the collisions, perhaps with an early Earth or Venus, ripped apart much of Mercury’s original mantle, leaving a large amount of volatiles, which are various elements —  like water, lead and sulfur – that are easily vaporized, leaving a mostly iron body.

 

NASA Marks 45th Anniversary of First Moon Landing by Renaming Iconic Building in Honor of Neil Armstrong

Official NASA Apollo 11 portrait of Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander of the Lunar Landing mission. (Photo: NASA)

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission and first man to step onto the moon. (NASA)

NASA is planning to honor the first man to step onto the moon by renaming NASA’s Operations and Checkout Building at the Kennedy Space Center after the late Neil Armstrong.

Armstrong’s Apollo 11 crew mates Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin will be part of the renaming ceremony that will be held July 21 at the Florida facility.

This historically important NASA structure was once known as the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building and was built in 1964.

The building was used throughout the Apollo program to process and test each mission’s command, service and lunar module. Today, NASA’s new Orion Spacecraft is being tested and processed in the iconic building.

By the way, the day before the renaming ceremony, July 20, marks the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11’s 1969 moon landing.

Science Images of the Week

Posted July 4th, 2014 at 6:23 pm (UTC+0)
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With the sun setting over New York on July 2, 2014, the One World Trade Center building in Manhattan is struck by lightning during a summer storm.  (REUTERS)

With the sun setting over New York on July 2, 2014, the One World Trade Center building in Manhattan is struck by lightning during a summer storm. (REUTERS)

This photo, taken from the International Space Station, shows the eye of Hurricane Arthur as it makes its way over the Atlantic Ocean. ISS crewmember Alexander Gerst Tweeted the photo on July 3, 2014. Arthur, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, has been sweeping up the US east coast and forcing thousands of vacationers to scrap their July Fourth holiday plans. (REUTERS)

This photo, taken from the International Space Station, shows the eye of Hurricane Arthur as it makes its way over the Atlantic Ocean. ISS crew-member Alexander Gerst Tweeted the photo on July 3, 2014. Arthur, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, has been sweeping up the US east coast and forcing thousands of vacationers to scrap their July Fourth holiday plans. (REUTERS)

Shadow, a two-month-old grey wolf pup, is seen here playing and rolling around in some ficus twigs that some keepers at California’s San Diego Zoo laid out for him.  Shadow’s caretakers are helping to familiarize him with various smells and sights during a 30-day quarantine process.  Once Shadow completes the quarantine period, he’ll serve as an animal ambassador during educational presentations. (AP)

Shadow, a two-month-old grey wolf pup, is seen here playing and rolling around in some ficus twigs that some keepers at California’s San Diego Zoo laid out for him. Shadow’s caretakers are helping to familiarize him with various smells and sights during a 30-day quarantine process. Once Shadow completes the quarantine period, he’ll serve as an animal ambassador during educational presentations. (AP)

NASA’s new atmospheric carbon dioxide monitoring spacecraft called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 or OCO-2 is shown here lifting off aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on July 2, 2014. The OCO-2 will measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. (Reuters)

NASA’s new atmospheric carbon dioxide monitoring spacecraft, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 or OCO-2, is shown here lifting off aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on July 2, 2014. The OCO-2 will measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate. (Reuters)

A child looks at a humanoid robot named "Nao" as it does some math calculations at the workshop of Aldebaran Robotics Company located in Issy-Les-Moulineaux near Paris on July 2, 2014. The workshop allows the public to meet and interact with humanoid robots like Nao. (Reuters)

A child looks at a humanoid robot named “Nao” as it performs some math calculations at the workshop of Aldebaran Robotics Company located in Issy-Les-Moulineaux near Paris on July 2, 2014. The workshop allows the public to meet and interact with humanoid robots like Nao. (Reuters)

This newly released composite image is the spiral galaxy NGC 4258, which also known as M106.  The image was composed from X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, radio data from the National Science Foundation’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope as wells as infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA)

This is a newly released composite image of the spiral galaxy NGC 4258, which is also known as M106. The image was composed from X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, radio data from the National Science Foundation’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope as wells as infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA)

A beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly is shown here resting on the greenery at the Museum of Life and Science's Magic Wings Butterfly House in Durham, N.C., Tuesday on July 1, 2014. (AP)

A beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly is shown here resting on the greenery at the Museum of Life and Science’s Magic Wings Butterfly House in Durham, N.C., Tuesday on July 1, 2014. (AP)

On Jun 28, 2014, after several adverse weather related cancelations, NASA finally got to launch its saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle.  The LDSD is shown here being lifted up by a high altitude balloon at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. NASA hopes that someday the LDSD will allow the space agency to deploy heavy payloads onto the surface of Mars. (Reuters)

On Jun 28, 2014, after several adverse weather related cancelations, NASA finally got to launch its saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle. The LDSD is shown here being lifted up by a high altitude balloon at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. NASA hopes that someday the LDSD will allow the space agency to deploy heavy payloads onto the surface of Mars. (Reuters)

Hugo, a 63-year-old Galapagos Tortoise, is shown here being lured out of his enclosure with a carrot at the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney on July 1, 2014.  Hugo had to leave his home for a time so that he could undergo his annual health and weight check.  This year he weighed in at 166 kilograms which is one kilogram more than last year.  By the way the life expectancy of a Galapagos Tortoise is up to 180 years. (REUTERS)

Hugo, a 63-year-old Galapagos Tortoise, is shown here being lured out of his enclosure with a carrot at the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney on July 1, 2014. Hugo had to leave his home for a time so that he could undergo his annual health and weight check. This year he weighed in at 166 kilograms which is one kilogram more than last year. By the way the life expectancy of a Galapagos Tortoise is up to 180 years. (REUTERS)

ISS crewmember Alexander Gerst provides us with another remarkable image. This is the Antarctic aurora as seen from the space station.  On July 2, 2014, Gerst posted his photo on social media and commented - "Antarctic Aurora fleeing from sunrise. I have rarely seen something more magical in my life!" (ESA/NASA)

ISS crewmember Alexander Gerst provides us with another remarkable image. This is the Antarctic aurora as seen from the space station. On July 2, 2014, Gerst posted his photo on social media and commented – “Antarctic Aurora fleeing from sunrise. I have rarely seen something more magical in my life!” (ESA/NASA)

Science Scanner: Bacteria Go Dormant Until Antibiotics Wear Off, Spacecraft Dives by Saturn’s Ring, and Antartica’s Disappearing Penguins

Posted July 2nd, 2014 at 8:22 pm (UTC+0)
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NASA Launches Mission to Study Atmospheric C02

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

NASA’s successfully launched its Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday morning.

OCO-2’s mission, which is expected to last at least two years, will study atmospheric carbon dioxide, which scientists say is not only an important element of Earth’s carbon-cycle, but also the primary human-produced greenhouse gas that’s been singled out as playing a role in global warming.

Throughout the course of its mission, the spacecraft’s lone instrument, which contains three high-resolution grating spectrometers, will collect space-based global measurements of atmospheric CO2 as well as locate sources of and storage places for this greenhouse gas.

Mission officials say OCO-2 will take the study of the global carbon cycle to a unique new level.  They said it will create the most thorough picture that’s ever been taken of Earth’s natural carbon dioxide sources and their “sinks”, which are areas where the CO2 is removed and stored.

Up to 50% of Antarctica’s Emperor Penguins Could Disappear by Century’s End

Emperor penguin family (Christopher Michel - Creative Commons via Flickr)

Emperor penguin family (Christopher Michel – Creative Commons via Flickr)

The population of Emperor penguins living in Antarctica is at risk of severe decline by the end of the century because of climate change, according to a new study by an international team of scientists.

Currently, the Emperor penguin is being considered for inclusion on the endangered species list, a move the study researchers support.

The researchers pointed out that since Emperor penguins depend so much on sea ice in their daily lives, any changes in the amount of local sea ice concentration (SIC) would have serious effects on their well-being.

In making their analysis of future Emperor penguin population, the researchers included all current and projected drops in sea ice concentration where the penguins maintain their colonies. They found that, due to ongoing climate change, the penguin numbers could drop as much as 50 percent by the end of the century.

Cassini Grand Finale

Artist's rendition of the Cassini spacecraft approaching the planet Saturn. (NASA)

Artist’s rendition of the Cassini spacecraft approaching the planet Saturn. (NASA)

NASA’s Cassini Mission, which has been studying Saturn, its famous rings and its moons for a decade, is readying for its final mission phase which is expected to begin sometime in 2016.

With help from 2,000 members of the public and those involved with the mission, the space agency has named the unmanned spacecraft’s swan song mission, “Cassini Grand Finale”.

In this final portion of the Cassini Mission, the spacecraft will be put through a “daring set of orbits” that in some ways will be like an entirely new mission, NASA says.

The spacecraft will frequently climb high above the ringed planet’s North Pole as it soars just outside of its narrow F ring. Mission officials said that Cassini will also study the water-rich geyser plumes found spouting high above the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and will dive between the planet and innermost ring 22 times.

Fish Have Better Memories than Thought

Fish have better memories than thought (Benson Kua – Creative Commons via Flickr)

Fish have better memories than thought (Benson Kua – Creative Commons via Flickr)

Canadian scientists have found that fish have a better memory that was previously thought.   Fish were thought to have a memory span of only about 30 seconds, but the researchers said the fish they studied disproved that notion by remembering context and associations for as long as 12 days.

The African Cichlids (Labidochromis caeruleus), a species many people put in their aquariums, exhibited a number of intricate behaviors, including aggression. This led the scientists to think that the fish might be capable of performing some advanced memory tasks.

So, the researchers trained each of the fish used in their experiments to navigate itself into a specific area of the aquarium where it was given a food reward. Each training session lasted about 20 minutes over a three-day period. The fish were then removed from their training area and  allowed to rest for 12 days.

After this rest period, the fish were reintroduced back into their training environment where their movements were tracked with motion-tracking software.

The fish showed a preference for the area of the aquarium that had the previous food reward, which indicated that they were able to recall their previous training.

After the researchers put them through additional training, the fish were able to disassociate themselves from the original reward area in favor of a new location where the food was placed.

How Does Bacteria Become Antibiotic Resistant?

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow, round items) killing and escaping from a human white cell. (NIAID)

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow, round items) killing and escaping from a human white cell. (NIAID)

Have you ever wondered how bacteria mutate to a point where they build up a resistance to medication designed to kill them?

Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem were able to precisely measure how bacteria respond to antibiotics, which allowed them to develop a mathematical model of the process.

The model they developed showed that giving the bacteria daily three-hour doses of an antibiotic provided it with the ability to predict just how long each dose was effective and then allowed it to go dormant for that period of time.  The bacteria were able to evolve to where it was able to develop biological timers so it could outlive the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

Vast Oceans Detected Deep Beneath Earth’s Surface

Posted June 30th, 2014 at 6:58 pm (UTC+0)
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Schematic cross section of the Earth’s interior. (Northwestern University)

Schematic cross section of the Earth’s interior. (Northwestern University)

New evidence suggests there  might be oceans of water far beneath Earth’s surface.

Northwestern University geophysicist Steve Jacobsen, along with University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt, found evidence of water in pockets of hot magma about 645 km beneath North America within the transition zone between Earth’s upper and lower mantle.

“It alters our previous understanding of the composition of the Earth,” said Jacobsen, adding that Earth might have far more H2O than was previously thought.

“It [also] has some implications for where Earth’s water came from, from inside [the Earth] versus comets,” Jacobsen said.

Even though this deep-Earth water isn’t in the form we’re used to, such as liquid, ice or even vapor, researchers say their discovery could still turn out to be one of our planet’s largest water reservoirs.

Not only will the findings help determine just how much water is trapped inside rock in the transition zone, but they will also provide scientists with unique insight into the composition of Earth’s structure, how it was formed, and the complex processes that are taking place deep inside our planet.

The study augments another, by a Canadian-led team, that discovered water deep within Earth hydrous minerals that were pushed to the surface by volcanoes.

Jacobsen and Schmandt believe that plate tectonics may be responsible for driving water so far down into the Earth.

“We’re trying to connect the rock cycles, which some people know as plate tectonics, with the water cycle,” said Jacobsen.

Study co-author Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University (Northwestern University)

Study co-author Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University (Northwestern University)

There are instances where tectonic plates come together and one of them dives deep down from the crust into the mantle, beneath the other, in a process called subduction.

There are times during subduction when water is taken down into the mantle in the form of hydrous minerals, such as ringwoodite. This form of water often doesn’t make it that far down into the mantle.

Typically, within the upper 100 kilometers or so into the mantle, temperatures become so hot and the pressures become so high, that those hydrous minerals begin breaking down to form other minerals. But, in doing this, the minerals also release some water in a process called dehydration melting, which Jacobsen said is also the source of magma in all  volcanoes .

The huge amounts of water described by the researchers are trapped within the molecular structure of minerals that are contained in the mantle rock.

The researchers say that even if only 1percent of the weight of transition zone rock had trapped water inside, that amount of water would be equal to about three times the water that’s held in our oceans.

Since the minerals are subjected to such immense pressure and high temperatures, water molecules that become bound within the mineral’s crystal structure actually split and form something called hydroxyl radicals.

As these OH rich minerals come up to the surface of the Earth and are melted through geological events such volcanic eruptions, the OH molecules  regroup and form actual water (H20) molecules and are expelled as water vapor.

Photomicrograph of a grown ringwoodite blue crystal (Jasperox via Wikimedia Commons)

Photomicrograph of a grown ringwoodite blue crystal.(Jasperox via Wikimedia Commons)

The research team believes that this deep Earth water is connected with surface reservoirs.

“You can probably recycle all of the water in the oceans, through the upper mantle, once every 100 million years or so,” said Jacobsen.

The research Schmandt conducted was based on seismic data produced by USArray, a network of some 2,000 seismometers that have been placed throughout the US. Jacobsen replicates the pressure and temperatures found deep inside the Earth through various laboratory experiments and then studies the geophysical processes that are taking place so far beneath the surface of the Earth, that direct observation isn’t possible.

“We don’t know much yet, about this deeper reservoir, which could be potentially as large as the oceans or maybe even more than that,” said Jacobsen.

Science Images of the Week

Posted June 27th, 2014 at 6:41 pm (UTC+0)
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A customer in Santa Monica, California uses one of two new ATM’s that were put into operation June 21, 2014 in Southern California to purchase the popular digital currency, bitcoins. (Reuters)

A customer in Santa Monica, California, purchases the popular digital currency, bitcoins, using one of two new ATM’s that were put into operation on June 21, 2014. (Reuters)

A technician is shown making adjustments on an ESA ATV-5 spacecraft that was being prepared for integration on an Ariane 5 rocket on 24 June 2014.  This is ESA’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and was named for the father of the “Big Bang”, Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist.  The spacecraft, which will deliver more than 2600 kg of goods to the International Space Station, is scheduled for launch sometime in the second half of July, 2014 from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. (© ESA-S. Corvaja)

An ESA ATV-5 spacecraft is prepared for integration on an Ariane 5 rocket on June 24, 2014. This is ESA’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and was named for the father of the “Big Bang”, Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist. The spacecraft, which will deliver more than 2600 kg of goods to the International Space Station, is scheduled for launch sometime in July 2014 from Kourou, French Guiana. (© ESA-S. Corvaja)

Here’s a close-up of Harley Davidson’s new electric motorcycle prototype, Project LiveWire that was on display at the motorcycle company’s New York store on June 23, 2014.  The LiveWire isn’t on sale yet since the final version of the LiveWire is still being developed. (Reuters)

Harley Davidson’s new electric motorcycle prototype, Project LiveWire, on display at the motorcycle company’s New York store on June 23, 2014. The LiveWire isn’t on sale yet because it is still in development. (Reuters)

NASA successfully tested the parachute system of its Orion spacecraft at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Arizona on June 25, 2014.  A test version of the spacecraft is shown here descending to the ground under its three main parachutes.  The space agency said this was the most difficult test of the spacecraft’s parachute system as it is getting set for Orion’s first trip into space in December 2014. (NASA)

NASA successfully tested the parachute system of its Orion spacecraft at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Arizona on June 25, 2014. The U.S. space agency said this was the most difficult test of the spacecraft’s parachute system as it gets set for Orion’s first trip into space in December 2014. (NASA)

Here’s a shot of the constellation Orion that was taken from the International Space Station on June 24, 2014 by ISS Engineer, Reid Wiseman.  In the upper right area you can see the U Destiny module. (NASA)

Here’s a shot of the constellation Orion (little bright blue objects in center) that was taken from the International Space Station on June 24, 2014 by ISS Engineer Reid Wiseman. (NASA)

Representatives from the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University Of North Dakota, Grand Forks, are shown here piloting a Draganflyer X4ES drone during a demonstration on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.  They were demonstrating the drone’s possible use in various law enforcement applications. (AP)

Representatives from the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University Of North Dakota, Grand Forks, demonstrate a Draganflyer X4ES drone on June 24, 2014. They were demonstrating the drone’s possible use in various law enforcement applications. (AP)

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover celebrated its first Mars Year on the Red Planet, June 24, 2014, by sending back a selfie it took of itself at a Martian sandstone target called "Windjana". The selfie was actually composed with dozens of individual images taken between April and May 2014. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover celebrates its first Mars year on the red planet by sending back a selfie taken at a Martian sandstone target called Windjana, June 24, 2014. The selfie was actually composed with dozens of individual images taken between April and May 2014. (NASA)

A Google employee demonstrates the Android Auto interface at the Google I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco June 26, 2014. An Android powered device will interface with the auto’s dashboard touchscreen system to provide drivers with a safe way to access and operate Android’s built-in navigation, communication and entertainment applications by just using voice commands. (Reuters)

A Google employee demonstrates the Android auto interface at the Google I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco June 26, 2014. An Android-powered device will interface with the auto’s dashboard touchscreen system to provide drivers with a safe way to access and operate Android’s built-in navigation, communication and entertainment applications by using voice commands. (Reuters)

NASA released this new composite image of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster on June 24, 2014.  The composite was made from a number of observational images taken over a decade by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.  According to NASA the Perseus Cluster is one of the most massive objects in the Universe and it contains thousands of galaxies that are surrounde by a huge cloud of superheated gas.  (NASA)

NASA released this new composite image of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster on June 24, 2014. The composite was made from a number of observational images taken over a decade by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. According to NASA, the Perseus Cluster is one of the most massive objects in the Universe, containing thousands of galaxies surrounded by a huge cloud of superheated gas. (NASA)

Otonaroid, a female-announcer robot is shown here addressing a crowd during a press event at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation Miraikan in Tokyo Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Android expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, who created Otonaroid, also demonstrated others that included another girl robot called Kodomoroid and a bald-headed mannequin robot with pointed arms called Telenoid. (AP)

Otonaroid, a female-announcer robot, is shown here addressing a crowd during a press event at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation Miraikan in Tokyo on June 24, 2014. Android expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, who created Otonaroid, also demonstrated others that included another girl robot called Kodomoroid and a bald-headed mannequin robot with pointed arms called Telenoid. (AP)

 

Science Scanner: Curiosity’s Mars Selfie, Jurassic Caterpillar & an X-ray of Dark Matter?

Posted June 25th, 2014 at 7:26 pm (UTC+0)
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Odd X-ray Signal Might be Sign of Dark Matter

Astronomers found the mysterious X-ray signal in 73 galaxy clusters including the Perseus glaxy cluster, shown here.  The little chart inside the image is a plot of X-ray intensity as a function of X-ray energy.  Circled is the unidentified x-ray emission line (NASA/CXC/SAO)

Astronomers found mysterious X-ray signal in 73 galaxy clusters including Perseus, shown here. Inside the image is a plot of X-ray intensity as a function of X-ray energy. Circled is the unidentified x-ray emission line (NASA)

Strange X-ray emissions from galaxy clusters– hundreds of galaxies connected to each other by gravity–are providing clues about mysterious dark matter.

Dark matter–if it really does exist–is thought to be invisible, doesn’t produce or attract light, and makes up a majority, 84.5 percent, of the matter in the universe.

But scientists who’ve been trying to unlock the mysteries of dark matter have so far only been able gather evidence of its existence by studying objects throughout the Universe, such as stars and galaxies, that seem to be influenced by gravity produced by unseen material.

Using ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra space telescopes, both of which make their observations by detecting x-ray radiation, astronomers noticed an emission at an odd wavelength that they think may have been produced by the decay of a sterile neutrino, a certain type of dark matter.

 

Curiosity Marks its First Mars Year with a Selfie

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover captures a selfie to mark a full Martian year exploring the Red Planet. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover captures a selfie to mark a full Martian year of exploring the red planet. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity marked the anniversary of its first Martian year on the red planet by taking a selfie.

A Martian year is equal to 687 Earth Days, about 45 shy of two Earth years.

Curiosity’s selfie was snapped at a location called Windjana, where it drilled into Martian rock.

NASA says the Martian rover has traveled 7.9 kilometers since since it touching down on Mars in August 2012. Curiosity is heading to Mt. Sharp inside the Gale Crater.

Curiosity’s selfie is actually a combination of images it took of itself between this past April and May.

 

Archeologists Discover Jurassic Period Parasite Fossil

Artist's rendering of the ancient and odd Qiyia jurassica (Yang Dinghua, Nanjing)

Artist’s rendering of the ancient and odd Qiyia jurassica (Yang Dinghua, Nanjing)

Archeologists recently found an odd fly larva fossil with legs like a caterpillar and a giant sucking plate of a thorax that allowed it to attach to, and feed on, ancient amphibians with a mouth fashioned like a sting.

The parasite fossil called Qiyia (bizarre in Chinese) jurassica (Jurassic period – when the animal lived) was found in Inner Mongolia. It’s about 2 centimeters long and is believed to be 165 million years old.

The archeologists who made the discovery said there’s no other known insect with the unique features of the Qiyia jurrassica.

 

Some Sad People Actually Prefer Not to be Cheered Up

Feeling sad? (Barry Langdon-Lassagne via Wikimedia Commons)

Feeling sad? (Barry Langdon-Lassagne via Wikimedia Commons)

You may want to think about this the next time you come across a loved one or friend who is feeling sad.

According to a new study by a couple of Canadian Universities, despite your good intentions, Mr. or Ms. Glum may not want to be cheered up, especially if they have low self-esteem.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada found that people who have negative feelings about themselves want others to see them as they see themselves, rather than spouting off a litany of positive and optimistic affirmations.

The study finds these people want negative validation, to be reassured that all the pessimism they’re feeling about themselves is normal and appropriate.

Rather than the cheery lecture you’d normally give to someone who is down in the dumps, the researchers suggest that you show some understanding of what they’re going through and agree that the bad feelings they’re experiencing are OK.

 

Special Glove Teaches How to Read and Write Braille

Woman wearing a special glove designed by scientists at Georgia that teaches how to read and write Braille. (Caitlyn Seim/Georgia Tech)

Woman wears a special glove that teaches people how to read and write Braille. (Caitlyn Seim/Georgia Tech)

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have come up with some special gloves that can teach you to read and write Braille, the communications method used by those with impaired vision.

The process used to teach Braille is based on what the Georgia Tech researchers called passive haptic learning (PHL), which helps people learn muscle memory through vibrating stimulus, rather than through sight.

Some of the research participants were given gloves with tiny vibrating motors sewn into the knuckle area, while others weren’t provided with the device.

The motors vibrated the knuckles in such a way that matched a typing pattern of a specific phrase in Braille.

The keyboard would also provide audio cues as to what they were actually typing.  After typing the phrase with help of the vibrating glove, the participants were then challenged to do the same thing again, only without the glove or audio cues.

The researchers found that about one-third of those using the vibrating glove were more accurate in their typing than those who didn’t have the benefit of the glove.

Study Confirms Earth’s Magnetic Field is Weakening

Posted June 23rd, 2014 at 8:01 pm (UTC+0)
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Magnetic_field_changes_node_full_image_2

Changes in Earth’s magnetic field from January to June 2014 as measured by the Swarm constellation of satellites. Red represent areas of strengthening, blues show areas of weakening. ((C) ESA/DTU Space)

Earth’s magnetic field is weakening, according to  measurements taken over the past six months by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm satellite constellation.

The measurements–taken between January and June 2014–come from the first high-resolution results made by Swarm, and also indicate that the magnetic field has declined most dramatically in the Western Hemisphere while increasing in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean.

The measurements also confirm that Earth’s magnetic north continues its slide towards Siberia.

Scientists say the shifting of the magnetic north pole is part of a process that takes thousands of years and will eventually result in the swap in magnetic poles – north will be south and vice-versa.

: A schematic illustrating the relationship between motion of conducting fluid, organized into rolls by the Coriolis force, and the magnetic field the motion generates. (USGS)

A schematic illustrating the relationship between motion of conducting fluid, organized into rolls by the Coriolis force, and the magnetic field the motion generates. (USGS)

Scientists studying ancient rocks that came to the surface from deep within our planet have found that the Earth’s north and south magnetic poles have swapped with each other several hundred times during the past 160 million years.

Past research, including a study released in 2011, suggests that shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates may play a role in the shifting of the magnetic poles.

The 2011 study suggested that, as the tectonics plates shift and move, they push into Earth’s crust at subduction zones, and could continue until they reach the outer core, modifying the flow of its molten iron which helps generate the magnetic field.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from harmful radiation from cosmic rays as well as high-energy particles from the sun. It has previously been shown to have faded by about 10 percent since measurements were first made in 1835 by German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss.

This is a world map of main field total intensity created by the National Geophysical Data Center at NOAA.

This is a world map of main field total intensity created by the National Geophysical Data Center at NOAA.

But unlike what was portrayed in the 2003 Sci-Fi movie, “The Core”, the Earth’s magnetic field will not simply fade out.

Field strength changes in the magnetic field are considered normal and while measurements, including those made by Swarm, indicate that it’s fading a bit, scientists say the magnetic field could just as easily regain its strength and become strong again.

The findings made by the Swarm mission were presented on Thursday, June 19, 2014, at the Third Swarm Science Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The ESA Swarm mission, which measures the magnetic signals that come from Earth’s core up through the ionosphere and magnetosphere, was launched in November 2013.

Three identical but separate spacecraft are operating in tandem with each other for the mission.

Artist rendering of the Swarm constellation in orbit (ESA/AOES Medialab)

Artist rendering of the Swarm constellation in orbit (ESA/AOES Medialab)

All three units are circling the Earth in a polar orbit. Two of the three spacecraft, Swarm A and B, orbit at an altitude of about 460 km, while the third spacecraft Swarm C orbits at a higher altitude of about 530 km.

Mission officials say that as the Swarm program progresses, it will provide an unparalleled understanding of complex workings of Earth’s magnetic field.

Swarm mission officials said that as the spacecraft continues to send data, scientists hope to uncover the influence of the Earth’s mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere in creating and maintaining our planet’s protective magnetic shield.

Science Images of the Week

Posted June 20th, 2014 at 7:08 pm (UTC+0)
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International Space Station crewmembers took this remarkable photo of a sunrise as seen by the ISS.  The photo was taken just a few minutes before the beginning of the June 19, 2014 spacewalk. (NASA)

International Space Station crew members captured this remarkable image of a sunrise. The photo was taken just a few minutes before the the June 19, 2014, spacewalk. (NASA)

A robotic giraffe, shown here with US President Barrack Obama, was among the unique devices and gizmos that were created by everyday tinkerers, inventors and entrepreneurs at the first-ever White House “Maker Faire” on June 18, 2014.  (Reuters)

A robotic giraffe, shown here with US President Barrack Obama, was among the unique devices and gizmos that were created by everyday tinkerers, inventors and entrepreneurs at the first-ever White House “Maker Faire” on June 18, 2014. (Reuters)

Online shopping giant Amazon unveiled its new “Fire” smartphone in Seattle, Washington on June 18, 2014. (AP)

Online shopping giant Amazon unveiled its new “Fire” smartphone in Seattle, Washington, on June 18, 2014. (AP)

Oleg Artemiev, a member of the International Space Station crew is shown here floating outside the ISS as he and his fellow crewmember Alexander Skvortsov took a walk in space on June 19, 2014.  During their space-walk or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), the two Russian astronauts installed a new antenna, moved a cargo boom and did some other work that could only be done from outside the space station (NASA)

Oleg Artemiev, a member of the International Space Station crew, floats outside the ISS as he and fellow crew member Alexander Skvortsov, take a walk in space on June 19, 2014. The two Russian cosmonauts installed a new antenna, moved a cargo boom, and did some other work that could only be done from outside the space station (NASA)

Harriet, a Masai giraffe, is shown here taking care of her four-day-old calf at the San Diego Zoo on June 19, 2014. The male calf, born on June 16, already stands almost 2 meters tall and weighs over 66 kilograms. The calf’s father, not shown, named Silver, the giraffe herd’s sire. (AP)

Harriet, a Masai giraffe, with her 4-day-old calf at the San Diego Zoo on June 19, 2014. The male calf, born on June 16, already stands almost 2 meters tall and weighs over 66 kilograms. (AP)

This is what a storm cell looks like from high above the clouds.  The photo was taken by a high-altitude NASA ER-2 aircraft as a part of a joint project between the space agency, NOAA and Duke University called the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx).  The IPHEx program, which studied precipitation over mountainous terrain along the U.S. East Coast, came to an end on June 16, 2014.  (NASA)

This photo of a storm cell from above the clouds was taken by a high-altitude NASA ER-2 aircraft on May 23, 2014 and released June 18, 2014, as a part of a joint project between the space agency, NOAA and Duke University which studied precipitation over mountainous terrain along the U.S. East Coast. (NASA)

Even robots are getting into the spirit of the World Cup games.  These humanoid robots which are dressed in the colors of Germany's and Brazil's national soccer team are getting set to compete with other robots in their own version of the World cup called the “RoboCup”, which takes place in Brazil from July 21st through July 24th. (Reuters)

Even robots are getting into the spirit of the World Cup games. These humanoid robots, dressed in the colors of Germany’s and Brazil’s national soccer teams, will compete with other robots in their own version of the World cup called the “RoboCup”, which takes place in Brazil July 21-July 24. (Reuters)

Fans and riders of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle fiercely embrace tradition as well as traditional and proven technology.  The tend to cringe whenever the company develops and employs new technology, will be shocked to learn that Harley-Davidson is planning to unveil “LiveWire” a new electric motorcycle (shown here in action) in New York on June 23, 2014. (AP)

The iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle company is planning to unveil a new electric motorcycle called LiveWire, (shown here in action) in New York on June 23, 2014. (AP)

 

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