Since it was founded in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s goals have been civilian. The agency’s main objective, to explore outside our orbit, was part of a larger mission to provide "the most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States." Consider that a success: Each year, thousands of consumer products benefit from “spin-offs,” integration of technologies and processes originally developed for and by NASA. Aptly titled Spinoff, each issue is 100-plus pages of essential nerd material and trivia fodder, charting the diaspora of space technology.
France's environment minister signed Sunday a plan for French firms to help tackle Iran's environmental problems, but criticised the refusal of her country's banks to work with the Islamic republic. Segolene Royal met in Tehran with the head of Iran's Environmental Protection Organisation, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and a group of ministers, agreeing to work together on the water shortage, energy efficiency and pollution problems facing Iran.
After a year living in isolation, six crew members on a mock mission to Mars are returning home today (Aug. 28). The crew members have been living in an isolated habitat on the bare, rocky slopes of Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaii, as part of the HI-SEAS program (Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation), based out of the University of Hawaii. The program is helping scientists to understand how the isolation of a deep space mission would impact human participants. The mission participants have lived together for 12 months, with limited contact with friends, family and the outside world. The crew is schedule to exit the habitat at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). This is the fourth and longest
As the global climate gets hotter both people and animals will have to adapt to changes in their local environments. However, while people can shed clothes or turn up the A/C, animals have fewer options to maintain the conditions they need to survive. If their home habitats change too much, they’ll be forced to migrate in search of new territory. “Migration” sounds like a simple fix, and in some cases it might be, if not for one big problem: There are, literally, a lot of things in the way. Nearly every path that animals would naturally travel is blocked by roads, fences, houses and other man-made barriers. According to research published earlier this year in PNAS (paywall), “only 41% of natural
According to a study published in the August 2016 issue of Scientific Reports, researchers conducted a genome-wide association study where they aimed to look at markets in people’s DNA, then identify a gene called PDSS2, which may play a role in the way people metabolize caffeine differently. To conduct this study, researchers compared the genes and how much caffeine people drank of two controlled populations: One of about 1,200 people in Italy, and one of about 1,700 people in the Netherlands. Likely because their bodies metabolized the caffeine more evenly (instead of saying, metabolizing it too quickly and then leaving you “needing” more to function) and therein required them to drink it less.
A gorgeous new exhibit reveals just how salty the Dead Sea is. Artist Sigalit Landau submerged a 1920s-style long, black dress in Israel's Dead Sea for two months in 2014. Landau has been inspired by the Dead Sea's unique environment for past artwork, including salt-crystal-encrusted lamps, a salty hangman's noose and a crystalline island made of shoes, according to the artist's website.
Connected cows are already a thing, but recently the intersection of barnyards and bits has been breeding a whole herd of applications. The current $1.27 billion “Connected Cow and Farm” business is slated to grow eight-fold to $10.75 billion by 2021, says research firm Arcluster, as reported in The Register. Arun Nirmal is Arcluster’s research director.
Minnesota's governor on Friday ordered the broadest restrictions yet in a U.S. state on the use of agricultural pesticides that have been blamed for hurting bees, fueling concerns that farmers there will not be able to protect crops from insects. Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order that requires farmers to verify that they face "an imminent threat of significant crop loss" before using the chemicals, called neonicotinoids. Details of how farmers would prove their need have not yet been determined. Minnesota, the country's third-largest soybean producer, carried out a special review of neonicotinoids that prompted the new limits, the first U.S. state to do so. Honey bees have been in serious
A PLANET orbiting a star tugs it gently this way and that, so it oscillates between moving towards Earth and away from it. The velocities involved are tiny: for Proxima Centauri about two metres per second, a brisk walk. Nevertheless, the effect on the star’s spectrum can be measured from the ground. When a star is approaching Earth, its light is slightly bluer; when away, slightly redder. For this method, the plane of the planet’s orbit need not be aligned with Earth. The transit technique, by contrast, requires that it is, so that the planet passes between Earth and its parent star every orbit. When that happens, the parent star’s light will dim accordingly. Transiting was used with great success
Oetzi the Iceman was dapper dresser About 5,300 years ago, Oetzi the Iceman sported a fur hat made from a brown bear, a sheepskin loincloth, leggings and a coat made of goat hide, shoelaces from wild cows and a quiver made from deer leather. Scientists from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Research Academy in Bolzano, Italy, used genetic testing to identify the animals that made up the frozen mummy’s fur and leather ensemble. Their findings recently were published in the journal Scientific Reports. Oetzi, as he became known, was found face down in a thawing glacier in the Oetztal Alps, which border Austria and Italy, nearly 25 years ago. One way that whiskey beats coffee
The video crop factors of the current 4K cameras, and an easy way to calculate crop factors… Although there’s many full frame cameras that give a full frame image in 1080p, there’s only two that give us glorious full frame look in 4K – the Sony A7S II and Sony A7R II. But that isn’t the whole story… Crop factors can be calculated two ways. Photographic full frame and APS-C sensors have 3:2 aspect ratios – they are taller than the video standard of 16:9. Therefore 16:9 video is a cropped letterbox view of 3:2. However we don’t talk about this crop when we refer to full frame video, we only take into account the horizontal crop and take the different aspect ratio for granted. If you made a full
As the unmanned aircraft industry continues to evolve, the United States is depending on its space agency to help manage small drone traffic close to the Earth. NASA is currently entering the second phase of a four-step plan to draw up rules of the skies for drones that weigh 55 pounds or less and fly no higher than 500 feet. The project is meant to develop performance standards for drones that would be used for commercial purposes by companies such as Amazon and Google. The agency is hoping to present its research to the Federal Aviation Administration before 2020, John Cavolowsky, director of NASA's Airspace Operations and Safety Program, told attendees at a drone summit in North Dakota last week.
Daniel Dennett’s philosophical achievements cannot be neatly summarized. To some, he’s familiar as one of the four horsemen of new atheism, alongside Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. He’s known for his focus on Darwinism, and applying the evolutionary theory to ideas and cultural development. And he’s one of the greatest living philosophers of the mind, arguing that consciousness requires no magic other than the physical mechanics of the brain, that similarly complex robots would be equally conscious, and that the “self,” or ego, does not exist. But Dennett, who spoke at this year’s Association of the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Buenos Aires, is unimpressed
Astronomers and archaeologists seldom work alongside one another — when scientists study the stars they're exploring the future, while ancient potsherds are firmly grounded in the past. But a recent study in the Royal Society Journal Proceedings describes a mathematical method that could help archeologists date ancient events and civilizations down to the precise year. And its key ingredient? Solar flares. Researchers found that intense solar flares in the years 775 and 994 AD caused spikes in atmospheric carbon around the world, leaving their traces in tree rings, reeds, and papyri. Under the right conditions — and with little mathematical elbow grease — these radiocarbon spikes can be used
Scientists have found a “ghost galaxy” that is 99.99% made up of dark matter. It’s located inside of the Coma galaxy and has probably already spawned hundreds of new sci-fi scripts being sent to the desks of Hollywood producers’ assistants. Its discovery is another win for the scientific community, which has identified the ghost galaxy’s location even though dark matter doesn’t reflect light and can’t be seen.
Then, about 2.6 million years ago, evidence began to land on Earth. Heavy atoms ejected from the supernova broke through the planet’s atmosphere and settled on its surface as isotopes. Soon after the aftermath arrived on Earth, our planet fell into a major ice age — leading many investigators to see the supernova as both victim and accomplice.
Elite tennis players have an uncanny ability to clear their heads after making errors. They constantly move on and start fresh for the next point. They can’t afford to dwell on mistakes. Peter Strick is not a professional tennis player. He’s a distinguished professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. He’s the sort of person to dwell on mistakes, however small. “My kids would tell me, dad, you ought to take up pilates. Do some yoga,” he said. “But I’d say, as far as I’m concerned, there's no scientific evidence that this is going to help me.” Still, the meticulous skeptic espoused more of a tennis approach to dealing with stressful situations:
Terry Root often goes to sleep at night wondering how she’ll be able to get up the next morning and do it all over again. A senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, Root has spent the past two decades unraveling the thread between climate change and the eventual mass extinctions of countless species of plants, animals — and, yes, humans. “That’s a tough, tough thing to cope with,” Root says in a weary, jagged voice. Stanford University built a non-secular spiritual center on campus called Windhover, where students and faculty can go to meditate and reflect.
A probe flown by the US space agency Nasa has made its first close approach to the planet Jupiter since going into orbit in July. Juno was commanded to pass just 4,200km above the cloud tops of the gas giant on Saturday. No previous spacecraft has got so close to the world during the main phase of its mission. Juno had all its instruments - and its camera - switched on and primed for the encounter. Nasa expects to be in a position to release some images from the approach in the next few days. They will be the highest resolution pictures ever obtained of Jupiter's clouds. The moment of closest approach was set for 12:51 GMT. At that time, Juno would have been moving at 208,000km/h with respect
James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84. Dr. Cronin’s death was announced by the University of Chicago, where he was a professor emeritus of physics as well as of astronomy and astrophysics. Through the study of the decay of a single subatomic particle, Dr. Cronin and a colleague, Val Logsdon Fitch of Princeton University, made it possible for inferences to be drawn about the laws of nature on a scale as vast as the entire universe, in all its unfathomable immensity and multibillion-year duration.
NASA's Juno space probe on Saturday was set to pass the closest it will get to the planet Jupiter during the main phase of its planned mission to the gas giant, the US space agency's officials said. Juno was to swing within some 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of the solar system's largest planet, the closest any spacecraft has passed, traveling at 130,000 miles per hour (208,000 kilometers per hour) at around 5:51 am (12:51 GMT). It was the first time Juno’s eight scientific instruments and its camera were switched on, marking the science mission's start, officials said in a statement on NASA's website.
On a mountain top in southern Greece, in a nearly 3000 year old religious site, archeologists have made a macabre discovery: human remains nestled inside an altar dedicated to Zeus. The burial is unprecedented. How did the bones of this adolescent boy end up in an altar made of sheep bones? Potentially, the discovery is evidence that the Greeks, like many other ancient societies, engaged in human sacrifice. This is shocking news for those who think of ancient Greece as the birthplace of civilization and culture. The discovery was made on Mount Lykaion in southwestern Arcadia. We know from ancient authors like Thucydides and Plato that the site was associated with Zeus, the most illustrious of
Corn ethanol and biodiesel biofuels may be more environmentally damaging than petroleum gasoline, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Energy Institute (UMEI), The surprising finding comes after the research team, led by UMEI researcher John DeCicco, analyzed the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbed as the crops grow and then released when they are burned as biofuel. They calculated that the aggregate US crop yield can remove only 37 percent of the CO2 that burning biofuel releases into the air. “What we found is that when you actually look at how quickly crops like corn and soybeans pull CO2 from the air and compare that with the emissions that occur when the biofuels
A classical nova occurs when a white dwarf star gains matter from its secondary star (a red dwarf) over a period of time, causing a thermonuclear reaction on the surface that eventually erupts in a single visible outburst. This creates a 10,000-fold increase in brightness, depicted here in an artist's rendering.
New large crystals from stack of smaller microcrystals could sidestep longstanding difficulties with making the crystals that are a crucial part of laser technology. Relatively large crystals used to change several properties of light in lasers – changes that are crucial for making lasers into practical tools – might be created by stacking up far smaller, rod-shaped microcrystals that can be grown easily and cheaply. So far, the team’s microcrystals outperform conventional crystals in some ways, suggesting that harnessing them could signal the end of a long search for a fast, economical way to develop large crystals that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to create. These potassium diphosphate (KDP) crystals, which self-assemble in solution as hollow hexagonal rods, could find use in laser technology, particularly for fiber-optic communications.