• Custom Search

‘Supermoon’ coincides with lunar eclipse

Advertisements

‘Supermoon’ coincides with lunar eclipse

From the BBC

People around the world have observed a rare celestial event, as a lunar eclipse coincided with a so-called “supermoon”.

A supermoon occurs when the Moon is in the closest part of its orbit to Earth, meaning it appears larger in the sky.

The eclipse – which made the Moon appear red – has been visible in North America, South America, West Africa and Western Europe.

This phenomenon was last observed in 1982 and will not be back before 2033.
But the definition of a supermoon is debated among astronomers.

The supermoon from Belgium

The view at Glastonbury in western England

A plane flies in front of the supermoon over Geneva, Switzerland

The partially eclipsed supermoon over the US city of Las Vegas

Skywatchers in the western half of North America, the rest of Europe and Africa, the Middle East and South Asia saw a partial eclipse.

From the UK, observers watched the Moon pass through the Earth’s shadow in the early hours of Monday morning. In North and South America the eclipse was seen on Sunday evening.

NASA

Eclipse facts

  • The supermoon, where Earth’s satellite is near its minimum distance from our planet, means that the Moon appears 7-8% larger in the sky
  • The moon looks rust-coloured during a total lunar eclipse – giving rise to its nickname Blood Moon. This is because the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light more strongly than red light, and it is this red light that reaches the lunar surface
  • During the eclipse, the Moon lies in front of the stars of the constellation Pisces

In a total lunar eclipse, the Earth, Sun and Moon are almost exactly in line and the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.

As the full Moon moves into our planet’s shadow, it dims dramatically but usually remains visible, lit by sunlight that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.

As this light travels through our planet’s gaseous envelope, the green to violet portions get filtered out more than the red portion, with the result that light reaching the lunar surface is predominantly red in colour.

Observers on Earth may see a Moon that is brick-coloured, rusty, blood red or sometimes dark grey, depending on terrestrial conditions.

Supermoon

Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, told BBC News that the eclipse is an “incredibly beautiful event”.

A supermoon occurs when a full or new moon coincides with a Moon that is nearing its minimum distance (perigee) to Earth.

The Moon takes an elliptical orbit around Earth, which means that its average distance changes from as far as 405,000km (its apogee) to as close as 363,000km at the perigee.

The coincidence between a supermoon and an eclipse means that Earth’s lone companion is expected to look 7-8% bigger. But Dr Massey added: “The definition of ‘supermoon’ is slightly problematic.

“Is a supermoon taking place at the perigee, the day before, the day after? Does a supermoon have to be a particularly close perigee, or can it be a bit further out? It’s not very well defined.”

He said a supermoon was to some extent a moveable feast compared with an eclipse, where the timing can be measured precisely.

As a result, Dr Massey explained, claims of the extreme rarity of a supermoon coinciding with an eclipse were overstated.

The supermoon should also not be confused with the Moon Illusion, which causes the Moon to appear larger near the horizon than it does higher up in the sky.

The eclipse began at 00:11 GMT, when the Moon entered the lightest part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, and adopted a yellowish colour. At 02:11 GMT the Moon completely entered the umbra – the inner dark corpus of our planet’s shadow.

The point of greatest eclipse occurred at 02:47 GMT, when the Moon was closest to the centre of the umbra, with the eclipse ending at 05:22 GMT.

The Royal Astronomical Society says that unlike the solar equivalent, a total lunar eclipse event is safe to watch and needs no special equipment.

This clip from the BBC looks at our exploration of the stars.

At the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, scientists are engaged in one of the most important quests of modern astronomy. They’re scanning the universe for new planets.

Planets that might support life now or in the future. Planets that might be like earth. Our desire to reach out into space is a compulsion.

The more we soar, the greater that compulsion. In the 1970s, after decades of careful planning, 4 probes, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager One, and Voyager 2 were sent on missions to the outer limits of our solar system. Their journeys would last almost 30 years, and cover more than 8 billion miles. These probes brought mankind astonishing images of the planets in our solar system. Mankinds first giant leap was made with hot air in balloons. Tied to balloons, man could leave the ground and travel higher than ever before.

In 1960, a balloon carrying US airforce captain Joe Kittinger ascended to the edge of space, some 100,000 feet off the ground. Then he jumped out. In 4 minutes, Kittinger reached the speed of sound.





Advertisements

Mapping Australia’s dinosaur landscape

Advertisements

Mapping Australia’s dinosaur landscape

From the BBC
By Myles Gough
Sydney

Scientists are using cutting-edge technology to map dinosaur tracks

Scientists are trying to reconstruct ancient Australian landscapes once roamed by some of the biggest dinosaurs to have ever walked the planet by surveying thousands of fossilised tracks in remote Western Australia.

Along a 100km stretch (62 miles) of coast in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, tens of thousands of dinosaur tracks are fossilised in sandstone.

The 130-million-year-old footprints are virtually the only record of dinosaurs in the western half of the continent.

They date to the Early Cretaceous Period when the continent was still connected by a land bridge to Antarctica and covered in towering conifer forests.

Unique snapshot

“These tracks are at least 15 to 20 million years older than the majority of dinosaur fossils that have been found at sites in eastern Australia,” says Dr Steve Salisbury, a palaeontologist from the University of Queensland.

“They provide a very detailed snapshot of the dinosaur fauna from a time and place where there’s almost nothing else,” he told the BBC.

Drones and low-speed aircraft sweep over the prints on the rare times they are exposed by the sea

The fossils also hold immense cultural value for local indigenous communities.

Dr Salisbury says they feature in an Aboriginal “song cycle” that extends along the coastline, and that “knowledge of the tracks probably extends back thousands of years”.

He was first invited to the region in 2011 by the Goolarabooloo people who were trying to halt the development of a proposed A$35bn ($24bn; £16bn) natural gas precinct at an area known as James Price Point, 50km north of Broome.

In 2013, two years after a section of the coast was granted National Heritage Status, the development was finally cancelled.

Dr Salisbury is now leading a project to digitally catalogue the fossils and reconstruct the landscapes these dinosaurs wandered through.

‘We’re talking huge, huge tracks’

To date, researchers have identified about 20 different types of tracks. The footprints include three-toed tracks belonging to carnivorous theropods that walked on two legs, as well as tracks believed to have been made by armoured dinosaurs like stegosaurs.

Some of the Broome dinosaur tracks are similar to those found at Lark Quarry in central-western Queensland, which the team recently determined were probably made by a large, two-legged plant-eating dinosaur similar to Muttaburrasaurus.

The Broome tracks are similar to those made elsewhere by Muttaburrasaurus

There are also large cylindrical depressions stamped into the earth by at least five different types of long-necked, long-tailed sauropods.

These are the only sauropod tracks in Australia and some of the depressions measure longer than 1.5m.
“They’re beyond the size that you normally expect dinosaur tracks to be,” says Dr Salisbury.

“We’re talking huge, huge tracks, probably made by some of the biggest animals to ever walk the planet.”

The tracks are found along coastal rock shelves and reefs, which are subject to some of the most extreme tides in Australia, with water levels rising 10 to 11m daily, he says.

Many are only exposed for a few hours each day, and only a few days each year, meaning the team has to work quickly.

“It’s a dynamic landscape, and we’ve seen tracks disappear altogether in the time we’ve been working there. Some get buried by shifting sands, while others are destroyed by pounding surf,” says Dr Salisbury.

To speed up the process of mapping and imaging the tracks, the team has adopted a range of new remote sensing technologies.

Remote-controlled drones

In addition to making physical moulds of the footprints using a rapid-setting silicon rubber and taking photographs on ground-mounted tripods, the team is now using a handheld LiDAR unit developed by Australia’s national science organisation, the CSIRO.

Dr Salisbury and colleagues can work out how the dinosaurs were moving by using the drones to view them from the air

They are also taking aerial photographs of the track sites using a remote controlled drone and a specialised, low-speed aircraft, which is also fitted with LiDAR.

A LiDAR uses pulsating laser light coupled with a global positioning system. It records the points where the laser light reflects off hard surfaces, combining data from multiple passes to generate a detailed 3D map of the coastline, says Prof Jorg Hacker, director of Airborne Research Australia at Flinders University.

Prof Hacker, the other main investigator on the project, says that for a 3km stretch of beach he usually spends about 1.5 hours flying his motor glider, making roughly 30 passes at altitudes between 20 to 100 metres.

Dr Salisbury says his team can now contextualise the tracks over larger geographic areas, and can better understand which direction the dinosaurs were travelling, whether they were walking or running, and if they were interacting or crossing the landscape in groups, searching for food, or trying to escape predators.

“We can, to a degree, accurately reconstruct scenes that happened 130 million years ago. That’s not imagination, that’s piecing it together from the evidence found in the rocks,” he says.

Best in the world?

“It’s a powerful way of bringing these ancient worlds back to life.”

Footprints require favourable circumstances to fossilise but when that happens a broad array of information is captured in the fossils, says Professor Anthony Martin, a palaeontologist from Emory University in the US specialising in animal tracks, who is not involved in the project.

“From a single, well-preserved dinosaur track way, we can determine the approximate type of dinosaur, its size, its speed, gait, and even how it was reacting to other dinosaurs or the landscape around it,” says Prof Martin.

“Once these tracks are properly surveyed, I would not be surprised if this area turns out to be one of the best dinosaur track sites in the world,” he says.

Mega Fauna

Once the dinosaurs died out Australia was occupied by the Mega Fauna. Wombats the size of a VW Beetle. Twenty foot tall Kangaroos and the largest carnivorous marsupial – Thylocaleo Carnifex – the Marsupial Lion.

Here is the documentary we made with NOVA and NHK on the excavation from a deep cave underneath Australia’s Nullarbor Plane, of the only fully intact thylacoleo skeleton


Dolphins save family from shark

Advertisements

Dolphins save family.

From Facebook.

Dolphins save family

Are dolphins telepathic? Can they read our minds? They can certainly scan our bodies.

Animal X Natural Mystery Unit studied some dolphins at Seaward.

 


Yowie sighting

Advertisements

Yowie sighting

From WeirdAustralia.com

Stands like a human, seven feet tall, large hairy head, four tusks.

Yowie

During the early months of 1932, an unknown creature terrorised the inhabitants of Victoria’s high country. It was said to stand like a human being, about 7 feet tall, and had a large hairy head with four white tusks that “gleamed in the moonlight”. And if that wasn’t frightening enough, it was “razor clawed” and “swift and savage in attack”.

Not the kind of animal you want to meet travelling through the bush in the dead quiet of night. But, according to the Muswellbrook Chronicle of 1 March 1932 that’s exactly what one unsuspecting nighttime traveller encountered.

The sensational story appeared under the headline: Mystery Animal Attacks Victorian Settler, Has Four Tusks.

“Myrtleford, in the Mount Buffalo district, has a mysterious animal, which stands like a human being, and is described as being 7ft high, with a large round hairy head, carrying four tusks. Search parties tried to capture the creature, but an all-night search failed to locate it. That the animal does exist and that it is savage is vouched for by Mr. William Nutall of Myrtleford.

“He was returning home from Brighton with his sister and a companion, when, nearing Europa railway station, he alighted from his horse to adjust the saddle gear, the others riding on. Suddenly, he said, he was attacked by the strange animal. It snarled at him and charged, tearing his shirt to ribbons.”

While the startled rider’s horse managed to break free, poor Nutall was chased onto the railway line. Luckily, for Nutall, the animal was prevented from continuing the pursuit by a wire fence, through which the terrified man made good his escape.

Runs like a clumsy deer, lurks in shadows & leaps on passing horsemen
Perth’s Sunday Times on 28 February 1932 reported in Mystery Animal Roaming Mountain Ranges that: “A mystery animal, shaggy and powerful, is terrorising dwellers in the mountain ranges between Bright and Yackandandah. Already the bush prowler has made three attacks on wayfarers and prints of a giant have been found in soft soil.

“Among many theories he is described as a grizzly bear, an old man kangaroo and a gorilla. Five men have seen it and each has his own ideas. It is claimed it walks by night, it is seven feet high, it has a hairy head, razor claws, four white tusks, it runs like a clumsy deer, and it lurks in shadows and leaps on passing horsemen.

“It was first heard of about a month ago by one of the Cherry brothers, farmers at Running Creek, who was going home about ten o’clock on a still, moonless night. He came to a gate and bent from the saddle of a horse to lift the catch. The gate opened and then there was a grunt and a scuffle and a bulky beast leapt at the horse’s head. The horse bolted with Cherry clinging to its back.

“Next morning he went down to the gateway and examined the ground. In a jumble of footmarks he discerned prints that suggested the foot of a grizzly bear. Other men claim to have had similar experiences. Bushmen are scouring the country in search.”

The following day, The Daily News reported that a search by horsemen during the weekend discovered no clue as to the creature’s hiding place.

“Myrtleford, near which the marauder made his last appearance, is in a panic, and townsmen are not resting until he has been captured. He has appeared four times since February. Twice he has attacked horse men. Once he leapt at a jinker in which two men were driving, and once he was seen in a farm paddock.”

While no clue as to the creature’s hiding place was found, its footprints were.

“Mr. A. Wilkie, Curator of the Melbourne Zoo, who has been given an imprint of the mystery animal’s foot, believes the animal is a small American black bear, probably an escapee from a travelling circus. No Australian animal makes a footprint exactly like the one described. ‘Ordinarily,’ said Mr. Wilkie, ‘the American bears do not attack a man unless in a devil of a humor. When it rushes on its prey it makes a snorting noise, strikes the victim a paralysing blow on the back of the neck, and rips with its teeth and claws.’ Mr. Wilkie added the terror might be a Himalayan or Java bear. These types stand 5ft. high. They walk on all fours but attack from an upright position, striking with the fore-paws.”

The Advocate of Burnie in Tasmania also ran the story on the same day in Mystery Beast Haunts Country Districts. Seven Feet High!

“Fear still haunts the Myrtleford Ranges between Bright and Yackandandah, and at dusk an unknown ‘terror’ sends women and children — and men, too — hurrying to the safety of their homes and barred doors.

“The mystery beast, which is said to be seven feet high, shaggy, razor clawed, and swift and savage in attack with its four great tusks, which gleam in the moonlight, has been lying low over the week-end, but local inhabitants are convinced that it is still prowling the district!

“The ‘terror’ was first seen months ago by a farmer of Running Creek named Cherry. It attacked him one night with a grunt and a scuffle, leaping at his horse’s head. The man and horse fled, and the next morning the print of a huge paw, like that of a grizzly bear, was claimed to have been seen in the soil.

“Since then two more men have been attacked, and the climax was reached last Thursday night, when a drover named Nutall was pursued by the ‘terror,’ which he described as being something like a gorilla.

“Yesterday afternoon a party of three horsemen, armed with rifles, went out to look for the marauder, but found no traces.

“They came back before nightfall! Further search parties will be organised during the week.”

But they never did find that shaggy-haired creature that was said to stand like a human 7 feet tall, and possessed razor sharp claws and 4 fearsome tusks that gleamed in the moonlight.

Here’s a clip from an Animal X Yowie expedition in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in Australia.





Beware the Mars Hoax

Advertisements

Mars lost much of its atmosphere over time. Where did the atmosphere–and the water–go? The MAVEN mission’s hunt for answers will help us understand when and for how long Mars might have had an environment that could have supported microbial life in its ancient past.

Beware the Mars Hoax
From NASA Science News

There’s a rumor about Mars going around the internet. Here are some snippets from a widely-circulated email message:

“The Red Planet is about to be spectacular.”

“Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history.”
“On August 27th … Mars will look as large as the full moon.”

And finally, “NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN.”

Only the first sentence is true. The Red Planet is about to be spectacular. The rest is a hoax.
Here are the facts: Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter this year on October 30th at 0319 Universal Time. Distance: 69 million kilometers. To the unaided eye, Mars will look like a bright red star, a pinprick of light, certainly not as wide as the full Moon.

Disappointed? Don’t be. If Mars did come close enough to rival the Moon, its gravity would alter Earth’s orbit and raise terrible tides.

Sixty-nine million km is good. At that distance, Mars shines brighter than anything else in the sky except the Sun, the Moon and Venus. The visual magnitude of Mars on Oct. 30, 2005, will be -2.3. Even inattentive sky watchers will notice it, rising at sundown and soaring overhead at midnight.

You might remember another encounter with Mars, about two years ago, on August 27, 2003. That was the closest in recorded history, by a whisker, and millions of people watched as the distance between Mars and Earth shrunk to 56 million km. This October’s encounter, at 69 million km, is similar. To casual observers, Mars will seem about as bright and beautiful in 2005 as it was in 2003.

Although closest approach is still months away, Mars is already conspicuous in the early morning. Before the sun comes up, it’s the brightest object in the eastern sky, really eye-catching. If you have a telescope, even a small one, point it at Mars. You can see the bright icy South Polar Cap and strange dark markings on the planet’s surface.

Above: Painted green by a flashlight, astronomer Dennis Mammana of California points out Mars to onlookers on Aug. 26, 2003, the last time Mars was so close to Earth. Photo credit: Thad V’Soske.

One day people will walk among those dark markings, exploring and prospecting, possibly mining ice from the polar caps to supply their settlements. It’s a key goal of NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration: to return to the Moon, to visit Mars and to go beyond.

Every day the view improves. Mars is coming–and that’s no hoax.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

10 Need-to-Know Things About Mars

If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a nickel, and Mars would be about as big as an aspirin tablet.

Mars orbits our sun, a star. Mars is the fourth planet from the sun at a distance of about 228 million km (142 million miles) or 1.52 AU.

One day on Mars takes just a little over 24 hours (the time it takes for Mars to rotate or spin once). Mars makes a complete orbit around the sun (a year in Martian time) in 687 Earth days.

Mars is a rocky planet, also known as a terrestrial planet. Mars’ solid surface has been altered by volcanoes, impacts, crustal movement, and atmospheric effects such as dust storms.

Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) and argon (Ar).

Mars has two moons named Phobos and Deimos.

There are no rings around Mars.

More than 40 spacecraft have been launched for Mars, from flybys and orbiters to rovers and landers that touched surface of the Red Planet. The first true Mars mission success was Mariner 4 in 1965.

At this time in the planet’s history, Mars’ surface cannot support life as we know it. A key science goal is determining Mars’ past and future potential for life.

Mars is known as the Red Planet because iron minerals in the Martian soil oxidize, or rust, causing the soil — and the dusty atmosphere — to look red.

Prof. Metin Sett at Harvard University is look at animals for ways to best get about on Mars. It’s called bio inspiration and he has come up with some amazing findings.

 




Balancing rocks trace history of ‘jumping’ earthquakes

Advertisements

Balancing rocks trace history of ‘jumping’ earthquakes

The researchers spent 10 years collecting measurements of balancing rocks

US scientists say they have solved the riddle of why a collection of balancing rocks near the San Andreas fault has never been toppled by earthquakes.

Their decade-long study concludes that quakes can stop or “jump” due to interactions between the San Andreas and the neighbouring San Jacinto fault.

Models show that these interactions sent the biggest vibrations around the rock stacks, leaving them intact.

But the connected nature of the faults has implications for quake planning.

The study of precariously balanced rocks was begun in the 1990s by Jim Brune, now an emeritus professor at the University of Nevada and a co-author of the new paper.

“He realised that [these rocks] could be a check on seismic hazard maps, and give long-term indications of ground shaking,” said the study’s lead author Prof Lisa Grant Ludwig, from the University of California, Irvine.

“They are kind of natural seismoscopes – but you have to read them indirectly.

“They don’t tell you an earthquake happened, they tell you ‘an earthquake strong enough to knock me down did not happen’.”

Tipping point

Generally, balancing rocks are not seen within 15km of major faults. But 10 years ago Prof Brune and his colleagues found two sizeable collections of such stones just 7-10km from the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, in the San Bernardino mountains of California.

The teetering rocks sit less than 10km from two major faults

In the new study, due to be published in the journal Seismological Research Letters, these rocks were carefully catalogued and measured.

Importantly, the team calculated how much force it would take to tip each of the rocks over.

“There are two methods of doing that, one of which is actually trying to tip the thing,” Prof Ludwig said. This meant some nerve-wracking fieldwork, gently pushing the rocks until there was some movement, but not actually tipping them over.

“If my mother had known I was doing that, she would not have been happy,” Prof Ludwig confessed. “You never want to be on the downhill side when you tip it.”

The second method, for rocks too dangerous or difficult to tip, was “photomodelling”: using views from multiple angles to build a 3D model of the balanced stone and calculate its centre of gravity, mass, and so on.

Both these methods, along with some “shake table” simulation experiments, showed that the rocks should have fallen over during quakes as recent as 1812 and 1857.

The famous San Andreas fault stretches 1,300km across California

But various measures can tell us exactly how long the stones have perched in their places – and it is millennia, not centuries.

“One of my former postdocs did an age study of one of the rocks. And it’d been in that position about 18,000 years,” said Prof Ludwig.

So how did these precarious rocks withstand the tens or hundreds of earthquakes that shook the region during that time?

Network of fractures

“The inescapable conclusion was that the ground motions had to be lower than you would expect from typical earthquakes on the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults,” Prof Ludwig explained.

The team’s best explanation for that surprisingly small ground movement – and one supported by computer modelling of big earthquakes – is an interaction between the two faults.

Precarious rocks, like this one in Nevada, can act as natural measures of earthquake strength over time

Precarious rocks, like this one in Nevada, can act as natural measures of earthquake strength over time
“The San Andreas and San Jacinto faults come very close together; they’re only about 2km apart. And it’s been well established, through other earthquakes and modelling studies, that a rupture can jump across [a gap like that]. It’s what’s called a stepover.

“What if the rupture jumped across, or alternatively, stopped at this junction, or started at this junction? All three of those cases would produce lower ground shaking in the area where we found the rocks.”

It is crucial to consider the faults together, Prof Ludwig said – not just to explain the baffling, balancing rocks, but also in order to plan safely for future earthquakes.

“These are really networks of fractures in the earth. Just because we give them different names doesn’t mean that they behave independently.”

Shaky scenario

Dr Lucy Jones is a long-serving seismologist and a science adviser for risk reduction at the US Geological Survey. She said the paper would have “pretty significant implications” for earthquake planning in California.

In particular, Dr Jones said the findings might impact the “ShakeOut scenario” – in which she and others modelled a major San Andreas quake, to support safety drills and procedures.

“I think that this study actually makes the particular ShakeOut scenario less likely, but I’m not sure it means that we’re definitely going to get less ground motion,” Dr Jones told the BBC.

“It isn’t a clear-cut answer as to whether we’ll be better off or worse off. We’re going to need time to look at the permutations.”

Looking beyond individual quakes, Dr Jones said the new study fits into a “pretty well accepted picture” that in the long-term, seismic activity is gradually shifting from the southern stretch of the San Andreas fault across to the younger San Jacinto fault.

“This study is a really cool piece of evidence that maybe the jump is a little further along than we assumed,” she said.

Did you know that pets can often detect ear quakes before they happen? Here’s a story from Animal X about some such pets.


The new search for aliens will start in one of the quietest, most uneventful places in America

Advertisements

The new search for aliens will start in one of the quietest, most uneventful places in America

WRITTEN BY
Max Nisen
@MaxNisen

The Green Bank telescope’s dish alone is 2.3 acres (0.9 ha).(AP/Patrick Semansky)

If you want to find aliens, a 13,000-square-mile (37,000 sq km) bit of land in the eastern United States turns out to be one of the best places to look.

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s $100 million dollar gift to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) center at the University of California at Berkeley, announced on July 20, will help searchers dramatically expand their mission to find life beyond Earth.

The institute, which has (like other SETI programs) operated on something of a shoestring, will use part of the money to rent out the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, the Green Bank telescope, which is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

(National Radio Astronomy Observatory)

The NRAO is located in a patch of land called the “National Radio Quiet Zone” in Virginia, West Virginia, and a sliver of Maryland. It puts tight restrictions on radio transmissions, codified in West Virginia’s Radio Astronomy Zoning Act. Cell service is nearly nonexistent, and broadcast radio transmitters must coordinate with the observatory, point their antennas away from it, and operate at reduced power. Around the telescope itself the restrictions are particularly severe; employees from the NRAO drive around the area scanning for rogue Wi-Fi users or microwaves.

So why is this particular patch of land one of the only places in the country to be mostly free of radio transmissions? The zone was created by the US government back in 1958 to shield the NRAO and the Navy’s Sugar Grove base (scheduled to close this year) from interference, then produced mainly by spark plugs, radios, and power lines; the latter are now legally required to be buried four feet underground throughout the area.

The rise of ubiquitous wireless communication made truly quiet (in a radio sense) places very rare. While federal oversight is limited to registered transmitters, state laws are required to restrict mobile devices. Scientists haven’t managed to push through the same kind of restrictions when building other, similar telescopes in the US, making the area pretty unique.

Even tiny amounts of interference, like from a musical greeting card opened near the installation, can interfere with delicate readings. It’s near impossible to avoid that kind of interruption now without a good amount of buffer space and regulation. The zone has also attracted a more unusual set of residents—people who believe they’re ultra-sensitive to electromagnetic radiation.

The Green Bank telescope has become available to rent because the US National Science Foundation has had its funding cut, and has even sought to shut down the installation or find other research centers to share the cost of running it.

Some of the listening will be done elsewhere, including at another large telescope in Australia, and the hard-core data analysis will happen back at Berkeley. But if we manage to find signs of alien life, it could be the quietest parts of West Virginia that hear them first.

Here’s some sounds that we can already hear.


Is the Universe Bubbly? Searching in Space for Quantum Foam

Advertisements

 

Is the Universe Bubbly? Searching in Space for Quantum Foam

by Calla Cofield, Space.com Staff Writer

Space

An incredibly small and fantastically strange theoretical feature of the universe is too microscopic to see directly, so a team of scientists has instead looked for it by studying some of the brightest galaxies in the universe.

As light travels to Earth from distant galaxies, its road through the cosmos may not be smooth. A theoretical characteristic of the universe called “quantum foam” could make space and time rough and chaotic at very small scales. Some models suggest that scientists could see the effect of this foam in a large group of photons that have traveled a very long distance.

A group of researchers decided to try to observe signs of quantum foam in the light collected by powerful telescopes on and around Earth. While no direct evidence of the foam was found, the researchers have eliminated two possible theories of how it behaves, and put a new limit on its size.

A bubbly universe

The universe we perceive is made of three dimensions of space and another dimension of time, which together make up a single fabric that Albert Einstein dubbed “space-time.” For things like people, planets, stars and anything larger than an atom, space-time is smooth. Large objects move through it like a car driving over a freshly paved road.

By contrast, on very, very (very, very) small-size scales, the universe may be bubbly, foamy and constantly changing. This is a theoretical feature of the universe known as quantum foam.

“One way to think of space-time foam is if you are flying over the ocean in [an] airplane, it looks completely smooth,” said Eric Perlman, professor of physics and space sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology and lead author on the new research, in a statement from the Chandra X-ray Center. “However, if you get low enough you see the waves, and closer still, foam, with tiny bubbles that are constantly fluctuating.”

A boat traveling over the surface of the ocean would not experience any measurable affect from the foam, but very small objects might. Perlman and his colleagues’ new research was an attempt to observe the effects of quantum foam on particles of light.

Is the universe in a bubble? Physics4all.com is running a poll.

Bubble Universe

Picture of distortion

The bumps and bubbles created by quantum foam are not obstacles in a photon’s path; they’re changes to the fabric of reality that the photons move through. If quantum foam doesn’t exist, then two photons leaving point A can essentially travel the same, smooth path to point B. But if quantum foam does exist, and is causing constant changes in the fabric of reality, then the two photons would each effectively travel a slightly different path between those two points, Perlman said in an interview with Space.com.

Some models of quantum foam suggest that this effect would cause the photons to become out of phase with each other, and this could potentially distort what objects in space look like to observers on Earth.

“Just like if you’re trying to listen to sound that was made by loud speakers that are out of phase with one another, you get noise,” Perlman said in an interview with Space.com.

Perlman and his colleagues went looking for evidence of these distortions in observations of very distant galaxies called quasars (some of the quantum foam models also predict that the effects will become more pronounced over longer distances). These quasars are also some of the brightest objects in the universe. At the center of a quasar is a supermassive black hole, surrounded by a tremendous amount of gas, dust and other matter. As the matter is pulled into the black hole, it radiates enough light to outshine all the stars that live in the galaxy.

The team built computer simulations that showed how quantum foam would affect observations of quasars by telescopes on Earth. They then compared those projections with real images from three powerful telescopes: the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS).

The images observed by the telescopes did not show the kind of distortion or blurring anticipated by two quantum foam models that the researchers tested. They say this indicates that the models are incorrect.

“The Chandra data specifically rules out one model which we already thought was in trouble – [called the] random walk model,” Perlman said. “Fermi and VERITAS data rule out another model which we didn’t think was in trouble and that is a model that has been called the holographic model.” [Is the Universe a 2D Hologram? Experiment Aims to Find Out]

So space-time appears to be smooth, at least on scales larger than one-thousandth the diameter of a proton, the new results show (although most models predict that quantum foam operates on much smaller scales).

There is one model of quantum foam still standing. This model predicts that the distortion effects are not be amplified over long distances, which means looking at distant quasars will not help scientists find evidence of quantum foam. At the moment, this seems to be the only model that holds up, Perlman wrote in a blog post for the Chandra X-ray Observatory website.

Observations of distant quasars in X-rays from Chandra (top six images) and gamma-ray telescopes are helping scientists test the nature of space-time at extremely small scales. This artistʼs illustration (bottom) depicts how the foamy structure of space-time may appear, showing tiny bubbles quadrillions of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom that are constantly fluctuating and last for only infinitesimal fractions of a second.
Credit: Chandra X-ray Observatory ACIS Image.

Combining big and small

Giovanni Amelino-Camelia, a theoretical physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome, said in an email that work to put limits on quantum foam is “extremely important,” and that Perlman and his colleagues are “a very strong group, for whose work I have high consideration.”

However, he also cautions that because of various limitations, the models used in studies dealing with quantum foam are “crude,” and therefore the results should be “interpreted with great care.” (This includes his own work on quantum foam, he said.)

Quantum foam arose out of attempts to solve one of the biggest mysteries in modern physics: how to unite general relativity (the theory of gravity) and quantum mechanics.

“Both quantum mechanics and general relativity have been enormously successful. They are two of the greatest successes that modern physics has had in the last century plus,” Perlman said. “And yet for some reason that we don’t understand, when you try to write gravity in the language of quantum mechanics, it’s very difficult. Up until now it hasn’t been done.”

Quantum foam could be one of the missing puzzle pieces — the thing that brings together big (gravity) and small (quantum). But it is currently unclear how scientists might prove the existence of such an incredibly tiny feature of the universe.
The universe through a telescope. Here’s a series of videos that looks at the universe through a telescope.

 


Dense mayfly swarm causes crashes, closes US bridge

Advertisements

 

Dense mayfly swarm causes crashes, closes US bridge
From the BBC

Piles of dead insects were seen strewn across the road

A dense swarm of mayflies caused motorcycle crashes and the overnight closure of a bridge in the US state of Pennsylvania.

The sheer volume of insects reduced visibility, and turned the road surface of the bridge over the Susquehanna River, in Lancaster County, into a treacherous, slippery mess.

Piles of mayflies up to 2ft (0.6m) deep were seen the morning after.

Immature mayflies live in water, before hatching as adults to mate in swarms.
The bridge was closed late on Saturday, reopening early on Sunday, police said.

The poor road conditions caused motorcycle crashes, but there are no reports of serious injuries

“It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies,” Wrightsville Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger told LancasterOnline.

“They were getting in our mouth. We had to close our eyes. We had to swat them away. Even when we got back, it felt like bugs were crawling in you.”

Spectacular swarms of mayflies are not uncommon – last year one in Wisconsin became so big it appeared on local radar as rain.

NOAA – Mayfly Swarm

NOAA Mayfly Swarm

NOAA – Mayfly swarm

 

Here’s a video clip about animal plagues from Animal X Series 2. We see swarms of midges similar to the Mayfly swarms mentioned above. Also locust and mice.

 

This clip shows other animals that swarm.


Royal Astronomer Predicts When Aliens Are Discovered, They Will Be Robots, Who Will Eventually Lead To Human Extinction

Advertisements

Royal Astronomer Predicts When Aliens Are Discovered, They Will Be Robots, Who Will Eventually Lead To Human Extinction

Space

Royal astronomer Lord Rees has made several startling predictions for the fate of the human race and the discovery of aliens, stating that when we do actually come across extraterrestrials, they will probably be robots.

Rees, who is the Astronomer Royal of the Royal Observatory, made his comments while speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Rees, via the Mirror, added that if a signal was to be detected from a distant planet it would come from a machine and not a creature.

“If you were to detect a SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) signal, it would be far more likely that it would be from a machine and not an organic creature.”

According to the Daily Star, Rees believes that the human race will actually have mapped out the entire galaxy by the end of the century, and people will then start to live on other planets. However, this will be the beginning of the end for the human race.

“There has been just a thin sliver of time when organic beings have existed and billions of years after machines will take over, so they will be the future. I would predict that in the next 50 years or so all of the bodies in the solar system will have been mapped and probed by machine and some people will follow.

By the end of the century there will be some people living away from the Earth. We will wish them good luck in adapting their progeny who will need genetic adaptations. That will be the start of the post-human era because they will evolve to be a new species.”

Rees’ bleak outlook continued when he added that he is worried that if global militaries continue to use sub-autonomous robots as weapons, they will evolve and ultimately decimate the human race to the point of extinction.

“I am concerned about sub-autonomous military robots which can just put bullets in people. I think it is quite likely that within a few centuries the overriding intelligence will be machines because they will have an easier time spreading beyond the Earth because they are not organic and most exploration will be by machines and not humans.”

Many a dystopian science fiction story has been written depicting such an apocalypse, and during a TED Talk Rees previously remarked, “Other science fiction nightmares may transition to reality — dumb robots going rogue or a network that develops a mind of its own.”

The likes of Stephen Hawking and other leading scientists have previously made it clear that they are worried by the rise in artificial intelligence, which they believe will ultimately lead to the end of the human race because humans can’t compete.

[Image via Denis Tabler / Shutterstock]

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/2154862/royal-astronomer-predicts-when-aliens-are-discovered-they-will-be-robots-who-will-eventually-lead-to-human-extinction/#w5ci6oYYty1DWzlA.99

 


  • Custom Search