Tag Archives | Science

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company beats SpaceX to landing its first rocket

Eric Burger via Ars Technica:

Jeff Bezos finally one-upped Elon Musk in space. On Tuesday Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, announced its New Shepard space vehicle had ascended to 100.5km and returned successfully to the ground near its West Texas launch site.

“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts—a used rocket,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, in a statement. “Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle flew a flawless mission—soaring to 329,839 feet and then returning through 119mph high-altitude crosswinds to make a gentle, controlled landing just four-and-a-half feet from the center of the pad. Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.”

Like Blue Origin, Musk’s SpaceX is attempting to build a reusable Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 booster, but so far the company’s efforts to land its rocket on a mobile, seaborne platform have not been successful.

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Ancient fossil forest unearthed in Arctic Norway

Reconstructed drawing of fossil forest in Svalbard. Credit: Image courtesy of Cardiff University

Reconstructed drawing of fossil forest in Svalbard.
Credit: Image courtesy of Cardiff University

Cardiff University via ScienceDaily:

UK researchers have unearthed ancient fossil forests, thought to be partly responsible for one of the most dramatic shifts in Earth’s climate in the past 400 million years.

The fossil forests, with tree stumps preserved in place, were found in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago situated in the Arctic Ocean. They were identified and described by Dr Chris Berry of Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Science.

Prof John Marshall, of Southampton University, has accurately dated the forests to 380 million years.

The forests grew near the equator during the late Devonian period, and could provide an insight into the cause of a 15-fold reduction in levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere around that time.

Current theories suggest that during the Devonian period (420-360 million years ago) there was a huge drop in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, thought to be largely caused by a change in vegetation from diminutive plants to the first large forest trees.

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The Politics of Hate – Deep Inside the Red Brain

brain_on_fire 3

The Politics of Hate – Deep Inside the Red Brain

Is there something politicians know that the vast majority of the US voters don’t? Some of them are proof that all they need to know is how their voters think. You don’t really believe many of them talk the way they do because they’re stupid, do you? It may at times appear that way, but they are speaking to voter profiles.

First they outline their demographic and then angle the pitch. There is plenty of published research on why and how certain types vote. And really it’s a predictable statistical function of the voter’s brain. But even given the current political atmosphere I couldn’t believe the venom certain candidates were spewing. With so much negativity – about “EVERYTHING” and then all the warmongering. I began to wonder if they might be fanning the flames of a growing national hate movement.

Then I read an article, “Red Brain, Blue Brain” about a joint study done by Dr.… Read the rest

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Study of self-driving cars shows other drivers are good at hitting them

There’s no word yet whether self-driving cars are actually crashless.

Megan Geuss via Ars Technica:

A preliminary study from the University of Michigan Transportation Institute took a look at autonomous vehicle crashes reported by Google, Delphi, and Audi, all of which have licenses to operate self-driving vehicles in a number of states. The researchers, Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, compared that data to adjusted statistics pertaining to conventional vehicles. The study showed that self-driving vehicles were actually involved in more accidents on average, per million miles traveled, than their conventional forebears.

However, the researchers cautioned that those numbers may not tell the whole story. The data was pulled from 11 crashes among three makers of self-driving cars whose fleets only cumulatively drove 1.2 million miles on public roads. The data for conventional cars, however, was derived from a sample of the reported crashes that occurred over 3 trillion miles of annual driving.

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Scientists work with artists to learn more about the brain

Halogen Gallery (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Halogen Gallery (CC BY-SA 2.0)

University of Houston via ScienceDaily:

Researchers from the University of Houston have analyzed brain activity data collected from more than 400 people who viewed an exhibit at the Menil Collection, offering evidence that useable brain data can be collected outside of a controlled laboratory setting. They also reported the first real-world demonstration of what happens in the brain as people observe artwork.

“You can do testing in the lab, but it’s very artificial,” said Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH. “We were looking at how to measure brain activity in action and in context.”

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. In addition to Contreras-Vidal, the research team included Kimberly Kontson and Eugene Civillico, scientists with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; artist Dario Robleto; Menil curator Michelle White, and Murad Megjhani, Justin Brantley, Jesus Cruz-Garza and Sho Nakagome, all of whom work in the UH Laboratory for Non-Invasive Brain Machine Interfaces.

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Thermal Anomaly Found in Great Pyramid



The study, Scan Pyramids, found an interesting thermal anomaly in the Great Pyramid. The researchers used “infrared thermography, muon radiography, and 3-D reconstruction” to examine the pyramids for any internal structures or cavities.

Rossella Lorenzi via Discovery News:

Several thermal anomalies were observed in all the monuments, but one remarkable anomaly was detected in the Great Pyramid, known as Khufu or Cheops.

“This anomaly is really quite impressive and it’s just in front of us, at the ground level,” Mehdi Tayoubi, founder of the Paris-based Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, told Discovery News.

Thermal measurements were carried out at different times in order to observe the pyramids during their warm-up phase from early morning until sunrise and during their cooling phase from late afternoon until sun set and early night.

“In cooling phase, the heat transfer is usually happening from the inside to the outside; while in heating phase, it is the opposite,” the researchers said.

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Senate Votes to Legalize Space Mining

Concept art | Deep Space Industries |  Robotic asteroid mining might look like this.

Concept art | Deep Space Industries |
Robotic asteroid mining might look like this.

The Space Act of 2015 has passed in the Senate. If the bill passes in the House — it’s expected to — and is signed into law by Obama, it could mean big things for the private space industry.

Sarah Fecht via Popular Science:

After much delay, an important space bill has finally passed in the Senate.

The Space Act of 2015 would do a lot of things to encourage the private space industry–including extending the “learning period” wherein fledgling spaceflight companies can operate without too much government oversight. It would also give companies the rights to the resources they might one day extract from asteroids, such as platinum and water (which, believe it or not, is a valuable resource in space).

The bill has just passed in the Senate with unanimous approval and a few amendments.

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It’s not rocket science: we need a better way to get to space

Orbital Sciences Antares Launch (201410280009HQ)

Unmanned rocket explodes moments after launch.

Human beings will always be explorers. We’ve pretty well surveyed our planet, our tiny blue dot, for answers and only found more questions. Why are we here? How did we get here? What does it mean?

What happens when vast numbers of us can leave our tiny blue dot behind? NASA

We’ve already taken baby steps out into the solar system. But cheap, affordable space travel would be revolutionary, heralding in technologies we haven’t even yet imagined. Social and economic changes introduced by the internet would pale in comparison.

But here’s the thing: we won’t be heading to the stars in a rocket. Rockets are a terrible way of getting to space.

Orbit is a balancing act

There’s a saying in orbital mechanics: getting to orbit is halfway to anywhere. Orbit is the easiest way of going permanently to space. It’s a big first step on the way to leaving the gravity of earth behind.… Read the rest

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100 Plus Studies Concur – Cannabis Beats Cancer, Yet It’s Still Not Legal

Phillip Schneider via Waking Times:

In 1996, California was the first state to legalize the use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes. Since then, the past decade has been ripe with research into the potential medicinal benefits of Cannabis. During this time we have learned that Cannabis can potentially treat such an enormous list of illnesses that the justification for its status as a schedule 1 illegal drug is being called into question.

Proponents of medical marijuana claim that cannabis can be used to treat over 150 different ailments such as sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, back pain, shingles, epilepsy, seizures, Chrohn’s disease, restless leg syndrome, PTSD, MS, autoimmune disease, autism, alcoholism and much more. Because of this, cannabis is being dubbed the ‘miracle drug’ by many, including the parents of children who have suffered from seizures and other debilitating diseases, only to be saved or seriously aided by the use of cannabis compounds.

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