Comet 67P oddness — The Rosetta spacecraft has the best view of comet 67P, but astronomers here on Earth are following the famous space rock’s trek across the solar system too. In the image above, they have spotted something very strange: the comet has two tails. The two streaks are technically different parts of one long tail of ice and dust grains, swept away from comet 67P’s surface as it’s battered with radiation.
~ OK, we get it, space is strange.
Oddness on Ceres — With the latest fly-over look at the surface of dwarf planet Ceres from NASA, things are getting even stranger. NASA put together this animated version of a fly-over of Ceres using their new low-altitude images from the planet, just 900 miles overhead. There is an unusually good look at those bright spots and how they are laid out across the geography — plus, you see all the different types of craters that house them.
~ There’s activity …
Cosmic fart cloud heading for us — A “giant galactic fart“, expelled from the Milky Way 70 million years ago, was first discovered in the 1960s. Smith Cloud is a starless ball of dust that’s approximately 11,000 light years long and 2500 light years across. It’s speeding toward us at a rip-roaring 1,126,540 kilometres per hour, meaning it’ll crash into the disk of the Milky Way in about … 30 million years.
~ You have to admit, ‘Smith Cloud’ sounds nicer than “giant galactic fart”.
How predictions from sci-fi work — The smartest person hundreds of years ago could not imagine the things we have now because what is science to us was essentially magic to them back then — the understanding just wasn’t there yet. That’s where science fiction steps in. The wild imagination of futuristic storytelling turns walls into windows, puts thought outside the box and breaks the constraints that science can set on us.
~ Still want the flying car …
CERN pain — CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, has grand plans to update the world’s largest particle accelerator complex in the next few years. But engineers have identified a barrier to the upgrade: there’s no space for new cables in the injectors that accelerate particles before they enter the LHC. A heap of obsolete cables are blocking the way to install new ones needed for the accelerator’s next big upgrade. To make space, CERN engineers have to identify and remove all the old, unused cables.
All 9000 of them.
~ There goes all the glamour of the job, right there.
Brains read at the speed of, well, brains — An experiment by University of Washington researchers is setting the stage for advances in mind reading technology. Using brain implants and sophisticated software, researchers can now predict what their subjects are seeing with startling speed and accuracy.
~ I’ve been reading mine a lot.
Tesla’s home batteries already working in Australia — Australia is the first country in the world to have Powerwall batteries installed and delivered, and companies like Natural Solar and Origin Energy are receiving and installing their first shipments into homes and businesses around Australia. New South Wales is first, but other states and territories have their first installations scheduled from the start of next week onwards.
~ It’s all very well to get solar on your roof – the trick is to store that power for your own later use.
Our brains and measuring time — Our brains have an extraordinary ability to monitor time, but exactly how the brain tracks time is still a mystery. Researchers have defined the brain areas involved in movement, memory, colour vision and other functions, but not the ones that monitor time.
Over the last few years, a handful of researchers have compiled growing evidence that the same cells that monitor an individual’s location in space also mark the passage of time. This suggests that two brain regions — the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, both famous for their role in memory and navigation — can also act as a sort of timer.
~ And the hippocampus is more dangerous than it looks, right? That’s why I don’t swim in those rivers.
Babylonian astronomy sext changes history — More than a thousand years before the first telescopes, Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of planets across the night sky using simple arithmetic. But a newly translated text reveals that these ancient stargazers also used a far more advanced method, one that foreshadows the development of calculus over a thousand years later.
~ And you can probably grate nutmeg with it, too.