Futurology ~ Alien megastructure, Ios atmosphere, Mars Rover game, Neutrino anomaly, Siberian minerals, phase-change neuron, CO2 swallowing fuel, flood myth from China


Another day, another mystery added to the weirdness of the alien megastructure — Last fall, a little-known star called KIC 8462852 became our planetary obsession when astronomers said its erratic flickering could be the result of an alien megastructure. Further observation of Tabby’s Star yielded no signs of aliens, but things just got a bit weirder thanks to a new photometric analysis of Tabby’s Star. By carefully examining all the full-frame images collected during Kepler’s observational campaign, Montet and Simon discovered something astonishing: not only did the star’s light output occasionally dip by up to 20%, its total stellar flux diminished continuously over the course of four years.
~ Oh flux!

The atmosphere of Ios just collapsed — In fact, it collapses all the time, according to observations by astronomers at the Southwest Research Institute that are published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It turns out that every time Io is eclipsed by mighty Jupiter (which happens for about 2 hours a day), the surface temperature plummets and the moon’s sulfur dioxide (SO2)-rich atmosphere begins to deflate.
~ Pffffffft.

MarsRoverFour years on Mars leads to a game — NASA is celebrating the rover’s fourth year on Mars by releasing a game called Mars Rover, and it’s probably your only chance to pilot Curiosity. Mars Rover has a pretty straightforward gameplay: you just press arrow keys to drive the vehicle and find underground pockets of water. But it’s harder than it sounds. The virtual rover’s wheels crack and break if they slam hard against rocks or heels, and when they do, it’s game over. If you want to have a go, either load the game right on your desktop or download the Gamee app on iOS or Android.
~ And without radiation poisoning. 

Neutrino anomaly might point way to solving mystery — A tiny anomaly has begun to surface in a neutrinos’ oscillations in Japan that could herald an answer to one of the biggest mysteries in physics: why matter dominates over antimatter in the universe.
~ It all matters very much. 

Strange mineral in Siberian mine — From deep inside a Siberian mine, researchers have catalogued a series of materials unlike any others yet found in the ground. They do, however, bear a startling similarity to certain lab-grown materials that weren’t thought to exist in nature at all – until now.
~ They have cool names, too: stepanovite and zhemchuzhnikovite.

IBM researcher builds a phase-change capable artificial neuron —  Computers have long been compared to artificial brains, but now IBM has followed the comparison and built a working artificial neuron. The tech giant’s research center in Zurich created 500 of them to simulate a signal transfer similar to how the process works in an organic brain. Significantly, it’s built of trusted materials and can scale down microscopically.
~ My own brain is also built of trusted materials. I mostly trust them, anyway. 

Scientists turn CO2 into fuel with solar power — And this could spell the end for traditional gasoline production. Researchers in Chicago have devised technology that mimics a plant’s ability to inhale carbon dioxide and, with water, convert it into glucose and oxygen. This system can draw in carbon dioxide and process it into a synthetic fuel that could be used to power vehicles. Theoretically, this device could create a virtuous cycle where climate-altering carbon could be removed from the atmosphere and pumped back into cars.
~ Now that IS good news. 

China’s mythical flood throws up some evidence — Chinese legend tells of a great flood, and how Emperor Yu drove back the floodwaters, founding the Xia dynasty and giving rise to Chinese civilization. Now an international scientific collaboration has discovered the first geological evidence that such a flood may actually have happened – and the founding of the Xia dynasty may have happened hundreds of years later than historians previously thought.
~ And then his descendants created their own extravagant floods. 


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