Tag Archives: Ceres

Futurology ~ jewelled planet, Ceres, space junk collector, futuristic predictions, quantum gravity time, disturbing carbon dioxide, energy turning point, holiday


NASA has created visualisations of the problematic greenhouse gas carbon dioxide
NASA has created visualisations of the problematic greenhouse gas carbon dioxide

Jupiter-like planet rains rubies and sapphires — A Jupiter-like planet located 1000 light-years from Earth is exhibiting some rather strange meteorological behavior. The clouds on this planet appear to be made from corundum — the same mineral that produces rubies and sapphires.
~ I predict a glut on the market once we reach that one. 

Dwarf planet Ceres has a dark secret — If you thought those bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres were cool, that was only the half of it. Ceres is also covered in dark spots, craters that — because of their position — never see the light of day. Now, astronomers have discovered that at least one and perhaps many of these shadowy regions are filled with water ice.
~ Well, there goes that secret.

Japan sends its new space junk-fighting technology to the ISS — What floats 400 kms (249 miles) high in the sky, stretches over 700 metres (2300 feet) and took over 10 years to develop? Japan launched a cargo ship Friday bound for the International Space Station, carrying a space junk collector that was made with the help of a fishnet company.
~ The by-catch could be interesting. 

Futuristic predictions that came true in 2016 — Another year has passed, which means we’re another step closer to the tomorrow of our dreams. Here are the most futuristic developments of 2016 from Gizmodo.
~ I still think a  jet pack could lead to embarrassing bottom burns.

Quantum gravity research could unearth the true nature of time — Theoretical physicists striving to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity into an all-encompassing theory of quantum gravity face what’s called the ‘problem of time.’
~ I thought the true nature of time was that there’s loads of it, but there always seems to never be enough. 

Disturbing visualisations of carbon dioxide and earth — Scientists at NASA have created a stunning high-resolution 3D visualization showing the complex ebbs and flows of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere over the course of an entire year. It’s a unique perspective that’s sure to change the way you think about this problematic greenhouse gas.
~ The new video, thanks to its 3D view, is eye opening.

World energy hits a turning point with solar that’s cheaper than wind — A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.
~ Hoorah! Take that, power companies!

I’m out of here — That’s right, I’m taking a pre-Christmas break to a wonderful New Zealand beach with no internet. That means no updates till Friday 23rd December, sorry, and MagBytes will be delayed a week, so will appear between Christmas and New Years!  But that’s my only holiday this southern summer.
Thank you for following Mac NZ, and drive safely, eat well and be nice!All the best for 2017.

Ceres, nightmare entry, entropy life, root canal alternative, Day After Tomorrow


[Image: NASA]
Ocean currents created a northern ice age long ago [Image: NASA]
Ceres’ bright spots get weirder — After months of rampant speculation, scientists announced late last year that the bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres are giant deposits of salt. Case closed, right? No. We’ve since managed a better look at the spots, and the craters they reside in, and Ceres is shaping up to be a much weirder place than we imagined. One theory says the bright material in Ceres’ craters is sodium carbonate, an ocean mineral best known for its use in household cleaning products. That would make Ceres the most carbonate-rich world aside from Earth
~ My theory is dance parties. 

Nightmare sound of a spacecraft entering Jupiter’s magnetic field — As NASA’s Juno mission continues to hurl itself toward Jupiter, the terrifying reality of flying close to the biggest and baddest planet in our solar system is starting to set in. Now the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has posted recordings the spacecraft created based on data collected as it crossed Jupiter’s ‘bow shock’ and entered the magnetosphere.
~ Good band name: Upstream Plasma Oscillators.

Strange in the sands of Mars — Researchers looking at images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Curiosity rover spotted a strange combination of almost wave-like ripples forming in the sands of Mars. Over time, these formations often even solidified into rock, resulting in strange landscape photos you can view at Gizmodo.
~ Odder and odder in an odd place. 

Entropy explains how life can come from randomness — Physicist David Kaplan explains how life came to be on Earth in the latest instalment of Quanta‘s In Theory video series, and it’s all because of increasing entropy. MIT professor named Jeremy England has come up with an actual mathematical formula for how this might happen.
~ Because compost …

New kind of filling nixes root canals — root canals, even the milder variety, are no fun, and it would be awesome if we never had to deal with them again. So three cheers for a team of scientists from Harvard and the University of Nottingham, who’ve come up with a new type of synthetic biomaterial for fillings that is regenerative.
~ Something we can all cheer about. 

The day after tomorrow happened many yesterdays back — Toward the end of the last ice age, Earth’s climate was a turbulent beast, warming up and chilling out again every 1500 years. Research published in Science links these abrupt temperature swings to changes in ocean circulation, filling an important gap in our understanding of past climate change.
~ And even without human industry to make it worse. 

Futurology ~ Comet 67P, Ceres, Cosmic Fart Cloud, sci-fi predicts, CERN pain, mind reading, home batteries, brain time, Babylonian astronomy


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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. 


fbertp2yq9ebgfz9adspBabylonian 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. 

Futurology ~ Starlight lasers, Black Hole matter cannon, Ceres, Pluto, faster-than-light, airport land art, memory alloy, wood chips, aging reversed


The surface of Ceres in the most detail shot yet.
The surface of Ceres in the most detail shot yet.

Combing starlight with lasers to find exoplanets — In April 2015, two so-called laser frequency combs were installed at the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) planet-finding instrument of the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. ESO explains what these devices and the spectra they produce are good for.
~ Just don’t get it in the eyes of any alien pilots or there’ll be hell to pay.

Black hole shooting matter into matter — Recently, after piecing together a string of pictures, have we seen what’s really happening. The black hole at the centre of NGC 3862 galaxy has been shooting out massive jets of plasma for a long time. The ejections form bundles like glowing bullets. In the last two decades, the black hole has ejected one ‘bullet’ so fast it has smashed into the back of the previous bullet, causing them both to glow.
~ And don’t annoy this thing with lasers either. 

Ceres’ pockmarked surface — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is getting progressively closer to Ceres, and getting some amazing views — this remarkably detailed shot (main picture, above) shows the dwarf planet’s cratered surface from a distance of only 5100 kms.
The shot, taken by Dawn’s OpNav9 camera on May 23, shows some previously unseen features including secondary craters formed by the re-impact of debris strewn from larger impact sites.
~ But where’s the oasis? I do see a rather large capitol Y near top centre. 

And Pluto gets inspected too — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 32 million kilometres since it last beamed back images of Pluto. The latest set of photos hint at a complicated and high-contrast surface and includes more evidence in support of the theory that the dwarf planet features a bright polar cap.
~ Much better images to arrive in a few months as it gets closer. 

Four plausible ways to travel faster than light — It’s one of the cardinal laws of physics and the underlying principle of Einstein’s relativity itself: the fact that there’s a universal speed limit to the motion of anything through space and time, the speed of light, or c. Light itself will always move at this speed (as well as certain other phenomena, like the force of gravity), while anything with mass — like all known particles of matter and antimatter — will always move slower than that. But there are real, physical phenomena that do exactly this, while remaining perfectly consistent with relativity.
~ I have a fifth: in your imagination. 

Land art cuts aeroplane noise near Amsterdam — A study conducted by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research found that low frequency and long wavelength jet engine droning noise was significantly reduced after farmers plowed their fields near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in autumn. The furrows’  multiple ridges absorbed sound waves, deflected the sound and muted the noise.
This led to the development of the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a buffer park featuring “land art” has significantly reduced aircraft noise without requiring cuts in the number of allowed flights in and out of the airport.
~ Plus it looks amazing, below. 

The 80-acre green space is the Buitenschot Land Art Park near Schiphol.
The 80-acre green space of the Buitenschot Land Art Park near Schiphol.

New memory alloy springs back into shape even after 10 million bends — Memory alloys that spring back into a pre-defined shape are nothing new, but regular bending means they fatigue and fail within a relatively short time-scale. Now, a team of engineers has developed an alloy that rebounds into shape even after 10 million bends.
~ Disinter Spring Heeled Jack – he gets a new lease of life!

Computer chips made of wood — Researchers in the US and China have developed semiconductor chips made almost entirely made of a wood-derived material. In addition to being biodegradable, the cost of production is much less than conventional semiconductors.
~ I wonder where Cellulose Valley will spring up? 

Human cell raging revered — Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi of the University of Tsukuba in Japan has discovered the regulation of two genes involved with the production of glycine are partly responsible for some of the characteristics of waging, and he has been able to “flip the switches on a few genes back to their youthful position, effectively reversing the aging process.”
~ I just dream of a younger self when I sleep. It’s much cheaper. 

Futurology ~ Kepler, Neptune, Europa, Ceres, 3D pills, DPP8, Napa time capsule


The telescope’s powerful light sensor is used to find the locations of Earth-sized planets that might dwell in the habitable zone.
The telescope’s powerful light sensor is used to find the locations of Earth-sized planets that might dwell in the habitable zone.

NASA’s Kepler Mission discovered 1000 planets in its quest to find life — Six years ago this month NASA shot the Kepler telescope into the heavens on a galactic planet-finding mission. Now, the space agency has released a graphic (above) showing some figures from its quest.
~ Coffee breaks: 0

New time-lapse shows the Neptune system as never before — Dwarf planets, comets, and asteroids are all the rage these days, but we shouldn’t neglect our Solar System’s outer gas planets and their moons. In this new NASA video, 70 days of Neptunian activity was compressed down to 34 seconds — and the effect is pretty cool.
~ Neptuned in the bud. 

Europa’s surface like cracked glass — A false-colour image of Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, shows the water-covered giant has the smoothest surface in the Solar System. The criss-cross chunks of ice are may be caused by asteroid impacts, which moves the ice around – then it refreezes in the haphazard pattern you can see here.
~ Or it might be caused by … almost anything. 

Bright spots — NASA’s Dawn mission, since moving on from Vesta, has begun to map Ceres, constructing the highest resolution global map ever, with better data to come. The greatest mystery so far is the two bright white spots at the bottom of a deep crater, brighter and more reflective than anything else on the planet’s surface.
~ Someone left the car lights on. 

3D printing pills in odd shapes aids absorption — Medicine is one of the more exciting fields that 3D printing promises to radically innovate. Researchers in the pharmaceutical field have instead been dabbling with custom-shaped pills optimised for every patient’s treatment needs.
~ Pyramid-shaped pills are absorbed by the body the fastest; cylinder-shaped pills take much longer. How Pharaonic!

A weird new supercooled material crystallises and glows when touched — Diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) derivatives, which has similar but also odder properties than even super-cooled water. One particular derivative called DPP8 can be supercooled to 200F below its freezing point. When lightly touched, DPP8 suddenly crystallises, not unlike water turning into ice. The yellow crystals glow under ultraviolet light.
~ Perhaps it’s all the PP.

Napa earthquake unearthed a time capsule — Curious onlookers gathered at the Napa County Courthouse in California to glimpse the contents of a time capsule from 1979. They learned the time-capsulers of the 1970s included a bottle of the region’s favourite adult beverage.
~ Aged vinegar, anyone?

Futurology ~ Ceres, Sun star, Pluto, Info theory, HIV progress, medical future past,


These two images, captured by NASA's Dawn spacecraft  from just over 80,467 kms away lets us see some of the geographic details of the dwarf planet.
These two images, captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from just over 80,467 kms away lets us see some of the geographic details of the dwarf planet.

Our closest look at Ceres reveals a surface riddled with craters — As we get closer and closer to Ceres, we keep seeing new things. Initially, it was just the barest outline of the dwarf planet, then a strange selection of white spots, and, in these newest, sharpest images yet, you can see its mysteriously scarred surface.
~ At least it doesn’t have McDonalds and KFC yet. 

A star came within 0.8 light-years of our Sun just 70,000 years ago — An international team of astronomers has identified a star that passed through the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud some 70,000 years ago. It came within a distance of 0.8 light-years, making it the closest known flyby of a star to the Solar System.
~ That’s a breathtakingly close 8 trillion kms.

Nix and Hydra are  the tiny moons of Pluto — Eighty-five years ago, Clyde Tombaugh found a small dot of light shifting position while hunting for the trans-Neptune planet predicted by Percival Lowell. Now, the New Horizons probe en route to Pluto has photographed its tiny moons, Nix and Hydra.
~ Both names sound a bit negative, don’t they?

Theory of Information could resolve one of the great paradoxes of Cosmology — Stephen Hawking described it as the most spectacular failure of any physical theory in history. Can a new theory of information rescue cosmologists?
~ Well, I try not to worry too much about the cosmological constant paradox myself, but I’m glad someone is. 

How a ‘Photoshop for sound’ could transform restaurants and music halls — Restaurants have to strike a fine balance between eerily quiet and shouting-across-the-table loud. At Oakland’s Oliveto, the high-tech solution is a set of mics, speakers and sound-absorbing panels that constantly record, modify and pipe back the ideal background noise — essentially real-time Photoshop for sound.
~ Dare I venture ‘just turn the damned music off’?

Researchers block HIV infection in monkeys with artificial protein — Immunologists have developed a synthetic molecule that’s able to attach to HIV and prevent it from interacting with healthy cells.
~ One suspects the monkeys were artificially infected in the first place. Still, I’m sure they’ll be relieved.

The medical miracle headlines of the future (from 1951) — On January 2, 1951, the Rex Morgan, MD comic strip featured a New Year’s greeting insisting to readers that time is measured by progress instead of simply by years. And it’s not a bad thought, but looking at the ‘headlines of the future’ from 1951, one can’t help but be a little bummed out.
~ Progress (still) needed.