Tag Archives: Dark Matter

Futurology ~ 2017 in space, massive Antarctica object, Avatar robot, 2016 as horror film, Ebola vaccine, Vera Rubin and Dark Matters


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Next year in space — Wired has a story about all the great space stuff the magazine’s writers are expecting in 2017. One is that NASA needs to get to Mars, and is just about ready for liftoff: the SLS is still deep in its testing stages, and those will continue right up to the rocket’s projected 2018 launch date, when it’s set to carry the Orion spacecraft on an unmanned mission. In 2017, the rocket will enter its Green Run phase at NASA’s Stennis Space Center: a bunch of static booster-firing, resonance-checking test runs.
~ Pah! Mars is so 2016, don’t you think?

Satellite spots massive object hidden under the frozen wastes of Antarctica — Scientists believe a massive object which could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice. The huge and mysterious “anomaly” is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. It stretches for a distance of 243 kms (151 miles) across and has a maximum depth of about 848 meters. Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid which was more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock which wiped out the dinosaurs.
~ Well, that’s more likely than Nazi flying saucer bases. 

South Korean Avatar-styled robot — A robot which bears a striking resemblance to the military robots seen in the movie Avatar has taken its first baby steps. The robot standing in a room on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea stands four meters (13 feet) tall and weighs 1.5 tons.
~ Designer Vitaly Bulgarov’s work experience includes work on Transformers, Terminator and Robocop.

2016 as a horror movie — This year has been pretty horrifying. Dozens of our favorite celebrities died, a gorilla was shot dead in front of children at the zoo and a former professional wrestling star was elected president. Not to mention America being taken over by a fatuous big-mouthed idiot.
So it makes perfect sense that 2016 should be made into a horror film: YouTube channel Friend Dog Studios published a fictional movie trailer based on the year’s events.
~ Hey, at least it was a good year for architecture

Obama wrote the most popular science journal of 2016 — The hottest scientific journal article of 2016 wasn’t on black holes or dinosaur-killing asteroids: it was on the Affordable Care Act, and it was penned by sitting President Barack Obama. Imagine that ever happening again.
~ Indeed.

Ebola vaccine 100% effective — A new Ebola vaccine provides 100% protection against one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus. The results of this trial were released in The Lancet. Although the vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, has yet to be approved by regulators, the New York Times reports that scientists have already created an emergency supply of 300,000 doses, should another Ebola outbreak occur.
~ This is definitely very good news. 

The woman who convinced us that Dark Matter existed was never awarded a Nobel Prize — Vera Rubin, one of the most important astronomers of the 20th century, died on December 25th in Princeton, NJ at age 88. She played a seminal role in our understanding of dark matter, and should have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics … but never was.
~ Yet another very smart, overlooked woman scientist. Actually, 2016 cemented science’s sexual inequality problems

Venus surface, Dark Matter, record ice melt, atomic hard drive, 10x future techs, drought crops, tasting a time capsule


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Clouds reveal the surface of Venus — Venus’s unusually thick atmosphere is typically regarded as a barrier that prevents us from gazing upon its tortured surface. But by studying subtle shifts in weather patterns, scientists have learned that these clouds also offer important clues as to what lies beneath.
~ I’m way ahead of them, because I had already worked out what lies beneath: the planet Venus. OK, I’m being facetious – naturally – but actually the surface is pretty weird, like very hot at 450°C for a start. 

Dark Matter remains maddeningly elusive — The hunt for the elusive dark matter received yet another blow at an international conference in Sheffield, England. Scientists with the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment announced that they found no hints of dark matter particles in their latest analysis, despite increasing the sensitivity of the experiment fourfold for its final run.
~ Does Dark Matter matter if it’s not really there? 

Record Arctic ice melt — By late September, Arctic sea ice may reach its lowest extent since satellite record-keeping began.
And that has scientists in a tiz, because if there’s one thing geologic history has taught us, it’s that sudden drops in Arctic ice cover are often the tip of the proverbial iceberg for a whole slew of planetary feedbacks.
~ And we all dread that slew. Except those with their heads still in the sand. 

Dutch atomic hard drive — Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom, allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. That translates to a storage density of about 500 terabits per square inch. A 4-terabyte hard drive you can buy today are about 1 terabit per square inch.
~ Dense.

10 future technologies by the 2030s — Owing to accelerating change we can expect to see the emergence of some fairly disruptive technological innovations in the coming years. Here are 10 mindblowingly futuristic technologies that should appear by the 2030s.
~ What about a Microsoft Word dictionary that stays on British English? No, I didn’t think so … 

Australian drought crop breakthrough — Researchers at the Australian National University have just identified the enzyme — phosphatase SAL1 — responsible in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Now, they want to use it to push plants into drought-mode early.
~ They’re going to really need this breakthrough. 

Librarians find time capsule, taste contents — Librarians at the University of Montana recently discovered a hidden closet at the school, filled with hundreds of Cold War-era boxes. The boxes contained food rations from cans of blackberries and peaches to graham crackers. And for some reason they decided to taste some of the foods.
~ Librarians are stale lovers?

Futurology 21~ possible Dark Matter, not water from comets and more


Space Station shot in Infra-Red
Space Station shot in Infra-Red

Possible Dark Matter spotted — Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe. While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster.
~ It clearly wants to avoid spotting – hope we haven’t annoyed it. 

Comets didn’t bring the water — Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet. The results are published in the journal Science. The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out.
~ It’s just a different flavour – I say embrace it. 

Our Space Station in Infra Red — The above image was taken 70m from the ISS as the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle docked with it earlier this year. Obtained using Laser Infrared Imaging Sensors, the images were obtained to help researchers develop better automated rendezvous procedures for use out in space. (Main picture, above).
~ Can’t see anyone waving, anyway.

Artificial skin feels pressure, dampness, heat — A new, stretchy artificial skin can pick up many of the sensations from the real thing, and could someday cover a lifelike prosthetic hand.
The skin was developed by researchers in South Korea, and combines the ability to sense pressure, temperature, and humidity.
~ Handy. 

Scientists invent a new form of ice — A new form of ice has just been created in a lab. It consists of frozen water molecules spun into a tiny, intricate, empty cage.
~ They did this because, er … there was nothing on TV that day?

3D printed dress — The garment here is a 3D-printed dress, made by design studio Nervous System. Although it’s not the first 3D-printed dress (that honour goes to a burlesque star), it’s one of the first to be made on Nervous System’s Kinematics system, software which can create complex structures composed of articulated modules. What that means is a 3D-printed dress that requires no assembly: take the pile of plastic out of the printer, wash it off, unfurl it, and you’ve got a dress.
~ A dress of sorts, anyway.

Super-duper map — The US Geological Survey and Esri have created a zoomable map that lets you explore all of the world’s ecological land units down to an astounding 250 metre resolution.
~ What? Why isn’t the washing out?!