Tag Archives: Futurology ~ Alien megastructure

Futurology ~ Alien Megastructure, we are star dust, Milky Way thief, star collision, Saturn’s Death Star, mind-controlled zombie mice, 28¢ health care, Algorithm concert hall


elbphilharmonie

Another month, another Alien Megastructure theory — New research suggests that Tabby’s star (the celestial object voted most likely to host an alien megastructure) is acting weirdly because it recently annihilated an entire planet, and the shattered remains of that planet are now producing strange flickering effects. It’s probably the best theory we’ve heard so far.
~ I’d be acting a bit weirdly too-, with indigestion.

We’re made of sawdust — New research confirms what science popularisers like Carl Sagan have said all along: humans truly are made of ‘star stuff‘ – and there are maps to prove it.
In the largest undertaking of its kind, a group of astronomers at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in New Mexico has used the APOGEE (Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment) spectrograph to analyze the composition of 150,000 stars across the Milky Way. The team has catalogued the amount of CHNOPS elements ( carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulphur) in each of the stars, and mapped out the prevalence of these ‘building blocks of life’ across the galaxy.
Go ahead and check out the team’s maps on SDSS.
~ Baby, you’re  star.

Our galaxy has been stealing planets — New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) suggests some of the 11 farthest stars in our galaxy, approximately 300,000 lightyears from Earth, were probably snatched from the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. It’s the second-closest galaxy to our own, making it the perfect victim for this celestial crime.
~ And not humans’ fault, for a change. 

Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022 — The  explosion in the night sky should be so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye. From a report on NPR:
If it happens, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists.
~ Better dust off that manger. 

mimasMimas, a moon of Saturn, looks like the Death Star — This is easily one of the best pictures ever captured of Mimas, revealing intricate surface features and shadows cast across its iconic impact crater.
The Cassini spacecraft captured this image on October 22, 2016 at a distance of 185,000 kms (115,000 miles). Each pixel represents one full kilometre (3,300 feet). Mimas is just barely 400kms (248 miles) across, and it’s notable in that it’s the smallest body in the solar system to have a rounded shape, the result of its own gravity. Smaller satellites in the solar system, like Hyperion and Phoebe, are irregular, potato-shaped objects.
~ Big deal: an old golf ball also looks like the Death Star.

Our moon is older than we thought — The Moon is much older than previously estimated—up to 140 million years older. After analysing uranium decay in minerals called zircons, which can be found in Moon rocks brought back from the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, researchers concluded the Moon probably formed about 60 million years after our solar system was born. So now researchers have concluded the Moon is at least 4.51 billion years old.
~ Well, it is quite wrinkly.

Scientists have created mind-controlled zombie mice — Flash one light, and the mouse goes on the prowl, zombielike, stalking any prey in its path. Flash another, and it delivers a killing blow with its teeth. The mouse doesn’t hunt out of hunger — scientists are in control.
~ So, anyone else think scientists might use their time a bit better?

28¢worth of paper could transform health care — A loose assemblage of paper and string that Manu Prakash pulls from his pocket doesn’t look like much. And in a way, it’s not — just US20 cents’ worth (NZ28¢) of materials you can buy at an art supply store. But in another way, the Stanford bioengineer’s tangle of stuff is a minor miracle.
Prakash calls it a Paperfuge, and like the piece of lab equipment it’s named for, the centrifuge, it can spin biological samples at thousands of revolutions per minute. That’s a critical step in the diagnosis of infections like malaria and HIV. But unlike a centrifuge, the Paperfuge doesn’t need electricity, complicated machinery, expensive replacement parts, or even much money to operate.
~ Pure genius.

Algorithms design concert all — The most interesting thing about Herzog and De Meuron’s newly opened concert hall in Hamburg, Germany, isn’t the the Elbphilharmonie’s wave-like facade, which rises above the city. It’s not the gently curved elevator at the base of the lobby that deposits you into the belly of the Swiss architects’ alien landscape, and it’s not the Escher-esque stairways that guide you from one floor to the next.
For the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fibre acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle (main picture, above).
~ Each panel helps shape sound thanks to their individually crafted ‘cells’. But hey, what does it actually sound like?

Futurology ~ Alien Megastructure, Planet 9, Mars software glitch, salt reactor, space-back, winter predictable, MacBook Pro Touch Bar, survive community, rich people


(Image from Gizmodo)
(Image from Gizmodo)

Berkely hunts Alien Megastructure — Since it was first suggested that the flickering star known as KIC 8462852 might be a Dyson Sphere, telescope-toting astronomers associated with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have been scouring the system for signs of aliens. Now, the most well-funded SETI program on Earth, UC Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen, is getting in on the hunt.
~ Tabby’s Star is ‘astonishingly weird …’

Sun tilt points at Planet 9 — Planet Nine, the undiscovered planet at the edge of the solar system that was predicted by the work of Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016, appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the Sun, according to a new study.
~ The study has eclipsed others. 

Software ruined the Mars landing — Researchers with the ExoMars mission are pointing to a potential software glitch as the cause of last week’s crash of the Schiaparelli lander. The challenge now will be to isolate and correct the error in hopes of preventing a repeat in 2020, when mission planners aim to land a much larger rover on the Red Planet.
~ Note to self: don’t dare say ‘Windows …’

Space travel is bad for your back — New research shows that astronauts who return from extended missions in space experience a significant weakening of their spinal muscles. Disturbingly, their back muscles don’t return to normal even after several weeks back on Earth.
~ At least space travel is good for the imagination. 

Molten salt reactors could also power Mars stations — NASA has had concrete plans to send people to the Red Planet since 2010—with target dates in the 2030s. But whoever gets there first, the power problem remains. Astronomer Frank Shu has a great idea that could work: a type of nuclear reactor that’s cheaper, safer, and more efficient than the ones currently in wide use.
~ My condiments to that scientist. 

Winter predictable a year in advance — Thanks to supercomputer technology granted by the UK Government in 2014, a £97 million high-performance computing facility has allowed researchers to increase the resolution of climate models and to test the retrospective skill of forecasts over a 35-year period starting from 1980… The forecasters claim that new supercomputer-powered techniques have helped them develop a system to accurately predict North Atlantic Oscillation: the climatic phenomenon which heavily impacts winters in the UK.
~ I really don’t think this is such a breakthrough. For thousands of years, the British winter has been utterly predictable as ‘very wet and incessantly miserable’. 

All the stuff you can do with the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar — Apple’s first big update to the product line since 2012 is thin, light, and sports a giant trackpad, but the flashiest change by far is the Touch Bar.
~ Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s high tech, though …

Survive climate change with a good community — The variable that best explained the pattern of mortality during the Chicago heat wave was what people in my discipline call social infrastructure, and this has implications for dystopia.
~ Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.

Rich people don’t pay attention to other people — In a small recent study, researchers from New York University found that those who considered themselves in higher classes looked at people who walked past them less than those who said they were in a lower class did.
~ Certainly explains why I have so much time for people. 

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


Flux

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.