LIGO to get powerful upgrade — The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities, residing in Washington and Louisiana, will be upgraded via grants from the US National Science Foundation, UK Research and Innovation and the Australian Research Council to provide stronger, more frequent detections and decreasing noise. The $34 million upgrade will takeLIGO from its crusty old 2015 Advanced LIGO phase to Advanced LIGO Plus, and greatly increase the number of events LIGO will detect.
~ I’d just call it the Super Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory:” SLIGO.
New moon for Neptune —Hippocamp is a small Neptunian moon that has gone undetected until now. New research published in Nature describes a newly detected moon in orbit around Neptune. Hippocamp is the ice giant’s seventh known inner moon and fourteenth moon in total. When NASA’s Vo
yager 2 spacecraft zoomed past Neptune in 1989, it imaged six previously unknown inner moons, but the probe missed at least one during its brief visit some 30 years ago, as this new research shows.
~ ‘Moon’ might be a little generous (see the image above left).
Mars water channels — Dramatic dried-up river channels over a mile wide and 198.12m deep have been detected on Mars, showcasing how the Red Planet once hosted liquid water at its surface.
~ But where were the Mars bars?
Earth’s atmosphere extends further than thought — Contrary to general belief that Earth’s atmosphere stops a bit over 100 kms (62 miles) from the surface, a new study based on observations made over two decades ago by the joint US-European Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite shows it actually extends as far as 630,000 kms (391,000 miles) or 50 times the Earth’s diameter. This makes the Moon a very high altitude aircraft.
~ It just never comes in to land, which is probably a good thing.
Malawi lake where evolution has gone crazy — Cichlid fish are found all over the world, mainly in Africa and Latin America, but they’re especially abundant in Lake Malawi, where they’ve diverged into at least 850 species. That’s more species of fish than can be found in all of the freshwater bodies of Europe combined.
~ The impetus is female-run beauty contests. No, really!
Scientists think they’ve identified a previously unknown form of neural communication — It self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in one section of brain tissue to another, even if they’ve been surgically severed. The discovery offers some radical new insights about the way neurons might be talking to one another, via a mysterious process unrelated to conventionally understood mechanisms, such as synaptic transmission, axonal transport, and gap junction connections.
~ Telepathy, anyone?
Gene therapy for macular degeneration — An 80-year-old woman from the United Kingdom is the first patient to undergo gene therapy to treat age-related macular degeneration – the most common cause of sight loss in the world. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans over the age of 65.
~ Unfortunately it only halts the degeneration – there’s no regeneration.
Elastic polymers that heal themselves — Scientists in Japan have found a method to produce a self-healing material that does not require external stimuli to trigger its healing properties.
~ I wonder if the healing efficiency degrades over time, as with humans.
Taking a morning stroll can do wonders for your blood pressure — This according to a study out Wednesday, especially if you’re not moving around much to begin with. The research found that sedentary older adults who walked in the morning for 30 minutes experienced a noticeable drop in blood pressure. And women who also took breaks from sitting throughout the day experienced an even larger drop.
~ Makes sense. Some people are incredibly resistant to doing anything, though.
Purifying water with light — Scientists in China have developed an energy-efficient technique for purifying water using graphitic carbon nitride sheets. The researchers demonstrated that their photocatalyst killed more than 99.9999% of bacteria in contaminated water.
~ And it works in just 20 minutes.