Mysterious Ultima Thule snapped — Though it’s still 172 million kms from its target, the New Horizons spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of Ultima Thule, a mysterious Kuiper Belt object.
With Pluto now firmly in its rearview mirror, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is steadily chugging towards Ultima Thule. The Kuiper Belt object is located, on average, about 44 AU from the Sun (one AU is the average distance of the Earth to the Sun). By comparison, Pluto’s orbit is around 33.63 AU.
~ Wow, a photograph of a 30km-wide object located 6.5 billion kilometres from Earth.
Bill Gates and ‘small’ nuclear reactors — The Energy Department is participating in a major push with electric utility Southern and a company founded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates (called TerraPower) to develop small nuclear power reactors that are less expensive and more efficient than their much larger cousins.
~ What could possibly go wrong? ‘Installing Critical Security Patch’ … I prefer ‘TerrorPower’ to ‘TerraPower’, myself.
Earth’s magnetic field flipped — A new study analysing rock formations from 107,000 to 91,000 years ago has revealed something troubling: a strangely quick reversal (over about 200 years) of the Earth’s magnetic field in fairly recent history. Such a rapid polarity change in future could severely affect satellites and human society.
~ But will New Zealand’s Winterless North get winter? Oh no!
Little tiny electron acceleration — Particle physics experiments are huge—they have to be, in order to accelerate particles with enough energy to properly study them. The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland is nearly 27km around, while others are closer to the 3km range. But scientists working on a new experiment reported Wednesday that they’ve accelerated electrons to high energies in just 10.06m.
~ Thanks to the rather beautifully-named Wakefield Accelerator.
Nano-tube water shaping — First, according to Rice University engineers, get a nanotube hole. Then insert water. If the nanotube is just the right width, the water molecules will align into a square rod. Rice materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari and his team used molecular models to demonstrate their theory that weak van der Waals forces between the inner surface of the nanotube and the water molecules are strong enough to snap the oxygen and hydrogen atoms into place. Shahsavari referred to the contents as two-dimensional “ice,” because the molecules freeze regardless of the temperature.
~ Here comes a new generation of molecular machines.
Tiny brain tunnels — In mice, the newly discovered tunnels, or ‘vascular channels’, allow for the quick transport of immune cells to brain injuries brought on by stroke or other brain disorders. The tunnels were discovered by Matthias Nahrendorf, a professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and his colleagues as they were studying the way bone marrow produces and distributes immune cells throughout the body.
Importantly, the same anatomical features were also found to exist in humans. It’s quite likely that these vascular channels facilitate the same healing function in humans as they do in mice, but future research will be needed to prove it.
~ Well, you have to seed those neutrophils somehow.
Deep, hidden reef — Little is known about the natural resources of the deep ocean off the United States’ Southeast coast from Virginia to Georgia, so Deep Search 2018 was created to learn more by exploring the deep sea ecosystems. The project, consisting of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the US Geological Survey, is nearing the end of its 15-day voyage aboard the research vessel Atlantis. A pair of dives in a submersible called Alvin confirmed the existence of the deep coral reef; based on observations, researchers estimate the reef is at least 137kms (85 miles) long.
~ It’s 800 metres below the surface. Of course, Trump wants to drill it for oil.