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Kepler 37-b: The tiniest exoplanet ever spotted - the size of our moon

Kepler 37-b: The tiniest exoplanet ever spotted - the size of our moon | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Kepler-37b is an exoplanet, or planet located outside the solar system, and is estimated to be a similar size to Earth's moon, which is only 3475 kilometres in diameter.

 

Owing to this extremely small size and its highly irradiated surface, Kepler-37b is believed to be a rocky planet with no atmosphere or water, similar to Mercury. The Kepler spacecraft made the Kepler-37b finding possible. The spacecraft was launched in 2009 with the goal of determining how often rocky planets occur in the habitable zone around sun-like host stars in our galaxy.

 

Over 150,000 stars are continuously monitored for transits of planetary bodies. Over the course of 978 days of observations by the Kepler spacecraft, transit signals of three planets of the star Kepler-37, a slightly cooler and older star than our sun, were identified.

 

"While theoretically such small planets are expected, detection of tiny planet Kepler-37b is remarkable given its transit signal is detectable on less than 0.5 percent of stars observed by Kepler," Professor Bedding said.

 

"Since the discovery of the first exoplanet we have known that other planetary systems can look quite unlike our own, but it is only now, thanks to the precision of the Kepler space telescope that we have been able to find planets smaller than the ones we see in our own solar system."

 

Professor Bedding and Dr. Stello contributed to the analysis of Kepler-37, the star Kepler-37b orbits. "We analysed the frequencies of standing sound waves inside the star to tell its size in the same way that you could tell the difference in size of a violin and cello by the difference in the pitch of the sound they produce," said Dr. Stello.

 

This asteroseismic analysis showed that the radius of Kepler-37 is about 20 percent smaller than the sun. "Knowing this stellar radius is very important because the accuracy with which we can measure the radius of the planet Kepler-37b is limited by how accurately we can calculate the radius of Kepler-37," said Dr. Stello.

 

"Our work from here is to keep working with the planet team at NASA to make seismic analyses of planet-hosting stars, and there are some exciting results in the pipeline," said Dr. Stello.


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Stanford scientists fit a light-emitting bioprobe in a single living cell without damage to the cell

Stanford scientists fit a light-emitting bioprobe in a single living cell without damage to the cell | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

If engineers at Stanford have their way, biological research may soon be transformed by a new class of light-emitting probes small enough to be injected into individual cells without harm to the host.

 

Welcome to biophotonics, a discipline at the confluence of engineering, biology and medicine in which light-based devices – lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) – are opening up new avenues in the study and influence of living cells.

 

The team described their probe in a paper published online Feb. 13, 2013 by the journal Nano Letters. It is the first study to demonstrate that tiny, sophisticated devices known as light resonators can be inserted inside cells without damaging the cell. Even with a resonator embedded inside, a cell is able to function, migrate and reproduce as normal.

 

The researchers call their device a "nanobeam," because it resembles a steel I-beam with a series of round holes etched through the center. This beam, however, is not massive, but measure only a few microns in length and just a few hundred nanometers in width and thickness. It looks a bit like a piece from an erector set of old. The holes through the beam act like a nanoscale hall of mirrors, focusing and amplifying light at the center of the beam in what are known as photonic cavities.

 

Structurally, the new device is a sandwich of extremely thin layers of the semiconductor gallium arsenide alternated with similarly thin layers of light-emitting crystal, a sort of photonic fuel known as quantum dots. The structure is carved out of chips or wafers, much like sculptures are chiseled out of rock. Once sculpted, the devices remain tethered to the thick substrate.

 

For biological applications, the thick, heavy substrate presents a serious hurdle for interfacing with single cells. The underlying and all-important nanocavities are locked in position on the rigid material and unable to penetrate cell walls.

 

Shambat's breakthrough came when he was able to peel away the photonic nanobeams. He then glued the ultrathin photonic device to a fiberoptic cable with which he steers the needle-like probe toward and into the cell.

 

Once inserted in the cell, the probe emits light, which can be observed from outside. For engineers, it means that almost any application of these powerful photonic devices can be translated into the previously off-limits environment of the cell interior. In one finding that the authors describe as stunning, they loaded their nanobeams into cells and watched as the cells grew, migrated around the research environment and reproduced. Each time a cell divided, one of the daughter cells inherited the nanobeam from the parent and the beam continued to function as expected.

 

This inheritability frees researchers to study living cells over long periods of time, a research advantage not possible with existing detection techniques, which require cells be either dead or fixed in place.

 

"Our nanoscale probes can reside in cells for long periods of time, potentially providing sensor feedback or giving control signals to the cells down the road," said Shambat. "We tracked one cell for eight days. That's a long time for a single-cell study."

 


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Video collection of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that crashed into Lake Chebarkul, Russia

Video collection of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that crashed into Lake Chebarkul, Russia | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The meteorite  on February 14th weighed about 10,000 tons. According to NASA, the power released during the explosion was equivalent to 500 kiloton, which is 30 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

NASA experts describe the Chebarkul meteorite as the second largest since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska in Siberia. Such a meteor strike can be expected every 100 years, a NASA expert said.

 

Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments are already on sale on one of the most popular online auctions, Ebay. Not only the citizens of Russia are among the vendors but also Americans are involved.

 

Astronomers could not trace the Chelyabinsk meteor because this celestial body was approaching from the Sun, and telescopes did not see it in the sunshine, Deputy Director of the Sternberg Astronomical Institute at the Moscow State University Sergei Lamzin said. "It was impossible to detect it, because it was flying fromthe Sun. But if it was flying at night, our MASTER telescopes’network could have traced it", Lamzin said to journalists. MASTER telescopes can observe bursts in the Universe, watch comets, meteors and space debris. The system includes telescopes, located in the Tunka valley, Moscow region, Kislovodsk, in the Urals and in Blagoveschensk.

 

In the period of time around the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteor, the Russian Meteor weather satellite registered an increase in the concentration of water molecules in the orbit that possibly indicates that the space "guest" was a comet.

 

Researchers say the meteorite exploded into at least seven large pieces and hundreds of small ones. One of the bigger fragments plunged into the local Chebarkul Lake, forming an 8-meter ice hole.

 

REPORT is here: http://tinyurl.com/b8tbrkh


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Temporary Electronic Tattoos Could Make Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

Temporary Electronic Tattoos Could Make  Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons.

 

But brain implants are invasive technologies, probably of use only to people in medical need of them. Instead, electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind, techniques virtually everyone might be able to use. His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

“We want something we can use in the coffee shop to have fun,” Coleman says.

 

The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others. The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.

 

Using the electronic tattoos, Coleman and his colleagues have found they can detect brain signals reflective of mental states, such as recognition of familiar images. One application they are now pursuing is monitoring premature babies to detect the onset of seizures that can lead to epilepsy or brain development problems. The devices are now being commercialized for use as consumer, digital health, medical device, and industrial and defense products by startup MC10 in Cambridge, Mass.


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According to New Findings, Subsurface Life On Mars Was Once Possible

According to New Findings, Subsurface Life On Mars Was Once Possible | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

McLaughlin Crater is 90.92 km (56.50 mi) in diameter and 2.2 km (1.4 mi) deep with a floor that is well below Martian “sealevel” and contains clays that bear iron and magnesium as well as carbonate.

 

By the time eukaryotic life or photosynthesis evolved on Earth, the martian surface had become extremely inhospitable, but the subsurface of Mars could potentially have contained a vast microbial biosphere. Crustal fluids may have welled up from the subsurface to alter and cement surface sediments, potentially preserving clues to subsurface habitability. Many ancient, deep basins lack evidence for groundwater activity. However, McLaughlin Crater, one of the deepest craters on Mars, contains evidence for Mg–Fe-bearing clays and carbonates that probably formed in an alkaline, groundwater-fed lacustrine setting. This environment strongly contrasts with the acidic, water-limited environments implied by the presence of sulphate deposits that have previously been suggested to form owing to groundwater upwelling. Deposits formed as a result of groundwater upwelling on Mars, such as those in McLaughlin Crater, could preserve critical evidence of a deep biosphere on Mars. Scientists suggest that groundwater upwelling on Mars may have occurred sporadically on local scales, rather than at regional or global scales.

 

“This environment strongly contrasts with the acidic, water-limited environments implied by the presence of sulphate deposits that have previously been suggested to form owing to groundwater upwelling.”

 

Water-made channels which are now dry, appear to flow down the walls of McLaughlin Crater and stop well above the crater floor, which indicates they once provided water to a lake. “The deposits in McLaughlin Crater could have very high preservation potential for organic materials, in much the same manner as turbidites do on Earth.”

 

Cyanobacteria, which are common in alkaline lakes on Earth may have aided in the formation of carbonate minerals in lakes such as the McLAughlin Crater on Mars. Sometimes these bacteria become form microscopic fossils. If similar conditions existed in the craters ancient alkaline lake fossils of micro-organisms may still be there awaiting us.


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Space-based solar farms would solve mankind's energy needs overnight, but there are huge technical hurdles

Space-based solar farms would solve mankind's energy needs overnight, but there are huge technical hurdles | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

“Ex-Nasa scientist seeks visionary billionaire to help change the world.  High risk venture. Return not guaranteed. GSOH a plus.”

 

John Mankins, the scientist in question, has not yet reached the point of placing a classified ad, but it could soon be an option. The 25-year veteran of the US space agency is the man behind a project called SPS-Alpha, which aims to loft tens of thousands of lightweight, inflatable modules into space. Once there, they will be assembled into a huge bell-shaped structure that will use mirrors to concentrate energy from the sun onto solar panels. The collected energy would then be beamed down to ground stations on Earth using microwaves, providing unlimited, clean energy and overnight reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels. The snag? It is unproven technology and he estimates it will take at least $15 B - $20 B to get his project off the ground.

 

Mankins initially had research funding from an advanced concepts arm at Nasa, but that money dried up in September 2012; hence his continuing search for a benefactor. “I can't think of a better solution than to find somebody who is very wealthy, very visionary and willing to make this happen,” he says.

 

But not everyone shares Mankins' optimism. Space-based solar power (SBSP) is a topic that divides the scientific world into extremes. On one side are people like Mankins who believe it is the only solution to our ever increasing energy demands, whilst on the other is a sizeable chunk of the scientific community who believe any money put into solar power should remain firmly on the ground.

 

SBSP has its roots in the 1941 short story Reason, by Isaac Asimov, which depicts a space station – run by robots – collecting energy from the sun to distribute to Earth and other planets. No further thought was given to the idea until the late 1960s, when aerospace engineer Peter Glaser began to investigate its potential. In the following decades, various concepts were put forward but none took off. At the same timeNasa and the US Department of Energy also became involved, funding bits and pieces of research and commissioning reports into its feasibility. Most of these concluded that SBSP was too “high risk” and too costly.

 

But in recent years, SBSP has once again begun to attract attention with projects emerging in the US, Russia, China, India and Japan, amongst others. All are driven by increasing energy demands, soaring oil and gas prices, a desire to find clean alternatives to fossil fuels and by a burgeoning commercial space industry that promises to lower the cost of entry into space and spur on a host of new industries.

 

“SBSP is the ultimate energy source for the world and eventually it's going to replace nearly everything else,” says Ralph Nansen of US-based advocacy group Solar High, with some of the characteristic hyperbole that defines both sides of the SBSP debate. “I don't think there's any doubt that within the next century we will be getting the majority of our power from space. It's just a question of when.”


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Is This a Baby Picture of a Giant Proto Planet?

Is This a Baby Picture of a Giant Proto Planet? | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Acquired by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the infrared image above (right) shows a portion of the disk of gas and dust around the star HD100546, located 335 light-years away in the constellation Musca. By physically blocking out the light from the star itself by means of an opaque screen — seen along the left side of the image — the light from the protoplanetary disk around HD 100546 can be seen, revealing a large bright clump that’s thought to be a planet in the process of formation.

 

If it is indeed a baby planet, it’s a big one — as large as, or perhaps even larger than, Jupiter. A candidate protoplanet found in a disc of gas and dust around young star HD100546 (ESO).

 

This does raise an interesting question for astronomers because if itis a Jupiter-sized planet, it’s awfully far from its star… at least according to many current models of planetary formation. About 68 times as far from HD100546 as we are from the sun, if this planet were in our solar system it’d be located deep in the Kuiper Belt, twice as far as Pluto. That’s not where one would typically expect to find gas giants, so it’s been hypothesized that this protoplanet might have migrated outwards after initially forming closer to the star… perhaps “kicked out” by gravitational interaction with an even more massive planet.

 

 


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Revolutionary liquid-cooled computer server could cut internet power consumption dramatically

Revolutionary liquid-cooled computer server could cut internet power consumption dramatically | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A revolutionary liquid-cooled computer server that could slash the carbon footprint of the internet is being tested at the University of Leeds. While most computers use air to cool their electronics, all of the components in the new server are completely immersed in liquid. The power-hungry fans of traditional computing are replaced by a silent next-generation liquid cooling process that relies on the natural convection of heat.

 

But the significance of the new Iceotope server lies less in the novelty of its design than in the bite it could take out of the huge electricity demands of the internet servers that form the fabric of our online lives. Its designers calculate that the server cuts energy consumption for cooling by between 80 percent and 97 percent. 

 

While the information industry enjoys an image of hyper efficiency and environmental friendliness, all internet use relies on remote servers, which are usually housed in large data centres that must be constantly cooled to remain operational. The reality is that the mobile apps, networked devices and 24-hour internet access on which we have come to rely are very energy hungry.

 

A 2011 report by Datacenter Dynamics estimated that the world’s data centres currently use 31 gigawatts of power, the equivalent of about half of the UK’s total peak electricity demand. A 2008 report by McKinsey and Company projected that data centre carbon emissions will quadruple by 2020 and a year-long investigation by the New York Times, published in September, criticized the industry for its energy waste.


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Where are WE heading ??

Where are WE heading ?? | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
This is an "instantaneous" essay I wrote as I see our standing in the world, or as I can think. Disclaimer: I can be completely wrong-witted and you may be completely dumb-witted.Where are we headi...
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Four Steps To Deal With Dishonest People

Four Steps To Deal With Dishonest People | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
You’ve been wronged. Now and then we all have to deal with someone being dishonest. I just had to.

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4 well guided advise. I have had my woes from people/authority who are supposed to behave ethically and fairly, issues lingered for years and I saw no hope that the wrong doers will change nor will it ever be enforced on them. I had to change my course of action and I am where I am today.  

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Eliseu Ferreira Caetano's curator insight, February 28, 2013 8:20 PM

4 passos para lidar com pessoas desonestas...

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Sumit Gajanan Tambe's curator insight, March 10, 2013 7:35 AM


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Stanford Lectures for Machine Learning

Stanford Lectures for Machine Learning | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Lecture series by Professor Andrew Ng for Machine Learning (CS 229) in the Stanford Computer Science department. This course provides a broad introduction to machine learning and statistical pattern recognition. Topics include supervised learning, unsupervised learning, learning theory, reinforcement learning and adaptive control. Recent applications of machine learning, such as to robotic control, data mining, autonomous navigation, bioinformatics, speech recognition, and text and web data processing are also discussed.


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Higgs boson breakthrough a triumph of human curiosity - Vancouver Sun

Higgs boson breakthrough a triumph of human curiosity - Vancouver Sun | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The announcement last week of the first definitive evidence of a new particle, likely the long-awaited Higgs boson ...


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Hottest Man Made Temperature Ever – 5.5 Trillion °C, Recorded @ CERN’s Large Hadron Collider | CrazyEngineers

Hottest Man Made Temperature Ever – 5.5 Trillion °C, Recorded @ CERN’s Large Hadron Collider | CrazyEngineers | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
If anyone asks you 'What's up?', you may safely answer 'temperatures at CERN's Large Hadron Collider'.

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Any Two Pages on the Web Are Connected By 19 Clicks or Less

Any Two Pages on the Web Are Connected By 19 Clicks or Less | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

No one knows for sure how many individual pages are on the web, but right now, it’s estimated that there are more than 14 billion. Recently, though, Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási discovered something surprising about this massive number: Like actors in Hollywood connected by Kevin Bacon, from every single one of these pages you can navigate to any other in 19 clicks or less.

 

Barabási’s findings involved a simulated model of the web that he created to better understand its structure. He discovered that of the roughly 1 trillion web documents in existence—the aforementioned 14 billion-plus pages, along with every image, video or other file hosted on every single one of them—the vast majority are poorly connected, linked to perhaps just a few other pages or documents.

 

Distributed across the entire web, though, are a minority of pages—search engines, indexes and aggregators—that are very highly connected and can be used to move from area of the web to another. These nodes serve as the “Kevin Bacons” of the web, allowing users to navigate from most areas to most others in less than 19 clicks.

 

Barabási credits this “small world” of the web to human nature—the fact that we tend to group into communities, whether in real life or the virtual world. The pages of the web aren’t linked randomly, he says: They’re organized in an interconnected hierarchy of organizational themes, including region, country and subject area.

 

Interestingly, this means that no matter how large the web grows, the same interconnectedness will rule. Barabási analyzed the network looking at a variety of levels—examining anywhere from a tiny slice to the full 1 trillion documents—and found that regardless of scale, the same 19-click-or-less rule applied.


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Time reversal findings may open doors to the future

Time reversal findings may open doors to the future | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Imagine a cell phone charger that recharges your phone remotely without even knowing where it is; a device that targets and destroys tumors, wherever they are in the body; or a security field that can disable electronics, even a listening device hiding in a prosthetic toe, without knowing where it is.

 

The figure shown demonstrates secure communication with nonlinear time-reversal of two different UMD images using electromagnetic waves (signals) each sent through a complicated wave scattering environment (brown box in the middle). The black boxes represent time-reversed signals that are not reconstructed after being scattered.

While these applications remain only dreams, researchers at the University of Maryland have come up with a sci-fi seeming technology that one day could make them real. Using a time-reversal technique, the team has discovered how to transmit power, sound or images to a nonlinear object without knowing the object's exact location and without affecting objects around it. 

"That's the magic of time reversal," says Steven Anlage, a university physics professor involved in the project. "When you reverse the waveform's direction in space and time, it follows the same path it took coming out and finds its way exactly back to the source."

The time-reversal process is less like living the last five minutes over and more like playing a record backwards, explains Matthew Frazier, a postdoctoral research fellow in the university's physics department. When a signal travels through the air, its waveforms scatter before an antenna picks it up. Recording the received signal and transmitting it backwards reverses the scatter and sends it back as a focused beam in space and time.

 

"If you go toward a secure building, they won't let you take cell phones," Frazier says, "So instead of checking everyone, they could detect the cell phone and send a lot of energy to to jam it." What differentiates this research from other time-reversal projects, such as underwater communication, is that it focuses on nonlinear objects such as a cellphone, diode or even a rusty piece of metal. When the altered, nonlinear frequency of nonlinear objects is recorded, time-reversed and retransmitted, it creates a private communication channel, because other objects cannot understand the signal.


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New way to probe Earth's deep interior using particle physics proposed

New way to probe Earth's deep interior using particle physics proposed | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Researchers from Amherst College and The University of Texas at Austin have described a new technique that might one day reveal in higher detail than ever before the composition and characteristics of the deep Earth.

There's just one catch: The technique relies on a fifth force of nature (in addition to gravity, the weak and strong nuclear forces and electromagnetism) that has not yet been detected, but which some particle physicists think might exist. Physicists call this type of force a long-range spin-spin interaction. If it does exist, this exotic new force would connect matter at Earth's surface with matter hundreds or even thousands of kilometers below, deep in Earth's mantle. In other words, the building blocks of atoms—electrons, protons, and neutrons—separated over vast distances would "feel" each other's presence. The way these particles interact could provide new information about the composition and characteristics of the mantle, which is poorly understood because of its inaccessibility.

 

"The most rewarding and surprising thing about this project was realizing that particle physics could actually be used to study the deep Earth," says Jung-Fu "Afu" Lin, associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences and co-author of the study appearing this week in the journal Science.

 

This new force could help settle a scientific quandary. When earth scientists have tried to model how factors such as iron concentration and physical and chemical properties of matter vary with depth—for example, using the way earthquake rumbles travel through the Earth or through laboratory experiments designed to mimic the intense temperatures and pressures of the deep Earth—they get different answers. The fifth force, assuming it exists, might help reconcile these conflicting lines of evidence.

 

Earth's mantle is a thick geological layer sandwiched between the thin outer crust and central core, made up mostly of iron-bearing minerals. The atoms in these minerals and the subatomic particles making up the atoms have a property called spin. Spin can be thought of as an arrow that points in a particular direction. It is thought that Earth's magnetic field causes some of the electrons in these mantle minerals to become slightly spin-polarized, meaning the directions in which they spin are no longer completely random, but have some preferred orientation. These electrons have been dubbed geoelectrons.


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Next Generation Solar Cells Made From Graphene -- One Photon Can Be Converted Into Multiple Electrons

Next Generation Solar Cells Made From Graphene -- One Photon Can Be Converted Into Multiple Electrons | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A new discovery by researchers at the ICFO has revealed that graphene is even more efficient at converting light into electricity than previously known. Graphene is capable of converting a single photon of light into multiple electrons able to drive electric current. The discovery is an important one for next-generation solar cells, as well as other light-detecting and light-harvesting technologies.

 

A paradigm shift in the materials industry is likely within the near-future as a variety of unique materials replaces those that we commonly use today, such as plastics. Among these new materials, graphene stands out. The single-atom-thick sheet of pure carbon has an enormous number of potential applications across a variety of fields. Its potential use in high-efficiency, flexible, and transparent solar cells is among the potential applications. Some of the other most discussed applications include: foldable batteries/cellphones/computers, extremely thin computers/displays, desalination and water purificationtechnology, fuel distillation, integrated circuits, single-molecule gas sensors, etc.


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Edward Miller's curator insight, March 20, 2013 10:00 PM

With this discovery of Graphene able to conduct electricity and convert light at an exorbitant rate, the future of Solar Energy seems bright.

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First evidence for extraterrestrial life might come from dying stars

First evidence for extraterrestrial life might come from dying stars | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Even dying stars could host planets with life—and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade. This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. Researchers found that we could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.

"In the quest for extraterrestrial biological signatures, the first stars we study should be white dwarfs," said Avi Loeb, theorist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and director of the Institute for Theory and Computation.

 

When a star like the Sun dies, it puffs off its outer layers, leaving behind a hot core called a white dwarf. A typical white dwarf is about the size of Earth. It slowly cools and fades over time, but it can retain heat long enough to warm a nearby world for billions of years.

 

Since a white dwarf is much smaller and fainter than the Sun, a planet would have to be much closer in to be habitable with liquid water on its surface. A habitable planet would circle the white dwarf once every 10 hours at a distance of about a million miles.

 

Before a star becomes a white dwarf it swells into a red giant, engulfing and destroying any nearby planets. Therefore, a planet would have to arrive in the habitable zone after the star evolved into a white dwarf. A planet could form from leftover dust and gas (making it a second-generation world), or migrate inward from a larger distance.

 

If planets exist in the habitable zones of white dwarfs, we would need to find them before we could study them. The abundance of heavy elements on the surface of white dwarfs suggests that a significant fraction of them have rocky planets. Loeb and his colleague Dan Maoz (Tel Aviv University) estimate that a survey of the 500 closest white dwarfs could spot one or more habitable Earths.

 

The best method for finding such planets is a transit search - looking for a star that dims as an orbiting planet crosses in front of it. Since a white dwarf is about the same size as Earth, an Earth-sized planet would block a large fraction of its light and create an obvious signal.

 

More importantly, we can only study the atmospheres of transiting planets. When the white dwarf's light shines through the ring of air that surrounds the planet's silhouetted disk, the atmosphere absorbs some starlight. This leaves chemical fingerprints showing whether that air contains water vapor, or even signatures of life, such as oxygen.


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For the first time ever, astrophysicists have reliably measured the spinning speed of a supermassive black hole

For the first time ever, astrophysicists have reliably measured the spinning speed of a supermassive black hole | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A team of scientists led by Harvard astronomer Guido Risaliti recounts its findings in the latest issue of Nature. The researchers accomplished the feat by measuring electromagnetic radiation emanating from the center of spiral galaxy NGC 1365. There — not unlike the center of our own Milky Way — a spherical region of spacetime more than 2 million miles in diameter whirls violently, its gravity so strong it actually schleps surrounding space along with it. Any matter that trespasses beyond the black hole's event horizon spirals inward and collects in what's known as an accretion disc, where it is subjected to so much friction it emits X-rays.

 

Thanks to a joint effort by the ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's recently launched NuSTAR (both X-ray observatories, positioned in Earth orbit), Risaliti and his colleagues were able to locate the inner boundary of the accretion disc. Sometimes known as the Innermost Stable Circular Orbit, the position of this accretion disc "edge" depends on the speed of the black hole's overall rotation. The astronomers used this relationship to calculate the spin rate of the black hole's surface, which they estimate is is traveling at nearly the speed of light — about 84% as fast, to be exact.

 

In a statement, Risaliti says that it is "the first time anyone has accurately measured the spin of a supermassive black hole," but insists that even more important is what his team's findings can tell us about this black hole's past, and the developmental history of its surrounding galaxy.

 

The spin of a black hole is thought to be affected by the way it pulls in matter. It stands to reason, for example, that a black hole that subsumes gas and stars at random is more likely to fetter its angular momentum than add to it. According to Risaliti and his team, that the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 1365 is spinning at speeds approaching the cosmic speed limit would suggest it acquired mass through ordered accretion, as opposed to multiple random events.

 

For more details, visit SPACE.com, where Mike Wall has a great overview of the role that NASA's NuSTAR (launched in July of last year) has played in resolving a longstanding debate over the implications of X-ray emission patterns emanating from black holes.

 

"It's the first time that we can really say that black holes are spinning," said study co-author Fiona Harrison in an interview with Wall. "The promise that this holds for being able to understand how black holes grow is, I think, the major implication."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Space Impact Prevention: Russia Calls for United Meteor Defense System

Space Impact Prevention: Russia Calls for United Meteor Defense System | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The world should unite to establish a defense system against space objects that threaten Earth, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin says.

Rogozin, speaking Saturday at a ceremony marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in the Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk, told members of his Rodina Party the effort should be undertaken under the umbrella of the United Nations, RIA Novosti reported.

 

The Russian leader said the threat from asteroids, meteorites, comets and other stray space objects should serve to "unite humanity in the face of a common enemy." "This system should become global and universal in its technical and political sense and is a matter of agreement in the framework of the United Nations," Rogozin said.

 

The call came as Russia is recovering from a Feb. 15 meteorite strike near Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains region that created a massive shock, blowing out windows, damaging thousands of buildings and injuring 1,200 people, mainly from flying glass.

 

More than 50 people were hospitalized and damage from the shock wave has been estimated at $33 million. Creating an effective protection against stray space objects is a task that no country, including the United States, would be able to be able to cope with alone, Rogozin said, asserting that no one system of aerospace defense on the planet could handle the threat.

 

The problem with current anti-missile systems and other aerospace defense technologies is that they're designed to track incoming objects launched from the ground, rather than those coming from space, Rogozin said.

 

To protect against such "cosmic enemies," he said, the world would need a system able to recognize the risk in advance. "The great space powers, including Russia, could make in-kind contributions with the technology and programs that have already been established," he said.

 

"We need to find such technical decisions, which we don't have now, such capabilities which could change the flight path of a dangerous space object at a long distance from the Earth or destroy it."

 

However, Rogozin added, if such a worldwide anti-asteroid system were to be established, some countries could use it as a pretext to deploy nuclear weapons in space, Interfax reported.

 

"An undesirable effect of this might be that, under the guise of countering asteroids, some countries, which I prefer not to name, might use this as a pretext for deploying nuclear weapons in outer space," he said.

 

Alexander Bagrov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Voice of Russia such a worldwide defense system against space objects can be created.


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Photo-Electric Effect, Quantum Mechanics, Quantization, Wave Particle Duality !!

Photo-Electric Effect, Quantum Mechanics, Quantization, Wave Particle Duality !! | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
The fact that zero mass particles exist simply might be a coincidence of nature, that a very small energy was produced randomly. Again since it transmitted a longer distance or infinite distance mi...
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I just wrote this article, I hope you will like it, its very interesting, its about how Einstein spent his time when he was young !!

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Cities affect weather thousands of kilometres away

Cities affect weather thousands of kilometres away | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Heat from large cities alters local streams of high-altitude winds, potentially affecting weather in locations thousands of kilometres (miles) away. The findings could explain a long-running puzzle in climate change -- why some regions in the northern hemisphere are strangely experiencing warmer winters than computer models have forecast.

 

Cities generate vast amounts of waste heat, from cars, buildings and power stations, which burn oil, gas and coal for transport, heating or air conditioning. This phenomenon, known as the "urban heat island," has been known for years, but until now has mainly been thought to affect only city dwellers, especially in summer heatwaves.

 

But a team of scientists in the United States, using a computer model of the atmosphere, point to impacts that go much farther than expected. The high concentration of heat rises into jet-stream winds and widens their flow, transporting heat -- as much as one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) -- to places far away. The modelling sees autumn and winter warming across large parts of northern Canada and Alaska and in northern China.

 

The effect on global temperatures, though, is negligible, accounting for an average warming worldwide of just 0.01 C (0.02 F).


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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134 Lectures about the Foundations of Modern Physics (Stanford Courses - Prof. Leonard Susskind)

134 Lectures about the Foundations of Modern Physics (Stanford Courses - Prof. Leonard Susskind) | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
Free video course on Foundations of Modern Physics by Leonard Susskind of Stanford. This Stanford Continuing Studies course is a six-quarter sequence of classes exploring the essential theoretical foundations of modern physics.

 

This Stanford Continuing Studies course is a six-quarter sequence of classes exploring the essential theoretical foundations of modern physics. The topics covered in this course focus on classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, the general and special theories of relativity, electromagnatism, cosmology, black holes and statistical mechanics. While these courses build upon one another, each section of the course also stands on its own, and both individually and collectively they will allow the students to attain the "theoretical minnimum" for thinking intelligently about physics. Quantum theory governs the universe at its most basic level. In the first half of the 20th century physics was turned on its head by the radical discoveriies of Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schroedinger. An entire new logical and mathematical foundation - quantum mechanics - eventually replaced classical physics. This course explores the quantum world, including the particle theory of light, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and the Schroedinger Equation. The course is taught by Leonard Susskind, the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University.

 

Here is a comprehensive listing of all lectures from Dr. Susskind:

 

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=189C0DCE90CB6D81
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA27CEA1B8B27EB67
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5F9D6DB4231291BE
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=84C10A9CB1D13841
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=CCD6C043FEC59772
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6C8BDEEBA6BDC78D
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F363FFF951EC0673
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B72416C707D85AB0
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=888811AA667C942F
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8BCB4981DD1A0108
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA2FDCCBC7956448F
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3E633552E58EB230
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL47F408D36D4CF129
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL701CD168D02FF56F

 

http://glenmartin.wordpress.com/home/leonard-susskinds-online-lectures/


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Carlos Garcia Pando's comment, April 20, 2013 2:37 PM
Thanks for sharing. and Prof. Susskind too.
Tania Gammage's curator insight, May 12, 2013 11:47 PM

Awesome for HSC physics, six week sequence of classes.

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN's comment, May 13, 2013 6:57 AM
Any thanks, this is the way to go, sharing, sharing, sharing, curls to You
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Nobel laureate occasionally hangs out on street corners, answering physics ... - Boing Boing

Nobel laureate occasionally hangs out on street corners, answering physics ...Boing BoingI was imagining something like "Particle Physics Advice: 5 cents", which is a little off. But not by much.

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Demystifying the Higgs Boson – an attempt | Cosmology at AIMS

Demystifying the Higgs Boson – an attempt | Cosmology at AIMS | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
I wrote this little piece as an attempt to communicate the key ideas behind the Higgs in new ways, a notoriously difficult thing to do without the underlying mathematics, as emphasised here and, controversially, here – BB The ...

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