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China's Chang'e 5-T1 mission to the moon has not only taken some beautiful pictures of the Earth from the craft's perspective (hat tip to reader Taco Cowboy) but as of Friday evening (continental U.S. time) returned a capsule to Earth. (The capsule landed in Inner Mongolia.) From the linked article: Prior to re-entering the Earths atmosphere, the unnamed probe was travelling at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 miles per hour), a speed that can generate temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,700 degrees Fahrenheit), the news agency reported. To slow it down, scientists let the craft "bounce" off Earths atmosphere before re-entering again and landing. ... The module would have been 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the mission, SASTIND said at the time. The mission was launched to test technology to be used in the Change-5, Chinas fourth lunar probe, which aims to gather samples from the moons surface and will be launched around 2017, SASTIND previously said.
An anonymous reader writes In April, NASA ended the mission of its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission by de-orbiting (read: crashing) it on the far side of the moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has now directly imaged the crash site, showing a small crater and the spray of rocks and dust caused by the crash. "LADEE's grave lies about 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) from the eastern rim of the larger Sundman V crater, just 0.2 miles (0.3 km) north of the spot where mission team members predicted the spacecraft would go down based on tracking data, NASA officials said. ... The new crater is less than 10 feet (3 meters) wide. It's so small because LADEE was just the size of a washing machine, and the probe was traveling relatively slowly (3,800 mph, or 6,116 km/h) when it impacted the surface. The LROC team was able to spot LADEE's impact crater after developing a new tool that compared before-and-after images of the same lunar sites, researchers said."
jenningsthecat writes: DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program has created "the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured." The Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC), boasts a gain of 9dB — previously unheard of for a monolithic device in this frequency range. Plus, the status of "fastest" has been certified by Guinness — seriously! ('Cause you might not trust DARPA, but you gotta trust Guinness — right?).
In related news, DARPA has also created a micro-machined vacuum power amplifier operating at 850 GHz, or 0.85 THz.
sciencehabit writes: Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter — the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies — may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate — the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP — would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles — or SIMPs — would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue.
Fallen Kell writes: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed. "'During the test. the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,' the company said in a statement. "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.'"" ABC says one person is dead, and another injured. This was the craft's fourth powered test flight, and its first since January.
StartsWithABang writes: We like to think of our Solar System as typical: a central star with a number of planets — some gas giants and some rocky worlds — in orbit around it. Yes, there's some variety, with binary or trinary star systems and huge variance in the masses of the central star being common ones, but from a planetary point of view, our Solar System is a rarity. Even though there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy for planets to orbit, there are most likely around a quadrillion planets in our galaxy, total, with only a few trillion of them orbiting stars at most. Now that we've finally detected the first of these, we have an excellent idea that this picture is the correct one: most planets in the Universe are homeless. Now, thank your lucky star!"
HughPickens.com writes We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act but until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that Obamacare coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details. Now Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NYT that a new data set is providing a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The data is the output of a statistical model based on a large survey of adults and shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.
Despite many Republican voters' disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.
An anonymous reader writes Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937, but scientists may have now uncovered where she ended up. Researchers have identified a piece of aluminum, which washed up on a remote Pacific island, as dated to the correct time period and consistent with the design of Earhart's Lockheed Electra. From the article: "The warped piece of metal was uncovered on a 1991 voyage to the island of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has spent millions of dollars searching for Earhart's plane in a project that has involved hundreds of people. 'We don't understand how that patch got busted out of (the plane) and ended up on the island where we found it, but we have the patch, we have a piece of Earhart's aircraft,' TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie said."
vinces99 writes A new study shows that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually but rather was characterized by three abrupt pulses. Scientists are not sure what caused these abrupt increases, during which carbon dioxide levels rose about 10 to 15 parts per million – or about 5 percent per episode – during a span of one to two centuries. It likely was a combination of factors, they say, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns and terrestrial processes. The finding, published Oct. 30 in the journal Nature, casts new light on the mechanisms that take the Earth in and out of ice ages.
"We used to think that naturally occurring changes in carbon dioxide took place relatively slowly over the 10,000 years it took to move out of the last ice age," said lead author Shaun Marcott, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University and is now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "This abrupt, centennial-scale variability of CO2 appears to be a fundamental part of the global carbon cycle."
Previous research has hinted at the possibility that spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide may have accelerated the last deglaciation, but that hypothesis had not been resolved, the researchers say. The key to the new finding is the analysis of an ice core from the West Antarctic that provided the scientists with an unprecedented glimpse into the past."
An anonymous reader writes Scientists of the Northeastern University, in collaboration with European scientists, developed a modeling approach aimed at assessing the progression of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and its international spread under the assumption that the outbreak continues to evolve at the current pace. They also considered the impact of travel restrictions, and concluded that such restrictions may delay by only a few weeks the risk that the outbreak extends to new countries. Instead, travel bans could hamper the delivery of medical supplies and the deployment of specialized personnel to manage the epidemic. In the group's page, there's also an updated assessment of the probability of Ebola virus disease case importation in countries across the world, which was also invoked during the Congressional Ebola debate. The group also released a map with real-time tracking of conversations about Ebola on Twitter. Policy makers and first responders are the main target audience of the tool, which is able to show a series of potential warnings and events (mostly unconfirmed) related to Ebola spreading and case importation.
MarkWhittington writes Professor Richard Binzel published a commentary in the journal Nature that called for two things. He proposed that NASA cancel the Asteroid Redirect Mission currently planned for the early 2020s. Instead, he would like the asteroid survey mandated by the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act of 2005, part of the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, funded at $200 million a year. Currently NASA funds the survey at $20 million a year, considered inadequate to complete the identification of 90 percent of hazardous near-Earth objects 140 meters or greater by 2020 as mandated by the law.
bmahersciwriter writes Citation is the common way that scientists nod to the important and foundational work that preceded their own and the number of times a particular paper is cited is often used as a rough measure of its impact. So what are the most highly cited papers in the past century plus of scientific research? Is it the determination of DNA's structure? The identification of rapid expansion in the Universe? No. The top 100 most cited papers are actually a motley crew of methods, data resources and software tools that through usability, practicality and a little bit of luck have propelled them to the top of an enormous corpus of scientific literature.
jyosim writes On Tuesday, Internet2 announced that it will let researchers create and connect to their own private data clouds on the high-speed network (mainly used by colleges), within which they will be able to conduct research across disciplines and experiment on the nature of the Internet. The private cloud is thanks to a $10-million grant from the NSF. "They will have complete visibility into [the clouds] so they can really treat this as a scientific instrument and not a black box," the project's lead investigator told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
HughPickens.com writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.
Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."
Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""
rHBa writes According to the BBC scientists at the European nuclear research center CERN have uncovered an archive of images from its first 50 years and are asking for help in deciphering what is going on in them. Dr Sue Black, who was a key figure in the campaign to save Bletchley Park, said "we believe that much of this information could be crowd-sourced from the CERN community."
schwit1 writes with news about a flying defibrillator designed by a Dutch student. A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an "ambulance drone", a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes. Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont, it can fly at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour). "Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive, the main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,"
Jason Koebler writes: A team of physicists based at Brown University has succeeded in shattering a quantum wave function. That near-mythical representation of indeterminate reality, in which an unmeasured particle is able to occupy many states simultaneously, can be dissected into many parts. This dissection, which is described this week in the Journal of Low Temperature Physics, has the potential to turn how we view the quantum world on its head. Specifically, they found it's possible to take a wave function and isolate it into different parts. So, if our electron has some probability of being in position (x1,y1,z1) and another probability of being in position (x2,y2,z2), those two probabilities can be isolated from each other, cordoned off like quantum crime scenes.
the_newsbeagle writes: In the latest high-tech approach to personalized medicine, cardiologists can now create a computer model of an individual patient's heart and use that simulation to make a treatment plan. In this new field of computational medicine, doctors use a patient's MRI scans to make a model showing that patient's unique anatomy and pattern of heart disease. They can then experiment on that virtual organ in ways they simply can't with a flesh-and-blood heart. Proponents say this tech can "improve therapies, minimize the invasiveness of diagnostic procedures, and reduce health-care costs" in cardiology.
HughPickens.com writes: The Independent reports that Pope Francis, speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has declared that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real. "When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," said Francis. "He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment." Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they "require it." "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve." Experts say the Pope's comments put an end to the "pseudo theories" of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI who spoke out against taking Darwin too far.
StartsWithABang writes: Wandering into the woods unprepared and without a plan sounds like a terrible idea. But if you're interested in scientific exploration at the frontiers, confronting the unknown with whatever you happen to have at your disposal, you have to take that risk. You have to be willing to take those steps. And you have to be okay with putting your best ideas out there — for all to see — knowing full well that you might get the entire thing wrong. Sometimes, that's indeed what happens. Some of the most revered and famous scientific minds in history confronted the great mysteries of nature, and came away having done nothing but set us back many years by leading the field down a blind alley. But other times, the greatest leaps forward in our understanding occur as a result. The article shares some notable examples, and explains why this is vital for scientific progress.