NASA finds third Van Allen belt around Earth
TG Daily, March 1, 2013 - The Earth temporarily gained a third radiation belt last year, NASA's Van Allen Probes mission has revealed. It was discovered almost by accident. After Van Allen Probes were launched on August 30 last year, the team decided to turn on the Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope a little earlier than planned, so its observations would overlap with those of another mission called SAMPEX. It was a lucky decision. "By the fifth day REPT was on, we could plot out our observations and watch the formation of a third radiation belt," says Shri Kanekal, deputy mission scientist for the Van Allen Probes. "The third belt persisted beautifully, day after day, week after week, for four weeks." At the end of this period a powerful interplanetary shock wave from the sun destroyed the third belt. Link to full story.
Paricutín: “Save Me From the Dangers in Which I am About to Die”
Scientific American, March 1, 2013 - Dionisio Pulido suddenly found himself having a very bad day. A few moments before, he had been living an ordinary life, clearing brush from his land while his helper plowed and his wife and son watched the sheep graze. Aside from the earthquakes that had driven the presidente of San Juan Parangaricutiro to send a delegation to a larger town in search of answers, and the fact that a pit on his land had just split open, life was fine. Now, he was feeling thunder. That’s the word he used, “felt.” Link to full blog.
Man and woman, preferably married, wanted for expedition to Mars
Reuters, Feb. 27, 2013 - A nonprofit foundation wants to recruit a man and a woman - possibly a married couple - for a bare-bones, 501-day journey to Mars and back that would start in less than five years, project organizers said on Wednesday. The mission, expected to cost upwards of $1 billion, would be privately financed by donations and sponsorships. The launch window for the mission opens on January 5, 2018. The next opportunity is not until 2031. "This is going to be a very austere mission. You don't necessarily have to follow all of NASA's guidelines for air quality and water quality," said project chief technical officer Taber MacCallum. "That's the kind of bold thing we used to be able to do. We've shirked away from risk. I think just seriously contemplating this mission recalibrates what we believe is a risk worth taking for America." Link to story.
Neanderthal remains point to earlier extinction
Nature, Feb. 4. 2013 - Neanderthals may have vanished from southern Spain thousands of years earlier than previously thought, a carbon-dating study argues this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (ref). In recent years, however, archaeologists studying the extinction of Neanderthals and the arrival of modern humans in Europe have realized that many of the samples used to obtain such dates are contaminated with modern carbon, resulting in dates that are thousands of years too young. Full story here.
Government to study mysterious ‘Windsor Hum’ OTTAWA — The Canadian Press, Jan. 22 2013
The federal government is committing $60,000 to help two universities investigate a mysterious humming vibration in Windsor, Ont. U.S. Steel re-opened a mill on Zug Island about the time the hum became bothersome to Windsor residents, but has not taken responsibility for the hum, which at times rattles homes. Now the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is stepping up with funding for an acoustic study in an effort to further pinpoint the source of the sound vibration. Researchers from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor will team up for the study.
Readers shared these thoughts: WinJohnny 1:17 PM on January 22, 2013: " I'll save you $40000.00. The hum is caused by the rock salt excavators mining the huge salt reserves below the city of Windsor(and Detroit). Ever hear of Windsor Salt?" And C4talyst 11:55 AM on January 22, 2013 wrote: "If you're interested in being involved with this research, or know someone who suffers from the effects of the hum, please visit hum forum.org." Link to story.
A Cat’s 200-Mile Trek Home Leaves Scientists Guessing
New York Times, Jan. 19, 2013 - Nobody knows how it happened: an indoor house cat who got lost on a family excursion managing, after two months and about 200 miles, to return to her hometown. Even scientists are baffled by how Holly, a 4-year-old tortoiseshell who in early November became separated from Jacob and Bonnie Richter at an R.V. rally in Daytona Beach, Fla., appeared on New Year’s Eve — staggering, weak and emaciated — in a backyard about a mile from the Richters’ house in West Palm Beach. “We haven’t the slightest idea how they do this,” ackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist who hosts “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet, said. “Anybody who says they do is lying, and, if you find it, please God, tell me what it is.” Link to story. More Mysteries on this site.
The mystery of recent stratospheric temperature trends
Nature, Nov. 28, 2012 - A new data set of middle- and upper-stratospheric temperatures call into question our understanding of observed stratospheric temperature trends and our ability to test simulations of the stratospheric response to emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances. Abstract here.
Neanderthals smarters than previously believed
June 15, 2012
A large club-like shape at Altamira is at least 35,600 years old, millennia older than previous estimates... Stencils made by blowing pigment onto a hand pressed against a wall at El Castillo is more than 37,300 years old, also thousands of years older than previously calculated. Link to story.
Swedish scientists reveal findings of deep-sea 'alien' hunt
June 18, 2012 - Even more odd for a seemingly natural formation, the main object is disc-shaped and “appears to have construction lines and boxes drawn on it,” Lindberg said. “There are also straight edges.” Peter Lindberg is the leader of the Ocean Explorer team. Link to Fox News story. Link to the Daily Mail story from June 27, 2012.
What Doctors Don't Understand about Anesthesia
Researchers suggest a theory of "neural inertia" to explain a puzzle about how patients emerge from unconsciousness
Scientific American, Feb. 28, 2012 - ...a group of researchers recently made a surprising discovery about how we transition out of consciousness and back. The common view holds that going under (induction) and coming back up (emergence) are the same process, albeit in different directions. However, a recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE suggests that going under is not the same as coming back up. Link to magazine story.
BICEP2 researchers publish nuanced account of stunning patterns in the microwave sky: Possibly primordial gravitational waves, but galactic dust not ruled out - American Physical Society, June 19, 2014
Our universe is a hologram, and we’re floating inside of it, suggests new research... ExtremeTech, Dec 16 2013
Bird Tree Tells New Tale of Evolution
SFU * Oct. 31, 2012
Simon Fraser University researchers have discovered birds’ speciation rate is increasing, not declining. Unfortunately, despite birds’ rosy speciation history, it seems they can’t “outfly” their growing human-induced rate of extinction. The researchers estimate that birds have recently been proliferating at a rate of about one new bird species every 700 years, but also estimate that their human-caused extinction rate is about 300 times higher. More.