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May 31, 2012

Super Volcanic Eruptions with the Potential to End Civilizations --Disturbing New Discovery

 

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Enormous volcanic eruptions more than 100 times the size of ordinary volcanic eruptions like Mount St. Helens. with potential to end civilizations may have surprisingly short fuses, researchers have discovered. These eruptions are known as super-eruptions because they are They spew out tremendous flows of super-heated gas, ash and rock capable of blanketing entire continents and inject enough particulate into the stratosphere to throw the global climate into decade-long volcanic winters. 

There is evidence that one super-eruption, which took place in Indonesia 74,000 years ago, may have come remarkably close to wiping out the entire human species.

Continue reading "Super Volcanic Eruptions with the Potential to End Civilizations --Disturbing New Discovery" »

Milky Way Galaxy Began with Globular Star Clusters and Dwarf Galaxies --New Finding

 

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An exciting new study shows that the Milky Way's construction schedule began with the oldest globular star clusters and dwarf galaxies, which formed a few hundred million years after the big bang, settling into what is now the galaxy's halo, merging over billions of years to form the structure of our Milky Way. Stars in the inner halo were born during the assembly process. Over time, the Milky Way gobbled up older dwarf galaxies that formed less than 2 billion years after the big bang, with their ancient stars settling into the outskirts of the halo, creating the outer halo.

Continue reading "Milky Way Galaxy Began with Globular Star Clusters and Dwarf Galaxies --New Finding" »

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Returns to Earth Today

 

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After making its iconic journey as the first commercial spacecraft to visit the International Space Station, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will return to Earth today.

Dragon is the only spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo from the space station. The other cargo vehicles serving the space station - from Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency - can carry cargo up but all are destroyed after leaving the station.

Continue reading "SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Returns to Earth Today" »

Image of the Day: Human Technology Scans the Southern Milky Way

 

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European Space Organization photographer Babak Tafreshi snapped this remarkable image of the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), set against the of the Milky Way. 

This view shows the constellations of Carina (The Keel) and Vela (The Sails). The dark, wispy dust clouds of the Milky Way streak from middle top left to middle bottom right. The bright orange star in the upper left is Suhail in Vela, while the similarly orange star in the upper middle is Avior, in Carina. Of the three bright blue stars that form an “L” near these stars, the left two belong to Vela, and the right one to Carina. And exactly in the centre of the image below these stars gleams the pink glow of the Carina Nebula.

Continue reading "Image of the Day: Human Technology Scans the Southern Milky Way" »

Russian Antarctic Research Ship Delivers Microbe Samples from 14-Million Year-Old Lake Vostok

 

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The Russian research vessel Akademik Fyodorov has arrived at St.Petersburg port with samples from subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Experts from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute say that all the microbial artifacts from Antarctica will be delivered to the Institute’s laboratory for a thorough examination on Thursday.  

A team of Russian scientists was the first to pierce the ice shield to the surface of Lake Vostok early in February. Lake Vostok is approximately 250 kilometers long and up to 50 kilometers wide (around the size of Lake Ontario in North America), and is up to 800 meters deep. It is isolated from all the other 145 or so subglacial lakes in Antarctica. The lake has been sealed off by the ice sheet for the past 14 million years.

Continue reading "Russian Antarctic Research Ship Delivers Microbe Samples from 14-Million Year-Old Lake Vostok" »

Saturn's Enceladus Reveals Previously Unobserved Behavior of Plasma

 

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Recent discoveries from NASA's Cassini mission reveal that Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behavior of plasma, or hot ionized gas. Some Cassini scientists think they have observed "dusty plasma," a condition theorized but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus.  

Data from Cassini's fields and particles instruments also show that the usual "heavy" and "light" species of charged particles in normal plasma are actually reversed near the plume spraying from the moon's south polar region. 

Continue reading "Saturn's Enceladus Reveals Previously Unobserved Behavior of Plasma" »

EcoAlert: Killer Heat Waves Predicted for U.S. through Century

nrdc.org 

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By the end of the 21st century, heatwaves caused by global warming could kill 150,000 people who would otherwise live. The US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates how many extreme heat events will hit the US this century, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path. Climate models suggest that by 2099 the 40 most populous cities will have approximately eight times as many days of extreme heat per year as today.

Continue reading "EcoAlert: Killer Heat Waves Predicted for U.S. through Century" »

May 30, 2012

NASA's Black-Hole Hunter Being Readied for Launch

 

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NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is being prepared for the final journey to its launch no earlier than June 13 on Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. The mission will study everything from massive black holes to our own sun. 

"We will see the hottest, densest and most energetic objects with a fundamentally new, high-energy X-ray telescope that can obtain much deeper and crisper images than before," said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., who first conceived of the mission 20 years ago.

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Arctic Ecology Provides Clues to Life on Jupiter's Moon, Europa

 

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In a Canadian fjord scientists have found a landscape similar to one of Jupiter's icy moons: Europa, consisting of a frozen and sulphurous environment, where sulphur associated with Arctic bacteria offer clues for the upcoming missions in the search for traces of life on Europa.

"We have discovered that elemental sulphur can contain morphological, mineralogical and organic 'biosignatures' linked to bacterial activity. If they are found on Europa, this would suggest the possible presence of microorganisms," as explained to SINC by Damhnait Gleeson, lead author of the study and currently member of the Centro de Astrobiologia (INTA-CSIC, Spain).

Continue reading "Arctic Ecology Provides Clues to Life on Jupiter's Moon, Europa " »

Three 'Genetic Zip Codes' Laid Foundation for Evolution of Human Brain

 

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Changes to just three genetic letters among billions led to evolution and development of the mammalian motor sensory network, and laid the groundwork for the defining characteristics of the human brain, Yale University researchers report.

"What we found are the genetic zip codes that direct cells to form the motorsensory network of the neocortex," said Nenad Sestan, associate professor of neurobiology, a researcher for the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, and senior author of the paper. "Together, our fine motor skills that allow us to manipulate tools, walk, speak, and write, as well as our cognitive and emotional abilities that allow us to think, love, and plan all derive from these changes."

Continue reading "Three 'Genetic Zip Codes' Laid Foundation for Evolution of Human Brain" »




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