For one of this weekend's features, we thought it would be interesting to revisit Carl Sagan's question: "What does it mean for a civilization to be a million years old? We have had radio telescopes and spaceships for a few decades; our technical civilization is a few hundred years old ... an advanced civilization millions of years old is as much beyond us as we are beyond a bushbaby or a macaque."
Continue reading ""What Will a Civilization a Million Years Ahead of Earth Look Like?" " »
Graphene has caused a lot of excitement among scientists since the extremely strong and thin carbon honeycomb-shaped material, just one atom thick, was discovered in 2004. In 2011, NASA'sSpitzer Space Telescope spotted the signature of flat carbon flakes, called graphene, in space --the first-ever cosmic detection of the material -- which is arranged like chicken wire in flat sheets that are one atom thick.
Continue reading "Will Graphene Unlock Secrets of the Big Bang? (Weekend Feature)" »
An international team, led by researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, has for the first time measured the radius of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy — the closest distance at which matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into a black hole, which can be billions of times more massive than our sun may reside at the heart of most galaxies. Such supermassive black holes are so powerful that activity at their boundaries can ripple throughout their host galaxies.
Continue reading "Do Einstein's Theories Breakdown at the Event Horizon of a Black Hole? --"The Exit Door from Our Universe"" »
Recent temperature measurements show that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with sea ice this summer shrinking to its smallest extent on record. Natural feedbacks are amplifying the warming as loss of reflective sea ice causes the ocean to absorb more of the sun's energy, melting more sea ice, which causes more energy absorption, and so on. A new piece of dramatic evidence shows that summers on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard are now warmer than at any other time in the last 1,800 years, including during medieval times when parts of the northern hemisphere were as hot as, or hotter, than today, according to a new study in the journal Geology.
Continue reading "EcoAlert: High-Arctic Summer Heat at 1800-Year Record" »
NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence -- images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels -- is the first of its kind. Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow.
Continue reading "Mars' Curiosity Rover Finds Ancient River Bed" »
Preliminary data from the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory, presented at the European Planetary Science Conference on 28 September, indicate that the Gale Crater landing site might be drier than expected.The Curiosity rover is designed to carry out research into whether Mars was ever able to support life, and a key element of this search is the hunt for water. Although Mars has many features on its surface that suggest a distant past in which the planet had abundant liquid water in the form of rivers and lakes, the only water known to be abundant on Mars today is frozen, embedded in the soil, and in large ice caps at both poles.
Continue reading "Early Data from Mars Science Lab Shows Gale Crater Drier than Expected" »
Galaxies in the early universe grew fast by rapidly making new stars. Such prodigious star formation episodes, characterized by the intense radiation of the newborn stars, were often accompanied by fireworks in the form of energy bursts caused by the massive central black hole accretion in these galaxies. This discovery was made by a group of astronomers led by astronomer Peter Barthel of the Kapteyn Institute of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: A Spectacular Hyper-Active Galaxy of the Early Universe" »
Enormous troughs that reach across the asteroid Vesta may actually be stretch marks that hint of a complexity beyond most asteroids. Scientists have been trying to determine the origin of these unusual troughs since their discovery just last year. Now, a new analysis supports the notion that the troughs are faults that formed when a fellow asteroid smacked into Vesta’s south pole. The research reinforces the claim that Vesta has a layered interior, a quality normally reserved for larger bodies, such as planets and large moons.
Continue reading "Dawn Mission Asteroid May Be a Dwarf Planet" »
The image above shows a thousand year-old ancient Buddhist statue known as the Iron Man. The statue was discovered in 1938 by an expedition of German scientists led by renowned zoologist Ernst Schäfer and supported by Nazi SS Chief Heinrich Himmler. A team from Stuttgart University have analysed the statue and were able to classify it as an ataxite, a rare class of iron meteorite.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Buddhist Statue Discovered by Nazi Expedition Made from a Meteorite" »