Archive for the ‘research’ Category


Much media attention on this new paper this week. Is there a surprise lurking in the details now that the orbit period of the seventh planet has been confirmed?.

What the numbers in the diagram show is the orbits per planet in a fixed period (top row), the conjunctions per planet pair in the same period (second row), and the ratios that represents (third row).

The number of conjunctions of any two planets is the difference between the two orbit numbers in a given period, which in this case is equivalent to just under 1446 Earth days (see data below).

Apart from the obvious symmetry of the ratios, something else arose from the science paper.

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Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the largest astronomical project in the world –
Magellanic Clouds near top of image [credit: NASA / Ames]


It’s unimaginably vast: astronomers say ‘this structure is a 75,000 light-year long filament of gas and dust’. Trying to separate out the effects of gravity and magnetism here should be an interesting challenge.

A magnetic field appears to span the space between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the two dwarf galaxies being consumed by our Milky Way Galaxy, reports Sky & Telescope via Sott.net.

For stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s easy to forget that the Milky Way is actively consuming two dwarf galaxies. Those in the Southern Hemisphere have a front row seat to watch our galaxy wreak havoc on the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC).

But there’s more to the story — the dwarfs are not only gravitationally interacting with the Milky Way but with each other as well.

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One high-altitude nuclear test even managed to create its own artificial aurora. Others knocked out orbiting satellites.

Our Cold War history is now offering scientists a chance to better understand the complex space system that surrounds us, says Phys.org.

Space weather — which can include changes in Earth’s magnetic environment— is usually triggered by the sun’s activity, but recently declassified data on high-altitude nuclear explosion tests have provided a new look at the mechanisms that set off perturbations in that magnetic system.

Such information can help support NASA’s efforts to protect satellites and astronauts from the natural radiation inherent in space. From 1958 to 1962, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. ran high-altitude tests with exotic code names like Starfish, Argus and Teak.

The tests have long since ended, and the goals at the time were military. Today, however, they can provide crucial information on how humans can affect space.

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Credit: quora.com

The energy that went into making the impact crater is thought to be equivalent to 10 billion Hiroshima A-bombs, as BBC News explains. Nowhere to run/hide/escape.

Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarised their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.

The researchers recovered rocks from under the Gulf of Mexico that were hit by an asteroid 66 million years ago. The nature of this material records the details of the event.

It is becoming clear that the 15km-wide asteroid could not have hit a worse place on Earth.

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Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

Excellent – we outlined this ‘resonance chain’ (as they have now dubbed it) in an earlier post here at the Talkshop [see ‘Talkshop note’ in the linked post for details].

When NASA announced its discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system back in February it caused quite a stir, and with good reason says Phys.org.

Three of its seven Earth-sized planets lay in the star’s habitable zone, meaning they may harbour suitable conditions for life.

But one of the major puzzles from the original research describing the system was that it seemed to be unstable.

“If you simulate the system, the planets start crashing into one another in less than a million years,” says Dan Tamayo, a postdoc at U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science.

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Credit: worldatlas.com


Something new for geologists to get their teeth into.

The Falkland Islands may be home to one of the world’s largest craters, reports the IB Times. A new analysis has revealed it has many characteristics of an asteroid impact and may date back to the ‘Great Dying’ extinction event.

About 200 similar large craters have been discovered so far on Earth but there are many other examples of them on other planets including on Venus, Mercury and Mars.

The Falkland Islands structure, which is described in detail in the journal Terra Nova, has a diameter measuring approximately 250 kilometres (150 miles). If it turns out to be an impact crater, this size would make it one of Earth’s largest – comparable to the famous Chicxulub crater discovered in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico nearly four decades ago.

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Credit: coolantarctica.com


Another alleged climate alarm looks more like a damp squib, undermined by new research.

Glacier flow at the southern Antarctic Peninsula has increased since the 1990s, but a new study has found the change to be only a third of what was recently reported, says Phys.org.

An international team of researchers, led by the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, are the first to map the change in ice speed. The team collated measurements recorded by five different satellites to track changes in the speed of more than 30 glaciers since 1992.

The findings, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, represent the first detailed assessment of changing glacier flow in Western Palmer Land—the southwestern corner of the Antarctic Peninsula.
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The ITCZ is the central band of bright white clouds in this composite image [credit: NASA]


This seems to add weight to the idea that the moving position of the ITCZ can be a useful indicator of natural climate change, in conjunction with other data sources.

The tropical rain belt, also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), is in a state of constant migration, as Phys.org reports.

It continuously changes position in response to the seasons and follows the sun’s zenith, with a slight delay. This in turn determines the wet and dry periods in the tropics and subtropics over the course of the year.

The tropical rain belt therefore effectively controls the climate in most of the tropical and subtropical regions, such as the monsoon season in Southeast Asia and Central America.

An international team of researchers led by Franziska Lechleitner from the Geological Institute at ETH Zurich has proven for the first time that the migration of the tropical rain belt is quite sensitive to even small changes in global temperatures.
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A compact model of the heliosphere, supported by the latest data [Credit: Dialynas, et al.]


It seems the interstellar magnetic field is a lot more powerful than scientists expected, as Phys.org reports.

New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun—calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.

The sun releases a constant outflow of magnetic solar material—called the solar wind—that fills the inner solar system, reaching far past the orbit of Neptune. This solar wind creates a bubble, some 23 billion miles across, called the heliosphere. Our entire solar system, including the heliosphere, moves through interstellar space.

The prevalent picture of the heliosphere was one of comet-shaped structure, with a rounded head and an extended tail.
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Despite Saturday’s so-called “March for Science,” the almost simultaneous release of a Second Edition of a Research Report showing the exact opposite of what some of the marchers claim to be the conclusions of climate science, has brought home the Orwellian reality that the marchers have gotten their claims concerning what the science says exactly backwards, as Alan Carlin explains.

The Climate March website says their forces of “The Resistance” won’t tolerate institutions that try to “skew, ignore, misuse or interfere with science.”

If the marchers really support science, they should be supporting climate skeptics, not the climate alarmists. How Orwellian can you get? The science is clear.
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Carving at Göbekli Tepe


The alleged event appears to pre-date the Göbekli Tepe site itself by at least 1,500 years, which seems at odds with the idea that the carvings were intended as observations of it.

Ancient stone carvings confirm that a comet struck the Earth around 11,000BC, a devastating event which wiped out woolly mammoths and sparked the rise of civilisations, says the Daily Telegraph.

Experts at the University of Edinburgh analysed mysterious symbols carved onto stone pillars at Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, to find out if they could be linked to constellations. The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth at the exact same time that a mini-ice age struck, changing the entire course of human history. 

Scientists have speculated for decades that a comet could be behind the sudden fall in temperature during a period known as the Younger Dryas.
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Quote: ‘Flying through Steve, the temperature 300 km above Earth’s surface jumped by 3000°C’.

Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently, as ESA reports.

Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so … it was called Steve. ESA’s Swarm magnetic field mission has now also met Steve and is helping to understand the nature of this new-found feature.

Speaking at the recent Swarm science meeting in Canada, Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary explained how this new finding couldn’t have happened 20 years ago when he started to study the aurora.

While the shimmering, eerie, light display of auroras might be beautiful and captivating, they are also a visual reminder that Earth is connected electrically to the Sun.
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The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.
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Credit: nationalgeographic.com


The hurdle of scaling up to industrial size awaits, but the idea sounds interesting. They say “The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input.”

A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater, says BBC News. The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes.

It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale. Reporting their results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Manchester, led by Dr Rahul Nair, shows how they solved some of the challenges by using a chemical derivative called graphene oxide.
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View from Titan [artist’s impression]


‘The grains that cover Saturn’s [largest] moon act like clingy packing peanuts.’ An obvious question might be: where is Titan’s electrical charge coming from?

Experiments led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are “electrically charged.”

When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion.

They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth. The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties,” said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. “Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts.”

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.
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Who gets a say in deciding whether to interfere with nature on a global scale?

sentinelblog

From Activist Post, by Derrick Broze

At a recent geoengineering conference two Harvard engineers announced plans for a real-world climate engineering experiment beginning in 2018.

The science of geoengineering has increasingly become a part of the public conversation around climate change and an ever-controversial topic within the scientific community. Geoengineering is a type of weather modification (or climate engineering) which has been researched, but, until recently, has been considered too unpredictable to attempt on a large scale.  According to a 2013 congressional report:

The term ‘geoengineering’ describes this array of technologies that aim, through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’s energy balance, to reduce temperatures and counteract anthropogenic climate change. Most of these technologies are at the conceptual and research stages, and their effectiveness at reducing global temperatures has yet to be proven. Moreover, very few studies have been published that document the cost, environmental effects, socio-political impacts, and…

View original post 2,863 more words

Credit: IB Times


It’s not yet known what the origin of asteroid (or comet) ‘Bee-Zed’ is or if it’s one of a class of similar objects in retrograde co-orbital resonance, as Phys.org reports. The researchers say ‘how it got there remains a mystery.’

For at least a million years, an asteroid orbiting the “wrong” way around the sun has been playing a cosmic game of chicken with giant Jupiter and with about 6,000 other asteroids sharing the giant planet’s space, says a report published in the latest issue of Nature.

The asteroid, nicknamed Bee-Zed, is the only one in this solar system that’s known both to have an opposite, retrograde orbit around the sun while at the same time sharing a planet’s orbital space, says researcher and co-author Paul Wiegert of Western’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
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Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]


Solar variation influencing climate is suddenly plausible, say researchers. Who knew? Well, nearly everyone except climate modellers. Although they still mutter about human influence, the reality of the solar slowdown is starting to bite it seems. If as they suggest ‘A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree’ what might they expect from a ‘stronger sun’?

For the first time, model calculations show a plausible way that fluctuations in solar activity could have a tangible impact on the climate, reports Phys.org.

Studies funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation expect human-induced global warming to tail off slightly over the next few decades. A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree.
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H/T Sott.net

If someone applied to a top position at a company, you’d hope a hiring manager would at least Google the applicant to ensure they’re qualified.

A group of researchers sent phony resumes to 360 scientific journals for an applicant whose Polish name translated to “Dr. Fraud.” And 48 journals happily appointed the fake doctor to their editorial board.

This sting operation was the first systematic analysis on editorial roles in science publishing, adding concrete evidence to a problem past stings have shed light on.
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Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]


The battery can be made from ‘earth-friendly materials’ like sodium, which can be extracted from seawater.

A new longer-lasting battery technology that can’t catch fire has been developed by a team of engineers led by 94-year-old Professor John Goodenough, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, the Daily Mail Online reports.

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries used in many mobile devices, but they can sometimes explode and catch fire – as was the case for Samsung’s Galaxy 7 exploding battery fiasco.

But this new battery technology could increase the distance electric cars can drive for between charges, and recharge within minutes rather than hours.
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