Friday, March 20, 2009

dark cushions

From Science Daily: Hubble Provides New Evidence For Dark Matter Around Small Galaxies

This is pretty cool. Hubble found, in the midst of several large galaxies being torn apart by each other's gravity, a cluster of dwarf galaxies that are smooth and undisturbed. Astronomers think this indicates a thick "cushion" of dark matter protecting them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Wow, it's been almost a month since I posted. Sorry about that. Lots of family visits, midterms, and awesome vacation are to blame.

It's a good thing I don't actually have a readership, huh?

Friday, February 20, 2009

hamster generators and more

From New Scientist: Innovation: Technology to harness your power moves

More sweet ideas that use energy from the normal activities of both humans and hamsters.

fuelulose? or cellufuel?

From ScienceDaily: Two-step Chemical Process Turns Raw Biomass Into Biofuel

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a way to convert "raw" biomass, that is, cellulose, into usable biofuel. Cellulose is the most common organic compound on Earth, and through this, we could make biofuel without using the food parts of plants.

The punny portmanteau brand names will be endless.

about eliminiating AIDS

From New Scientist: Are we about to eliminate AIDS?

This article discusses steps that could be taken to eliminate AIDS. Even though there is no cure or vaccine, the antiretroviral course available allows HIV+ people to "live a long life and almost never pass on the virus, even through unprotected sex." Through worldwide, regular, mandatory testing and free distribution of those drugs, it's theorized that AIDS could be eliminated. The author hits on the privacy concerns that could come up a massive health initiative like this. Good read, and very hopeful.

42 unknown

From Scientific American: Within Any Possible Universe, No Intellect Can Ever Know It All

David Wolpert, a computer scientist at NASA, proves that as part of the universe, we can never understand and learn every single thing about it.

helping out at the zoo

From Scientific American: Crowdsourcing the cosmos: Amateurs sift through astronomical data

This is pretty cool. The Galaxy Zoo 2 is a project where amateur astronomers can help classify data. Looks fun.

old gas learning new tricks

From New Scientist: 'Primordial' gas ring gives birth to baby galaxies

The Leo ring is "a giant stream of hydrogen and helium gas" around two "older" galaxies about 35 million light years away. Discovered in the early '80s, the ring is thought to have formed early in the history of the universe. Recently, though, clumps of young stars have been found in the ring. These "infant dwarf galaxies" are considered very unique because they formed without the assistance of dark matter, which is strange because it's theorized that dark matter is the seed of galaxies, pulling regular matter in, and also because other dwarf galaxies have been observed to contain up to 10,000 times as much dark matter as regular matter. Scientists are planning to measure the metallicity of the cloud to see if it really is as old as they think it is.

the barns of the earth

From New Scientist: Do gravity holes harbour planetary assassins?

Ignore the title of this article; it relates to a silly extra article. The bulk of this is about Lagrangian points, which are places in space where the gravitational field of the Earth (or any planet) cancels out the gravity of the Sun. These areas actually have zero gravity, as opposed to the microgravity we usually see. A pair of probes called STEREO that launched in 2006 to observe the sun will also be used to observe L4 and L5, the two most stable of Earth's Lagrangian points.

The author also discusses Lagrangian point in regards to the most popular theory of the Moon's origin. If a Mar-sized object collided with the Earth in the distant past to form the Moon, where did that object come from? Perhaps L4 or L5, where the object would have been able to grow to that size and then be nudged out of orbit by the gravity of another body in the solar system, like Venus.

tell me a story about quantum theory

From Scientific American: Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity

I've heard how there is something about quantum theory that violates Einstein's theory of relativity, but I didn't know that at least part of that is non-locality. I should have, considering my fascination with quantum entanglement. Anyway, this article details the history of the contradictions between these two theories. Being very lay-person and also very ill, it took me a long time to read it, but it's definitely very interesting.