Science Art: Giant Animals: Modern and Extinct (detail), by Mary McLain

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These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…

Look out! HELL PIG!

There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.

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Science Art: Jupiter's Rings by LORRI, 2007.

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The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …

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SONG: Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)

SONG: “Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”

ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).

So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…

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Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan


Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.

I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):

John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…

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Science Art: Her Majesty's Cochins; Imported in 1843, published 1904.

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These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.

This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their ma…

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Science Art: Soaking Up the Rays of a Sun-Like Star, by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, 2015.

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This is an artist’s impression of a planet just discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission that’s gotten the folks at SETI all excited.

It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…

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“Secretive company” unveils better way to do fusion. (It’s legit.)

27 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Science magazine has an exclusive report on a fusion group that could change everything. They’ve got a reactor that works better than any power source we’ve seen yet: A privately funded company called Tri Alpha Energy has built a machine that forms a ball of superheated gas—at about 10 million degrees Celsius—and holds it steady for 5 milliseconds without decaying away. That may seem a mere blink of an eye, but it is far longer than other efforts with the technique and shows for the first time that it is possible to hold the gas in a steady state—the researchers stopped only when their machine ran out of juice. “They’ve succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,” says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. … …[T]he main efforts in this field are […]

DIY warp drive. He’s folding space in his garage.

24 December 2014 // 0 Comments

Omaha World-Herald wants the world to know about this guy who’s building a warp drive in his garage: [David] Pares’ garage is exactly as it sounds. This is not some converted hangar or temperature-controlled shed. Pares’ laboratory, the headquarters for his Space Warp Dynamics endeavor, is attached to the mid-size Aksarben-area home where he lives with his wife and their cat. It is split in halves, each side large enough to accommodate a not-very-large car. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It is a garage. On average, Pares spends a couple of hours a day here almost every day of the week. To bend the fabric of space, he sits in front of a tray of instruments, twisting knobs and glancing every now and then into a Faraday cage, where a 3.5-pound weight hangs inside an electrically isolated case. Outside the case hangs a strange instrument made up of V-shape […]

Steampunk solutions: 19th-century tech used by Sandia fusion researchers

10 January 2014 // 0 Comments

Laboratory Equipment has more on the Helmholz coil (a bit of antique lab machinery) and how one of its strange qualities might help Sandia’s “Z machine” fusion experiment create the pollution-free power of tomorrow: A Helmholz coil produces a magnetic field when electrified. In recent experiments, two Helmholz coils, installed to provide a secondary magnetic field to Z’s huge one, unexpectedly altered and slowed the growth of the magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities, an unavoidable, game-ending plasma distortion that usually spins quickly out of control and has sunk past efforts to achieve controlled fusion. “Our experiments dramatically altered the nature of the instability,” says Sandia physicist Tom Awe. “We don’t yet understand all the implications, but it’s become a different beast, which is an exciting physics result.” … Researchers placed the Helmholz coils around a liner containing deuterium so the coils’ magnetic field lines soaked both container and fuel over a period of milliseconds. The relatively slow process, […]

Dogs poop in alignment with the Earth’s magnetic field

2 January 2014 // 0 Comments

I can’t even begin with this one. But yes, researchers at the Czech University of Agriculture have determined that dogs orient themselves to magnetic north when excreting: We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. After complete sampling, we sorted the data according to the geomagnetic conditions prevailing during the respective sampling periods. Relative declination and intensity changes of the MF during the respective dog walks were calculated from daily magnetograms. Directional preferences of dogs under different MF conditions were analyzed and tested by means of circular statistics. Results Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the north–south axis under calm MF conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF. Who needs a […]

Lasers make the power of tomorrow.

16 October 2013 // 0 Comments

BBC looks ahead to a brighter future… at least as far as our energy supply is concerned. Fusion reactors have gotten one small step closer, using lasers that zap hydrogen into heavier elements: Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion. NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world’s most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place. The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world. The next step? A self-sustaining reaction. Zap the laser, and it keeps on going….

Meet the woman who found “the God particle”.

29 July 2013 // 0 Comments introduces us to the genteel, cultured Fabiola Gianotti – accomplished pianist, paleontologist’s daughter, coffee enthusiast, trained classicist… and the kind of person who hunts the Higgs boson: Nature is her ultimate inspiration, Gianotti says, and she explains how she inherited her love of it from her father, an Italian micropaleontologist. His work meant the family was mainly based in busy cities, first Rome and later Milan, but he ensured his young daughter was taken on excursions to the great outdoors at every opportunity. “I remember very long walks in the mountains, where we stopped at every step to admire a little plant or a little butterfly,” she says. An ammonite fossil, well known for displaying nature’s Fibonacci code, sits on her coffee table, a strong reminder of those times with her father, as well as a clue to guests that this is the home not just of a scientist but of a modern Renaissance […]

Science Art: Bodendruckapparat nach Pascal by Max Kohl

10 March 2013 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This is an illustration of a model of a paradox – they hydrostatic paradox, as demonstrated by Blaise Pascal. The paradox is that the pressure at the bottom of a column of water only depends on the height of the water, not the shape or the volume. Six tons of water and six ounces of water will exert the same pressure if they’re each in a vessel that’s only a foot tall. And, if you connect any vessels together, regardless of their shape, they’ll fill with water up to the same level. The big vessel won’t force water further up the small one. Seems weird. There’s a better explanation of what’s happening here. Max Kohl’s engraving I found on Wikimedia Commons.

“Once time runs backwards, we’ll….” Now wait a minute. What?

21 February 2013 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg gets non-linear with their look at “time reversal” and how we might soon use it: Imagine a cell phone charger that recharges your phone remotely without even knowing where it is; a device that targets and destroys tumors, wherever they are in the body; or a security field that can disable electronics, even a listening device hiding in a prosthetic toe, without knowing where it is. While these applications remain only dreams, researchers at the University of Maryland have come up with a sci-fi seeming technology that one day could make them real. Using a time-reversal technique, the team has discovered how to transmit power, sound or images to a nonlinear object without knowing the object’s exact location and without affecting objects around it. Their work, “Nonlinear Time Reversal in a Wave Chaotic System,” was published in the Feb. 7 issue of the Physical Review Letters journal. … When a signal travels through the […]

Fear of crowds – it might not be so irrational.

16 July 2012 // 0 Comments

The Atlantic reveals the fluid dynamics of deadly mob disasters that shows how crowds can be so blindly powerful: “It happens like magic,” says Dirk Helbing, a professor in Zurich, Switzerland, who studies sociology and crowd modeling. “People don’t have to think about it, you don’t need to have legal regulations or policemen to organize the crowd. It just happens, like this invisible hand like what Adam Smith described.” … “At very low density, when everybody can move freely, [crowd dynamics are] like a gas,” he says. “When the density goes up, then eventually peoples’ movements are constrained, and it becomes more like a fluid. And then at very high densities, when people are squeezed in between other bodies, it’s more like a granular material.” Like sand, or rice, or small pebbles. Helbing and co-author Pratik Mukerji brought this perspective to an in-depth study of the 2010 Love Parade techno music festival in Duisburg, Germany. […]

World’s largest laser gets just a little larger (and closer to making fusion happen).

30 March 2012 // 0 Comments

Scientific American makes me jealous of the physicists at Livermore’s National Ignition Facility, who get to utter orders like, “Now, my assistants! Fire the FUSION LASER!”: On 15 March, the 192 laser beams of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, fired a record 1.875-megajoule shot into the laser’s target chamber, surpassing its 1.8-megajoule design specification. The shot, which was just a demonstration and did not incorporate a target, nonetheless represents a milepost in an effort to get past the break-even point — ignition — in coaxing fusion energy from a tiny frozen fuel pellet. “It’s a remarkable demonstration of the laser from the standpoint of its energy, its precision, its power, and its availability,” says Ed Moses, NIF director. He adds that the shot was 2.03 megajoules after passing through the final focusing lens — making the NIF the world’s first 2-megajoule ultraviolet laser. Final diagnostic and other […]

Plasma balls kill cholera, E. coli and Mad Cow.

18 November 2011 // 0 Comments

Yeah, those funky electronic gizmos that sit on your desk and look oh sparkly! and not much else? Science Daily reports that they can turn water into an antibiotic: University of California, Berkeley, scientists have shown that ionized plasmas like those in neon lights and plasma TVs not only can sterilize water, but make it antimicrobial — able to kill bacteria — for as long as a week after treatment. … Graves and his UC Berkeley colleagues published a paper in the November issue of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, reporting that water treated with plasma killed essentially all the E. coli bacteria dumped in within a few hours of treatment and still killed 99.9 percent of bacteria added after it sat for seven days. Mutant strains of E. coli have caused outbreaks of intestinal upset and even death when they have contaminated meat, cheese and vegetables. Based on other experiments, Graves and […]

Turning on the first tractor beams.

2 November 2011 // 0 Comments

BBC reports on three ways scientists are bringing tractor beams into reality: The $100,000 (£63,000) award will be used to examine three laser-based approaches to do what has until now been the stuff of science fiction. Several tractor-beam ideas have been published in the scientific literature but none has yet been put to use. Nasa scientist Paul Stysley says the approach could “enhance science goals and reduce mission risk”. “Though a mainstay in science fiction, and Star Trek in particular, laser-based trapping isn’t fanciful or beyond current technological know-how,” said Dr Stysley of Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, whose group was awarded the research funding. They’re using lasers like tweezers and like spiral-shaped scoops. The first tractor beams will just grab molecules for atmosphere samples. The pulling the little ship into the pod bay of the bigger ship – that’ll have to wait a bit longer.

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