News from the laboratory....

Science and Technology

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News from the laboratory....

Postby Damelon » Sun Mar 16, 2003 2:39 pm

When Danlo asked me to moderate this forum, I gladly accepted. Pelablinka is about the sciences, both natural and applied. It's about whats behind the stars that shine at night, the animals that are cloned, the internet that allows people from all points of the globe to keep in contact in a way undreamed of 20 years ago and a thousand other things.

It's also about the ethics of using new knowledge. Do we clone humans? How, given the immense amount of information out there about us, can we go through life without crying out I feel like a number as the Seger song says?

Feel free to use this thread for any news on science that you come across and feel is interesting, but not necessarily worth starting a new thread. Or start a new thread. Since science is about questioning and seeking knowledge, there's alot out there to discuss. Also, lets have fun!

<i>Edited by: Damelon at: 3/16/03 7:44:18 am
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this month's discover

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Mar 17, 2003 4:07 am

Did you read the thing in this month's Discover magazine about the scientist who thinks Einstein might be wrong about the speed of light? It was pretty interesting... <i></i>
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Re: this month's discover

Postby mhoram6910 » Mon Mar 17, 2003 5:01 pm

Yeah, I think I heard about it..any details? Further up, and further in! <i></i>
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Re: this month's discover

Postby Damelon » Thu Mar 20, 2003 2:05 am

I've got to track that story down. It sounds real interesting. <i></i>
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Re: this month's discover

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Thu Mar 20, 2003 2:24 am

Especially in its implications for interstellar travel by humans. Our lives are the songs that sing the universe into existence.~David Zindell<i></i>
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SETI program to re-examine 150 signals

Postby Damelon » Fri Mar 21, 2003 2:19 am

Here's a link to an article in Astronomy about the SETI program taking a second look at 150 signals.

www.astronomy.com/Content...1fkcjb.asp <i></i>
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New Space Telescope nearly ready for launch

Postby Damelon » Wed Mar 26, 2003 11:52 am

NASA is ready to launch a new space telescope:

SIRTF - the Space Infrared Telescope Facility - will be launched into space by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 15, 2003. During its 2.5-year mission, SIRTF will obtain images and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns (1 micron is one-millionth of a meter). Most of this infrared radiation is blocked by the Earth's atmosphere and cannot be observed from the ground.

Consisting of a 0.85-meter telescope and three cryogenically-cooled science instruments, SIRTF will be the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space. Its highly sensitive instruments will give us a unique view of the Universe and allow us to peer into regions of space which are hidden from optical telescopes. Many areas of space are filled with vast, dense clouds of gas and dust which block our view. Infrared light, however can penetrate these clouds, allowing us to peer into regions of star formation, the centers of galaxies, and into newly forming planetary systems. Infrared also brings us information about the cooler objects in space, such as smaller stars which are too dim to be detected by their visible light, extrasolar planets, and giant molecular clouds. Also, many molecules in space, including organic molecules, have their unique signatures in the infrared.

Because infrared is primarily heat radiation, the telescope must be cooled to near absolute zero (-459 degrees Fahrenheit or -273 degrees Celsius) so that it can observe infrared signals from space without interference from the telescope's own heat. Also, the telescope must be protected from the heat of the Sun and the infrared radiation put out by the Earth. To do this, SIRTF will carry a solar shield and will be launched into an Earth-trailing solar orbit. This unique orbit will carry SIRTF far enough away from the Earth to allow the telescope to cool rapidy without having to carry large amounts of cryogen (coolant). This innovative approach has significantly reduced the cost of the mission.

SIRTF will be the final mission in NASA's Great Observatories Program - a family of four orbiting observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light (visible, gamma rays, X-rays, and infrared). Other missions in this program include the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory(CXO). SIRTF is also a part of NASA's Astronomical Search for Origins Program, designed to provide information which will help us understand our cosmic roots, and how galaxies, stars and planets develop and form.
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Re: Reading Neanderthals palms

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Fri Mar 28, 2003 9:10 pm

Damelon, did you get to see the huge meteor that broke up the over night in the Chicago area? People from at least three states (ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) were calling the cops about it, because it was so bright...I think it was a bit too far south for us to see it here in Michigan. Our lives are the songs that sing the universe into existence.~David Zindell<i></i>
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Re: Reading Neanderthals palms

Postby Damelon » Sat Mar 29, 2003 2:04 am

I didn't see it Dutchess I was at the time. But it was the talk of the radio the next morning. There were sightings as far north as Wisconsin. I guess it lit up the sky and made quite a noise. I saw pictures of some of the pieces. One piece went through a roof of a home, through the floor and into the basement where it bounced off a table and onto a pile of clothes. They quoted a scientist that that piece had to be going a couple of hundred miles an hr to do that. The original meteor was estimated to be the size of a vw beetle.

Here's a story on it:

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AP) -- The midnight sky flashed an eerie blue early over four Midwestern states as a meteorite exploded in the atmosphere, sending rocks as big as softballs crashing through some houses.

Residents in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin reported seeing the disintegrating meteorite flash across the sky about midnight Thursday. Police were soon deluged with reports of falling rocks striking homes and cars.

Chris Zeilenga, 42, of Beecher, Illinois, said he and his wife, Pauline, were watching TV war coverage around midnight.

"The sky lit up completely from horizon to horizon. We've seen lightning storms, but this was nothing like that," he said. "A minute or so later the house started rumbling and we heard all these tiny particles hitting the house."

Outside his home about 30 miles south of Chicago, Zeilenga found tiny gray and black pieces of stone. He didn't realize their origin until he heard people talking about meteorites as he rode the morning train to work in Chicago. "When I heard that I thought, 'That's what it was!'"

Kenneth and Karen Barnes of Park Forest, Illinois, told WGN-TV in Chicago they were sleeping when a 5-pound meteorite crashed into their living room. Thursday morning their son spotted a hole in the ceiling.

"I didn't know what to think, so we went looking through the house for it and found it," Kenneth Barnes said.

Commander Mike McNamara of the Park Forest Police Department said about 60 pieces of space rock ranging from gravel-sized to softball-sized were brought in to the police station.

He said three homes in Park Forest were damaged, along with the fire department and possibly one car. Two homes in the nearby town of Matteson also were struck by meteorite pieces.

Paul Sipiera, a professor of geology and astronomy at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, spent Thursday examining dozens of pieces of meteorites and plotting where they fell. The largest he saw was about 71/2 pounds.

He said the debris field appears to cover a path about 80 miles long by 20 miles wide from north of Bloomington, Illinois, to Chicago's south side and possibly part of northwestern Indiana.

He said all of the pieces came from a stony meteorite he estimates was about the size of a Volkswagen bug when it exploded as it plunged into Earth's atmosphere.

A spokesman for the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska, said the defense installation was not tracking any manmade space objects in the area at the time that the light show appeared over the Midwest.

Sipiera said it's very rare for meteorites to fall on populated areas.

"For me, it's a dream come true," he said. "I always tell my wife that when I die, I hope I get hit in the head by a meteorite flying through the roof and it came pretty close," he said.

<i>Edited by: Damelon at: 3/29/03 12:59:05 pm
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Here comes the Sun

Postby Damelon » Sat Apr 05, 2003 1:02 am

This article from Astronomy.com newsletter suggests that the Sun has been increasing in intensity.
www.astronomy.com/Content...9pnkxj.asp

Quote:Scientists have mounting evidence against the sun in the global warming debate. Since 1978, six satellites have monitored the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), or total solar energy reaching Earth outside the atmosphere. The data indicates a .05 percent increase per decade in radiation during times of solar minimum. A total increase of .1 percent of solar radiation over the past two dozen years may not seem like much, but as Richard Willson of Columbia University explains, "The trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change."

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more moons for Jupiter

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Apr 07, 2003 3:23 am

from AP:
Six more moons spotted orbiting Jupiter
Saturday, April 5, 2003 Posted: 9:16 AM EST (1416 GMT)



Jupiter now boasts 58 natural satellites, more than any other planet.

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RELATED
• University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy

SATELLITE COUNT
Mercury: 0
Venus: 0
Earth: 1
Mars: 2
Jupiter: 58
Saturn: 30
Uranus: 21
Neptune: 11
Pluto: 1

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- Six more moons have been found orbiting Jupiter, pushing to 58 the total number of known natural satellites of the solar system's largest planet.

University of Hawaii's David Jewitt and Scott Sheppard, along with Jan Kleyna of Cambridge University, announced the discoveries Friday.

The moons are tiny, perhaps just a mile or so across, and orbit Jupiter at a distance of tens of millions of miles. They were found as part of an ongoing search using the world's two largest digital cameras at the Subaru and Canada-France-Hawaii telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

The moons follow retrograde orbits, traveling in the opposite direction of Jupiter's rotation. That suggests the moons were captured by Jupiter's gravitational tug, perhaps not long after the planet itself formed, Jewitt said.

Jupiter has more moons than any other planet. The largest four were discovered by Galileo in 1610. Of those, Ganymede is the largest known moon in the solar system, with a diameter of 3,260 miles.

Jewitt's team has found 18 Jupiter moons this year and expects to find more.

"We think if we keep on pushing it with the cameras and telescopes we have available, we'll get to about 100," Jewitt said.






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400,000 year old DNA

Postby Damelon » Sat Apr 19, 2003 1:43 pm

Some old DNA has been found recently:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ancient plant and animal DNA found in undisturbed soil sediment can be used to unlock secrets about life hundreds of thousands of years ago, researchers say.

Scientists analyzing soil from Siberian permafrost and from caves in New Zealand said they found evidence of DNA from animals that died out thousands of years ago and from plants that lived about 400,000 years ago.

Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, a co-author of the study appearing in the journal Science, said the study found that soil fragments the size of a sugar cube can contain large amounts of DNA from those ancient life forms.

"You can obtain a lot of information about that extinct biota from just two grams of material," Willerslev said.

Permafrost is excellent at preserving the ancient DNA, the researchers said, because it is constantly cold. The scientists identified DNA from 19 categories of plants and from eight kinds of animals, including the extinct mammoth and steppe bison. The animal DNA was thought to be up to about 30,000 years old.

Willerslev said that attempts to look further back in history, beyond 400,000 years, was unsuccessful.

"We tried to look for DNA in sediments dated one and a half to two million years, but those tests came up negative," he said. "There may be some sort of barrier that makes that impossible."

Layers of clues

Age of the specimens was based on dating of the sediment layers, the authors said.

In sediments drilled from the floor of a dry cave in New Zealand, Willerslev and his co-authors found DNA from an extinct animal and from plants that lived before humans colonized that island about 3,000 years ago.

Much of the animal DNA found at the sites apparently is from feces and urine deposited by the creatures in ancient times. DNA from herbivorous animals is more common because that diet produces more feces, the researchers said.

Analyzing the plant DNA, said Willerslev, gives insight into the types of plants that dominated ancient times and could indirectly give clues to the climate that then existed.

For instance, the plant DNA from Siberia suggests that tundra was once an area rich in plants that would have been able to support large herds of mammoths and other big animals. But about 11,000 years ago, the once plentiful grasses began to disappear, perhaps helping to cause the extinction of some of the large plant-eaters that once roamed parts of Siberia and Alaska.

Linking the soil DNA with specific times in the past may "have major implications for many fields," including the study of ancient peoples, the authors said in the study.

Co-author Alan Cooper of Oxford University, England, said in Science that the study shows that DNA can be preserved for long periods of time and could free researchers "from the shackles of needing fossils to be able to look into the past."

Other experts said that the technique needs to be proven in further study, but that it could lead to a better understanding of the plants that lived during the ice ages or during the era that humans first crossed from Asia into North America.

"This technique truly will revolutionize our ability to reconstruct past flora and fauna," Glen MacDonald, an ancient life researcher at UCLA, said in Science.
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Re: 400,000 year old DNA

Postby danlo60 » Sat Apr 19, 2003 6:16 pm

Fascinating Captian! I hope I'm not 2 late in commending Lord Pilot Damelon on the most xcellent job he has done since taking over this 4rum!!! And now Danlo looked in that direction, too. He remembered that snowy owls mate in the darkest part of deep winter, and so along with this beautiful white bird perched in a tree a hundred feet away, he turned to face the sea as he watched and waited.

Ahira, Ahira, he called out silently to the sky. Ahira, Ahira<i>Edited by: danlo60 at: 4/21/03 4:30:38 pm
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Re: 400,000 year old DNA

Postby Turiya Foul » Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:49 pm

Give him a hand people... This guy's a great moderator! <i></i>
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Re: 400,000 year old DNA

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Apr 21, 2003 4:19 pm

He most certainly is -- and you are too, Turiya! Our lives are the songs that sing the universe into existence.~David Zindell
****Tavern Wench of DOGMA, the Defenders of George Martin's Art****<i></i>
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