Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scientists Confirm the First Direct Photo of an Exoplanet

An Alien World, Photographed for the First Time This infrared-light photo taken by Gemini Observatory's adaptive optics system shows the star 1RSX J160929.1-210524 and its planet, which is about 8 times the size of Jupiter. The exoplanet, the dot at the upper left, is the first one to be directly photographed. Gemini Observatory
See that little dot in the upper left corner? It is a planet orbiting a sun-like star. We know of a few hundred planets like this, but this one is special -- we now know it's the first one to have its picture properly taken from Earth.
The adaptive optics system at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii snapped this photo in the infrared part of the light spectrum. It shows a hot, large Jupiter-like planet near a smallish sun-like star. It was actually found two years ago, but astronomers couldn't be sure they were really looking at a planetary system and not some lucky alignment of objects. Now they're sure.
"Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other," says David Lafrenière of the University of Montreal and Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec.
The team also took the planet's spectrum, measuring its temperature and composition. Now that they know it really does orbit this star, Lafrenière retroactively claims firstie on an exoplanet spectrum.
Other famous exoplanet photos have shown us blocked-out stars with fuzzy dots at their sides. This one shows the blazing star, too, putting in context that this is really a solar system.
The planet is also special because it challenges planetary scientists' best planet-formation theories. It's far from its star, about 300 times farther than Jupiter is from the sun. It would take the planet roughly 1,000 years to complete one orbit.
The unlikely locale of this alien world could be telling us that nature has more than one way of making planets," says Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto, who co-authored a paper on the findings, recently accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal. "Or, it could be hinting at a violent youth when close encounters between newborn planets hurl some siblings out to the hinterlands."
The planet has water vapor, carbon monoxide and molecular hydrogen, but it's a scorching 2,700 degrees F, way hotter than Jupiter. This temperature at such a distance shows that the planet is very young, according to Gemini Observatory.
When planets form, compressing rock and gas through gravity, things get very hot. Once the contraction phase is over, the planet will radiate heat in the form of infrared light. After a few billion years, it will be roughly the temperature of Jupiter. It's about eight times larger than our biggest planet.
The star is young, too -- it's about 500 light-years away in a group of young stars called the Upper Scorpius association, which formed about five million years ago. By contrast, our star is about 4.6 billion years old. The system is called 1RXS J160929.1-210524 (or 1RXS 1609 to its friends).
It is about 85 percent of our sun's size, so planetary scientists would like to know how its planets formed, because it could offer a glimpse into what happened in our own solar system.
The Gemini team believes this hot, large Jupiter is alone -- unless it has some very small companions they have not yet been able to detect. In the coming years, they will study the planet's orbit, which could shed more light on how it formed.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jaime Maussan and Santiago Garza: 2010 UFO Congress - Jaime Maussan Garza 2010 UFO Congress 1-2 Video - Jaime Maussan Garza 2010 UFO Congress 2-2 Video

Jose Jaime Maussan Flota (born May 31, 1953) is a Mexican journalist and Mexico's leading ufologist

Santiago Yturria Garza has been a paranormal & UFO researcher since 1974, and co-founded the first UFO Research Group in Monterrey, Mexico in 1974. During the 70s he began lecturing about the Mexican UFO sightings, and was one of the promoters of the first Mexican UFO research movement. He has spoken at many UFO conferences around the world, as well as appearing in several television specials. At present, he is the International Relations Representative for Mexico's UFO Magazine, "Contacto OVNI". As a result of his 20+ years' research, Santiago has the largest UFO video & photo archive in Mexico.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Apple iPhone 4: Full review

It’s guaranteed to be a big seller,
but is Apple’s newest iPhone a must-have?

Apple's new Iphone
The new iPhone 4 features a new glass and aluminium chassis and has one
of the sharpest smartphone screens we've ever seen. Photo: APPLE
In the three years since the first iPhone went on sale, the mobile landscape has changed irrevocably. Most phones now offer apps, internet browsing, social-networking widgets and email, while the higher-end smart phones continue to innovate around speed, features and build quality. That means Apple has an increasingly difficult job on its hands; responding to the innovations of the chasing pack while turning out a new handset every year.
The iPhone 4 is this year’s effort, and overall, it’s a corker. Not everyone will be a fan of the iPhone’s new industrial look and feel, which has done away with the shapely, curved edges of the iPhone 3G and 3GS in favour of a more functional, practical design. But I think iPhone 4 feels like a truly premium product, on a par with expensive designer handsets such as those made by Vertu.
It’s slimmer than its predecessors, and now features a glass shell made from the same super-strong aluminosilicate material used for helicopter windscreens, which makes it tough and scratch-resistant. The stainless steel band that runs around the middle of the iPhone, like the buttercream filling in a particularly delicious Victoria sponge, not only helps strengthen the overall construction, but is also part of the iPhone’s cellular and Wi-Fi antennas.
The difference in screen quality between iPhone 4 and previous models is acute. The new iPhone’s special “retina display” has four times the resolution of the iPhone 3GS, and Apple claims the pixels are so small that they can’t be detected by the human eye. That means that icons, text and pictures are pin-sharp on iPhone 4, with crisp, defined edges. Colours are luscious and seem to pop out of the screen, while whites appear brighter, and blacks take on a deep, inky hue. In short, it’s the kind of screen performance you’d expect from an AMOLED display, but Apple has somehow managed it with a simple backlit LCD screen. Where this display really comes in to its own – more than with photos, more than with movies, more, even than with web pages – is with ebooks. The iPhone 4 supports iBooks, Apple’s own ebook reader software, and the pages of Winnie the Pooh are rendered with a clarity and precision you simply do not find on any other device, not even an iPad.
There are plenty of other hardware improvements, too, including a five-megapixel camera with LED flash that’s capable of taking some great shots in lowlight conditions. And the iPhone 4 can also capture high-definition 720p video at 30 frames per second. The makers of the Flip range of camcorders should be very worried indeed; videos shot on the iPhone 4 look fantastic, with good colour balance, while a version of iMovie for the iPhone makes it incredibly easy to edit clips using the iPhone and create a pleasing, professional video ready for sharing. The new A4 processor ensures everything zips along, and the bigger battery makes a world of difference – not once, in the time that I have been testing the iPhone 4, have I had to give it a lunchtime boost.
The improved battery life and nippier performance prove crucial for one of iPhone 4’s most hotly-anticipated features – multitasking. It’s worth noting that it’s not really multitasking in the strictest sense, because not every app will be able to work fully in the background; Apple is allowing some apps, such as music-streaming services, to continue playing while users open other applications, but true multitasking is restricted because of the potentially catastrophic impact on battery life. So that means that Twitter and Facebook, for instance, do not continue pulling down real-time updates even as you work on an email or browse a web page. Instead, they are “paused” when you switch between apps; if you return to an app, you can pick up exactly where you left off.
Multitasking is not just restricted to iPhone 4 – it’s part of the iOS4 software update available to existing iPhone 3GS users. The new operating system brings some welcome new features to the iPhone range, including the ability to organise apps in to “folders”. You can have a maximum of 12 apps in a single folder, which means some apps, such as games, may have to be subdivided by genre (puzzle, shooter etc). Annoyingly, all of the folders look the same on the iPhone’s Home screen – you can’t choose an app logo to represent the whole folder, so there’s a lot of squinting at the screen while you try to see which folder is which.
One feature of iPhone 4 that Apple has been pushing hard is FaceTime, its video-calling app. The iPhone 4 has a front-facing VGA camera, which can be used to make video calls to other iPhone 4 users over a Wi-Fi network. Video calling has never really taken off in Europe, mainly because it offered such an awful user experience, but FaceTime really is dramatically different. It’s easy to use, for starters – you can start with a FaceTime call, or switch to FaceTime midway through a conversation, at the touch of a button. The iPhone 4’s top-notch screen provides a really clear picture, while its dual microphones and noise-cancelling capabilities ensure good audio that remains in sync with the video. It’s a shame the service is restricted to iPhone 4 users and that it works only on Wi-Fi, though Apple hopes that will change in time. It’s also giving away its FaceTime technology to other mobile phone makers, which could really help to increase uptake of this solid video-calling app.
The iPhone 4 has its flaws. I wish the Home screen had a different look and feel that tied in with the device’s new industrial design; perhaps something more akin to the user interface on Microsoft’s forthcoming range of Windows Phone 7 handsets. And it would also be great if it supported “widgets”, so that I could see, at a glance, what my most recent email or text message is, a real-time weather forecast for my locale, or even the latest stock prices.
But overall, the iPhone 4 is an excellent, beautifully built device that cements Apple’s position as the leading smartphone maker. Upgrading to iPhone 4 won’t come cheap, though – buying the handset SIM-free from Apple will cost at least £499, and you’re still looking at a substantial outlay on the handset if you buy it on contract from a network operator. If you own an iPhone 3G, or are simply in the market for a new phone, then upgrading to iPhone 4 is a no-brainer. But if you’ve got an iPhone 3GS and are still in contract, don’t rush to upgrade; instead, install the new iOS4 update on your handset and put the new software through its paces.
After all, this time next year, Apple will have a new handset for us to drool over
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Invading the Vintage: retro postcards featuring
aliens and space ships, by Franco Brambilla

Franco Brambilla

Italian illustrator devoted to sci-fi. Founder of Airstudio: a lab
created with Pierluigi Longo (illustrator, musician and dj) and
Giacomo Spazio (artdirector, painter, graphic designer, musician
and dj). Airstudio is a common playground of creativity where
collective illustrations, graphic and musical works are produced.
Since 2000 he has been one of the main illustrators of the
"Urania" and "Urania Collezione" sc-ifi book collection by Mondadori.
In 2006 with Giacomo Spazio creates Limited No Art Gallery:
In 2007 he starts the "Invading the Vintage, cute aliens invading
grandpa' postcards".The project is still running. See more here:
"Best artist" at Eurocon European Awards Fiuggi March 2009.
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'God particle' sounds like coins in a wine glass, scientists claim

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) say they have replicated the noise that may be created when the Higgs Boson particle is made - the sound of coins spinning in a wine glass.

The Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider Photo: PA
The LHC is being used to attempt to produce the particle – nicknamed the "God particle" – which scientists believe will help explain how the universe came into being.
Physicists have yet to make a Higgs boson particle, but they now believe that when it is created it will sound like several coins clattering around the bowl of a wine glass.
The team working at the LHC in Switzerland hopes that if and when it is successful in creating a Higgs boson by crashing protons into each other at super fast speeds, it will be easier to detect because they will know what to listen for.
Scientists used information from computer models to calculate what the creation of the particle will sound like, a process called "sonification".
LHC Sound, a group of scientists, musicians and artists in London, has used data on the particles and matched it to qualities such as pitch and volume to determine how the collision will sound.
Dr Lily Asquith, who models data for the LHC and has contributed to the sound project, wrote on her blog: "Sound seems the perfect tool with which to represent the complexity of the data.
"Our ears are superb at locating the source and location of sounds relative to one another ... We also have an incredible ability to notice slight changes in pitch or tempo over time and to recognise patterns in sound after hearing them just once."

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Americans More Confident Jesus Will Return By
2050 Than Earth Will Be Struck By Asteroid

A statue of Jesus in Sydney, Australia. Jesus will return by 2050,
 say 40pc of Americans
A statue of Jesus in Sydney, Australia. 40 % of Americans believe
He will return by 2050.

Americans are largely optimistic about the future, according to the poll from the Pew Research Center For The People and The Press/Smithsonian Magazine.
By mid century, 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured, 66 per cent say artificial limbs will work better than real ones and 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.

But Americans are also braced for a major energy crisis and a warming planet, according to the survey. More than half, or 58 per cent, fear another world war in the next 40 years and 53 per cent expect a terrorist attack against the United States using a nuclear weapon.
The poll also shows a sharp dip in overall optimism from 1999, when 81 per cent said they were optimistic about life for themselves and their families. The current poll found just 64 per cent were.
Sixty-one percent said they were optimistic about the future of the United States, compared to 70 percent in 1999. And 56 percent predicted the US economy would be stronger in 40 years, compared to 64 percent of those polled in 1999.

The results were compiled from telephone and online interviews with 1,546 adults in April. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to Pew.
Here are some other findings of the poll:
• 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured by 2050.
• 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.
• 68 per cent of those under 30 predict a world war by 2050.
• 53 per cent say ordinary people will travel in space
• Nearly three-quarters, or 74 per cent, of those polled believe it likely that "most of our energy will come from sources other than coal, oil, and gas".
• Yet 72 per cent believe the world is likely to experience a major worldwide energy crisis by 2050.
• 66 per cent say the Earth will definitely or probably get warmer but it breaks down strongly along political lines, with just 48 per cent of Republicans saying so and 83 per cent of Democrats.
• 42 per cent say it is likely that scientists will be able to tell what people are thinking by scanning their brains but 55 say this will definitely or probably not happen.
• 89 per cent believe a woman will be elected US president by 2050.
• 86 per cent say it is at least probable that most Americans will have to work into their 70s before retiring.
• 41 per cent say Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years while 46 per cent say this will definitely or probably not happen.
• 63 per cent anticipate the demise of paper money
• 61 per cent say almost no one will send letters by 2050.
• 31 per cent expect the planet will be struck by an asteroid.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking: Time Travel

Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking is an epic new kind of cosmology series, a Planet Earth of the heavens. It takes the world's most famous scientific mind and sets it free, powered by the limitless possibilities of computer animation. Hawking gives us the ultimate guide to the universe, a ripping yarn based on real science, spanning the whole of space and time -- from the nature of the universe itself, to the chances of alien life, and the real possibility of time travel.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Coast To Coast: Ancient and Suppressed Discoveries

Coast to Coast AM 06-17-2010

Explorer and archaeologist Jonathan Gray discussed discoveries that demonstrate advanced ancient technology. Because such artifacts don't match current academic beliefs they are often suppressed, with evidence destroyed or hidden, he said, citing the Smithsonian Institution, and countries such as Peru, America, Israel, New Zealand, France, and Australia as being involved in covering-up evidence.

Some of the suppressed ancient discoveries he highlighted:

•A kind of glassware in Egypt and Peru that can be bent like plastic.
•Screen projectors used in Egyptian temples, with movement and sound simulation.
•Artifacts and buildings left on the moon-- Chinese records speak of trips to the moon.
•The 'Black Knight' satellite-- ancient races talked about putting up satellites.
•An ancient underground complex discovered in Southern California that included star charts on aluminum sheets.
•Micro-techology found in Russia, with some objects as small as 1/1000th of an inch.
•Maps of the ancient world that showed Antarctica as free of ice and populated.
Gray also spoke about his challenge to the work of Zecharia Sitchin, who contends that an ET race, the Annunaki, visited Earth from the planet Nibiru. Sitchin's translations of Sumerian cuneiform does not match the accepted dictionary meanings, he commented.
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Human race 'will be extinct within
100 years', claims leading scientist

Professor Frank Fenner
Professor Frank Fenner has warned that the human race can not survive

As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.
And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.
He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and 'unbridled consumption.’
Fenner told The Australian newspaper that 'homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.'
'A lot of other animals will, too,' he added.
'It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.'
Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene - the time since industrialisation - we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.
Fenner, 95, has won awards for his work in helping eradicate the variola virus that causes smallpox and has written or co-written 22 books.
He announced the eradication of the disease to the World Health Assembly in 1980 and it is still regarded as one of the World Health Organisation's greatest achievements.
He was also heavily involved in helping to control Australia's myxomatosis problem in rabbits.
Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011.
Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.
He said: 'We'll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.
'Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.'
'The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years.
‘But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear.'
 Earth's population
A map of the world from an atlas which concentrates on population rather than
land mass released last year. The Earth's population is due to hit 7bn by next year

Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view.
'Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.'
Simon Ross, the vice-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, said: 'Mankind is facing real challenges including climate change, loss of bio-diversity and unprecedented growth in population.'
Professor Fenner's chilling prediction echoes recent comments by Prince Charles who last week warned of ‘monumental problems’ if the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace.
And it comes after Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University said that a 'Doomsday' moment will take place in 2014 - and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous.
in the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic 'Great Event' of international significance at the start of each century, he claimed.
In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world's population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.
He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ancient Aliens: The Series (2010)

A look at possible alien contact events during the 20th century, such as the Battle of Los Angeles in 1942 and the Roswell UFO Incident in 1947; the recent attempts by man to make contact with extraterrestrial life through the CETI project; and what would happen if aliens answered back, what protocols exist to determine who would speak on behalf of mankind and how we would communicate.

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Ancient Aliens: The Series - The Visitors (2010)

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Ancient Aliens: The Series - The Evidence (2010)

According to ancient alien theorists, extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of science and engineering landed on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early civilizations and forever changing the course of human history. But how did this concept develop, and is there any evidence to support it?

Ancient alien theory grew out of the centuries-old idea that life exists on other planets, and that humans and extraterrestrials have crossed paths before. The theme of human-alien interaction was thrust into the spotlight in the 1960s, driven by a wave of UFO sightings and popular films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The space program played no small part in this as well: If mankind could travel to other planets, why couldn’t extraterrestrials visit Earth?

In 1968, the Swiss author Erich von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods?, which became an immediate bestseller. In it, he put forth his hypothesis that, thousands of years ago, space travelers from other planets visited Earth, where they taught humans about technology and influenced ancient religions. He is regarded by many as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as the ancient astronaut theory.

Most ancient alien theorists, including von Däniken, point to two types of evidence to support their ideas. The first is ancient religious texts in which humans witness and interact with gods or other heavenly beings who descend from the sky—sometimes in vehicles resembling spaceships—and possess spectacular powers. The second is physical specimens such as artwork depicting alien-like figures and ancient architectural marvels like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.

If aliens visited Earth in the past, could they make an appearance in the future? For ancient alien theorists, the answer is a resounding yes. They believe that, by sharing their views with the world, they can help prepare future generations for the inevitable encounter that awaits them.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Theory for Life's First Energy Source

An obscure compound known as pyrophosphite could have been a source of energy that allowed the first life on Earth to form, scientists now say.
From the tiniest bacteria to the complex human body, all living beings require an energy-transporting molecule called ATP to survive. Often likened to a "rechargeable battery," ATP stores chemical energy in a form that can be used by organic matter.
"You need enzymes to make ATP, and you need ATP to make enzymes," said researcher Terence Kee of the University of Leeds in England. "The question is: Where did energy come from before either of these two things existed? We think that the answer may lie in simple molecules, such as pyrophosphate, which is chemically very similar to ATP, but has the potential to transfer energy without enzymes."
Obscure but important
Prior theories for how life emerged from mere chemistry have considered that a similar but separate compound known as pyrophosphate was the predecessor to the more complex yet more efficient ATP.

Phosphate has 4 oxygen atoms bound to a central phosphorus atom, and is present in all living cells. When two phosphates combine and lose a water molecule, they form pyrophosphate.
Pyrophosphite, on the other hand, is rarely encountered, chemist Robert Shapiro at New York University told Livescience. "Even in my Google search for it, I got the query: 'Don't you mean pyrophosphate?'"
The presence of "one or two thorny little problems" with its rival molecule [pyrophosphate] had left some unanswered questions, Kee said in a telephone interview.
The two main problems were that pyrophosphate didn't seem to be available in significant amounts in the geological mineral record, and it doesn't react well without catalysts (which weren't around then), according to Kee.
On the other hand, Kee's team has found that pyrophosphite would be "relatively straightforward to prepare from minerals that are known to exist in iron meteorites." The routes to the production of this molecule are simpler than those proposed for pyrophosphate, Kee said.
Though similarly produced through dehydration, and similar in composition except that it has some oxygen atoms replaced by hydrogen, pyrophosphite is rare. Only three pyrophosphite minerals exist, compared with "many phosphate minerals," Kee said.
The chemical's obscurity on Earth is not a sign of its irrelevance. It's highly unstable in today's oxygen-rich environment (meaning it breaks down into other molecules rapidly) but is a superior catalyst (jump-starter) for certain chemical reactions, Kee said, citing as-yet-unpublished evidence.
Lateral thinking
Kee called the altered theory "more a lateral thought process" than a "new concept."
"It is as little strange that pyrophosphite and its ability to act as a phosphorus-transfer agent have been known for some time but it has not been proposed previously as being of any pre-biotic significance," he said. "I suspect because noone had considered the need for it or that it may have been accessible pre-biotically."
Interestingly, machines that manufacture artificial DNA for experiments regularly use pyrophophite in their assembly process, Shapiro said.
The researchers detail their theory on pyrophosphate as life's first energy source in a recent issue of the journal Chemical Communications. chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology. We take on the misconceptions that often pop up around scientific discoveries and deliver short, provocative explanations with a certain wit and style. Check out our science videos, Trivia & Quizzes and Top 10s. Join our community to debate hot-button issues like stem cells, climate change and evolution. You can also sign up for free newsletters, register for RSS feeds and get cool gadgets at the LiveScience Store.

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