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D-brief

In a Major Feat, Scientists Create a Bose-Einstein Condensate in Space

By Chelsea Gohd | October 18, 2018 1:57 pm

Space-Based Matter
By blasting a miniature, experimental chip into space, scientists have created the first space-based Bose-Einstein condensate. The feat could allow for the more precise exploration of gravitational waves, dark matter, and add to our fundamental understanding of physics.

Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are a state of matter in which a cloud of atoms is cooled until it’s very close to absolute zero. At this extremely low temperature, the atoms move very, very slowly, cl …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics

D-brief

Look Up This Weekend: The Orionid Meteor Shower Will Light Up the Sky

By Chelsea Gohd | October 18, 2018 1:13 pm

A Gift From Halley
This weekend, go outside and look up in the dark hours before dawn to witness the annual Orionid meteor shower, which will hit its peak overnight on October 21-22.

You may have seen a few stray meteors zooming across the sky, leftover Draconids whose peak passed earlier this month or leftover meteors from the South Taurid shower that’s still ongoing. But this week, and more specifically this weekend, the Orionid meteors will be easy to spot.

The Orionid meteors stre …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics

D-brief

Reading a Cuttlefish's Mind — On Its Skin

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 18, 2018 11:22 am

Pity the cuttlefish that tries to play poker. Where humans might blush when embarrassed or go white when frightened, cuttlefish wear their thoughts on their skins much more literally.

Our own color transformations are caused by nothing more than changes in the blood flowing right under our skin, and it’s a poor marker of what our actual thoughts are. Cuttlefish, by contrast, are covered in up to millions of tiny pigment-filled cells called chromatophores. Muscles in the cells stretch to  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

Dead Things

Earliest Flesh-Ripping Fish Found (With Nibbled Victims)

By Gemma Tarlach | October 18, 2018 10:00 am

Jumping right out of nightmares and into my heart (it’s kind of cute, isn’t it?), meet Fincutter, the Bavarian Piranha. Less than three inches long, the Late Jurassic fossil is the earliest ray-finned fish with flesh-ripping teeth — and paleontologists say it was preserved alongside some of its prey.

Piranhamesodon pinnatomus (“pinnatomus” = fincutter) turned up in the same fabulously fossiliferous Bavarian quarry that has given us specimens of Archaeopteryx and other key Jurassic an …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
Dr. Frankenstein in L.I.F.E | Image courtesy of ASU

Citizen Science Salon

Frankenstein Outside the Castle

By Guest | October 18, 2018 9:34 am

It’s alive! The first time Mary Shelley introduced Dr. Frankenstein’s lab in her 1818 novel, she described it as “a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house… I kept my workshop of filthy creation… The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials.” Two hundred years later, researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona are challenging that origin story with a sleek, modern Frankenstein lab. Thanks in part to a grant from …

Dead Things

Oldest Trace Fossils Ever Found Might Not Be Fossils

By Gemma Tarlach | October 17, 2018 12:00 pm

Fossil or faux pas? A 2016 study that interpreted rock anomalies as the oldest evidence of life on our planet got it wrong, say researchers behind a new analysis of some of the same rock. The deformities aren’t relics of early microbial life, says the team, but rather a snapshot of geological forces shaping and reshaping our world.

The race to find the very first sign of life on Earth is one of the more heated contests in science — even though, for some, it lacks the glamour of hun …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

ImaGeo

A dust storm in Greenland? Beautiful satellite images show one far north of the Arctic Circle

By Tom Yulsman | October 17, 2018 10:49 am

In late September, a dust storm erupted in a seemingly unlikely place: high in the Arctic in Greenland.

It was nothing compared to a Saharan dust storm. Even so, it was large enough to be visible from space. You can see it in the Sentinel-2 satellite image above: a grayish plume of fine silt being swept up by northwesterly winds. The source: a dry bed of a braided river valley that ends in Scoresby Sound on Greenland’s east coast.

This is about 80 miles northwest of Ittoqqortoomiit …

The new shape of Kīlauea's summit area, where the caldera floor collapsed over the course of the summer. USGS/HVO.

Rocky Planet

Kīlauea's Summit Collapsed Into Itself

By Erik Klemetti | October 17, 2018 8:50 am

A few weeks back I wrote about how much the lower East Rift Zone of Hawaii’s Kīlauea had been changed by this summer’s eruption. Over half a cubic kilometer of lava came pouring out of the multitude of fissures that opening in Leilani Estates and the neighboring area and 850 acres were added to the Big Island from all those lava flows entering the ocean. It was one of the largest eruptions in the last few centuries at the giant volcano. Yet, the LERZ eruption might not have been the most dr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

The Crux

Beyond Psilocybin: Mushrooms Have Lots of Cool Compounds Scientists Should Study

By Troy Farah | October 16, 2018 5:12 pm

Psilocybin mushrooms, the “magic” fungi famous for giving users hallucinations and spiritual insight, may not actually be supernatural, but they come pretty close. A growing body of research suggests they might help treat a range of mental disorders, and there’s little evidence that they’re addictive.

But the world of magic mushrooms extends far beyond psilocybin. Though they may not have intended it, these fungal chemical factories are synthesizing chemicals that just so happen t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World

Neuroskeptic

RIP OAPL: An Academic Publisher Vanishes

By Neuroskeptic | October 15, 2018 2:08 pm

A dubious predatory academic publisher called Open Access Publishing London (OAPL) seems to have died. Their website has gone down, taking some 1,500 scientific papers with it. What can we learn from this?

Long-time readers will remember my series of posts on OAPL back from when I first investigated it in 2013. As far as I can tell, it was a one-man operation. The man turned out to be a Dr. Waseem Jerjes. Jerjes is a dental surgeon with many legitimate research papers to his name, and he  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ethics, law, PIE, select, Top Posts
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