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Space

The Genesis Project: New life on exoplanets

exoplanets

exoplanets

Can life be brought to celestial bodies outside our solar system, which are not permanently inhabitable? A new essay that has been published is trying to deal with this question. Over the last several years, the search for exoplanets has shown that very different types exist leading to new questions and a variety of possible answers.

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‘Space Warps’ and other citizen science projects reap major dividends for astrophysics

Three astrophysicists discuss the impact volunteer, citizen scientists are having on discovery -- and what the future holds

Three astrophysicists discuss the impact volunteer, citizen scientists are having on discovery -- and what the future holds

Thanks to the Internet, amateur volunteers known as “citizen scientists” can readily donate their time and effort to science–in fields ranging from medicine to zoology to astrophysics. The astrophysics project Space Warps offers a compelling example of why citizen science has become such a popular tool and how valuable it can be.

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It came from planet X: ‘Forbidden’ substances on super-Earths

Scientists say 'forbidden' substances may increase heat transfer rates and strengthen magnetic fields on super-Earths

Scientists say 'forbidden' substances may increase heat transfer rates and strengthen magnetic fields on super-Earths

Using mathematical models, scientists have ‘looked’ into the interior of super-Earths and discovered that they may contain compounds that are forbidden by the classical rules of chemistry — these substances may increase the heat transfer rate and strengthen the magnetic field on these planets.

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Our pale blue dot in the wake of destruction

The pale blue dot we call home

The pale blue dot we call home

This is our home, that pale blue dot, dwarfed by an arrow that takes up less space on your screen than this sentence. For all our “overwhelming” intelligence, if we flexed our mental might and developed a weapon to destroy this pale blue dot, it would almost certainly go unnoticed in the universe.

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You too can learn to farm on Mars!

You too can learn to farm on Mars!

Image credit goes to: SpaceX

Scientists at Washington State University and the University of Idaho are helping students figure out how to farm on Mars, much like astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, attempts in the critically acclaimed movie “The Martian.” Washington State University physicist Michael Allen and University of Idaho food scientist Helen Joyner teamed up to explore the challenge. Their five-page study guide was published the day the movie premiered earlier this month.

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Research investigates whether solar events could trigger birth defects on Earth

solar flare

Studies find airplane crews at high altitude are exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation from cosmic rays. But could these cosmic rays pose hazards even at sea level? In recent years, research has suggested congenital birth defects down on Earth’s surface could be caused by these “solar particle events” — spikes in cosmic rays from the sun that touch off the northern lights and sometimes hamper communications or the electric power grid.

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Dead galaxies in Coma Cluster may be packed with dark matter

Coma Cluster
Coma Cluster

This artist’s impression of the ‘quenching’ process shows how a normal blue (star-forming) galaxy lost its gas while falling into the Coma Cluster very early on in its formation.
Image credit goes to: Ameron Yozin, ICRAR/UWA

Galaxies in a cluster roughly 300 million light years from Earth could contain as much as 100 times more dark matter than visible matter, according to an Australian study. The research, published today, used powerful computer simulations to study galaxies that have fallen into the Coma Cluster, one of the largest structures in the Universe in which thousands of galaxies are bound together by gravity.

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Study finds metal foams capable of shielding X-rays, gamma rays, neutron radiation

metal foam

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams — like the one pictured here — are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.
Image credit goes to: Afsaneh Rabiei, North Carolina State University

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

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Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

Henize 2-10 galaxy

Image credit goes to : NASA

While mass media was busy misquoting Stephen Hawking and arguing about black holes, astrophysicists have been hard at work trying to solve still unanswered questions about them. Now a team has not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were like in the early universe.

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The universe is expanding, but how fast?

Nasa swift super nova

That same galaxy in a NASA Swift image is shown, with bars indicating the location of supernova SN 2011fe. The Swift image is a false-color image with UV emission blue and optical emission red.
Image credit goes to: NASA/Swift

We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.

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Life, NOT as we know it

alien life

Life as we know it, when we peer deep into the vastness of space we look for someone — or something — that resembles ourselves. Carbon based, needs water lifeforms, but what if we’re being narrow-minded? A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of researchers suggests we are being too closed minded about life.

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Interstellar helps physicists research spinning black holes

black hole inerstellar

There is a saying that life imitates art and while people like to disagree with the meaning of it, sometimes art can imitate life. For instance the team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes.

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A Venusian Mystery Explored Once More

Photo Credit goes to NASA. Venera 13 Russian Probe, offering some of the only color photos on the surface of Venus.It only operated for about an hour.

Photo Credit goes to NASA. Venera 13 Russian Probe, offering some of the only color photos on the surface of Venus. Fun fact: It only operated for about two hours before it died.

Venus, the place where women are from… supposedly. To say Venus has a harsh climate would be an understatement, this is one of many reasons why we will never (or maybe not soon) see a “long lasting” Venus rover counterpart to our Mars rover missions. Still, the planet (much like all the other plants) can teach us a lot about not just our own origins, but the origins of the universe. Also like all our neighbor planets Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds, a mystery that might be soon solved, all thanks to a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old spacecraft data.

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Move over Carbon nanotubes introducing Diamond nanothreads

The core of the nanothreads that Badding's team made is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond's structure -- zig-zag 'cyclohexane' rings of six carbon atoms bound together, in which each carbon is surrounded by others in the strong triangular-pyramid shape of a tetrahedron. Image credit goes to: Penn State University

The core of the nanothreads that researchers made is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond’s structure — zig-zag ‘cyclohexane’ rings of six carbon atoms bound together, in which each carbon is surrounded by others in the strong triangular-pyramid shape of a tetrahedron. Image credit goes to: Penn State University

Carbon nanotubes our hopes and dreams for the future have been firmly placed in using the unique material for everything from electronics to engineering. Unfortunately the production of carbon nanotubes has been hampered by setbacks, which as it turns out might not be a bad thing. This is because for the first time, scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin “diamond nanothreads” that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today’s strongest nanotubes and polymers.

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Voyager has hit interstellar space…. maybe?

intersteller space

Poor Voyager, he just can’t catch a break. We’ve said it’s hit interstellar space more times than we want to admit and in 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space [confirmed late 2013], traveling further from Earth than any other man-made object.

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