Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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Fish with a bird-like head caught in Chinese river

A fish with a head resembling that of a bird has been caught in a river in China's Guizhou Province.

Recently released footage of the peculiar creature, which looks like an amalgamation of two different types of animals, went viral after it was uploaded on to Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Since then, thousands of Internet users have been attempting to figure out what it is.

According to fish expert Yang Xing from the Guizhou Fisheries Research Institute, the most likely explanation is that the creature is a carp with a prominent head deformity.

"One possibility is that the embryo was damaged when it was growing," he said.

"Another possibility is that the lack of oxygen in [the] water - due to over-crowded fishing farming - caused the fish's head to be deformed."

According to reports, the fish was later released back in to the river.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

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Curiosity discovers Organic material on Mars

NASA has announced this week that complex organic matter has been found in an ancient lake bed on Mars.

The material was found after the rover drilled into the surface of a 3.5 billion-year-old mudstone at the bottom of the Gale crater.

Researchers have been quick to point out that the discovery does not necessarily mean that there is, or has been, life on the red planet.

The groundbreaking discovery represents the best evidence yet that Mars was once home to lakes filled with the carbon-based compounds necessary for primitive life forms to develop.

Intriguingly, NASA scientists have been unable to determine how this organic matter originally formed, meaning that there is a chance that it was the byproduct of ancient organisms.

It may have also been deposited on Mars by comets or asteroids in the distant past.

Certainly, the presence of these compounds would have helped to sustain any life that did arise.

"We know that on Earth microorganisms eat all sorts of organics. It's a valuable food source for them," said NASA biogeochemist Jennifer Eigenbrode.

"While we don't know the source of the material, the amazing consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars."

"It is not telling us that life was there, but it is saying that everything organisms really needed to live in that kind of environment, all of that was there."

“To me it is amazing that we can show we have organic matter preserved for more than 3bn years in these rocks,” said Kirsten Siebach, a planetary geologist who was not involved in the work at Rice University in Houston, Texas. “This is very promising for the preservation of potential ancient life on the planet.”

“These molecules could have been part of life, but they could also have been food for life,” Siebach added. “To know that the water really was full of organic molecules really opens up the different ways that life could have existed on Mars.”

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Friday, May 25, 2018

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$17B 'holy grail of shipwrecks' discovered

The long-lost 300-year-old Spanish galleon was found with the help of an autonomous underwater vehicle.

Discovered in 2015 off the coast of Colombia by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the wreck had been kept under wraps for the last three years out of respect for the Colombian government.

Known as the San Jose, the 62-gun galleon went down on June 8, 1708 along with 600 members of its crew while engaged in a battle with the British during the War of Spanish Succession.

Incredibly, the wreck is thought to contain a treasure trove which today is worth over $17 billion.

Now new information has been released indicating that the ship, which lies 2,000ft beneath the ocean's surface, was found using an autonomous underwater vehicle known as REMUS 6000.

"The wreck was partially sediment-covered, but with the camera images from the lower altitude missions, we were able to see new details in the wreckage and the resolution was good enough to make out the decorative carving on the cannons," said expedition leader Mike Purcell.

"During that November expedition, we got the first indications of the find from side scan sonar images of the wreck," WHOI expedition leader Mike Purcell explains in a statement.

"From those images, we could see strong sonar signal returns, so we sent REMUS back down for a closer look to collect camera images."

Photographs taken just 9 metres (30 ft) above the wreck identified the vessel's cannons, and later dives uncovered details like engraved dolphins carved into the cannons' bronze, in addition to scattered teacups on the seabed, plus ceramics and other artefacts.

There's no official word yet on when or how these objects will be recovered – not to mention the San José's other considerable riches, which have not yet been detailed.

It remains unclear who will end up with the vessel's vast riches however there have already been several tense legal battles over the matter and the precise location of the vessel is still a secret.

UNESCO has since called on Colombia not to exploit the wreck for commercial purposes.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

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Moon mission 'a step towards Mars', NASA boss says.

The US space agency has emphasized that its Moon ambitions will not distract from its efforts to reach Mars.

In December, instructing Nasa to send astronauts back to the moon, half a century after Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot there. Last week, Nasa issued a draft request for a proposal encouraging the US commercial space industry to help it deliver payloads to the moon.

Last week, NASA seemed to be doubling down on the Moon as a target for future missions when it published a draft request for a proposal encouraging the commercial space industry to assist in its upcoming efforts to land payloads on the lunar surface.

Now though, new administrator Jim Bridenstine has reiterated that Mars is still the main objective.

"If some of you are concerned that our focus in the coming years is the Moon, don't be," he said during a speech at the annual Humans to Mars summit in Washington.

"The president's vision has emphasized that our exploration campaign will establish American leadership in the human exploration of Mars."

"We are doing both the moon and Mars in tandem and the missions are supportive of each other."

"In fact, our return to the surface of the moon will allow us to prove and advance technologies that will feed forward to Mars: precision landing systems, methane engines, orbital habitation, surface habitation, surface mobility, long duration life support operations and much more that will enable us to land the first Americans on the red planet."

According to space subcommittee chairman Senator Ted Cruz, the US is particularly committed to not only landing humans on Mars but to also being the first nation on Earth to do so.

"The first foot that sets foot on Mars will be an American foot, and an American explorer," he said. "That's leadership that I think this country needs and values."

"Restoring America's leadership in space I think is incredibly important."

Source:The Guardian
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Monday, April 23, 2018

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Asteroid mining could be worth trillions

According to Goldman Sachs, asteroid mining has the potential to produce the world's first trillionaires.

The asteroids that pass us by on a regular basis might not seem particularly valuable, but inside many of these spacefaring rocks there lies a fortune in gold, platinum and other minerals that could actually make space mining an extremely viable commercial venture.

Last year, investment banking firm Goldman Sachs published a 98-page report advocating asteroid mining as a potentially lucrative money-making opportunity for those willing to make the investment.

"While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower," wrote aerospace and materials analyst Noah Poponak.

"Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6 billion."

Professor Michio Kaku has also commented on the opportunities of asteroid mining, noting that asteroids are essentially "a flying gold mine in outer space" filled with valuable resources.

Given that a single 3,000ft asteroid could contain as much as $5.4 trillion worth of platinum, anyone who succeeds in tapping in to this plentiful new resource could become very wealthy indeed.Smaller asteroids that don’t exceed 100 feet across are estimated to have precious metal contents of around $50 billion

Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees with Kaku’s prediction.
“The first trillionaire there will ever be is the person who exploits the natural resources on asteroids.”
Tyson believes that asteroid mining, which opens up a whole new, wider horizon, would help prevent future conflicts over resource access.
“There’s this vast universe of limitless energy and limitless resources. I look at wars fought over access to resources. That could be a thing of the past, once space becomes our backyard,” he said in a statement.
We may even see an asteroid 'gold rush' take place within the not-too-distant future.

Source: Inquisitr.com

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

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Hawaii 'lava dome' revealed in throwback image


This remarkable dome of churning molten magma was photographed in Hawaii by the US Geological Survey.

The incredible spectacle, which climbed as high as 65ft over a period of three days, was captured on camera during the 5-year-long Mauna Ulu eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano back in 1969.

Lava fountains like this one occur when gas bubbles from vents, fissures and lava tubes rapidly form and cause a huge jet of lava to shoot up in to the air.

Incredibly, the largest of them can grow to over 500 meters.

"A remarkably symmetrical dome fountain occasionally 20m high but usually half that, often welled from the eastern compartment [of the vents] for periods of several hours," the researchers wrote.

"Most of the lava from this fountain flowed away from the vent, but some formed a narrow river that poured back into the western compartment."

"Every few seconds, gases burst explosively from the western compartment, carrying spatter possibly derived from the lava drainback." This remarkable dome of churning molten magma was photographed in Hawaii by the US Geological Survey.


The incredible spectacle, which climbed as high as 65ft over a period of three days, was captured on camera during the 5-year-long Mauna Ulu eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano back in 1969.

Lava fountains like this one occur when gas bubbles from vents, fissures and lava tubes rapidly form and cause a huge jet of lava to shoot up in to the air.

Incredibly, the largest of them can grow to over 500 meters.

"A remarkably symmetrical dome fountain occasionally 20m high but usually half that, often welled from the eastern compartment [of the vents] for periods of several hours," the researchers wrote.

"Most of the lava from this fountain flowed away from the vent, but some formed a narrow river that poured back into the western compartment."

"Every few seconds, gases burst explosively from the western compartment, carrying spatter possibly derived from the lava drainback." 

Of course, Kīlauea is far from done. Only nine years later, the Pu'u 'Ō'ō eruption began - and it is still active today, producing regular spectacles of lava explosions.
What's particularly crazy is that's not even the longest continually active volcano on our planet. According to Guinness World Records, this honour belongs to Mt Stromboli in Italy.

Source: Sciencealert

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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Stephen Hawking, Famed physicist, Dies at 76.



One of the greatest scientific minds of our age, Hawking passed away in the early hours of this morning.

Recognized around the world as both a scientific genius and pop-culture icon, Hawking's work in the field of cosmology, as well as his distinctive computer-generated voice, made him one of the most respected and recognizable people on the face of the planet.

Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and given just two years to live at the age of 21, Hawking went on to defy all the odds by living a long and eventful life.

His best-selling book, 'A Brief History of Time', sold over 100 million copies and he made several appearances in TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons.

Most of all however, he will be remembered for his extensive contributions to science, his keen sense of humor and his indomitable determination in the face of his life-long illness.

"My goal is simple," he was quoted as saying in 'Stephen Hawking's Universe'. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

In a statement today, his three children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, paid tribute to him.

"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," they said. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."

"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world."

"He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.'"

"We will miss him forever." 


Source: BBC News
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