Month: October, 2018

Space Crew Survives Plunge To Earth After Russian Rocket Fails

A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.




The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

The Soyuz capsule carrying Ovchinin and Hague separated from the malfunctioning Russian rocket and plunged 31 miles (50 km) down to the surface, with parachutes helping to slow its speed, NASA said.

A cloud of sand billowed up as the capsule landed after what NASA called a 34-minute steep ballistic descent.

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, with their arms and legs flailing. Ovchinin can be heard saying, “That was a quick flight.”

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Why Is Pluto No Longer A Planet?

In 2006, Pluto was voted out of the planetary club by members of the International Astronomical Union

But in 2006, it was relegated to the status of dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). So why was Pluto demoted?

Where did the controversy start?

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who was using the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Textbooks were swiftly updated to list this ninth member in the club. But over subsequent decades, astronomers began to wonder whether Pluto might simply be the first of a population of small, icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.

This region would become known as the Kuiper Belt, but it took until 1992 for the first “resident” to be discovered.

The candidate Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 1992 QBI was detected by David Jewitt and colleagues using the University of Hawaii’s 2.24m telescope at Mauna Kea.




How did this change things?

Confirmation of the first KBO invigorated the existing debate. And in 2000, the Hayden Planetarium in New York became a focus for controversy when it unveiled an exhibit featuring only eight planets.

The planetarium’s director Neil deGrasse Tyson would later become a vocal figure in public discussions of Pluto’s status.

But it was discoveries of Kuiper Belt Objects with masses roughly comparable to Pluto, such as Quaoar (announced in 2002), Sedna (2003) and Eris (2005), that pushed the issue to a tipping point.

Eris, in particular, appeared to be larger than Pluto – giving rise to its informal designation as the Solar System’s “tenth planet“.

The discovery of other icy objects similar in size to Pluto forced a re-think by the IAU

Prof Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who led the team that found Eris, would later style himself as the “man who killed Pluto”, while deGrasse Tyson would later jokingly quip that he had “driven the getaway car”.

The finds spurred the International Astronomical Union to set up a committee tasked with defining just what constituted a planet, with the aim of putting a final draft proposal before members at the IAU’s 2006 General Assembly in Prague.

Under a radical early plan, the number of planets would have increased from nine to 12, seeing Pluto and its moon Charon recognised as a twin planet, and Ceres and Eris granted entry to the exclusive club. But the idea met with opposition.

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Unlocking Mysteries Of The Parthenon

The eastern facade of the time-ravaged, forever elegant lady of the Acropolis – the Parthenon.

It is impossible not to be awed when one stands in the shadow of the great Parthenon and looks up at its elegantly carved Doric columns towering overhead.

The quality of the craftsmanship, the stunning white Pentelic marble, the sheer size of this 2,500-year-old temple dedicated to Athena Parthenos – the virgin goddess and patron deity of ancient Athens – are all features of a unique, world-class monument that strike us immediately.

However, there is much more to the Parthenon than first meets the eye.

As viewers, we welcome and accept the temple’s outward beauty and seeming perfection, but we don’t often stop to ask ourselves why the building so affects us.




The answer is that the Parthenon’s architects, Ictinus and Callicrates, and its chief sculptural artist, Phidias, have incorporated numerous “hidden” devices within its marble construction and carved decorations that were designed to trick the viewers’ eye, to make us believe we are witnessing something perfectly regular, sensible and balanced in all its aspects.

These almost imperceptible optical refinements and other little adjustments or design tricks allow us to unwittingly take in the details of the Parthenon more easily.

To appreciate them more fully and to not be disturbed by unpleasant optical illusions that otherwise could have been caused by the building’s massive scale and the basic nature of ancient post-and-lintel architecture.

The Parthenon’s eastern pediment tells the story of the birth of Athena, framed by the rising and sinking chariots of Helios (Sun) and Selene (Moon) – a special day in the life of the world.

TRICKING THE BRAIN

Looks certainly can be deceiving! Who would believe that, in fact, there are virtually no straight lines or right angles in the Parthenon?

This enormous temple appears at first glance to be a giant rectilinear construction, all of whose lines are straight!

And does it seem sensible to the rational mind that the base of the temple – its stepped pedestal or stylobate – is actually domed, not flat?

The four corners of the pedestal droop gracefully downward, such that if one were to stand on the top step and look lengthwise along the building at someone else also standing on the same step at the opposite end, these two observers would only see each other from about the knees up.

This doming of the temple base was reputedly done to avoid an optical “sagging” of the building’s middle that would have been perceived along its east and west ends and especially along its long north and south sides.

If its lines were actually designed and built to be perfectly straight.

The southern walkway (pteron) of the Parthenon, whose domed curvature pleased the eye and shed rainwater.

Additional refinements in the Parthenon include the slight inward leaning of all the columns in the Doric colonnade surrounding the building.

The corner columns are slightly larger in diameter than the others and lean inward in two directions; that is, diagonally to the corner.

They also are set in such a way that there exists a smaller space, or intercolumniation, between them and the next column.

Meanwhile, the columns themselves are not straight along their vertical axes, but swell in their middles.

This phenomenon, called “entasis,” intended to counteract another optical effect in which columns with straight sides appear to the eye to be slenderer in their middles and to have a waist.

Furthermore, the whole superstructure of the outer facades of the temple, above the level of the columns (the “entablature”), also curves downward at the corners, to mirror the stylobate and carry upward the temple’s overall domed curvature.

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According To Scientists, The Antarctic Ice Shelf Is Emitting A Very Strange Noise As It Melts

Snapshots of the 2012/2013 summer on the frozen continent.

Scientists studying Antarctic’s Ross Ice Shelf found that the ice emits a strange sound as the ice begins to melt. The team of scientists stumbled on this finding, never having heard the weird noise the upper layers of ice create.

The team of scientists, who recently published their research in Geophysical Research Letters, found that both wind and melting cause the surface slabs of ice on the Ross Ice Shelf to vibrate, producing strange sounds as a result.

Extremely sensitive seismic sensors were used to monitor the sound patterns across the Ross Ice Shelf in western Antartica.

The initial intent of the research was not to measure this acoustic anomaly but to study the crust and mantle beneath Antarctica.

After 2 years of listening to the surface layers of the Ross Ice Shelf, scientists found that the ice nearly continuously “sings” in different frequencies depending on wind and melting.

The singing is produced from high-frequency wave trapped in the upper couple meters of snow. As winds blow across the ice shelf, they vibrate these upper layers, called firn.

The seismic sensors, buried within the firn layers, can measure and record these waves and their “sound” through time.




Unexpectedly, the researchers found that the pitch of the sound from the ice shelf changed when temperatures rose to above freezing and the ice began to melt.

The sound waves began to slow down and the pitch dropped as a response. This was an indication of both melting and degree of melting.

Once temperatures dipped below freezing again, the upper firn refroze but did not regain the initial pitch it had before the firn melted.

This could be an indication that once melted, the upper layers of ice shelves do not simply return back to original form.

Frost and firn after a snowstorm.

Scientists are keen to measure and understand the characteristics of melting in Antarctica and the upper firn layers as they represent a key variable in sea level rise over the coming decades.

It is estimated that if the Antarctic Ice Sheets melted in entirety sea level would rise by 60 meters (197 feet).

In the worst case scenario where all land ice has melted and drained into the oceans, scientists estimate that sea level will rise by 216 feet.

It’s important to note that even on rapid timescales this process would take thousands of years. If it did happen, however, our world would look quite different, with most coastal cities sitting squarely in the ocean.

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‘First Man’ Star Ryan Gosling Doesn’t Want to Go to the Moon

Ryan Gosling may play a pretty convincing Neil Armstrong in the new biopic “First Man,” but that iconic role as the famed Apollo 11 moonwalker didn’t inspire the movie star to dream of taking such a “giant leap” in real life.

In an interview with Space.com at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Gosling said that if he were given the opportunity to blast off on a mission to the moon, he would pass.

I had a great experience pretending to go there, and I’m happy with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, his co-star Claire Foy (who plays Neil Armstrong’s wife, Janet) seemed a bit more open to the idea of going to the moon, but “not right now,” she said.




Once they’ve done, you know, at least 4,000 trips, I’ll get on one.” Considering that no one has set foot on the moon in nearly 46 years — and that no human missions to the lunar surface are currently in the works — Foy may never make it to the moon at this rate.

Gosling may have no desire to walk on the moon, but his experience on the set of “First Man” brought him closer to a real moonwalking experience than most Earthlings will ever get.

All the things that we shot on the moon were very surreal,” he said.

They did such a good job of sculpting that lunar surface, and I think the only time I was completely in the Apollo 11 suit I was listening to comms from the original recording, so I could hear Buzz, I could hear mission control.

I felt very selfish in a way, because I was having this really special experience, but I think the beauty of the way Damien shot it is that the audience gets to experience it the same way I did,” he said, referring to the director, Damien Chazelle.

All of the moon scenes were filmed with IMAX cameras to provide an “immersive experience” for viewers, Chazelle said.

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Scientists Are Tracing the Source of One of the Most Mysterious Signals in Space

Over the past decade, we’ve found out a great deal about what fast radio bursts (FRBs) are — millisecond-long blips of intense radio emissions from deep space — but their origins remain a mystery.

Now, astronomers have tracked a repeating FRB to a dwarf galaxy nearly three billion lightyears from Earth, according to a report.

The international team, which presented its work at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting last January 2018, observed that the radio beam was being contorted by a magnetic field within a cloud of ionized gas, telling us more about the conditions these bursts take place in.




The study detailing the team’s results was recently published in Nature.

We see a sort of ‘twisting’ of the radio bursts caused by an effect known as Faraday rotation,” Jason Hessels, one of the co-authors of the study from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, told Futurism.

We hypothesize that the source of the bursts could be a neutron star in the proximity of a massive black hole that is accreting material from its surroundings, or maybe that it is a very young neutron star embedded in a nebula (a sort of cocoon around the source).

We are basically pushing forward and zooming in even further on where these fast radio bursts are coming from,” co-author Shami Chatterjee, a senior research associate from the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science said.

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TSA Outlines Its Plans For Facial Recognition On Domestic Flights

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is determined to make facial recognition and other biometrics a regular part of the airport experience, and it now has a roadmap for that expansion.

The effort will start by teaming with Customs and Border Protection on biometric security for international travel, followed by putting the technology into use for TSA Precheck travelers to speed up their boarding process.

After that, it would both devise an “opt-in” biometric system for ordinary domestic passengers and flesh out a deeper infrastructure.




While this will include technology like fingerprint readers (primarily for trusted passengers), face identification will remain the “primary means” of verifying identities, the TSA said. As such, you can expect facial recognition to play a major role.

To some extent, the roadmap is already in progress. You can find the TSA testing fingerprint technology for Precheck users in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, while Delta is poised to deploy a facial recognition terminal at the same location later in October.

The Administration’s roadmap sets far loftier goals, though. It sees facial recognition and other biometrics reducing the need for “high friction” documents like passports in addition to bolstering security.

There’s no firm timeline, however, and the roadmap only hints at addressing ethical issues like privacy in later studies.

That may prove to be one of the central obstacles to a wider implementation. How will the TSA ensure that face data isn’t misused or falls into the wrong hands, for instance?

And will it do enough to prevent false positives that would ensnare innocent people? Until the TSA addresses issues like those, its dreams of widespread biometrics might not become real.

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he Craziest Foods You’ll Eat In The Future

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With rising global temperatures and a rising population, the way we produce and consume food is going to have to undergo a fundamental change around the world. Here are some of the technologies and innovations that could find their way to our dinner plates in the future.

The United States faced a crisis in the Great Depression, not just of economic issues, but ecological as well. The Dust Bowl turned some of the most fertile land in the country into a desert due to overproduction of crops.

Today we face similar, even more intractable issues with population rise and climate change, and our current methods of production and consumption are going to have to change for things to be sustainable in the future. So here are some of the most promising techniques and technologies that could make their way to our dinner plates in the future.

Edible insects are a thing in many cultures around the world, and due to their high protein content and feed consumption ratio, we may find ourselves following suit.

Companies like Impossible and Beyond Foods have created meat from plants, with blood and everything. The science behind it is remarkable and could transform how we eat.

Nebraska is not known for growing warm-weather foods like oranges and citrus, but Russ Finch has created simple and effective geothermal greenhouses that make it possible for people to grow their own food in extreme environments.

As we approach 9 billion people on Earth, the need for leafy greens will go up, and we don’t have much more space to plant them. Luckily plantscrapers and vertical farms make it possible for a lot of food to be grown in a small space.

And a potential replacement to the plastic bottle could be found in water balls, made of digestible and biodegradable seaweed extract.

5 Ways You Can Prove The Earth Is NOT Flat

Pretty much everyone knows the Earth is a globe. But a very, very small minority of us cling inexplicably to the idea of a Flat Earth.

So, we thought it was the perfect time to compile the ways you can prove that the Earth most definitely a globe.

1. Look upwards

Yep, this one’s pretty simple. When you look up at the night sky, you can only see certain constellations from certain points on Earth.

Someone in Australia will see a different sky to someone in England at night – for example, you can’t see Polaris, the North Star, from the southern hemisphere.

If the Earth was flat, everyone would be able to see the same constellations.




2. Look down

An equally straightforward way to prove the Earth is not flat is to simply measure your shadow.

If you get two people at different distances from the equator, and they measure their shadows at the same time, their shadows will be different lengths. But if the Earth was flat, their shadows would be the same.

Eratosthenes, who conducted a version of this experiment, knew this 3,000 years ago

3. Weigh yourself

Gravity, which pulls everyone towards the centre of our planet’s mass, means we weigh the same wherever we are in the world.

But a flat Earth would mean that those at the edge of the disk would be pulled sideways, while those at the centre would be pulled down.

To iron out this problem, Flat Earthers have concluded there is no such thing as gravity – you know, that force that pretty much holds the entire Universe together.

But if they were correct, you would not be able to weigh yourself at all. You would also be dead.

4. Take a trip to Antarctica

Flat Earthers argue that Antarctica is actually a massive ice wall around a flat Earth.

But, if that were true, the countless planes that fly over Antarctica would surely have just… fallen off?

5. Check your watch

To explain seasons, Flat Earthers argue that the sun orbits in a circle above us.

But that doesn’t explain time zones, though this is their attempt, which shows the sun as some kind of spotlight,

Everyone whose ever used a torch at night knows you can see its beam from the side – and that would apply to a flat Earth too.

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How to Check If Your Facebook Account Got Hacked

At the end of last month, Facebook made a bombshell disclosure: As many as 90 million of its users may have had their so-called access tokens—which keep you logged into your account, so you don’t have to sign in every time—stolen by hackers.

Last Friday, the company put the actual number at 30 million. Here’s how to see if you were one of them, and if so, what the hackers got from your account.

There might understandably be some confusion around the matter; a few weeks ago, Facebook logged out 90 million of its users out of an abundance of caution, making them reset their passwords and negating the access token hack.

Over the next few days, Facebook will insert a customized message into the News Feeds of the 30 million people whose accounts were actually impacted, based on the extent of the damage.

People’s accounts have already been secured by the action we took two weeks ago to reset the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed—no one needs to log out again, and no one needs to change their password,” says Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product management.

We’ll be explaining what information the attackers may have accessed as well as steps they can take to help protect themselves from any suspicious emails or text messages or calls that could potentially result from this kind of information being exposed.

If you don’t want to wait for the message to hit your News Feed to find out if you’re okay, go ahead and see if you were among those hit at this page.

Scroll past the background paragraph, and you’ll see a header that reads Is my Facebook account impacted by this security issue?




From there, you’ll see one of three outcomes. If it says that based on what Facebook knows so far, you’re not impacted, you should be in the clear pending any revelations.

The company says that one million of the 30 million people who had their access tokens stolen didn’t have any of their data comprised.

The remaining 29 million users will see one of two messages, depending on the extent of the damage. Fifteen million of them had their name, email addresses, and phone number accessed by hackers.

While that’s not ideal by any accounting, the remaining 14 million Facebook users are left with a much worse result.

In addition to the basic contact information above, the list of details hackers accessed is long: username, date of birth, gender, devices you used Facebook on, and your language settings, at the very least.

If you filled out the relationship status, religion, hometown, current city, work, education, or website sections of your profile, they got that too.

And most unsettling of all, they could have accessed the 10 most recent locations you checked into or were tagged in, and the 15 most recent searches you’ve entered into the Facebook search bar.

Facebook says they’ve seen no signs yet that attackers used its access tokens to infiltrate third-party apps and services, as was technically possible.

And it maintains that no account passwords or credit card information was compromised. But the amount of information, and its sensitive nature, should be a boon to phishers and scammers for years to come.

You can change your password or cancel a credit card. Your hometown will always be just that. And where you’ve been and whom you’ve searched for are deeply personal parts of your life, both online and in the real world.

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