Month: December, 2018

Aston Martin Is Converting Classic Cars To Electric Rides

Aston Martin learned a lot about electric technology while developing a battery-powered variant of the Rapide sport sedan.

It’s now applying some of these lessons to the world of classic cars in order to offer enthusiasts a zero-emissions alternative to carburetors.

The central component of the electric powertrain is what Aston Martin refers to as an EV cassette.

It’s a lithium-ion battery pack that’s attached to the body via the original engine and transmission mounts, meaning there’s no need to cut or weld anything under the sheet metal.

The battery pack zaps the electric motor via wires, just like it does in a modern-day electric car. Aston also integrates a screen to the interior to let the driver keep an eye on the power management in real time.

To demonstrate what it’s capable of, the firm installed its electric powertrain into a 1970 DB6 MKII Volante (pictured).

It looks fully stock — it even keeps its exhaust system even though it no longer needs it.




There’s no word on how the electric conversion affects performance and handling, however, and Aston Martin hasn’t provided technical specifications.

We learned from a spokesperson that the EV cassette will be a weight-neutral replacement for the internal combustion engine. It will deliver a quicker zero-to-60-mph time, and match the original car’s top speed of 120 mph.

Aston Martin noted the conversion is reversible, so owners can return their car to its original configuration at any time.

The company claimed it’s the first firm to offer a reversible electric car conversion, but that’s not entirely accurate. The E-Type Zero that Jaguar introduced in 2017 can be converted back to gasoline, too.

Classic car enthusiasts who want to drive electric will be able to commission the conversion starting in 2019.

Aston will perform all of the work in-house, so owners will presumably need to ship their car to the company’s headquarters. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet.

Aston Martin said that the powertrain is modular. It was designed to replace the six-cylinder engine in a variety of models including the DB4, the DB5, the DB6, and the DBS.

Buyers who would rather drive a more modern electric Aston will need to hope they can get their hands on one of the 150 examples of the Rapide E.

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Why Is The Sky Dark At Night?

That question is not as simple as it may sound. You might think that space appears dark at night because that is when our side of Earth faces away from the Sun as our planet rotates on its axis every 24 hours.

But what about all those other far away suns that appear as stars in the night sky? Our own Milky Way galaxy contains over 200 billion stars, and the entire universe probably contains over 100 billion galaxies.

You might suppose that that many stars would light up the night like daytime!

Until the 20th century, astronomers didn’t think it was even possible to count all the stars in the universe. They thought the universe went on forever. In other words, they thought the universe was infinite.

Besides being very hard to imagine, the trouble with an infinite universe is that no matter where you look in the

night sky, you should see a star.

Stars should overlap each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a very thick forest.

But, if this were the case, the sky would be blazing with light. This problem greatly troubled astronomers and became known as “Olbers’ Paradox.” A paradox is a statement that seems to disagree with itself.

To try to explain the paradox, some 19th century scientists thought that dust clouds between the stars must be absorbing a lot of the starlight so it wouldn’t shine through to us.




But later scientists realized that the dust itself would absorb so much energy from the starlight that eventually it would glow as hot and bright as the stars themselves.

Astronomers now realize that the universe is not infinite. A finite universe—that is, a universe of limited size—even one with trillions and trillions of stars, just wouldn’t have enough stars to light up all of space.

Although the idea of a finite universe explains why Earth’s sky is dark at night, other causes work to make it even darker.

Not only is the universe finite in size, it is also finite in age. That is, it had a beginning, just as you and I did.

The universe was born about 15 billion years ago in a fantastic explosion called the Big Bang. It began at a single point and has been expanding ever since.

Because the universe is still expanding, the distant stars and galaxies are getting farther away all the time. Although nothing travels faster than light, it still takes time for light to cross any distance.

So, when astronomers look at a galaxy a million light years away, they are seeing the galaxy as it looked a million years ago.

The light that leaves that galaxy today will have much farther to travel to our eyes than the light that left it a million years ago or even one year ago, because the distance between that galaxy and us constantly increases.

That means the amount of light energy reaching us from distant stars dwindles all the time. And the farther away the star, the less bright it will look to us.

The universe, both finite in size and finite in age, is full of wonderful sights.

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Do You Have Neanderthal DNA? The Shape of Your Skull May Tell.

A Neanderthal skull (left) has a different shape from a human skull (right)

The shape of your brain may say a lot about the Neanderthal in you.

New research has found that modern humans carrying certain genetic fragments from our closest extinct relatives may have more oblong brains and skulls than other people.

Modern humans possess unique, relatively globular skulls and brains. In contrast, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, Neanderthals, have the elongated skulls and brains that are typical of most primates.

Previous research had suggested these contrasting skull shapes might reflect differences in the size of various brain regions in modern humans and Neanderthals, and how these brain areas were wired together.

However, brain tissue doesn’t fossilize, so the underlying biology has remained elusive,” co-lead study author Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany said.

To help solve this mystery, scientists first took CT scans of seven fossil Neanderthal skulls and 19 modern human skulls. They developed imprints of the interiors of the skulls’ braincases and measured their roundness.

Next, the researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 modern humans for whom they had both genetic data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains.




We reasoned that if we could identify specific Neanderthal DNA fragments in a large enough sample of living humans, we would be able to test whether any of these fragments push towards a less globular brain shape, allowing us to zoom in on genes that might be important for this trait,” senior study author Simon Fisher, a neurogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands said.

The Neanderthal DNA fragments contained two genes previous research linked to brain development.

One, UBR4, is linked with the generation of neurons, and the other, PHLPP1, is associated with the development of fatty insulation around nerve cells.

The scientists noted that if a person has more Neanderthal DNA than average, that does not necessarily mean their brain is more oblong.

The Neanderthal brain had a different shape from our brains

Two people who have very similar total amounts of Neanderthal DNA — for example, 1 percent of their genomes — may well carry completely different fragments,” Fisher said.

The researchers also noted these skull differences likely did not reflect any differences at the time of an infant’s birth: Modern humans and Neanderthals have similar braincase and skull shapes at that time, Gunz said.

After birth, differences in brain development likely resulted in the pronounced differences that are found in skull shape between adults of the two lineages, he added.

Future research can look for more Neanderthal DNA linked with modern human brains and determine what specific effects these ancient genetic variants might have by growing brain tissue with Neanderthal DNA in the lab, Fisher said.

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Behold Thylacoleo, Australia’s Extinct Giant Marsupial “Lion”

It’s been 30,000 years since the last of the marsupial lions prowled for prey in Australia, but scientists continue to discover new species of the largest meat-eating mammals that ever lived on the continent.

The latest family member is Wakaleo schouteni, whose fossils — including a well-preserved skull, jaws and upper arm bones — were found in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in northwest Queensland.

The fearsome predator weighed about 50 pounds and was about the size of a Collie dog, according to Anna Gillespie of the University of New South Wales Sydney, one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities.

Gillespie, a technical researcher for the team of scientists that identified the new species, wrote about their discovery in The Conversation, an academic and research news journal.




“‘Marsupial lions,’ also known as thylacoleonids, are an extinct family of marsupials that were present in Australia from about 24 million years ago up until the end of the Pleistocene era, about 30,000 years ago,” Gillespie wrote.

“Their distinguishing feature is the presence of lengthened premolar teeth that form a pair of secateur-like blades.

This feature — massively developed in the most recent member of the family, Thylacoleo carnifex — led to them being named a ‘marsupial lion’ by the 19th century palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen.

At present, the thylacoleonid family contains nine species, five of which belong to the genus Wakaleo.

A reconstruction of the marsupial lion’s skeleton

In addition to their powerful jaws and forelimbs, Marsupial lions had retractable claws, a unique trait among marsupials that enabled them to secure their prey and to climb trees.

Unlike most of today’s marsupials, which include kangaroos and koalas, marsupial lions had large upper and lower incisors, similar to the pointed canine teeth of dogs and cats.

They also had exceptionally large jaws, giving them the most powerful bite, adjusted for size, of any animal that ever lived on earth — as powerful as lions twice their size.

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How Atomic Bombs Help Catch Art Forgeries

Art forgery is a multi-million dollar business, one that museums and appraisers are constantly battling. But there is one technique they’ve found to foil forgers that’s near foolproof – and it involves atomic bombs.

Wolfgang Beltracchi is an artist who got his start as a forger of classic masters like Picasso, Van Gogh, and others. But he and those in his business found a foil in Peggy Guggenheim, Dr. Elena Basner, and a cadre of scientists that found a technique that searches for traces of the isotopes cesium-137 and strontium-90.

The reason is that these isotopes are only created by fission of Uranium 235, and between 1945 and 1963, 522 open-air atomic bomb blasts scattered these isotopes into the atmosphere, which then got into the soil, made its way into flax plants, which were used to create linseed oil, which was used as a binding agent in paint.

So if a painting shows traces of these isotopes in the paint, there is no way that it was created before 1945.

This technique has foiled hundreds of art forgers in the years since and has proven to be one of the most difficult challenges for future Wolfgang Baltracchis.

‘White Holes’ May Be the Secret Ingredient in Mysterious Dark Matter

White holes, which are theoretically the exact opposites of black holes, could constitute a major portion of the mysterious dark matter that’s thought to make up most of the matter in the universe, a new study finds.

And some of these bizarre white holes may even predate the Big Bang, the researchers said.

Black holes possess gravitational pulls so powerful that not even light, the fastest thing in the universe, can escape them.

The invisible spherical boundary surrounding the core of a black hole that marks its point of no return is known as its event horizon.

A black hole is one prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Another is known as a white hole, which is like a black hole in reverse: Whereas nothing can escape from a black hole’s event horizon, nothing can enter a white hole’s event horizon.

Previous research has suggested that black holes and white holes are connected, with matter and energy falling into a black hole potentially emerging from a white hole either somewhere else in the cosmos or in another universe entirely.

In 2014, Carlo Rovelli, a theoretical physicist at Aix-Marseille University in France, and his colleagues suggested that black holes and white holes might be connected in another way: When black holes die, they could become white holes.

In the 1970s, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking calculated that all black holes should evaporate mass by emitting radiation. Black holes that lose more mass than they gain are expected to shrink and ultimately vanish.




However, Rovelli and his colleagues suggested that shrinking black holes could not disappear if the fabric of space and time were quantum — that is, made of indivisible quantities known as quanta.

Space-time is quantum in research that seeks to unite general relativity, which can explain the nature of gravity, with quantum mechanics, which can describe the behavior of all the known particles, into a single theory that can explain all the forces of the universe.

In the 2014 study, Rovelli and his team suggested that, once a black hole evaporated to a degree where it could not shrink any further because space-time could not be squeezed into anything smaller, the dying black hole would then rebound to form a white hole.

Black holes nowadays are thought to form when massive stars die in giant explosions known as supernovas, which compress their corpses into the infinitely dense points known as singularities at the hearts of black holes.

Rovelli and his colleagues previously estimated that it would take a black hole with a mass equal to that of the sun about a quadrillion times the current age of the universe to convert into a white hole.

However, prior work in the 1960s and 1970s suggested that black holes also could have originated within a second after the Big Bang, due to random fluctuations of density in the hot, rapidly expanding newborn universe.

Areas where these fluctuations concentrated matter together could have collapsed to form black holes.

These so-called primordial black holes would be much smaller than stellar-mass black holes, and could have died to form white holes within the lifetime of the universe, Rovelli and his colleagues noted.

Although dark matter is thought to make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe, scientists do not know what it’s made of. As its name suggests, dark matter is invisible; it does not emit, reflect or even block light.

As a result, dark matter can currently be tracked only through its gravitational effects on normal matter, such as that making up stars and galaxies. The nature of dark matter is currently one of the greatest mysteries in science.

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What Will Happen To Bitcoin In 2019?

The crypto market is yet to start the much expected bull run. All the digital currencies in the market are still deep in the red. Bitcoin (BTC) is yet to recover, and it’s still struggling to break over the $4,000 level.

The digital currency recently broke below the key psychological levels of $6,000 and $5,000. The value of the coin is now eyeing the $3,000 mark.

Many governments, all over the world, have adopted this technology for one thing or the other.

Here are some Bitcoin expert predictions about 2019:

Joel Kruger, currency strategist at LMAX Exchange

“Our 2019 outlook for Bitcoin is far more constructive than what we had been projecting for 2018. As 2017 came to a close, we had warned Bitcoin had rocketed ‘past the point of rational appreciation’ and highlighted massive downside risk in a bubbling market with far too many holes (regulation, development, hard forks).

“As we head into 2019, Bitcoin has retraced that move and then some, with a recent breakdown below the $6,000 area, opening this next downside extension that targets a bigger drop towards the September 2017 low at $2,975.

“We’ll look for Bitcoin to round out 2019 trading back in the $5,000 to $8,000 region, after recovering from lows that may have extended below $2000 between now and the end of H1 2019.”




Kevin Murcko, CEO of CoinMetro

“Despite Bitcoin’s fairly limited use cases, and even though its technology may be less sophisticated when compared to some other projects, it will likely continue to remain the market leader in 2019. Bitcoin still has the reputation and the liquidity that make it preferable to other cryptos.

“It’s difficult to put my finger on a price, however: Bitcoin’s value will continue to be driven by a great deal of financial speculation.

“It’s important to remember that the crash we saw with Bitcoin this year doesn’t indicate lack of long term value. The bubble may have burst in 2018, but there’s still enormous substance and potential in the crypto market at large.

Mitch Blakeway, Head of Trading at Quantatex

“We expect a high degree of volatility in the very near future.

“A high level of Bitcoins has recently been moved from cold storage to hot storage by significant influencers in the cryptocurrency market. What this means is that investors who have the ability to move the market are gearing up to trade. This could mean moves greater than 10% in either direction.

“There are notable levels of support and resistance with support around the $2,850 level for Bitcoin and resistance around $4,000 therefore a break either below $2,850 or above $4,000 could lead to momentum in that direction.

“We believe that Bitcoin will eventually shrug off the recent weakness during 2019 and expect the price to retest record highs of $20,000 by December 2019. This is justified on a number of fronts.

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Can Dyson Reinvent The Electric Car?

James Dyson is the inventor and innovator behind the bagless vacuum, air blade hand dryers, blameless fans, and more luxury home appliances. His approach has revolutionized multiple industries. Now, he sets his sights on an electric car.

Why Do People Believe The Moon Landing Is A Hoax

From Apollo 15.

Forty-nine years ago Friday, the Apollo 11 spacecraft delivered the first astronauts to the surface of the moon.

The footprints Buzz Aldrin left in lunar soil are still around — and so are the throngs of conspiracy theorists who claim the entire landing was faked.

For one thing, they argue, the flag the crew planted seemed to flutter in videos, which shouldn’t happen since there’s no wind on the moon. Besides, wouldn’t mini-meteors have killed the astronauts the moment they ventured outside?

The “moon landing hoax” was among the first conspiracy theories to gain traction with the American public. In the years since, the theories have multiplied like jack rabbits, swarming all corners of the cultural landscape.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, some fringe activists insisted the U.S. government, rather than al-Qaeda, had planned the attacks.

Conspiracies about President Trump’s ties to Russia compete with all the real news on the topic.

Pizzagate” conspiracists claimed Hillary Clinton was operating a pedophile ring in a D.C. pizza parlor, leading one true believer to fire a gun in the restaurant.

It’s tempting to dismiss conspiracy theorists as wearers of tinfoil hats. But the theories should be taken seriously for their effects on political and social discourse — and research suggests that, under the right circumstances, many people are susceptible to their allure.




While people’s attraction to conspiracy theories might seem illogical, it stems from a very logical desire to make sense of the world.

Assigning meaning to what happens has helped humans to thrive as a species, and conspiracy theories are internally cohesive stories that “help us to understand the unknown whenever things happen that are fearful or unexpected,” said Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a social psychologist at Vrije University in Amsterdam.

For some believers, the sense of comfort and clarity such stories bring can override the question of their truth value.

Conspiracy theorists often have a high degree of tolerance for contradiction that allows them to ignore evidence against their theories.

Conspiracy theories also supply a seductive ego boost. Believers often consider themselves part of a select in-group that — unlike the deluded masses — has figured out what’s really going on.

Rejection and hardship can intensify people’s need to believe a story that empowers them or justifies their situation, whether the story is true.

People who are dissatisfied with the state of the world — such as the unemployed or those who support extreme ideologies — are highly vulnerable to conspiracy theories, van Prooijen said: “If people are satisfied, they are less likely to pursue this sort of theory.

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NASA Craft Shows Tiny Asteroid Studded With Boulders

NASA’s first look at a tiny asteroid shows the space rock is more moist and studded with boulders than originally thought.

Scientists released the first morsels of data collected since their spacecraft Osiris-Rex hooked up last week with the asteroid Bennu, which is only about three blocks wide and weighs about 80 million tons.

Bennu regularly crosses Earth’s orbit and will come perilously close in about 150 years. There is no liquid water on the asteroid, but there is plenty of it in the form of wet clay.

Project scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona said the blueish space rock is “a little more rugged of an environment than we expected” with hundreds of 10-metre boulders, instead of just one or two.

There’s also a bigger 50-metre boulder which looks like two cones put together with a bulge on its waistline.

Scientists think Bennu is a leftover from the beginning of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago when planets tried to form and some failed.

Mr Lauretta said it looks like Bennu was once a chunk of a bigger asteroid that probably had water in it.




When Osiris-Rex starts orbiting Bennu in January — no easy feat since its gravity is 100,000 times less than Earth’s — it will be the smallest object that a human-made spacecraft has circled.

Scientists will spend a year scouting the space rock for a good location and then in 2020 it will dive close to the surface and a robotic arm will shoot nitrogen puffs into the soil and collect grains of dirt.

Those asteroid bits will be returned to Earth in 2023.

The 800 million dollar (£636 million) Osiris-Rex mission began with a 2016 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its odometer read 1.2 billion miles last week.

The spacecraft and asteroid names come from Egyptian mythology. Osiris is the god of the afterlife, while Bennu represents the heron and creation.

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