Category: News Posts

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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Pass it on: Popular Science

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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Pass it on: Popular Science

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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Pass it on: Popular Science

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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Pass it on: Popular Science

Asteroid or Comet: What’s the Difference?

Anything that comes close to the earth from outer space is known as a near-earth object (NEO).

These include asteroids and comets that may have been pushed out of their normal direction and then begin to head to earth.

While both comets and asteroids are included in this group, there are things that make them quite alike as well as different.

They are believed to be left over material from the beginning of our solar system, over 4 billion years ago.

In the early years of earth’s creation, many hit the earth and if you look at the moon you can still see the craters that are left by the impacts.

Both asteroids and comets played a major role in building our solar system, as we believe that in hitting the planets, they actually became part of the planets.

The difference between them is mainly what they are made of.  Comets are made of rock, ice and organic compounds. They are sometimes called ‘dirty snowballs’.

Although they are thought to have originally been made in the farthest sections of the solar system, they travel specific paths due to both planetary and the sun’s gravitational pull.

As a comet nears the heat source of the sun, the ice melts and creates a gas. When traveling, the gas is reflected by the sun and we can sometimes see it from the earth.




The gaseous ‘tail’ can be as long as thousands of miles. Scientists believe that when the earth was first forming, the water that is contained in the comets hit the earth and contributed to developing our oceans.

It’s also believed that this affected the climate and possibly deposited carbon-based molecules that may have helped to start life on the planet.

In ancient times, people thought that seeing a comet could be considered a ‘sign’. Some considered it bad, while other cultures thought it was good.

Asteroids are either made up of rock or rock and some metals, like nickel and iron.

Some asteroids look like one big piece while others are actually clusters of smaller pieces that are being held together with the gravity from the whole asteroid.

 

There are a small amount of asteroids that are actually burned out comets who lost all of their ice long ago and drift in space.

Almost all of the asteroids originate in the asteroid belt that is between Jupiter and Mars.  Jupiter’s massive gravity acts like a kind of guardian, keeping most of the asteroids away from earth.

Asteroids bang and knock into each other in the asteroid belt, and occasionally the force is strong enough to send one spinning into the solar system.

This puts all of the planets at risk from being hit.  Some of the smaller asteroids have come close to the earth and break up in the atmosphere. We call these ‘shooting stars’.

There are, however, a lot of larger asteroids in the solar system that could hit earth and do a lot of damage. Thankfully, we have Jupiter to help keep them away.

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Scientists Produce Healthy Mice Born To Same-Sex Parents Using Stem Cells And Gene Editing

Scientists have been able to breed mice with same-sex parents using a breakthrough technique involving stem cells and gene editing.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have produced healthy mice with two mothers, who were then able to go on to reproduce themselves.

Mice with two fathers were also born during the study, but only survived for a matter of hours.

Using female same-sex parents, the scientists were able to produce a total of 29 live mice from 210 embryos.

All these offspring were normal, lived to adulthood, and were able to give birth to offspring of their own.

The study, published in scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, examined why same-sex mammals are not typically able to reproduce, suggesting stem cells and targeted gene editing can make the process easier.

We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction,” the study’s co-senior author Dr Qi Zhou said.

We have made several findings in the past by combining reproduction and regeneration, so we tried to find out whether more normal mice with two female parents, or even mice with two male parents, could be produced using haploid embryonic stem cells with gene deletions.




While some species of reptiles, amphibians and fish can change gender in order to reproduce or exist as both male and female at the same time, same-sex reproduction for mammals is a more difficult proposition, Dr Zhou said.

He said in mammals, certain maternal or paternal genes are shut off during the development of sperm and egg cells, meaning offspring that do not receive genetic material from both a mother and father might experience developmental abnormalities.

By deleting imprinted genes from immature eggs, researchers have in the past been able to produce mice with two mothers, although most still displayed genetic defects.

To produce healthy bi-maternal mice, Dr Zhou, his co-senior authors Dr Baoyang Hu and Dr Wei Li, and their colleagues used haploid embryonic stem cells (ESCs), containing half the normal number of chromosomes and DNA from each parent.

We found in this study that haploid ESCs were more similar to primordial germ cells, the precursors of eggs and sperm,” Dr Hu said. “The genomic imprinting that’s found in gametes was ‘erased’.

Alongside the 29 healthy mice produced by same-sex female parents, a dozen mice were also born to two male parents during the course of the study.

However, the process of creating mice from same-sex male parents, which involves modifying a larger amounts of genes and inserting fertilised embryos into surrogate mothers, is more complicated.

All offspring from two males born during the study died after less than 48 hours, although scientists believe they can improve the process in future tests.

This research shows us what’s possible,” Dr Li said. “We saw that the defects in bi-maternal mice can be eliminated and that bi-paternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed through imprinting modification.

We also revealed some of the most important imprinted regions that hinder the development of mice with same-sex parents, which are also interesting for studying genomic imprinting and animal cloning.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

5 Awesome Accidental Discoveries

discoveries

As Plato said, “science is nothing but perception,” and these 10 accidental acts of discovery embody the sentiment.

Of course, it helps to be a leading scientist in the field devoting your life to the pursuit of one cure, invention, or innovation but a little luck goes a long way, too.

Penicillin

Forever enshrined in scientific legend, the discovery of penicillin a group of antibiotics used to combat a variety of bacterial infections is really just a case of dirty dishes.

Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming took an August vacation from his day-to-day work in the lab investigating staphylococci, known commonly as staph.

Upon his return on Sept. 3, 1928, the perceptive scientist found a strange fungus on a culture he had left in his lab a fungus that had killed off all surrounding bacteria in the culture. Modern medicine was never the same.

The Microwave

Sometimes all you really need to make the next leap in science is a snack.

Percy Spencer was an American engineer who, while working for Raytheon, walked in front of a magnetron, a vacuum tube used to generate microwaves, and noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted.

In 1945 after a few more experiments (one involving an exploding egg), Spencer successfully invented the first microwave oven.

The first models were a lot like the early computers: bulky and unrealistic. In 1967, compact microwaves would begin filling American homes.

Velcro

On one particular hiking trip in 1941, Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral found burrs clinging to his pants and also to his dog’s fur.

On closer inspection, he found that the burr’s hooks would cling to anything loop-shaped. If he could only artificially re-create the loops, he might be on to something.

The result: Velcro. A combination of the words “velvet” and “crochet,” the material had trouble gaining traction in the fashion industry.

But one of its most notable clients in the 1960s was NASA. The agency used the material in flight suits and to help secure items in zero gravity.

After that, it became a space-age fashion all its own, allowing kids everywhere to put off learning how to tie shoelaces.

Teflon

In 1938, Roy Plunkett, a scientist with DuPont, was working on ways to make refrigerators more home-friendly by searching for ways to replace the current refrigerant, which was primarily ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and propane.

After opening the container on one particular sample he’d been developing, Plunkett found his experimental gas was gone. All that was left was a strange, slippery resin that was resistant to extreme heat and chemicals.

In the 1940s the material was used by the Manhattan project. A decade later it found its way into the automotive industry. It wasn’t until the ’60s that Teflon would be used for its most noted application: nonstick cookware.

Vulcanized Rubber

In the 1830s, natural rubber was a popular substance for waterproof shoes and boots, but its inability to withstand freezing temperatures and extreme heat soon left consumers and manufacturers frustrated.

That led some to say rubber had no future, but Charles Goodyear disagreed. After years of trial and error trying to make rubber more durable, the scientist stumbled upon his greatest discovery by complete accident.

In 1839, when showcasing his latest experiment, Goodyear accidentally dropped his rubber concoction on a hot stove. What he discovered was a charred leather-like substance with an elastic rim. Rubber was now weatherproof.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

What Makes A Star A Star?

How do you separate a true star from the stellar wannabes of the Universe? After a decade of collecting data, astronomer Trent Dupuy thinks he finally has the answer.

With so many objects known to sit in that weird middle ground between giant planets and tiny stars, scientists have struggled to boil it down to a simple answer. What Dupuy boils it down to is mass.

Mass is the single most important property of stars because it dictates how their lives will proceed,” Dupuy, from the University of Texas at Austin, explained at the American Astronomical Society’s summer meeting earlier this month.

We benefit from that here on Earth, as our Sun is in the stellar goldilocks zone – its mass is just right to sustain nuclear fusion within its core for billions of years. This has provided the conditions for life to develop and evolve on our planet.

But not everything in the galaxy is so nice and stable. More massive stars burn through their nuclear fuel quicker, dye young, and go out with a violent bang in the form of a supernova.

Less massive objects, like brown dwarfs, are like stellar runts, possessing more mass than a planet, yet not enough mass to be a fully fledged star.

Often referred to as failed stars, they’re ubiquitous throughout the Universe, but their exceedingly dim glow makes these objects difficult to study.




First proposed to exist 50 years ago, these enigmatic objects help bridge the gap between stars and planets, but it wasn’t until more recently that astronomers began to study them in great detail.

Stars like the Sun shine as a result of nuclear reactions that constantly converts the supply of hydrogen in their cores into helium.

These same reactions determine how bright a star shines – the hotter the core, the more intense the reaction and subsequently the brighter the star’s surface will be. As expected, less massive stars are dimmer due to cooler centres, which produce slower reactions.

Don’t let the name fool you – brown dwarfs aren’t always brown. These stellar wannabes are actually red when they form, then turn to black as they slowly fizzle out over trillions of years.

That’s because despite outweighing even the largest of planets, brown dwarfs have so little mass that their centres aren’t hot enough to sustain nuclear reactions.

In the 1960s, astronomers theorised that there must be a mass limit for fusion.

Previous studies of stellar evolution have suggested that the boundary between red dwarfs (the smallest stars) and brown dwarfs was around 75 Jupiter masses (or roughly 7-8 percent of the Sun).

But until now, his measurement was never directly confirmed.

Dupuy and Michael Lui of the University of Hawaii spent the past 10 years studying 31 binary pairs of brown dwarfs with the help of the most powerful telescopes on Earth – the Keck Observatory and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, as well as some input from Hubble.

By analysing a decade’s worth of imagery, Dupuy and Liu have created the first large sample study of brown dwarfs masses.

According to Dupuy, an object must weigh the equivalent of 70 Jupiters in order to spark nuclear fusion and become a star, which is slightly less than previously suggested.

The duo also determined there’s a temperature cut-off, with any object cooler than 1,600 Kelvin (approximately 1,315 Celsius and 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit) classified as a brown dwarf.

The study will help astronomers better understand the conditions under which stars form and evolve – or in the case of brown dwarfs, fail.

It could also provide new insight into planetary formation as the success or failure of star formation directly impacts the star systems they could potentially produce.

The research will be published in an upcoming edition of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement, and a pre-print is available here.

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5 Cool Things DNA Testing Can Do

Genes are the foundation of our physiology. They contain the code that determines what we look like and how our bodies function.

Biologist James Watson and physicist Francis Crick realized our DNA molecules form a three-dimensional double helix in 1953. But DNA research dates back to the late 1860s, according to Nature Education.

Friedrich Miescher was the first to identify “nucleic acid” in our white blood cells; his 1869 finding was later named deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA.




Others later defined the components that make up DNA molecules, identified RNA (ribonucleic acid, the other type of nucleic acid found in all cells along with DNA) and determined that although DNA differs in each species, it always maintains certain properties.

Those findings led to Watson and Crick’s conclusion, which paved the way for decades of DNA discoveries.

Today we use DNA tests to tell us about all kinds of things. Here are five cool things DNA testing can do:

Map your family tree

A DNA test could give you thousands of new relatives (although if they’re anything like ours, we’re not sure why you’d want them).

There are websites that offers to compare your DNA to those they already have on record in hopes of connecting you to unknown branches of your family tree.They can also tell you your genetic ethnicity.

Solve ancient mysteries

No one knew where Richard III, one of the most famous kings of England, was buried until his remains were discovered in a parking lot in Leicester.

The remains showed evidence of battle wounds and scoliosis, but scientists weren’t sure the skeleton was Richard III’s until DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a direct descendant of the king’s sister.

It wasn’t the first time ancient remains had been identified using DNA. If it’s stored in a cold, dry, dark place, DNA can last for thousands of years.

In 2009, a DNA analysis of some bone fragments showed two of Czar Nicholas II’s children were killed along with the rest of the family during the Russian Revolution, despite speculation they could have escaped.

Scientists have even extracted DNA from Neanderthals, who went extinct about 30,000 years ago, in hopes of gaining insight into the evolution of humans.

Distinguish your mutt

“Where does Buddy get his curly tail from? Why does he love digging holes in the backyard? Could I be doing more to make him happier and healthier? Your dog may not be able to tell you the answers — but his DNA can,” claims one dog DNA site.

You’ll probably never figure out why Buddy loves to eat your favorite Italian pumps but you can figure out where he comes from. The website will test your mutt’s DNA against that of more than 190 breeds to determine his genetic background.

“But why?” cat lovers may be asking. “When you understand your dog’s natural tendencies, you can tailor a training, exercise and nutrition program to his needs,” the site explains.

Predict the future

Using blood from the mother and saliva from the father, scientists can now determine whether a fetus has any chromosomal abnormalities that could cause a genetic disorder.

For example, DNA testing can reveal if an unborn baby will have trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.

Researchers are beginning to expand the field of prenatal genetic testing even further, using it to identify potential developmental delays and intellectual disabilities such as autism.

Genetic testing can also reveal risk factors you may have inherited from your parents, such as a high risk for breast or colon cancer.

While this genetic risk factor does not guarantee you will get the disease, it does increase your chances; knowing about the risk may help you take preventive steps.

Help you lose weight

A growing body of research suggests that our ability to lose weight — or gain 10 pounds by simply looking at a piece of chocolate — is shaped in large part by our genes.

Scientists have identified several gene variants that may predispose us, and our children, to obesity. Rodent studies have also shown that up to 80% of body fat is regulated by our genes, according to TIME.

That said, we wouldn’t search for a customized DNA Diet just yet. While there is a genetic component to obesity, our understanding of it is limited, says CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis.

Researchers are still trying to figure out how genetics, nutrition and exercise are related so we can help people lose weight and keep it off.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

LG Says Screw Everything, We’re Doing Five Cameras For Our New Smartphone

The most awaited smartphone LG V40 ThinQ with 5 cameras is launched today by LG Electronics. LG is back with its most desired V series ultimate device LG V40 ThinQ which has great 6.4-inch OLED FullVision display.

Powered with Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile platform with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB or 128GB internal storage.

LG V40 is all set to stand out the crowd as it has rear camera module with three lenses 16 MP super wide camera angle 12 MP standard angle and 12 MP telephoto.

All of these three lenses allow shutterbugs to frame different shots without changing positions, it has 107 degrees super wide angle lens which captures subjects and background with ease.

LG V40 is all set to stand out the crowd as it has rear camera module with three lenses 16 MP super wide camera angle 12 MP standard angle and 12 MP telephoto.

All of these three lenses allow shutterbugs to frame different shots without changing positions, it has 107 degrees super wide angle lens which captures subjects and background with ease.




Phase Detection Auto Focus gives 50 percent faster and twice as per industry rate focusing.

LG knew if it improves the camera quality and features it will empower the device to dominate the market with such amazing features like Cine shots, 3D light effect, Makeup Pro, Custom backdrop, My avatar, and AR Emoji.

LG V40 ThinQ is the first LG phone which has Audio Tuned By Meridian label with 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC and produces a balanced sound that sounds close to an original quality.

This device has a silky blast process with tempered glass back, a microscopic pit with a smooth matte finish, comes in some sophisticated colors like Aurora Black, New Platinum Gray, New Moroccan Blue, Carmine Red.

LG V40 continues with the slim and light design weighing only 168 g and 7.7mm in thickness, with 3300 mAh battery, runs on Android 8.1 Oreo, connectivity Wi-Fi 802, Bluetooth 5.0 BLE, NFC, USB Type-C 2.0 C3.1 compatible.

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