Cool Stories Science

Hubble Spots a Big, Weird Blob of Star Gas

Stargazing has always been thought of as a romantic or peaceful pastime, but when you really think about what’s up there and the consequences it has on our world, it’s anything but. When you’re looking through NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, you see that they’re no longer just diamonds in the sky.

Take NGC 2022, for example, which can be found in the Orion constellation. When you see what it looks like through a telescope, it’s fantastic. It’s a star approaching the end of its life.

Different stars do different things when they age, depending on their size and makeup. When thinking about stars and the effect they have on us, the most crucial one to keep tabs on is our very own Sun. Eventually, it will become a red giant, just as NGC 2022 has done.

A Planetary Nebula

NASA explains in a new blog post:

“When stars like the Sun grow advanced in age, they expand and glow red. These so-called red giants then begin to lose their outer layers of material into space. More than half of such a star’s mass can be shed in this manner, forming a shell of surrounding gas. At the same time, the star’s core shrinks and grows hotter, emitting ultraviolet light that causes the expelled gases to glow.”

What is left is planet-like in appearance, which is why it’s called a planetary nebula. This all may sound fascinating and exciting, but the effect of our Sun becoming a red giant will be devastating for our planet. Planets that closely orbit stars headed toward the end of their life are swallowed up completely. Others are stripped of their atmosphere.

In our case, most likely Mercury and Venus will be swallowed up, but Earth won’t. However, all life on earth is sure to be eradicated because of the intense heat of the star.

Don’t run off and start panicking, though. We’ve still got about 5.4 billion years till this all goes down, and till then, the sun will very gradually get brighter and hotter.

Stargazing has always been thought of as a romantic or peaceful pastime, but when you really think about what’s up there and the consequences it...

Fashion Science

New Probiotic Suit Fights Body Odor

A bio-engineered bodysuit could handle unpleasant body-odor with micro-organisms woven into its fibers.

Named “Skin II,” the leotard-like piece of clothing incorporats live, healthy probiotic bacteria that, when activated by perspiration, can diminish personal odors, help skin cells regenerate and improve our immune system.

“It’s not the sweat on your body that causes body odor, it’s the bacteria,” designer Rosie Broadhead told Reuters in an interview. “So we’ve incorporated healthy bacteria into the textiles to enable a healthy microbiome which will help to reduce your body odor,”

With her probiotic fabric, Broadhead hopes to revolutionize the interaction between fabric and skin. Other than its health (and social life!) aspects, she’s also keen on the environmental impact of her invention:

“My project offers an alternative to chemicals such as antibacterial finishes on clothing and cosmetics,” Broadhead says, “Due to the deodorizing effect the probiotics have on the body, it may reduce the amount of time you need to wash your clothes.”

Our modern life fixation on cleanliness makes it hard for “good” micro-organisms to survive, so Skin II is a big opportunity for sustainable fashion.

Probiotics are living micro-organisms that are beneficial to our bodies when in sufficient amounts. Probiotics are found naturally in some foods, like yogurt, and, surprisingly, pickles, but you can also take them as dietary supplements.

Broadhead collaborated with Belgian microbiologist Chris Callewaert of Ghent University to develop the fabric. Callewaert has done extensive research on the causes of body odor, and he provided her with probiotic bacteria. This bacteria are found on our skin and are different from the digestive system bacteria we all know from food products.

“A lot of focus is on the fashion industry’s unsustainable practices concerning waste and environmental impact,” says Broadhead, “However, much less is known about the use of chemical finishes on our clothing that can impact our bodies.”

She wanted to create clothing that was good for the skin, but has a minimal impact on the environment, “which meant using technology that had a deodorizing effect. By working with probiotics that are common on our skin I have developed ways to add function and performance to our clothing in a natural way.”

Broadhead and Callewaert plan to market Skin II with a full sportswear line, and in this heat – we just can’t wait for it to hit the shelves :-)

A bio-engineered bodysuit could handle unpleasant body-odor with micro-organisms woven into its fibers.

Named “Skin II,” the...

Earth Nature & Tech Science

Giant Telescope the Focus of Hawaii Protest

Hawaiian activists led by native elders are protesting against the construction of a giant telescope atop the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain, which they say is sacred ground.

Colette has more:

Hawaiian activists led by native elders are protesting against the construction of a giant telescope atop the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s...

Category - Science

Inspiring Stories Science

NASA Finds Beresheet Impact Location on Moon

When NASA carried out a large chunk of its unmanned missions away from our planet, we are often waiting a long time to find out the results of the study.

One particular conclusion that we often hear is that there has been some form of crash, or that the particular probe or unit has been left to its own devices. A fine example of this was on the 11th April mission when SpaceIL sent up the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft.

This first-ever private spacecraft made it to the moon but had problems in the final phase of landing and crashed. Therefore, it was left on the moon with no real way of being able to save it.

NASA used its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to look out for the Beresheet and has now found it on the Moon. They took a snap of the point of impact, with the LROC taking a shot around 56 miles from the surface. They found a 10-meter wide smudge on the ground which, according to the experts, is the point of crash for the Beresheet.

It’s uncertain if it left a crater, or if it just dented the surface. More investigation and close-up imagery would be needed to help confirm that particular information. According to NASA, though, it’s possible that the crater the little spacecraft left behind could be ‘too small’ to have left a full crater, saying: “It’s possible the crater is just too small to show up in photos,

“Another possibility is that Beresheet formed a small indent instead of a crater, given its low angle of approach, light mass (compared to a dense meteoroid of the same size), and low velocity (again, relative to a meteoroid of the same size; Beresheet’s speed was still faster than most speeding bullets).”

Good Shot

The LRO camera which managed to get the shot has been circling the moon for around a decade. It passes a part of the Earth satellite on a twice-per-month basis, once during the lunar day and once during the lunar evening. By using a series of wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras, this manages to capture some pretty spectacular shots.

This latest find, though, could be a quite important one for making sure that in the future we know exactly where important tools sent up to the Moon have vanished.

According to NASA, though, it’s important to note that the landing site is not yet conclusive. As they mentioned, the fine soil particles which came up during descent could have created a highly reflective surface.

Others suggest that it would be gas that has come from the crash. Either way, NASA noted: “There are many clues that we’re actually looking at a man-made crater instead of a meteoroid-caused one,

“This is an important consideration, since the Moon, having no atmosphere, is constantly bombarded by space rocks that leave craters.”

So, while we might not get a definitive answer until it passes again in late May, at the moment it looks like we know where the Beresheet has landed.

When NASA carried out a large chunk of its unmanned missions away from our planet, we are often waiting a long time to find out the results of the study.

One particular conclusion that we often hear is that there has been some form of crash, or that the...

Science

Hiroshima Beaches Full of Glass Beads from A-Bomb

When the United States of America made the decision to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese in the Second World War, the world change. We watched first-hand the world adjust to a whole new kind of weaponry and firepower: a world that now knew planet-devastating horror.

Today, we have weapons of mass destruction that make the weapons dropped on Hiroshima seem like a cuddly toy. Depressingly, we as a species show no signs of slowing down in our desire to create warped weapons of infernal warfare that would, if used, bring about the end times.

Even the weapon dropped on Hiroshima, so weak compared to modern equivalents, is having an impact on the environment so many years later. Indeed, beaches which are situated close to the city of Hiroshima are loaded with tiny glass beads. These beads have formed over time after the nuclear bomb was dropped and are tiny pieces of debris which were melted by the ferocity of the fire blast.

This odd revelation was found by study scientists at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab. They have done some research on the facility and found a host of beads that were never noticed until now. They seemingly formed in the atomic cloud from concrete, marble, stainless steel, and rubber. All of this was caught up in the explosion and could have created thousands of tons of these particles.

As Mario Wannier, a retired geologist at Berkeley Lab and study lead said: “This was the worst man-made event ever, by far,

“In the surprise of finding these particles, the big question for me was, you have a city, and a minute later you have no city … Where is the city? Where is the material? It is a trove to have discovered these particles. It is an incredible story.”

A world-changing discovery

The story if a horrifying example of the unique and demonic power of the nuclear bomb. The bomb itself was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, and wiped out over 70,000 people in an instant.

Many more died – an equal number, many suggest – from the sickening after-effects of such an attack. Indeed, it destroyed the part of 90% of the structures in the city. The Japanese city of Nagasaki suffered the same fate only three days later.

These small beads have been around for some time, then, but only now are being noticed as part of the fabric of the beach. Collected by a colleague, Marc de Urreiztieta, on the Motoujina Peninsula, around four miles from the city.

Wannier, an expert in studying local marine environments and the study of sand, was notified immediately. Alongside UC Berkeley mineralogist, Rudy Wenk, the analyzed these beads further. What they found was that it was made up of a wide range of chemicals, made from numerous structures which were eviscerated in the strike.

If you wish to find out more about this engaging study, you can read more about it in the Anthropocene journal. We now have more proof, though, about the long-term and lasting damage that could be caused by the use of atomic firepower. Hopefully, we never have to witness its consequences again.

When the United States of America made the decision to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese in the Second World War, the world change. We watched first-hand the world adjust to a whole new kind of weaponry and firepower: a world that now knew...

Science

New Crystalline Material Sparks Interest in Scientific Community

Whenever we find something new in this world, we have a tendency to want to know everything about it. In a world so full opportunity and discovery, it makes sense. With our immense ability to research and evaluate just about anything we find, why not find out everything that we can about, well, everything?

Sometimes though, we can find objects that totally shatter the conventional rules of what we thought we knew.

For example, a new crystalline material has been found that appears to have electronic properties never seen in the past. This unique new material was found recently and is made up of a mixture of aluminum and platinum.

It’s got a set of electronic properties that are unique, in that we have never seen their likes in the past. This was picked up in the Nature Physics science journal. Apparently, the structure is capable of producing Rarita-Schwinger fermions through its interior and also its Fermi arcs. That’s very interesting and shows a material state that behaves like an actual particle.

The finding is noted to be of significant importance moving forward. The research team working on it at the Paul Scherrer Institute, using the Swiss Synchrotron Light Source SLS, used this to observe the particles for the first time. It’s a very interesting finding and one that breaks away from a lot of conventional findings.

Unusual formation

Indeed, there is a repeated pattern of atoms taking place in a cube-shaped style, forming a cell unit of up to two elements. Inside this particular crystalline formation, there is a different layout. Normally, there would be a symmetry of sorts taking place within. This is different, with a slightly offset design in the middle. This forms what is known as a helical line.

This is known as a chiral crystal – a pair of mirror images, in essence. It’s very exciting and is the kind of finding which is often exceptionally rare in these particular fields. By using the SLS X-ray in conjunction with photoelectron spectroscopy tools at PSI, they were able to look at these unique electrical properties.

They found that it was not only chiral; it was also topological, meaning that it shows resistance to defects.

The hope is that, in time, this kind of finding could be used to assist in the creation of high-end computing equipment, such as quantum computing, in the near future.

Whenever we find something new in this world, we have a tendency to want to know everything about it. In a world so full opportunity and discovery, it makes sense. With our immense ability to research and evaluate just about anything we find, why not find out...

Inspiring Stories Science

Utah Non-profit DNA Testing Lab to ‘Revolutionize Cold Cases’

The Utah Cold Case Coalition, a non-profit in Utah, just signed a lease for lab space in an office building in the city of Murray where they plan to build a DNA testing lab that will completely transform how cold cases are handled. The non-profit was first formed to bring attention to the cold case murder of six-year-old Rose Tapia in 1995, and it wholly relies on volunteer staff.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, its co-founder Karra Porter, a defense attorney, said, “This is going to revolutionize cold cases across the United States. We saw this need and it was too big to ignore.”

An estimated 103,780 of the murders that have occurred in America between 1996 and 2016 remain unsolved, said a report by the U.S. Department of Justice. In the state of Utah, The Utah Department of Public Safety website has recorded about 400 cold cases that run the gamut from missing persons to murders to unidentified bodies.

Crowd Funding

Porter hopes to begin by helping solve Utah’s cold case and moving from there to help police all over the country. The coalition launched a GoFundMe page with a beginning goal of $81,000 and hopes to raise a total of $200,000 for DNA lab equipment.

The GoFundMe page says: “Despite being staffed by volunteers, we’re one of the most creative and aggressive cold case organizations in the U.S. We began in Utah, but are now contacted by families and law enforcement throughout the country.  Early on, we learned how much evidence has not undergone DNA testing due to its high cost.  We’re doing something about it.”

Francine Bardole pointed out to the Tribune that the department has an enormous backlog of untested DNA, rape kids, and more and that DNA testing could take anywhere from 8 to 18 months. According to a police investigator in the Utah city of West Jordan, a DNA lab would help immensely to lessen the time and cost it takes to deal with cold cases.

“The price can be overwhelming,” Bardole said, adding that going to a private lab can cost about $6,000.

She asked, “How many departments can afford to pay, on one case, $6,000?”

The Utah legislature passed a law last year that required law enforcement agencies to enter cold cases or any cases that go unsolved for at least three years into the database.

The Utah Cold Case Coalition, a non-profit in Utah, just signed a lease for lab space in an office building in the city of Murray where they plan to build a DNA testing lab that will completely transform how cold cases are handled. The non-profit was first...

Nature & Tech Science

The Newest Moon of Neptune: Something We’ve Seen Before?

Every now and then, we get a crazy story from the worlds leading astronomers. What’s going on in our own world is hard enough to understand, so information from outside of this planet can seem quite confusing.

However, we often love to hear about things like the discovery of a new planet, or the moon of a planet. One recent finding was that of the Hippocamp moon that was discovered in 2013. This moon, though, was first thought to be a new moon. Now, scientists believe it might actually be a chip-off from a larger moon, known as Proteus.

This was likely caused by a ‘cosmic explosion’ (sounds cool, right?) many years ago.

It was a puzzling discovery in 2013, and in 2019 it’s still confusing the prominent people looking into it. Speaking about this was SETI Institute expert Mark Showalter, who said: “The first thing we realized was that you wouldn’t expect to find such a tiny moon right next to Neptune’s biggest inner moon,

“In the distant past, given the slow migration outward of the larger moon, Proteus was once where Hippocamp is now.”

That’s quite an interesting view. With the orbit of the two moons being around 7,500 miles apart, they are breaking a lot of conventions that we know about space. Normally, it would be expected that Proteus would have swallowed up the smaller moon – that has not happened.

The major deciding point that builds the chipping theory, though, comes from as far back as a photo taken in 1989. Then, the Voyager 2 found a large impact crater on Proteus.

This is, as far as we know, the first evidence that points to this kind of thing being possible in the first place. It’s quite the finding. Alongside Showalter was Imke de Pater of UC Berkeley and Jack Lissauer of NASA’s Ames Research Centre.

Speaking about this finding, Lissauer said: “Based on estimates of comet populations, we know that other moons in the outer solar system have been hit by comets, smashed apart, and re-accreted multiple times. This pair of satellites provides a dramatic illustration that moons are sometimes broken apart by comets.”

Hippocamp itself is actually the product of many years of violent change in space. It was created by the mass tear-up of what took place when the Triton moon was ‘captured’ by Neptune from the Kuiper Belt. This should have been powerful enough to cause major damage to the entire moon system around Neptune.

De Peter summed it up well when he said: “This discovery is yet another example of the violent collisional history and continuous evolution of our solar system,”

For space fans and people who love to see changes take place in real-time, this is a very exciting and satisfying discovery. Quite what it means, we’re yet to find out: we just know that this further shows how unpredictable the worlds beyond our own are.

Every now and then, we get a crazy story from the worlds leading astronomers. What’s going on in our own world is hard enough to understand, so information from outside of this planet can seem quite confusing.

However, we often love to hear about things...

Nature & Tech Science

Could the Beetle Be the Key to Creating Biofuels Properly?

For many people, beetles are horrible, disgusting little freaks. Up close and in your line of sight, they are a genuine eyesore that can put you off looking at them. However, the beetle is more than just a hard little eyesore: they might hold the key to creating better biofuels in the future.

This was recently looked into by scientific experts at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab. They have done some research into the beetle, as their diet of dying wood apparently makes an excellent starting point for the creation of biofuels.

The gut of the beetle has closely adapted and adjusted to ensure that it is strong enough to handle plant material, such as cellulose and lignin, without issue. It then transforms these plant materials into necessary things like ethanol, methane and other biofuels which are loaded with energy such as hydrogen.

That diversity is one of the many reasons why it has become a go-to choice for a whole lot of scientists. The assistant adjunct professor of environmental science at UC Berkley, and senior author of the study about beetles, Eoin Brodie, said:

“We brought together a team of experts and used advanced molecular biology tools, together with spectrometry and tiny sensors, to discover that the beetle’s gut is made of up specialized compartments — each with a distinct microbiome — that work together almost like a factory production line, using unique biochemistry to turn the wood into food and fuel,

“The key innovation that nature has provided here is a way to combine biochemical processes that are otherwise incompatible,” he concluded.

A Truly Special Find

This is a landmark discovery and could go some way to making sure that the humble and proud beetle plays a major role in environmental transformation. According to Javier Ceja-Navarro, a Berkeley Lab research scientist and lead author of the study:

“It turns out that the beetle’s gut architecture, such as the length and thickness of its gut walls, has evolved to suit its microbiome so that specific metabolic processes are favored in different gut regions,

“This beetle and its microbes have worked out what scientists around the world are hurrying to optimize – how to efficiently turn woody plant biomass into biofuels and bioproducts,”

The fact that the beetle is such a resilient breeding ground for such biofuels makes it a hugely compelling part of nature. It could help with the production of things like acetate, a major energy source, and could become a valuable learning tool as we try to become more aware of the changes we need to make to help the production of biofuels become a more common part of society.

So, the next time that you see a beetle scurrying around, remember the vast potential that they contain within!

For many people, beetles are horrible, disgusting little freaks. Up close and in your line of sight, they are a genuine eyesore that can put you off looking at them. However, the beetle is more than just a hard little eyesore: they might hold the key to...

Nature & Tech Science

MIT’s Stunning Agro-Tech Solution for Growing Basil

As one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking, basil has an important role in our lives. However, it’s hard to grow basil these days. While most of us might grow some basil at home simply by leaving it on the windowsill and letting it get some sunlight and water, we no longer need to.

Humanity is slowly being replaced by technology, and the latest example comes in the form of technologically driven agriculture.

Now, basil dishes are going to be created by machine-learning hydroponic solutions. This will not only help to reduce manpower needs for basil growing, but also optimize and develop the flavor of the basil further.

The aim of this program, over at the MIT Media Lab and the University of Texas at Austin, was to help improve automation of farming practices that we need to survive. The aim was to try and find out if a growing environment would be able to deliver a growing strategy that delivers a highly powered basil that comes with richer, stronger and more developed tastes.

To do that, a whole host of changes were needed to make it possible. For one, they decided to adjust things like the watering frequency, lighting volume and the soil type. This helped them to come up with a model that allowed for the best output. As the equipment makes the decision on behalf of the basil itself, the plant is always getting what is the best for its needs.

According to Caleb Harper of MIT, this process is very important. He said: “We’re really interested in building networked tools that can take a plant’s experience, its phenotype, the set of stresses it encounters, and its genetics, and digitize that to allow us to understand the plant-environment interaction,”

How does this work?

By adjusting the lighting that was allowed to get to the plants, this helped to improve the depth, strength, and concentration of the flavor. The results of the testing were quite surprising, too. For example, they found that one of the major suggestions was to undergo 24/7 lighting on the plants, using UV light.

This was the recommendation of the machine learning system which came forward through the extensive analysis carried out.

Despite going against general knowledge of how basil likes to grow, the researchers gave it a go. They found that it was actually going to deliver a much more immersive, satisfying flavor – massively so, in fact. They also found that it really did manage to produce double – or close to double – the flavor of a plant grown in a more controlled environment.

This is very interesting and shows a unique breakthrough in the agricultural industry. If our computers continue to come up with such intelligence solutions to help improve agriculture, this can only be a good thing.

Not only could we start growing more food, but we could improve food taste simply by modifying the growing process in a natural manner. It’s a very exciting time for agriculture, that’s for sure!

As one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking, basil has an important role in our lives. However, it’s hard to grow basil these days. While most of us might grow some basil at home simply by leaving it on the windowsill and letting it get some...

Earth Science

White Dwarf System Gives Glimpse into Our Solar System’s Demise

Ever wonder what our sun will look like in a few billion years? Or what our planet and the entire solar system has in store? Sure, it won’t happen in our lifetime, but because of the planet-like object scientists have discovered orbiting a white dwarf star, we can take a look at what our solar system will look like in about 5 billion years.

It’s been common in the last few decades to find planets beyond our own solar system orbiting stars. Just like our sun, these solar systems have main-sequence stars that get their energy from core nuclear reactions. When these stars run out of fuel, they become red giants.

When our sun begins this process, it will consume Mercury, Venus, and most likely Earth, as well, and expand into the solar system. Once the core collapses, it becomes a white dwarf, too. For those of you who may not know, a white dwarf is an extremely dense, faint star that’s about the size of a planet.

Planets that orbit white dwarfs gradually move closer to the star until they collide, smash, and become floating debris.

Christopher Manser, of the U.K.’s University of Warwick, published a study done with his colleagues in Science. They presented evidence of a small, intact planetary body orbiting the white dwarf SDSS J122859.93+104032.9.

“The gaseous planetary disc around this white dwarf was the first discovered, and is currently still the brightest disc known, making it great for observations,” Manser told Newsweek. “The observations were taken as a pilot test to see if we could detect anything happening on the time it takes material to orbit the white dwarf (roughly hours).”

A Planetesimal

The team was astonished to discover a planetesimal, which is a solid object formed through colliding rocks that have clumped together. The only way it wasn’t torn apart by the white dwarf’s gravitational pulls was because it was 370 miles in diameter and very dense. They’ve surmised that this planetesimal could be the core of one of the solar system’s planets.

“To survive so close to the white dwarf, the body either has to have a large density, or a high internal strength to avoid being ripped apart,” Manser said. “Currently, we cannot distinguish between the two, only that it requires some minimal amount of internal strength and a density around that of iron—if the internal strength is greater, our density estimate can be reduced.”

 Scientists are fascinated to see a glimpse into the destiny of our own solar system. It seems as though the three inner planets will be destroyed while the rest stay intact.

“By studying systems like SDSSJ122859.93+104032.9, we can learn more about the future of the solar system, and the majority of all known exoplanetary systems, which orbit stars that will themselves eventually become white dwarfs,” Manser said. He also mentioned they plan to find more planetesimals like this one.

A professor in University College London’s physics and astronomy department who was not involved in the study, Jay Farihi, said the planetesimal was similar to a “ring moon”—an object orbiting in the disc of rock and dust surrounding the star.

“This likely means the disks or rings around white dwarfs are highly dynamical and changing environments that will continue to do interesting things and elucidate more exoplanetary science,” he said.

“Continued monitoring of these real-time events should give insight into the total masses of the rings, the planetary parent bodies that were disrupted or otherwise destroyed to create the dust and gas, and most of all how they compare to Earth and the terrestrial planets.”

Ever wonder what our sun will look like in a few billion years? Or what our planet and the entire solar system has in store? Sure, it won’t happen in our lifetime, but because of the planet-like object scientists have discovered orbiting a white dwarf star...

Health Science

New Technology In Genetic Testing!

Don’t start rolling your eyes just yet. I know that blockchain technology is suggested as the savior to everything. However, in the world of genetic testing, it’s becoming a genuinely viable solution to a problem that is showing no signs of getting any better.

Genetic testing is one of the most powerful tools that we have as a species, but it’s also an industry that is fraught with data leaks and other such problems.

With DNA sequencing now a fully affordable solution, more and more people are getting involved with it. However, the question has to be asked – how will that data be used in the first place? How will the medical industry use our genetic data to help make the world a better place?

Privacy, of course, is the next big challenge. We look at the world and we see the increase of data and the drop-off of privacy becoming a major problem. Genetic testing, then, is no different: so how could we make a genetic testing industry that is both affordable and private?

According to the CEO of Geneyx, David Yizhar, the solution is going to be a blockchain technology offer. Stressing that it offers the security and anonymity that is needed to help keep genetic tasting data safe, this could be the bespoke solution that the industry has been crying out for.

Blockchain and genetic testing: a happy combination?

As Yizhar says, they want to make genomic data available without having to put people’s privacy at needless risk. The hope is that, by using the data of your own genomes, you could hunt down people who suffer from the same condition as you – anonymously at first. It might help those with rare genetic mutations to find treatments in other parts of the world.

The challenge is making sure that it’s sliced up into enough tiny screeds of data as to be more or less impossible to take over. This means that if one piece of data was collected, it could never be enough for a hacker or leaker to be able to trace the source of the data itself.

At present, genome data is secured in the one location, on a single local server. For a hacker, that’s a piece of cake to get around. Though Geneyx has around 50,000 genomes at the moment, they want to get to 100,000 before they can start to use it to anything like its full potential.

For now, though, it’s certainly a good and honest idea. Many people feel unsure about giving out their contact details online: it’s then much harder to convince someone to give out their genetic data. So, if this system managed to show a safer and more trustworthy way of making this work, more people would likely take part.

It’s all a bit carrot and stick at the moment. If genome testing could become a safer experience, and more anonymous, people would take part. With a blockchain-style solution, though, that might not be so far off now.

Don’t start rolling your eyes just yet. I know that blockchain technology is suggested as the savior to everything. However, in the world of genetic testing, it’s becoming a genuinely viable solution to a problem that is showing no signs of getting any...

Science

Solving The Mystery Of Green Icebergs

Since long before the 1900’s, explorers and sailors around Antarctica have been greeted by the sight of beautiful, but strange,  green icebergs.  Researchers have been perplexed for decades by the unusually colored ice formations.

The mystery may finally be laid to rest, however.  A recent publication released in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans reports that the brilliant emerald green colorations occur because of mainland Antarctica’s rock dust is heavy in iron oxides.  The findings were revealed by a University of Washington glaciologist team, headed by Stephen Warren.

In a Newsweek report, Warren explained that the green icebergs wouldn’t have been seen before 1774’s discovery of the Antarctic Ocean by James Cook’s expedition.  In fact, a famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, describes the phenomenon:
“Ice, mast high, came floating by, as green as emerald.”  It seems this was based on fact, not poetic license.

Warren went on to explain that a German expedition in 1903 noted the green icebergs, and they made the scientific headlines in 1921.  The novelty has been spotted on occasion by a number of sea captains and explorers.

When ice breaks apart from an ice shelf or a glacier, it forms an iceberg. Layers and layers of snow will pile onto the iceberg, gradually becoming solid.  These formations will contain light reflecting air pockets.  The iceberg absorbs less blue light than red, giving them a bluish appearance.

Layers Of Different Ice

The emerald green icebergs in the Antarctic Ocean contain layers of frozen ocean water under the ice shelf.  This marine ice lacks air pockets, making the icebergs look darker and more clear than normal icebergs.  According to Warren, one percent of all icebergs have this layer of visible marine ice.

The theory behind the green icebergs was traditionally that they were formed out of marine ice, not glacier ice.  The iceberg, it was thought, would take on a greenish hue because of dead marine animals or plants trapped in it as it froze. When this organic material began to break down, it took on a yellowish tinge as it produced organic carbons.  The green color, accordingly, was as elementary as this yellow marine ice mixing with the blue tinged glacier ice.

Warren, however, found that the same amounts of organic materials were found in both blue ice and the green.  This 1990’s discovery torpedoed the long-standing theory.  Something else had to be at work within the green icebergs.

A recent discovery by Tasmanian researchers found that an ice sample taken from the Antarctica Amery Ice Shelf had a significantly higher iron content at its base than was produced by the glacier ice above.  In fact, there was nearly 500 times more iron at the base of the core sample.

Rocks and soils that have heavy iron oxide content will be red, yellow or orange in color.  Warren began to consider that perhaps this is why the icebergs in Antarctica were green. The researchers theorized that when ocean water mixes with the mainland rock of Antarctica, the result was green marine ice.  If the ice turned over as it was breaking away from the main ice sheet, the green bottom layer would be exposed and create a green iceberg.

Scientists are considering the uses of this information and suggest that these icebergs play an important role as a delivery system of iron nutrients to the Southern Ocean.  Tiny marine plants at the bottom of the food chain, known as phytoplankton, need iron to survive.

Warren believes that the green icebergs are responsible for delivering iron directly to the phytoplankton that use it.  This means that green icebergs are more than just a bizarre fluke of nature, they are, in fact, very important to marine life.

Currently, Warren is teaming up with colleagues from the Hobart, Australia Antarctic Center for more testing.  They are hoping to gather more iceberg samples of all colors to check iron content and prove the theory.  The Australian team specialize in measuring the levels of iron in seawater and sea ice.

Warren says, “If our project is approved, we will travel by ship to the Australian Antarctic stations close to the Amery Ice Shelf, where green icebergs are commonly found. The iron analyses will be done in Australia. Spectral reflectance of icebergs will be measured by others of our group. We have submitted a proposal to do this work.”

Since long before the 1900’s, explorers and sailors around Antarctica have been greeted by the sight of beautiful, but strange,  green icebergs.  Researchers have been perplexed for decades by the unusually colored ice formations.

The mystery may finally...

Science

Israel Joins Space Club

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station successfully sent the Nusantara Satu Mission into the atmosphere, hauling several payloads.

SpaceX is a private space exploration corporation with several spacecraft to its name, including the Nusantara Satu satellite, the Air Force Research Laboratory S5 spacecraft, and the Beresheet lunar spacecraft.

The Indonesian Nusantara Satu satellite has been launched to provide internet access to its citizens.  Israel’s Beresheet is set to make Israel the fourth country to have ever landed on the moon.

Beresheet will take almost two months to reach the moon and will be the first spacecraft from Israel as well as the first privately-owned spacecraft to ever reach the moon.  It will take photos and video for scientific research, explains SpaceX, the owner of the spacecraft.

SpaceX released high-resolution pictures of the launch immediately after it happened.  The test launch had occurred on Monday for Thursday’s planned launch, and a back-up plan of a Friday launch was scheduled in case of complications.

Reusable Rocket

SpaceX is well known for using reusable rockets; in fact, this payload was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket while the first stage rocket had been used to launch Iridium 7 in July of 2018 and SAOCOM 1A in October of 2018. SpaceX successfully recovered first stage booster again after the launch on Thursday night.  The mission makes the 70th one for SpaceX, and the 20th successful launch reusing a booster.

Nusantara Satu was successfully launched to a geosynchronous transfer orbit and was expected to work soon after. SpaceX, still riding high from its successes, is scheduled for another launch in March in its partnership with NASA.  The unmanned test launch will demonstrate the possibility of sending astronauts into space in the future.

 

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station successfully sent the Nusantara Satu Mission into the atmosphere, hauling several payloads.

SpaceX is a...

Science

Space: Ultima Thule Is Flat!

Recent discoveries had given a surprising new perspective to 2014 MU69, which has been the most distant object ever explored by NASA. Ultima Thule, in the Kuiper Belt, seems to be a lot less round than originally thought.

According to footage captured by a January 1 New Horizons flyby, Ultima Thule is more of a deflated beach ball than an air-filled one.  The photo above shows Ultima Thule with a crescent shape in an image shared ten minutes after the capsule crossed paths with the entity.

Ultima Thule is a tiny world that is over 4 billion miles from planet earth. Southwest Research Institute’s Principal investigator Alan Stern confirmed, “Nothing quite like this has ever been captured in imagery.”

A Change In Point Of View

The pictures shared a surprising piece of scientific evidence: Ultima Thule’s segments aren’t round, as expected. NASA describes the largest of the lobes as pancake shaped and the smallest lobe carries more of a dented walnut shape.

Prior to this clear image, everything science understood about Ultima Thule was based on a very limited mount of photos transmitted during a flyby, but nothing as informative as this one.  Stern has admitted that they have had to rethink what they understood about Ultima Thule and compare it to a pancake rather than a basketball.

While the bottom image in this picture most closely represents NASA’s current understanding of Ultima Thule’s shape, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty because the images transmitted didn’t include areas of the entity that were hidden from view and not lit by the sun.  Scientists speculate that Ultima Thule could be shaped more like the dotted blue line depictions, flatter than expected or not as flat as the pictures indicate.

Stern explains, “The new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. We’ve never seen something like this orbiting the Sun.”

The images taken by New Horizons on departure revealed the object from a different angle than scientists had previously studied.  Fast flybys aren’t entirely an accurate way of understanding the actual shape of Ultima Thule, but the latest images have given scientists a greater, more accurate view that opens new possibilities regarding the formation of planets in the solar system.

Originally, scientists had theorized that Ultima Thule was single entity with two separate lobes.  Now, they understand that it is actually two separate stars who are so close together that they are touching, perhaps even merging, called a “contact binary.”

Ultima measures approximately 12 miles across, while Thule measures around nine miles across.  It is theorized that the two celestial bodies merged during the solar system’s formation at a speed and force only as comparable as two vehicles in a fender bender.

Recent discoveries had given a surprising new perspective to 2014 MU69, which has been the most distant object ever explored by NASA. Ultima Thule, in the Kuiper Belt, seems to be a lot less round than originally thought.

According to footage captured by a...