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Txch Today: The Science of Christmas

Surprising Facts About Reindeer
Breaking news: reindeer are real animals! Now that you’ve had your mind sufficiently blown, check out this article for 6 more surprising facts about reindeer.
LiveScience

Mistletoe Shortage
This year, the supply of holiday mistletoe has greatly decreased due to adverse weather events, especially the severe drought in Texas, where large amounts of commercial mistletoe is grown. Whether or not this will lead to a kissing shortage is yet to be known. NYT

Tracking and Calling Santa
Once again, NORAD is teaming up with Google Earth to track Santa on his journey around the world on Christmas Eve. And new this year, thanks again to Google, you can send a personalized call or video from Santa, who not only says the recipient’s name, but allows you to pick out themes like “wizard-style” and to ask for presents such as a pair of jeggings, or a set of front teeth.

Real-life Snow Globe
See the Earth as a real-life snow globe in this animation created by NASA’s Terra Satellite, which shows the Earth’s snow cover over the past decade.
OurAmazingPlanet

Apollo 8 Christmas Message
The live broadcast from the crew of the Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve in 1968. The broadcast was a success, becoming the largest TV event in history at the time, with a half billion people watching.

Top image: NASA’s newly found “cosmic ornament”, a spinning pulsar located in the remains of a supernova in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Image courtesy of NASA

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Txch Today: Scorched Planets, Self-Healing Electronics, Shrilk, Tallest Humanoid Robot

Two Scorched Planets Foreshadow Earth’s Fate
Two new planets, roughly 0.76 and 0.87 times Earth’s radius, discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, are the smallest planets ever found orbiting an active star other than our sun. However, these planets are severely burnt, and scientists believe these worlds weren’t always so small, probably starting out as gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. These planets were most likely reduced in size after their parent star swelled into a red giant, which is what scientists believe will happen to our sun – but not for another 5 billion years or so. NatGeo

Self-Healing Electronics
A team of scientists from the University of Illinois have created a circuit capable of self-healing. When cracked, the circuit releases liquid metal to restore conductivity. Applications for this range from use in space travel, where previously it has been extremely difficult or impossible to replace broken electronics, to the creation of greener gadgets with longer lifespans. BBC

New Material Inspired by Insect Cuticles
From spider webs to insect shells, mother nature knows her building materials. Now, researchers at Harvard have hacked into her ingenuity, creating a new material inspired by insect cuticle that is made up of layers of chitin and fibroin, a protein also found in spider webs. Its called “shrilk” – a combination of shrimp, whose shells are a good source of chitin, and silk. Shrilk’s strength is similar to aluminum alloy, with half its weight, and its flexibility can be manipulated by adjusting the water content, just like insects. Its creators believe it can serve a variety of proposes, from a green alternative to plastic to use in surgical suture. ScientificAmerican

Tallest Humanoid Robot
Hajime Sakamoto, the president of the Hajime Research Institute, is already the creator of one of the tallest humanoid robots in the world, standing at 7 feet (you can see it in action in the video below). Now, he is working on building a 13 foot tall version, that will even contain a built-in cockpit. His plans don’t stop there, he is already planning to build a 26 foot tall robot, and wants to build a 59 foot robot modeled after Gundam, in time for the anime’s 40th anniversary. PlasticPals

Top image: Artist’s conception of Kepler-20e, one of the two Earth-sized planets discovered this week orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. Courtesy of NASA.

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Ten of the Top Science Images of 2011

From glow-in-the-dark cats to faster-than-light neutrinos, you couldn’t make up stories better than what we were able to accomplish or discover in 2011. Unfortunately 2011 also saw more than its fair share of disaster and devastation, including the worst earthquake in Japan’s history followed by a devastating Tsunami.  Whether it’s innovation and technological advancements, disaster and destruction, or just the beauty of the cosmos, we were able to capture stunning photos.  Here are the best science and technology images of 2011.

Fluorescent Labeled Cats
Japanese Home Floating Out to Sea
Australopithecus sediba
Cosmic Exclamation Point
Hurricane Irene
Supernova Remnant Tycho
Solar Flare
Texas Wildfires
Thailand Flooding
North America Nebula

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Txch Today: Censoring Science, Earth-Sized Planets, Solving the Ricin Riddle

Scientific Censorship on Deadly Flu Details
A government advisory board has asked scientific journals to censor the details of experiments involving a deadly, highly transmissible, flu virus, fearing the information could fall into the wrong hands. Editor of Science, Bruce Alberts, stated “This is a precedent-setting moment, and we need to be careful about the precedent we set.” Although the government cannot force compliance with the board’s decision, Dr. Alberts has agreed not to publish the details of the study, but asked the government to create a system to provide the information to legitimate scientists worldwide who need it. NYT

December 21st, 1898: The Curies Discover Radium
Today in history, Pierre and Marie Curie first discovered radium, which helped earn them a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. After Pierre died in 1906, Marie carried on the work, isolating pure radium in metallic form in 1910. For her work on radioactivity, Marie Curie won a second Nobel Prize, and remains the only woman to have won a Nobel Prize in two different fields. Wired

2 Earth-Sized Planets Found
For the first time, two planets roughly the same size of Earth have been discovered. These planets orbit a star 950 light-years away, and bring us closer to one day discovering a habitable Earth twin. According to lead researcher François Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, this is an important discovery because not only have we been able to detect planets smaller than Earth, “we proved that Earth-size planets exist around other stars like the sun, and most importantly, we proved that humanity is able to detect them. It’s the beginning of an era.”Space

Ricin’s Activating Mechanism Now Understood
Ricin, a poison that has long been feared as a chemical warfare agent, and Walter White’s preferred form of homicide, is now finally understood by scientists. Researchers at the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna have identified the protein molecule that is essential for ricin’s deadly effects. Cells which lack this protein, called Gpr107, are immune to the poison, meaning a ricin antidote could be developed by creating a molecule that blocks this protein. PhysOrg

Top image: Avian flu simulation showing the potential target for new anti-viral drugs. Image credit: R. Amaro, UCSD; Source: San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego, National Science Foundation

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Ten of the Top Science and Technology Stories of 2011

The previous year has forced us to confront difficult science questions: Was processing patents Einstein’s real strength? Are there any other planets out there like Earth? Why is the universe composed of matter as opposed to, say, antimatter? Is was a bumper year for fascinating science and technology stories, so many that it’s impossible to call ten stories “the top.” So we plucked ten notable ones from a long list. Below, in no particular order, our picks for the year’s most interesting stories.

Faster Than Light Neutrinos?
Albert Einstein taught us that nothing travels faster than light, right? Not so fast. A group of scientists in a group known as Opera reported in November that neutrinos can travel faster than light. The finding came out of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and challenged the most fundamental rule of modern physics. Since the discovery, the group maintains they have been able to replicate the findings, but many remain skeptical.

Image: Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Image by Wikimedia User Julian Herzog.

What’s Hot in 2011? The Planet
The year brought some breakthroughs in climate science, including an independent study concluding that global warming is real. Also, according to the International Energy Agency, 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere last year, making 2010 the year with the highest carbon output in history. This also means that nothing good came from the global recession, which many expected would at least help lower emissions.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
After years of delays and budget overruns in the billions, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner finally debuted this year. Industry watchers say the aircraft was well worth the wait, and the investment. It’s the first commercial airliner to be made primarily of carbon composites, which makes it lighter, and 20% more fuel efficient than other conventional airliners. It also has higher ceilings, bigger windows, increased cabin pressure, and softer LED lighting in the cabin. Boeing can barely keep pace with the orders for aircraft across its fleet.

Definitely, Maybe: The Search for the Higgs-boson
Scientists say they are closer than ever to finding the elusive Higgs-boson. This particle is the missing link to understanding why particles have mass. Unfortunately, there was no grand discovery of the “god particle” this year, but it might be making this list again next year, as researchers found “tantalizing hints” of its existence in 2011. If discovered, the Higgs-boson would be one of the greatest triumphs of science since sliced bread the structure of DNA was discovered.  The particle would also justify the construction of the world’s most complicated machine, the Large Hadron Collider, ensuring its name won’t get changed to “Large Money Waster”.

Final Space Shuttle Flight
On July 19th, the space shuttle Atlantis became the last of its kind to leave Earth. This flight marked NASA’s 135th and final space shuttle mission during a 30-year long program. Critics said the program’s expense, limited ambitions of low-Earth orbit and repeated disasters actually held space exploration back. Program defenders note that many of the great cosmic discoveries of recent years  have come from satellites, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, hauled into space by the shuttle and astronauts learned how to perform complex operations in space from the repeated flights.

Final space shuttle flight taking off. Courtesy NASA.

Earth-like Planets Found
This year we got one step closer to finding Earth’s twin. A new planet was discovered that, for the first time ever, lies in the habitable zone of its sunlike star, where temperatures are adequate to support life (as we know it). Named Kepler-22b, the planet is 2.4 times the size of Earth, but its composition has yet to be determined. It is 600 light years away from Earth. Just this week, physicists discovered two smaller planets, Kepler 20e and Kepler 20f, that orbit too close to their sun to be habitable but portend the discovery of yet more Earth-sized planets.

Advances in Human Genome Sequencing
The cost of sequencing a genome is down from the $8.9 million it cost in July 2007, to $10,500 this past July, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Experts predict a $1,000 human genome within the next year or two. But hurdles remain: it now costs more money to analyze a genome than to sequence one.

SOPA and Protect IP
The Stop Online Piracy and PROTECT IP acts proposed this year were, and continue to be, controversial measures. If passed, these bills would expand the ability of law enforcement and copyright holders to shut down any site that hosts pirated content. Critics believe the bills go much further and, if passed, would result in the end of free speech on the Internet and even somebody like Justin Bieber might face jail time for uploading copyrighted material to sites like YouTube.

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami & Fukushima Disaster
The worst earthquake in Japan’s recorded history led to a ferocious tsunami that killed 15,000-20,000 people and crippled the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. The meltdown of several reactors has, to this point, had limited impact on human health but will likely leave the greatest legacy. It took workers months to bring the reactors under control and it will take decades to disassemble the plant and remove the radioactive material. The meltdown also prompted many countries, notably Germany, to accelerate plans to shutter their nuclear plants, which could effect carbon mitigation efforts.

Images Sequenced from Brain Activity
In 2011, we came one step closer to being able to record our dreams, thoughts and memories. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, successfully developed an algorithm that can be used in functional magnetic resonance imaging to generate the moving image a person is seeing. Also in this same vein, the first brain image of a dream was created.

Screen Shot of Image Reconstruction. Courtesy GallantLab's YouTube Video

Top image: The zany Albert Einstein.

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Txch Today: Christmas Present Edition

Pinoky Reanimates Your Toys
Make-believing your stuffed animals are alive is so 2010. Now, a wireless ring-like device called Pinoky can turn any stuffed animal into a soft robot. Pinoky brings the toys “to life” by using a micro controller, a Zigbee input device and a servo motor system to move the toy’s extremities, with a set of photo sensors designed to measure the angle at which it bends. Users can control the toy remotely or input desired movement by moving the plush toy, which records and plays back the movement. Check out Pinoky in action in the video below. Engadget

LED Draft Detector
Just in time for Christmas, light up your nose with this LED draft detector device. Created by Noda Akira, this invention was displayed at the Make Tokyo Meeting 07 earlier this month. It combines a draft-sensor, a blue LED, and a power source to create a device just small enough to fit up your nose and illuminate your breathing. Although you won’t quite look like Rudolph, at least everyone will be able to tell if you’re alive. MakeZine

Postcards to the International Space Station
Make it your business this holiday season to extend the Christmas spirit as far as you can – even into space! You can now send the current crew of the International Space Station some Earthly holiday cheer with NASA Postcards. NASA Postcards

Dish-Washing Monkey
After seeing this video, a dish-washing monkey is going to be on everybody’s holiday wish list. Apparently this monkey picked up these skills after observing a worker washing dishes at an animal sanctuary in Bolivia.

Top image: Recycled Christmas trees by artist Fabrice Peltier via SmartPlanet

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Txch Today: Predicting a Hit Song, Thawing Permafrost, Naked Mole Rats

Can Science Predict a Hit Song?
A team of researchers from the University of Bristol claims to have developed an algorithm that can determine the likelihood of a song becoming a hit. According to the researchers, the algorithm has an accuracy rate of 60%.  Dr. Bie, head of the research team, stated that finding “the hit potential of a song depends on the era. This may be due to the varying dominant music style, culture and environment.” Therefore, because musical tastes evolve, the scientists found the algorithm will need to evolve as well.
PhysOrg

Thawing Permafrost Threatens Climate
In the Arctic, researchers are studying the methane emissions released by decaying plants under the thawing permafrost. The biggest worry researchers have is that once the decomposition starts, it will be impossible to stop. In the video below, a fiery visual aid demonstrates how much methane is getting released. NYT

The Naked Mole Rat’s Secret to Pain Resistance
At the Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, scientists have discovered the secret of the naked mole rat’s immunity to the pain associated with high acidity in tissues. The naked mole rats’ acid sensors work, but the protein that relays messages about the acid’s presence is blocked by the same positively charged hydrogen ions that lend substances acidity. This discovery may lead researchers to develop new pain relieving drugs that take away pain, but don’t make people groggy the way many analgesics do today.
ScienceNews

First Global Image Taken by VIRIS
From 512 miles above the Earth, NASA’s Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIRIS) satellite gets a complete view of the planet every day. The first complete global image from VIRIS was taken November 24th, 2011. The satellite follows a Sun-synchronous orbit which takes it over the equator at the same local time in every orbit. This allows the satellite to maintain the same angle between the Earth and the Sun, so that all images have similar lighting.
NASA

Top image: The first complete global image from NASA‘s Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite

 

 

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Batter Up: Has Climate Change Benefited Baseball Sluggers?

Since 2002, the Colorado Rockies have stored their pitchers’ baseballs in a special humidor (now monitored by umpires) at a constant 70 degrees and 50 percent humidity. The humidor, controversial among other teams, is necessary, says Rockies spokesman Jay Alves, because the thin air at Coors field would otherwise make them lighter, slicker and harder than other balls used by the majors—and a challenge to pitchers’ grip. Alves adds that pitchers are “already at a disadvantage [from] the mountain thin air that allows the ball to carry farther.”

It’s clear that climate has an impact on baseball. But it’s not just Coors Field where batters are getting a boost: there is evidence that climate change, which raised global temperatures an estimated 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit from 1906 to 2005 (PDF), is having subtle but noticeable effects on baseball performance. (Moist air, another effect of global warming, means the air density has decreased up two percent at stadiums around the country, adding lift to fly balls.)

Four hundred and one instead of 400 feet

Robert Adair, author of “The Physics of Baseball” and a retired professor at Yale University, says the increased temperature probably increases a batter’s chance of hitting a home run by 1.75 percent, so instead of 60 in a season he might knock in 61.

“A long drive that will go 400 feet through air at a given temperature will go about 401 feet through air that is two degrees warmer,” he said.

One foot further? “Sure, that could make a difference,” says Matthew Gould, a spokesman for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. “Sometimes the ball lands one foot short of a home run.” With warmer temperatures, some spectacular one-handed catches might never have been made and the ball that October night at Wrigley Field might have been well out of Cubs’ outfielder Moises Alou’s reach, saving Steve Bartman from vilification.

Geography probably plays an important role. Players swinging their bats down at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, where thermometers hit 90 degrees, are getting a noticeable air-density advantage when compared to hapless souls batting in near-freezing conditions at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The climate-baseball hypothesis is relatively recent. Perhaps the first person to advance it was Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia and a big Blue Jays fan. Thirteen years ago, when he was doing his Ph.D. research, he noticed that an explosion in home run hitting coincided with 1998 clocking in as what was then the warmest year on record. (It is now ranked third behind 2005 and 2010.)

“That was the year Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ single-season home run record—he hit 15 of his 70 homers in a month when it was 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal—and it got me thinking,” Donner said. “I looked at the data for 1980 to 2000 and there seemed to be a strong relationship between how many homeruns were hit and how warm it was. Look at Sammy Sosa—he had his best year in 1998, too, with 66 homers. Still, it was just a modest proposal.” But soon Dan Rather was mentioning it on the CBS Evening News.

A complicated picture

Of course, the picture is complicated. The heavy hitting of the late-nineties has since been attributed to performance enhancing drugs and the first decade of the new century has seen a marked decrease in offensive output. Then again, drug testing began in 2003, and the strike zone was effectively expanded in 2001—both also important factors affecting batters.

In a perverse sense, warmer and wetter climates are performance enhancers brought on by man’s interference in the climate. Donner pointed to National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun’s recent positive drug test, which is shaking confidence in the integrity of the sport. “It’s interesting that the test that determines whether the additional testosterone in a human body is natural looks at isotopes of carbon, which is the same way we show that carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere are man-made,” he said.

But what climate change gives, it might also take away. Baseball parks are likely to have more rainouts, says Richard Stuebi, managing director of Early Stage Partners, who wrote about global warming and sports for the Cleantech Blog. “We may need more stadiums with roofs.”

In a blog post entitled “Sports and Climate Change,” Stuebi celebrates the fact that global warming is bringing greens and sports fans together. “When NASCAR dads and NFL junkies start really caring about climate change, real public sector action…can’t be far behind,” he said.

Top image: Courtesy Flickr user Mr Empey.

Jim Motavalli is the author of “High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry“ and is a contributor to The New York Times’ automobiles section. He writes “Green Living” for the Environmental Defense newsletter and has contributed to Men’s Journal, Popular Mechanics, The Boston Globe, Salon and Grist, among others.

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What Do Astronauts Learn Underwater?

Astronauts are serious when it comes to playing make believe. In fact, it’s their job. Before going to real space they have to visit pretend space in full dress up. Depending on what they need to learn, astronauts may have to suit up for a mission in the Arizona desert, a ride on the vomit comet, or a couple hours dangling over a giant air hockey table. But to experience full immersion in a three-dimensional environment, astronauts turn to the deep blue.

NASA has been dunking its astronauts since the mid sixties, when Buzz Aldrin pioneered underwater training in preparation for his Gemini spacewalk. In recent years, the underwater experience has become immersive through the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), which places astronauts in a cramped underwater habitat for weeks at a time. The most recent mission, NEEMO 15 in October, had the “aquanauts” preparing for asteroid exploration in the Florida Keys, before hurricane Rita interrupted the mission.

Of course, the ocean is an imperfect simulation of space. But as a liquid environment, it holds a few advantages over other mock-ups. We consulted the experts, Jason Poffenberger, a NASA engineer who helped plan this year’s NEEMO mission, and Taber MacCallum, the co-founder of aerospace engineering company Paragon, about what astronauts learn underwater.

Operational Protocol

Whether a mission involves fixing the Hubble telescope or anchoring to a near-Earth asteroid to collect samples, every detail gets mapped out beforehand. Improvisation is only a back-up plan. When astronauts head off to space they bring along one refined strategy. Underwater tests help them to select the best one.

The DeepWorker submarine. Courtesy NASA

During their six-day stay, NEEMO 15 aquanauts tested different ways to collect asteroid samples. They also practiced using tethers and booms and tested whether it was more efficient to traverse an asteroid terrain with a rover or a jet pack.

“NEEMO is frequently the best fit for these sorts of tests we want to do because you get the benefit of being able to experiment with microgravity environments,” explains Jason Poffenberger.

Teamwork and stamina

Although NASA has many ways to feel out the psychological fortitude of its astronauts, saturation diving gives them a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in another world. The Aquarius Habitat, where the NEEMO missions take place, anchors down about 70 feet below water. At this depth and pressure, tissues in the astronauts bodies absorb dissolved nitrogen that can form bubbles in the blood if they resurface too quickly. The NEEMO crew requires about 16 hours to decompress, meaning they have no immediate escape hatch. Just like in space.

“It certainly gives people an environment that they can’t leave from readily. That aspect is a good thing to have experienced already,” MacCallum says.

Locked in, as they are, NEEMO crewmembers also get a good sense of how well they collaborate. “You never really know someone that you’re working with until you’re in stress,” says MacCallum.

Orientation

Making a mental map is one of the great challenges of floating weightless in space, as human beings are accustomed to building maps on a two dimensional plane. Weightlessness forces astronauts to orient themselves in three dimensions.

Commander Shannon Walker and fellow aquanaut David Saint-Jacques. Courtesy NASA/Mark Widick

“We sort of calibrate ourselves to the world we’re in and you have to recalibrate yourself to space,” says MacCallum. But it’s not easy to teach an astronaut how to do this, because each has an individual approach, “Some people orient themselves in the space around them and other people have themselves as the center,” says MacCallum. Spending consecutive days suspended in microgravity can help astronauts figure out which approach is best for them.

Space gives back

Quite often, these sessions of make believe lead to breakthroughs in marine engineering. After all, while pretending to survive in space, astronauts must really survive underwater. Some of the tools to do so were developed during NASA training.

“In 1969, NASA was getting ready for SKYLAB and learning to work underwater and be in those kinds of environments and it really was the very first of its kind. And it developed a lot of the protocol for saturation diving as well,” says MacCallum.

Divers and marine engineers especially took inspiration from NASA’s Gemini and Mercury missions during the lead up to the moon landing. Those were the first missions for which astronauts were placed underwater on an umbilical cord with a closed life support system. Until then, explains MacCallum, divers wore systems that exhaled directly into the water. NASA’s technology inspired engineers to experiment with diving equipment that collected exhaled gas in a contained system.

At Paragon, MacCallum has advanced this concept and designed an umbilical life support for the Navy that divers could use while swimming in contaminated waters. The gear attempts to recreate a “space-suit like environment.”

Putting it all together

Although underwater sites like Aquarius have become powerful tool for astronauts in training, no single simulation can recreate an unfathomably foreign experience that runs contrary to all human instinct. “We can simulate various aspects of space flight on the ground, but ultimately the astronaut has to sew all these things together,” says MacCallum.

Top image: The Aquarius Habitat. Courtesy NASA.

Morgen E. Peck is a contributor to IEEE Spectrum, Innovation News Daily and other publications. Her last article for Txchnologist looked at a system that generates power from slow river currents.

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Txch Today: U.S. Nixes Chimp Research, Black Hole Heartbeats, Comet Lovejoy Survives Sun

U.S. to Stop Funding New Chimp Experiments
A report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that most chimpanzee research is unnecessary. Upon receiving this report, the National Institute of Health immediately suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees, and accepted the first uniform criteria to assess the necessity of such research. Although this move doesn’t completely end chimp research, it’s a big step towards eventually ending all research on an animal who, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of N.I.H., deserves “special consideration and respect” because they are our closest relatives. NYT

X-Ray Heartbeat May Reveal Smallest Black Hole
The smallest black hole may have been found by scientists who were listening to its X-ray heartbeat. How do we know this is the smallest? The X-ray pattern is similar to a heartbeat registered on an electrocardiogram, and “just as the heart rate of a mouse is faster than an elephant’s, the heartbeat signals from these black holes scale according to their masses,” said Diego Altamirano, the lead author of the study. Space

Comet Lovejoy Survives the Scorching Sun
The newly found sungrazing comet Lovejoy survived its journey around the sun, according to NASA scientists. This news came as a surprise to many researchers, who expected the icy comet to be completely destroyed in its trip through the sun’s corona, where temperatures can reach 2 million degrees Fahrenheit. LiveScience

Deep Sea is Planned Location for World’s Second-largest Structure
European scientists have released preliminary plans for the world’s second-largest structure, proposed to be built 3,200 feet under the Mediterranean sea. The structure’s function would be to search for neutrinos, tiny subatomic particles that are almost impossible to see. Neutrinos originate in deep space from the universe’s most powerful places, such as gamma ray bursts, blazars, quasars and black holes, and astrophysicists believe looking at these neutrinos would help explain their distant sources. Architizer

Top image: Sharpless 2-106, a star-forming nebula in our galaxy that resembles a snow angel. Courtesy NASA.

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