The inspiration for Deskarati is none less than the great enlightenment Encyclopédie, a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts by Denis Diderot the French philosopher and author. The Encyclopédie was an innovative encyclopedia in several respects. Among other things, it was the first to include contributions from many named contributors, and it was the first general encyclopedia to lavish attention on the mechanical arts. Still, the Encyclopédie is famous above all for representing the thought of the Enlightenment. According to Diderot the Encyclopédie’s aim was:
“to change the way people think.”
A hunter has created a new range of camouflage gear which is so effective the wearer blends perfectly into the scenery, just like a real-life Predator from the Hollywood films.
In terrifying news for unsuspecting fauna, American company Realtree has launched the latest in a line of state-of-the-art clothing which enables hunters to blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Via Daily Mail
Scientists from the University of Lyon have discovered a new way to split hydrogen gas from water, using rocks. The method promises a new green energy source, providing copious hydrogen from a simple mixture of rock and water. It speeds up a chemical reaction that takes geological timescales in nature. In the reaction, the mineral olivine strips one oxygen and hydrogen atom from an H2O molecule to form a mineral called serpentine, releasing the spare hydrogen atom.
The results were discussed at this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, and have been published in the journal American Mineralogist. The researchers heated olivine minerals in water to a couple of hundred degrees Celsius, and added a little bit of ruby (aluminium oxide) to the mix to provide a source of aluminium atoms. The whole mix was placed into a miniature pressure cooker, formed of two diamonds, that squeezed the mixture to 2,000 atmospheres pressure. The transparent diamonds allowed the scientists to watch the reaction take place. Edited from Hydrogen squeezed from stone could be new energy source.
Experimenting with Aqua Regia again – this time because of a bottle acquired by Professor Poliakoff in Russia. With thanks to senior technician Neil Barnes, as always!
While we all know DNA instructs our cells how to make proteins, scientists have now discovered a second DNA code that suggests the body uses the same alphabet to speak two different languages. The findings in the journal Science may have big implications for how medical experts use the genomes of patients to interpret and diagnose diseases, say researchers.
The newfound genetic code within deoxyribonucleic acid, the hereditary material that exists in nearly every cell of the body, was written right on top of the DNA code scientists had already cracked. Rather than concerning itself with proteins, this one instructs the cells on how genes are controlled. Its discovery means DNA changes, or mutations that come with age or in response to viruses, may be doing more than what scientists previously thought, say the researchers.
“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” says lead author Dr John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine. ”Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture.”
“Many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously.” Via Scientists discover second, secret DNA code
The question then comes down to, “Where does the DNA in the sperm and the egg come from?” Every cell in the father contains a complete set of X-shaped chromosomes that are exactly alike. Same for the mother. The fathers chromosomes came from his mother and father, and the mothers from her mother and father. To make a sperm cell, only one half of the X is contributed. But which half? This is where nature does the especially amazing part. When forming sperm cells, the fathers body randomly chooses genes from the two halves of the fathers chromosomes. This means that every sperm cell contains a random mix of the fathers parents genes. The same thing happens when forming eggs. Therefore, each child that a couple produces is a random mix of the four grandparents genes.
One of the moons of Jupiter may be another habitable part of the Solar System according to new research showing that Europa is rich in vital minerals and has spectacular water fountains spraying from a subsurface ocean.
The Hubble Space Telescope has identified two huge plumes of water as high as 200km (124 miles) which occasionally erupt on Europa, while a separate study has found clay-like minerals littered around the moon’s frozen surface.
The water fountain appears at certain moments in the orbit of Europa around Jupiter, suggesting it is powered by immense tidal forces that periodically increase the pressure within a subsurface ocean, causing it to erupt through cracks in the surface ice, according an analysis of Hubble data published in the journal Science.
Europa is one of the more significant of Jupiter’s 63 known moons and astronomers believe that below is ice-covered surface is an ocean kept liquid by the heat of tidal forces. Some scientists have suggested that life may exist within this ocean, living off minerals and using tidal heat as a source of energy. Via New research raises hopes of finding alien life on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa
Maybe it happens tomorrow. Maybe in a billion years. Physicists have long predicted that the universe may one day collapse, and that everything in it will be compressed to a small hard ball. New calculations from physicists at the University of Southern Denmark now confirm this prediction – and they also conclude that the risk of a collapse is even greater than previously thought.
Sooner or later a radical shift in the forces of the universe will cause every little particle in it to become extremely heavy. Everything – every grain of sand on Earth, every planet in the solar system and every galaxy – will become millions of billions times heavier than it is now, and this will have disastrous consequences: The new weight will squeeze all material into a small, super hot and super heavy ball, and the universe as we know it will cease to exist. Continue reading
Scientists recently recorded the lowest temperatures on Earth at a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, trumping a record set in 1983 and uncovering a new puzzle about the ice-covered continent. Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and his team found temperatures from −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) in a 1,000-kilometer long swath on the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide.
The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board NASA’s Aqua satellite and during the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter by Landsat 8, a new satellite launched early this year by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.
“I’ve never been in conditions that cold and I hope I never am,” Scambos said. “I am told that every breath is painful and you have to be extremely careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs when inhaling.”
The record temperatures are several degrees colder than the previous record of −89.2 degrees Celsius (−128.6 degrees Fahrenheit) measured on July 21, 1983 at the Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. They are far colder than the lowest recorded temperature in the United States, measured at −62 degrees Celsius (−79.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Alaska, in northern Asia at -68 degrees Celsius (−90.4 degrees Fahrenheit), or even at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet at -75 degrees Celsius (−103 degrees Fahrenheit). Via Landsat 8 helps unveil the coldest place on Earth.
Interplay between genes and the environment has been pondered at least since the phrase “nature versus nurture” was coined in the mid-1800s. But until the arrival of modern genomic sequencing tools, it was hard to measure the extent that the environment had on a species’ genetic makeup.
Now, researchers with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech studying fruit flies that live on opposite slopes of a unique natural environment known as “Evolution Canyon” show that even with migration, cross-breeding, and sometimes the obliteration of the populations, the driving force in the gene pool is largely the environment. The discovery in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the animals genetically adapt depending on whether they live on the drier, hotter side of the canyon, or the more humid, cooler side.
“Despite complicating factors, such as likely gene flow between the two populations and changing demographics, the difference in the microclimate in this canyon apparently is so pervasive that it is sufficient to drive the genetic differences,” said Pawel Michalak, an associate professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. “We don’t have many examples of rapid environmental adaptation to stressful conditions from the field. We can simulate such conditions in a lab, but it is valuable to observe this actually happening in a natural system.”
The two slopes of Evolution Canyon, which is located at Mount Carmel, Israel, are little more than two football fields apart at their bases, but the south-facing slope is tropical and may receive eight times as much sun, while the north-facing slope is more like a European forest. Knowledge that climatic and environmental factors seem to exert a significant effect on the fruit-fly genome in spite of migration or repopulations adds to current understanding of the biodiversity, resilience, and ability of a species to adapt to rapid climate change. Via Environment drives genetics in ‘Evolution Canyon’.
The Death of Marat is a painting by Jacques-Louis David of the murdered French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat. It is one of the most famous images of the Revolution. David was the leading French painter, as well as a Montagnard and a member of the revolutionary Committee of General Security. The painting shows the radical journalist lying dead in his bath on 13 July 1793 after his murder by Charlotte Corday. Painted in the months after Marat’s murder, it has been described by T. J. Clark as the first modernist painting, for “the way it took the stuff of politics as its material, and did not transmute it”.
Around 10,500 years ago, a hunter-gatherer walked through the mineral-rich sediment of the Chihuahuan Desert. The resulting footprints, locked in stone for millennia, have now been confirmed as the oldest human prints ever found in North America — shattering the previous record by 5,000 years.
The footprints, one left and one right, were discovered many years ago at a construction site in northeastern Mexico, about 186 miles south of Texas.
They were found at a quarry called Cuatro Ciénegas, also known as the the Cuatrociénegas Basin, which was once a marshy, spring-fed desert oasis.
A team of archaeologists led by Nicholas Felstead recently decided to date the prints after realizing they were preserved in travertine, a sedimentary rock containing traces of uranium. Analysis of the uranium decay indicated that the prints formed about 10,550 years ago. Other prints found in the same region date back some 7,250 years ago.
While these holocene-aged prints are now considered the oldest found in North America, they’re still not as old as the tiny track of a child’s foot found in Chile — a print that has been dated at 13,000 years old. Via These are the oldest human footprints ever found in North America.
Prof Peter Higgs has received his Nobel prize for physics at a ceremony in Stockholm. The Edinburgh University emeritus professor shared this year’s physics prize with Francois Englert for work on the theory of the Higgs boson. In the 1960s, they were among the physicists who proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the Universe have mass.
Winners in other Nobel categories will also receive their awards at the event. These include this year’s laureates in chemistry, economics, medicine and literature. Sweden’s King Carl Gustav presented Prof Higgs with his Nobel medal at the Stockholm Concert Hall just before 1600 GMT. Via Peter Higgs receives Nobel prize medal.
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct. 9, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 7.3 kilometer per second), which set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.
One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.
The cameras that took the images for the movie are located near the pointed tip of one of the spacecraft’s three solar-array arms. They are part of Juno’s Magnetic Field Investigation (MAG) and are normally used to determine the orientation of the magnetic sensors. These cameras look away from the sunlit side of the solar array, so as the spacecraft approached, the system’s four cameras pointed toward Earth. Earth and the moon came into view when Juno was about 600,000 miles (966,000 kilometers) away — about three times the Earth-moon separation.
During the flyby, timing was everything. Juno was traveling about twice as fast as a typical satellite, and the spacecraft itself was spinning at 2 rpm. To assemble a movie that wouldn’t make viewers dizzy, the star tracker had to capture a frame each time the camera was facing Earth at exactly the right instant. The frames were sent to Earth, where they were processed into video format.
The music accompaniment is an original score by Vangelis.
The Nelson Mandela monument was constructed by South African artist Marco Cianfanelli to recognize the 50 year anniversary of Mandela’s capture by the apartheid police in 1962. 50 steel columns measuring 21.32 and 29.52 feet (6.5 and 9 meters) high, are each anchored to the concrete-covered ground. The shape and form of the sculpture are representative of the leader’s 27 years behind bars for his efforts to bring equal rights and governmental representation to the once racially divided nation. The statue of the nobel prize winner has been erected in Howick, a town located 56 miles (90 kilometers) south from the city of Durban in the countryside of the southernmost African country.
When soup is heated, it starts to boil. When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a “Big Bang”. This phase transition between a boring empty space and an expanding universe containing mass has now been mathematically described by a research team at the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from Harvard, the MIT and Edinburgh. The idea behind this result is a remarkable connection between quantum field theory and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Everybody knows of the transitions between liquid, solid and gaseous phases. But also time and space can undergo a phase transition, as the physicists Steven Hawking and Don Page pointed out in 1983. They calculated that empty space can turn into a black hole at a specific temperature.
Can a similar process create a whole expanding universe such as ours? Daniel Grumiller from the Vienna University of Technology looked into this, together with colleagues from the USA and Great Britain. Their calculations show that there is indeed a critical temperature at which an empty, flat spacetime turns into an expanding universe with mass. “The empty spacetime starts to boil, little bubbles form, one of which expands and eventually takes up all of spacetime”, explains Grumiller.
For this to be possible, the universe has to rotate – so the recipe for creating the universe is “apply heat and stir”. However, the required rotation can be arbitrarily small. In a first step, a spacetime with only two spatial dimensions was considered. “But there is no reason why the same should not be true for a universe with three spatial dimensions”, says Grumiller. More here Expanding universe can emerge in remarkably simple way
Samsung has this month unveiled the world’s very first 1TB mSATA SSD in the form of the new 840 EVO mSATA mini-Serial ATA Solid State Drive (SSD). The weight and thickness are 40 percent and a twelfth of a typical hard disk drive (HDD) respectively and the 1TB version offers 98,000 random read and 90,000 random write IOPS (Input Output Operations Per Second).
Unsoo Kim, senior vice president, memory brand product marketing, Samsung Electronics explains : “With the new mSATA SSD line-up offering up to 1TB of memory and an optimized software tool, we expect that consumers can enjoy high storage volume and performance on ultra-slim notebooks besides desktop PCs. We will continue to bring leading-edge SSD products and software solutions with improved quality and reliability, while working on offering higher consumer satisfaction and strengthening competitiveness of our branded memory business.”
The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA which was first unveiled back in July at Samsung SSD Global Summit will be available to purchase worldwide later this month, but the exact launching date can vary depending on the region. It is equipped with Samsung’s advanced 128 gigabit (GB) NAND flash memory based on 10 nanometer class process technology. To create a 1TB version SSD, for which a total of four flash memory packages are used, each package having 16 layers of 128GB chips, explains Samsung. Edited from World’s First 1TB mSATA SSD Unveiled 840 EVO mSATA.
Quantum entanglement is one of the more bizarre theories to come out of the study of quantum mechanics — so strange, in fact, that Albert Einstein famously referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.”
Essentially, entanglement involves two particles, each occupying multiple states at once — a condition referred to as superposition. For example, both particles may simultaneously spin clockwise and counterclockwise. But neither has a definite state until one is measured, causing the other particle to instantly assume a corresponding state. The resulting correlations between the particles are preserved, even if they reside on opposite ends of the universe.
But what enables particles to communicate instantaneously — and seemingly faster than the speed of light — over such vast distances? Earlier this year, physicists proposed an answer in the form of “wormholes,” or gravitational tunnels. The group showed that by creating two entangled black holes, then pulling them apart, they formed a wormhole — essentially a “shortcut” through the universe — connecting the distant black holes.
Now an MIT physicist has found that, looked at through the lens of string theory, the creation of two entangled quarks — the building blocks of matter — simultaneously gives rise to a wormhole connecting the pair. The theoretical results bolster the relatively new and exciting idea that the laws of gravity holding together the universe may not be fundamental, but arise from something else: quantum entanglement. Via physorg
Today we are starting a new category called ‘Featured Artworks’ which is pretty much what it says. We will start posting artworks (usually paintings) that we find interesting and that will brighten up our day, and hopefully yours too. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions for your favourite pieces of work. – Deskarati
Monet stayed at Étretat, a fishing village and resort on the Normandy coast in 1890′s. He painted eighteen views of the beach and the three extraordinary rock formations in the area: the ‘Porte d’Aval,’ the ‘Porte d’Amont,’ and our favourite the ‘Manneporte.’ Over the years Monet painted the Manneporte many times but for us this one stands out head and shoulders above the rest. – Deskarati
Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov uses a homemade camera rig to take these amazing close-ups of the snowflakes that fall on his balcony. A selection is below, but check out his blog for many, many more. Via io9
The mystery of one of the strangest landscape features on the planet – Mima mounds – has been solved, scientists say. These geological anomalies are circular hillocks that cover great swathes of land. But scientists have been puzzled about what causes them. Now new research suggests that tiny burrowing animals are their architects.
The findings will be presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Mima mounds, which measure up to 2m (7ft) in height and 50m (160ft) in diameter, are found all around the world. However, they are most common in North America. In some areas, they can number in their millions, stretching for many kilometres across the landscape.
Lead researcher Dr Manny Gabet, of San Jose State University, told BBC News: “The big mystery surrounding Mima mounds is that, until now, nobody really knew how they formed. ”Over the past couple of hundred years, people thought they might be Native American burial mounds, or they were caused by earthquakes or glaciers. Some people even suggested extraterrestrials.”
It takes many generations of gophers hundreds of years to make a Mima mound Now though, Dr Gabet says he is certain that gophers have created the mysterious mounds. Using a computer program, the researchers analysed how the rodents move soil as they burrow. They found that in areas prone to waterlogging, the gophers gradually shift tiny amounts of earth upwards to try to stay dry. Over hundreds of years, though, as many generations of gophers repeat this process, these minute piles of soil grow into the large structures.
Dr Gabet said: “I developed ‘digital gophers’ and had them behave like they do in real life, and to my surprise Mima mounds just started to form in this virtual landscape. ”The [computer] model results look so similar to the mounds in every way – not just the dimensions, but also the way they are packed and how many you get per area.” Via ‘Digital gophers’ solve Mima mound mystery.