Monthly Archives: January 2012

Most powerful diesel engine in the world

If the Seven Wonders of the World was updated for the 21 st century, the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine could be a contender. If you are a student of the internal combustion engine in all its wonderous configurations, then feast your eyes on this set of numbers which outline the truly astounding engineering feat. It is the most powerful and most efficient engine in the world today. Designed to provide the motive force for a variety of supertankers … Continue reading

Posted in Design, Mechanics | 2 Comments

How do you decaffeinate coffee?

Caffeine, on its own, is an off-white powdery substance with an intensely bitter taste. It’s the reason why beginning coffee drinkers load their cups with sugar and cream instead of doing the smart thing and throwing the cup and its contents out the window and slapping the person who gave it to them. There have been many methods of getting that nasty usefulness out of coffee, starting in 1905, when benzene was used to lift the caffeine away entirely. Benzene … Continue reading

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Astronomers solve mystery of Earth’s vanishing electrons

Deskarati Earth Atom

UCLA researchers have explained the puzzling disappearing act of energetic electrons in Earth’s outer radiation belt, using data collected from a fleet of orbiting spacecraft. In a paper published Jan. 29 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Physics, the team shows that the missing electrons are swept away from the planet by a tide of solar wind particles during periods of heightened solar activity. “This is an important milestone in understanding Earth’s space environment,” said lead study author … Continue reading

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Chimp ‘X factor’

Genetic mutations that boost an individual’s adaptability have greater chances of getting through to X chromosomes — at least in chimpanzees, according to new Danish research. One of the most important questions for evolution researchers is how a species develops and adapts during the course of time. An analysis of the genes of 12 chimpanzees has now demonstrated that the chimpanzee X chromosome plays a very special role in the animal’s evolutionary development. The analysis was carried out by researchers … Continue reading

Posted in Biology, Evolution, Wild Life | Leave a comment

Move over Bluetooth here comes WiGig

Panasonic is working on applications for the new WiGig-technology. WiGig holds out the promise of a time when mobile devices can communicate with each other—in an exchange of videos, photos, and other information– at multigigabit speeds using the 60 GHz frequency band. Making the rounds of blogs and news sites this week is a video filmed by DigInfo, which shows the Japan-based company’s concept demo of WiGig in action. The film shows what a day in the life of a … Continue reading

Posted in Technology | 3 Comments

Humans Tamed Horses All Over the World

horse pic

The domestication of wild horses had a profound effect on human history — offering nutrition, transportation and a leg up in warfare, among other advantages. But there are still many unanswered questions about when and where our species began its long love affair with horses. A new genetic study offers some clues. Through the first complete analysis of equestrian mitochondrial DNA — a kind of genetic material that is passed directly from mother to offspring — an international group of scientists … Continue reading

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The Proust Phenomenon

Marcel Proust

Most everyone has had the occasion of breathing in an odor and suddenly finding themselves lost in the reverie of a memory from long ago; the smell of fresh baked bread perhaps bringing back mornings at Grandma’s house or a certain perfume that always brings back a certain time in high school. Such odor/memory links are known as the “Proust Phenomenon” in honour of Marcel Proust, the French writer who romanticized the memories evoked by the smell of a madeleine biscuit after … Continue reading

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Why is there a hole in the universe?

barnard 68

This eerie patch of blackness in the middle of a busy star cluster may look like a rather misshapen black hole, but it’s actually something even stranger. It’s also quite possibly the loneliest, darkest, coldest place in the entire cosmos. This is Barnard 68, and it’s what’s known as a dark molecular cloud. Basically, the dust and gas that makes up Barnard 68 is so tightly packed together that it blocks out all the light behind it. The result might look … Continue reading

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Thanks to Alan Mason – It was one hundred years ago today, 30 January 1912 that the song “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” was published. Most of us know the chorus, but few of us know the verses which tell the story. A young Irishman has been induced to go to London to work, where fabulous wealth was supposed to await him. In his disillusionment he longs to leave London, “Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,” and return to “the … Continue reading

Posted in Alan Mason, Arts, History | 1 Comment

Body clock receptor linked to diabetes


A study published in Nature Genetics today has found new evidence for a link between the body clock hormone melatonin and type 2 diabetes. The study found that people who carry rare genetic mutations in the receptor for melatonin have a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings should help scientists to more accurately assess personal diabetes risk and could lead to the development of personalised treatments. Previous research has found that people who work night shifts have a … Continue reading

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A Short History of Sanskrit

sanskrit document

Thanks to Murali Sham for bringing this historical lanuage to our attention – Deskarati – Sanskrit is a member of the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages. Its closest ancient relatives are the Iranian languages Old Persian and Avestan. In order to explain the common features shared by Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages, many scholars have proposed migration hypotheses asserting that the original speakers of what became Sanskrit arrived in what is now India and Pakistan from the … Continue reading

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The Big Space Balloon

big space balloon

The project will take the super pressure balloon to an altitude of upto 130,000 feet, high in the earths stratosphere, to the edge of space. The Big Space Balloon will carry a scientific capsule to undertake a range of experiments regarding both climate change & space sciences, providing a low cost platform for UK companies & the space industry to carry out research & development in the near space environment. The big space balloon’s balloon envelope will be upto a 100 metres in … Continue reading

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The Schwarzschild Radius

The concept of a black hole, a space in which so much matter was packed that the gravitational pull prevents the escape of light, was known as far back as the 18th century. But it was seen as more of a theoretical possibility than an actual phenomenon. The possibility of an actual black hole emerged as a result of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which gave a detailed explanation of subtleties of gravitation that had eluded Newton. A copy of … Continue reading

Posted in Cosmology, Mathematics | 2 Comments

Solar Powered House is controlled with Xbox Kinect

The CHIP House – which stands for “Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype” – was started with the goal of creating a net-zero energy home (i.e. one that requires no external energy source), and it looks like the designers exceeded that target. The house actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures. Heat generated by the air conditioning is used to make hot water, natural light can be used at … Continue reading

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Australians make Antarctic history

australia antartic

Two Australian adventurers have made Antarctic history by becoming the first team to travel unaided to the South Pole and back, surviving three months of “extreme hardship”, they said on Friday. James Castrission, a 29-year-old accountant, and Justin Jones, 28 and a scientist, skied 2,270 kilometres (1,400 miles) to complete the arduous trek, overcoming fatigue, injuries and hallucinations from lack of sleep and food. “It’s an absolutely fantastic feeling, I can’t describe the elation I am feeling right now,” said Castrission … Continue reading

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Funso shut its eye

Powerful Cyclone Funso’s eye has been clear in NASA satellite imagery over the last several days until NASA’s Aqua satellite noticed it had “closed” and become filled with high clouds on January 27. NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Funso on January 27 at 0730 UTC (2:30 a.m. EST). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured a true color image of the storm that showed Funso’s eye has now filled with clouds and appears ragged. Despite being filled with … Continue reading

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Why are snowflakes six-sided?

Most of us spent part of our youth cutting up construction paper to make snowflakes which tended to look nothing like the globs of white moving past our windows. Check under a microscope, though, and you’ll see that snowflakes are beautiful six-sided crystals. Why is this? The beautiful hexagonal crystals that water forms when it freezes in the clouds have been much celebrated by those with electron microscope, and without a driveway that they need to shovel clear. Because within … Continue reading

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Richard Dawkins: “On Life in the Universe”


It’s no accident that we see stars in the sky, says famed Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins: they are a vital part of any universe capable of generating us. But, as Dawkins emphasizes, that does not mean that stars exists in order to make us. “It is just that without stars there would be no atoms heavier than lithium in the periodic table,” Dawkins wrote in The Ancestors Tale -A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, “and a chemistry of only … Continue reading

Posted in Cosmology, Evolution | 1 Comment

The Ornithopter

Leonardo's ornithopter design

The flying machine featured here is called an ornithopter, and its conceptual origins date back at least as far as the late 15th century, when Leonardo Da Vinci first produced drawings of a bird-like machine capable of flight. Da Vinci would never see his designs realized in the form of a working apparatus, but in the last 500 years, ornithopters have become an object of interest to engineers, aviators, and hobbyists alike; and based on videos like this one, its … Continue reading

Posted in Design, Flight, Invention | 2 Comments

Lucian Freud

Freud - Boy's Head (1952)

Lucian Michael Freud, OM, CH (8 December 1922 – 20 July 2011) was a British painter. Known chiefly for his thickly impasted portrait and figure paintings, he was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time. His works are noted for their psychological penetration, and for their often discomfiting examination of the relationship between artist and model. Born in Berlin, Freud was the son of an Austrian Jewish father, Ernst L. Freud, an architect, and a German Jewish mother, Lucie née Brasch. He was a grandson … Continue reading

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