Category Archives: Science

Verticality

One of the fundamental principles of geology is that sedimentary rocks are deposited in horizontal layers due to gravity. There are some exceptions, including cross beds and rocks deposited on steep slopes, but the rule is a very good guide. If sedimentary rocks are deposited in horizontal layers that are parallel to Earth’s surface, then what you’re seeing here requires something else. The vertical pattern is dominated by erosion along fractures. Fractures called joints often appear in parallel sets; water … Continue reading

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PhD student adapts cheap microscope and saves £100,000

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Great picture of the Antarctic

NASA antartic

This great image from NASA is not a single picture but a composite of many. More here NASA

Posted in Cosmology | 6 Comments

What Does Sound Look Like?

You can actually see sound waves as they travel through the air thanks to a clever photographic trick.

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Brian Cox creates pioneering 3D show for Manchester festival

TV physicist Brian Cox and the visual effects team behind the film Gravity will tell the story of the universe using cutting-edge augmented reality technology in a live show next year. Prof Cox, effects wizards Framestore and film director Kevin Macdonald are using a system called Magic Leap. Magic Leap has not been seen in public, but reports suggest that its headgear projects images onto users’ eyes. The show will be part of the Manchester International Festival next July. Titled … Continue reading

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A 2,000-year-old, hidden goldmine has been discovered in Spain

Airborne lasers have uncovered a 1st century BC Roman goldmine hidden beneath crops and vegetation in northern Spain. Scientists have found a 2,000-year-old network of channels and reservoirs in the Eria river valley of Leon, Spain, that would have been used by the Romans to extract gold. The largest opencast gold mine of the Roman Empire, Las Médulas is also located nearby in León, but until now scientists had no idea that they had also been searching for the precious … Continue reading

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Mini museum

minimuseum

In this day and age, it is increasingly difficult to buy people cool and thoughtful gifts, mainly because everyone already has everything! But, you can be pretty sure that your loved one doesn’t have this. Their very own mini museum! Created by Hans Fex, as a result of a kickstarter campaign, it is a pocket-sized collection of rare specimens that are labelled and embedded into an acrylic block. Some of the 33 specimens include: lunar rock, dinosaur egg, coal from … Continue reading

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Sun’s rotating ‘magnet’ pulls lightning towards UK

The Sun may be playing a part in the generation of lightning strikes on Earth by temporarily ‘bending’ the Earth’s magnetic field and allowing a shower of energetic particles to enter the upper atmosphere. This is according to researchers at the University of Reading who have found that over a five year period the UK experienced around 50% more lightning strikes when the Earth’s magnetic field was skewed by the Sun’s own magnetic field. The Earth’s magnetic field usually functions … Continue reading

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What kills us – Now and then

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Researchers have reviewed all the causes of death recorded in the US in 1900 and 2010 to find out just how much society has changed over the past century. The results are fascinating. A team of researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine have done some investigating to discover how much things can change in 100 years. While the year 1900 brought with it many different causes of death, from bacterial infections to severe problems with the gut, now … Continue reading

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Is dark energy eating dark matter?

A tantalizing hint that dark matter could be slowly changing into dark energy has been uncovered by a team of cosmologists in the UK and Italy. While the specific nature of the interaction driving the conversion is not known, the process could be responsible for slowing the growth of galaxies and other large-scale structure in the universe across the past eight billion years. If the conversion continues at the current rate, the universe’s ultimate fate as a cold, dark and … Continue reading

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The Kilogram will be redefined in 2018

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If all the criteria specified by the international metrology community for measurement uncertainties and agreement among different laboratories are met, the kilogram — along with three other SI units — will be redefined in 2018. The kilogram will thereafter be defined in terms of a quantum-mechanical quantity known as the Planck constant (h) which will be assigned an exact fixed value based on the best measurements obtained worldwide. Getting there, however, will require a great deal of work in only … Continue reading

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Are there any mitochondria in our red blood cells?

Are there any mitochondria in our red blood cells? | Pimm - Partial immortalization

One thing people usually know is that human red blood cells do not have cell nuclei, so they are lacking chromosomal DNA. But far less people have a guess about mitochondria’s presence in the erythrocytes. So are there any mitochondria in our red blood cells?. The answer is NO, mammalian red blood cells also lose their mitochondria during erythropoiesis at phase 3, when normoblasts eject organelles. Functional red blood cells produce energy by fermentation, via anaerobic glycolysis of glucose followed … Continue reading

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The strange world inside cheese

From foot bacteria to fungal goo, the living things in cheese make it taste wonderful. Veronique Greenwood explores a microscopic world we rarely think about. Cheese, once primarily a way to extend the useful life of milk, is today quite a darling in the foodie world. It’s also fertile territory for adventurous eaters, from Stilton flecked with gold to Sardinian casu marzu writhing with live maggots. Some have even made cheeses with the bugs from their armpits and toes. But … Continue reading

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The story of pahoehoe

This is really a fascinating photo. Did you ever think that a chain link fence would hold up against lava? Of course, given enough time, the fence isn’t going to hold up, but this photo illustrates some of the most interesting behaviors of pahoehoe lava flows like those that are migrating through Pahoa on the big island of Hawaii right now. Most people are familiar with pahoehoe lava based on the wrinkled surface textures, like those in the foreground of … Continue reading

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How much of your DNA is functional?

The human genome consists of six billions rungs of DNA – but how much of this DNA is actually doing anything important? Two years ago research emerged that suggested that a large proportion of DNA, 80 percent, was functional. This figure came from interpretations of research conducted by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE). This estimate was almost immediately taken up by news outlets and received a lot of media attention, as well as backlash from other geneticists including Dr. … Continue reading

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This single protein influences how your brain copes with stress

Scientists have discovered that a single brain protein can make some people more vulnerable to depression than others. New research has suggested that there’s a single protein that determines whether someone will cope with stress, or whether they’ll be more susceptible to depression. The results challenge the way we currently treat depression, and could lead to the first preventative therapies for the mental illness. While much research has focussed on the effects of various brain chemicals such as serotonin and … Continue reading

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Virtual Universe ‘Illustris’

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What Happens to the Body After We Die?

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Bacteria become ‘genomic tape recorders’

MIT engineers have transformed the genome of the bacterium E. coli into a long-term storage device for memory. They envision that this stable, erasable, and easy-to-retrieve memory will be well suited for applications such as sensors for environmental and medical monitoring. “You can store very long-term information,” says Timothy Lu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering. “You could imagine having this system in a bacterium that lives in your gut, or environmental bacteria. You … Continue reading

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Scientists find first evidence of ‘local’ clock in the brain

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Researchers have gained fresh insights into how ‘local’ body clocks control waking and sleeping. All animals, from ants to humans, have internal ‘circadian’ clocks that respond to changes in light and tell the body to rest and go to sleep, or wake up and become active. A master clock found in part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is thought to synchronise lots of ‘local’ clocks that regulate many aspects of our metabolism, for example in the liver. But … Continue reading

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