Great Findings, Must Know, Science Gist, Science thrills, Show me whats new

Three Habitable Super-Earths Discovered In Multi-Planetary Star System

Astronomers have discovered a record-breaking planetary system with at least six planets orbiting its host star.

New observations of Gliese 667C show for the first time that three of these six new planet candidates are super-Earths. In order for a planet to qualify as a super-Earth, it must exist within the “habitable zone,” which is the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making it a possible candidate to host life.

Gliese 667C is just one-third the mass of the Sun and is part of a star system known as Gliese 667. The star sits 22 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Scorpius. Astronomers have seen before that Gliese 667C hosted three planets, with one of them in the habitable zone, but the latest observation shows the count is much higher than that.

If you were to stand on the surface of one of these newly found planets, two other suns would look like a pair of very bright stars visible in the daytime. At night, the nearby stars are so close they would be providing as much illumination as the full moon.

This new discovery means the habitable zone around Gliese 667C is completely full, leaving no more room for another planet to exist.

“We knew that the star had three planets from previous studies, so we wanted to see whether there were any more,” says Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, UK. “By adding some new observations and revisiting existing data we were able to confirm these three and confidently reveal several more. Finding three low-mass planets in the star’s habitable zone is very exciting!”

Super-Earths, as opposed to Earth-like, are planets that are more massive than Earth but still in the habitable zone.

“The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,” said Rory Barnes from the University of Washington and co-author of the study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The habitable zone around Gliese 667C sits entirely within an orbit the size of Mercury’s. In our system Mercury is incredibly hot, thus unable to host liquid water. However, Gliese 667C is smaller than our star, so the orbit for the habitable zone can sit closer in. Gliese 667C is the first example of a system where such a low-mass star can host several potentially rocky planets.

“This exciting result was largely made possible by the power of HARPS and its associated software and it also underlines the value of the ESO archive,” said the European Space Observatory (ESO) scientist responsible for HARPS, Gaspare Lo Curto. “It is very good to also see several independent research groups exploiting this unique instrument and achieving the ultimate precision.”

 

 

Advertisements
Standard
Must Know, Science Gist, Show me whats new

Grave Robbers Lead Archeologists To Ancient Church

Israeli authorities said Wednesday that the pursuit of a gang of grave robbers has led to the discovery of an ancient church outside Jerusalem that may contain the burial place of the biblical prophet Zechariah.

An earthquake destroyed the church about 1,300 years ago and it lay partly buried until detectives from Israel’s Antiquities Authority noticed an elaborate doorpost poking through the earth.

The robbers got away but after weeks of digging, archaeologists uncovered the remains of the church.

It was about the size of a basketball court and contained fallen marble pillars and a 30-feet long mosaic floor.

There is an altar beneath the church’s floor that the Antiquities Authority said may have been the tomb of the prophet Zechariah.

They said that the claim, which a number of experts have based on Christian sources and an ancient diagram known as the Madaba Map, has not been proved and is still being studied.

“It’s been years since we’ve made a find like this,” said Amir Ganor, head of the Antiquities Robbery Prevention unit.

Ganor is an archaeologist who carries a handgun.  His team spends much of its time trying to catch thieves, spending nights lying in ambush or setting up stings for crooked antiquities dealers.

He said that a group of Palestinians from the West Bank who were plundering ancient coins revealed the location of the lost church, about 25 miles south of Jerusalem.

Shai Bartura, Ganor’s deputy, said the building was a unique discovery because of its size and good condition.

The building was built on even older foundations dating back to the Roman Empire and the period of the second Jewish Temple.  It includes a subterranean complex of caves and tunnels used by Jewish rebels fighting the Romans in the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 AD.

 

Standard
Great Findings, Must Know, Science Gist, Science thrills, Show me whats new

Archeologists Say Humans Left Africa For Asia Only 60,000 Years Ago, Rejecting Previous Theory

Modern humans did not leave Africa prior to the massive eruption of Sumatra’s volcano Mount Toba 74,000 years ago, according to a new study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rather, Professor Martin Richards of the University of Huddersfield and colleagues have concluded that genetic evidence supports the belief that they departed for Asia approximately 60,000 years ago. Their findings refute a recent theory which had suggested that there was archaeological evidence establishing the presence of people in the southern part of the continent prior to the super-eruption, the university said in a statement.

Previous research completed by Richards used mitochondrial DNA evidence to show that anatomically modern men and women departed from Africa via a “southern coastal route” from the Horn and through Arabia some 14,000 years after the eruption of Mount Toba. Since then, however, archaeologists working in India say they had discovered evidence that humans had lived there far earlier – perhaps up to 120,000 years ago.

Those claims were made after the archaeologists discovered stone tools beneath a layer of Toba ash in 2007. In a rebuttal to those claims, Richards, University of Cambridge archaeologist Sir Paul Mellars, and others found additional genetic evidence to support Richards’ previous conclusion.

“One of the things we didn’t have in 2005 was very much evidence from India in the way of mitochondrial sequences. Now, with a lot of people doing sequencing and depositing material in databases there are about 1,000 sequences from India,” Mellars explained.

By using modern mitochondrial DNA and working backwards, Richards and his colleagues were able to make more exact estimates as to when exactly people set foot on the Indian continent. That genetic information, combined with additional evidence and research, led them to conclude that the dispersal from Africa and the settlement in India could have happened no earlier than 60,000 years ago.

“We also argue that close archaeological similarities between African and Indian stone-tool technologies after 70,000 years ago, as well as features such as beads and engravings, suggest that the slightly later Indian material had an African source,” Richards added. “There were people in India before the Toba eruption, because there are stone tools there, but they could have been Neanderthals – or some other pre-modern population.”

The recently-published research is “an unusually strong scientific put-down,” said Lewis Smith of the Daily Mail. He added that the research done by Richards’ team essentially declares that the pre-eruption settlement theory is “worthless,” and that the researchers wrote that they found “no evidence, either genetic or archaeological, for a very early modern human colonization of South Asia, before the Toba eruption.”

Standard
Great Findings, Science Gist, Science thrills, Show me whats new

Mysterious Stone Monument Lurks Beneath The Waves Of The Sea Of Galilee

A number of significant archaeological sites are found along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, located in the North of Israel. While conducting a geophysical survey, a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University found an ancient structure deep beneath the waves of the southern Sea of Galilee as well.

The research team, led by Prof. Shmulik Marco of TAU’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, stumbled upon a cone-shaped monument, approximately 230 feet in diameter and 39 feet high. The monument, which weighs an estimated 60,000 tons, was built on dry land approximately 6,000 years ago according to initial findings. It was later submerged under the water.

The study, published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, suggests that the building blocks for the structure were probably brought from more than a mile away and arranged according to a specific construction plan. Dr. Yitzhak Paz of the Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University notes that the site resembles early burial sites in Europe and was likely built in the early Bronze Age. There might be a connection to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah, Paz believes. Beit Yerah was the largest and most fortified city in the region.

The initial goal of the survey was to uncover the origins of alluvium pebbles found in this area of the Sea of Galilee. They believed the pebbles were deposited by the ancient Yavniel Creek, a precursor to the Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee. The researchers observed a massive pile of stones in the middle of an otherwise smooth basin while using sonar technology to survey the bottom of the lake.

This pile of stones aroused their curiosity. Prof. Marco went diving to learn more, revealing that the pile was not a random accumulation of stones, but a purposefully-built structure composed of three-foot-long volcanic stones called basalt. The closest deposit of basalt is more than a mile away, leading Marco to believe that they were brought to the site specifically for this structure.

The team used the accumulation of sand around its base to estimate the age of the structure. By noting that the base is now six to ten feet below the bottom of the Sea of Galilee due to a natural build-up of sand, and taking into account the rate of accumulation, the team deduced that the monument is several thousand years old.

To further study the artifact, the research team plans to organize a specialized underwater excavations team. They will be trying to learn more about the origins, including an investigation of the surface the structure was built on. Hunting for artifacts surrounding the structure will help to more accurately date the monument and give clues to its purpose and builders. Prof. Marco says that the answers might illuminate the geological history of the area as well.

“The base of the structure — which was once on dry land — is lower than any water level that we know of in the ancient Sea of Galilee. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that water levels have been steadily rising,” he says.

The Sea of Galilee is a tectonically active region, meaning the bottom of the lake, and therefore the structure, may have shifted over time. The team intends to investigate further to increase the understanding of past tectonic movements, the accumulation of sediment, and the changing water levels throughout history.

Image 2 (below): An underwater photo shows the structure is made of basalt boulders. Photo: Shmulik Marco.

Mysterious Stone Monument Lurks Beneath The Waves Of The Sea

 

 

Standard
Must Know, Show me whats new, Talk of the Town

The World’s Most Expensive Champagne

Luxury designer Alexander Amosu created the World most expensive champagne. The champagne cost a whooping and mind boggling £1,200,000 and is called the Taste of Diamonds.

Luxury Champagne brand, Goût de Diamants, Launched it into the Champagne market and is striving to become the World’s most enjoyed Champagne by commissioning this one off design for their private clients. So when they asked for something special and unique, Mr Amosu created a design which takes its inspiration from the Superman style signature and hand crafted it from 18ct solid white gold weighing approximately 48gsm of solid gold centered by a single flawless deep cut white diamond weighing 19cts. The label is also  handmade in 18ct solid gold and weighs approximately 36gsm, hand crafted and engraved with the client’s name.

Our very own Don Jazzy was the first known Nigerian to take a sip from the expensive champagne. According to him the drink was given to him as a gift by the company. One would expect him to have at least 10 years added to his life after drinking from the Champagne bottle, don’t you think?

This Champagne basically costs 250 million Naira… I guess when your done drinking, the empty bottle would be stored as a trophy!

Commenting on the design, Alexander Amosu said ” the bottle already has a distinctive look with its natural design, all I had to do is bring it to the next level of ultimate luxury”

Brand representative Shammi Shinh said ” All our bottles come as standard with an exquisite diamond-themed bottle design encrusted with a diamond cut Swarovski crystal. We wanted to take it one step further and create a one off masterpiece for one of our private wealthy clients and we are very please with the results”

 

Make your comments on what you think about the Champagne, thank you

 

 

 

Standard
Latest Inventions, Must Know, Science Gist, Science thrills, Show me whats new, Talk of the Town, World News

Chinese supercomputer declared world’s fastest

The Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which is used for complex work such as modeling weather systems and designing jetliners.The Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which is used for complex work such as modeling weather systems and designing jetliners. (TOP500)

China has built the world’s fastest supercomputer, almost twice as fast as the previous U.S. holder and underlining the country’s rise as a science and technology powerhouse.

The semiannual TOP500 official listing of the world’s fastest supercomputers released Monday says the Tianhe-2 developed by the National University of Defense Technology in central China’s Changsha city is capable of sustained computing of 33.86 petaflops per second. That’s the equivalent of 33,860 trillion calculations per second.

The Tianhe-2, which means Milky Way-2, knocks the U.S. Department of Energy’s Titan machine off the no. 1 spot. It achieved 17.59 petaflops per second.

Supercomputers are used for complex work such as modeling weather systems, simulating nuclear explosions and designing jetliners.

It’s the second time China has been named as having built the world’s fastest supercomputer. In November 2010, the Tianhe-2’s predecessor, Tianhe-1A, had that honor before Japan’s K computer overtook it a few months later.

The Tianhe-2’s achievement shows how China is leveraging rapid economic growth and sharp increases in research spending to join the United States, Europe and Japan in the global technology elite.

“Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part,” said TOP500 editor Jack Dongarra.

“That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese,” said Dongarra, who toured the Tianhe-2 development facility in May.

Standard
Latest Inventions, Must Know, Show me whats new

Countdown: Top 10 Inventions that Changed the World

When you imagine inventors, you probably picture a lone genius in a laboratory concocting brilliant devices, experimenting and redesigning until some concept or contraption works perfectly. At that point, the new invention is unveiled to the world, a stunning piece of new technology that instantly changes everything.

Well, you’ve got part of it right. There’s certainly a lot of redesigning and experimenting when it comes to inventions, but it takes a lot longer than you think. It also takes far more people than that lone genius.

As you’ll see when you read about these 10 world-changing inventions, no invention is created in a vacuum. Every single one was built on previous inventions created by other inventors years, decades or even centuries before. Every invention has problems, and it might not be until some other inventor comes along that they get solved. To confuse things further, it usually isn’t the original inventor who gets all the credit, but rather the inventor who made the one crucial improvement that makes us all want one.

10. THE PLOW

Compared to some of the gleaming, electronic inventions that fill our lives today, the plow doesn’t seem very exciting. It’s a simple cutting tool used to carve a furrow into the soil, churning it up to expose nutrients and prepare it for planting. Yet the plow is probably the one invention that made all others possible.

No one knows who invented the plow, or exactly when it came to be. It probably developed independently in a number of regions, and there is evidence of its use in prehistoric eras. Prior to the plow, humans were subsistence farmers or hunter/gatherers. Their lives were devoted solely to finding enough food to survive from one season to the next. Growing food added some stability to life, but doing it by hand was labor intensive and took a long time. The plow changed all that.

Plows made the work easier and faster. Improvements in the plow’s design made farming so efficient that people could harvest far more food than they needed to survive. They could trade the surplus for goods or services. And if you could get food by trading, then you could devote your day-to-day existence to something other than growing food, such as producing the goods and services that were suddenly in demand.

The ability to trade and store materials drove the invention of written language, number systems, fortifications and militaries. As populations gathered to engage in these activities, cities grew. It’s not a stretch to say that the plow is responsible for the creation of human civilization.

 9.THE WHEEL

The wheel is another invention so ancient that we have no way of knowing who first developed it. The oldest wheel and axle mechanism we’ve found was near Ljubljana, Slovenia, and dates to roughly 3100 B.C.

The wheel made the transportation of goods much faster and more efficient, especially when affixed to horse-drawn chariots and carts. However, if it had been used only for transportation, the wheel wouldn’t have been as much of a world-changer as it was. In fact, a lack of quality roads limited its usefulness in this regard for thousands of years.

A wheel can be used for a lot of things other than sticking them on a cart to carry grain, though. Tens of thousands of other inventions require wheels to function, from water wheels that power mills to gears and cogs that allowed even ancient cultures to create complex machines. Cranks and pulleys need wheels to work. A huge amount of modern technology still depends on the wheel, like centrifuges used in chemistry and medical research, electric motors and combustion engines, jet engines, power plants and countless others.

8. PRINTING PRESS

Like many of the inventions on this list, the man we believe invented the printing press (Johann Gutenberg in the 1430s) actually improved on pre-existing technologies and made them useful and efficient enough to become popular. The world already had paper and block printing — the Chinese had them as early as the 11th century — but the complexity of their language limited popularity. Marco Polo brought the idea to Europe in 1295.

Gutenberg combined the idea of block printing with a screw press (used for olive oil and wine production). He also developed metal printing blocks that were far more durable and easier to make than the hand-carved wooden letters in use previously. Finally, his advances in ink and paper production helped revolutionize the whole process of mass printing.

The printing press allowed enormous quantities of information to be recorded and spread throughout the world. Books had previously been items only the extremely rich could afford, but mass production brought the price down tremendously. The printing press is probably responsible for many other inventions, but in a more subtle way than the wheel. The diffusion of knowledge it created gave billions of humans the education they needed to create their own inventions in the centuries since.

7. REFRIGERATION

Refrigerators cool things down by taking advantage of the way substances absorb and unload heat as their pressure points and phases of matter change (usually from gas to liquid and back). It’s difficult to pinpoint a single inventor of the refrigerator, because the concept was widely known and gradually improved over the course of about 200 years. Some credit Oliver Evans’ 1805 unproduced design of a vapor-compression unit, while others point to Carl von Linde’s 1876 design as the actual precursor of the modern refrigerator in your kitchen. Dozens of inventors, including Albert Einstein, would refine or improve refrigerator designs over the decades.

In the early 20th century, harvested natural ice was still common, but large industries such as breweries were beginning to use ice-making machines. Harvested ice for industrial use was rare by World War I. However, it wasn’t until the development of safer refrigerant chemicals in the 1920s that home refrigerators became the norm.

The ability to keep food cold for prolonged periods (and even during shipping, once refrigerated trucks were developed) drastically changed the food production industry and the eating habits of people around the world. Now, we have easy access to fresh meats and dairy products even in the hottest summer months, and we’re no longer tied to the expense of harvesting and shipping natural ice — which never could have kept pace with the world’s growing population in any case.

6. COMMUNICATION

Maybe it’s cheating to lump the telegraph, telephone, radio and television into one “invention,” but the development of communication technology has been a continuum of increased utility and flexibility since Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph in 1836 (building on the prior work of others, of course). The telephone simply refined the idea by allowing actual voice communications to be sent over copper wires, instead of just beeps that spelled out the plain text in Morse code. These communication methods were point-to-point, and required an extensive infrastructure of wires to function.

Transmitting signals wirelessly using electromagnetic waves was a concept worked on by many inventors around the world, but Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla popularized it in the early 20th century. Eventually, sound could be transmitted wirelessly, while engineers gradually perfected the transmission of images. Radio and television were new landmarks in communications because they allowed a single broadcaster to send messages to thousands or even millions of recipients as long as they were equipped with receivers.

These developments in communications technology effectively shrank the world. In the span of about 120 years, we went from a world where it might take weeks to hear news from across the country to one where we can watch events occurring on the other side of the globe as they happen. The advent of mass communications put more information within our grasp and altered how we interact with each other.

5. STEAM ENGINES

Prior to the invention of the steam engine, most products were made by hand. Water wheels and draft animals provided the only “industrial” power available, which clearly had its limits. The Industrial Revolution, which is perhaps the greatest change over the shortest period of time in the history of civilization, was carried forward by the steam engine.

The concept of using steam to power machines had been around for thousands of years, but Thomas Newcomen’s creation in 1712 was the first to harness that power for useful work (pumping water out of mines, for the most part). In 1769, James Watt modified a Newcomen engine by adding a separate condenser, which vastly increased the steam engine’s power and made it a far more practical way to do work. He also developed a way for the engine to produce rotary motion, which may be just as important as the efficiency gains. Thus, Watt is often considered the inventor of the steam engine.

Newcomen’s and Watt’s engines actually used the vacuum of condensing steam to drive the pistons, not the pressure of steam expansion. This made the engines bulky. It was the high-pressure steam engine developed by Richard Trevithick and others that allowed for steam engines small enough to power a train. Not only did steam engines power factories that made the rapid production of goods possible, they powered the trains and steamships that carried those goods across the globe.

While the steam engine has been eclipsed by electric and internal combustion engines in the areas of transport and factory power, they’re still incredibly important. Most power plants in the world actually generate electricity using steam turbines, whether the steam is heated by burning coal, natural gas or a nuclear reactor.

4.AUTOMOBILES

If the steam engine mobilized industry, the automobile mobilized people. While ideas for personal vehicles had been around for years, Karl Benz’s 1885 Motorwagen, powered by an internal combustion engine of his own design, is widely considered the first automobile. Henry Ford’s improvements in the production process — and effective marketing — brought the price and the desire for owning an auto into the reach of most Americans. Europe soon followed.

The automobile’s effect on commerce, society and culture is hard to overestimate. Most of us can jump in our car and go wherever we want whenever we want, effectively expanding the size of any community to the distance we’re willing to drive to shop or visit friends. Our cities are largely designed and built around automobile access, with paved roads and parking lots taking up huge amounts of space and a big chunk of our governments’ budgets. The auto industry has fueled enormous economic growth worldwide, but it’s also generated a lot of pollution.

3. LIGHT BULBS

If there’s a common theme to this list, it’s that no major invention came from a single stroke of genius from a single inventor. Every invention is built by incrementally improving earlier designs, and the person usually associated with an invention is the first person to make it commercially viable. Such is the case with the light bulb. We immediately think of Thomas Edison as the electric light bulb’s inventor, but dozens of people were working on similar ideas in the 1870s, when Edison developed his incandescent bulb. Joseph Swan did similar work in Britain at the time, and eventually the two merged their ideas into a single company, Ediswan.

The bulb itself works by transmitting electricity through a wire with high resistance known as a filament. The waste energy created by the resistance is expelled as heat and light. The glass bulb encases the filament in a vacuum or in inert gas, preventing combustion.

You might think the light bulb changed the world by allowing people to work at night or in dark places (it did, to some extent), but we already had relatively cheap and efficient gas lamps and other light sources at the time. It was actually the infrastructure that was built to provide electricity to every home and business that changed the world. Today, our world is filled with powered devices than we can plug in pretty much anywhere. We have the light bulb to thank for it.

2. COMPUTERS

A computer is a machine that takes information in, is able to manipulate it in some way, and outputs new information. There is no single inventor of the modern computer, although the ideas of British mathematician Alan Turing are considered eminently influential in the field of computing. Mechanical computing devices were in existence in the 1800s (there were even rare devices that could be considered computers in ancient eras), but electronic computers were invented in the 20th century.

Computers are able to make complicated mathematical calculations at an incredible rate of speed. When they operate under the instructions of skilled programmers, computers can accomplish amazing feats. Some high-performance military aircraft wouldn’t be able to fly without constant computerized adjustments to flight control surfaces. Computers performed the sequencing of the human genome, let us put spacecraft into orbit, control medical testing equipment, and create the complex visual imagery used in films and video games.

If we only examine these grandiose uses of computers, we overlook how much we rely on them from day to day. Computers let us store vast amounts of information and retrieve a given piece of it almost instantly. Many of the things we take for granted in the world wouldn’t function without computers, from cars to power plants to phones

1. INTERNET

The Internet, a network of computers covering the entire planet, allows people to access almost any information located anywhere in the world at any time. Its effects on business, communication, economy, entertainment and even politics are profound. The Internet may not have changed the world as much as the plow, but it’s probably on par with the steam engine or automobile.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the research and development arm of the U.S. military, created ARPANET in the late 1960s. This network of computer-to-computer connections was intended for military and academic research. Other computer networks began to cross the globe in the next few years, and by the late 1970s computer scientists had created a single protocol, TCP/IP, that would allow computers on any network to communicate with computers on other networks. This was, essentially, the birth of the Internet, but it took 10 or so years for various other networks in the world to adopt the new protocol, making the Internet truly global.

The Internet is such a powerful invention that we’ve probably only begun to see the effects it will have on the world. The ability to diffuse and recombine information with such efficiency could accelerate the rate at which further world-changing inventions are created. At the same time, some fear that our ability to communicate, work, play and do business via the Internet breaks down our ties to local communities and causes us to become socially isolated. Like any invention, the good or ill it accomplishes will come from how we choose to use it.

Standard