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Japan

+ - Element 113 Synthesized -> 1

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "After nine years of painstaking experiment, researchers in Japan reported yesterday that they have created a third atom of the element 113. That success, according to experts in the field, could see the element officially added to the periodic table. It would be the first artificial element to be discovered in East Asia, potentially giving the Japanese team the right to name it.

But that privilege is not assured. US and Russian researchers have also been hard at work on element 113, and say that they have created 56 atoms of it since 2003.

None of these sightings has been confirmed by the independent committee of experts appointed to rule on such matters. That shows how hard it is to prove the creation of new superheavy elements, although it also highlights the bureaucratic nature of the process set up to approve findings."

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Space

+ - Radio Telescopes Edge In on Plasma Jet Spewing from Massive Black Hole->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Black holes, by definition, emit no light. They are unseeable.

But astronomers would like to get as close as they can by zooming in on the region immediately surrounding a black hole. That is the objective of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of linked radio telescopes around the globe.

An actual event horizon—the point beyond which light and matter alike become hopelessly lost to a black hole's pull—remains out of sight, but the telescope has now succeeded in piercing the veil of a nearby supermassive black hole to peer into unprecedented depths of its turbulent surroundings.

Researchers trained EHT radio dishes in Hawaii, Arizona and California on the giant elliptical galaxy M87, some 54.5 million light-years away. The galaxy features a dramatic jet, thousands of light-years long, emanating from its center and thus, presumably, from the galaxy's black hole. In a study published online September 27 in Science, Sheperd Doeleman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Haystack Observatory in Westford, Mass., and his colleagues report that the dish network has resolved the base of M87's jet. The size of the jet at that position, close to its origin, in turn allowed the researchers to deduce some of the most fundamental attributes of both the galaxy's behemoth black hole, which weighs in at a mass of 6.6 billion suns, and the swirling disk of matter surrounding it.

Outside the event horizon of a black hole orbits a disk of material pulled in but not yet consumed by the gravitational pull of the black hole. That accretion disk grows quite dense and hot as infalling material collides and compresses, emitting copious amounts of radiation in the process. Accretion disks can also accelerate particles into a jet of plasma that propagates outward at a substantial fraction of light speed."

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NASA

+ - NASA Orion Splashdown Safety Tests Completed->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "The 18,000-pound test article that mimics the size and weight of NASA's Orion spacecraft crew module recently completed a final series of water impact tests in the Hydro Impact Basin at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The campaign of swing and vertical drops simulated various water landing scenarios to account for different velocities, parachute deployments, entry angles, wave heights and wind conditions the spacecraft may encounter when landing in the Pacific Ocean. The next round of water impact testing is scheduled to begin in late 2013 using a full-sized model that was built to validate the flight vehicle's production processes and tools.

Orion will carry astronauts farther into space than ever before and be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed. It will fly its first flight test, designated Exploration Flight Test 1, in 2014. The spacecraft will travel more than 3,600 miles into space — 15 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station — and reach speeds of more than 20,000 mph before returning to Earth. This unmanned flight test will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Several Orion systems, including the heat shield and parachutes at speeds generated during a return from deep space, will be tested.

In 2017, Orion will be launched by NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), a heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS will enable new missions of exploration and expand human presence in the solar system."

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Blackberry

+ - RIM spurs rare optimism->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Research in Motion offered investors a ray of hope on Tuesday, announcing an unexpected increase in subscriber numbers that sent its shares up 5 percent as the company worked hardhard to drum up enthusiasm for its crucial Blackberry due 2013.

RIM is trying to reinvent itself through a line of jazzed-up smartphones that will run on the BlackBerry 10 or BB10 operating system on which the company has staked its future.

RIM has completely focused on the launch of its new line of revamped devices in recent months, while its aging line-up of smartphones in the market have struggled to compete against the recently launched iPhone 5 and a slew of new Android devices."

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Moon

+ - NASA deep-space outpost->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Top NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the agency's next major mission: construction of a new outpost that would send astronauts farther from Earth than at any time in history.

The so-called "gateway spacecraft" would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars.

At 277,000 miles from Earth, the outpost would be far more remote than the current space station, which orbits a little more than 200 miles above Earth. The distance raises complex questions of how to protect astronauts from the radiation of deep space — and rescue them if something goes wrong.

NASA Chief Charlie Bolden briefed the White House earlier this month on details of the proposal, but it's unclear whether it has the administration's support. Of critical importance is the price tag, which would certainly run into the billions of dollars."

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Science

+ - Study Provides Evidence for Widespread Land-Based Microbial Life in Late Archean->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "There is evidence that some microbial life had migrated from the Earth’s oceans to land by 2.75 billion years ago, though many scientists believe such land-based life was limited because the ozone layer that shields against ultraviolet radiation did not form until hundreds of millions years later. But a new study challenges these beliefs.

“This shows that life didn’t just exist in a few little places on land. It was important on a global scale because it was enhancing the flow of sulfate from land into the ocean,” said Eva Stüeken, a doctoral student in Earth and space sciences with the University of Washington and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. “In turn, the influx of sulfur probably enhanced the spread of life in the oceans.”

“Sulfur could have been released into sea water by other processes, including volcanic activity. But evidence that molybdenum was being released at the same time suggests that both substances were being liberated as bacteria slowly disintegrated continental rocks,” she said.

If that is the case, it likely means the land-based microbes were producing oxygen well in advance of what geologists refer to as the “Great Oxidation Event” about 2.4 billion years ago that initiated the oxygen-rich atmosphere that fostered life as we know it."

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Mars

+ - Curiosity Rover To Get Instagram->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Well not really Instagram but Curiosity will be getting a software upgrade called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) which will allow her to take on the go photos to save precious time while exploring our red neighbor.

Another interesting feature AGEIS may be able to provide is the ability for Curiosity to call home when it sees something interesting.

It won't be a quick upgrade, AEGIS, which has been used on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity since 2009, will be installed on Curiosity in the next nine to 12 months, Estlin said in an interview with InformationWeek. The AEGIS software, developed by JPL, was named NASA's "software of the year" in 2011.

JPL developed AEGIS on Linux-based systems, then tested the software on research rovers. Opportunity uses the software to take a wide-angle image with a low-resolution camera, then picks out rocks in the image to see if there's something of interest. If so, it takes a high-resolution image using an on-board science camera that's capable of zooming in on the subject. The software has potential beyond picture taking. Its see-and-react code could be adapted to other instruments."

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NASA

+ - SpaceX, NASA First Contracted U.S. Cargo Resupply Mission->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "NASA managers, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) officials and international partner representatives Thursday announced Sunday, Oct. 7, as the target launch date for the first contracted cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

International Space Station Program managers confirmed the status and readiness of the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon cargo spacecraft for the SpaceX CRS-1 mission, as well as the space station's readiness to receive Dragon.

Launch is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A back up launch opportunity is available on Oct. 8."

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NASA

+ - Asteroid Vesta Covered in Hydrogen->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "The protoplanet Vesta, a large space rock in the solar system's asteroid belt, is covered with a surprising amount of hydrogen, and bits of Vesta may have rained down on Earth in the form of meteorites, NASA's Dawn probe has revealed.

Dawn spent more than a year orbiting Vesta, a behemoth 330-mile-wide asteroid that circles the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Earlier this month, on Sept. 5, Dawn took its leave of Vesta to begin trekking to the even-larger space rock Ceres, which is categorized as a dwarf planet.

Meanwhile, though, scientists are still poring over the treasure trove of data on Vesta gathered by the probe, and two new studies are reported on Sept. 20 in the journal Science. In one, researchers report the findings of Dawn's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRAND), which mapped the elemental composition of Vesta's surface."

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Medicine

+ - Centennial Man Wins $7M In âPopcorn Lungâ(TM) Case  CBS Denver-> 1

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Microwave Popcorn is tasty treat that many of us enjoy...that is unless you inhale it's toxic fumes. Dicetyl, added for flavor, when inhaled, has been linked to respiratory issues exhibited by workers in plants that manufacture butter flavored popcorn.

Wayne Watson sued the manufacturer Glister-Mary, as well as Kroger and Dillon foods, claiming that they should have printed a warning label on popcorn packages, and as a result he won a 7 million dollar verdict in the case.

Watson was diagnosed with "Popcorn Lung" in 2007 after years of inhaling the buttery smell of popcorn. He stated that he consumed approximately two bags of popcorn per day. Watson also indicated that testimony from his doctor was pivotal in winning the case."

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NASA

+ - NASA Telescopes Spy Ultra-Distant Galaxy->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "With the combined power of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Light from the young galaxy captured by the orbiting observatories first shone when our 13.7-billion-year-old universe was just 500 million years old.

The far-off galaxy existed within an important era when the universe began to transit from the so-called cosmic dark ages. During this period, the universe went from a dark, starless expanse to a recognizable cosmos full of galaxies. The discovery of the faint, small galaxy opens a window onto the deepest, most remote epochs of cosmic history.

Light from the primordial galaxy traveled approximately 13.2 billion light-years before reaching NASA's telescopes. In other words, the starlight snagged by Hubble and Spitzer left the galaxy when the universe was just 3.6 percent of its present age. Technically speaking, the galaxy has a redshift, or "z," of 9.6. The term redshift refers to how much an object's light has shifted into longer wavelengths as a result of the expansion of the universe. Astronomers use redshift to describe cosmic distances."

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Mars

+ - Curiosity Rover Targets Unusual Rock->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Curiosity is about 8 feet (2.5 meters) from the rock. It lies about halfway from Curiosity's landing site, Bradbury Landing, to a location called Glenelg. In coming days, the team plans to touch the rock with a spectrometer to determine its elemental composition and use an arm-mounted camera to take close-up photographs.

Both the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and the mast-mounted, laser-zapping Chemistry and Camera Instrument will be used for identifying elements in the rock. This will allow cross-checking of the two instruments.

Both the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and the mast-mounted, laser-zapping Chemistry and Camera Instrument will be used for identifying elements in the rock. This will allow cross-checking of the two instruments.

The rock has been named "Jake Matijevic." Jacob Matijevic (mah-TEE-uh-vik) was the surface operations systems chief engineer for Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and the project's Curiosity rover. He passed away Aug. 20, at age 64. Matijevic also was a leading engineer for all of the previous NASA Mars rovers: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity."

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Australia

+ - Rare 'Fire Devil' Caught on Film->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Chris Tangey, a filmmaker, managed to capture some very rare footage of the startling phenomenon while out scouting locations near Alice Springs, Australia, according to The Australian.

One term for the event he recorded, a fire tornado, is a misnomer, according to Mark Wysocki, New York's state climatologist and a professor of atmospheric sciences at Cornell University. The columns of spinning fire are much more similar to dust devils than tornadoes, Wysocki said.

Like the dust devils that spring up on clear, sunny days in the deserts of the Southwest, a fire devil is birthed when a disproportionately hot patch of ground sends up a plume of heated air. But while dust devils find their heat source in the sun, fire devils arise from hot spots in preexisting wildfires."

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Science

+ - The Rock of Gibraltar: Neanderthals' Last Refuge->

Submitted by
DevotedSkeptic
DevotedSkeptic writes "Government officials have applied for Unesco World Heritage status for the caves near Gibralter. Gibraltar certainly deserves that distinction. The southwestern tip of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar was home to the last-surviving Neanderthals. And then tens of thousands of years later, it became the site of one of the first Neanderthal fossil discoveries.

That discovery occurred at Forbes’ Quarry in 1848. During mining operations, an officer in the British Royal Navy, Captain Edmund Flint, uncovered an adult female skull (called Gibraltar 1). At the time, Neanderthals were not yet known to science, and the skull was given to the Gibraltar Scientific Society. Although Neanderthals were recognized by the 1860s, it wasn’t until the the first decade of the 20th century that anatomists realized Gibraltar 1 was indeed a Neanderthal. Additional Neanderthal discoveries came in the 1910s and 1920s at the Devil’s Tower rock shelter, which appeared to be a Neanderthal occupation site. In 1926, archaeologist Dorothy Garrod unearthed the skull of a Neanderthal child near flaked stone tools from the Mousterian industry. In all, archaeologists have found eight Neanderthal sites at Gibraltar."

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