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Submission + - How big was the Universe when it was first born?

StartsWithABang writes: Looking out at the distant stars, galaxies and radiation in the Universe today, we’ve been able to determine not only what it’s made out of, but how long it’s been since the Big Bang: 13.8 billion years. Put all that information together, and you can also figure out how large the observable part of that Universe is today. From our point of view, it appears to extend for 46.1 billion light years in all directions. So what if you extrapolate backwards, to the very end of inflation and the start of the hot, dense state we identify with the Big Bang, and ask how large that 46.1 billion light year “size” was back then? How big would it be? Depending on the particulars of when inflation came to an end, the answer is somewhere between the size of a soccer ball and the size of a city block, no smaller and no larger.

Submission + - The loneliest galaxy in the Universe

StartsWithABang writes: When Einstein put forth his space-and-time changing theory of General Relativity, one of the consequences he didn't anticipate — and, in fact, resisted — was the fact that a static Universe would be unstable, and that the Universe must be either expanding or contracting. While the theoretical work of many, such as de Sitter, Friedmann and Lemaître, pointed towards this conclusion, it was the observational work of Hubble in the 1920s that sealed the deal. By observing the distances and recessional velocities of a great many galaxies, he was able to not only show that the Universe was expanding, but he measured the expansion rate. Yet not every galaxy is as favorably situated as our own; while we have hundreds of thousands of galaxies within a few hundred million light years, some galaxies have none. In fact, if we were situated at the same location as MCG+01-02-015, we wouldn't have discovered a single galaxy beyond our own until the 1960s.

Submission + - A new lightweight and very strong metal

schwit1 writes: UCLA engineers have developed a new superlight and very strong metal.

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ratio. The new metal is composed of magnesium infused with a dense and even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. It could be used to make lighter airplanes, spacecraft, and cars, helping to improve fuel efficiency, as well as in mobile electronics and biomedical devices.

Submission + - Pirate Bay Cofounder Utterly Bankrupts the Music Industry (torrentfreak.com)

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Peter "brokep" Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, has built a machine that makes 100 copies per second of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," storing them in /dev/null (which is of course, deleting them even as they're created). The machine, called a "Kopimashin," is cobbled together out of a Raspberry Pi, some hacky python that he doesn't want to show anyone, and an LCD screen that calculates a running tally of the damages he's inflicted upon the record industry through its use. The 8,000,000 copies it makes every day costs the record industry $10m/day in losses. At that rate, they'll be bankrupt in a few weeks at most.

Submission + - Apollo 17 soil matches ancient Earth's ocean ridges in water content

StartsWithABang writes: They say that one of the most exciting phrases to hear in science is not "eureka!" but "that's funny," and the Apollo 17 astronauts, just over 43 years ago, certainly got such a moment when they discovered orange soil just beneath the grey regiolith. What turned out to be volcanic glass with tin inclusions had another surprise: olivine deposits that showed signs that they contained significant amounts of water inclusions when they were baked, at about ~1200 parts-per-million. This matches the water levels in Earth's upper mantle along ocean ridges, providing further evidence for the giant impact hypothesis and a common origin for the Earth and Moon.

Submission + - California's Worst Gas Leak In 40 Years (And Crews Can't Stop It) (wired.com)

schwit1 writes: While world leaders signed the 'historic' agreement signed in Paris to fix the world's "greatest threat," a natural gas storage site in southern California is belching 145,000 pounds per hour of Methane — a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. What is worse, while official proclaim this a "top priority" a fix won't arrive until spring as emergency crews recognize "the leak was far from routine, and the problem was deeper underground."

In just the first month, that's added up to 80,000 tons, or about a quarter of the state's ordinary methane emissions over the same period.

Submission + - Innovative new wind turbine from Iceland is tough enough for the strongest gales (inhabitat.com)

LauraSaura writes: Iceland researchers have recently developed a way to harness the region's incredibly powerful winds. One bright inventor realized that an entirely new type of wind turbine was needed to withstand the nation's gale force winds, and has introduced the IceWind CW1000, a turbine that may be even better than its skinny counterparts.

Submission + - EPA considers sunny days harmful (twitter.com)

Trachman writes: EPA considers sunny days harmful for plants, according to their recent tweet. According to EPA, sunny days and the inevitable byproduct — Sunlight causes #ozone to form, which harms foliage, weakens trees.

I know that EPA will not try to introduce sun tax, and will try to stick with carbon tax, but I am not sure.

Submission + - Scientists Discover How to Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

HughPickens.com writes: Roberto Ferdman writes in the Washington Post that researchers at Texas A&M University, looking for patterns in food consumption among elementary school children, found an interesting quirk about when and why kids choose to eat their vegetables. After analyzing plate waste data from nearly 8,500 students, it seems there's at least one variable that tends to affect whether kids eat their broccoli, spinach or green beans more than anything: what else is on the plate. Kids are much more likely to eat their vegetable portion when it's paired with a food that isn't so delicious that it gets all the attention. For example, when chicken nuggets and burgers, the most popular items among schoolchildren, are on the menu, vegetable waste tends to rise significantly. When other less-beloved foods, like deli sliders or baked potatoes, are served, the opposite seems to happen.“Our research team looked at whether there is a relationship between consumption of certain entrees and vegetables that would lead to plate waste,” says Dr. Oral Capps Jr. “We found that popular entrees such as burgers and chicken nuggets, contributed to greater waste of less popular vegetables.”

Traci Man, who has been studying eating habits, self-control and dieting for more than 20 years, believes that food pairings are crucial in getting kids to eat vegetables. "Normally, vegetables will lose the competition that they're in — the competition with all the other delicious food on your plate. Vegetables might not lose that battle for everyone, but they do for most of us. This strategy puts vegetables in a competition they can win, by pitting vegetables against no food at all. To do that, you just eat your vegetable first, before any of the other food is there," says Mann. "We tested it with kids in school cafeterias, where it more than quadrupled the amount of vegetables eaten. It's just about making it a little harder to make the wrong choices, and a little easier to make the right ones."

Submission + - Mealworms Eat and Digest Polystyrene Foam (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Polystyrene foams—including products like Styrofoam—are rarely recycled, and the materials biodegrade so slowly that they can sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. But a pair of new studies shows that mealworms will dine on polystyrene foam when they can’t get a better meal, converting almost half of what they eat into carbon dioxide. In one study, the researchers fed mealworms polystyrene foam and found that the critters converted about 48% of the carbon they ate into carbon dioxide and excreted 49% in their feces. In the second study, the researchers showed that bacteria in the mealworms’ guts were responsible for breaking down the polystyrene--suggesting that engineering bacteria might be a strategy for boosting the reported biodegradation.

Submission + - The case for going to Phobos before going to Mars (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: The current NASA thinking concerning the Journey to Mars program envisions a visit to the Martian moon Phobos in the early 2030s before attempting a landing on the Martian surface in the late 2030s, as Popular Mechanics noted. The idea of a practice run that takes astronauts almost but not quite to Mars is similar to what the space agency did during the 1960s Apollo program. Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 each orbited the moon but did not land on it before the Apollo 11 mission went all the way to the lunar surface, fulfilling President John. F. Kennedy’s challenge.

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