SternisheFan sends this excerpt from a JPL news release: "NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole. This is the first hexagon movie of its kind (GIF), using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system. 'The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable,' said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 'A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades — and who knows — maybe centuries.'"
ardmhacha writes "Magnus Carlsen was able to force a draw in the 10th game of the World Chess Championship to claim the title with a 6.5 — 3.5 score (3 wins, 0 losses, 7 draws) over Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen became the youngest ever World No. 1 in 2010, but withdrew from the 2012 championship cycle and so has only now been able to add the World Champion title to his No. 1 ranking. He won three games and lost none. His first two victories came when he was able to convert small advantages in the endgame into wins. The third (in game 9) came after a blunder from Anand."
An anonymous reader writes "Cats are cute, and cute is good for cognition. Which is why Memrise, a language learning startup, settled on using lolcat-style cat photos as mnemonic aids for a new series of apps aimed at people who normally wouldn't bother learning another language. The first CatAcademy app is 'Cat Spanish' From the article: 'What we found, however we sliced it, was that pictures of cats — cute pictures specifically, of which over 50% were cats — just kept on coming out as the most effective mnemonics... I have to admit we were slightly skeptical to begin with. We're a scientific group, and data driven — but the data did drive us towards cats.'" Now, just to add cat pictures to Mnemosyne.
sciencehabit writes "What is your beloved mummy going to eat for the rest of eternity? For some ancient Egyptians, the answer included meat. In King Tutankhamun's tomb, for example, archaeologists found 48 wooden cases of butchered cuts of beef and poultry. But unlike offerings of fruit and grains, which could last for quite a while once dehydrated and placed in dry tombs, pieces of meat required special treatment. After just a few hours in the desert heat, 'they will become a terrible mess if you don't take some steps to preserve them,' says Richard Evershed, an archaeological chemist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The solution? Mummify. Now, a team of researchers led by Evershed is shedding light on the embalming processes used to create these so-called meat mummies, including mummified beef ribs."
Layzej writes "A new paper shows that global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is that the weather station network covers only about 85% of the planet. Satellite data shows that the parts of the Earth that are not covered by the surface station network, especially the Arctic, have warmed exceptionally fast over the last 15 years. Most temperature reconstructions simply omit any region not covered. A temperature reconstruction developed by NASA somewhat addresses the gaps by filling in missing data using temperatures from the nearest available observations. Now Kevin Cowtan (University of York) and Robert Way (University of Ottawa) have developed a new method to fill the data gaps using satellite data. The researchers describe their methods and findings in this YouTube video. 'The most important part of our work was testing the skill of each of these approaches in reconstructing unobserved temperatures. To do this we took the observed data and further reduced the coverage by setting aside some of the observations. We then reconstructed the global temperatures using each method in turn. Finally, we compared the reconstructed temperatures to the observed temperatures where they are available... While infilling works well over the oceans, the hybrid model works particularly well at restoring temperatures in the vicinity of the unobserved regions.' The authors note that 'While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Robert Lee Hotz reports in the WSJ that current solar activity is stranger than it has been in a century or more. The sun is producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected, and its magnetic poles are oddly out of sync. Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is 'a total punk,' says Jonathan Cirtain. 'I would say it is the weakest in 200 years,' adds David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Researchers are puzzled. They can't tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun's brightness or the wavelengths of its light. To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record, with the sun's magnetic poles out of sync for the past year so the sun technically has two South Poles. Several solar scientists speculate that the sun may be returning to a more relaxed state after an era of unusually high activity that started in the 1940s (PDF). 'More than half of solar physicists would say we are returning to a norm,' says Mark Miesch. 'We might be in for a longer state of suppressed activity.' If so, the decline in magnetic activity could ease global warming, the scientists say. But such a subtle change in the sun—lowering its luminosity by about 0.1%—wouldn't be enough to outweigh the build-up of greenhouse gases and soot that most researchers consider the main cause of rising world temperatures over the past century or so. 'Given our current understanding of how the sun varies and how climate responds, were the sun to enter a new Maunder Minimum, it would not mean a new Little Ice Age,' says Judith Lean. 'It would simply slow down the current warming by a modest amount.'"
First time accepted submitter MalachiK writes "A senior academic and former UK government drugs adviser reckons that pretty soon it'll be possible to enjoy the fun of being drunk without having to suffer the negative effects of alcohol. In a proposal reminiscent of Star Trek's synthehol, Professor David Nut has identified a number of molecules that he claims offer experiences that are subjectively indistinguishable from alcohol intoxication. Apparently a major advantage of using these more selectively psychoactive drugs is that the effects can be quickly reversed. It's not all good news though as Professor Nut seems to think that the drinks industry is using its financial and political clout to stop this sort of research being undertaken."
Lucas123 writes "Researchers have already built robots that can use microorganisms to digest waste material, such as rotten fruit and vegetables, and generate electricity from it. This time, a group of scientists has taken that concept to a strange, new place: urine-powered robots. The scientists from the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol constructed a system in robots that functions like the human heart, except it's designed to pump urine into the robot's 'engine room,' converting the waste into electricity and enabling the robot to function completely on its own. The researchers hope the system, which can hold 24.5 ml of urine, could be used to power future generations of robots, or what they're calling EcoBots. 'In the city environment, they could re-charge using urine from urinals in public lavatories,' said Peter Walters, a researcher with the University of the West of England. 'In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms.'"
mrspoonsi writes "A monstrous storm has arisen in the Western Pacific. The storm, called 'Supter-Typhoon Haiyan', has become the year's most intense. It bore down on the central Philippines this morning, packing winds up to 195 mph (314 km/h), with gusts up to 235 mph (378 km/h), threatening massive damage and sending over 100,000 people into evacuation centers. (Animation of landfall.) Flood waters went as high as 10 feet. The secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross said, 'About 90% of the infrastructure and establishments were heavily damaged.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Radio Iowa reports that 155 scientists from 36 colleges and universities in Iowa are jointly issuing a call for action against global warming and calling on the US Department of Agriculture to update its policies to better protect the land. 'The last couple of years have underscored the fact that we are very vulnerable to weather conditions and weather extremes in Iowa,' says Gene Takle, director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State. Both years were marked by heavy spring rains followed by droughts that damaged Iowa's farmland. 'This has become a real issue for us, particularly with regard to getting crops planted in the spring,' says Takle adding that Iowa had 900,000 acres that weren't planted this year because of these intense spring rains. 'Following on the heels of the disastrous 2012 loss of 90% of Iowa's apple crop, the 2013 cool March and record-breaking March-through-May rainfall set most ornamental and garden plants back well behind seasonal norms,' says the Iowa Climate Statement for 2013 . 'Iowa's soils and agriculture remain our most important economic resources, but these resources are threatened by climate change (PDF)." When the Iowa climate change statement was first released in 2011, 44 Iowa scientists signed on and last year's statement was signed by 137 Iowa scientists. "It's easy to set up a straw-man argument, to say, 'Oh, well climates always change; there have been changes in the past. This might just be natural,' " says David Courard-Hauri. "And often that gets played on the Internet as, 'Maybe scientists haven't thought about the fact that there have been natural changes in the past and maybe this is related.' " Of course scientists have thought about that possibility, says Courard-Hauri, but the evidence strongly suggests the climate is changing faster than could be expected to happen naturally."
Zothecula writes "There is a saying in flying: 'If it looks good, it will fly well.' Stefan Klein, a designer from the Slovak Republic, has announced the first flight of his Aeromobil Version 2.5, a flying car prototype he has been developing over the last 20 years. This vehicle is a strikingly beautiful design with folding wings and a propeller in the tail. But will its flight capabilities match its looks?"
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google's core search-advertising business is slowing down (despite an uptick in revenue and earnings for the most recent quarter) and a new report suggests that advertising ROI is much higher on iOS than Android. In light of that, it's worth asking whether Google, having dominated much of the mobile-device market with Android, will ever get around to more aggressively monetizing its mobile operating system, and what that could mean to the manufacturers that have been loading the software for free onto their hardware. If Google started charging licensing fees to manufacturers, and attempted to clamp down so that Google Play served as the only hub for Android apps (something that would definitely put it on a collision course with Amazon, which boasts its own Android app store), would it be shooting itself in the foot? Or would the rest of the ecosystem respond in a muted way, considering the sheer size of Google's power and presence?"
astroengine writes "For the first time, astronomers have discovered a sun-like star playing host to a 'habitable zone' exoplanet located inside the Milky Way's galactic bulge — some 25,000 light-years distant — using a quirk of Einstein's general relativity. But don't go having dreams of exotic getaways to the glistening lights of the center of our galaxy; this exoplanet is a huge gas giant world, about five times the mass of Jupiter. However, there is something (potentially) very exciting about this new discovery. Like Jupiter, this newly discovered giant exoplanet may possess small satellites; exomoons that could have life-giving potential. 'Indeed, although the data do not explicitly show any signature of a companion to the Jupiter planet, this possibility is not ruled out,' the researchers write [arXiv]. 'The planet is apparently at the edge between the snow line and the habitable zone, but considering a potential greenhouse warming effect, the surface temperature of a possible companion (exomoon) can be suitable for habitability.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The current test vehicle uses what Nissan calls its 'Advanced Driver Assist System,' which isn't fully autonomous, but rather can be thought of as a really advanced cruise control system. According to the company, the system can keep a car in its own lane, while automatically changing lanes to pass slower vehicles or prepare to exit a freeway, which it can also do automatically. Along with that, the car automatically slows for congestion, and — most impressively in my opinion — can automatically stop at red lights. In other words, the car isn't fully automatic in that you can't simply type in a destination and have it do all the work, but the bulk of driving load is taken care of. Curiously, Nissan's goal appears to be to take sloppy human drivers out of the equation to eliminate road fatalities."