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June 1, 2006, 7:24 PM CT

The Case of the Neutron Star

The Case of the Neutron Star
A long observation with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed important new details of a neutron star that is spewing out a wake of high-energy particles as it races through space. The deduced location of the neutron star on the edge of a supernova remnant, and the peculiar orientation of the neutron star wake, pose mysteries that remain unresolved.

"Like a kite flying in the wind, the behavior of this neutron star and its wake tell us what sort of gas it must be plowing through," said Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author of a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal. "Yet we're still not sure how the neutron star got to its present location".

The neutron star, known as CXOU J061705.3+222127, or J0617 for short, appears to lie near the outer edge of an expanding bubble of hot gas associated with the supernova remnant IC 443. Presumably, J0617 was created at the time of the supernova -- approximately 30,000 years ago -- and propelled away from the site of the explosion at about 500,000 miles per hour.

However, the neutron star's wake is oriented almost perpendicularly to the direction expected if the neutron star were moving away from the center of the supernova remnant. This apparent misalignment had previously raised doubts about the association of the speeding neutron star with the supernova remnant.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


June 1, 2006, 7:20 PM CT

Raiders Of The Lost Dimension

Raiders Of The Lost Dimension
A team of researchers working at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos has uncovered an intriguing phenomenon while studying magnetic waves in barium copper silicate, a 2,500-year-old pigment known as Han purple. The scientists discovered that when they exposed newly grown crystals of the pigment to very high magnetic fields at very low temperatures, it entered a rarely observed state of matter. At the threshold of that matter state--called the quantum critical point-the waves actually lose a dimension. That is, the magnetic waves go from a three-dimensional to a two-dimensional pattern. The discovery is yet another step toward understanding the quantum mechanics of the universe.

Writing about the work in today's issue of the scientific journal Nature, the scientists describe how they discovered that at high magnetic fields (above 23 Tesla) and at temperatures between 1 and 3 degrees Kelvin (or roughly minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit), the magnetic waves in Han purple crystals "exist" in a unique state of matter called a Bose Einstein condensate (BEC). In the BEC state, magnetic waves propagate simultaneously in all of three directions (up-down, forward-backward and left-right). At the quantum critical point, however, the waves stop propagating in the up-down dimension, causing the magnetic ripples to exist in only two dimensions, much the same way as ripples are confined to the surface of a pond.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


June 1, 2006, 6:39 PM CT

From Dark To Bright And Red To White

From Dark To Bright And Red To White
Cassini's landmark investigation of Saturn's yin-yang moon Iapetus, with its bright and dark hemispheres, continues to provide insights into the nature of this intriguing body.

These two views of Iapetus primarily show terrain in the southern part of the moon's dark leading hemisphere -- the side of Iapetus that is coated with dark material. The bright south pole of Iapetus is visible, along with some terrain (at the bottom) that lies on the bright trailing hemisphere.

The dark terrain known as Cassini Regio is uniformly dark between the equator and about 30 degrees south latitude. From there down to about 50 to 60 degrees south latitude, the dark material looks "patchy" because south-facing crater walls are bright (being largely devoid of the dark material). South of this region, only some northward-facing crater walls are still dark, while the bright terrain has a somewhat reddish color.

See Dark-stained Iapetus for an up-close view of this transition in the northern hemisphere.

Beyond 90 degrees south (i.e., on the trailing side), the reddish color becomes white. The region at the bottom of the color view presented here shows this "color boundary" in the bright terrain, which also marks the boundary between the leading and trailing hemispheres.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


May 30, 2006, 11:28 PM CT

Interiors Of Extrasolar Planets

Interiors Of Extrasolar Planets
Up to now, astronomers have discovered 188 extrasolar planets, among which 10 are known as "transiting planets". These planets pass between their star and us at each orbit (Figure 1). Given the current technical limitations, the only transiting planets that can be detected are giant planets orbiting close to their parent star known as "hot Jupiters" or Pegasids. The ten transiting planets known thus far have masses between 110 and 430 Earth masses (for comparison, Jupiter, with 318 Earth masses, is the most massive planet in our Solar System).

Eventhough rare, transiting planets are the key to understanding planetary formation because they are the only ones for which both the mass and radius can be determined. In principle, the obtained mean density can constrain their global composition. However, translating a mean density into a global composition needs accurate models of the internal structure and evolution of planets. The situation is made difficult by our relatively poor knowledge of the behaviour of matter at high pressures (the pressure in the interiors of giant planets is more than a million times the atmospheric pressure on Earth). Of the nine transiting planets known up to April 2006, only the least massive one could have its global composition determined satisfactorily. It was shown to possess a massive core of heavy elements, about 70 times the mass of the Earth, with a 40 Earth-mass envelope of hydrogen and helium. Of the remaining eight planets, six were found to be mostly made up of hydrogen and helium, like Jupiter and Saturn, but their core mass could not be determined. The last two were found to be too large to be explained by simple models.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


May 30, 2006, 10:38 PM CT

In Quest For Inexhaustible Energy Source

In Quest For Inexhaustible Energy Source The ITER device
Image courtesy of ITER
As gas prices soar and greenhouse gases continue to blanket the atmosphere, the need for a clean, safe and cheap source of energy has never seemed more pressing.

Scientists have long worked to meet that need, exploring alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar power. But, after decades of quiet progress, the spotlight is now on another potentially inexhaustible energy source.

Seven countries signed an agreement in Brussels last week (May 24) to launch construction of the multibillion dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France. The largest fusion-energy experiment ever conducted, ITER is the culmination of years of research by scores of scientists, and is poised to answer long-standing questions about the real-world viability of fusion energy. The United States, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation are joint sponsors of the project, which will experimentally generate up to 500 million watts of energy.

An international collective of physicists and engineers is working to both complement and lend expertise directly to the ITER initiative - and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are firmly placed among them.

"[ITER] is a major threshold that we've been waiting to get to for 20 years," says Raymond Fonck, a UW-Madison professor of engineering physics and the chief scientist of ITER's U.S. project office. "The project is the No. 1 priority in fusion research in the country and the world, and essentially takes us to a regime we've never been to before".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 29, 2006, 11:35 PM CT

Get Hooked On Creatures Of The Deep

Get Hooked On Creatures Of The Deep
An official website for Creatures of the Deep, a fishing game for Nokia's next generation mobile gaming platform, was unveiled today, featuring a blog-powered news section, fun interactive hidden treasures, and a teaser trailer at www.mobileangler.com.

The website is designed by award-winning Juicy Studios as a multi-level underwater depth experience with strong community features and fun interactive elements. Each menu option submerges you from the surface to the ocean floor as you explore the underwater world. The stunning 3D graphics are even reproduced in the game itself including weather effects and day to night cycles.

"Creatures of the Deep and its respective website, reinforces that Nokia is pushing the boundaries of mobile gaming forward," says Brandon Crick, Games Marketing Manager, Multimedia, Nokia. "Creatures of the Deep takes advantage of mobile device technologies such as vibration feedback and camera motion tracking. Every nibble and the true fight of the fish are felt through tactile vibration feedback. The player can also use the camera motion sensing feature to perform a physical cast. Adding these elements with stunning visuals is a testament to what is possible with Nokia's next generation mobile gaming experience".

Creatures of the Deep takes you on a made-for-mobile fishing adventure. Travel through some of the world's most exotic angler destinations, cast your line and catch boatloads of fish, sea creatures, and underwater items to store in your virtual live-well. The single player career mode will challenge you with dozens of quests as you freely roam the expansive fantasy and real-world fishing destinations. Compete in tournaments online via the N-Gage Arena to determine who will wear the crown of the ultimate angler worldwide.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 27, 2006, 10:34 AM CT

Hubble's Gravitational Lens

Hubble's Gravitational Lens
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first-ever picture of a group of five star-like images of a single distant quasar.

The multiple-image effect seen in the Hubble picture is produced by a process called gravitational lensing, in which the gravitational field of a massive object - in this case, a cluster of galaxies - bends and amplifies light from an object - in this case, a quasar - farther behind it.

Eventhough a number of examples of gravitational lensing have been observed, this "quintuple quasar" is the only case so far in which multiple quasar images are produced by an entire galaxy cluster acting as a gravitational lens.

The background quasar is the brilliant core of a galaxy. It is powered by a black hole, which is devouring gas and dust and creating a gusher of light in the process. When the quasar's light passes through the gravity field of the galaxy cluster that lies between us and the quasar, the light is bent by the space-warping gravity field in such a way that five separate images of the object are produced surrounding the cluster's center. The fifth quasar image is embedded to the right of the core of the central galaxy in the cluster. The cluster also creates a cobweb of images of other distant galaxies gravitationally lensed into arcs.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


May 27, 2006, 9:59 AM CT

Honda To Take Over World

Honda To Take Over World
So we're reading our daily edition of The Car Connection and we stumble on something that distracted us from our donut. Well, it didn't really distract us, we ate it up anyway, but it wasn't as satisfying. You see, way, way at the bottom is a little piece on how Honda has figured out how to control robots with their brains!

So not only does Detroit have to deal with the kick-ass new Civic (hybrid, coupe, and sedan), the new. the new. what's that noise? It's frickin' Mechagodzilla! What's that near Mechagodzilla's feet? Is that Takeo Fukui? In a Honda Fit? He's controlling Mechagodzilla while driving?! What's he saying? It's economical and fun to drive? Emporer Fukui is destroying Detroit while using very little fuel! Run for your god-damned lives!.

It was a dozen donuts and now we can't run from Mechagodzilla. We've done this to ourselves! Damn you tasty treats!........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 27, 2006, 9:40 AM CT

Making Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak

Making Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak
Two scientists at Duke University and a third from London's Imperial College have crunched the numbers, and they say it might be possible to build a real-life invisibility cloak like that used by Harry Potter in J. K. Rowling's children's books.

The key, say the professors, would be the creation of a so-far nonexistent metamaterial that would absorb all electromagnetic waves from one side of an object and then project them on the other side, making the object appear effectively invisible and transparent. The researchers are currently working on creating this metamaterial, and hope to begin by building a small invisibility cloak of just a few millimeters in width.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 26, 2006, 0:13 AM CT

Blueprint For Invisibility Cloak

Blueprint For Invisibility Cloak David R. Smith of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering is one of the invisibility cloak's technological tailors | Duke Photography
Using a new design theory, scientists at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and Imperial College London have developed the blueprint for an invisibility cloak. Once devised, the cloak could have numerous uses, from defense applications to wireless communications, the scientists said.

Such a cloak could hide any object so well that observers would be totally unaware of its presence, as per the researchers. In principle, their invisibility cloak could be realized with exotic artificial composite materials called "metamaterials," they said.

"The cloak would act like you've opened up a hole in space," said David R. Smith, Augustine Scholar and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School. "All light or other electromagnetic waves are swept around the area, guided by the metamaterial to emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space".

Electromagnetic waves would flow around an object hidden inside the metamaterial cloak just as water in a river flows virtually undisturbed around a smooth rock, Smith said.

The research team, which also includes David Schurig of Duke's Pratt School and John Pendry of Imperial College London, reported its findings on May 25, 2006, in Science Express, the online advance publication of the journal Science. The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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