Forces behind earthquakes revealed: Research

February 18th, 2012 | Related entries: Geology


It is very difficult to comprehend as to why certain areas are considered to be more earthquake-prone than the others. A team of professionals from the Stony Brook University has developed a numerical model that correlates the occurrence of earthquakes and the strong forces causing them.

The findings showed that stresses on the Earth’s tectonic plates are the principal driving forces of earthquakes. These stresses could result in earthquakes not only at the boundary regions but even in the internal portions of the plates.

“If you take into account the effects of topography and all density variations within the plates – the earth’s crust varies in thickness depending on where you are – if you take all that into account, together with the mantle convection system, you can do a good job explaining what is going on at the surface,” Read the rest of this story >>

LHC gets an energy boost, brings Higgs boson closer to reality

February 15th, 2012 | Related entries: Energy


For those who are not aware, Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the biggest energy particle accelerator in the world that was developed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). As an important advancement on this front, CERN has reported that the LHC will operate with an energy beam of 4TeV in 2012.

This speed is apparently 0.5TeV higher than that observed in 2010 and 2011. The announcement has been made following a plan to deliver the largest possible amount of data by LHC. The team aims to achieve this before the accelerator is shut down for further energy enhancement.

“When we started operating the LHC for physics in 2010, we chose the lowest safe beam energy consistent with the physics we wanted to do. Two good years of operational experience with beam and many additional measurements made during 2011 give us the confidence to safely move up a notch, and thereby extend the physics reach of the experiments before we go into the LHC’s Read the rest of this story >>

DARPA LS3 robot to aid army and marine troops

February 11th, 2012 | Related entries: Technology News


Presently, armies consider physical overload to be one of the major challenges in the war-fighting scenario. Researchers at DARPA have created a semi-autonomous legged robot dubbed the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to be used by teams of soldiers or marines.

This robot has a built-in sensor that allows it to distinguish between inanimate objects like trees or rocks and human beings too. In the following 18 months, the team believes that the system could be used to support troops of soldiers.

The researchers are currently trialing the mechanism for its ability to withstand 400lbs on a 20-mile journey in a span of 24 hours without necessitating reactivation or refueling. The vision sensors incorporated into the device have to perform the task of identifying the barriers in the path and automatically decide the course of action Read the rest of this story >>

Love song sung by Jurassic cricket recreated

February 8th, 2012 | Related entries: Archeology / History


Not many of us are aware that male crickets croon a love song to entice female counterparts and repel those of the same gender. One such mating song possibly sung by an extinct cricket nearly 165 million years back has been unleashed by scientists at the Bristol University.

This song is probably the most primitive track documented up till now. It has been reconstructed from the microscopic wing attributes on a fossil uncovered in North East China. Audiences now have an opportunity to listen to acoustics that would have been once heard by dinosaurs and other primates roaming through Jurassic forests during night time.

The researchers stumbled upon an extremely detailed bushcricket fossil hailing from the Mid Jurassic era. The wing features were apparently well-conserved which allowed for precise exploration of its stridulating organs. The latter are those which primarily produce sounds by rubbing of specific parts together.

The team dubbed this fossil Read the rest of this story >>

Butterfly tactics could help in developing flying robots

February 4th, 2012 | Related entries: Scientists and Research

Micro Air Vehicle

Every creature on the Earth possesses some unique attributes that professionals aim to see in their robots. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have stepped into designing airborne robots which can replicate the maneuvers of butterflies.

The team is aiming to develop bug-size flyers for undertaking search and rescue operations and environmental missions without putting human lives in danger. These instruments are called aerial vehicles or MAVs. By accessing high-end imaging, the scientists analyzed the wing tactics of butterflies. They came to a conclusion that alterations in moment of inertia contributes primarily to insect flight. This property is observed in ice skaters and divers as well.

“Ice skaters who want to spin faster bring their arms in close to their bodies and extend their arms out when they want to slow down. These Read the rest of this story >>

NASA launches Space Race Blastoff multiplayer game on Facebook

January 31st, 2012 | Related entries: Technology News

NASA Logo 01

Those not adequately abreast of the happenings in the galaxy may just want to stay updated. That’s because NASA has introduced a multiplayer Facebook game dubbed Space Race Blastoff which provides users with a quizzing scenario.

Questions such as ‘Who was the first man to set foot on the moon?’ and ‘Who introduced the first liquid-run rocket?’ may be an active part of the game. Essentially, the title tests users’ awareness with respect to NASA’s working and history. It also tries gamers for their knowledge on the technology, science and pop culture relating to NASA.

Upon questions being answered correctly, players earn virtual badges presenting NASA astronauts, space objects and spacecrafts. They are also entitled to additional badges for finishing sets and laying hands on premium badges.

“Space Race Blastoff opens NASA’s history and research to a wide new audience of people accustomed to using social media. Space Read the rest of this story >>

System design of successive ‘Hayabusa’ asteroid explorer begins: NEC

January 27th, 2012 | Related entries: Space

NEC Logo

‘Hayabusa’ is a robotic spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) aiming to deliver a specimen from an asteroid namely, 25143 Itokawa, to Earth for further research. Now NEC has begun a new system design of an asteroid explorer for JAXA’s ‘Hayabusa 2 Project’.

The company is responsible for the system formulation along with the subsystem designs inclusive of the Ka-band communication subsystem and intermediate-infrared camera. Both of these have to be incorporated in the asteroid explorer as per JAXA guidelines. While the former is a communication subsystem with apparently high-capacity transmission, the latter is an imaging camera for noting down the temperature and surface conditions on the asteroid.

This successive version of the aforesaid spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2014 by JAXA. According to the schedule, the new asteroid explorer will reach the asteroid ‘1999 JU3’ in the mid period of 2018 and then Read the rest of this story >>

New magnetic soap will help recovery from oil spills: Research

January 24th, 2012 | Related entries: Scientists and Research

Magnetic Soap

With magnets entering almost every other sphere of technology, ever wondered how would they look as soap controller? Professionals from the Bristol University have created a soap that can apparently be regulated by magnets to be used in recovery from oil spills at sea.

This soap constitutes iron rich salts dissolved in water that are responsive to magnetic fields when kept in a solution. The team created this soap by dissolving iron in a series of insert surfactant materials made of chloride and bromide irons, just like those observed in daily mouthwash or fabric conditioners.

The iron involved in the composition is apparently responsible for the creation of metallic centers inside the soap particles. In a trial, a magnet was inserted into a test tube comprising the new soap lying under a less dense organic fluid. As the magnet was introduced, the soap apparently combated both the gravity and surface tension between water and oil, by elevating across Read the rest of this story >>

Ancient tulip-shaped marine creature uncovered in Canada

January 23rd, 2012 | Related entries: Marine

Tulip Fossil

Burgess Shale found in the Canadian Rockies is an ancient fossil bed that has helped professionals unearth several primitive species. Well, this study by scientists from the University of Toronto examines a new marine creature found in Burgess Shale that apparently lived in the oceans approximately 500 million years ago.

The bizarre creature in question seemed to resemble a tulip flower and was as long as 20cm. It has been named officially as Siphusauctum gregarium. Notably, this marine animal appeared to have possessed a unique filter feeding system. It had a long stem with a bulbous cup-like structure called calyx, around the upper surface that enfolds a different kind of gut and filter feeding system.

This animal would presumably have filtered out substances from water that reached its calyx via small holes. A small disc present at the end of the stem would have secured the critter to the seabed. Moreover, this being seemingly lived in big groups, Read the rest of this story >>

Search and rescue robots inspired by snakes: Research

January 20th, 2012 | Related entries: Technology News

Scalybot 2

The reptilian-science fusion seems to be the hottest agenda for scientists currently, especially with regards to robotic technologies. More recently, Georgia Tech experts designed a new robotic machine that apparently utilizes less energy and is touted to perform search and rescue jobs. This build was inspired by observing the locomotion of a snake.

After examining and recording the motion of 20 distinct snakes, the team developed Scalybot 2. The latter is a robot that supposedly mimics the rectilinear form of mobility observed in snakes. Considering that snakes use very little energy while moving across large distances, the investigators tried to design the robot in a similar way.

Hamid Marvi, a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech, commented, “By using their scales to control frictional properties, snakes are able to move large Read the rest of this story >>

Carbon dioxide may harm brains of fish

January 19th, 2012 | Related entries: Marine

Seawater Fish

The harmful effects of carbon dioxide are well known by all, but are they restricted to just human beings? Answering this question, scientists from the University of Oslo have revealed that carbon dioxide emissions are apparently harming the central nervous system of fishes in seawater and this is threatening their survival.

The scientists found that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the water appeared to interfere with the GABA-A receptor, which is a principal molecule in the brain. This receptor is supposedly responsible for the sensory and behavioral capabilities of fishes.

“CO2 concentrations predicted to occur in the ocean by the end of this century will interfere with fishes’ ability to hear, smell, orient and evade predators,” cited Professor Goran Nilsson from the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

Previous studies have shown that higher proportions of carbon dioxide in the sea may expose fishes to predators, Read the rest of this story >>

New particle can cool the planet, claims study

January 18th, 2012 | Related entries: Scientists and Research

New Molecule

Amidst global warming concerns storming the planet, can the natural ecosystem itself be of any help? In what seems like a major breakthrough, scientists from the University of Manchester and the University of Bristol have stumbled upon a molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere that has the potential to cool the planet, thereby lessening the impact of global warming.

These invisible molecules are claimed to be strong oxidizers of pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide that are generated by combustion. The team believed that these particles have the potential to tidy up the planet naturally.

These chemical intermediates were first considered as part of a hypothesis in 1950, but they have now been discovered in this research. In the analysis, the team utilized acute, tunable light coming from the synchrotron that enabled them to distinguish the formulation and separation of a unique isomeric species.

These molecules called the Criegee Read the rest of this story >>

Glacier cores might reveal centuries old weather conditions in eastern Alps

January 16th, 2012 | Related entries: Geology

Paolo Gabrielli We know that with passing time the planet has been witnessing a gradual change in weather conditions, which some debate, are getting warmer. Getting an insight into what conditions each region experienced centuries ago might help in deciphering the present day changes in the climate and the causes of the same. A team of scientists from the Ohio State University along with some European colleagues, have began an analysis of ice cores drilled to bedrock from a glacier in the eastern European Alps.

This research might disclose information about past environmental and climatic changes in this region for the several centuries gone by. The team believes that it may even reveal data about as much as the last 1000 years. They are also hoping to unearth bits and pieces about early human activity in the region like atmospheric byproducts of smelting metals.

“This glacier is already changing from the top down in a very irreversible way. It is changing from a Read the rest of this story >>

World’s smallest vertebrate title now goes to a frog

January 14th, 2012 | Related entries: Uncategorized

World's Tiniest Vertebrate

The last we heard, the title of the smallest vertebrate in the world was claimed by a fish. But it seems to have changed recently. Discovered by a team from the Louisiana State University, a member of a newly recognized species of frog is being called the tiniest vertebrate on planet Earth.

The team, which included LSU graduate student Eric Rittmeyer and others from the United States made this discovery during a three-month long expedition to the island of New Guinea, which is also known for being the tallest and largest tropical island in the world.

The frog is said to measure approximately 7.7 millimeters or just one-third of an inch in size. The species to which this vertebrate belongs is known as Paedophryne amanuensis. Another diminutive frog species discovered on this expedition is the Paedophryne swiftorum, which is just slightly larger than the aforementioned one.

“It was particularly difficult to locate Paedophryne Read the rest of this story >>

Study blames excess mercury influx for the late Permian extinction

January 11th, 2012 | Related entries: Geology

University of Calgary Logo The late Permian extinction, which happened over 250 million years ago, is considered to be one of the most massive annihilation events on earth till date. The occurrence is blamed on certain factors like severe climate changes, extreme volcanic activities, and others. However, a recent study has put forth that excessive mercury influx in the eco-system might be one of the basic causes of the extermination.

Apparently, this is the first study which links mercury to the extinction event which wiped out almost all marine life, and a major section of land dwelling ones. It says that the natural buffering system in the ocean was congested with mercury during that period and this accounts for 95 percent of the living species lost at sea. Hamed Sanei, lead author of this study, points out that algae works towards Read the rest of this story >>