Alex Swystun

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"Abundant Water" on Mars, and Mongols Rule!

MAGNETS: How Do They Work?

How Special Relativity Makes Magnets Work

How our galaxy might look from outside

This artist’s impression shows how the Milky Way galaxy might look seen from the outside, from an almost edge-on perspective.<p>New research suggests …

Scientists Find Life Buried Under An Antarctic Lake

Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey have announced that they’ve confirmed the presence of life in samples of mud from the bottom of a subglacial lake in Antarctica. The team’s findings have been published in the journal <i>Diversity</i>.<p>The research team conducted their work at Lake Hodgson, on the …

The Biggest Volcano and Small Testes

APOD: M2-9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula (2013 Sep 15) Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA - Processing: Judy Schmidt http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130915.html Explanation: Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die? Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured above, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expended gas frequently forms an impressive display called a planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousand of years. M2-9, a butterfly planetary nebula 2100 light-years away shown in representative colors, has wings that tell a strange but incomplete tale. In the center, two stars orbit inside a gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto. The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the disk creating the bipolar appearance. Much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause planetary nebulae. http://hla.stsci.edu/ http://www.nasa.gov/ http://www.esa.int/ http://www.geckzilla.com/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=130915 #APOD

Latest from the tech labs: insects with gears and electric spider silk

Scientists in Cambridge have found that some insects use gears, like a car, while others in Florida are combining spider silk with carbon nanotubes<p><b>Top gear for bugs</b><p>Engineers taking their ideas from nature is nothing new – from early attempts at flight, to adhesives based on mussels and …

Mars One: The psychology of isolation, confinement and 24-hour Big Brother

Those sent to live and die on the red planet face untold risk of mental illness<p>Since April, thousands of people have applied to take a one-way trip to Mars. Following further stages of selection and training, the plan is for the first four astronauts to lift off in 2022. After a seven-month journey …

Spot Exoplanets With Your Home Telescope, Using Free NASA Software

The new software measures varying light phenomena, accounting for distortions from the Earth's atmosphere and any stray clouds.<p>Well, this is what you bought that new telescope camera for, right?<p>NASA is releasing, for free, a bit of software that allows those with telescopes to detect planets …

The Way The U.S. Teaches Science Doesn’t Work

Here's how to fix it<p>In 2012, a shocking 69 percent of American high-school graduates failed to meet college-readiness benchmarks in science. And in a 2010 paper about math and science achievement, the U.S. ranked last out of the eight countries studied (including England, South Korea, and Hungary). …

The world's smallest violin: scientist uses proteins to create a new musical instrument

You can now hear the sweet musical stylings of plant proteins, courtesy of this biotech gizmo<p>If proteins could talk, what would they say? Josiah Zayner still doesn't know — but he does have a sense of what they'd want to sing. That's because Zayner has developed a new musical instrument that relies …

Dark energy survey launches

High in the Chilean Andes, a massive project to probe the nature of dark energy has begun.<p>The Dark Energy Survey (DES) launched on 31 August at the …

Mysterious mummy found in German attic by 10-year-old boy

A mummy that would seemingly be of Egyptian origin has been discovered a long way from its apparent home. A 10-year-old boy found the sarcophagus along with a mummified body in the attic of his house in Diepholz, Germany last month, reports the AFP. But while the sarcophagus is inscribed with …

U.S. 'Space Fence' Radar System Goes Silent, After 50 Years

The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the SatWatch site, following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961.<p>The Space Fence — also known by its …

Chemical Weapons (Sarin Gas) - Periodic Table of Videos

Watch Somebody Pilot A Drone With Google Glass

It was only a matter of time, really<p>This is one of those ideas it's surprising we didn't hear about earlier: a Google Glass-controlled drone! (Come on, guys, Google Glass has been around for, what, four months?) But then again, if this coding narrative from Glass developer Blaine Bublitz is any …

How nuclear scientists kept Soviet plutonium away from terrorists

Last year, a group of American, Russian, and Kazakh scientists gathered at a mountainside in Kazakhstan to announce that they had finally secured vast stores of plutonium that the Soviet Union buried there years earlier, at the height of the Cold War. The ceremony marked the end of a 17-year, $150 …

Suzi Gage: Can drinking too much coffee kill you?

A new study reports that excessive coffee – four cups a day – is harmful, but only to those under 55. How likely is this?<p>Lots of headlines last week warned young people (those under 55) that drinking more than 28 cups of coffee a week – four cups a day – may lead to an increased risk of all cause …

How It Works: A 3-D Printer For Liver Tissue

The first commercial 3-D bioprinter, Organovo's NovoGen MMX Bioprinter, is manufacturing functional liver tissues that will soon help biochemists test new drugs. Here’s a look at the printing process.<p><b>Step 1</b>: Engineers load one syringe with a bio-ink (A) made up of spheroids that each contain tens …

A 12-Year-Old's Quest To Remake Education, One Arduino At A Time

Twelve-year-old electronics prodigy Quin Etnyre wanted to make education more fun. So he became a teacher.<p>Quin Etnyre walks to the front of a crowded room at Deezmaker 3D Printers and Hackerspace in Pasadena, California. He adjusts his laptop on the workbench, then looks up and addresses the class. …

Science, Religion, and the Big Bang

Reality's hidden layers

Infinity in the real world: Does space go on forever?

Why mass has a split personality

Oddly entangled: Quantum relationships in space

A quantum lover's leap