Andromida Galaxy. Is our own galaxy a lot bigger than
we though? (Courtesy NASA)
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Way Fifty Percent Bigger - It looks like our Milky Way
galaxy may be a lot bigger than we originally thought. Scientists
used data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to investigate
a ring-like filament of stars that wraps around our galaxy.
Scientists were wondering whether the so-called Monoceros
Ring, located more than 65,000 light-years from the center
of the Milky Way was part of our galaxy or a "dwarf galaxy
that came in and spread itself out in this big ring," said
astronomer Heidi Newberg, with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Originally Newberg thought that it was a tidal debris stream
from a dwarf galaxy. After looking at all the evidence gathered
Newberg now thinks differently. "What I was trying to do
was find more evidence that it was streams. It took a very
long time to get this result, partly because I had to change
my whole way of thinking. It now looks to me like it's part
of the disk," she said. "It looks to me like maybe these
patterns [ in the Monoceros Ring] are following the spiral
structure of the Milky Way, so they may be related," admitted
Newberg. If so, this increases the size of our galaxy disc
from 100,000 light-years to 150,000 light-years.
Tombs Found - Two American archaeologists working near
the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor have found two beautifully
painted tombs. It is estimated that the tombs date back
to the New Kingdom of the 18th Dynasty (1543-1292 BC). The
tombs are located near the Sheikh Abd el-Qurna excavation
site, between the valleys of the Kings and Queens and the
town of al-Qurna. "The tomb contains many stunning scenes
with bright colours painted on plaster," said Antiquities
Minister Mamdouh Eldamaty. "Many of scenes represent the
tomb owner and his wife in front of an offering table and
a view of a goddess nursing a royal child as well as scenes
of the daily life." The tombs appear to be long to the same
family: Amenhotep and his son Sa-mut. While the impressive
murals are in good shape, the tomb appears to have been
looted in ancient times of most of its goods.
the Fish Shoot First? - Jonathan Armbruster, biological
sciences professor and curator of fishes for the Auburn
University Museum of Natural History, was wondering what
to name a new catfish from the Gurupi River in Brazil, when
somebody pointed out it looked like a bounty hunter from
Star Wars. "Chris looked at the specimen and said 'that
looks like that guy from Star Wars,'" said Armbruster. "After
a little prodding, I realized he was talking about Greedo.
We then knew what the name had to be. The Peckoltia greedoi
does bear a striking resemblance to Greedo." The character
is a bounty hunter killed by Han Solo in "Star Wars: Episode
IV - A New Hope." His namesake, Peckoltia greedoi,
is a species of suckermouth armored catfish. First discovered
in 1998, Armburster only recent re-evaluated the specimen
and decided it was a different, new, species from its original
designation. The character, Greedo, has been the source
of controversy among Star Wars fans as his scene was altered
in the 1997 re-mastered version of the film to show him
shoot first at Han Solo before he was killed. This led to
a fan-based campaign called "Han Shot First" to have the
original scene restored.
Scary, Land Croc - Crocodiles of course are pretty scary,
but at least they don't wander too far away from the water.
But how would you like to run into a 9 foot tall croc, walking
on two hind legs on land? If you lived in North Carolina
during the Triassic period, you might have done just that.
According to a study in Scientific Reports, some
231 million years ago Carnufex carolinensis, the
"Carolina Butcher" roamed the forests there looking for
a quick, meaty meal. "Carnufex lived in what is now North
Carolina around the time the supercontinent Pangea was breaking
apart," said Lindsay Zanno,assistant research professor
at North Carolina State University, and lead author on the
paper. "The skull of Carnufex is slender and long-snouted
with dozens of blade-like teeth. For all practical purposes,
this was an animal skillfully adapted for slicing flesh
from the bones of its victims." The fossils of "Carolina
Butcher" were excavated from the Pekin Formation in Chatham
County, North Carolina.
Asteroids Blast Australia in Past - Millions of years
ago a massive meteorite came crashing down to Earth. The
stress of hitting the atmosphere split it in two and each
of these hit the ground, in what is now Australia, with
devastating impacts. The craters from these impacts are
gone, but scientist stumbled across evidence for them while
drilling over a mile below the earth as part of geothermal
research program. They were clued into the impact when a
core from the drilling rig contained traces of rocks that
had been turned to glass by high temperature and pressure.
"We found two huge deep domes, formed by the Earth's crust
rebounding after the huge impacts, and bringing up rock
from the mantle below. This is a very strong indication
of the elastic rebound effect following an impact," said
Dr. Andrew Glikson of ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology.
"The two asteroids must each have been over 10 kilometers
across -- it would have been curtains for many life species
on the planet at the time," he added. Scientists are puzzled,
however, because they can find no evidence of the extinction.
This leads them to think that the blast must have happened
at least 300 million years ago.
Quote of the Month - "Those
who have an excessive faith in their theories or in their
ideas are not only poorly disposed to make discoveries,
but they also make very poor observations." - Claude
New at the Museum:
of the Solar System - And finally a list of seven wonders
that are not of this world - Full
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
from Radio - I read that radio waves can be received
and turned back into useable energy. Can it be done ? -
The idea of wireless power goes back as far as the beginning
of the 20the century. The electrical genius, Nikola Tesla,
experimented with transmitting power using radio frequency
resonant transformers (which we now call Tesla coils). At
the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago he was able to
demonstrate he could light bulbs from across the width of
a stage. Later in 1900, at his laboratory in Colorado Springs
he used a gigantic Tesla coil(producing an enormous 20 megavolts
of power) to light three incandescent lamps at a distance
of about one hundred feet or so.
in fact, thought it would be possible to transmit power
around the world and dreamed of sending electricity wirelessly
into home and factories. In 1901 he started building a prototype
wireless power station at Shoreham, New York. The Wardenclyffe
Tower, however, was never completed when his financial backers
pulled out of the project. The tower was scrapped to pay
off Tesla's debts. Most modern electrical scientists and
engineers do not think his plan of transmitting power through
air for great distances would have worked.
doesn't mean that wireless power does not have a place in
modern electronics. For short distances magnetic fields
can be used to charge cell phones with no actual wires involved.
The phone simply sits on top of a pad. Another application
where this is used is to recharge artificial cardiac pacemakers
implanted in the chest of a patient. This avoids the patient
having to have wires piercing his skin.
longer transmission of power without wires, radio waves
(usually in the form of microwaves, or lasers can be used).
However, these techniques require that the transmission
be directed at a particular receiver. One possible use of
this type of transmission would be to put satellites in
space with vast solar arrays. The satellite would then beam
the power back to an earth receiving station using a laser
or microwave beam. It would be possible to get it to go
in the other direction too. For example, by powering a plane
or drone from the ground by pointing a laser beam or microwave
some engineers at Duke University have designed a device
that 'harvests' background microwave radiation and converts
it into electricity. The gadget consists of fiberglass and
has copper conductors wired together on a circuit board.
According to their tests it can gather energy and converts
it to electricity with 37 percent efficiently, which is
comparable to solar cells. The engineers think it could
be used to recharge cell phones or used to gather microwave
energy beamed to a remote location. Skeptics point out that
while the 7.3 volts the unit outputs is enough voltage to
recharge a cell phone, the amperage needed is far short
of what a charger plugged into a wall socket can do. However,
there may be a future for such power harvesting system to
drive very lower power/ low amperage devices such as wireless
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Invented - On April 2nd 1935, Scottish physicist, Sir
Robert Watson-Watt, was given a patent for the a Radio Detection
And Ranging device (RADAR). The invention, of course, has
become an invaluable tool for both scientific, military
and commercial operations. Watson-Watt developed a version
of the device that would play an important role in defending
the British Isles during WWII against German Air Raids by
allowing the English to detect incoming bomber aircraft
at a distance by bouncing a radio wave off their fuselages.
Showers Bring Meteorites - Look for the Lyrids Meteor
Shower between the 16th and 25th. The shower will peak overnight
on the 22nd. This display is the remnants of Comet C/1861
G1 Thatcher and will best be viewed after midnight, just
after the first quarter moon sets. They will appear to come
from the constellation Lyra (hence the name).
Boeing Patents Force Shield - The aircraft, defense
and security company Boeing has just been granted a patent
for a force shield that sounds like something out of a science
fiction movie. The "Method and system for shockwave attenuation
via electromagnetic arc" would detect an explosion, then
use either lasers, electricity or microwaves to ionise a
small region of air, producing a plasma field between the
explosion and object to be protected. The shock wave from
the explosion would then hit the plasma field and dissipate,
keeping the object (imagine something like a Hummer) from
being damaged. Unlike the force shields picture in the Star
Wars and Star Trek series, this shield would not exist on
a continual basis, but would only be created when it was
needed. The shield also would not be effective against shrapnel
from the explosion, only the shock wave.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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