Tag Archives: Science

Evidence of Massive Cosmic Blast 1,200 Years Ago – Cause Unknown



Mysterious and Massive Radiation Event 1200 1200 Years Ago

Japanese physicists have identified a mysterious blast of high-energy radiation that struck Planet Earth more than 1,200 years ago – some 20 times larger than normal variations. The cosmic origins of this ancient and massive radiation event, however, are still unknown.

Cosmic-ray physicists from Japan’s Nagoya University, led by Fusa Miyake, discovered the radioactive event – said to have occurred between 774 and 773 AD – based on carbon dating performed on ancient trees.

Their investigation of tree rings from that era show a 20% increase in levels of the 14C isotope over the course of a year. Those isotopes, according Nature.com, are formed “when highly energetic radiation from outer space hits atoms in the upper atmosphere, producing neutrons. These collide with nitrogen-14, which then decays to 14C.”

What happened is clear, but why it happened seems anything but. The usual suspects for this radioactive spike are supernova explosions or solar flares. According to Miyake and his team, both are unlikely culprits considering no other recorded evidence exists of such massive events.

The search for the cause behind this massive cosmic event will likely send scientists to pore through historical data to find any correlative events that might clear things up. Either way – the trees don’t lie (they can’t). Something huge happened 1,200 years ago.

Photo: Solar Flare from Big Stock Photo


SpaceX Launch Saturday Was a No-Go Launch This Morning is a Go!



Just a few days ago, SpaceX attempted to launch their Dragon spacecraft into space. This would have been the very first commercial flight to the International Space Station.

My husband and I were watching this launch as the live video coverage was streamed through LiveStream. It was very surreal to hear the countdown reach zero and realize that the spacecraft had not launched. It is normal to expect that if you hear the countdown reach zero that it means that you will soon be watching liftoff. That isn’t what happened this time. The launch was aborted a half-second before the countdown completed.

What happened? SpaceX released the following statement:

“Today’s launch was aborted when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered the root cause and repairs or underway. During rigouous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve. Those repairs should be complete tonight, we will continue to review data on Sunday”.

SpaceX is going to try this launch again. The next launch is scheduled for 3:44 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. This date and time has been selected because it is when the Earth’s rotation will bring Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad in the path of the International Space Station’s orbit. They will be streaming live video of the launch through LiveStream once again. Will you be watching?

There will be something extra special about this launch. The ashes of Jimmy Doohan, Star Trek’s “Scotty”, were originally scheduled to be launched into space in 2008. It didn’t happen then because the rocket that held the ashes failed to reach orbit. There is a company called Celestis that is responsible for making sure that the tribute to Jimmy Doohan does happen. His ashes will be sent up into space when SpaceX makes their next launch on Tuesday.

Image: Falcon 9 and Dragon Ready for Launch by SpaceX


Implant Uses Brain Waves to Move Robotic Arm



A team of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists at Brown University and Harvard Medical School have created a specialized brain-computer interface. It is called the BrainGate Neural Interface System. The project has been going on for more than a decade. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The scientists have created an implant that is designed to enable people who are paralyzed to move a robotic arm and hand by using their mind. It is quite remarkable! The implant consists of a sensor chip that is about the size of a baby aspirin. It is implanted directly onto the motor cortex of a person’s brain. This is the part of the brain that controls movement.

The sensor picks up signals that are generated by a person’s brain cells while the person is thinking about moving his or her own arm and hand. Those signals are sent through a wire to a device that connects with a computer. The computer has been taught to read the signal it receives and to translate that signal in order to tell a robotic arm what to do. Together, this allows a paralyzed person to move a robotic arm and hand on their own, just by using their brainwaves.

Here is a video created by the BrainGate Corporation that shows a woman who is paralyzed using the BrainGate Neural Interface System to move a robotic arm and hand. The video also explains more of the science behind the system.

Image: Brain by BigStock


The Next Annular Eclipse is May 20, 2012



On Sunday, May 20, 2012, there will be a solar eclipse. This one is special because it is an annular eclipse. It has been eighteen years since an eclipse of this type was visible from the continental United States.

We know that the moon circles the Earth. However, the moon doesn’t travel in an exact circular path. Instead, it is more like an elliptical orbit. This means that the moon will, at certain times, be a little bit closer or a little bit farther from the Earth than usual. The moon’s orbit can vary from 221,457 miles to 252,712 miles away from the Earth.

When an annular eclipse happens, it looks like the moon is passing in front of the Sun. The moon won’t appear to completely block out the sun, though. This is because on May 20, 2012, the moon will be closer to the Earth than usual, at around 225,000 miles from us. The result is that the moon will look as though it has a bright ring of fire surrounding it.

Not everyone is going to be able to view the upcoming annular eclipse. It will be visible to people who are in southern Oregon and northern California, and it will become visible to people who are in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

Much of the rest of the United States will be able to see at least some of this special eclipse. Those of you who live on the east coast of the United States will not be able to see this eclipse because the Sun will already have set. The eclipse might be visible in parts of China and Japan as well, unless the weather causes too much cloud cover while the eclipse is happening.

Obviously, one should not stare into the Sun. You shouldn’t stare directly at an eclipse, either. I highly recommend that you do a little homework and learn about what you need to do in order to safely view an eclipse. It is a special eclipse, but, your eyesight is even more precious. Be smart, and be careful!

Image: Solar Eclipse by BigStock


Charge Your Cell Phone With a Virus?



Usually, when you see the words “virus” and “phone” in the same sentence, it indicates that something bad may have happened. This time, though, the virus is one that can actually be helpful. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been studying a special virus that can generate electricity.

The virus is called M13 bacteriophage. As the name implies, it only “eats” or attacks, bacteria. It is not able to cause harm to humans. It is a genetically engineered virus that can manufacture more of itself when water is added to it. How many more? According to Professor Seung-Wuk, “trillions or jillions” more.

The M13 bacteriophage virus has piezoelectric properties. The viruses are long and thin and have a tendency to line up next to each other, (like pencils in a box). When pressure is applied to the virus, it produces a charge. Right now, the viruses are able to generate about 25% of what comes from a AAA battery.

The hope is that in the future, scientists will find a way to use the M13 bacteriophage virus to make small, personal, generators. The generators would collect the energy from movement, such as walking or typing on a keyboard. That energy can then be used to charge your cell phone. There is potential that the virus could be used to create a self-sustainable electric source that can be implanted in the body in place of a pacemaker. The possibilities are endless!


Fun With the Periodic Table of Elements



Few things could be more geek-centric than finding amusement in playing with the Periodic Table of the Elements. There are tons of ways to take what some might see as a boring part of chemistry class and make it into something fun, interesting, and perhaps even artistic.

A chemistry teacher named Scott Byrum decided to put the entire Periodic Table of the Elements on the ceiling of his classroom. He did this as a way to get the attention of students, fearing that if he didn’t do something to make things more interesting that he would lose their attention to “Xboxes and Nintendos”.

Each element sits on its own acoustic ceiling tile. Each is color coded to represent the element’s state at standard temperature and pressure. He had a company that was local to him cut the vinyl letters for him. It is probably the largest Periodic Table of the Elements that his students have ever seen.

ThinkGeek has put the Periodic Table on everything from t-shirts, to beer glasses, and from shower curtains to refrigerator magnets. Personally, I think that the Periodic Table Building Blocks would be the most fun to play around with. The blocks are solid wood, and designed for use by geeks who are at least 2 years of age.

Have you heard Tom Leher’s song called “The Elements”? A YouTube user by the name of TimwiTerby made a video that animated the lyrics of this song in 2008. He used Visual C# Express, AviSynth, and Virtual Dub in order to make the video.

It is also fun to take the standard Periodic Table of the Elements and alter it to make new ones based on other geek related topics. Check out the Periodic Table of Rock Music, or the Periodic Table of Heavy Metals (that resembles the familiar hand sign so many Metal bands, and Metal fans, use). There is a Periodic Table of Anime Characters. Someone even created a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking!

Image: Periodic table by BigStock


GNC-2012-05-08 #763 Show Notes are Back!



As you can see there is a link below that has a no-follow tag on it that takes you to the new show notes page. I explain in the show tonight the reason for the change. There may yet be a software solution here at GNC. But we have to do some more investigating on how to implement it. But one thing I am pretty sure of the list of links to all of the articles I cover are forever gone from within the show notes blog post.

Tonight I take you on a tech journey that covers a wide range of topics including some cool stuff happening here at Geek News Central. I want you to pull up a chair or watch the show from your lazy boy as I break down the latest tech news. You have a great chance to win a cool prize in today’s show so listen to win.

Support my Show Sponsor: 5 Best Godaddy Promo Codes
30% Off on GoDaddy Products & Services cjcgeek30
$4.99 GoDaddy coupon for a New or Transferred .com domain cjcgeek99
$2.99 a month Economy Hosting with a free domain name. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$2.99 a month Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain name. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Support the show by becoming a Geek News Central Insider

Subscribe Today:  Audio |  Video (HD) |  Mobile Video |  iTunes |  Zune

Download the Audio Show File

Follow me on Google+
Follow @geeknews on Twitter
Geek News Central Facebook Page
Show Hotline 24/7 1-619-342-7365 or e-mail geeknews@gmail.com

Listener Links
Innovators in e-Learning from Michigan Virtual University
Free Tech for Teachers.
VW Hover Car in China.
AT&T continues to cry and be Greedy.

Links to articles covered in this Podcast on the GNC Show Notes Page [Click Here]