Science

NASA's IBAX reveals cosmic roadmap to galactic magnetic field

NASA's IBAX reveals cosmic roadmap to galactic magnetic fieldWashington, Feb. 15 : NASA 's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has helped paint picture of the magnetic system beyond the solar wind.

The data sets show a magnetic field that is nearly perpendicular to the motion of our solar system through the galaxy.

In addition to shedding light on our cosmic neighborhood, the results offer an explanation for a decades-old mystery on why we measure more incoming high-energy cosmic rays on one side of the sun than on the other.

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Interactive map details genetic mixing among humans centuries ago

Interactive map details genetic mixing among humans centuries agoWashington, Feb 14 : Researchers from Oxford University and UCL (University College London) have created an interactive map which details the histories of genetic mixing between each of the 95 populations across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America spanning the last four millennia.

The study simultaneously identifies, dates and characterises genetic mixing between populations.

To do this, the researchers developed sophisticated statistical methods to analyse the DNA of 1490 individuals in 95 populations around the world. The work was chiefly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.

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Prehistoric cave pigment to protect ESA's solar probe from Sun's glare

Prehistoric cave pigment to protect ESA's solar probe from Sun's glareWashington, Feb. 13 : A pigment that was once daubed onto prehistoric cave paintings is set to protect ESA's Solar Orbiter mission from the Sun's close-up glare.

Burnt bone charcoal will be applied to the spacecraft's titanium heatshield using a novel technique.

Solar Orbiter, due for launch in 2017, will carry a portfolio of instruments to perform high-resolution imaging of our parent star from as close as 42 million km - a little more than a quarter of the distance to Earth.

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How spherical stars evolve to produce highly aspherical planetary nebulae

How spherical stars evolve to produce highly aspherical planetary nebulaeWashington, Feb. 13 : Researchers have said that only "strongly interacting" binary stars - or a star and a massive planet - can feasibly give rise to these powerful jets.

Eric Blackman, professor of physics and astronomy at Rochester, and his student, Scott Lucchini, wanted to determine whether the binaries can be widely separated and weakly interacting, or whether they must be close and strongly interacting.

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How vertebrates developed faces millions of years ago

How vertebrates developed faces millions of years agoWashington, Feb 13 : A team of French and Swedish researchers have presented new fossil evidence for the origin of our face.

Using micron resolution X-ray imaging, they showed how a series of fossils, with a 410 million year old armoured fish called Romundina at its centre, documents the step-by-step assembly of the face during the evolutionary transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

Vertebrates, or backboned animals, come in two basic models: jawless and jawed.

Today, the only jawless vertebrates are lampreys and hagfishes, whereas jawed vertebrates number more than fifty thousand species, including ourselves.

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New breakthrough gets fusion fuel closer to reality

New breakthrough gets fusion fuel closer to realityWashington, Feb. 13 : Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have taken a step to bring fusion fuel closer to reality.

Lead author Omar Hurricane said what's really exciting is that they are seeing a steadily increasing contribution to the yield coming from the boot-strapping process they call alpha-particle self-heating as we push the implosion a little harder each time.

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Plastic shopping bags can be converted into petroleum products

Plastic shopping bags can be converted into petroleum productsWashington, Feb 13 : Researchers have found that plastic shopping bags can be converted into diesel, natural gas and other useful petroleum products.

The conversion produces significantly more energy than it is required and results in transportation fuels that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulfur diesels and biodiesels.

Other products, such as natural gas, naphtha (a solvent), gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils such as engine oil and hydraulic oil also can be obtained from these shopping bags.

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America's only Clovis skeleton's genome dating 13,000 years mapped

America's only Clovis skeleton's genome dating 13,000 years mappedWashington, February 13 : In a new study, researchers have mapped the genome of the only Clovis human skeleton to revive the scientific debate about the colonization of the Americas.

The Clovis lived in America about 13,000 years ago where they hunted mammoth, mastodons and giant bison with big spears. They were not the first humans in America, but they represent the first humans with a wide expansion on the North American continent - until the culture mysteriously disappeared only a few hundred years after its origin.

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European astronomers discover new comet orbiting Sun

European astronomers discover new comet orbiting SunWashington, Feb 13 : A team of European astronomers has found a previously unknown comet, which has been detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the Solar System.

Europe's Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey team has been credited with discovering comet P/2014 C1, named ' TOTAS ' in recognition of the teamwork involved in the find.

The comet was unexpectedly discovered on February 1 during a routine set of observations using the 1 m-diameter telescope at ESA's Optical Ground Station, Tenerife, Spain.

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Ancient giant reptile's live birth preserved in 248-million-year old fossil

Ancient giant reptile's live birth preserved in 248-million-year old fossilWashington, February 13 : A new study has claimed that Ichthyosaur fossils may show the earliest live birth from an ancient Mesozoic marine reptile.

Ichthyosaurs were giant marine reptiles that evolved from land reptiles and moved to the water.

Ryosuke Motani and his colleagues from the University of California, Davis, reported a new fossil specimen, which belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles that lived approximately 248 million years ago.

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Shopping bags make a fine fuel: Indian-origin scientist

Shopping bags make a fine fuel: Indian-origin scientistWashington, Feb 13 - Plastic shopping bags - an abundant source of litter on land and at sea - can be converted into diesel, natural gas and other useful petroleum products, shows a promising research led by an Indian-origin researcher.

The conversion produces significantly more energy than it requires and results in transportation fuels - diesel, for example - that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulphur diesels and biodiesels.

Other products, such as natural gas, naphtha (a solvent), gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils such as engine oil and hydraulic oil also can be obtained from shopping bags.

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Eclipse reveals source of 'moon curse'

Eclipse reveals source of 'moon curse'Washington, Feb. 12 : Researchers have made a new breakthrough in understanding the source behind 'moon curse.'

Tom Murphy, a physicist at UC San Diego, is among the scientists who have aimed laser beams at suitcase-sized reflectors placed on the moon by Apollo astronauts and unmanned Soviet rovers.

By precisely timing the light's return to Earth, Murphy can measure the distance from here to the moon with millimeter precision.

Lunar ranging, as this is called, has revealed that the moon is slowly spiraling away from us and suggested that it has a molten core.

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Future space robots may be inspired by ants' legendary strength secrets

Future space robots may be inspired by ants' legendary strength secretsWashington, Feb. 11 : Scientists have suggested that the neck joint of a common American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times the ant's weight.

The engineers examined the Allegheny mound ant as if it were a device that they wanted to reverse-engineer: they tested its moving parts and the materials it is made of.

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NASA invites applications from companies wanting to mine moon

NASA invites applications from companies wanting to mine moonWashington, Feb.

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ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia coming into focus

ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia coming into focusWashington, Feb 7 : ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus.

Once Gaia starts making routine measurements, it will generate truly enormous amounts of data. To maximise the key science of the mission, only small 'cut-outs' centred on each of the stars it detects will be sent back to Earth for analysis.

The test picture, taken as part of commissioning the mission to 'fine tune' the behaviour of the instruments, is one of the first proper 'images' to be seen from Gaia, but ironically, it will also be one of the last, as Gaia's main scientific operational mode does not involve sending full images back to Earth.

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