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science 9

New translation, the Magna Carta
article archives at abelard's news and comment zonescience archives
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III-2004: 02 02-2 03 09 18 22 28

science and technology 9

found—the missing [ginko] link

“Some specimens in Chinese monastery gardens are over three thousand years old. Others, such as those in Utrecht and Kew Gardens, are approaching three hundred. Wild specimens are extinct.”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science200603

20.06.2003


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comets graze the sun—rare images from SOHO satellite

“ They belong to the Kreutz family of sun-grazing comets, often seen by SOHO while diving towards their final rendezvous with the Sun. But as in humans, twins are rare! Even more so, this pair showed another very unusual trait: What looks like a faint tail (or "puff of smoke") can be seen moving away from the Sun, seemingly emanating from a point in the orbit beyond the comet's closest approach! Normally, sungrazers simply fade and disappear at an earlier stage, obliterated by the intense heat and pressure.”

related material
SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory, part of NASA

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science190603

19.06.2003

related material
SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory, part of NASA

get yourself a llama dog
A light item if you are bored.

Llamas guarding sheep against wiley coyote.

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science180603_2

18.06.2003

extinction is not for ever—will the tasmanian tiger walk again?Two GoldenYak (tm) award

“In Australia, critics say the millions of dollars that the thylacine project will cost would be better spent trying to save endangered species and disappearing habitats. One opponent, Tasmanian senator and former Australia Wilderness Society Director Bob Brown, says people might become blasé about conservation if they’re lulled into thinking a lost species can always be resurrected. The research "feeds the mind-set that science will fix everything," he says. ”

Of course, this comment is complete rubbish—

  1. doubtless many problems will have to be solved along the way, thus developing new useful techniques
  2. humans have choices as to whether to become ‘blasé’.

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science180603

18.06.2003

van gogh painting dated and timed—by astronomy

“Van Gogh painted Moonrise July 13, 1889 at the Saint-Paul monastery in Saint-Rémy, France. At 9:08 p.m., local mean time [...]”

“In 2003, the Netherlands celebrates the 150th anniversary of van Gogh’s birth, while at the same time, the progression of 19-year-long lunar Metonic cycles coincides with that of 1889--meaning that skywatchers in Saint-Rémy are in for a celestial encore.

“[..] this year on July 13, there will be a nearly full moon rising in the southeast in the evening twilight, recreating the evening sky van Gogh saw back on that night in 1889 [...]”

“[In the painting, the] moon is shown rising from behind a mountain range, partially obscured by an unusual overhanging cliff. The painting also shows an odd double house in the distance, as well a distinctive T intersection of two walls and in the foreground stacks of harvested wheat.”

'Moonrise' by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889. Image courtesy of Kroller-Muller Museum, the Netherlands.

These landmarks enabled the location to be determined. (There is a larger reproduction at the link provided above.)

A Metonic cycle is a period of 19 years in which there are 235 lunar cycles, lunations, or synodic months, after which the Moon's phases recur on the same days of the solar year (year of the seasons). The cycle was discovered by Meton (fl. 432 BC), an Athenian astronomer. Computation from modern data shows that 235 lunar cycles are 6,939 days, 16.5 hours; and 19 solar years, 6,939 days, 14.5 hours.

In each solar year (or year of the seasons), there are about 12.37 synodic months.
[adapted from Enc. Brit.]

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science160603

16.06.2003

improving your use of google
page one page two

Some of the meta (higher level) facilities available on Google.

Recommended Three GoldenYak (tm) awards

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science110603

11.06.2003

the steady advance towards useable ray-guns

The development of lasers for military purposes,

and a bit more detail here.

And now the latest released data

“The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently produced 10,400 Joules or 10.4 kiloJoules (kJ) of ultraviolet laser light in a single laser beamline, setting a world record for laser performance.

“In recent weeks NIF laser scientists also have used the first four NIF beamlines to set records for infrared and green single beam laser energies with 21 kJ and 11 kJ of energy delivered, respectively. NIF researchers focused this light into a special diagnostic system designed to provide precise measurements of laser beam quality and performance at these different frequencies.

“The NIF laser system has now demonstrated ultraviolet laser energy equivalent to 2 million Joules (MJ) in 192 beams. This "full NIF equivalent" performance exceeds the design requirement of 1.8 MJ specified for NIF.”

“NIF also will be used to achieve inertial confinement fusion ignition with energy gain, which will provide researchers with a better understanding of the processes that occur in nuclear weapons and will provide valuable data for future fusion energy power production.”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science100603_3

10.06.2003

understanding pathogen defence in rice and other cereal sources

“Dean and Pan found 43 different resistance genes on chromosome 10, which contains a total of 3,471 genes, according to the Science paper.

“"We found a variety of different types of resistance genes; some were novel and some were well known," Dean says. "The most interesting thing was that most were grouped in three major clusters that were quite similar."

“Dean believes this clustering helps rice improve its specificity of resistance to pathogens. In other words, resistance genes form clusters and then recombine forces in order to repel specific harmful advances from pathogens.”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science100603_2

10.06.2003

claim that cadmium inhibits natural cell repair mechanisms

“[...] reported that cadmium - a naturally occurring metal which shows up in food, water and cigarette smoke - disturbs a DNA repair system that is important in preventing cancer. "Unless cadmium is unique in its mechanism," NIEHS' Dmitry A. Gordenin, Ph.D., said, "it would seem that environmental factors may cause genetic defects and cancer not only by attacking our DNA directly but also by undermining the mechanisms by which faulty DNA replication is repaired." Dr. Gordenin is the senior author on the paper which he and his colleagues report in today's online issue of the journal Nature Genetics." ”

“ Dr. Gordenin said, "Cells must duplicate their DNA in order to increase their numbers enough to replace dying cells. However, in duplicating the DNA mistakes are made with a frequency that organisms would not be able to tolerate, if uncorrected. Luckily, most organisms do correct these mistakes by efficient mechanisms akin to a computer's 'spellcheck.' One of these correctives is post-replication mismatch repair. Without these corrective mechanisms, mutations would occur and multiply in cell after cell, which could lead to cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects or other ills.”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science100603

10.06.2003

new engine design

“The firm is investing several million euros in the project, and within nine months it hopes to use the Archer-Trice design to produce an efficient, natural-gas-fuelled generator capable of powering 1,000 homes. As a bonus, the steam from the cooling system can be used to heat the homes, instead of being wasted. If all goes to plan, ICCU will be able to set up a network of local generators that will reduce reliance on large power stations.”

Car engines are approximately 25% efficient, the claim for this engine is 40% so far.
Aircraft turbines are over 60% efficient.

Associated web site with much more.

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science070603

06.06.2003

i’m not moving—i’m not chasing you for lunch—honest ...

“....the dragonfly achieves motion camouflage by adjusting its position in order to always occupy the same spot in its prey's retina - so it looks stationary while it is actually moving.

“Deployment of this sophisticated technique by the oldest airborne predator tricks the victim's retina into perceiving the stalker as stationary even while it darts about in pursuit, ....”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science060603

06.06.2003

farmer giles, the robot

“The robot drives across fields scanning the ground for any weeds and noting their positions. A later version will be able to kill the weeds too by applying a few drops of herbicide, says developer Svend Christensen from the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Tjele.

“But the longer-term goal is to avoid herbicides altogether by having the robot pluck the weeds out of the ground rather than poisoning them.”

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science050603

05.06.2003

looking at atoms moves forward

“By crunching numbers on a supercomputer for six months, University of Utah researchers showed it is possible for an atomic force microscope to make images of the wing-shaped paths of minuscule electrons as they orbit atoms.”

“Conventional atomic force microscopy sees atoms only as spheres, so it cannot distinguish elements. Atoms of different elements have different orbital configurations, so the ability to detect orbitals might let an atomic force microscope not only distinguish different chemical elements, but also infer details of chemical bonds between atoms.”

“"The Nobel Prize-winning invention of the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM) have allowed us to directly see individual atoms on a solid surface," Liu said. "However, atoms generally appear as a single protrusion or blur in STM and AFM images because the microscopes can’t resolve the details of atomic orbitals."”

Item contains and links to illustrative images.

the web address for this article is
http://www.abelard.org/news/science9.htm#science040603

04.06.2003


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