Science

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In a press conference today, scientists from over 70 different observatories came together to reveal new information about the nature of our universe.

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It might seem that the kinematics of exactly how albatross maintain their flight over hundreds of miles per day would only be of interest to biologists however, a team of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that the flight patterns of these gigantic birds could well be used for a number of applications in other areas of scientific research.

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On Thursday October 12, a small asteroid estimated to be between 10 and 30 meters in size is going to be the subject of international attention as a global team of scientists observe its orbit past the Earth.

The asteroid, known as 2012 TC4, is due to pass us by at an altitude of around 44,000km (27,300 miles). This is lower than the altitude that the majority of geosynchronous satellites orbit the Earth. Its predicted that TC4 will be closest to the Earth as it passes just south of Australia, at around 05.41 GMT.

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What if we could generate all the energy required to power the whole of civilization, just using wind turbines? It might sound far-fetched but new research published this week has suggested that this scenario is not entirely unrealistic.

A new location for wind farms

It would however, require some significant changes to the location of wind farms – placing these far out in deep water areas of our oceans, as opposed to on land or relatively near to the shore.

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Graphene is a fascinating and relatively novel material that may have a whole range of applications in the areas of electronics and engineering in the near future. It is a superconductor that has recently demonstrated the ability to co-exist with silicon to enhance the capabilities of this complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS). These capabilities include photonics: for example, silicon/graphene transistors have recently formed the basis of a sensor that can ‘see’ visible, IR and UV light simultaneously.

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Pacemakers are devices that regulate the rhythm at which the chambers of the heart pump blood, intended for people who have developed irregular heartbeats. This may happen for reasons related to genetic, environmental or lifestyle factors, or a combination of all these. Some pacemakers are designed to co-ordinate the pumping action of the left and right sides of the heart, which if left uncorrected can lead to abnormal cardiac rhythms or other conditions. They work by delivering a tiny electrical impulse into the existing nervous circuitry of the heart.

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The iPhone X was released at the 2017 Apple Keynote event, possibly planned as a ‘tenth anniversary’ add-on to the debuts of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Unlike these incremental updates, the X included a range of firsts for the mobile devices released by the Cupertino hardware giants, including an OLED panel, a (somewhat) edge-to-edge display, three-gigabyte RAM solution… and the first phone without a home button.

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Some of us may think of robots as machines we’ve created to mimic human or animal motion, gait, gestures and forms. They are also very often designed to manipulate things in a way that approximates the human ability to do so, in order to complete tasks and automated processes. However, there are engineers and scientists who assert that robots would be more effective, adaptable and useful if they conformed to more unique or interchangeable form factors.

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Cassini-Huygens is probably the most famous deep-space probe humanity has produced. Its launch, a joint venture between the Italian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and NASA, was a major international collaboration intended to send images and other data about Saturn and its many moons back to Earth. However, none of these agencies could have anticipated in full the revelations that Cassini’s sensors and cameras would transmit over its lengthy mission.

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Synthetic facial recognition is demonstrably making the transition from action or spy movies to real life. This technological revolution is based on the ability of cameras to pick up the image of a face to process, analyse and ultimately identify people based on their facial characteristics. Companies such as NEC believe that computerised facial recognition can form the backbone of a modern security system, be they public or corporate.

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It’s suggested that Hurricane Harvey is the largest flooding rainstorm to ever hit the United States. The intense rainfall and speed with which the storm intensified caused widespread devastation and a “1,000 year flood” that will take years for the affected communities to recover from.

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The threat of deforestation is real. The biodiverse forests that cover more than 30% of our planet are at risk due to climate change, human interference and natural disasters. This in turn is endangering the lives of the many species who depend on them for survival. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has noted the decline in farmland, which ultimately affects basic necessities like food and drinking water even for the high-income nations of the world.

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Coral reefs are incredible habitats, teeming with life and estimated to support an amazing 35 percent of all known marine species in the areas surrounding them. So, despite covering less than 0.2 percent of the ocean, they are extremely vital ecosystems for the health of the species that rely on them for survival.

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We are in need of novel new fuel sources for the future, with one potential solution being the possibility of converting fatty acids to hydrocarbons using an algal enzyme which is activated by light. The ability to scale this recently discovered reaction to an industrial level could well provide an environmentally friendly new source of hydrocarbon energy.

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In the constellation of Aquarius, lies a small star known as Trappist-1. Around this star, seven Earth-sized planets have been found, detailed in research released earlier this year. Now new research, released this week, suggests that a number of these planets may well contain water.

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2013 and 2014 were years of extreme weather events. There were heat waves, cold snaps, droughts, monstrous storms and days of extraordinary rain at various locations around the world. These may have ultimately been the product of atmospheric disruption caused by global warming. The cold snaps of the winter of 2013-2014, were the immediate result of a relatively weak arctic vortex that allowed frigid arctic air to escape the north and invade the southern portion of the continental United States. Conversely, Alaska was exceptionally warm at this time.

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Scientists have just completed a study which has given a new information into both the atmosphere and surface of any star beyond our own solar system. The star in focus, quite literally, is a red supergiant known as Antares. This star is often also known as the ‘heart’ of the Scorpius constellation because as well as sitting in the middle of the constellation, Antares gives off a soft pink color, which can be seen with the naked eye.

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In cases of couples struggling to conceive, the cause can sometimes be the fact that the male partner has been born with an extra sex chromosome, known as X and Y chromosomes. This additional chromosome can cause problems in that it interferes with the creation of healthy mature sperm.

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In the scenic mountain ranges of Rjukan in Norway, tourists can go and see the evidence of work on using hydrogen as a fuel source. This location contains waterfalls that were harnessed for hydroelectric power in the 1920s. The energy generated from this plant would be used to split water into hydrogen and water using electricity through a process known as electrolysis, in an adjoining factory. Many researchers in Norway still think this is the way of the future, and that hydrogen can power any modern concern, from housing to industry.

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Antarctica could well be on course to lay claim to a new title – the region of the world with the densest concentration of volcanoes. It might seem unlikely, but in addition to the volcanoes already discovered on the continent, a new survey has identified nearly 100 more volcanoes hidden under the immense ice sheets covering the majority of this icy land.

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