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Thread: General Science Thread

  1. #301
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    Never seen ball lightning, supposed to be cool: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...ball-lightning

    Knotted structures called skyrmions seem to mimic ball lightning

    The physics behind a weird electrical phenomenon — glowing orbs of lightning — may be mimicked by something even stranger. A magnetic structure proposed for the natural oddity known as ball lightning makes an appearance in a newfound variety of a knotlike entity called a skyrmion, a team of scientists reports.


    Now, Hall and colleagues have created an analog of such linked magnetic fields in a seemingly unrelated type of knotted structure, a skyrmion. Found in a variety of substances — from thin films of magnetic materials to liquid crystals — skyrmions are a kind of disturbance within matter (SN: 2/17/18, p. 18). The objects can move like independent particles, shifting from place to place within a material while maintaining their knotted configuration (SN: 10/18/14, p. 22). And like a tight knot in a thread, skyrmions are difficult to undo, making them relatively stable structures.


    Within the condensate, the spins produced something analogous to a magnetic field: The condensate behaved as if it were a charged particle being pushed around by a magnetic field when in reality no such magnetic field existed. Like the skyrmion itself, the scientists realized, the imitation magnetic field was knotted, and it matched the interlinked rings of magnetic fields proposed for ball lightning.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  2. #302
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    If you've never seen Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" essay (literature, really), take 3 minutes and treat yourself:

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  3. #303
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    This article was written BEFORE this tournament, so no NEW upsets are in the data, still, it's a scientific look at picking upsets. https://towardsdatascience.com/predi...g-816fecf41f01

    Predicting Upsets in the NCAA Tournament with Machine Learning

    Team efficiency margin

    From Ken Pomeroy’s excellent advanced basketball analytics website, a team’s adjusted efficiency margin is a single number that indicates overall strength of play. In essence, it represents a team’s expected margin of victory over an average opponent, given 100 possessions. Below I plot the efficiency margin for the underdog and favorite for each game in my dataset, with the data point showing whether the game resulted in an upset or not. Upsets involve underdogs with higher efficiency and favorites with lower efficiency
    Most upsets occur when underdogs with margins over 10 play favorites with margins under 25. In fact, games meeting these criteria result in an upset 35% of the time, compared to 13% in games that don’t. As a simple rule of thumb for picking upsets, you could certainly do much worse!


    Earning extra possessions — rebounds and turnovers

    In basketball, teams exchange possession of the ball after missed shots or scores, but teams can also earn “extra” possessions, by rebounding their own misses (which produces an extra shot opportunity) and forcing turnovers (which take an opponent’s opportunities away). To compute “Offensive rebound & turnover margin”, I calculated each team’s average per-game advantage in offensive rebounds and turnovers over the course of the season.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  4. #304
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    Ah, a "General Science Thread" Favorite has RETURNED! And now scientists understand the origin. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...ts-debut-mauve

    "STEVE the aurora makes its debut in MAUVE"



    Meet STEVE, a newfound type of aurora that drapes the sky with a mauve ribbon and bedazzling green bling.

    This feature of the northern lights, recently photographed and named by citizen scientists in Canada, now has a scientific explanation. The streak of color, which appears to the south of the main aurora, may be a visible version of a typically invisible process involving drifting charged particles, or ions, physicist Elizabeth MacDonald and colleagues report March 14 in Science Advances.


    Measurements from ground-based cameras and a satellite that passed when STEVE was in full swing show that the luminous band was associated with a strong flow of ions in the upper atmosphere, MacDonald, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and colleagues conclude. But the researchers can’t yet say how a glow arises from this flow.


    Part of a project called Aurorasaurus (SN Online: 4/3/15), the citizen scientists initially gave the phenomenon its moniker before its association with ion drift was known. MacDonald and colleagues kept the name, but gave it a backronym: “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  5. #305
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    Footprints put people on Canada’s west coast 13,000 years agohttps://www.sciencenews.org/article/footprints-put-people-canada-west-coast-13000-years-ago


    People who reached what’s now Canada’s Pacific coast around 13,000 years ago made some lasting impressions — with their feet.



    Beach excavations on Calvert Island, off British Columbia’s coast, revealed 29 human footprints preserved in clay-based sediment, says a team led by archaeologist Duncan McLaren. About 60 centimeters below the sandy surface, the deposits contained the footprints of at least three individuals, the Canada-based researchers report March 28 in PLOS ONE.
    “This discovery places Clovis-age people on the British Columbia coast, far from a so-called ‘ice-free corridor’ and where no Clovis technology has ever been found,” says archaeologist Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon in Eugene. A long-standing idea that Clovis people were the first Americans, already challenged by recent finds, “is dead in the water,” he argues.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  6. #306
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    Baby oceans don't come around very often. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/201...-s-Rift-Valley

    "Africa is splitting into two after tear in Kenya’s Rift Valley"


    “The Great Rift splits Africa into two plates. With what is happening we have established one plate which is the Somali plate is moving away from the other plate at a rate of 2.5cm. In the near future if this happens we shall have the Somali plate separating from the other Nubian plate,” Kenyan geologist David Ahede tells local media Daily Nation.

    He said that earth movements have resulted in weaknesses and the weak zones form fault lines and fissures which are normally filled by volcanic ash, most likely from the nearby Mt Longonot.



    The Great Rift maybe played also an important role in our evolution. Many sites where fossils of early hominids were found are located in or near the rift valley. Maybe the rift formed an ideal landscape for our ancestors or, in contrast, as the rift slowly widened, forming a barrier for moisture from the Indian ocean, it forced our early ancestors to leave the dying pluvial forests. Venturing out into the open and dry savannah they adopted a bipedal locomotion and as their hands became free for the use of tools, slowly the brain evolved becoming larger and larger over time. Research published last year suggests even that a surge in volcanic activity along the East African Rift System might have forced early humans out of Africa, altering the course of our evolution forever.






    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  7. #307
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    Human brains make new nerve cells — and lots of them — well into old age https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...m-well-old-age

    Healthy people in their 70s have just as many young nerve cells, or neurons, in a memory-related part of the brain as do teenagers and young adults, researchers report in the April 5 Cell Stem Cell. The discovery suggests that the hippocampus keeps generating new neurons throughout a person’s life.

    The finding contradicts a study published in March, which suggested that neurogenesis in the hippocampus stops in childhood (SN Online: 3/8/18). But the new research fits with a larger pile of evidence showing that adult human brains can, to some extent, make new neurons. While those studies indicate that the process tapers off over time, the new study proposes almost no decline at all.


    Although the number of neural stem cells was a bit lower in people in their 70s compared with people in their 20s, the older brains still had thousands of these cells. The number of young neurons in intermediate to advanced stages of development was the same across people of all ages.

    Still, the healthy older brains did show some signs of decline. Researchers found less evidence for the formation of new blood vessels and fewer protein markers that signal neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to make new connections between neurons. But it’s too soon to say what these findings mean for brain function, Boldrini says. Studies on autopsied brains can look at structure but not activity.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  8. #308
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    With the launch of TESS, NASA will boost its search for exoplanets https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...rch-exoplanets

    NASA is stepping up its search for planets outside our solar system. Its next exoplanet hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is due to launch from Cape Canaveral on the evening of April 16.

    Following the Kepler space telescope’s discovery of more than 5,000 possible exoplanets since 2009, TESS will continue the galactic census — flagging more planetary candidates for further study.


    Astronomers expect TESS to find about 20,000 planets in its first two years in operation, focusing on nearby, bright stars that will be easy for other telescopes to investigate later. About 500 of those expected exoplanets would be less than twice the size of Earth — and therefore may be good places to look for life


    OASTING IN SPACE The TESS satellite’s unusual 13.7-day orbit uses the moon’s gravity to stabilize it, so it needs little fuel. During the part of the orbit colored blue, TESS will observe the sky. During the part marked in orange, it will transmit data back to Earth. The gray ring marks the moon’s orbit.

    Once TESS finds a planet, astronomers will need more information to understand its qualities, such as whether it’s rocky or gassy (SN Online: 6/19/17). For that, other telescopes will follow up. Ground-based telescopes will measure the gravitational tug of a planet on its host star to learn the planet’s density, which is a clue to its composition. Astronomers plan to measure masses for at least 50 TESS planets that are smaller than Neptune in the hopes that many of them will have rocky, and therefore potentially habitable, surfaces.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  9. #309
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    The latest star map from the Gaia spacecraft plots 1.7 billion stars https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...raft-milky-way




    YOU ARE HERE The most precise all-sky map of the Milky Way was released by the Gaia space telescope team on April 25. It shows the total brightness and color of nearly 1.7 billion stars and a few neighboring galaxies (bright spots to the lower right of the main disk).

    Using the precise position and brightness of almost 1.7 billion stars, the Gaia spacecraft has created the most precise 3-D map of the Milky Way yet.
    On April 25, the European Space Agency’s Gaia team released the spacecraft’s second batch of data, gathered from July 2014 to May 2016, used to create the map. The tally includes measurements of half a million quasars — the active black holes at the centers of distant galaxies — and 14,099 known solar system objects (mostly asteroids), observations of other nearby galaxies and the amount of dust in between Earth and 87 million stars (SN: 4/14/18, p. 27).
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  10. #310
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    Really really cool: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/201...no-like-effect


    "This was the mother of all pyroCbs. Normally, when you see something like this, you think volcanic eruptions — that's what normally puts a lot of material into the stratosphere — but it's all coming from these wildfire-driven thunderstorms." US Navy Research Laboratory meteorologist Dr. David Peterson

    British Columbia: Wildfire created mega-thunderstorm/volcano-like effect

    he 2017 fire season in North America was one of the most brutal ever recorded. One such fire started in the state of Washington on August 22, and it eventually combined with 18 other fires in the province of British Columbia to create a massive wildfire that became the largest in the province’s history. But it was what happened on August 12 that worried scientists. Intense heat, along with the correct atmospheric conditions, triggered four thunderstorms to form within five hours, according to researchers at NASA. The storms, named pyrocumulonimbus or pyroCb, sent smoke soaring into the stratosphere where it eventually encircled the Northern Hemisphere. What the US Navy research concluded was that the thunderstorms acted as a “giant chimney” blowing the smoke to high altitudes, similar to what a moderate volcanic eruption does.


    But what makes B.C.'s 2017 fire season so interesting and the center of the NRL study was an event that occurred on the night of August 12, 2017. A combination of the intense heat from the fires burning in a remote region of the province, combined with the right atmospheric conditions, generated a series of four thunderstorms in a 5-hour period.


    he intensity of the stratospheric injection from the pyroCb event "produced a high-altitude smoke layer that encircled the Northern Hemisphere over several months,” Peterson said. “This event provides the best opportunity to date for highlighting pyroCb activity as an important consideration in the climate system.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  11. #311
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    Somebody is going to comment on this, I hope - too cool: https://www.thedailybeast.com/t-rex-...ought?ref=home


    T-Rex Was Smarter Than We Thought: New research shows that Tyrannosaurus Rex was about as smart as a chimp.


    The Tyrannosaurus rex is, without a doubt, the greatest predator to have walked this Earth. As an adult it was an efficient killing machine, with eyes as big as grapefruits and teeth the size of railway spikes that could crush clean through the bones of its prey.

    “We need to start thinking of dinosaurs as not just brutes and not just monsters, and not just things with sharp teeth and sharp claws, but as really active, intelligent, energetic animals that oftentimes had keen senses,” said Brusatte. “An animal like T. rex was a predator that used brain and brawn: its big brain, its great sense of smell and its really keen sense of hearing were probably as important to it, if not more so, than its sharp claws and its sharp teeth and its big jaw muscles."

    Although T. rexes were famously good hunters, their brains would have been useful for many other tasks as well. There’s evidence that at least some species in the tyrannosaur group were social animals. Some guarded their nests of eggs and may have helped raise their young. They had relationships with each other as may have had rich interior lives as well.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  12. #312
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    Lots of Volcano fans here. Not sure why the video isn't posting in the post like usual. But, some links to good video.

    http://<a href="https://www.youtube....ption+2018</a>


    http://<a href="https://www.youtube....i7qbhkFP1Q</a>
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

  13. #313
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    Re-check those links, Dixie. . .they seem to be corrupted. . .

  14. #314
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    Yeah, that bothers me. I couldn[t figure out why I wasn't able to post them directly. Let's try again, and thank you.

    Best I could do. Thx for the heads up.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
    Mark Twain.

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