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Current Topic: Science

Hadron Collider breakthrough as beams collide
Topic: Science 1:27 pm EDT, Mar 30, 2010

(CNN) -- Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider managed to make two proton beams collide at high energy Tuesday, marking a "new territory" in physics, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

CERN videos

Hadron Collider breakthrough as beams collide

Ida: Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution
Topic: Science 2:21 pm EDT, May 19, 2009

Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

The experts concluded Ida was not simply a lemur but a 'lemur monkey', displaying a mixture of both groups, and therefore putting her at the very branch of the human line.

Two things immediately came to mind while reading the article:

1) Not that I don't appreciate the relevance of this discovery as it directly relates to humans, but was there really any legitimate question regarding evolution prior to this discovery? True, discoveries such as this continually provide more evidence of evolution, but I thought the case had already been made, generally speaking.

2) Holy @%#$! The creature from Eraserhead was real!

Ida: Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution

'Cold fusion' rebirth? New evidence for existence of controversial energy source
Topic: Science 3:06 pm EDT, Mar 25, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY, March 23, 2009 — Researchers are reporting compelling new scientific evidence for the existence of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), the process once called "cold fusion" that may promise a new source of energy. One group of scientists, for instance, describes what it terms the first clear visual evidence that LENR devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists view as tell-tale signs that nuclear reactions are occurring.

'Cold fusion' rebirth? New evidence for existence of controversial energy source

Scientists hope to clone extinct species
Topic: Science 9:44 am EST, Nov  6, 2008

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese scientists have produced clones of mice that have been dead and frozen for 16 years -- a feat that could lead researchers to one day resurrect long-extinct species, such as the mammoth.

"This is the first time a mammal has been cloned from a sample stored at conditions reasonably close to what might be expected in permafrost," Teruhiko Wakayama, who led the study, said in a statement.

"(It) gives some hope for those who might seek to clone extinct species from frozen carcasses."

Scientists hope to clone extinct species

Digital Information and the Human Brain
Topic: Science 10:42 am EDT, Oct 17, 2008

Small says these differences are likely to be even more profound across generations, because younger people are exposed to more technology from an earlier age than older people. He refers to this as the brain gap. On one side, what he calls digital natives—those who have never known a world without e-mail and text messaging—use their superior cognitive abilities to make snap decisions and juggle multiple sources of sensory input. On the other side, digital immigrants—those who witnessed the advent of modern technology long after their brains had been hardwired—are better at reading facial expressions than they are at navigating cyberspace. "The typical immigrant's brain was trained in completely different ways of socializing and learning, taking things step-by-step and addressing one task at a time," he says. "Immigrants learn more methodically and tend to execute tasks more precisely."

Digital Information and the Human Brain

Cassini Photos of Enceladus
Topic: Science 12:39 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2008

Cassini Photos of Enceladus

Messenger Photos of Mercury
Topic: Science 11:57 am EDT, Oct  7, 2008

Messenger Photos of Mercury

Do We Live in a Giant Cosmic Bubble?
Topic: Science 11:06 am EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Earth may be trapped in an abnormal bubble of space-time that is particularly void of matter. Scientists say this condition could account for the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, for which dark energy currently is the leading explanation.

"If we lived in a very large under-density, then the space-time itself wouldn't be accelerating," said researcher Timothy Clifton of Oxford University in England. "It would just be that the observations, if interpreted in the usual way, would look like they were."

One problem with the void idea, though, is that it negates a principle that has reigned in astronomy for more than 450 years: namely, that our place in the universe isn't special. When Nicholas Copernicus argued that it made much more sense for the Earth to be revolving around the sun than vice versa, it revolutionized science. Since then, most theories have to pass the Copernican test. If they require our planet to be unique, or our position to be exalted, the ideas often seem unlikely.

Do We Live in a Giant Cosmic Bubble?

Makemake: Fourth Dwarf Planet Named For Polynesian God
Topic: Science 10:45 am EDT, Jul 22, 2008

There's been a lot of astronomy news lately. Anyway, 2005 FY9 is now Makemake. It's a shame... "2005 FY9" had such a nice ring to it.

A dwarf planet circling the sun out beyond the orbit of Neptune has been rechristened Makemake after a Polynesian god and designated the third of the solar system's new class of plutoids, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced Saturday.

Makemake is a small, red-tinged world that ranks among the largest objects in the outer solar system. But it is still smaller and dimmer than the already demoted dwarf planet Pluto, which astronomers reclassified as a plutoid last month.

EDIT 1: I had assumed that last part (my bold) was a typo, as Pluto is still listed as a dwarf planet, going back to 2006. Apparently, that's not a typo: Pluto's Identity Crisis Hits Classrooms and Bookstores . Geez... I can't even keep up.

The Makemake article itself is rather matter-of-fact, but the comments below the article are amusing. There's still a lot of fighting over the reclassification of Pluto.

Current IAU definitions (Wikipedia):

A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.

A dwarf planet is a celestial body orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but which has not cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite. The body has to have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces in order to assume a hydrostatic equilibrium and acquire a near-spherical shape.

All other objects orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as Small Solar System Bodies. These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids, comets, the centaurs and Neptune Trojans, most Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), and other small bodies. It is not presently clear whether a lower size bound will be established as part of the definition of Small Solar System Bodies in the future, or if it will encompass all material down to the level of meteoroids.

A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called the primary.

A meteoroid is a small sand to boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar System.

EDIT 2: A plutoid is a trans-Neptunian dwarf planet. The IAU developed this category of astronomical objects as a consequence of its 2006 resolution defining the word "planet". The IAU's formal definition of 'plutoid,' announced 11 June 2008, is:

Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the Sun at a semimajor axis greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighbourhood around their orbit. Satellites of plutoids are not plutoids themselves.

Makemake: Fourth Dwarf Planet Named For Polynesian God

NASA's Deep Impact Films Earth as an Alien World
Topic: Science 9:19 am EDT, Jul 18, 2008

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has created a video of the moon transiting (passing in front of) Earth as seen from the spacecraft's point of view 31 million miles away. Scientists are using the video to develop techniques to study alien worlds.

NASA's Deep Impact Films Earth as an Alien World

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