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The first true-color images of Saturn taken during Cassini’s close encounter are coming in — and they’re beautiful!

Posted: April 28, 2017, 5:38 pm |
We’ve already been treated to spectacular black and white closeup images of Saturn, beamed home to Earth by the Cassini spacecraft after it dove between the planet and its rings. Now, we’re getting to see what things look like in true color.

Among the first of these images is the one above, processed by Sophia Nasr, an astro-particle physicist working on dark matter. She will begin her PhD studies in physics at UC Irvine in September 2017. (For her full bio, see the end of this post.) I f

Recluse Spiders Have the Only Self-Powered Silk Spinners

Posted: April 28, 2017, 5:22 pm |
Even if you detest spiders—even if a photo of one makes you recoil from your screen—pause for a moment and consider the sheer machinery of these creatures. They coordinate the movement of eight legs and up to eight eyes at once. They are their own miniature textile factories, pumping out silk thread from an intricate set of appendages. And while most spiders use their legs to help spin the thread, or glue one end to a surface to pull it out, recluse spiders don’t need the help. They have the

Visit Prehistoric Scotland With A Couple Clicks

Posted: April 28, 2017, 4:52 pm |
A recently released app featuring the latest research on prehistoric Scotland’s hillforts gets you close to the archaeological action with drone footage, 3D artifact renderings and plenty of other eye candy.

Happy Friday, everyone…start your weekend right with a fascinating and slick bit of desktop time travel: the SERF Hillforts Project app, a digital treasure trove courtesy of the Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project and its partners. Launch the app and enjoy the views of s

Watch a dust storm kicking up over Mexico and the southwestern United States, as seen from space

Posted: April 27, 2017, 11:14 pm |
Right after Earth Day, I published the first installment of what I said would be semi-regular posts showcasing the dazzling imagery now being produced by the new GOES-16 weather satellite.

As promised, here’s a new one — a spectacular animation. On March 23rd, the spacecraft observed a major dust storm over Mexico and the southwestern United States. The dust was picked up by strong southwesterly winds related to a deep trough over the western U.S.

SEE ALSO: Here’s the first installment

Ecstasy Could Help Adults With Autism Cope

Posted: April 27, 2017, 6:08 pm |
For some people with autism, the idea of facing social situations can be so unnerving it impairs their ability to finish school, hold a job or form relationships. And conventional medications and psychotherapy for anxiety often fail. But early results from a new study suggest that MDMA — commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly — may help adults with autism manage disabling social phobias.
Feeling Connected
MDMA is unique among psychedelics for its ability to help people connect and communicate

Cassini shoots through the gap between Saturn and its rings, returning the closest views ever of the planet

Posted: April 27, 2017, 10:36 am |
On the first of 22 scheduled dives between Saturn and its innermost rings yesterday, Cassini zoomed at 77,000 miles per hour to within 1,900 miles of the planet’s cloud tops — and emerged intact.

After re-establishing contact with ground controllers very early Thursday morning, the spacecraft began returning the closest views yet of the gaseous planet’s atmosphere.

The unprocessed image above was acquired toward the start of the dive at 7:49 a.m. on April 26, 2017. It shows the behemot

Listen to Baby Humpback Whales Whisper to Their Mothers

Posted: April 26, 2017, 7:09 pm |
Humpback whale babies don’t scream for their mothers’ attention — they whisper.

Researchers who listened in on communications between humpback whale mothers and their calves believe they recorded what amounts to a whale whisper. Using detachable acoustic tags, the researchers followed eight calves and two mothers for 48 hours each as they swam near their breeding grounds off Australia’s coast, and say that this is the first time such vocalizations have been recorded in this manner.


The First Americans May Have Arrived 130,000 Years Ago

Posted: April 26, 2017, 5:00 pm |
Is the conventional chronology of human migration little more than a house of cards? Maybe. And there’s a strong wind (or at least a tantalizing breeze) blowing in from southern California, where researchers say they have evidence that the First Americans may have arrived on the continent almost ten times earlier than we thought. And here’s another kicker: the first humans in the Americas may not have been Homo sapiens.

The results, published today in Nature, came out of several differe

The Search is on for New Horizons’ Next Target

Posted: April 26, 2017, 4:56 pm |
The eyes of the world turned from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft after its 2015 flyby at Pluto. But on New Year’s Eve next year, the space probe will zoom past another object unlike any astronomers have ever seen before.

This world, currently dubbed 2014 MU69, is so dim and far off that we know next to nothing about it — scientists aren’t even certain of its exact size.

“No one’s ever been to any kind of target like this,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern says of the four

Cassini: Going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before—on a dive between Saturn’s rings and the planet itself

Posted: April 26, 2017, 3:13 pm |
On July 1, 2004, Cassini became the first spacecraft ever to orbit Saturn. And today, the spacecraft has likely achieved another milestone: Using its 13-foot-wide high-gain antenna as a shield, it probably has made the first ever dive between the rings and the giant gaseous planet itself.

I say “probably” because the spacecraft is not in contact with Earth right now, so scientists do not yet know how it fared. The earliest that it is expected to regain contact, via NASA’s Deep Space Netwo

The Fake “War Between Neuroscience and Psychiatry”

Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:15 pm |
Neuroscientists have launched an assault on the American Psychiatric Association headquarters and are engaged in bitter, boardroom-to-boardroom fighting. Psychiatrists have captured the leader of a militant pro-brain faction. A ceasefire, brokered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is due to come into effect at midnight.

Yes, indeed. A blog post by Daniel Barron in Scientific American yesterday claimed that there is a War between Neuroscience and Psychiatry

The Arctic as we once knew it is going, going…

Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:31 am |
A new report finds that while continued change is ‘locked in,’ there’s still time to stabilize some trends by cutting greenhouse gas emissions

In the past few years, I’ve heard it from many researchers: Global warming has pushed the Arctic into a completely new state. Now, a comprehensive assessment report published today confirms it:
With each additional year of data, it becomes increasingly clear that the Arctic as we know it is being replaced by a warmer, wetter, and more variable envir

Real Genius

Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:40 am |
If you are going to create a television show called Genius, you had better grapple with the nature of genius. If you are going to do that kind of grappling, you might as well focus on the very first face that comes to mind when people say “genius.” And if you are going to do a show about Albert Einstein–which is exactly where the creators of the new series Genius ended up–you’d better have some fresh things to say about the most famous figure in the history of science.

I’m familiar with

Meet Uber’s Partners Creating Flying Taxis for 2020

Posted: April 25, 2017, 11:59 pm |
Uber sees no need for startups to bet on a risky “if you build it, they will come” strategy for flying taxis. Instead, the tech giant believes the demand for a faster aerial commuting option already exists among its 60 million monthly users–especially if the flying taxi service can cost about the same as hailing an UberX car. As a result, Uber has partnered with several companies to help build a “flying car” service that could begin public trials in the city of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and

Uncovering the Secrets of Blood Falls

Posted: April 25, 2017, 8:29 pm |
In the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, pristine glaciers are marred in one spot by a striking feature: a crimson stain on the white cliffs, looking not unlike a gaping wound in the ice.

The five-story gash goes by the unnerving name of Blood Falls, although the color is not at all organic in nature. The salty water that seeps from the glacier is actually stained red by its rich iron content, and harbors a community of extremophile microbes. How that water came to be there, and how it c

Novel Antibiotic Recipes Could Be Hidden in Medieval Medical Texts

Posted: April 25, 2017, 3:20 pm |
For a long time, medieval medicine has been dismissed as irrelevant. This time period is popularly referred to as the “Dark Ages,” which erroneously suggests that it was unenlightened by science or reason. However, some medievalists and scientists are now looking back to history for clues to inform the search for new antibiotics.

The evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes means that it is always necessary to find new drugs to battle microbes that are no longer treatable with current a

Artificial Placenta Keeps Premature Lambs Alive for 28 Days

Posted: April 25, 2017, 3:00 pm |
Lamb fetuses have been sustained for four weeks outside of their mothers’ bodies with a new system that mimics a placenta.

The system is a step forward for researchers hoping to develop an “artificial placenta” that could allow premature fetuses to continue developing until they are ready for the outside world. It is essentially a fluid-filled bag with ports that allow for oxygen and nutrient delivery, combined with a pump-less oxygenator that allows the fetus to circulate blood using its

Plastic Bags Are a Feast for This Caterpillar

Posted: April 24, 2017, 4:00 pm |
A caterpillar that can eat plastic and produce an industrially useful compound while doing so could take a bite out of the global scourge of plastic trash, a new study finds.

Plastics typically resist breaking down, and as plastic use has risen exponentially over the past 50 years, plastic garbage is piling up in landfills and could wreak havoc on wildlife and the environment for centuries.
Digging into Pollution
The most common plastic used in packaging, polyethylene, represents about

Watch as a giant explosion on the Sun blasts material into space, followed by dancing loops of glowing gas

Posted: April 24, 2017, 3:48 pm |
NASA describes the display of coronal loops as particularly unusual

As NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory watched on April 19, 2017, a huge explosion of hot, ionized gas and magnetic field blasted outward from the Sun.

Immediately following this coronal mass ejection, or CME, gargantuan loops of glowing plasma many times larger than Earth arced high in the Sun’s atmosphere. Such bright coronal loops form as charged particles spin along the Sun’s magnetic field lines.

While such display

Here’s the first installment in a new series at ImaGeo: dazzling imagery from the new GOES-16 weather satellite

Posted: April 23, 2017, 9:17 pm |
With Earth Day just behind us, I’ve been inspired to start a new series here at ImaGeo: semi-regular posts showcasing the truly dazzling imagery now being produced by the GOES-16 weather satellite.

It’s now on its shakedown cruise, so to speak. Scientists are still testing everything out and evaluating the data being returned by the satellite. So it is not yet officially operational.

Even so, just have a look at the animation above, and the others below, and I think you’ll agree that G

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