A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Potential first traces of the universe's earliest stars uncovered

Credit: Getty images

Distant quasar provides evidence of first-generation star that died in 'super-supernova' explosion

Astronomers may have discovered the ancient chemical remains of the first stars to light up the universe. Using an analysis of a distant quasar observed by the 8.1-meter Gemini North Telescope, located on Hawaii, the scientists found an unusual ratio of elements that, they argue, could come only from the debris produced by the all-consuming explosion of a 300-solar-mass first-generation star. The work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Gemini North is operated by NSF's NOIRLab. The very first stars likely formed when the universe was only 100 million years old, less than 1% of its current age. These first stars were so massive that, when they ended their lives as supernovae, they tore themselves apart and seeded interstellar space with a distinctive blend of heavy elements.

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Conversations with an AI: Dark Matter

Credit: Getty images

Mysteries of the Universe

Today, we ask our AI friend about one of the most mysterious phenomena in the Universe – the so-called dark matter. We indirectly know about it by registering the gravitational force it exerts on surrounding objects. It is invisible, undetectable, and hypothetical, yet there are strong pieces of evidence that such a matter exists. Below you can read the answer of GPT-3.

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Subsurface water on Mars defies expectations

Credit: Getty images

Physics connects seismic data to properties of rocks and sediments

A new analysis of seismic data from the InSight mission to Mars has revealed some surprises. The first: the top 300 meters of the subsurface beneath the InSight landing site near the Martian equator contains little to no ice. "We find that Mars' crust is weak and porous, the sediments are not well-cemented, and there's no ice or not much ice filling the pore spaces," said geophysicist Vashan Wright of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. Wright and co-authors published the U.S. National Science Foundation-supported analysis in Geophysical Research Letters.

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Secret troves of Etymology: Taikonaut

Credit: Getty images

What is a Taikonaut?

We have all heard the words astronaut and cosmonaut and know their meaning. But what is a taikonaut? In fact, the three words are synonyms: an individual who is trained to travel in spacecraft or has flown in outer space. So, why do we need three words if they have exactly the same meaning? Well, the truth is that on an etymological level they aren't exactly the same. Let's see what are the similarities and differences between the three terms.

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Faint fossil galaxy found at the Andromeda galaxy’s edge

Credit: Andromeda Galaxy; Gettyimages

Discovery could contain clues to the formation of ancient galaxies

An amateur astronomer examining archival data processed by the Community Science & Data Center tipped off astronomers about a smudge of interest in an image he examined as part of an effort by the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory to search for dwarf galaxies. Astronomers following up on the tip conducted observations using the Gemini North Telescope at the International Gemini Observatory, part of the U.S. National Science Foundation NOIRLab program. The astronomers confirmed that the dwarf galaxy at the far edges of the Andromeda galaxy, known as Pegasus V, is likely a fossil of the earliest galaxies.

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The sound of the Cosmos

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Sonification of NGC 1300 galaxy

More than 25 centuries ago, Pythagoras of Samos held the belief that the planets move according to mathematical equations. Thus they resonate to produce musical symphonies. These symphonies are inaudible unless one follows his teaching and develops the senses to hear them. It is claimed that Pythagoras was able to hear the music of the planets while meditating under the night sky. It may sound like mysticism but it is a concept well-adopted by modern scientists. Sure, they don't meditate or follow some guru's teachings. Scientists use observatories, telescopes, and super-computers. However, the idea remains the same. The Universe is the greatest musical composition made by Nature itself.

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Laboratory experiments replicate volatile plasma at the center of galaxy clusters

Credit: Giannandrea Inchingolo

Scientists use simulations and high-power lasers to explain how turbulent plasma can stay hot 

A team of U.S. National Science Foundation grantee astronomers and astrophysicists based at the University of Rochester and other institutions examined the inner workings of heat conduction in galaxy clusters -- thousands of galaxies held together by gravity.

The matter in galaxy clusters is mostly tenuous ionized gas (plasma) with magnetic fields in a turbulent state. Turbulent plasma is incredibly hot; the new study provides an explanation. The team published the work in Science Advances.

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How scientists are ‘looking’ inside asteroids

The shape of asteroids such as 243 Ida can reveal information about what they're made of, which can, in turn, tell us more about the formation of the solar system. Image credit - NASA/JPL/USGS

Asteroids - treasure troves of knowledge

Asteroids can pose a threat to life on Earth but are also a valuable source of resources to make fuel or water to aid deep space exploration. Devoid of geological and atmospheric processes, these space rocks provide a window onto the evolution of the solar system. But to really understand their secrets, scientists must know what's inside them.

Only four spacecraft have ever landed on an asteroid – most recently in October 2020 – but none has peered inside one. Yet understanding the internal structures of these cosmic rocks is crucial for answering key questions about, for example, the origins of our own planet.

'Asteroids are the only objects in our solar system that are more or less unchanged since the very beginning of the solar system's formation,' said Dr Fabio Ferrari, who studies asteroid dynamics at the University of Bern, Switzerland. 'If we know what's inside asteroids, we can understand a lot about how planets formed, how everything that we have in our solar system has formed and might evolve in the future.'

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

Credit: Gettyimages
The Evolution of Words and Meanings

Words have their own history, which is as revealing and profound for the meaning they bring as, for example, the discovery of electricity for the rapid advancement of modern technology. Each step that language has made through the years left its footprint. A word is a bouquet of various senses and a multitude of connections with other words that eventually produces not only a notion of something but a feeling, imagery. Have you ever thought how is it possible that a given word describes its object so good, how irreplaceable it sounds? Well, it is not only that we have made a convention out of it. It is also the gradual sculpturing of meaning over and over through the centuries. Even though we are not always aware of all these transformations, we have adopted them when we learned to use language. It is a network that is erected upon a huge underground structure of nuances, contexts, and connotations, which are present although implicitly. When we use a word we give rise to a tremendous chain of meanings, that makes us perceive things in one way or another. Today, we will follow the long and captivating adventure of the word cosmos, which has always sounded so beautiful to me, and it turned out it has something to do with beauty.

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On this date, 23 years ago

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On 20th November 1998, the first module of the International Space Station was launched

The module was called Zarya and was Russian-built and American-owned. Zarya is an FGB (Functional Cargo Block), which provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly. The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project operated by 5 space agencies – the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, US's NASA, Russia's Roscosmos, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is a manned artificial satellite. The brightest man-made object visible to the naked eye from Earth. ISS orbits the Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) at an average distance of 248 miles (400 kilometers) from Earth.

The station's purpose is to serve as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory where scientific research is conducted in meteorology, astronomy, astrobiology, physics, and other fields. The ISS is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.



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Planetary evolution reveals a volatile history

Credit: Gettyimages

Planet Formation

Just as human beings and all other living things exist in a vast number of different forms thanks to their genetic makeup, so different types of planets occur due to the chemical processes at work in the dusty regions surrounding newborn stars.

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How do we know if an asteroid headed our way is dangerous?

It is not uncommon for asteroids to hit Earth. In 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia, injuring hundreds. Image credit - Alex Alishevskikh, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The dangers of the Cosmos

There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures the public imagination, finding itself popularised in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids.

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Sunday Inspiration: Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Falling in love with Science will never end up with heartbreak

"During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore — in part because it's fun to do. But there's a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us."  - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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SSA Recent Posts

07 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: J. Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, aboard the S.S. Bremen, arriving in New York City for a vacation; Getty Images 7 Thoughts by the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti 1. "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly si...
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01 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Getty images London as a Museum of Art Certain cities in Europe could be considered the centers of Art. One, of course, is Rome, another is Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, and many more. However, the focus today is London. One of the largest cities...
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29 January 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 1677), Dutch philosopher. Woodcut engraving, published in 1881.; Getty images Excerpts from Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (1677) 1. "Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can on the other hand be...
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