August 5, 2009

Kubrick’s monolith on Mars

Posted in Astronomy, Cosmology, Evolution, Mars Mission, Mystery, Nature, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Universe at 10:58 am by deadlikeme

Monolith-2001

Lunar Explorer Italia has recently published a photo of what seems to resemble a monolith on Mars. It was taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last July.

And according to Buzz Aldrin there is also a monolith on Mars’ moon Phobos.

Was there once intelligent life on Mars or are these monoliths just natural rocks and boulders, like the infamous human face photographed by the Viking 1 probe in 1976?

marsface

Read the Dailymail.co.uk article for more information.

March 18, 2009

T-Rex of the ocean

Posted in Animals, Biology, Dinosaurs, Evolution, Nature, Oceanography, Paleontology, Science tagged at 1:52 pm by deadlikeme

predatorx2

“Predator X” is a 50ft sea creature that hunted the seas 150 million years ago.

An international team of paleontologists have found the partial skull of this new species of pliosaurs on the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. According to the researchers it had a bite force of 33,000 pounds. This is more than 10x that of any animal living today (and at least 2x that of a T-Rex).

A 2-hour documentary on the expedition will be shown on the History Channel on March 29.

New York Times

Museum of Natural History Oslo

March 16, 2009

Prosthetic USB finger

Posted in Fun, Life, Science, Science Fiction, Technology at 4:37 pm by deadlikeme

usb-finger

Software developer Jerry Jalava lost part of his ring finger in a motorcycle accident. But instead of replacing it with a regular prosthetic finger he decided to enhance it with a USB flash drive.

read more about it on his blog.

for more pictures visit his Flickr account.

January 24, 2009

May the “Force” be with you… for $90!

Posted in Science, Science Fiction, Star Wars, Technology at 6:50 pm by deadlikeme

forcetrainer

This fall toymaker Uncle Milton will let you test your Jedi abilities with “The Force Trainer”.

A wireless headset (that can “read” your mind via EEG) lets you manipulate the height of a ball in a clear cylinder with your mind.

Anyone remember the scene from Back To The Future: Part II  where Marty McFly shows two kids (one of them Elijah “Frodo” Wood) in the 80’s Cafe how to play a videogame? After Marty shows them there is an electronic gun involved Kid#1 says:  “You mean you have to use your hands?”

USA Today article

 

August 11, 2008

If I can’t be beautiful, I want to be invisible

Posted in Science, Science Fiction, Technology tagged at 7:29 pm by deadlikeme

Invisibility

This quote by Chuck Palahniuk might soon be possible. A team of Scientists led by Xiang Zhang at the UC Berkeley managed to render small objects invisible with the use of so called metamaterials.

The magic word here is negative refraction. In nature there are only materials with a positive refractive index. Until now 3D-metamaterials with negative refraction have only been reported for microwaves.

This week Nature and Science are publishing two articles about metamaterials that work in the near-infrared and visible light range.

Of course we are still far away from a cloaking device á la STAR TREK, but the future comes only one day at a time.

BBC article

January 22, 2008

Bigfoot on Mars?

Posted in Astrophysics, Mars Mission, Mystery, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Universe at 3:35 pm by deadlikeme

marsalien.jpg

An old snapshot taken by Mars Rover Spirit seems to contain a mysterious figure walking downhill. Take a look at the picture and judge for yourself if it’s really an alien or just an odd rock formation.

check the dailymail.co.uk article for more and a higher resolution image of the above.

EDIT: I tracked down the original NASA image, you can watch it here (Resolution: 12756 x 3487, Size: 5.6MB); the “formation” is indeed visible on the lower left side, so at least it’s not a Photoshop fake

December 23, 2007

Tinker Bell in the sky

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Nature, Science, Universe at 10:48 am by deadlikeme

tinkerbell.jpgA rare case of a triple merger of galaxies bears a resemblance with J.M.Barrie’s Tinker Bell.

Through near-infrared VLT (Very Large Telescope) observations it was possible to identify the triple merger nature of the galaxy known as ESO 593-IG 008 (or IRAS 19115-2124). It was previously merely known as an interacting pair of galaxies at a distance of 650 million light-years.

The object was dubbed “The Bird”, but it also bears a resemblance with the fairy Tinker Bell from James Matthew Barrie’s novel Peter Pan. 

The “wings” itself extend more than 100,000 light years, the size of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

ESO Press release

December 18, 2007

Galaxy fires at neighboring galaxy

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Science, Universe at 4:13 pm by deadlikeme

black-hole.jpgA powerful jet from a super massive black hole is blasting a nearby galaxy.

3C321 is a system containing two galaxies in orbit around each other. The larger galaxy has a jet emanating from the vicinity of its black hole and the smaller galaxy has apparently swung into the path of this jet.

Such jets are not news to scientists, “but this is the first time we’ve seen one punch into another galaxy like we’re seeing here,” according to Dan Evans, scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

for more info read the NASA article

P.S.  just to clarify: these jets do not emanate from the black hole itself, but from the matter “falling” into it

Basic Math: Monkeys vs. College Students

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Biology, Evolution, Nature, Science at 10:33 am by deadlikeme

donkey.jpgTwo macaque monkeys were pitted against 14 college students from Duke University in a Math on the fly test.

Elizabeth Brannon and Jessica Cantlon just published their results in the journal PLoS Biology, that show that the two female monkeys Boxer and Feinstein aren’t too far behind college students when it comes to mental math.

The task was to mentally add two sets of dots that were flashed for only half a second (500 ms) on a computer screen. The monkeys and the college students were then asked to pick the correct answer from two choices on a different screen.

addition.jpg

Both, monkeys and students typically answered within 1 second. Watch a short video of the test here (Quicktime movie).

Even though the students did score better (95% vs. 75%) one can’t deny that the monkeys performance are significantly better than chance.

We humans start learning math in kindergarden, so it’s not surprising that we are better than monkeys, who where never taught math in school.

Language is very important in the evolution of math in humans. It not only allows us to do something as basic as counting, but also all the more advanced calculations necessary for today’s science and technology. Without language our mathematical skills would be similar to those of the monkeys.

PLos Biology Article

November 2, 2007

Super Mouse created in lab: Superhero or Supervillain?

Posted in Animals, Biology, Comics, Evolution, Genetics, Nature, Science, Science Fiction, Technology at 8:13 pm by deadlikeme

supermouse.jpgThese mice are super fast, super fit, super long living and super sexy. But they also seem to be super aggresive.

Richard Hanson and his team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland conducted a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene to study the biochemistry at play in metabolism. To their own surprise they created a breed of super mice.

They can run non-stop for five hours at a speed of 20 metres per minute. They are 10 times more active than ordinary mice. They do eat twice as much though, but without getting fat. They also live longer, have more sex and can breed well into old age. But one downside is, they are very aggressive.

The first super mouse was created four years ago by injecting a highly active form of a gene for an enzyme called Phosphonenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (PEPCK-C) into a mouse embryo. The results of the studies are puplished in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

By the way, the gene that got manipulated in the mice is also present in humans. Super athlets, super soldiers… super villains? Que sera sera, the future’s not ours to see.

Read more at The Independant

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