Go Science Crazy ! Build your own Sputnik

BBC News has a great article about home made construction of a satellite..

Here is the excerpt :

It seems incredible that the technology that went into building the first successful satellite 50 years ago can now be found lying around the average house. You could even build one yourself, as Paul Rubens explains below.

In 1957 the Sputnik 1 satellite was seen as a technological marvel, the result of many years work by some of the Soviet Union's most talented engineers and scientists. But by today's standards, was it really such a big deal? In 2007, how hard would it be to build a fully working Sputnik in the comfort of your own living room?

In simple terms, the Sputnik satellite was a metal sphere almost 2ft (61cm) in diameter, containing a radio transmitter.


Galaxy Zoo : Amateur stargazers map a 'lopsided' universe

A legion of amateur stargazers has posed a profound challenge to cosmological theories: our universe appears to be lopsided.

Professional astronomers had asked the public for assistance in mapping the night sky, and were stunned when they received millions of hits on their website within a few days, enabling them to classify galaxies in the universe at rocket speed.

The response has been so great that within a couple of months the Galaxy Zoo project has completed a preliminary analysis of the heavens which would normally take years.

The survey has revealed that the collections of millions of stars, dust, gas and planets in galaxies prefer to rotate anticlockwise from the viewpoint of an observer on Earth.

Traditionally astronomers have believed that galaxies would spin either clockwise or anti-clockwise in equal proportion. But these observations would seem to suggest that either a mysterious force is acting on them or that the universe is in some way lopsided.

More than 100,000 people from around the world have logged on to the Galaxy Zoo website to take part in the project run from Oxford University's physics department to study images of galaxies taken for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a robot telescope based in New Mexico that is producing a digital map of the universe.

The amateurs are the first humans to study the brightest million galaxies and have been asked to classify them into two types, spirals, which are circular pinwheels, like our own galaxy the Milky Way, and rugby ball shaped galaxies which are known as elliptical galaxies.

Because of their complex shape, the human eye is much better than computers at sorting the galaxies, said Dr Chris Lintott, a member of the Oxford team.

As a double check, the same image was shown to several users and the scientists have been struck by how good the amateurs are at classifying 30 million images.

"We've proved that random people are as good as professional astronomers," Dr Lintott said.

More remarkable, the find suggests that one small click for an amateur stargazer could be one giant leap for physics. "Preliminary results suggest that spiral galaxies seem to point clockwise," he said, adding that that meant they rotate anticlockwise from our perspective. If this new finding turns out to hold true, "you will have to throw away the standard model of cosmology."

Sir Patrick Moore, an enthusiastic supporter, said: "Non-professionals have always been deeply involved in studying the sky and they now have yet another opportunity to make themselves really useful. Moreover, their help is now of immense value so do join up."

The Galaxy Zoo team involves the University of Oxford, the University of Portsmouth and Johns Hopkins University, and Fingerprint Digital Media of Belfast.

"It will be great to have all the galaxies classified; it's as fundamental as knowing if a human is male or female," said Prof Bob Nichol, of the University of Portsmouth.

Source : Telegraph UK

Nobel Prize for Physics 2007 : Albert Fert, Peter Grunberg

Now you know whom to thank for that iPhone .

This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics went to Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grünberg (Germany), who share the prize fifty:fifty for their discovery of giant magnetoresistance in which a very weak magnetic change gived rise to a major difference in electrical resistance of a system.

Read the rest of this entry

You can also read more details on the Nobel site here

Life in Microcosmic World

Yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti
Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a mosquito–the blood-
sucking insect that spreads yellow fever, dengue fever and filiariasis.
The parts ofthe mouth that the mosquito uses to pierce the skin of
its victims are shown at the left. Only female A. aegypti mosquitoes
carry the arbovirus which causes yellow fever in humans. Affected
patients develop a fever and the skin becomes yellow due to jaundice.
Yellow fever was once a fatal infection throughout the tropics but now
occurs only in parts of tropical Africa and South America.
Magnification: 50 X.

Itch mite (Sarcoptes spec.)
Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of an itch mite on the surface
of the skin. In humans, this parasite causes scabies, an ailment typified
by severe itching (especially at night), red papules and often secondary
infection. The female mite tunnels in the skin to lay her eggs and the
newly-hatched mites are passed easily from person to person by physical
contact. The itching is caused by an allergic reaction to the mite's saliva
or feces. Commonly infected areas are the groin, penis, nipples and the
skin between the fingers. The condition is treated with hexachlorophene
or benzyl benzoate creams. Magnification: 300 X.

Bakteria: Helicobacter pylori
Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM). This pathogen of chronically
active gastritis and intestinal ulcers was discovered in 1983. The bacteria
are wound in a spiral shape and possess up to 7 flagella. H. pylori populates
the mucosa of the human stomach exclusively. It is diagnosed by a stomach
biopsy or a Urea Breath Test. Treatment of the infection involves the
administration of anti-microbial substances combined with bismuth salt over
the course of 14 days. Transmission of the infection seems to take place by
mouth to mouth contact. Magnification 9.000 X

Contaminated apple
Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of mould fungi (green)
and yeast (single-celled fungi, blue) in a crack on the surface of an
apple. Fungal spores that have landed on the exposed flesh have
germinated, thriving in the sugary environment. Yeast ferments sugars,
producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Magnification 1.100 X

Microsurgical clamp
Colored Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of a clamp used in microsurgery
on the brain. Measuring only .63 millimeters in diameter, it is used for the
removal of small tumors. The clamp is made of a nickel-titanium alloy and its
sheath (yellow) is made of polytetrafluoro-ethene (PTFE) plastic. Springs keep
the jaws of the clamp open (as seen here) when it is not in use. The jaws are
closed by sliding the plastic sheath over the clamp. Magnification: 34 X.

Colored Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of nylon hooks and loops
in Velcro material. Used as a common fastener on clothes and shoes,
Velcro is a nylon material formed into two different structures: one a nail-
head-like surface, and the other a smooth surface made up of a series
of loops. The loops are loosely woven strands among an otherwise
tight weave. When the two surfaces are brought together they form a
strong bond, but can still be pulled apart. Magnification: 50 X.

Using revolutionary cameras, the directors of this French film (with minimal English-language narration) have made an amazing chronicle of the insect world. There are at least a dozen fascinating, memorable images, and the carnage is held to a minimum. Some favorites include a caterpillar traffic jam, a frog's bout with a rain storm, and a bird that turns into Godzilla for a bunch of ants. Then there's the snail mating scene that must be seen to be believed. Great for families.

Everything readers ever wanted to know about deadly viruses, killer parasites, flesh-eating microbes, and other lifethreatening beasties but were afraid to ask

What disease, known as "the White Death" has killed 2 billion people, and counting?

What fatal disease lurks undetected in air conditioners and shower heads, waiting to become airborne?

How lethal is the Ebola virus, and will there ever be a cure for it?

How do you catch flesh-eating bacteria?

Source : Eye of Science

The Levitron - Amazing Scientific Toy

Levitron is a registered trademark of Creative Gifts, Inc., used to advertise a range of toys and gifts in the science and educational markets. The Levitron stabilization, the Levitron induces levitation in its top through a series of interactive steps as described under top device is a commercial toy that displays the phenomenon known as spin stabilized magnetic levitation. Consisting essentially of a permanent magnetic top and base plate, ring or alternate geometric configuration, the toy's construction is relatively simple. The theory behind the Levitron, however, is considerable and remains incomplete, while functional parameters, such as the top rotation rate or top weighting, are considered somewhat stringent.

Here are some other videos of this amazing phenomenon : Levitron

Levitron with Helmholtzspule flys 5 hours Johannes Gutenberg Universität - Germany...Levitron Kreisel Physik Mhystik

Ana mastering the magnetic levitating device...magnetic levitation levitron

. This is Omega Levitron that gives you an ability to make an object levitate.

Levitron floating now for 5 days, 12 hours and counting, at the time of this movie. Can't keep it floating for much longer.

Levitron: An amazing discovery from R.Harrigan. For over 150 years people thought that this would never fly.

Levitation experiment...levitron homemade magnetic levitation

Floating magnet without wires or power source...levitron magnet levitation floating

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Mystery of dark energy : Headache of Scientists

Ten years ago, an unexpected astronomical discovery stunned the scientific world: Two rival teams of astrophysicists separately claimed that most of the universe is made of an invisible substance they called "dark energy." Only a tiny fraction, they said, consists of the ordinary atoms that make up stars, chairs, iPhones and people.

Dark energy has shaken the fields of physics and astronomy, much as Copernicus did five centuries ago when he declared that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Ten years later, the astronomers who made that claim say their findings have been confirmed repeatedly and made more precise. But they confess that no one -- including them -- understands what this mysterious dark energy is.

"We don't know any more today than we did 10 years ago," Saul Perlmutter, the leader of one of the discovery teams, said last month at a conference sponsored by NASA.

Mario Livio, a theorist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, a NASA affiliate in Baltimore, said it was shocking to realize that "we don't have an explanation for 74% of everything there is."

""It's as if we had no idea what water is," Livio said, "even though water covers three-quarters of the Earth."

High-priority mission

The National Academies, the nation's premier scientific organization, says that solving this mystery should be astronomers' highest priority. Earlier this month, the Academies' National Research Council urged NASA and the Department of Energy to seek funds for what it calls a Joint Dark Energy Mission in 2009.

The evidence for dark energy came from observations that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, not slowing down as the law of gravity would seem to dictate.

In fact, astronomers say, gravity had been slowing the expansion of the universe for more than half its life, since its birth in the theoretical big bang 13.7 billion years ago.

But in the last 5 billion years, dark energy -- a sort of negative gravity or repulsive force -- has overcome gravity and is driving galaxies apart at an ever-increasing rate.

"The universe was slowing down; now it's speeding up," said Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the University of California in Berkeley.

A cosmic contest

Adam Riess, the leader of the rival discovery team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, called the contest between gravity and dark energy a "cosmic tug of war."

"Today, dark energy is winning that battle," Riess said. He likened gravity to a brake on the expanding universe, and dark energy to an accelerator.

Perlmutter and Riess made their discovery by using the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the distance to brilliant exploding stars called supernovae.

Since then, Hubble and other telescopes have tracked 25 more supernovae in galaxies at various distances from Earth. By observing how fast the galaxies are moving, scientists can determine the expansion rate of the universe.

The measurements showed that the universe "is now expanding about 20% faster than 5 billion years ago," Riess said.

New ground and space telescopes are coming on line that could shed light on the nature of dark energy and perhaps help solve another mystery, so-called dark matter. Dark matter, which makes up about a quarter of the stuff in the universe, is thought to consist of tiny, unseen particles that haven't been identified.

Scientists say about 74% of the universe is made of dark energy, 22% of dark matter and 4% of ordinary matter: the stuff of stars and people and iPods.

Source: Freep

Creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth

Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

The announcement, which is expected within weeks and could come as early as Monday at the annual meeting of his scientific institute in San Diego, California, will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.

Mr Venter told the Guardian he thought this landmark would be "a very important philosophical step in the history of our species. We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before".

The Guardian can reveal that a team of 20 top scientists assembled by Mr Venter, led by the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, has already constructed a synthetic chromosome, a feat of virtuoso bio-engineering never previously achieved. Using lab-made chemicals, they have painstakingly stitched together a chromosome that is 381 genes long and contains 580,000 base pairs of genetic code.

The DNA sequence is based on the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium which the team pared down to the bare essentials needed to support life, removing a fifth of its genetic make-up. The wholly synthetically reconstructed chromosome, which the team have christened Mycoplasma laboratorium, has been watermarked with inks for easy recognition.

It is then transplanted into a living bacterial cell and in the final stage of the process it is expected to take control of the cell and in effect become a new life form. The team of scientists has already successfully transplanted the genome of one type of bacterium into the cell of another, effectively changing the cell's species. Mr Venter said he was "100% confident" the same technique would work for the artificially created chromosome.

The new life form will depend for its ability to replicate itself and metabolise on the molecular machinery of the cell into which it has been injected, and in that sense it will not be a wholly synthetic life form. However, its DNA will be artificial, and it is the DNA that controls the cell and is credited with being the building block of life.

Mr Venter said he had carried out an ethical review before completing the experiment. "We feel that this is good science," he said. He has further heightened the controversy surrounding his potential breakthrough by applying for a patent for the synthetic bacterium.

Pat Mooney, director of a Canadian bioethics organisation, ETC group, said the move was an enormous challenge to society to debate the risks involved. "Governments, and society in general, is way behind the ball. This is a wake-up call, what does it mean to create new life forms in a test-tube?"

He said Mr Venter was creating a "chassis on which you could build almost anything. It could be a contribution to humanity such as new drugs or a huge threat to humanity such as bio-weapons".

Mr Venter believes designer genomes have enormous positive potential if properly regulated. In the long-term, he hopes they could lead to alternative energy sources previously unthinkable. Bacteria could be created, he speculates, that could help mop up excessive carbon dioxide, thus contributing to the solution to global warming, or produce fuels such as butane or propane made entirely from sugar.

"We are not afraid to take on things that are important just because they stimulate thinking," he said. "We are dealing in big ideas. We are trying to create a new value system for life. When dealing at this scale, you can't expect everybody to be happy."

(This article appeared in The Guardian newspaper Saturday October 6 2007).
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