Entries in Science (5)


You’ve Never Seen Earth Like This

Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring(NEW YORK) -- The highest resolution image of earth ever taken didn’t come from NASA. The image was captured by Russian weather satellite, Electro-L, and unlike NASA’s famous “blue marble” photo, it is a single shot, not a composite of different images.

The 121 megapixel photo was taken as Electro-L orbited 22,369 miles above the equator, according to Gizmodo. The satellite took a photo every half hour combining four different wavelengths of light, three visible and one infrared. The infrared light is the reason the vegetation appears orange in the image.

In the video below, the photos, which were taken in May of 2011, are combined to show the passage of time.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Canadian Teens Send Lego Man Into Space

Vladimir Weiss/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- A Lego man went on one wild ride when two Canadian teenagers attached the toy to a homemade weather balloon, complete with video cams, and launched it into the stratosphere.

Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, two 17-year-olds from outside Toronto, designed and built a helium weather balloon for the Lego man’s joyride,  according to the Toronto Star. They mounted four different cameras to the contraption to record it all, and sent the toy into the atmosphere, where it climbed to an estimated 80,000 feet.

The tiny toy, holding an even tinier Canadian flag, cleared the Earth’s atmosphere during the 97-minute journey and captured astonishing footage of the Earth from above.

The humble experiment began four months ago and was completely homespun, according to the Star. On a budget of $500, Ho and Muhammad scoured Craigslist for cameras, sewed their own balloon parachute at Muhammad’s mother’s sewing machine, bought the necessary pieces online, and then assembled it all, using a Styrofoam box as the base.

The teens were able to recover the Lego man and cameras, which landed approximately 75 miles from the Toronto park where they launched it, thanks to a cell phone’s GPS app they affixed to the device.

“It shows a tremendous degree of resourcefulness,” University of Toronto Astrophysics professor Dr. Michael Reid told the Star. “For two 17-year-olds to accomplish this on their own is pretty impressive.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Largest Black Holes in Universe Discovered

File photo. Artist concept of a growing black hole, or quasar, seen at the center of a faraway galaxy. NASA/JPL-Caltech(BERKELEY, Calif.) -- A team of scientists at the University of California at Berkeley has found the two largest black holes known to exist.  Each hole is 10 billion times larger than our sun.

A team of eight led by Chung-Pei Ma, a professor of astronomy at Berkeley, discovered the holes in two of the largest galaxies, 300 million light years away.  The findings were published in an article in the journal Nature.

The previous black hole record-holder is 6 billion times the size of our sun. It was discovered 33 years ago by Wallace Sargent at the California Institute of Technology in galaxy M87.

A black hole is formed by the collapse of a super-size star. It is a region where nothing, not even light, can escape.

Typically, when two galaxies merge, they form a bigger galaxy and their black holes merge to form a bigger black hole.

Ma and her team have data for other galaxies, and in the future plan to analyze the data to find other black holes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UK Scientists Break Record for Writing Smallest Periodic Table

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Scientists from Nottingham, England, officially broke the Guinness World Record for writing the world’s smallest periodic table — engraving it on a single strand of hair.

The scientists from the University of Nottingham’s Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Center placed the table of elements on the hair of Martyn Poliakoff, a chemistry professor, using a beam of accelerated gallium ions. It’s so small that a million tables of the same size could fit on a typical Post-it note.

Guinness confirmed that it was the smallest periodic table in existence.

“I am delighted.  In my wildest nightmares, I have never imagined being in the Guinness World Records, least of all in connection with my hair,” said Poliakoff. “The fact that I am is a tribute to the University’s Nanotechnology Center.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scientists Claim to 'Restore' Extinct Zebra TOWN, South Africa) -- Imagine if the woolly mammoth roamed the earth once more. Japanese scientists say the elephantine beast could be cloned back to life in as few as four years.

It may sound like a fantasy straight out of Jurassic Park. But it was a real scientific breakthrough that's said to have inspired Michael Crichton's bestseller. In 1984 the quagga, a South African zebra with stripes on the front half of its body that's been extinct since 1883, became the first extinct animal from which scientists extracted DNA using preserved specimens.

Now a group says it has brought back the quagga.

"It started when a local taxidermist by the name of Reinhold Rau thought it might be feasible to rebreed the quagga using living plains zebras by choosing some of the lesser-striped ones," said geneticist Eric Harley. Harley has been a scientific advisor to the group, The Quagga Project, since its inception a quarter-century ago.

The project hinges on the idea that the quagga is not a separate species, rather a subspecies of the plains zebra. If so, Harley said, "it means that the genes may still be there in the current living population of plains zebra animals, but in a diluted form. By concentrating them using selective breeding, we can get back animals showing the full appearance of the original quagga."

After four generations of breeding, Dr. Harley and his team said they'd done just that. These animals -- quaggas 2.0 -- roam Elandsberg Nature Reserve, in South Africa.

"People get really excited about the quaggas because here is an example of where an animal was thought to be extinct, totally gone and not on Earth," said Bernard Wooding, reserve manager at the preserve. "We've managed to rebreed it and bring it back again. It's available to be seen by all -- a unique and very exciting thing."

But are these zebra-like creatures really quaggas?

Dr. Robert Fleischer, head of the genetics program at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History, questioned the premise that quaggas are a subspecies of zebra. He has studied quagga DNA from more than a dozen specimens in museums around the world. He said quaggas may have been isolated from other zebra subspecies for 200,000 years or so.

"If that's the case," he said, "there may have been other genetic aspects that kept them from interbreeding regularly, and they may have actually been a distinct species. The taxonomy is a bit muddy."

Harley added: "What we are doing is retrieving an animal which has the physical appearance of the quagga. Indeed, it may not have all the full genetic qualities of the original quagga, but on the other hand, there's no particular reason to suppose that the quagga had any particular characteristics which made it different from other plains zebras, other than its lack of striping."

Fleischer had no quarrel with introducing the new animals into the zebra habitat.
"But," he added, "if they're trying to make the claim that they're restoring this exact species, I think that's falling short."

Even partial success sustains the fantasy that woolly mammoths -- maybe even dinosaurs -- will stalk the earth once more.

"Years ago, I would have said it's quite impossible," said Harley. "Now, it is just within the bounds of foreseeable possibility."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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