Jul 052017

A huge iceberg, one of the largest ever seen, clings to Antarctica by only a 5-kilometer icy expanse, said researchers at the European Space Agency, who have been studying for a while the ice block that is expected to break away soon.


Large iceberg floating

Icebergs are discharged continuously from Antarctica, but this one, with an area of ​​6,000 square kilometers, is particularly large and needs to be monitored to avoid endangering maritime traffic, explains ESA.

This ice chunk is part of “Larsen C” – the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica -, which holds icebergs that could make water levels rise 10 cm if they reach the ocean.

Using information from the CryoSat satellite, “we determined the height of the ice above the ocean and we calculated that the final iceberg would be about 190 meters thick and will contain about 1,155 cubic meters of ice,” said Noel Gourmelen of the University of Edinburgh. It is believed that the depth below sea level could reach 210 meters.

Jun 192016

The big question: What would happen if, instead of money, you got a black hole in your pocket?

In a Youtube video, the owners of the channel “Kurzgesagt – in a nutshell”, delivered a scientific explanation why a black hole, even the size of a coin, could cause the extinction of humanity and the planet Earth as well.

black hole

Illustration of a black hole (public domain)

What would happen to you if a black hole the size of a coin pops up in the proximity? The answer is grim: you will die. The question was developed in two particular cases: whether the black hole is with the mass of a coin, or as wide as a coin.

In the first case, if a 5 gram coin transforms hypothetically into a black hole, then the black hole will have a radius about 10 times to the power of -30 meters. Despite the extremely tiny size, – a black hole compared to an atom appears to be as small as an atom compared to the Sun -, it will still posses a lot of energy as its 5 gram of mass can be converted into 450 terajoules of energy which can cause a blast 3 times bigger than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Therefore the conclusion is that a 5 gram black hole will kill you and many around you.

In the second case, if the black hole has the diameter of a coin, then it will be considered consistently more massive. Actually, it will be slightly more massive than Earth. The gravity will be so high that it will tear individual atoms and cells apart. Hence, the black hole will consume everything around including the planet, so you stand no chance to survive.

But follow the video below to get even a better picture of the phenomenon:

Jun 192016

If all people on Earth synchronize so that they jump at once, would the impact trigger an earthquake? Would orientation of Earth’s axis be affected? What would be the effects of the jump on the duration of the day and the evolution of seasons?

Owners of “Vsauce” youtube channel try to give some answers to this question in the video below.

Here’s what would happen to our planet if we all jump at once.

Jan 212015

Astronomers have succeeded for the first time ever, the real time detection of a short rapid radio emission coming from an unknown space source. The discovery brings scientists one step closer to understanding this “alien” weird phenomenon which everyone tries to explain.

This brief radio emission occurs only for a few milliseconds, and the first such signal was discovered back in 2007 when astronomers were seeking information about cosmic objects inside the archived data recorded by Parkes radio telescope observatory in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Parkes radio telescope

Parkes radio telescope observatory in Australia (Credit pic: CSIRO)

The exact cause of these radio emissions is a new scientific enigma, possible explanations stretching from the evaporation of black holes and the merge of neutron stars to “communications” of aliens.

Six other such radio emissions of very short duration, apparently coming from beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way, have been discovered to date using the Parkes radio telescope and a seventh emission was recorded by the giant radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

“We are the first to observe such a cosmic radio signal in real time,” said Emily Petroff, a PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. “These emissions were found mostly in data archives weeks, months or even more than a decade after they took place,” added Petroff.
Credit photo: CSIRO [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Feb 192014

Four asteroids are racing in Earth’s proximity this week and the names of the competitors are: 2000 EM26, 2014 BR57, 1995 CR and 2014 CR. As 2000 EM26 made already its closest approach, now we are about to welcome the next racer: newly-discovered 2014 BR57

near earth asteroid

4 asteroids involved in a relay race near Earth in 3rd week of February (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

2000 EM26, a huge asteroid the size of three football fields (885 feet in diameter), just buzzed our planet from 8.8 lunar distances on Monday night. However, we did not escape the “threat” posed by the space rocks as another asteroid, discovered only this year, is scheduled to visit Earth’s neighborhood on Wednesday. As if that wasn’t enough, there is one more coming in on Thursday/Friday and the session will be closed on 24 Feb. when the last object will make its flyby.

Asteroid 2014 BR57, measures 71 meters and is set to pass “close” to Earth on February 20, 2014 at 16:58 UT and its closest approach equals 4.4-lunar distances, long enough not to put the planet at risk.

Just hours later, 1995 CR is gonna pay us a visit without interfering to much. 1995 CR, is a 210-meter potentially hazardous asteroid which gets as close as 7.6 lunar distances on 21 Feb. 2014 at 11:08 UT. There will be also live coverage of it on 20 Feb. 2014, as of 20:00 UT.

The last racer, the near-Earth object 2014 CR, is scheduled to brush the planet on 24 February at 00:21 UT, at 8.3 lunar distances.

So, 18-24 February turns out to be a very thrilling period for astronomy fans.

For your information, the average distance between Earth and the Moon is 384,400 kilometers.

“We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids — sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth,” Slooh’s technical and research director, Paul Cox said in a statement. “Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with our members employing the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this large population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We must find them before they find us!”

Oct 202013

Comet ISON is still alive as Hubble was able to capture a photo of it from a distance of 280 million kilometers. That’s the conclusion of the scientists who analyzed an image snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope. According to experts, the comet Hubble observed the comet ISON from a distance of 280 million kilometers.


Hubble snaps photo of comet ISON which appears intact (NASA)

Until now there has been plenty of speculations that the comet will disintegrate as it approaches the Sun. Generally, comets are a kind of “dirty snowballs” composed of mixture of water ice and rocks. As a comet is becoming hotter and hotter, the ice turns to gas, giving rise to a blurred head followed by a beautiful and glittering tail. If the comet loses more ice, then it loses its structural integrity and faces inevitable distruction. The comet is expected to pass closest to the Sun on November 28.

It is interesting to note that the ISON comet’s upper side which is seen in the lower left corner of the image, appears to be intact. If ISON was about to get destroyed, we should have seen small pieces of it being left behind. However, this picture shows quite clearly that this comet is still alive and its lifetime is far from the end.

ISON is moving on an orbit that will bring it deeper into the solar system, missing the Sun by just 1 million km, a distance less than the diameter of our star. Due to its so close approach to the Sun, ISON might turn very bright, which means that there is a chance to be seen with naked eye in December 2013. Of course, these claims can not be 100% sure, given the fact that comets are usually unpredictable.

Oct 092012

Physicists Serge Haroche (FR) and David J.Wineland (US) claimed the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. (pic: web)

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Frenchman Serge Haroche and American David J.Wineland for “developing revolutionary methods to measure and manipulate individual quantum systems”. The award was announced by Staffan Normark, at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Haroche is a French physicist, born in 1944, in Casablanca. He was professor at the College de France, and currently holds leadership of Quantum Physics department.

Haroche became famous in the scientific world after proving by experimental observation, the quantum decoherence – the mechanism by which quantum systems interact with the environment getting additional probabilistic characteristics. Decoherence has been the subject of active research in the last 2 decades.

In 2008, Haroche and his colleague from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS), Jean-Michel Raimond, managed to carry out the transition from quantum to classical physics on a small pack of photons.

American physicist David J. Wineland, born in 1944, worked in the field of quantum optics and studied “the fundamental interaction between light and matter”. Wineland is currently professor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, USA.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was one of the most controversial awards this season. The discovery of a new fundamental particles that could be the Higgs boson was an achievement worthy of a Nobel Prize, but not necessarily to claim it.

Moreover, the Higgs boson represented a particular problem for the Nobel committee. Traditionally, the award is shared by not more than three persons. But for Higgs discovery, there worked teams of thousands of scientists at CERN. They searched through billions of collisions in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), including subatomic debris to find the “God particle”.

Although they had an important role in the research, scientists at CERN would not have been eligible for the 2012 Nobel Prize which was granted to theoricians who founded the research, and even so, there were many candidates.

Most important was François Englert, who was the first to publish (in collaboration with Robert Brout, who died in 2011) a theory on the mass of particles, almost 50 years ago in 1964. Six other physicists have published theories on the subject within six months. Another scientist, Peter Higgs who published two papers that addressed this topic, was the first to explicitly mention that the theory requires a new particle to be found and that particle was called the Higgs boson.

Elementary Higgs particle was formed immediately after the Big Bang, 14 billion years ago. It is believed that it gave mass to all other particles.

Americans Dick Hagen, Gerry Guralnik and Tom Kibble British formed the third team who published a theory on this subject, and all three works were done independently.

Disputes concerning credit for “God particle” theory began as early as 2010, when Americans complained that at a conference in Paris only Higgs, Englert and Brout were credited, and their contribution was rejected on the ground that was last published.

Jul 212011

NASA: “Atlantis and the STS-135 crew touched down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida just before dawn on July 21, 2011, wrapping up the final mission of the 30-year space shuttle program.”

Video: Landing of Space Shuttle Atlandis STS-135: the final mission