To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, four new images of supernova remnants are being released. These spectacular cosmic vistas are the glowing debris fields that were created when massive stars exploded at the ends of their lives.
Chandra, one of NASA’s current “Great Observatories,” along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, is specially designed to detect X-ray emission from hot and energetic regions of the universe. It obits up to 86,500 miles above the Earth.
To celebrate Chandra’s 15th anniversary, four new images of supernova remnants – the Crab Nebula, Tycho, G292.0+1.8, and 3C58 – were released by the space agency. These supernova remnants are very hot and energetic and glow brightly in X-ray light, which allows Chandra to capture them in exquisite detail. See a larger version here.
Researchers Simplify Process to Purify Water Using Seed Extracts
Researchers have streamlined and simplified a process that uses extracts from seeds of Moringa oleifa trees to purify water, reducing levels of harmful bacteria by 90% to 99%. The hardy trees that are drought resistant are cultivated widely throughout many countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The protocol, which is outlined in a Current Protocols in Microbiology review, is low-cost and efficient, making it especially useful for people living in extreme poverty in developing countries who are presently drinking highly turbid and contaminated water. Of these, some 2 million are reckoned to die from waterborne diseases every year, with the majority of deaths occurring in young children.
“The use of these techniques will not be a panacea against waterborne disease; however, increasing the use of the Moringa tree would bring benefits in the shape of nutrition and income, as well as purer water,” said author Michael Lea.
There are two great mysteries that overshadow all other mysteries in science. One is the origin of the universe. That’s my day job. However, there is also the other great mystery of inner space. And that is what sits on your shoulders, which believe it or not, is the most complex object in the known universe. But the brain only uses 20 watts of power. It would require a nuclear power plant to energise a computer the size of a city block to mimic your brain, and your brain does it with just 20 watts. So if someone calls you a dim bulb, that’s a compliment. — Michio Kaku
SELENITE (Calcium Sulfate) from Mexico. Large platy crystals that incorporate sand are typical of this gypsum variety known as “desert rose”. The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions.
Sizing Down Food Waste: What’s The Worst Thing To Toss?
Sometimes I feel like a broken record at home: “Let’s eat the leftovers for dinner, so they don’t go to waste,”
But inevitably, Sunday night’s pasta and meatballs get tossed out of the refrigerator to make way for Friday night’s pizza.
Now scientists at the University of Minnesota offer up another reason to put those leftover meatballs in the tummy instead of the garbage: There are hidden calories in the beef that go to waste when you toss it.
These invisible calories could help out the 1 in 6 Americans who don’t get enough to eat each day, just as easily as the meatballs themselves. And when you add them all up, these hidden calories are enough to help the world feed a rapidly rising population, ecologists report Thursday in the journal Science.
About a third of all food grown around the world never gets eaten. Americans alone waste up to about 1,200 calories per person each day.
But not all these calories are equal, when you look at how they hurt the global food supply, says ecologist Paul West, who led the study.
Discarding a pound of boneless beef effectively wastes 24 times more calories than discarding a pound of wheat, West and his team report. Why? Because the beef also contains all the calories in the corn that fed the cow.
"If you throw out some arugula at a fancy restaurant in upstate New York, it doesn’t have much impact on the world’s food system," West says. "But throwing out a small steak has a huge impact — maybe more than all the arugula in the restaurant put together."
Photo by Morgan Walker/NPR
The oldest living thing in the world: These actinobacteria, recovered from the subterranean brrrrr-osphere that is Siberian permafrost, are estimated to be 500,000 years old. While many ancient microbes have been revived from ancient dormant states, these bacterial cells have been continuously living for half a million years. It’s known that the bacteria aren’t mobile in the frozen Earth, so by radioactively dating the layers of soil around the microbes, scientists were able to estimate their age.
Unable to divide and reproduce, these microbes were shown to be actively repairing their DNA despite the frigid temperatures, their enzymes uniquely adapted to an environment that would mean certain death for perhaps every other creature on Earth. While not growing, moving, or reproducing, this sort of cryostasis counts as living if you ask me (and the scientists who study them).
What do you think this means for the possibility of life on other planets?
(via Rachel Sussman and Brain Pickings. Check out the original 2007 research paper here)