Science News

Are you happily disgusted or sadly angry? Find out

Are you happily disgusted or sadly angry? Find outCalifornia, April 1 - What if your computer can distinguish even expressions for complex or seemingly contradictory emotions such as 'happily disgusted' or 'sadly angry'?

Researchers at Ohio State University have found a way for computers to recognise 21 distinct facial expressions.

“We have gone beyond facial expressions for simple emotions like happy or sad. We found a strong consistency in how people move their facial muscles to express 21 categories of emotions,” said Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State.


Microbes wiped out life from earth 252 million years ago!

Microbes wiped out life from earth 252 million years ago!New York, April 1 - In a path-breaking discovery, researchers have found that methane-producing microbes may be responsible for the worst mass extinction in earth's history 252 million years ago.

Fossil remains show that about 90 percent of all species on earth were suddenly wiped out - by far the largest of this planet's five known mass extinctions - at that point of time in ancient history.

Now, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have found enough evidence to show that a form of microbes were the real killers.


X-class solar flare could cause 'radio blackout' for GPS, communications

X-class solar flare could cause 'radio blackout' for GPS, communicationsWashington, April 1 : The sun emitted a X1 solar flare on Saturday which NASA believes could hurt communications systems on Earth on Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center, the X1 solar flare could affect satellites and cause GPS errors, PC World reported.

They also said that electrical power lines may be hit by extra current, and high frequency communications could be blocked when the radiation hits Earth.


Methane-producing microbes blamed for mass extinction millions of years ago

Methane-producing microbes blamed for mass extinction millions of years agoWashington, Apr 1 - Researchers suggest that methane-producing microbes may have been responsible for the largest mass extinction in Earth's history.

Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out - by far the largest of this planet's five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial.

Now, a team of MIT researchers may have found enough evidence to convict the guilty parties - but you'll need a microscope to see the killers.


Arctic melt season lengthening, ocean rapidly warming: Study

Arctic melt season lengthening, ocean rapidly warming: StudyWashington, April 1 - The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is increasing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap's thickness.

Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at NSIDC, Boulder and lead author of the new study, said that the Arctic is warming and this is causing the melt season to last longer.


Three quarters of universe made up of mysterious dark energy, say cosmologists

Three quarters of universe made up of mysterious dark energy, say cosmologistsWashington, Mar 27 - Cosmologists believe that some three quarters of the universe are made up of a mysterious dark energy which would explain its accelerated expansion.

The truth is that they do not know what it could be, therefore they put forward possible solutions.

One is the existence of quintessence, an invisible gravitating agent that instead of attracting, repels and accelerates the expansion of the cosmos. From the Classical World until the Middle Ages, this term has referred to the ether or fifth element of nature, together with earth, fire, water and air.


Giant earth-like planet at outer edge of our solar system!

Giant earth-like planet at outer edge of our solar system!Washington, March 27 - Are you aware of the outer edge of our solar system? Astronomers have identified a new most-distant member, bringing the region into the limelight.

The distant dwarf planet, called "2012 VP113", has been found to be beyond the known edge of the solar system.

This is likely to be one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud.

The discovery also indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of this dwarf planet.


Vikings used medieval compass for navigation even after sunset

Vikings used medieval compass for navigation even after sunsetWashington, Mar 27 - New interpretations of a medieval compass suggest that the Vikings may have skillfully used the sun to operate the compass even when the sun had set below the horizon.

The remains of the supposed compass known as the Uunartoq disc were found in Greenland in 1948 in an 11th-century convent.

Though some researchers originally argued it was simply a decorative object, other researchers have suggested the disc was an important navigational tool that the Vikings would have used in their roughly
1,600-mile-long trek from Norway to Greenland.


Mini-planet with two rings of ice and pebbles discovered

Mini-planet with two rings of ice and pebbles discoveredWashington, March 27 - Researchers have discovered a miniature planet with two rings of ice and pebbles, located two billion kilometers out in the solar system between Saturn and Uranus.

The smaller celestial body, called Chariklo, was located in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of thousands of dwarf planets and comets in orbit beyond Neptune on the edge of our solar system.

But at some point it was thrown out of this belt and is now between Saturn and Uranus, where there is a collection of small objects, called Centaur. Chariklo is the largest of these objects with a diameter of 250 km.


'Giant space sunflower' could help spot Earth twins in nearby galaxies

'Giant space sunflower' could help spot Earth twins in nearby galaxiesWashington, Mar 26 - A spacecraft that looks like a giant sunflower could one day be used to capture images of Earth-like rocky planets around nearby stars.

The prototype deployable structure, called a starshade, is being developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Researchers generally think it's only a matter of time before we find perfect twins of Earth.

The next step would be to image and characterize their spectra, or chemical signatures, which provide clear clues about whether those worlds could support life.


F-type stars 'could be good places to look for habitable planets'

F-type stars 'could be good places to look for habitable planets'Washington, March 26 - Researchers have said that scientists looking for habitable planets beyond Earth shouldn't overlook F-type stars in favor of their more abundant, smaller and cooler cousins.

Stars fall into seven lettered categories according to their surface temperature, but they also differ in other factors such as mass, luminosity and abundance in the universe.

Scientists looking for habitable planets typically have focused on the less massive end of the spectrum, where our own G-type Sun as well as the even less massive K and M-type stars reside.


Coming, skyscrapers over an active rail yard!

Coming, skyscrapers over an active rail yard!New York, March 25 : Here comes the next engineering marvel that would lift your living right into the sky - on a platform over the busiest commuter rail yard in the US.

A New York-based real estate developer is developing Hudson Yards at Manhattan's west side without footings or foundations.

Kicked off last week, the project is being built atop 300 concrete-sleeved, steel caissons jammed deep into the underlying bedrock.


Biodegradable battery that dissolves inside the body

Biodegradable battery that dissolves inside the bodyWashington, March 25 : This is about a device that can monitor tissues or deliver treatments inside the body before being reabsorbed after use.

A four-cell biodegradable, implantable battery is here that can help in the development of such biomedical devices.

The battery, developed by materials scientist John Rogers from University of Illinois and collaborators, uses anodes of magnesium foil and cathodes of iron, molybdenum or tungsten.

All these metals would slowly dissolve in the body and their ions are biocompatible in low concentrations.


Closest 'standard candle' supernova of nearby galaxy observed in decades

Closest 'standard candle' supernova of nearby galaxy observed in decadesWashington, Mar 25 : Less than 12 million light-years away, the Supernova 2014J in the nearby galaxy M82, which exploded on January 14, 2014, was the closest "standard candle" supernova in 42 years.

An impressive coordinated observational effort orchestrated by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) team and led by Ariel Goobar from the Oskar Klein Centre at Stockholm University provides important new clues into the nature of these explosions, as well as the environments where they take place.


Hawking's black hole puzzle solved, claims US scientist

Hawking's black hole puzzle solved, claims US scientistWashington, March 25 - A Michigan State University researcher has claimed to plug the hole in famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking’s black hole theory.

“In 1975, Hawking discovered that black holes are not all black. They actually radiate a featureless glow, now called 'Hawking radiation',” professor Chris Adami from Michigan State University said.

In his original theory, Hawking stated that the radiation slowly consumes the black hole and it eventually evaporates and disappears, concluding that information and anything that enters the black hole would be irretrievably lost.


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