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2011

News
  1. -01-25-11 A Second Sun Will Be Visible, Briefly, Someday (Time.com)
      " 'When this fuel [on Betelgeuse] runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly,' " Brad Carter, a senior lecturer of physics at the University of Southern Queensland said. The subsequent explosion will appear tens of millions of times brighter than the sun, meaning 24-hours of light on Earth."

      "And while the celestial event could take place before the end of 2012, it may not occur for a million years." 01-11

  2. -02-02-11 Six New Unusual Planets Discovered (MSNBC News)
      "Lissauer said he rated the finding as the 'biggest thing in exoplanets' since the 1995 discovery of 51 Pegasi, the first extrasolar planet detected around a sunlike star. Yale astronomer Debra Fischer, a planet-hunting pioneer who was not involved in the Kepler-11 study, agreed. 'With five low-mass planets in the system, this discovery is as momentous as 51 Peg was in 1995,' she said today during a NASA news briefing." 02-11

  3. -03-18-11 Supermoon on Saturday (MSNBC News)
      "Thanks to a fluke of orbital mechanics that brings the moon closer to Earth than it has been in more than 18 years, the biggest full moon of 2011 will occur on Saturday, leading some observers to dub it a 'supermoon.' " 03-11

  4. -03-26-11 Stem Cells, Disease, and Aging (New York Times)
      "Thomas Rando, a researcher at Stanford University, thinks stem-cell treatments may enhance healing in older patients who have difficulty recovering from surgery or a fracture. But he's also thinking about deeper issues involving the power of regenerative medicine. 'There are very basic questions I hope we can make headway on using stem cells — in terms of understanding cellular aging, how that's related to tissue aging and the aging of an organism,' he says. Which leads to the interesting possibility that with stem cells, we may no longer define age as how old we think we are but as how old our cells tell us we are." 03-11

  5. -03-28-11 Boy Genius Challenges Einstein's Theory of Relativity (Time.com)
      "Could Einstein's Theory of Relativity be a few mathematical equations away from being disproved? Jacob Barnett of Hamilton County, Ind., who is just weeks shy of his 13th birthday, thinks so. And, he's got the solutions to prove it." 03-11

  6. -04-25-11 Amazing Photos of Mars (Time.com)
      Provides photos. 04-11

  7. -04-25-11 Ocean of Carbon Dioxide Found on Mars (Time.com)
      "A series of measurements with ground-penetrating radar mounted on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed a massive deposit of frozen carbon dioxide (CO2) — a Lake Superior's worth of dry ice — buried under a layer of ordinary ice near the Martian south pole."

      "The extra CO2 in Mars' atmosphere wouldn't be enough to do much warming, says Phillips, but it's not without effect. For one thing, the thicker air would be enough to allow water to exist on the surface at lower elevations. The oceans of Mars won't return, and probably not the rivers — but creeks and ponds would be possible."  04-11

  8. -05-03-11 New Assessment of Autism (Time.com)
      "There's been a lot of news recently about efforts to detect signs of autism in children earlier — even before age 2, which is when doctors typically make the first diagnosis based on toddlers' behavior and development. (Read about these efforts here and here.) Now a new study sheds light on another key issue — why autistic children tend to develop larger brains than those without the condition." 04-11

  9. -05-11-11 Rare Planetary Alignment Now, Not in 2012 (Time.com)
      "Beginning today and lasting for a few weeks, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Mars will be visible in the early morning sky, aligned roughly along the ecliptic — or the path the sun travels throughout the day. Uranus and Neptune, much fainter but there all the same, should be visible through binoculars. What gives the end-of-the-worlders shivers is that just such a configuration is supposed to occur on Dec. 21, 2012, and contribute in some unspecified way to the demolition of the planet. But what makes that especially nonsensical — apart from the fact that it's, you know, nonsense — is that astronomers say no remotely similar alignment will occur next year." 05-11

  10. -05-27-11 Future Tractor Beam? As in Star Trek? (PC World)
      "Light emits photons, and when these photos strike an object, they can propel it forward, away from the light source--not a whole lot, mind you, but on a very small scale. Scientists in Hong Kong have recently discovered a way to use a special laser called a Bessel beam to actually pull objects closer to the beam's source." 05-11

  11. -05-27-11 Unbelievably Powerful Laser Planned (PC World)
      "The crown jewel of ELI’s laser research facilities, the highest intensity pillar location of the four, is still being decided upon but they plan to create the world’s most powerful laser there. A 200-petawatt laser to be exact, which is 100,000 times the power of the world electric grid." 05-11

  12. -05-27-11 Virus Improves Solar Cell Efficiency (PC World)
      "Solar cells are about to get cheaper! Using a genetically modified virus called M13, researchers from MIT were able to make carbon nanotubes self-assemble allowing the solar cells to collect electrons at a more efficient rate. Scientists already know that single-walled carbon nanotubes have a high electron mobility, meaning that electrons can move through them very fast. Using this knowledge, researchers could in theory improve the efficiency of photovoltaic devices (like solar panels) using these nanotubes" 05-11

  13. -06-15-11 Scientists Study Murderous Mama Monkeys (Time.com)
      "For any species hoping to survive in the wild, the lifetime to-do list is agreeably brief: eat, mate, defend your turf and above all, protect your young. It's that last one that seems the most primally encoded, and for good reason: it's hardly possible to pass on your genes if your babies die before they're old enough to have offspring of their own. And yet not only do animals sometimes fail to protect the young of their species, they often kill them themselves." 06-11

  14. -07-17-11 Spacecraft Orbits Asteroid (Time.com)
      "The fact is, however, Vesta is the second largest object in our solar system's asteroid belt — and one of the oldest objects in the solar system as a whole — and Dawn is one of the coolest little spacecraft NASA has ever built. Together they could yield important clues to the origins of the sun and the planets, not to mention helping NASA engineers demonstrate their increasingly sophisticated cosmic-flying skills." 07-11

  15. -07-26-11 Time Travel Theory Refuted (Time.com)
      Ten years ago, it seemed that some scientists proved that photons could travel faster than the speed of light under certain circumstances and this, theoretically, could allow time travel. "But thanks to one particularly determined professor, Du Shengwang, the research team at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has proved that particular theory (or, rather, hope) wrong. They say their research, which was published in the journal Physical Review Letters, shows that even single photons--the smallest particle of light — travel at the same maximum speed. In other words, time travel will remain in the domain of dreams and science fiction." 07-11

  16. -07-28-11 Black Hole Drinks Trillions of Earth's Worth of Water (Time.com)
      "We don't think of the universe as a terribly wet place, but in fact there's water out in space pretty much everywhere you look." 07-11

  17. -08-01-11 Earth's Tugboat Astereoid (Time.com)
      "Now there's word out of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that astronomers have just discovered Earth's first Trojan asteroid — a rock that shares our own solar orbit, leading us around the sun like a tugboat pulling an ocean liner. That's big news not just because such an object had never been spotted before, but also because a Trojan could make such an easy and nifty place for astronauts to visit." 08-11

  18. -08-04-11 Compelling New Evidence for Water on Mars (Time.com)
      "New images beamed back by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been circling the Red Planet since 2006, have produced the first compelling evidence of flowing, salty water on the Martian surface. Water may mean biology — and biology, of course, would mean Martians." 08-11

  19. -08-12-11 DNA Building Blocks Found in Meteorites (Time.com)
      "Scientists have been finding evidence of life inside meteorites for well over 100 years — that, or the building blocks of life. The claims of life have been debunked every time, most recently just this past March. It always turns out to be a wishful interpretation of chemicals, minerals and tiny structures inside the meteorite that could be the fossilized husks of long-dead bacteria — but almost certainly aren't."

      "The building blocks, though, have proved a lot more convincing. As far back as the 1960s, it was clear that amino acids, which link up to form proteins, can and do form in space. And now scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are claiming that another set of molecules crucial to life have also rained down on Earth: adenine and guanine, two of the four so-called nucleobases that, along with cytosine and thymine, form the rungs of DNA's ladder-like structure." 08-11

  20. -08-18-11 The Blackest Planet in the Universe (Time.com)
      "If you imagine the blackest thing you've ever heard of — a lump of coal, say — and then try to imagine something a whole lot blacker, you're beginning to get a sense of the planet known by the strange name of TrES-2b. Whereas the original Jupiter reflects about 50% of the sunlight that hits it, TrES-2b reflects an infinitesimal 1%. 'Actually,' says David Spiegel, a Princeton astronomer who co-authored the new study on TrES-2b's remarkable blackness that appears in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 'our best models suggest it's more like a 10th of a percent.' ”

      Also try Extrasolar Planets. 08-11

  21. -11-22-11 The Search for Life on Other Planets (CNN News)
      "So what it comes down to is this: While there may be other life out there, the reality is that the universe is such a big place, we’re not going for a visit to our celestial neighbors anytime soon." 11-11

  22. -12-05-11 Largest Black Holes Yet Found (CNN News)
      "Black holes: They're the most destructive monsters in the universe. We already knew they can be powerfully massive. Now scientists say they've found the most massive ones yet, as reported in the journal Nature." 12-11

  23. -12-09-11 Largest Black Holes Yet Found (Time.com)
      "The smaller one, located inside a galaxy known as NGC 3842, is as massive as 9.7 billion suns, and the other, in a galaxy called NGC 4889, is more than twice as large: if you put it on a very large balance, it would take at least 21 billion stars to even things out. Another way to think about things: even the smaller of the two is nearly 30% bigger than the previous record holder, announced last winter, and it would make for a great storyline if astronomers were surprised, amazed, flabbergasted, blown away by the awesome giganticness of these monsters."

      "Nowadays, everyone pretty much agrees that quasars are supermassive black holes at the cores of young galaxies. The holes themselves aren't visible, of course, but when they suck in surrounding matter, the stuff heats up to millions of degrees, sending bursts of energy shooting across the cosmos."

      "Back when the universe was young, there was plenty of gas floating around to feed these monsters. Nowadays, much of it the gas is gone, and so are the quasars — but the black holes that powered them should, as Loeb says, still be around (where would they go, after all?)." 12-11

  24. -12-13-11 Movement of Light Captured at MIT (Time.com)
      "Our feeble little minds can’t process the time that light takes to fill a room, but now we can see it happen in slow-motion with help from the MIT Media Lab and its trillion frames per second camera." 11-12

  25. -12-13-11 The Search for the "God Particle" Narrows (Time.com)
      "The existence of mass — the property of matter that gives gravity something to pull on — needs explaining."

      "Now, say two independent teams of scientists who revealed their results at a symposium in Switzerland Tuesday morning, there are experimental signs of an elusive particle formally known as the Higgs boson — and informally known as the 'God particle.' If the Higgs is really there, the existence of mass has finally been explained, and a Scottish physicist named Peter Higgs is a lock for the Nobel prize."

      "Suffice it to say that there's a sort of energy field that pervades the universe, and that when particles like protons, neutrons, quarks and the rest interact with the Higgs field, they're rewarded with mass. The Higgs boson helps broker the transaction." 12-11

  26. -12-14-11 First-Ever Close-Up of Matter Falling into a Supermassive Black Hole (Christian Science Monitor)
      "For the first time, astronomers are poised to get a close look at a supermassive black hole making a meal of in-falling gas." 12-11

  27. -12-21-11 Two Earth-Sized Planets Discovered (Wall Street Journal)
      "Using NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers discovered two Earth-size planets orbiting a distant star--the smallest of all the thousands of alien worlds detected so far, Lee Hotz reports on the News Hub. Photo: NASA." 12-11

  28. -12-31-11 Scientists Use Cloning to Create Stem Cells (Time.com)
      "It's not quite human cloning, but it's close. Researchers reported using a variation of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) — the same technique that created Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned, from a skin cell of a ewe — on human cells. SCNT involves replacing the genetic material of an egg cell with the DNA from a mature cell (a skin cell, for example). The egg is then stimulated to divide, and if it develops fully, produces a genetically identical clone of the animal from which the mature cell was taken." 12-11

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