Thanks to high-speed film and some persistent scientists, at least one of the secrets of flight is now revealed. When birds, bats or bugs make a turn, all they have to do is start flapping their wings normally again and they straighten right out. That came as a surprise to researchers who thought turning and stopping took more steps.
Lead researcher Tyson L. Hedrick of the University of North Carolina compared it to sitting at a desk chair and turning left. It’s a three-step process, launch the turn by pushing with one foot, turn, then stop by pushing with the other.
It’s a simpler, one-step process for flying animals, he explained in a telephone interview, launch a turn and then simply flap normally to end it and fly away. The findings are reported in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.
“We didn’t expect things to fall out this neatly,” he said, particularly since the process is the same for animals of all sizes from the fruit fly to the bat to the cockatoo. “It’s sort of unusual” to find a general rule to cover six orders of magnitude in size, he said. The findings should help in the development of robotic flying machines, he said. But, of course, this study focuses only on one type of maneuver, turning left or right, which is known as yaw in aviation. There’s still pitch, nose up or nose down, and roll, which is tilting left or right, to be dealt with.
Archive for April 10th, 2009
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
AFTER billions of years of runaway expansion, is the universe starting to slow down? A new analysis of nearby supernovae suggests space might not be expanding as quickly as it once was, a tantalising hint that the source of dark energy may be more exotic than we thought.
For more than a decade, astrophysicists have grappled with evidence of a baffling force that seems to be pushing the universe apart at an ever-increasing rate. Exactly what constitutes the dark energy responsible for this cosmic speed-up is unknown, says Michael Turner at the University of Chicago. “The simplest question we can ask is ‘does the dark energy change with time?’”
So far, the evidence has suggested that dark energy is constant, though its effect on the universe has become stronger as the universe has expanded and the gravitational force between objects weakens with distance.
Now an analysis of supernovae suggests dark energy may actually be on the wane. In a paper on the physics preprint website, a team led by Arman Shafieloo at the University of Oxford examined a newly released catalogue of supernova explosions, including a number of relatively recent blasts nearby (www.arxiv.org/abs/0903.5141). They found that the new data made the best fit with a universe in which dark energy is losing strength. “It seems acceleration is slowing down,” says Shafieloo.
The first evidence of dark energy emerged in 1998, when two teams of astronomers spotted distant supernova explosions that appeared dimmer than expected, and so further away. The find suggested the exploding stars were receding from Earth faster than anticipated, and therefore so was the rest of the universe. “Dark energy” was invoked to explain the apparent anomaly. Since then more supernovae have been catalogued to help build up a picture of how the universe has expanded over time…
… a potential bias could have been introduced thanks to dimmer objects being easier to see if they are nearby. It is possible that the Harvard team happened to catalogue a disproportionate number of nearby supernovae that were faint or obscured by dust. Astronomers must correct for the dimming effect of dust and other subtleties in order to estimate a supernova’s true peak brightness. But the team may have overcompensated in this correction, producing a catalogue of nearby supernovae that are slightly too bright for their distance. That would create the illusion that the universe’s acceleration has been slowing.
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
We’ve seen mood pencils and mood radios, and some creative Mini Cooper Promotions. Now, we’ve just found out that Mini is going to start making the Mini Chameleon, the world’s first color changing car. The key is a special kind of coating: “Cars treated with FeintPaint comprises tiny magnetic iron oxide particles which can interact with a low grade magnetic field to change the spacing of the particles, and hence its ability to reflect light and change color.”
“BMW’s MINI division will debut its first color-morphing car in Singapore in June. Called the MINI Chameleon, the car changes color according to weather conditions.
For example, on a rainy day, the car’s paint brightens to improve visibility while on a sunny day, it lightens to reflect heat and cool down the vehicle.
The color-morphing technology was made possible due to a special treatment called FeintPaint by Spanish company Payola Forlids.
Cars treated with FeintPaint comprises tiny magnetic iron oxide particles which can interact with a low grade magnetic field to change the spacing of the particles, and hence its ability to reflect light and change color.
The color changes take effect in seconds, and should be quite a sight to behold! Unless of course, you’re the owner, and you’ve no idea where you last parked your car in a multi-story car park. ”
It’s about time someone did this! Wished this color technology could be applied to the interior leather as well…nothing like black leather during the winter, but oh my is it toasty to the touch in the summer! Would also be cool if the cars color changed as you sped up on the highway, from a cool blue to a hot red the faster you went.
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
Where does space begin? Scientists at the University of Calgary have created a new instrument that is able to track the transition between the relatively gentle winds of Earth’s atmosphere and the more violent flows of charged particles in space – flows that can reach speeds well over 1000 km/hr. And they have accomplished this in unprecedented detail.
Data received from the U of C-designed instrument sent to space on a NASA launch from Alaska about two years ago was able to help pinpoint the so-called edge of space: the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
With that data, U of C scientists confirmed that space begins 118 km above Earth and the results were published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
The instrument – called the Supra-Thermal Ion Imager – was carried by the JOULE-II rocket on Jan. 19, 2007. It travelled to an altitude of about 200 kilometers above sea level and collected data for the five minutes it was moving through the “edge of space.”
The Canadian Space Agency invested $422,000 in the development of the Supra-Thermal Ion Imager instrument on JOULE-II.
The ability to gather data in that area is significant because it’s very difficult to make measurements in this region, which is too high for balloons and too low for satellites.
“It’s only the second time that direct measurements of charged particle flows have been made in this region, and the first time all the ingredients – such as the upper atmospheric winds – have been included,” says David Knudsen, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary. …
“When you drag a heavy object over a surface, the interface becomes hot. In JOULE-II we were able to measure directly two regions being dragged past each other, one being the ionosphere — being driven by flows in space — and the other the earth’s atmosphere,” says Knudsen, who also is the head of the Space Physics Division of the Institute for Space Imaging Sciences (ISIS). The institute is a research partnership between the University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge.
The measurements confirmed what other scientists consider the boundary or edge of space.
… The paper “Rocket-based measurements of ion velocity, neutral wind, and electric field in the collisional transition region of the auroral ionosphere” was published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It can be found on-line at
This confirms that space is 387,139 feet (73 miles ) up. Here is a related story from Poker Flat AK (SPX) Jan 24, 2007:
From Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks, four NASA rockets launched into an aurora display over northern Alaska, starting at 3:29 a.m. Alaska Standard Time. Scientists hope to learn more about electrical heating of the thin atmosphere from about 60 to 120 miles above Earth’s surface with the launch of these rockets. The project is called JOULE II. Staff at Poker Flat Research Range coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that airspace was secure before launching all rockets. Each rocket’s flight lasted about 12 minutes, and all rockets performed as planned, flying to their desired locations in space, with precision greater than 95 percent.
Miguel Larsen, a professor at Clemson University, was the principal investigator for JOULE II, which consisted of two Terrier Orions, a Black Brant V, and a Black Brant IX. The rockets launched in two pairs–the pairs consisted of one rocket with instruments to read the detailed structure of the electrical currents within the aurora, while a second rocket released a visible tracer of trimethyl aluminum vapor to measure the winds and turbulence at that altitude range.
Using sensitive digital and film cameras, scientists watching from Poker Flat, Coldfoot, and Fort Yukon determined how winds in the upper atmosphere contorted the visible tracer. They will use the information to track the winds in the aurora region.
The two releases of trimethyl aluminum produced a milky white glow when exposed to oxygen in the upper atmosphere, and may have been visible over parts of Alaska. – space-travel.com
Joule II comprised several different experiments using several different rockets.
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
In cult sci-fi tale Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the most powerful computer in the universe was charged with finding the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
In the real world, a newly built supercomputer that is the most powerful ever dedicated to science will be tackling questions about climate change, supernovas, and the structure of water.
The projects were chosen in a peer-reviewed process designed to get the computer producing useful science even during the period when its performance is still being fine-tuned by engineers.
Jaguar is located at the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS), part of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, and has a peak operating performance of 1.64 petaflops, meaning it can perform more than a million billion mathematical operations every second.
Jaguar has 181,000 processing cores, compared to the one or two found in most desktop machines. The world’s only more powerful computer is the US Nuclear Security Administration’s 1.7-petaflop Roadrunner at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Think there is something faster in an underground military base somewhere?
The fluorinert-cooled machine is a Cray T-90 which went out of production over a decade ago.
The “thinking machine” is actually a Connection Machine manufactured by the now-defunct Thinking Machines Corp.
In other words, the super computer in the video is ancient technology.
Posted by Xeno on April 10, 2009
Yes, it is possible to repair and even regrow your teeth using a completely natural method that is actually based on science. A team of Alberta researchers applied for a patent that claims they created a miniature device that will stimulate the jaw bones and gums around the affected tooth. Using the low intensity ultrasound technology, they claim they were able to regrow the root of a tooth and stimulate tooth grow and repair.
Although the technology is not going to be in your local dental office for a few years, I believe we don’t have to wait for it and apply the common sense to do the whole process ourselves. First, we need a low frequency ultrasound source and from all the legally (you can’t buy a real ultrasound machine unless you are a doctor) available sources two come to mind.
First is a Novasonic Massager that can generate a sound vibration of 20,000 Hertz. It is not your regular massager and all you have to do is slightly touch the skin and you can feel the sound waves go deep within your body. I have one myself and love using it.
Second device is more sophisticated and you can find them selling on Ebay. The link searches for the Ebay results for “ultrasound massager” and you will see a bunch of them selling from $100 to $150. They are much more powerful then a Novasonic model and can generate up to 3-5 mHz frequency, so be very careful when using one. You should get one that generates only 1-2 mHz, as 3-5 mHz vibrations don’t go very far – about 1/8″-1/4″ deep.
So, what I do is I apply the sound waves from the device to my teeth and gums for a few minutes every day and get a gentle but thorough massage this way.
I have a tooth I’d like to regrow, right NOW. Has this worked for anyone? I want to do this … so if any doctors know of cancer risks from ultrasounding your tooth roots and jaw, speak up. Or if the people in Alberta have any tips based on their research, let us know. This from Science Daily:
ScienceDaily (June 28, 2006) — Hockey players, rejoice! A team of University of Alberta researchers has created technology to regrow teeth – the first time scientists have been able to reform human dental tissue.
… Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), Dr. Tarak El-Bialy from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Drs. Jie Chen and Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering have created a miniaturized system-on-a-chip that offers a non-invasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.
“It’s very exciting because we have shown the results and actually have something you can touch and feel that will impact the health of people in Canada and throughout the world,” said Chen, who works out of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
The wireless design of the ultrasound transducer means the miniscule device will be able to fit comfortably inside a patient’s mouth while packed in biocompatible materials. The unit will be easily mounted on an orthodontic or “braces” bracket or even a plastic removable crown. The team also designed an energy sensor that will ensure the LIPUS power is reaching the target area of the teeth roots within the bone. TEC Edmonton, the U of A’s exclusive tech transfer service provider, filed the first patent recently in the U.S. Currently, the research team is finishing the system-on-a-chip and hopes to complete the miniaturized device by next year.
“If the root is broken, it can now be fixed,” said El-Bialy. “And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth.” – scienceDaily
That was three years ago. I’ve written to ask for an update. Here is Dr. El-Bialy’s profile including his current work. Here is the patent application for the ultrasound device that can regrow teeth. Ultrasound works to regrow teeth according to this site which does not seem to have been recently updated:
This is about our eighteen month test of using LIPUS to regrow pulp and dentin at an accelerated rate for mature and senior people. The process invigorates the inside of our teeth for increased healthier tissue. The added growth of dentin bolsters the enamel as it was when you were a younger person. In addition to the above an increase of density in mandible bone and upper tooth support solidifies tooth roots. Our experience shows a solid bite equal to that in our teenage years. The ringing of teeth when biting down hard, which we had forgotten entirely, was back again. Professor Paul Sharpe, Head of the Department of Craniofacial Development, King’s College London stated: “A key medical advantage of this new technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than artificial prosthesis. Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person’s bite. They move, and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth.”
At the present time our technology is at the stage where regrowing teeth is limited to teeth with live roots. The inner part of the tooth, dentin is alive and in regrowing will expand into its initial, youthful proportions. The dentin thereby puts equal pressure on the Enamel part of the tooth as in the younger person. This naturally recurring rejuvenation has a propensity to expel such parts of the tooth enamel which have previously been broken, which may result in its loss. Our experience is based on our use of this methodology and equipment and is now in its third year. Any person planning to use this Canadian LIPUS technique can inquire with questions to our test section. – hopp , lipus.org