Science and Innovation

China Tests ‘Lunar Palace’ as It Eyes Moon Mission

China Tests ‘Lunar Palace’ as It Eyes Moon Mission

Science and Innovation
Chinese students will live in a laboratory simulating a lunar-like environment for up to 200 days as Beijing prepares for its long-term goal of putting humans on the moon. Four postgraduate students from the capital's astronautics research university Beihang entered the 160-square-metre (1,720-square-foot) cabin - dubbed the "Yuegong-1", or "Lunar Palace" - on Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The volunteers will live in the sealed lab to simulate a long-term, self-contained space mission with no input from the outside world, Xinhua said. Human waste will be treated with a bio-fermentation process, and experimental crops and vegetables grown with the help of food and waste byproducts. The cabin represents the "world's most advanced closed-loop life-support technolo...
SpaceX Poised to Launch First Used Rocket on Thursday

SpaceX Poised to Launch First Used Rocket on Thursday

Science and Innovation
SpaceX is poised to launch its first used rocket on Thursday, using a booster that sent food and supplies to the astronauts living at the International Space Station in April. The goal of the launch, scheduled for 6:27pm (10:27pm GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is to send a communications satellite for Luxembourg-based company SES into a distant orbit. Standing tall at the NASA launchpad, the white Falcon 9 rocket contains a tall, column-like portion known as the first stage, or booster, that propelled the unmanned Dragon cargo ship to space last year, then returned to an upright landing on an ocean platform. SpaceX, the California-based company headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has for years been honing the technology of powering its boosters back to careful Earth landing...
Scientists make the case to restore Pluto’s planet status

Scientists make the case to restore Pluto’s planet status

Science and Innovation
Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: Regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of "planet." The definition approved by the International Astronomical Union in 2006 demoted Pluto to "non-planet," thus dropping the consensus number of planets in our solar system from nine to eight. The change -- a subject of much scientific debate at the time and since -- made no sense, says Runyon, lead author of a short paper making the pro-Pluto argument that will be presented next week...
Scientists identify a black hole choking on stardust

Scientists identify a black hole choking on stardust

Science and Innovation
In this artist's rendering, a thick accretion disk has formed around a supermassive black hole following the tidal disruption of a star that wandered too close. Stellar debris has fallen toward the black hole and collected into a thick chaotic disk of hot gas. Flashes of X-ray light near the center of the disk result in light echoes that allow astronomers to map the structure of the funnel-like flow, revealing for the first time strong gravity effects around a normally quiescent black hole. In the center of a distant galaxy, almost 300 million light years from Earth, scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole that is "choking" on a sudden influx of stellar debris. In a paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers from MIT, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Cent...
Pollution Negates Health Benefits of Exercise in Indian Cities, Study Claims

Pollution Negates Health Benefits of Exercise in Indian Cities, Study Claims

Science and Innovation
Air pollution is just one of the many crises we’re dealing with across the world. The health impact of air pollution continues to astound us and if you’re the health conscious sort, a new study is bound to upset you. It states that some cities are so polluted that 30 minutes of exercise does more harm than good. The study was published in the journal Preventive Medicine and it used cycling as the sample activity to simulate exercise. The study assumed an average cycling speed of 12-14 kilometres an hour to check its impact on the body. The results are shocking. In north Indian cities such as Allahabad and Gwalior, cycling for more than 30 minutes is bad for health, the study said. In New Delhi, one hour is when the 'breakeven point' is reached. If PM2.5 levels are above a certain level
Space Rains Junk on Spain

Space Rains Junk on Spain

Science and Innovation
It's raining space junk in Spain. Rocket fuel tanks, chunks of satellites or something else entirely...In just over one week, three mysterious objects have fallen from the sky onto the country's southeast, prompting bomb disposal agents and experts in hazmat suits to rush over as puzzled locals looked on. First up a strange black beehive-like ball was found in Mula, a town in the region of Murcia last week. Then at the weekend, a similar-looking, smaller object was discovered in Calasparra, just 30 kilometres (19 miles) away in the same region. "In the early morning of the day when the first object was found, witnesses said they saw between six and seven balls of fire falling from the sky," Maria Jose Gomariz, spokeswoman for Calasparra town hall, said Thursday. "Maybe there were just two...
Venus-Like Planet Found 39 Light Years Away

Venus-Like Planet Found 39 Light Years Away

Science and Innovation
Astronomers have discovered a new Venus-like rocky exoplanet 39 light years away, which may be cool enough to potentially host an atmosphere. If it does, it is close enough that we could study that atmosphere in detail with the Hubble Space Telescope and future observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope, researchers said. "Our ultimate goal is to find a twin Earth, but along the way we've found a twin Venus," said astronomer David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in US. "We suspect it will have a Venus-like atmosphere too, and if it does we can't wait to get a whiff," said Charbonneau. "This planet is going to be a favourite target of astronomers for years to come," said lead author Zachory Berta-Thompson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...
Astronomers Measure ‘Heartbeats’ of Distant Stars

Astronomers Measure ‘Heartbeats’ of Distant Stars

Science and Innovation
Offering a new way of determining a galaxy's age, astronomers have detected thousands of stellar "pulses" - regular up and down changes in brightness - in a distant galaxy. The team studied the elliptical galaxy M87, located 53 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. "We tend to think of galaxies as steady beacons in the sky, but they are actually 'shimmering' due to all the giant, pulsating stars in them," said one of the researchers Pieter van Dokkum, professor and chair of the astronomy department at Yale University in New Haven, US. Near the end of their lifetime stars begin to pulsate, increasing and decreasing their brightness by a large amount every few hundred days. In our own Milky Way galaxy, many stars are known to be in this stage of life. It is the first ti...
New Tracker to Monitor Health of Guide Dogs

New Tracker to Monitor Health of Guide Dogs

Science and Innovation, Technology
Researchers have developed a device that allows people who are blind to monitor their guide dogs in order to keep tabs on the health and well being of their canine companions. "Dogs primarily communicate through their movements and posture, which makes it difficult or impossible for people who are blind to fully understand their dogs' needs on a moment-to-moment basis," said study co-author David Roberts, assistant professor of computer science at North Carolina State University in the US. "This challenge is particularly pronounced in guide dogs, who are bred and trained to be outwardly calm and avoid drawing attention to themselves in public," Roberts noted. To address this need, the researchers have developed a suite of technologies that monitor a dog's breathing and heart rate and shar...
Smart Glasses to Help Treat ‘Lazy Eye’ in Children

Smart Glasses to Help Treat ‘Lazy Eye’ in Children

Science and Innovation, Technology
New programmable electronic glasses can help improve vision in children just as well as the more traditional treatment using eye patches, according to results from the first US trial of the device. This "digital patch" is the first new effective treatment for lazy eye in half a century, researchers from the Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University said. Lazy eye, also called amblyopia, remains the most common cause of visual impairment in children. Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normally during early childhood. This can occur when one eye is much more nearsighted than the other, or when one eye wanders or strays inward. The child needs to receive treatment by the age of 8 or so while their eyes and brain are still developing, or he or she could become blind in th...