Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ We pick the science of life Tue, 08 Dec 2020 10:38:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 https://www.sciencepicker.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/uploads/sites/15/cropped-New-Project-32x32.png Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ 32 32 96 years to make a dream come true https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/96-years-to-make-a-dream-come-true/ Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:20:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1438 When you live to see almost 100 years of life you have experienced a lot. Those who are 100 today have lived through the invention of television, World War II, the great depression, the birth of rock and roll, the freedom of the sixties, the age of the internet, and much much more. One woman […]

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When you live to see almost 100 years of life you have experienced a lot. Those who are 100 today have lived through the invention of television, World War II, the great depression, the birth of rock and roll, the freedom of the sixties, the age of the internet, and much much more. One woman who recently turned 96 had a dream for many of these years and after a lot of work, she finally achieved it. She said it was the greatest moment of her life. She managed to make contact with someone in outer space. A rare moment that would be special for anyone but meant a lot more to this woman. Read on to find out more.

Jean Moffatt is 96 years old. She has lived in Canada for her entire life and seen the world change so much that it is likely nothing could still surprise her. Jean has always been fond of the radio and for many years she has been on her very own traditional radio set (sometimes referred to as ham radio) talking to people around the world. Jean says that she has talked to people from every imaginable destination. The traditional radio works based on satellites so it can ping people from all over the world and Moffatt has been lucky enough to talk to people in the Arctic and Antarctic and nearly everywhere in-between. This may not sound so incredible in the age of the internet when you can not only share a voice call but you could like video call someone or play online games with someone in the far reaches of the world, but Jean Moffatt is 96 years old and for much of her life the idea of talking to someone outside your home town was fanciful.

While she loved talking to people all over the world she had a dream that one day she would be able to talk to someone in space. This was likely a dream that she never really thought possible. To talk to someone in space they would have needed another ham radio. Systems that were quite large and relied on satellites pointing towards Earth. Yet as time went on and technology advanced Jean Moffatt’s dream never changed but the technology did. What one seemed the fanciful idea of a young girl soon became a very possible reality.

At the age of 96, Moffatt started to try and make this dream a reality. She contacted space agencies around the world with her wish. Finally, after one particular email with NASA and about three months of waiting and organizing, it happened. Her ham radio was used to make contact with a space station in Northern Itay that patched her through to the International Space Station. Jean Moffatt spoke to Commander Luca Parmitano while he was in space.

For many of her later years, Jean volunteered at the Science Centre and helped educate people on how to use ham radio and what it was used for throughout history. Another volunteer coordinator was chatting with her one day when she mentioned her dream of speaking to an astronaut. Together they made it happen and Jean Moffatt realized her dream.

This story shows how long life can be. Jean Moffatt lived long enough to see some incredible changes throughout history but also long enough to see things that she thought were an insane dream become a very possible reality. If you know someone who dreams of speaking to an astronaut this shows how possible it is. If you know someone who has dreams a little more unrealistic than that, don’t lose hope, it may just take time.

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Everything you need to know about airplane windows https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/everything-you-need-to-know-about-airplane-windows/ Sat, 16 Jan 2021 15:03:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1456 Things are different when you fly and we have come to accept it as normal. If you went to eat a meal at a restaurant you wouldn’t expect a waiter to wait on your every need yet we except the flight attendant to do everything. The meals themselves would likely be refused if they turned […]

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Things are different when you fly and we have come to accept it as normal. If you went to eat a meal at a restaurant you wouldn’t expect a waiter to wait on your every need yet we except the flight attendant to do everything. The meals themselves would likely be refused if they turned up in a restaurant but they are an exciting part of any flight. And of course, there are the windows. The windows in an airplane are stranger than any window you have ever seen yet you likely never questioned it. Picture the windows of your home, picture the windows of your work or school, picture the windows of your car. What do they all have in common? They are all square or rectangular in design. Airplane windows are not, they are circular. But why?

The reason is not one of aesthetics. As you can imagine every decision that is made in the design of an airplane is done to either make money or keep you safe. When these two ideas conflict we hope the airline will choose the safest option but we know they don’t always do that. For years planes flew with square windows and it was a complete success, there were no issues at all.

One day someone very intelligent realized that if planes flew higher in the air, there would be less drag and it would cost less to make journeys. Planes then needed to fly at 30,000 feet as this was decided to be the most economic point of flying. A decision made to make money, not for our safety. Slight changes were made to the plane to ensure they could fly at this higher altitude. Sadly many of these changes came through experience.

One change was that the fuselage, where the passengers are, needed to be a cylinder to help distribute air pressure. A second change required was that the windows needed to be circular. At least three accidents have been documented from the 1950s where planes that flew higher resulted in crashes. They killed a total of 56 people and in each of the three cases the windows were found to be the cause. It turns out the if you have square windows you have corners. Corners are a point of weakness in the window and the pressure builds too high. This results in three known plane wrecks and possibly many more.

Airlines then realized that if they changed the windows to circular the problem would be solved. They also increased the layers of glass in the window to ensure the air pressure couldn’t be changed by the outside environment. You may have noticed that airplane windows have a small hole in them. Don’t worry this is not letting air in from the outside. This is actually allowing normal air distribution between the second and third pane of glass to ensure there is no imbalance.

One other thing you may have noticed on an airplane is that the window sometimes does not line up with the seat. This can be incredibly annoying when you want to look out the window for a view or you are resting your head on a piece of the window and the person behind you opens it because they feel it is their window too. There is a reason for this as well. This is because when a plane is manufactured it is done with a certain amount of seats in mind but it is up to the airline that purchases the plane whether they stick with the recommend amount or try to fit more on. Again, in the interest of money, most airlines try to fit on more seats.

These are the three key bits of interest when it comes to airplane windows. The next time you are on an airplane have a look around and see what other strange things are in place that we seem to take as normal.

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Japan has solved the public restroom problem https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/japan-has-solved-the-public-restroom-problem/ Sat, 09 Jan 2021 15:12:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1435 As a general rule, I don’t use public toilets that are standalone. I am happy to use public bathrooms in restaurants or other businesses but those public toilets that are in many parks or on the side of the street, are a no go. I think I am not alone in this rule. The reasons […]

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As a general rule, I don’t use public toilets that are standalone. I am happy to use public bathrooms in restaurants or other businesses but those public toilets that are in many parks or on the side of the street, are a no go. I think I am not alone in this rule. The reasons are simple. The standard of cleanliness in these toilets can often be incredibly low. The standard of safety is often very low as well. The homeless (rightly) often use these public toilets as a refuge from the cold weather and slowly they become areas where you get the feeling you are not welcome. Some public bathrooms are so bad that from the outside you can’t tell if they are still operational, have been abandoned, or are just really filthy. Japan is trying to solve the problem.

Japan is well known for its strange inventions. The innovators of Japan have a willingness to think outside the box that is unmatched anywhere in the world. Take a look at the shoe umbrellas, designed in Japan, as an example. These are mini umbrellas that fit on top of your shoes and aim to keep them dry and resistant to splashes. Very strange, yet somehow it makes perfect sense.

Well, the public bathroom problem is nothing that the Japanese can’t handle. A new solution has now been rolled out in some of the public parks near Shibuya, the commercial part of Tokyo. You may know Shibuya because of the famous four-way crossing in the center of the commercial district with as many as 2,5000 people crossing at one time. Yet it may soon become famous for something else, toilets.

Two parks have been fitted with see-through toilets. The idea is very simple, if you can see into a toilet through transparent class you can inspect how safe and clean they are from a distance. If it doesn’t look clean you can stay away and if you see someone sleeping inside or waiting in there you can keep clear as well. Privacy is an obvious problem with see-through toilets of course but this is where the solution is clever. The transparent glass is brightly colored. Some are pink, some are green, some orange. When someone occupies a toilet and locks the door, the transparent glass becomes opaque. This provides users with the privacy they need.

Another nice feature of the toilets is that the brightly colored glass is back-lit. This means that they act as lanterns in the public parks at night which will hopefully keep shady characters away. There is one issue with the toilets so far. Once a user locks a door and the glass turns opaque, they are inside, free to do their business. Yet from the inside the appearance has not changed and there is supposedly no way to tell if you can be seen or can’t be. I’m not sure if this is because the inside is always transparent or always opaque but it does appear a flaw in the design.

If the switch is ever faulty a lot of people could end up accidentally going to the toilet in public view. Even if it does not fault, if it is always transparent on the inside pranksters could approach a window and wave (even though they can’t see anything). This would be a great way to turn people off using the toilets.

The new toilet innovation is a fun idea that has a great practical side. If they can tweak the inside view then it may be the perfect solution to using public restrooms. For now, though, I think I will continue to hold it in just a little longer.

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The rate of ice melt in Greenland https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-rate-of-ice-melt-in-greenland/ Sat, 02 Jan 2021 14:36:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1432 We need to talk about Greenland. While 2020 has been a tough year for most and the news has been filled with discussions of Trump, the pandemic and at some point killer bees, there is still an even large danger looming in the background. That danger is, of course, climate change. Climate change hasn’t gone […]

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We need to talk about Greenland. While 2020 has been a tough year for most and the news has been filled with discussions of Trump, the pandemic and at some point killer bees, there is still an even large danger looming in the background. That danger is, of course, climate change. Climate change hasn’t gone away this year but it hasn’t received the same attention as in previous years. While it would be nice to take a year off climate change and focus on the other perils of the world, we can never stop fighting climate change because the costs are too high. New evidence from Greenland shows that the ice is continuing to melt at very high rates and that this is a trend set to continue.

The analysis of ice loss in 2019 has been completed and it appears it was another record year with the loss of ice 15% higher than the previous record set in 2012. The key factor in this melt in both 2012 and 2019 was high-pressure systems. However, it is the underlying growth of emissions that is continuing to put pressure on the overall trend and that makes high-pressure years like 2019 particularly damaging. 

Greenland should be thought of as a huge ice block. 80% of the country is covered in ice, making it the second-largest ice block in the world and largest in the Northern Hemisphere, just behind the Antarctic ice mass. Studies now show that ice is melting in Greenland seven times faster than it was in the 1990s. That is adding 1.5mm of water to the sea levels every year, which contributes about 40% of the overall rise. Clearly, if this goes on unabated disaster will strike. Today we are figuratively lying in a bath with the taps on watching it slowly approach an overflow rate, yet we continue to lie there and do nothing.

People often read these articles and think, that is terrible but how much will it actually impact my life? The answer is; a massive amount. This is no longer a conversation about future generations and your great-grandkids. If these rising sea levels are not put in check an additional 25 million people will experience massive flooding within the next 80 years.

Some argue it is too late. That the carbon emissions we have in place will guarantee the eventual melting of Greenland. While that is true, it is still incredibly important to slow the rate down. It may save countless lives in the short term and allow the long term to find another solution.

Experts argue that all studies are now out of date. The melt rate of Greenland means that it is tracking in line with, or worse than the worst-case scenarios that were previously developed. The worst case of yesterday is the expected outcome of today. Who knows what tomorrow’s worst-case will become?

It is sad to think that the world population will slowly watch the planet die and do little about it. To think if we had started when the first warnings came we could have saved countless lives and even if we started now we could still save the planet. Yet the question is, will we? And how will we? One or two people who cycle to work every day will not save the planet. It is a nice start but it is not enough. Governments must step in and regulate all objects that cause high CO2 emissions. Only then with drastic changes could we have a chance of overcoming this crisis. While the pandemic is still ongoing in many countries, the majority of governments did respond swiftly and with collaboration. It can be done and it needs to be done at a greater scale to save the world.

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Why is the sky black at night? https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/why-is-the-sky-black-at-night/ Sat, 26 Dec 2020 14:09:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1429 “Starry, starry night. Paint your palette blue and grey.” those famous lyrics sung by Don McLean in 1971 talk about the beautiful night sky and its bluey-grey demeanor. Although if we are honest, in the dead of night, the sky is black. While on a good clear night without much light pollution you can see […]

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“Starry, starry night. Paint your palette blue and grey.” those famous lyrics sung by Don McLean in 1971 talk about the beautiful night sky and its bluey-grey demeanor. Although if we are honest, in the dead of night, the sky is black. While on a good clear night without much light pollution you can see some amazing stars, the majority is just black. However if the sky is full of these incredibly bright stars, planets, and galaxies, then why is it so black? Read on for a surprising answer.

If you say that it is black because it is so vast, I can only give you half a point. That is true, of course, the universe is massive and ever-expanding. What looks like two stars beside each other from our perspective could be millions of lightyears apart and then a black void between them would make sense. That is not the real reason we see so much black in our skies though.

The truth is that the sky is not as black as we perceive it, our view is blocked. If you think of light as energy, space is full of it. Some are high energy waves and some low energy waves and these radio waves travel different distances in different ways. The first limiting factor is our eyes. We can’t visibly see all light waves and so many of these don’t show for us. The absence of light would appear as black. Scientists separate all light into two fields, visible light, and invisible light, and for us, there is a large portion of the light that is not visible. 

The second limiting factor is the Earth’s atmosphere. Many of the light waves are unable to break through the atmosphere of the Earth and so any light that is unable to enter again appears as black. This means that if we could step outside our atmosphere we may see a brighter sky at night than we are used to. 

The third factor is the vastness of space. Of course, there are billions of stars and galaxies out there that fill the entire night sky but they are just so far away that they barely appear as specks in our sky. If we had a better technology that could represent every galaxy with different colors we may start to see just how crowded the sky actually is. 

It can be daunting to remember when looking at the night sky how massive those tiny stars actually are. When you consider some constellations you don’t realize how important they are to our universe and how most are far larger than Earth. On rare occasions when there is so little light pollution it is possible to see vivid images of the Milky Way. This is our best chance of understanding what the night sky could look like. Of course, there are other phenomena that often take place too. The Aurora Borealis itself is the collision of electrically charged particles from the sun entering our atmosphere. Imagine what other strange colors are spread across the universe.

Clearly the night sky is incredibly vast and the reason the majority of it is black is that there is a whole lot of nothing up there. The stars that we see are a small percentage of what exists and they are just the ones that are close enough to our planet to be visible. If you could stare into those black spaces a little deeper you would end up hitting a star or galaxy eventually. Yet the light that is shining off all of these objects does make the night sky less dark, we just can’t perceive it. Maybe Don McLean could?

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When engineering meets Ancient Egypt amazing things are found https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/when-engineering-meets-ancient-egypt-amazing-things-are-found/ Sat, 19 Dec 2020 13:39:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1426 Mummies are one of the most fascinating things about ancient Egyptian culture. While in one sense it is a simple burial ritual designed to preserve the remains for a long period of time, on the other hand, it is an insight into how well ancient Egyptians treated the dead as they believed they were going […]

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Mummies are one of the most fascinating things about ancient Egyptian culture. While in one sense it is a simple burial ritual designed to preserve the remains for a long period of time, on the other hand, it is an insight into how well ancient Egyptians treated the dead as they believed they were going on a new journey. While everyone is aware of the mummification of dead people during ancient Egyptian times, few know that animals were often mummified as well. There are records of mummified cats, dogs, ibis, hawks, snakes, and alligators. A new study has revealed a level of visibility of these mummies that has never been seen before.

There is an Egypt Centre at Swansea University that specializes in the history and research of ancient Egypt. The Egypt Centre had received three mummies of animals and were using their standard methods of investigation. The animals were a cat, a snake, and a bird. Usually, the Egypt Centre and other investigators would scan the image in a traditional XRay. This would produce a 2D image which could be used to confirm basically what animal is inside the mummy wrapping, and little else.

One day a member of the staff of the Egypt Centre was having coffee with a member of the Engineering team which is located directly opposite. They started to talk about work and the three animals were mentioned as well as an apparent frustration with the meaningless results a 2D Xray provides. The member of the engineering team started to smile as he realized that he had the answer. The Engineering department had a special device that uses micro CT software to perform an incredibly rich 3D scan. Instead of scanning the image and moving it or the machine and scanning again, the object is moved within the XRay device so that the software can do a complete scan of the object.

This allows a level of insight that has never been seen before. According to the leading member of the Egyptian Centre, he could now project a virtual 3D image of one of the animals in a room and walk around inside it. A far cry from studying low quality A4 2D scans in his office.

The results were excellent. The Egypt Centre was able to see exactly how old the animals were, what breed they were, and exactly how they were killed. The Egypt Centre realized that the cat was actually a newborn kitten, it had been strangled before being mummified. The snake had been whipped off the ground or a wall and killed instantly. Clearly, these were not prize pets but deliberate murders. 

‘Murders’ is the wrong word, these were sacrifices. The clues that the Xray provided combined with what the team already knew of Egyptian rituals allowed them to recognize that the animals were likely part of a sacrificial offering to the gods for the recently deceased. Experts estimate that there are around 70 million animals mummified in Egypt for a wide variety of reasons.

The findings show that collaboration between different disciplines can be incredibly beneficial. For this research, the Egyptian center worked with the engineering team and biologists to better understand how to analyze their mummies and what the findings meant. This research therefore not only benefits the knowledge of Ancient Egypt but allows the biology team to have a greater understanding of animal evolution, and for the engineering team to get practice using sophisticated equipment. Overall the findings show a lot about Egypt, a lot about biology, and a lot about engineering but more than that it shows that it is very important to have good neighbors.

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The occurrences that could cause our extinction https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-occurrences-that-could-cause-our-extinction/ Sat, 12 Dec 2020 13:30:32 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1374 The arrogance of humanity means that we feel like we will be here forever. Even though we are a transient species most of us feel like the day of our own death will never come. This is why we deal with death so badly because we refuse to accept that it is the only certainty […]

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The arrogance of humanity means that we feel like we will be here forever. Even though we are a transient species most of us feel like the day of our own death will never come. This is why we deal with death so badly because we refuse to accept that it is the only certainty of life. If we are this arrogant with our own lives just imagine how arrogant we are with the human race. We think life will exist forever when it clearly won’t. There are so many dangers that could potentially end the human race. Let’s take a look at what is most likely to cause our end.

These types of events are called Extinction Level Events and are defined as any occurrence that will result in the demise of the majority of species on a planet. They are the type of event that a movie is based on every year or so and we get to see John Cusack have the incredible ability to outrun a disaster that in reality would sweep across entire cities in mere moments. Some of these Extinction Level Events are guaranteed to happen at some point in time, others may never occur.

Climate Change

The one that we hear about most is climate change. While scientists continue to provide research that shows we are killing the planet we still have the ability to not really consider or worry about the consequences of our actions. While we hope that humanity can stop damaging the planet to allow it to recover from the damage caused, only time will tell. Even if we do better, climate change will still likely be the eventual death of our planet. Whether from a cooling or warming event the planet will eventually become inhospitable to life. This may take billions of years but the question is not if but when.

Humanity

Humanity is a pretty notorious thing. While climate change is one tool we have at our disposal to cause an Extinction Level Event, we have many more. We saw during World War Two with the release of nuclear weapons the power that our arms possess. Some scientists believe that if we had another world war it could be the end of the world as our nuclear powers are now so great. Let’s face it, the men with their hands on the button at present do not fill us with the most confidence.

Volcanoes

Of the natural Extinction Level Events that could take place, volcanoes pose the greatest threat. When you consider that there are these massive formations that can spew hot lava it makes sense that they could cause a lot of damage. History shows that volcanoes have caused the greatest number of ELEs in the past as well.  Volcanoes have led to 11 ELEs in the past, all causing significant loss of life. Volcanoes have the potential to do immediate damage but also to play havoc with the climate, the atmosphere, the ecosystem, and more.

Space

Space is a great unknown and what little we do know about it does not fill us with a lot of confidence. We rely heavily on this amazing star called the Sun. If that ever burns out we will die, it will do so in about a billion years’ time. Before that, though it may have some moments of anger that could also end our world. These moments are called Coronal Mass Ejections, they have happened in the past and if a big enough one takes place and is aimed at our planet, then we are doomed. Even if the Sun looks after us space contains so many meteors that one could ruin our planet at any time. 

There are so many possible dangers that could cause Extinction Level Events that it would make sense for humanity to be a little bit more humble. However, the probability of any of these events occurring anytime soon is incredibly low. So you can be confident in your existence and your great-great-great grandkids too but somewhere down the line, it will all end.

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The new black hole discovered close to Earth https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-new-black-hole-discovered-close-to-earth/ Sat, 05 Dec 2020 12:14:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1371 By now we are all aware of the magnitude and power of black holes. They are the strangest formation in the universe as they are these massive objects so dense in gravity that light itself can’t escape them. They can be formed by the collapse of stars and some theorize that they may be the […]

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By now we are all aware of the magnitude and power of black holes. They are the strangest formation in the universe as they are these massive objects so dense in gravity that light itself can’t escape them. They can be formed by the collapse of stars and some theorize that they may be the answer to traveling across the universe. Black holes clearly require close examination. That has been difficult to do as although we know of their existence and have spotted them using some tools we have yet to find one that is close to Earth, until now. A new discovery has found the closest black hole to our home planet yet.

For the first time ever a black hole has been found that is only 1,000 light-years from Earth. This means that it actually part of a star system that is visible to the naked eye. That means that if you look at the right spot in the night sky you could be looking at a black hole! Sadly you will not actually be able to see the black hole because no one can see a black hole. The massive structure has such a strong gravitational pull that it not only pulls in all material near it, but it also pulls in the light! This means we can never actually look at a black hole only the effect it is having on the objects around it. This makes the discovery even more impressive.

The team at La Silla Observatory in Chile was investigating a two-star system visible from the Southern Hemisphere. They discovered that both stars were locked in orbit around something else, some large center of mass. As the team took the stars through more rigorous analysis they found the center of mass had to be a black hole. Not only that but based on the analysis the team realized that they were dealing with a structure that was formed by the collapse of a star that was four times bigger than the sun!

A structure that size that is invisible can only be one thing and that is a black hole. This means that the team successfully found the closest black hole to Earth. The closest after that is an additional 2,000 years light away. While the one discovered recently is close, it points to something even more exciting, there are likely many more like it perhaps much closer. As the black holes are invisible it makes them incredibly difficult to spot. Scientists have estimated for years that there are millions of black holes in the Milky Way, we just can’t see them. This new discovery proves it and makes others excited for the prospect of black hole hunting.

If you want to look at the black hole, or where the black hole is in the sky, it is possible. The two stars that it is beside are considered to be the fifth magnitude which means they are not very bright. In fact, they are just within the threshold of human sight. So it will be two of those stars that your eyes barely recognize in the sky, not the ones we are naturally drawn to. To find them you need to be in the southern hemisphere, looking in the constellation of Telescopium and close to the edge of a different constellation called Pevo.

The scientific benefit of this discovery is unclear at present. The closer the black holes that we discover the more that we can learn about them, that is clear. However, 1,000 light-years is still a great distance away and it may be difficult to make any real insights at the present time. Still an incredible discovery and an exciting one for the future as who knows what we will find in our sky next.

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A new innovation in 3D printing may have solved the size limitation https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/a-new-innovation-in-3d-printing-may-have-solved-the-size-limitation/ Sat, 28 Nov 2020 11:42:56 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1368 3D printing is one technology that although it is an easily understood concept the potential it has is not understood by most people. If we really think that there will come a time where we will be able to print off almost anything it could change the entire approach to manufacturing. At present, the key […]

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3D printing is one technology that although it is an easily understood concept the potential it has is not understood by most people. If we really think that there will come a time where we will be able to print off almost anything it could change the entire approach to manufacturing. At present, the key issue is the input material as although you can print off almost any shape in the world you need the right input to make any product in the world. A second issue is size. In modern manufacturing, it is taken as a given that when you produce anything it must be smaller than the thing that is producing it. This may be about to change.

Consider any machine that makes something. Whether it is a 3D printer, a mill, or something else it can only produce an item that is smaller than the machine itself. If you then want to create something larger you have to assemble various pieces together. A new development in 3D printing may be about to change this. 

The University College of San Diego had a team of experts looking at 3D printing and the limitation of size. The team successfully printed a foam that once produced could be increased in size by 4000%. On paper, this means that the old manufacturing rule is now out the window, we can start to think about producing things that are bigger than the machine itself. 

The team created a prepolymer resin that is basically a hard foam substance. They were able to produce it in standard blocks but also in more complicated shapes. When it expanded it not only kept the original shape but also the complex structure, now just 40 times bigger. The foam was made using two-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, they then paired this methacrylate using a blowing agent. After that, they simply applied considerable heat to the prepolymer for about ten minutes. The 200 degrees celsius heat was the final part of the formula that produced a structure that could increase in size by 40 times. 

Of course, we are not going to build many things with foam. Imagine if your car was built from foam, it wouldn’t be too reliable. However, that is missing the point of 3D printing. If 3D printing was responsible for the entire process then yes the foam houses of the future would leave us in a lot of trouble, but if 3D printing is just a part of the process than this approach may be a game-changer. Imagine if we can introduce a new method that can then turn these foam shapes into solid objects, perhaps by covering them with some harder element. This could allow us to build complex shapes at small sizes, grow them to 40 times greater, harden them and use them as we see fit.

Researchers have already identified a number of lightweight applications that the approach could be used for with aerofoils and buoyancy aids two obvious possible solutions. Other industries that they are looking at are architecture, aerospace, energy, and biomedicine. The study has only been published in the last two months so it is still at a very age of discovery. The potential benefits from this idea are massive (40 times bigger than they were before to be exact).

The world is arguably going through the greatest stage of innovation ever. We now have an incredibly intelligent platform of innovation built on the cloud, high-speed internet, the ability to analyze large data sets, and to collaborate across the world. We are researching areas such as 5G, AR, VR, 3D printing, robotics, and AI and they will all produce incredible leaps of capability in the coming years.

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Jupiter’s Big Red Spot https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/jupiters-big-red-spot/ Sat, 21 Nov 2020 19:33:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1365 We all know from life as a teenager that when you have a big red spot the last thing you want is someone taking a photo of you. With that in mind, spare a thought for Jupiter. The poor planet has a massive red spot for centuries and at every advancement, in innovation, we continue […]

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We all know from life as a teenager that when you have a big red spot the last thing you want is someone taking a photo of you. With that in mind, spare a thought for Jupiter. The poor planet has a massive red spot for centuries and at every advancement, in innovation, we continue to take more and more pictures of it. These latest photos though reveal more about it than we have ever known before.

The ‘Great Red Spot’ has been visible on the planet of Jupiter for centuries. It is so big that the Earth could fit inside its circumference almost three times. The ‘Great Red Spot’ is not acne attacking a planet but the largest storm in the solar system that has been raging for a long time. It has been part of Jupiter for an incredibly long time and is part of the planet’s undeniable beauty (and if you are a teenager with a big red spot, then hey, you are beautiful too, don’t worry).

The storm is believed to have first been spotted in 1665 when it was described by Cassini. This means that to date, we know that the storm has existed for over 340 years but it may be much longer. 

Although we have been looking at this giant pimple for years we have never known much about it. However, a new approach to planet imaging has meant we now have a new view of the spot. Hubble Space Telescope is working with Gemini Observatory and Juno spacecraft to take images of Jupiter at a level of clarity that has never bee seen before. Jupiter generally has strange atmospheric conditions that can make taking photographs difficult. The team working at Gemini Observatory was able to overcome this using something that they call ‘lucky imaging’ where the camera basically reacts to Jupiter’s atmosphere and when there are minimal disruptions it takes the clearest pictures. 

The ‘Big Red Spot’ has always been visible but never with such clarity. For years scientists have seen black circles on the Big Red Spot but until now could not understand what they were. The latest images reveal these blacks spots are in fact large holes in the clouds and not alternative types of clouds as was previously believed. 

The discovery may only be a small one but it highlights the new approach to space exploration and the potential benefits it may reap. If either Hubble, Gemini, or Juno had worked on this project alone they would not have had the capabilities or knowledge to make this realization. Today, partly because of funding cuts and partly because of wanting to take advantage of the best each has to offer, collaboration is becoming a key part of space exploration.

These detailed photographs may start to reap many more rewards soon. From these pictures, scientists may be able to tell if there is what on Jupiter and what elements comprise the atmosphere. Already it has been discovered from ground-based satellites that there is more oxygen on Jupiter than the sun. The main task of Juno is to find water and with the help of Gemini and Hubble, it may be possible. 

At a period of such uncertainty within our own planet, it is exciting to see space institutes working together to continue to discover more about the world beyond our atmosphere. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and one that at present poses more questions than answers. Using advanced technologies and collaboration we may be able to answer some of those questions. Until then, we should at least try not to stare too much at Jupiter’s Big Red Spot, it may be self-conscious about it after all.

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