Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy Birthday...Parks

Although Yellowstone, the archetype, is older, the US National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday today. The modern Park Service was created by legislation signed in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.

May the Park Service continue to protect our national treasures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Studying Proxima b.

It's about 1.3 times the size of Earth, it's smack in the middle of it's stars habitable zone, and it's only four light years away.

All of which makes Proxima b the best target to study terrestrial planets. Does it have life? We don't know yet...but it might be possible for new propulsion technology to get a probe there to take a peek in only 20 years (we've had probes out that long to reach the outer system).

Meanwhile, large telescopes under construction might be able to directly observe this world and at least establish if it has an atmosphere. It's likely tidally locked, but...we know that isn't a dealkiller for life.

So...let's take a peek.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

David Attenborough...

...recently got a ship. Now he's also got...a cat.

Scientists have named a newly discovered extinct species of marsupial lion Microleo attenboroughi after the British naturalist and broadcaster (who in addition to being absolutely fantastic at explaining biology to non-scientists also commissioned a certain comedy show when he was in charge at BBC2 - yes, we can thank Attenborough for the Flying Circus).

Microleo? Yup. The kitty - an example of parallel evolution - was about the size of a ringtail possum. It probably thought it was very fierce indeed...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Potential research black hole...

...NASA is releasing all of the research they've funded to the public. Somebody restrain me so I don't spend a month exploring?

Seriously, this is absolutely awesome, especially as a lot of science research is hidden behind pretty high paywalls.

Friday, August 19, 2016

More on 3D printed prosthetics...

...because they're for the birds.

There's now a group called Animal Avengers who make 3D printed prosthetics for animals. Including replacement beaks. They've even been able to release birds into the wild with their prosthetics, made of biodegradable plastic.

3-D printing has also now been used to make custom horseshoes for injured/foundered horses, tortoise shells, replacement joints for dogs and cats and, of course, straight up prosthetics. Because 3D printing is so much cheaper, it's worth doing it for critters.

The racing industry is now looking into 3D printing horseshoes as a routine thing, at least at the higher end, as the 3D printed titanium shoes are even lighter than aluminum racing plates.

But a goose with a new beak getting to fly free? That's awesome.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Prehistoric fashion

DNA analysis has traced the origins of the Iceman's wardrobe - and they're pretty varied. His hat was bearskin, his quiver was roe deer leather. His pants, however, were goatskin - from goats not dissimilar to modern breeds found in that area.

Because, yes, even people back then knew to use the right material for the right purpose.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fifth Force of Nature?

Maybe. Or at least another "god" particle that might explain something about that crazy non-reacting stuff we call dark matter.

If there are five fundamental forces (the four we know are gravitation, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces) then it could solve the dark matter/missing mass problem.

In other words, we may know even less about the universe than we thought - and that's always cool.