Dust Devils, Saturn’s Secrets And The Mystery Of An Ancient Eclipse
The October issue of the Royal Astronomical Society’s journal, “Astronomy and Geophysics”, contains the following feature articles.
Ptolemy, Babylon and the Rotation of the Earth
Many authors have questioned Ptolemy’s account of a lunar eclipse that was supposedly observed by the Babylonians. John Steele finds that Ptolemy was right to believe that Babylonian observers saw the eclipse of 23 December 383 BC - which poses a problem that can be solved by invoking a large clock error or unusual atmospheric conditions.
Inside Dust Devils
Dust devils are rotating columns of dust-laden air that are common on both Earth and Mars. T J Ringrose presents a new way to produce convective vortices in the lab, comparing the results with dust devils on these planets.
Cassini at Titan: The Story So Far
The Cassini spacecrafts first year examining Saturn and its moons has uncovered many surprises, not least the atmosphere and surface of the enigmatic moon Titan. Nick Teanby reviews the progress made and discusses prospects for the future.
Sounding The Dark Cosmos
Recent observations suggest that the universe has been accelerating rather than slowing down in the past few billion years. Bruce Bassett, Bob Nichol and Daniel J Eisenstein explain why the Wide Field Multi-Object Spectrograph, a proposed new instrument for the Gemini and Subaru telescopes, will need to look far into the universe, over a wide area, in order to map sound waves from the dawn of time and unravel the mystery of dark energy.
Promoting Planetary Science
Mike Hapgood summarizes the RASs position on planetary sciences in the UK, a subject that delivers world-class results, but needs focused support in order to continue to thrive.
(A summary of the RAS position was also issued in RAS press notice PN 05/39. The full statement is available on the RAS Web site.)
Dr. Sue Bowler | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...