Doctor Blue Nye

DNA: The Thread of Science

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Since today's been rather uneventful, here's an interesting article on how a binary star will collide into a Red Nova in 2022 and become one of the brightest stars in our sky for a while.

 

And if reading isn't your thing, here's an artist's rendition of Mars if it still had Oceans. Terraforming that hunk of rock would be one hell of a project.

 

 

70Av9IV.jpg

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Randomly stumbled on a very interesting documentary on the Multiverse theory, thought I'd share it with those interested.

Edit: Well hopefully it's fixed now.

 

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CRISPR, a wonderful, yet somewhat troubling thing. If I recall correctly I saw an article earlier this week, that a little girl suffering from Leukemia was treated with an experimental CRISPR treatment and was cured. 

On the theme of Medical discoveries:

Salmonella to be used to destroy brain Tumors.

Stem Cells and a drug for Alzheimers to be used to repair teeth

And Philadelphia doctors use Fat cells to heal wounds without leaving scars

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One of the reasons fungi like mushrooms and yeast are considered to be more closely related to animals than to plants is because they have cell walls, but unlike plant cell walls they're made out of chitin. Chitin is also the stuff of bug bones (including those big ugly sea roaches that everyone likes to eat for some reason).

It turns out that this evolutionary relationship between bugs and mold may also explain another evolutionary mystery: how unrelated plants across the globe can hit upon the exact same way to eat bugs.
Although they're all commonly called "pitcher plants," the ones from North America, Asia, and Australia are not part of the same evolutionary line. They had to invent their pitcherness independently. And it turns out that they use a remarkably similar set of genes to do it. One gene involved produces an enzyme called chitinase that breaks down chitin. It's actually older than the insect-eating plants, and was probably an adaptation used to fight off fungal infections by attacking their cell walls. With little repurposing, those anti-fungal systems can be used to digest bugs. There are also similar genes involved in shaping the leaves of various pitcher plants into the, well, pitcher (or "pitfall trap") that holds the bugs and the enzymes. Apparently, there are only a few "easy" ways to make these traps work.

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QuadQuasarLens_Hubble_960.jpg

 

What's that thing? A Klemperer Rosette of worlds orbiting a smaller, central planet and serving as dedicated farming planets to supply the wealthy but numerous inhabitants of the middle world with food?

No! All four of those bright lights in the circle are the same quasar, and in the middle of them is a galaxy.

Why does one quasar show up four times? Because gravity bends space, light travels through space, and light that travels through bent space acts the same way as light that travels through a lens. The gravity of the galaxy in the "middle" (actually directly in front of the quasar from our view) creates a giant gravity lens that lets us see the quasar behind it.

We can use these galaxy-sized lenses to measure how quickly the Universe is spreading itself apart.

 

This was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for February 27th.

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Take the leftover ashes of a massive supernova, a heap of spent star embers that are still between 1.5 and 3 times the weight of our Sun. Press them together, squeezing all of that mass into a ball the size of a mere city. What you wind up with is a single atomic nucleus composed entirely of neutrons.

It would shine no light, emit no heat. Because of its small size, all the rotational energy of the formerly living star makes the massive atom spin faster than ever before. Just as an ice skater in a spin drawing their arms and legs inward spins faster, so does the star-atom. Some of these sun-heavy, city-sized neutron cannonballs spin once every three seconds. Some spin almost 650 times every second. Their rotation is incredibly steady and even, making them far more precise timekeepers than our best atomic clocks.

A living star has a massive, dynamic magnetic field. A dead, neutron star has the ghost of that same magnetic field frozen and crystallized into its being, just as a magnetic field is frozen into the atoms of iron and nickle to make a bar magnet. The ghost is more intense than the field that birthed it, for virtue of being squeezed into a tiny space.

Sometimes these stars made of a neutron atom are not perfect. They have tiny impurities on their surfaces that allow electrons to exist. The incredible speed at which they spin and the tremendous magnetic field being flung through near-space by the spinning, gargantuan atom creates a strong, radioactive glow. The same kind of glow we make when we run atom-smashers. What's more, the magnetic field can sweep up passing dust and pluck bare molecules from the emptiness of space around the dead star, and suck them up rapidly into the magnetic poles. The immense speed heats the particles up, causing more glowing in both visible and invisible lights. The magnetic poles don't have to be the same as the poles around which the neutron-atom rotates. Instead, the poles can be detected whirling around to the side, like beams from a lighthouse.

Sometimes, these lighthouse beams from the magnetic lanterns of these city-sized star-atoms sweep over the Earth.

We call these a pulsar, because they give off a "pulse" of light and radiation each time a beam hits us.

It was around such a strange, unlikely beast that the first exosolar planets were discovered by the people of Earth. This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of a humanity that knew, for the first time with iron-clad evidence, that other planets existed beyond the grasp of our Sun, and where they could be found.

So let's remember PSR b1257+12. It's the sun that isn't a sun, an atom that's also a star, and the universal clock whose own ticking revealed dark worlds to us for the first time in history.

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What would happen if you took the mass of three Suns and converted it directly into gravity waves?
Something so faint, you'd need three of the world's most sensitive detectors running at the same time, spread out over the planet, to get a good idea of it happening.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/09/new-gravitational-wave-detector-almost-immediately-spots-black-hole-merger/

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