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The Lounge>Science is Cool....
Fish 09:43 PM 05-21-2012
This is a repository for all cool scientific discussion and fascination. Scientific facts, theories, and overall cool scientific stuff that you'd like to share with others. Stuff that makes you smile and wonder at the amazing shit going on around us, that most people don't notice.

Post pictures, vidoes, stories, or links. Ask questions. Share science.

This is in support of the Penny 4 NASA project. If you enjoy anything you learned from this thread, consider making a donation and signing the petition.

Why should I care?:

Fish 11:30 AM 09-21-2020
How Much Life Would Be Required to Create the Phosphine Signal on Venus?

A Biosignature

Last week, an incredible announcement was made about the search for extraterrestrial life: Phosphine gas detected in the clouds of Venus – a potential indicator of life or “biosignature.” Now some gases might be a false positive for biosignatures because they can be created by other chemical processes on a planet like photochemical processes in the atmosphere or geological processes beneath the surface that create a given gas. For example, methane can also be a biosignature, and we’ve been hunting it down on Mars, but we know that methane can also be created geologically. Finding phosphine in Venusian clouds is truly remarkable because we don’t presently know of any way to create phosphine abiotically or without life being a part of the equation. Question is – how much life??


Once a biosignature is discovered, a method to rule out false positives is to look at the concentration of the gases in question and see if a plausible amount of life could generate the gas. Phosphine gas in Venusian clouds was detected at concentrations of 20 ppb (parts per billion). If the required biomass to create this concentration of gas is high, then an otherwise unfamiliar abiotic process may still be at work. Because while Venus may have life, requiring high concentrations of life on a world generally thought to have zero surface habitability starts lowering your alien credibility.

Past studies have already looked at calculating required biomass to determine how plausible it is that a biosignature gas is in fact the by-product of living beings and not some other unknown abiotic process. Seager, Bains and Hu in 2013 published a study with the foresight that most of our ET hunting was likely going to be looking at distant alien atmospheres to determine if the atmospheric chemistry was a signal to us that something lived there. One such signal is chemistry out of balance – gases co-existing that shouldn’t, or an overabundance of a particular gas. For example, if somebody were looking at our own planet from light years away, they would see that the concentration of oxygen in our atmosphere is ten orders of magnitude higher than it should be for chemical balance. That unbalancing is from life on Earth creating oxygen and adding it to the atmosphere. We know of no other abiotic process that could account for that degree of disequilibrium. Another signal is the presence of a gas with no known source other than life. That’s where phosphine comes into play. In the absence of other known processes, Dr. Sara Seager and her team explored “whether a biosignature gas can be produced by a physically plausible biomass.” And while we don’t know exactly what an alien organism would be, we do know that some chemical and physical processes are universal. Only so much energy can be derived from certain chemical reactions. And so, the study used these universal principals to avoid a trap of “terracentricity” – basing all biological models on life we know of on earth.

Based on models like those of Dr. Sara Seager and her team above, a new study by Mansavi Lingam and Abraham Loeb was released on September 16th that applied the models to the recent discovery of phosphine on Venus. The results?

“We find that the typical biomass densities predicted by our simple model are several orders of magnitude lower than the average biomass density of Earth’s aerial biosphere.” – Lingam and Loeb 2020

In other words, far less life would have to live in the clouds of Venus to create the level of phosphine we’ve detected than the amount of life living in the clouds of our own planet – a plausible amount of life. That is really exciting because it means that we can still count life as a possible source of the phosphine gas. A small amount of possible life giving off a signal we can see from Earth letting us know it’s there. Were the amount of required biomass really high, we might then have to look for other abiotic processes we’re not aware of as it is less likely that high concentrations of life exists on Venus.


Fish 11:33 AM 09-21-2020
Wanna feel tiny and insignificant?

Hubble Legacy Field:

The Hubble Legacy Field is an image of a small region of space in the constellation Fornax, containing an estimated 265,000 galaxies. The original release was composed of Hubble Space Telescope data accumulated over a 16-year period. Looking back approximately 13 billion years (between 400 and 800 million years after the Big Bang) it has been used to search for galaxies that existed at that time. The image was taken in a section of the sky with a low density of bright stars in the near-field, allowing much better viewing of dimmer, more distant objects. It builds on the data collected for the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey.

Located southwest of Orion in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax, the approximately rectangular image is about 25 arcminutes to an edge. This is almost the angular diameter of a full moon viewed from Earth (which is about 31 arcminutes, or a half a degree).

Fish 11:54 AM 09-21-2020
The US government once developed a secret type of aerogel material for use in nuclear warheads. They then proceeded to lose the documentation on how to create it, requiring millions to be spent on reverse engineering it.

FOGBANK is a code name given to a material used in nuclear weapons such as the W76, W78 and W80.

FOGBANK's precise nature is classified; in the words of former Oak Ridge general manager Dennis Ruddy, "The material is classified. Its composition is classified. Its use in the weapon is classified, and the process itself is classified." Department of Energy Nuclear Explosive Safety documents simply describe it as a material "used in nuclear weapons and nuclear explosives" along with lithium hydride (LiH) and lithium deuteride (LiD), beryllium (Be), uranium hydride (UH3), and plutonium hydride.

However National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Tom D'Agostino disclosed the role of FOGBANK in the weapon: "There's another material in the—it's called interstage material, also known as fog bank", and arms experts believe that FOGBANK is an aerogel material which acts as an interstage material in a nuclear warhead; i.e., a material designed to become a superheated plasma following the detonation of the weapon's fission stage, the plasma then triggering the fusion-stage detonation.

It has been revealed by unclassified official sources that FOGBANK was originally manufactured in Facility 9404-11 of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee from 1975 until 1989, when the final batch of W76 warheads was completed. After that the facility was mothballed, and finally slated for decommissioning by 1993. Only a small pilot plant was left, which had been used to produce small batches of FOGBANK for testing purposes.

In 1996, the US government decided to replace, refurbish, or decommission large numbers of its nuclear weapons. Accordingly, the Department of Energy set up a refurbishment program aimed at extending the service lives of older nuclear weapons. In 2000, the NNSA specified a life-extension program for W76 warheads that would enable them to remain in service until at least 2040.

It was soon realized that the FOGBANK material was a potential source of problems for the program, as few records of its manufacturing process had been retained when it was originally manufactured in the 1980s, and nearly all staff members who had expertise in its production had either retired or left the agency. The NNSA briefly investigated sourcing a substitute for FOGBANK, but eventually decided that since FOGBANK had been produced previously, they would be able to repeat it. Additionally, "Los Alamos computer simulations at that time were not sophisticated enough to determine conclusively that an alternate material would function as effectively as Fogbank," according to a Los Alamos publication.

Manufacture involves the moderately toxic, highly volatile solvent acetonitrile, which presents a hazard for workers (causing three evacuations in March 2006 alone).

With Facility 9404-11 long since decommissioned, a brand new production facility was required. Delays arose during its construction, and in addition, engineers repeatedly encountered failure in their efforts to produce FOGBANK. As one deadline after the other expired, and the schedule was pushed back again and again, the NNSA eventually decided to invest $23 million to attempt to find an alternative to FOGBANK.

In March 2007, engineers finally devised a manufacturing process for FOGBANK. Unfortunately, the material turned out to have problems when tested, and in September 2007 the FOGBANK project was upgraded to "Code Blue" status by the NNSA, making it a major priority. In 2008, following the expenditure of a further $69 million, the NNSA finally managed to manufacture FOGBANK, and 7 months later, the first refurbished warhead was handed over to the US Navy, nearly a decade after the commencement of the refurbishment program. However, in May 2009 a US Navy spokesman said that they had not received any refurbished weapons to date. The Energy Department stated that the current plan was to begin shipping refurbished weapons in the fall of 2009, two years behind schedule.

The experience of reverse engineering FOGBANK produced some improvements in scientific knowledge of the process. The new production scientists noticed that certain problems in production resembled those noted by the original team. These problems were traced to a particular impurity in the final product that was required to meet quality standards. A root cause investigation showed that input materials were subject to cleaning processes that had not existed during the original production run. This cleaning removed a substance that generated the required impurity. With the implicit role of this substance finally understood, the production scientists can control output quality better than during the original run.
Fish 10:55 PM 09-24-2020
Scientists develop a prosthetic hand that is able to restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations

A prosthetic hand that can grip and move like a normal hand could restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations, developers claim.

A team of orthopedists, industrial designers and patients worked with scientists from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy, on the artificial hand named Hannes.

The limb was designed to accurately replicate the size, weight, appearance, and natural grasping motion of a human hand to help people gain near normal control.

Researchers claim Hannes is ready for market and has been given regulatory approval. The team are now working to find investors to make it a reality.

Hannes has the ability to replicate the key biological properties of the human hand - natural and adaptable movement, levels of force and speed and grasp robustness.

It has been designed to resemble a human hand and wrist, is soft and has the ability to dynamically adapt itself to the shape of objects the wearer wants to grasp.

'It is uniquely similar to a human hand and, being developed directly with patients, it is of practical use,' according to its developers.

A pilot trial involved amputees found that the volunteers could autonomously use Hannes to perform activities linked to daily living after less than a week of training.

It can be worn all day and is adjustable to different upper limb impairments, according to the development team.

Hannes includes an array of sensors placed with a custom socket that detects the activity of any residual limb muscles in the lower or higher part of the arm.

These are actively contracted by the user to perform multiple movements.

Fish 10:58 PM 09-24-2020
Megatons To Megawatts: Russian Warheads Fuel U.S. Power Plants

Here's a remarkable fact: For the past two decades, 10 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States has come from Russian nuclear warheads.

It was all part of a deal struck at the end of the Cold War. That deal wraps up today, when the final shipment of fuel arrives at a U.S. facility.

The origins of the plan lie in the early 1990s. At the time, Philip Sewell was working for the U.S. Department of Energy. The Soviet Union had just disintegrated, and Sewell's job was to find ways to collaborate with the former adversaries.

In practice, this involved driving out into the Russian countryside, to military facilities that weren't even on the map. When Sewell got there, what he saw wasn't pretty.

"Windows were broken, gates were not locked, and there were very few people around," Sewell says.

But inside these crumbling buildings, the Russian government stored the uranium from thousands of decommissioned nuclear weapons. It seemed like practically anyone could walk off with stuff for a bomb.

Sewell and his colleagues wanted to get rid of this uranium. So they decided to try to persuade the Russians to sell their surplus to the U.S. After all, the stuff was just lying around.

Initially, the Russians refused. "It was a matter of pride, principle and patriotism," Sewell says. "Even though they didn't need that excess material, [and] they didn't have the money to protect it, they didn't want to let go of it."

But in the end they did let go. For one reason: money.

"Russia's nuclear industry badly needed the funding," says Anton Khlopkov, the director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies outside Moscow. He says Russia's nuclear complex had nearly a million workers who weren't getting paid a living wage.

So, in 1993 the deal was struck: The Russians would turn about 500 tons of bomb-grade uranium into nuclear fuel. The U.S. would buy it and sell it to commercial power plants here.

Khlopkov says it was a win-win. "This is the only time in history when disarmament was actually profitable," he says.

Very profitable. The Russians made around $17 billion. Sewell's government office was spun off into a private company — the United States Enrichment Corporation — and made money from the deal too. And the U.S. power plants got the uranium at a good price.

But all good things must come to an end, says Matthew Bunn at Harvard University.

"Russia is a totally different place today than it was twenty years ago," Bunn says. "As the Russian government is fond of saying, they're 'no longer on their knees.' "

Still Bunn says this deal will go down in history as one of the greatest diplomatic achievements ever.

"I mean, think about it – 20,000 bombs' worth of nuclear material, destroyed forever," he says. "[Bombs that] will never threaten anybody ever again."

The last shipment arrives today at a US storage facility. It will be sold off to utilities in coming years. So when you turn on the lights, feel good. Your bulb may be powered by what was once a bomb.
Fish 11:13 PM 09-24-2020
This looks very cool in 4K...

The original film has been upscaled, denioised, and frame interpolated using artificial intelligence. This film was already shot in color, so all that was attempted here is upscaling to 4K resolution and bumping the frame rate from 24fps to 48fps. Some scenes did not interpolate properly, but seeing it in a higher frame rate is pretty amazing..
dlphg9 11:06 AM 09-25-2020
Originally Posted by Fish:
This looks very cool in 4K...

The original film has been upscaled, denioised, and frame interpolated using artificial intelligence. This film was already shot in color, so all that was attempted here is upscaling to 4K resolution and bumping the frame rate from 24fps to 48fps. Some scenes did not interpolate properly, but seeing it in a higher frame rate is pretty amazing..
Itd be sweet if they did something like this today.
Holladay 11:15 AM 09-25-2020
Interesting. That cannon shot off a 15 KT weapon. Hiroshima was also 15 KT.
Fish 12:12 PM 10-10-2020
Ganymede would be classified as a Planet if it were orbiting the Sun rather than Jupiter, because it’s larger than Mercury, and only slightly smaller than Mars. It has an internal ocean which could hold more water than all Earths oceans combined. And it’s the only satellite to have a magnetosphere.

scho63 01:03 PM 10-10-2020
Originally Posted by Fish:
Elements in the Human Body and What They Do

Can you name the elements in the human body and what they do? Nearly 99% of the mass of your human body consists of just 6 chemical elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Another 5 elements make up most of the last percentage point: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.

I'm about 25% Methane gas :-)
Baby Lee 04:57 AM 10-14-2020
Put this in the science is cool thread because it's interesting and sciency, but it's a medical explanation of that guy who just 'died from candy' Basically how the chemistry of licorice can be lethal in excess for certain medical histories.

Fish 12:51 AM 11-07-2020
So, I've posted other posts about the intelligence of crows. But man, it's just so crazy considering...

Corvids, which includes Crows/Magpies/Ravens/Jays have an intelligence capability comparable to primates. Capable of using tools and understanding limited physics.

Crows are fascinating from r/Damnthatsinteresting

Like humans, these big-brained birds may owe their smarts to long childhoods

Human beings typically don’t leave the nest until well into our teenage years—a relatively rare strategy among animals. But corvids—a group of birds that includes jays, ravens, and crows—also spend a lot of time under their parents’ wings. Now, in a parallel to humans, researchers have found that ongoing tutelage by patient parents may explain how corvids have managed to achieve their smarts.

Corvids are large, big-brained birds that often live in intimate social groups of related and unrelated individuals. They are known to be intelligent—capable of using tools, recognizing human faces, and even understanding physics—and some researchers believe crows may rival apes for smarts.

Meanwhile, humans continue to grow their big brains and build up their cognitive abilities during childhood, as their parents feed and protect them. “Humans are characterized by this extended childhood that affects our intelligence, but we can’t be the only ones,” says Natalie Uomini, a cognitive scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. But few researchers have studied the impact of parenting throughout the juvenile years on intelligence in nonhumans.

To study the link between parental care and intelligence in birds, Uomini and her team created a database detailing the life history of thousands of species, including more than 120 corvids. Compared with other birds, they found corvids spend more time in the nest before fledging, more days feeding their offspring as adults, and more of their life living among family. The results, reported last week in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, also confirm corvids have unusually large brains compared with many other birds. Birds need to be light for flight, but a raven’s brain accounts for almost 2% of its body mass, a value similar to humans.

The researchers next took to the field to study how easily wild birds can solve novel tasks, a more direct measurement of cognition. Uomini and her colleagues have spent years studying Siberian jays and New Caledonian crows, two corvid species with extended childhoods that are known to be smart: The crows use sticks to fish grubs from logs (see video, above), while jays can solve food puzzles and recognize rare predators.

Young birds learned these tasks more quickly by watching their parents, the team found. Adults were quite tolerant, allowing juveniles to practice and supplementing their food while they learned. Young crows and jays often remained with their parents for up to 4 years—the equivalent of about 2 decades in human years—growing more skilled at mentally challenging tasks all the while.
Baby Lee 04:47 PM 11-07-2020
Decent visualization, takes a little time to progress through the pedagogy, and there's a lot of detail omitted for succinctness, but it may help formalize and get rid of some misconceptions.

sd4chiefs 05:41 PM 11-07-2020
Originally Posted by Fish:
Scientists develop a prosthetic hand that is able to restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations

A prosthetic hand that can grip and move like a normal hand could restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations, developers claim.

These are actively contracted by the user to perform multiple movements.

But can it do this?
Attached: finger.jpg (4.6 KB) 
Fish 11:19 PM 11-24-2020
Why Are Blueprints Blue?

Technical drawings of architectural or engineering designs always seem to consist of white images and text on blue paper. Why?

It’s because of how those documents are made. The blueprinting process was developed in the mid-1800s, when scientists discovered that ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferrocyanide created a photosensitive solution that could be used for reproducing documents.

The process goes like this: Someone creates a drawing on translucent tracing paper or cloth. The drawing is placed over a piece of blueprinting paper, which has been coated with a mix of ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferrocyanide from an aqueous solution and dried. When the two papers are exposed to a bright light, the two chemicals react to form an insoluble blue compound called blue ferric ferrocyanide (also known as Prussian Blue), except where the blueprinting paper was covered, and the light blocked, by the lines of the original drawing. After the paper is washed and dried to keep those lines from exposing, you’re left with a negative image of white (or whatever color the blueprint paper originally was) against a dark blue background.

The technique was faster and more cost-effective than hand-tracing original documents, and caught on as an easy, inexpensive way to reproduce drawings and texts. After carbon copying and copier machines took on that job for smaller documents, architects, engineers and shipwrights continued to use blueprinting to copy their large-scale drawings. More recently, the diazo whiteprint process and large-format xerographic photocopiers have largely replaced blueprinting even for these specialized purposes, and many “blueprints” are now black or grey lines on a white background. Xerograph just doesn't have the same ring as blueprint for a shorthand description for a master plan, though.
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