Category Archives: Science and environment
Complex Alien Life in Old, Dense Star Clusters
For many years a lot of researchers and scientists are working in order to identify the existence of extra-terrestrial life in the outer space, the proceedings of the research are not leading to any fruitful results. A pair of scientists at the Tata Insitute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai has said that they might be hiding out in the unexamined star clusters.
The globular star clusters holding millions of stars in a ball that is about 100 light-years far from our solar system. In the clusters there could be a planet 10 billion year old giving the time to intelligent beings to evolve and become space-advancing. The Milky way has 150 globular clusters that are formed from the oldest known stars, most of being neglected and researchers are only able to discover that not have the features to sustain life.
Recently presented at 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the scientists are raising concern that the clusters can pose a challenge for the habitability of the planets. Having strong gravitational forces the stars in the globular clusters are close to each other, the power of the force is so much that it can rip the solar systems apart.
According to the scientists any civilization present can survive for much longer and is likely to still be around, if the civilization is destroyed then it must passed on the information or people to another planet.
Aurora:What causes the aurora borealis or northern lights?
People at high northern latitudes sometimes experience an ethereal display of colored lights shimmering across the night sky – the aurora borealis or northern lights. What causes them?
Those who live at or visit high latitudes might at times experience colored lights shimmering across the night sky. Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen dancing in the flickering aurora. In Norse mythology, the aurora was a fire bridge to the sky built by the gods. This ethereal display – the aurora borealis or aurora australis, the northern or southern lights – is beautiful. What causes these lights to appear?
Our sun is 93 million miles away. But its effects extend far beyond its visible surface. Great storms on the sun send gusts of charged solar particles hurtling across space. If Earth is in the path of the particle stream, our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere react.
When the charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, theyexcite those atoms, causing them to light up.
What does it mean for an atom to be excited? Atoms consist of a central nucleus and a surrounding cloud of electrons encircling the nucleus in an orbit. When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, electrons move to higher-energy orbits, further away from the nucleus. Then when an electron moves back to a lower-energy orbit, it releases a particle of light or photon.
What happens in an aurora is similar to what happens in the neon lights we see on many business signs. Electricity is used to excite the atoms in the neon gas within the glass tubes of a neon sign. That’s why these signs give off their brilliant colors. The aurora works on the same principle – but at a far more vast scale.
The aurora often appears as curtains of lights, but they can also be arcs or spirals, often following lines of force in Earth’s magnetic field. Most are green in color but sometimes you’ll see a hint of pink, and strong displays might also have red, violet and white colors. The lights typically are seen in the far north – the nations bordering the Arctic Ocean – Canada and Alaska, Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland and Russia. But strong displays of the lights can extend down into more southerly latitudes in the United States. And of course, the lights have a counterpart at Earth’s south polar regions.
The colors in the aurora were also a source of mystery throughout human history. But science says that different gases in Earth’s atmosphere give off different colors when they are excited. Oxygen gives off the green color of the aurora, for example. Nitrogen causes blue or red colors.
So today the mystery of the aurora is not so mysterious as it used to be. Yet people still travel thousands of miles to see the brilliant natural light shows in Earth’s atmosphere. And even though we know the scientific reason for the aurora, the dazzling natural light show can still fire our imaginations to visualize fire bridges, gods or dancing ghosts.
Full moon to appear on Christmas Day for the first time in 38 years
The last time there was a full moon on 25 December was 1977, and there won’t be another one until 2034 – so unless you want a long wait to catch a sight of this rare astronomical occurence, it’s a good idea to head outside and look up on Christmas.
The full moon, which is the last of the year, is called the Full Cold Moon because it occurs at the start of winter.
According to Nasa (who know a lot about this sort of thing), the full moon will peak at 11:11pm GMT, proving a great view in the night sky.
Unfortunately, things are looking quite cloudy on Christmas day across much of the UK, so you might not get the best uninterrupted view.
Large bands of rain over most of Wales and north west England could hide the moon from view, but the clouds should be a bit thinner across the rest of the country – so there’s a chance you’ll catch the full moon peeking through.
The north east coast, eastern scotland and Northern Ireland will have clearer skies compared to the rest of the UK, so they’ll be the best places to spot the moon.
With the moon so clear in the sky, it’s worth remembering the number of man-made spacecraft currently working around it.
How organic farming can increase your yields and income?
Switching to organic and resource-conserving methods of farming can improve smallholder crop yields, food security and income, a review study has found. But a more-extensive evidence base founded on rigorous and consistentresearch methods is needed before the findings can be generalised to other situations, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.
“The findings show at the farm level it [organic farming] appears to be very positive — more than many people think,” says Steve Franzel, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya, co-author of the study.
The review feeds into what Franzel describes as a “polarised” debate between conventional agriculture and organic and resource-saving agriculture (ORCA) methods.
In an era of rising energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers are questioning whether conventional agriculture’s reliance on chemical fertilisers is sustainable, and point to its negative effects: pesticide residues, soil erosion and reduced biodiversity.
ORCA offers a possible solution, aiming to use natural goods and services without compromising their future use. Its practices include integrated pest and nutrient management, conservation tillage, agroforestry, aquaculture, water harvesting and livestock integration.
The review looks at 31 case studies of farms in Africa and South America, the majority of which were smaller than seven hectares, which switched to ORCA methods. It found yields increased in 19 of the 25 cases that reported on it, food security improved in seven of eight cases, and income went up in 19 of 23 cases.
While the majority of farmers moving from an organic-by-default system — those without access to industrial fertilisers and pesticides — benefit from the change, farmers choosing to give up modern chemicals and techniques had more mixed results.
Yields decreased in five out of six cases, and farmers saw greater profits in only three out of five cases.
Market linkages also play a major role, the review finds, with farms with good access to markets more likely to profit from conversion to ORCA.
Furthermore, the complex integrated principles involved in ORCA encourage farmers to become better managers of natural, physical and financial resources, as well as members of networks such as farming organisations, the report finds.
This, it adds, strengthens farmers’ capacity to adapt to changing farming and market conditions — a flexibility that will become increasingly important as the effects of climate change worsen.
UK astronaut Tim Peake is ready to make his landmark flight to the International Space Station
On Tuesday, the former helicopter pilot will launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
He will be accompanied by crew members American Tim Kopra and Russian Yuri Malenchenko.
Once at the ISS, Mr Peake will begin a programme of experiments and educational activities designed to get young people interested in science.
Launch is set for 11:03 GMT from Site 1 at Baikonur, the pad where Yuri Gagarin made the first historic human spaceflight in 1961. The Soyuz space capsule is due to dock with the space station at 17:23 GMT.
Mr Peake is the first UK astronaut to fly under the banner of the European Space Agency (Esa).
Helen Sharman became the first British citizen to travel to space when she visited the space station Mir in 1991. Her mission came about through a co-operative venture between the Soviet government and British business.
Ms Sharman told BBC News: “Launch itself is a day that you want to get on with, because finally, you’re getting to do what you’ve been trained to do for so long. I trained for 18 months, Tim Peake will have trained for six years by the time he flies.”
The crew woke up at 0200 GMT (0800 local time) for breakfast. After a farewell ceremony, they depart the cosmonaut hotel in Baikonur for medical tests.
Diesel vehicles banned in Delhi
India’s top environmental court on Friday banned the registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi until Jan 6 as the city experiences hazardous levels of pollution, in part due to diesel emissions. But the court’s ruling gave little detail, sparking a sell-off in automakers’ shares on Monday and industry frustration.
The ban by India’s National Green Tribunal came a day before world leaders at the global climate summit in Paris struck a weekend deal to rein in rising emissions blamed for warming the planet. The ruling can be challenged in a higher court.
Diesel-powered cars are popular in India as the fuel is cheaper than petrol, prompting global carmakers to invest in strengthening their diesel car portfolio over the years.
But Delhi is working to shake off the most polluted city tag. It has already said it will restrict private cars circulating based on odd or even license plate numbers, from Jan. 1.
The vehicular exhaust from diesel cars, SUVs and freight trucks has been identified as one of the major contributors to the alarming levels of particulate matter in Delhi’s atmosphere is well-established.
The tribunal has asked the Delhi and Central governments to decide whether a more permanent injunction prohibiting the registration of diesel vehicles in the NCR would be advisable, given the “serious contribution of vehicular pollution” to the city’s air quality. Separately, the Supreme Court is set to hear on December 15 an independent plea to ban diesel vehicles in Delhi.
IISc develops solar hybrid desalination system
The desperation is not entirely unknown in Peninsular India, where, even with seas surrounding the land on three sides, water often eludes parched tongues.
With desalination — that involves converting saline sea water to potable water — being out of reach currently for the shallow pockets of the government, researchers of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have hit upon the idea of utilising copious solar energy in the South to reduce the costs of the process.
Ravinder Kumar and Umanand L., from the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering at IISc, have developed a solar hybrid desalination system that works for saline and brackish water. The process described in the International Journal of Low Carbon Technologies shows that at its peak (around 27 degree C) could the system can purify nearly 6.5 litres of saline water per sq.m. of the instrument in six hours of use (tested between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.).
The stepped solar-still, comprising of semi-circular pipe sections welded progressively one next to the other so as to maintain a constant slope was fabricated to serve as the water channel basin. Vacuum jackets were provided to minimize thermal losses. The instrument could hold between 3 and 4 litres for treatment. During the experimentation, solar intensity was observed at 718.76 Watt per sq.m. With the set-up ensuring pressure was high within, saline water saw evaporation at temperatures lesser than 100 degree C. Water was further pumped in and out using photovoltaic cells as a source of energy — making the instrument self-reliant.
Mr. Kumar believed the system met the major objectives of desalination system: to reduce life span cost, while meeting performance requirements. “This system shows promise that the problem of clean drinking water can be solved in any coastal area where seawater and sunlight are available freely,” he said.