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The Habitable Zone Was Redefined Today, Earth Is Now Barely Habitable

The difference between Mars and Earth is that one of them falls into the habitable zone, while the other doesn’t. This habitable zone – a small path along a star where a planet is not too close and not too far away that life could exist on its surface – was redefined today, and Earth just barely made the cut.

Scientist took updated atmospheric databases called HITRAN and HITEMP which basically measure how much energy the water absorbs and how much energy carbon dioxide can retain, and updated our current place within the habitable zone in our solar system.  After their calculations were plotted on the new chart, they discovered that our planet was just inside the habitable zone.

The habitable zone is used to identify if a planet has the right temperature to retain liquid water on its surface. If a planet is too far away from its parent star, the water will freeze, if its too close, the water will vaporize away. Obviously, a planet with liquid water would be a primo spot for life to flourish.

This new redefined boundary means that many planets that we thought were in the habitable zone, are no longer in the sweet spot to hold life, however, this also allows planets that had recently been excluded as candidates for life to come back into the realm of plausibility.

How much did our Earth move on this zone? Not much, only .04 AU’s closer to the sun from the previous data which was collected 20 years ago – by James Kasting from Penn State. An AU is a term used to define an Earth-Sun distance, 1 Astronomical Unit is about 150 million kilometers in size. So our records went from 0.95 AU – 1.67 AU to the new distance of .99 AU – 1.7 AU (remember the path of the Earth around the sun is not a perfect circle. Throughout the year,  the Earth shifts about .8 AU’s. This shift makes the difference between Winter and Summer.)

Abel Mendez from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo is a researcher in charge of a Habitable Exoplanet Catalog – a catalog with all the planets that could hold life. He stated that this new study is going to require him to update the catalog and kick off or squeeze in new planets to fit this new data.

Basically, since the Earth is now just inside the new boundary – and we seem to be pretty comfortable – this means that the habitable zone’s outer edges could be extended to areas that we once thought were too extreme 20 years ago.

HZ_distance

The main planet that Mendez is particularly excited about is Gliesse581d, a planet who’s path, using outdated data, was on the outer edge of the habitable zone. With this new redefinition of the zone, the planet’s new path is now right in the middle of the zone. What’s interesting about the new zone is that Mars is now also in the zone, on the outer cooler boundary, but it’s there.

This new data, however, does not take into consideration cloud formations, which according to the researchers have a huge impact on the habitability of a planet. What I want to know is, what happens after we fall completely outside of the habitable zone and we’re still alive, do we change it up again? Or will we be officially screwed?

Via Space.com

Brazil To Start Cloning Endangered Species Of Animals

Endangered animals are a drag, you know, because they are going extinct and all. But Brazil is actually doing something about it. They just recently started a program who’s main purpose is program to clone animals that are currently at risk of going extinct. The animals that they currently have in mind include the Tamarins, Maned Wolves, Jaguars, and the Black Lions.

Over the past few years, the Brazilian researchers have been collecting genetic samples from hundreds of local, yet, endangered species of animals. Now that they have a good number in their hands, they want to start cloning them to preserve the animals currently in captivity. Their main goal is to maintain the healthy living animals in zoos and other protected areas without having to go into the wild animal’s natural habitat to extract them from there. Basically, we’ll have animals stored away and we’ll let the ones in the wild run their course… which means that other animals – mainly us – will exterminate them the way we’ve been doing lately.

The first animal to be cloned, the Maned Wolf, it should happen in the next quarter of the year. The researchers are not planning on using clones to increase population of animals, but they hope that IF a species of animal is about to be 100% exterminated, they will be able to create enough animals to maintain balance to the bio-system.

I wonder if Peta will have anything to say about this? I guess we’ll find out when we start cloning Maned Wolf fur coats – IPS News, via io9

DNA Error Is Likely Responsible For Human Brain

Turns out that our DNA went full retarded about 3.5 million years ago and we ended up gaining the power of intelligence. According to researchers, when any cell divides, it first copies its entire genome. While the genome is being copied, the process often times causes errors that are later on fixed in the DNA reproduction, however, if the errors don’t get fixed they become permanent changes – we call them Mutations – sometimes these changes can hurt us, other times they can greatly help us out.

The researchers intentionally caused this “error” on small lab mice, and it caused their brains to move into place faster and helped their brain create more connections – which means they become “smarter”.

According to the researchers, the error is in the duplication of genomes, when a genome is copied twice, it increases our brain functions. They found that many of the duplicates in the human body play an important role in the developing brain.

“There are approximately 30 genes that were selectively duplicated in humans,” study researcher Franck Polleux, of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., said in a statement  “These are some of our most recent genomic innovations.” An extra copy of a gene gives evolution something to work with: Like modeling clay, this gene isn’t essential like the original copy, so changes can be made to it without damaging the resulting organism.

According to them, this is where we differentiate from our primates, I’m sure there are other things involved but intelligence is the most noticeable one, and our DNA “Fails” may hold all the secrets.

“We may have been looking at the wrong types of mutations to explain human and great ape differences,” study researcher Evan Eichler, of the University of Washington, said in a statement. “These episodic and large duplication events could have allowed for radical — potentially Earth-shattering — changes in brain development and brain function.”  [Live Science]

The US Fires the World’s Most Powerful Laser – Next It Will Create A Star!

The United States’ National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California just fired off the most powerful laser in history. The laser put out a beam measured at 2-megajoules, enough to put it on spot #1 for the most powerful laser in the world.

So what’s the point of this? Well, to create a small star of course! The researchers fired off a single beam of light that is then split into 48 separate beams. The beams are bounced around a warehouse that’s about the size of three football fields using mirrors, eventually the 48 beams get split up into 192 different beams and are taken through amplifiers that increase the strength of the laser every single time they bounce around the facility.

After the laser has made its way to the final exit point, the laser contains about 1,000 times the energy of all the power plants currently in place in the U.S. or about Five Trillion Watts of energy. Since this was just a test, the facility didn’t go through with the full experiment – that’s going to happen later this year when they will be shooting the laser at the small frozen hydrogen fuel cell in the image to the right. The fuel cell is going to be wrapped inside a gold plated cylinder called the Hohlraum.

This Gold plate is going to be located inside of a 32.8 foot ignition chamber and will turn the lasers into X-rays that will in turn compress the hydrogen cell at one hundred billion atmospheres in just 1/1,000,000 of a second.

Why? Because this will create a small start … a SUN! … on earth! They hope that the star is going to generate more power than the energy used to get the laser to shoot, not to mention, the chamber needs to be able to contain the heat that is going to be generated by the creation of  the star. That’s if they get to make a star in the first place.

Most of the funding that the NIF has been receiving comes from the US Nuclear Weapons Complex, which uses the facility to test the physics of nuclear bombs, and the US Department of Energy’s fusion-energy budget. If they can’t get the laser to induce fusion the way they plan, the US Department of Energy Fusion-Energy budget is going to get moved around to an alternative approach that uses magnets rather than lasers to induce fusion.  In this huge economic downfall that we’ve been having in the US, it’s nice to know America still has it in the bag!  [via Gizmodo via Physorg]

Pink Goop Beef Is Not Good For Fast Food: USDA Buys 7 Million Pounds to Feed Kids

A while back McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and just about any other major fast food chain that used the Pink Goop said they were going to stop using the Goop after everyone started to express concerns about the safety – blah blah blah – and their Nutritional facts – blah blah blah – and something along the lines of – It’s not real meat. But while the goop is not good enough for the General public, the USDA in the other hand thinks it’s still healthy. As a matter of fact, they think it’s so healthy that they are going to feed it to the children.

The Pink Goop, which not even dogs enjoy on the regular basis, is actually made of of “beef trimmings” which are the undesirable, leftover crap of cows that no one want’s to eat. They take those trimmings and then grind them together to make “meat looking patties” after they are soaked in Ammonia Hydroxide to kill off bacteria and infections etc.

The USDA is basically taking these trimmings and giving them to the schools – Since the schools already have low budgets, this may sound like a good idea. But this crap is so gross that not even McDonald’s thinks it’s good enough for their 99cent burgers! When McDonald’s starts to have better food than our schools, you know we’re in some deep trouble. I love the radio/video segment above, it’s goes into a lot of detail of what’s going on in this issue.

Carl Custer, a 35-year veteran of Food Safety Inspection Service, told The Daily:

“We originally called it soylent pink. We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”

But even after all that started to circulate the news, the USDA is still buying 7 million pounds of the goop to put out in the schools:  The Daily,

 

America Has Its Priorities Wrong

This video has already made its way to many prominent areas on the internet and gained thousands of viewers. I think any site that has any connection to science and/or technology should make it their duty to show it once again.  So, here you go.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is without a doubt a genius, and knows exactly what he is talking about. So, why do more people not listen to what this man has to say? Easy their priorities are not straight. More people are too focused on what is going on in Hollywood, and which celebrity is doing this and that to care about NASA being all but shut down.

Our government throws money every which way but in the right direction. Why do more people not grow up caring about science and technology that can bring magic into the world? I am not that involved with the science world, but I do love to read about it. I love hearing about space exploration with the hope that one day we will be traveling in space or maybe even found intelligent life.

I am not going to say that Hollywood is all bad because there are some things that I love to know about, and I am a sucker for awards season. The thing is why does our society not also incorporate men and women of science as people that they idolize also. These are the people that are making new discoveries to hopefully sustain the human species.

Tyson really does have a point. This nation has stopped dreaming. I still have hope that it does not once again take a war to make people come to the understanding that space exploration is important. Science is important.

Is Farming Chickens Matrix Style To Keep Them From Suffering Ethical?

Andre Ford is an Architecture Student that is proposing an idea that seems to come straight out of the Matrix, raising chickens to be used for meat in vertical racks after severing their frontal cortexes, rendering them brain dead. He claims that having chickens on top of each other in the vertical racks is far more efficient, and he’s probably right about that, but do you think this is going to go well with animal activists groups? Probably not.

The images in the bottom show you exactly what he wants to have on his futuristic farms. The chickens are suspended from their heads, they are no longer able to move, their bodies and their feet have been removed. The holding “cranes” have tubes that feed the chickens water and nutrients, then the other end of the crane has tubs that carry the “nutrients” out of their bodies. As far as their brain being able to feel any pain that’s out of the picture as well. The chickens are not tortured at all, the scientist completely remove all the unnecessary parts of the brain and leave only the parts needed to run basic functions like breathing, keeping a heart beating, and most importantly process nutrients. At this stage, the chicken is no longer an animal that can feel pain or even suffer… so does this make it ethical?

It all depends on how you look at it, it would be the equivalent of removing the brain from the chicken and keeping them alive to lay eggs. I feel like today’s standards in chicken production are not bad, this however pushes the boundary. Imagine keeping a brain dead woman alive and using her body to create babies?

Sure, having this kind of system is great if you want to reduce the amount of space needed to farm chickens, it’s also cheaper to maintain, it’s cleaner, and it’s better for the chickens since they can’t really feel. The advantages of this for the chicken are great, unlike the current factory farming where the chickens are packed up in cages with other chickens, at least in this set up the chicken is no longer aware of what’s going on around him.

Now, keep in mind this is an art project and is not something that is currently in place ANYWHERE not even in a lab, but the question needs to be asked, if you remove the ability to feel pain and emotion from an animal… is it more ethical than the current farming standards?

How Much Vomit Would A Person Need To Fly?

Gizmodo had an interesting article today, they had a video from, Minute Physics explaining exactly how much milk someone needs to vomit in order for them to fly. The question came up after a video posted by Freddie Wong’s video, when he introduced the adventures of Milk Man, a super hero that vomits on his enemies.

Unfortunately, if you want to fly like he does, you’re going to need way more milk than what you can afford. The physics video in the tab above estimated that you need to be spewing out over five gallons of milk per second in order for you to even get off the ground, picture the water jet packs. If you wan’t to experience the Milk Man, check out this video …  And now …  let’s resume today’s wonderful Valentine’s day… I wish I was in Japan.