By Ed Mazza

An initiative set up to find signs of intelligent life in the universe has detected a series of mysterious radio signals from a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light years away.

Scientists with Breakthrough Listen say they’ve found 15 fast radio bursts, or FRBs, from a deep space “repeater” called FRB 121102.

The numbers indicate when the first signal was discovered, on Nov. 2, 2012.

While a few other FRBs have been detected, what makes this one unique is that it was also heard previously in 2015, and its location pinpointed a year later.

Breakthrough Listen used instruments at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to observe that location over 5 hours on Saturday, detecting 15 bursts over the entire 4 to 8 GHz frequency band, the organization said in a news release.

“It’s very funky how the individual bursts can pop up anywhere in this wide range of frequencies, even though each individual burst has a relatively narrow frequency coverage,” Peter Williams of Harvard University told New Scientist. “I have yet to see anyone offer up a good explanation for how that might happen.”

Breakthrough Listen created a GIF showing 14 of the 15 signals in succession:

An earlier clip demonstrates just what FRB 121102 sounds like:

“Possible explanations for FRBs range from outbursts from rotating neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields, to more speculative ideas that they are directed energy sources used by extraterrestrial civilizations to power spacecraft,” the organization said.

Earlier this year, Harvard researchers speculated that these radio bursts could be “beams set up by extragalactic civilizations to potentially power light sails.”

However, they conceded that it was purely speculative, and several other scientists have cautioned against linking these bursts to possible alien intelligence.

“Just to be clear, we don’t know what is causing the fast radio bursts we see, but we don’t think it’s anything to do with aliens!” wrote astronomer Emily Petroff of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in 2015 in relation to a different FRB detected by her team.

How they are caused remains up for debate, and in the case of FRB 121102 the repeats add to the mystery. While some radio bursts could be caused by a single catastrophic event such as a supernova, those events wouldn’t repeat.

And in this case, the location ― a dwarf galaxy with just 1 percent of the mass of our own Milky Way ― makes the signal even harder to explain.

“It is surprising that the host would be a dwarf galaxy,” Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said in a news release earlier this year. “One would generally expect most FRBs to come from large galaxies which have the largest numbers of stars and neutron stars. Neutron stars – remnants of massive stars – are among the top candidates to explain FRBs.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/deep-space-radio-bursts_us_59a7bbcbe4b07e81d35530b7

Advertisements

.

By Richard C. Lewis

Soon after the Big Bang, the universe went completely dark.

The intense, seminal event that created the cosmos churned up so much hot, thick gas that light was completely trapped. Much later—perhaps as many as one billion years after the Big Bang—the universe expanded; became more transparent; and eventually filled up with galaxies, planets, stars, and other objects that give off visible light. That’s the universe we know today.

How it emerged from the cosmic dark ages to a clearer, light-filled state remains a mystery.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Iowa offer a theory of how that happened. They think black holes that dwell in the center of galaxies fling out matter so violently that the ejected material pierces its cloudy surroundings, allowing light to escape. The researchers arrived at their theory after observing a nearby galaxy from which ultraviolet light is escaping.

“The observations show the presence of very bright X-ray sources that are likely accreting black holes,” says Philip Kaaret, professor in the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy and corresponding author on the study. “It’s possible the black hole is creating winds that help the ionizing radiation from the stars escape. Thus, black holes may have helped make the universe transparent.”

Kaaret and his team focused on a galaxy called Tol 1247-232, located some 600 million light years from Earth, one of only three nearby galaxies from which ultraviolet light has been found to escape. In May 2016, using an Earth-orbiting telescope called Chandra, the researchers saw a single X-ray source whose brightness waxed and waned and was located within a vigorous star-forming region of Tol 1247-232.

The team determined it was something other than a star.

“Stars don’t have changes in brightness,” Kaaret says. “Our sun is a good example of that.

“To change in brightness, you have to be a small object, and that really narrows it down to a black hole,” he says.

But how would a black hole, whose intense gravitational pull sucks in everything around it, also eject matter?

The quick answer is no one knows for sure. Black holes, after all, are hard to study, in part because their immense gravitational pull allows no light to escape and because they’re embedded deep within galaxies. Recently, however, astronomers have offered an explanation: The jets of escaping matter are tapping into the accelerated rotational energy of the black hole itself.

Imagine a figure skater twirling with outstretched arms. As the skater folds her arms closer to her body, she spins faster. Black holes operate much the same way: As gravity pulls matter inward toward a black hole, the black hole likewise spins faster. As the black hole’s gravitational pull increases, the speed also creates energy.

“As matter falls into a black hole, it starts to spin and the rapid rotation pushes some fraction of the matter out,” Kaaret says. “They’re producing these strong winds that could be opening an escape route for ultraviolet light. That could be what happened with the early galaxies.”

Kaaret plans to study Tol 1247-232 more closely and find other nearby galaxies that are leaking ultraviolet light, which would help corroborate his theory.

The paper, “Resolving the X-ray emission from the Lyman continuum emitting galaxy Tol 1247-232,” was published online Aug. 2 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Contributing author Liza Casella, an Iowa City native studying at Northwestern University, helped with the research while in high school through the UI’s Secondary Student Training Program. Matthew Brorby, a postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy at the UI, and Andrea Prestwich, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, are the other contributing authors.

https://now.uiowa.edu/2017/08/researchers-hypothesize-how-universe-became-filled-light?utm_source=IANowFaculty&utm_medium=leaking_galaxies&utm_campaign=IANowFaculty-8-31-2017

More than 60,000 people are set to be evacuated from the center of Frankfurt on Sunday after a massive World War Two bomb was discovered beneath the city.

The bomb was found during work on a construction site on Wismarer Street close to the Goethe University Frankfurt compound Tuesday, according to a statement by Frankfurt Police.

Police said due to the size of the bomb, extensive evacuation measures were necessary.

The device is a British bomb, specifically a 1.4-ton HC 4000 air mine, the statement said, and is currently under guard by police.

There is no danger to the public, police said, but they will be evacuating the area as a precaution while they defuse the bomb.

The evacuation will take place at 8 a.m. local time on Sunday, authorities said.

The Second World War may have ended over 70 years ago but its legacy still lingers in cities across Germany.

In May, more than 50,000 people were asked to leave the German city of Hanover after a bomb was discovered during pre-construction work on a site in the Vahrenwald district.

On Christmas Day 2016, another 50,000 were evacuated from Augsburg in south Germany after a 1.8-ton bomb was found beneath an underground carpark.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/31/europe/germany-frankfurt-ww2-bomb/index.html

by Bryan Nelson

The largest honeybees in the world, Himalayan giant honeybees, produce some of the world’s most cherished honey. It’s known as mad honey, a reddish sweet goop with psychotropic properties that in reasonable doses generates a high similar to that of marijuana.

Haven’t heard of this delectable treat? That’s probably because it’s extremely difficult to harvest. If the bees’ stings — which can pierce through most beekeeper suits — don’t ward you off, the sheer Himalayan cliffs where the bees plaster their large crescent-shaped hives probably will. Those who dare to gather the honey do so at their own peril, dangling from precarious bamboo rope ladders hundreds of feet above the ground.

But this treacherous cultural practice, perfected by the Kulung people of eastern Nepal, could soon disappear forever. When elder Mauli Dhan, known as the last honey hunter, chooses to retire, his craft could end with him.

Mad honey can fetch a hefty price, sold for $60 to $80 a pound (U.S.), but those are black market prices. You won’t find it at your local supermarket.

The honey gets its hallucinogenic properties from toxins in flowers that the bees eat in the spring; it’s only during this time of the year that the honey can get you high. Two to three teaspoons is usually considered the correct dose, which produces feelings similar to weed. A larger dose, however, can produce a more intense experience, one that’s probably unpleasant to the uninitiated.

First, you’ll probably feel the need to purge (defecate, urinate, vomit). Then, “after the purge you alternate between light and dark. You can see, and then you can’t see,” explained Jangi Kulung, a local honey trader. “A sound — jam jam jam — pulses in your head, like the beehive. You can’t move, but you’re still completely lucid. The paralysis lasts for a day or so.”

These more intense experiences, along with a rumored death from overdose, are the primary reasons that this precious honey has become more difficult to sell, and why the cultural practice of harvesting it might soon disappear.

Undoubtedly, when the last honey hunter climbs his last cliff, the hunt for this rare psychotropic delicacy will probably continue in some form. But whether the harvest is done sustainably, in a way that’s safe for harvesters, consumers and the bees themselves (their populations are declining), remains in doubt. There’s a delicate ecosystem that makes this unique honey possible, and without a balanced and careful harvest, the honey supply may not last long.

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/worlds-largest-honey-bee-makes-hallucinogenic-honey-you-have-be-crazy-harvest
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/honey-hunters-bees-climbing-nepal/

By Chris Mercer

Eating cheese before you go to bed will not give you nightmares but different varieties could help you choose the dreams you do want to have, says a study by the British Cheese Board.

Not one of the 200 volunteers who took part in the British Cheese Board’s ‘cheese & dreams’ study reported having nightmares after eating 20g of cheese 30 minutes before bed.

The industry body said 72 per cent of participants slept very well and 67 per cent remembered their dreams.

The study, believed to be the first of its kind, serves to dispel the old wives’ tale that eating cheese before bed means a restless night in-store. It was endorsed by Neil Stanley of the Sleep Research HPRU Medical Research Centre at the University of Surrey.

Dr. Judith Bryans, a nutrition scientist at Britain’s Dairy Council, added the science bit: “One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan – has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep.”

The research, in an intriguing twist, also found that different cheeses appeared to give participants different kinds of dreams.

Cheddar, officially Britain’s most popular cheese with 55 per cent of the market, enhanced dreams about celebrities. One girl said she dreamt of helping to form a human pyramid under the supervision of film star Johnny Depp.

Stilton was the wild card, especially for women. Around 85 per cent of women experienced bizarre dreams after eating Britain’s iconic blue cheese, including talking soft toys, dinner party guests being traded for camels and a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children.

Of the others, Red Leicester is likely to have you dwelling on the past and Lancashire will get you focused on the future.

The boring award goes to crumbly Cheshire, which gave more than half its consumers dreamless nights. Cheshire and Red Leicester, however, gave the best nights’ sleep.

So there it is, although with more than 700 varieties of British cheese it seems there is much left to discover.

The British Cheese Board said it hoped to use the results to encourage more cheese eating before bed. Britons currently eat 30g of cheese every day on average, yet continental Europeans eat twice as much.

The Cheese Board says 30g of cheddar contains around 30 per cent of the recommended daily calcium intake for adults.

http://mobile.dairyreporter.com/R-D/Cheese-unlocks-your-wildest-dreams-says-study

by Michael d’Estries

Mankind’s future exploration of other planets may come to depend on the very thing we all flush away every day.

Researchers from Clemson University, in collaboration with NASA, are studying ways to take advantage of human urine sweat, and carbon dioxide to create everything from polyester to nutritional supplements. The key to making this possible is a strain of yeast called Yarrowia lipolytica, which would feed off collected waste and convert it into useful oils and fats.

“One of the yeast strains produces omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart, eye and brain health,” the team reported ahead of a presentation at the American Chemical Society. “Another strain has been engineered to churn out monomers and link them to make polyester polymers. Those polymers could then be used in a 3-D printer to generate new plastic parts.”

Similar to how Mars habitats will likely be created using resources already present on the Martian surface, spare tools and parts for long spaceflights will need to be sourced during the mission. According to Clemson University’s Mark Blenner, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, this conversion of waste will give birth to a new kind of economy.

“If astronauts are going to make journeys that span several years, we’ll need to find a way to reuse and recycle everything they bring with them,” he said in a statement. “Atom economy will become really important.”

While taking advantage of urine and sweat may sound justifiably gross, keep in mind that astronauts on the International Space Station today already convert their urine into clean drinking water. Using it for tools and other beneficial products won’t be much of a leap.

“It tastes like bottled water,” Layne Carter, water subsystem manager for the ISS at Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center told Bloomberg. “As long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine and condensate that comes out of the air.”

Despite only having managed to produce small amounts of polyesters or nutrients from Y. lipolytica in the lab, the Clemson researchers are hopeful that further studies will lead to increases in output.

“We’re learning that Y. lipolytica is quite a bit different than other yeast in their genetics and biochemical nature,” Blenner added. “Every new organism has some amount of quirkiness that you have to focus on and understand better.”

By Lee Moran

A farmer in southern England has thanked the firefighters who saved her piglets from a blazing barn in a most apt way.

Rachel Rivers this week treated crew members at Pewsey Fire Station to a batch of sausages which were made from the very animals they had rescued from the fire at her farm in Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire, in February.

“I wanted to thank them,” Rivers told the BBC. “I promised them at the time I’d bring down some sausages for them, which they were all pleased about.”

Rivers admitted that vegetarians were likely to “hate this.” But she added, “We farm and this is what we do. You can’t keep them as pets.”

Pewsey Fire Station shared photographs of the gift, which they barbecued, to Facebook on Monday.

“Exactly 6 months and 1 day since FF’s Olsen and Richardson rescued 18 piglets from a farm in Milton we got to sample the fruits of our labor from that February night,” the service wrote, according to the Telegraph.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/farm-piglets-firefighters-sausages_us_599d3ca9e4b0a296083aff67?section=us_weird-news