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Friday, June 17, 2011

Science Fun

No, I'm NOT listening... Any mother who manages to get anything done while her kids are screaming bloody murder in the background could have told the scientists about this one:
Focusing Heavily on a Task Results in Experience of Deafness to Perfectly Audible Sounds 
When you attention is completely focused on something, you simply do not hear stuff going on around you. This is why dummies who text and walk keep getting hit by cars. Which is fine by me, I hate texting and can't stand when people do it around me because it's rude. Let 'em get run over, give 'em all Darwin Awards


A once in a 100 million years event - a black hole in the Draco constellation, 24 trillion miles from earth, destroyed a star about the size of our sun which caused a massive release of gamma rays - aimed right at us. Now normally when these sorts of things happen, the burst of energy is very brief, lasting only a few seconds or even milliseconds, but the blast coming out of the Draco black hole has been blaring for months! Here's some more info, via World Science:
“This is truly dif­fer­ent from any ex­plo­sive event we have seen be­fore,” said Josh­ua Bloom, an as­tron­o­mer at the Un­ivers­ity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley.
Black holes are ob­jects so heavy and com­pact that their gra­vity over­whelms and drags in an­ything that strays too close, in­clud­ing light. They aren’t di­rectly vis­i­ble, but of­ten the vi­o­lent ac­ti­vity sur­round­ing black holes gives off de­tect­a­ble light.
“The only ex­plana­t­ion that so far fits the size, in­tens­ity, time scale, and lev­el of fluctua­t­ion” meas­ured “is that a mas­sive black hole at the very cen­ter of that gal­axy has pulled in a large star and ripped it apart by tid­al dis­rup­tion,” said An­drew Levan of the Uni­vers­ity of War­wick, U.K., one of the re­search­ers. In oth­er words, it’s the same ef­fect by which the Moon’s gra­vity gently dis­torts our oceans, cre­at­ing the tides, ex­cept the black hole’s gravita­t­ional force would be around 100 tril­lion times stronger than the Moon’s.
The spin­ning black hole then cre­at­ed two je­ts of en­er­gy, “one of which point­ed straight to Earth,” he added.
“De­spite the pow­er of this the cat­a­clys­mic event, we still only hap­pen to see [it] be­cause our so­lar sys­tem hap­pened to be look­ing right down the bar­rel of this je­t,” said Levan. The event, dubbed Sw 1644+57, took place at the heart of a gal­axy that lies in the di­rection of the con­stella­t­ion Dra­co, he added. The re­search is pub­lished June 16 in the re­search jour­nal Sci­ence.
The beam had to cross 3.8 bil­lion light-years of space be­fore reach­ing us, re­search­ers es­ti­mate. A light-year is a un­it of dis­tance equal to how far light trav­els in a year.
“This burst pro­duced a tre­men­dous amount of en­er­gy over a fairly long pe­ri­od of time, and the event is still go­ing on more than 2½ months lat­er,” said Bloom. “That’s be­cause as the black hole rips the star apart, the mass swirls around like wa­ter go­ing down a drain, and this swirling pro­cess re­leases a lot of en­er­gy.”
When NASA’s Swift Gam­ma Burst Mis­sion space­craft first de­tected the flash, as­tro­no­mers thought it was a gam­ma-ray burst from a col­laps­ing star. But on March 31 Bloom sent out an e­mail cir­cu­lar sug­gest­ing it was ac­tu­ally a high-en­er­gy je­t pro­duced as a star about the size of our Sun fell in­to a black hole a mil­lion times heav­i­er. Bloom and col­leagues pro­pose that some 10 per­cent of the in­falling star’s mass is turned in­to en­er­gy and ra­di­at­ed off as X-rays and gam­ma rays.
“Here, you have a black hole sit­ting qui­es­cent­ly, not gob­bling up mat­ter, and all of a sud­den some­thing sets it off,” Bloom said. “This could hap­pen in our own gal­axy, where a black hole sits at the cen­ter liv­ing in qui­es­cence, and oc­ca­sion­ally bur­bles or hic­cups as it swal­lows a lit­tle bit of gas. From a dis­tance, it would ap­pear dor­mant, un­til a star ran­domly wan­ders too close and is shred­ded.”
Prob­a­ble tid­al dis­rup­tions of a star by a mas­sive black hole have pre­vi­ously been seen at low­er en­er­gies, but nev­er one that pro­duces gam­ma rays, the most en­er­get­ic form of light, Bloom said. Such ran­dom events, es­pe­cially look­ing down the je­t’s bar­rel, hap­pen “prob­ably once in 100 mil­lion years in any giv­en gal­axy,” he con­tin­ued. “I would be sur­prised if we saw anoth­er one of these an­ywhere in the sky in the next decade.” The gam­ma-ray emis­sions probably be­gan March 24 or 25, he added; “we think this event was de­tected around the time it was as bright as it will ev­er be.”
What Uni­ver­si­ty of War­wick, U.K. re­search­ers think the star may have looked like at the start of its dis­rup­tion by a black hole. (Cred­it: U. of War­wick / Mark A. Gar­lick) 
You can see more images and learn more about this event at ZME Science and International Business Times.


Speaking of destruction, check out this video I swiped from Ace of the Machine That Destroys Everything:



Ace got the above video from kottle.org which is where I found this next amazing bit of technology, The amazing pen-spinning, phone-catching, rope-tying robotic hand:



I have problems with my hands, so much so that there are days when I'd lop them off if I could, maybe one day I can get them replaced with some fancy robot hands.


Open thread in comments below, talk about any of the stuff posted above or whatever else is on your mind. If you have links, share 'em!

Oh and for my fellow blogger friends, I don't get anything here telling me about trackbacks, so if you link to my stuff at your place and I haven't discovered it yet, please let me know so I can thank you properly.

Have a great weekend!



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4 comments:

SignPainterGuy said...

My ex- friend / shop partner / part-time boss would ask me to do something, I`d immediately turn and get completely lost in thought of how to get the job done. Later, while reminiscing about such stuff, he told me he`d talked to the back of my head almost as much as to the front ! Hm hm ....

While hand-lettering a Bonneville Salt Flats race car for the local community college, I had my walkman going w/ headphones and was oblivious to my surroundings while I concentrated on getting double "Os" as perfect as possible. The car appeared in HOTROD, MOTOR TREND and one other mag., early `90s. When I finished them, I sat up to take a breath....and noticed the wall behind me was lined with more than a dozen teachers watching me. I said, "Wow, if I`d known they were there, I probably would have started shaking and fallen apart !" Someone said, "Over half of them had already left to return to class !" Gee whizz !

Working on store fronts is so often the time that every person I know (ish) will come by, yell or toot their horn. I`ve learned to ignore everything else "with all power" ! Makes for interesting "next meetings" !

As for all the sciency stuff - the distances to far away galaxies, the age of the universe, the origins of things - since scientists have been shown to be incredibly dishonest, especially concerning Darwin`s theories and climate science - I have to ask them, "How do you know ?!" They`re just too dadburned sure of themselves and way too resistant to admitting errors ! (Darwin admitted making up his methods of research in his first letter to Cambridge - I`ll give him that much respect for honesty, but not the scientists who later have used his research and theories to deny "Intelligent Design")

My fav. young pastor`s brother and other Texas researchers proved that the double-atmosphere that existed before Noah`s Flood has an adverse effect on radio carbon dating. Objects tested after the flood test correctly, while objects known to be older than the flood, date as MUCH older than they should ! Thus making for an argument against Biblical creation stories ! Food for thought !

BTW, I hope the kids calm down for you !

Ute Hopp said...

I know a few people I would love to throw in that machine muahahahahaha.

SignPainterGuy said...

Fascinating robotics; makes you wonder what is going on that they won`t let you see !

I played the Amazing Dancers vid after the robot; it has always amazed me how Asians will take something someone else started and carry it to extraordinary lengths ! And the Mr Destructo machine; nothing is safe around that thing ! How much "good stuff" was destroyed `cause it`s fun to watch ? Ha !

Justin said...

That robotic hand is pretty amazing.  Maybe the real Steve Austin is just around the corner.

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