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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: August 2005
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hypernova
NASA's Swift satellite finds newborn black holes
(Aug 22, 2005)


Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite say they have found newborn black holes, just seconds old, in a confused state of existence. The holes are consuming material falling into them while somehow propelling other material away at great speeds. These black holes are born in massive star explosions. An initial blast obliterates the star, yet the chaotic black hole activity appears to re-energize the explosion several times in just a few minutes. This is a dramatically different view of star death, one that entails multiple explosive outbursts and not just a single bang, as previously thought.

Read more. Source: NASA

nanoribbon
Nanotube sheets come of age
(Aug 20, 2005)


They're soft, strong, and very, very long. Large, transparent sheets of carbon nanotubes can now be produced at lightning speed. The new technique should allow the nanotubes to be used in commercial devices from heated car windows to flexible television screens. "Rarely is a processing advance so elegantly simple that rapid commercialization seems possible," says Ray Baughman, a chemist from the University of Texas at Dallas, whose team unveils the ribbon in this week's Science.

Read more. Source: Nature

virtual reality
Virtual world fits on a smartphone
(Aug 19, 2005)


It will soon be possible to inhabit a virtual world, even while out and about in the real one. US computer game company Artificial Life has announced that it will launch a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for third generation (3G) phones before the end of 2005. Currently untitled, the game will let players assume a virtual persona and travel through a futuristic cityscape, the company says. They will be able to chat and interact with computer-controlled characters as well as other human players and tackle puzzles that can be solved more easily through cooperation.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Space Shuttle
US shuttles grounded until March
(Aug 19, 2005)


The US space shuttle fleet is to remain grounded until March at the earliest, NASA officials have said. Engineers need to find a solution to the foam debris problem which re-emerged during Discovery's launch. Seven members of an oversight panel also say NASA's latest shuttle efforts were tainted by some of the problems that caused the Columbia disaster. The official heading the team looking at the issue said it would take until early next year at least to find a fix.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid Itokawa
Sample-return craft spots its asteroid target
(Aug 18, 2005)


Japanís Hayabusa spacecraft has spotted its quarry – a 630-metre-long asteroid named Itokawa. In September 2005, Hayabusa will try to rendezvous with the asteroid and, eventually, touch its surface. If it succeeds, Hayabusa will be the first ever mission to bring back samples from an asteroid. Scientists could then compare the raw asteroid material to meteorites on Earth to find a good match.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Vetustodermis planus
Strange fossil defies grouping
(Aug 17, 2005)


A strange fossil creature from the early Cambrian Period is baffling scientists because it does not fit neatly into any existing animal groups. The 525 million-year-old soft-bodied animal might have belonged to a now extinct mollusc-like phylum, scientists from America and China say. Other researchers have suggested the creature could represent an early annelid or arthropod.

Read more. Source: BBC

Milky War bar
Bar at Milky Way's heart revealed
(Aug 17, 2005)


The Milky Way is not a perfect spiral galaxy but instead sports a long bar through its centre, according to new infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Galaxies come in a wide variety of shapes usually thought to be produced by gravitational interactions with nearby objects. Some spiral galaxies look like pinwheels, with their arms curving out from a central bulge, while others have a straight bar at their centres. Radio telescopes detected gas that hinted at a bar at the heart of the Milky Way in the late 1980s.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Sergei Krikalev
Cosmonaut clocks up record time in space
(Aug 16, 2005)


The current International Space Station commander, Sergei Krikalev, has set a new record for the most cumulative time in space – logging a total of 748 days in orbit on Tuesday. His repeated exposure to the physical and psychological stresses of long-duration spaceflight ranks him among the most resilient space-farers in history.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

robot skin
Thin skin will help robots 'feel'
(Aug 16, 2005)


Japanese researchers have developed a flexible artificial skin that could give robots a humanlike sense of touch. The team manufactured a type of "skin" capable of sensing pressure and another capable of sensing temperature. These are supple enough to wrap around robot fingers and relatively cheap to make, the researchers have claimed.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist's impression of 2003 UB313
'Tenth planet' may be bigger then expected
(Aug 15, 2005)


An observational error may have understated the size of the tenth planet – if "planet" is in fact what astronomers finally decide to call it. The upper limit on the size of the object, temporarily called 2003 UB313, was earlier set at 3000 km following the Spitzer Space Telescope's failure to spot any infrared source at its location. But as its discoverer Mike Brown notes on his website, the telescope was actually pointed at the wrong place, so the object could actually be bigger than that.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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