Say Hello To Earth 2.0! Historic Kepler Discovery Suggests We Are Not Alone

An artist's impression of Kepler 452b

photo credit: This artist’s impression of Kepler 452b shows how its surface might look, complete with water and active volcanoes. SETI Institute/Danielle Futselaar.

Remember the name Kepler 452b. Because in our search to discover if we are alone in this vast and fascinating universe, a sole life-harboring world among countless dead and uninhabitable planets, we may finally have a true candidate for Earth 2.0.

For the first time, scientists have found what appears to be a rocky world orbiting a Sun-like star at almost exactly the same distance that Earth orbits our own Sun. While other potentially habitable planets have been found before, this is the first that could plausibly be another Earth. This might be the real deal, people.

Kepler 452b, found by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, is located 1,400 light-years from us. It orbits a star that is 4% more massive and 10% brighter than our Sun. The planet itself is 1.6 times the size of Earth – making it a super-Earth – but the scientists are fairly sure that it is a rocky world, owing to its size and the type of star it orbits.

Its orbit, 384.84 Earth days and 5% more distant than our planet is from the Sun, places it right in its star’s habitable zone, where it is not too hot or cold for liquid water to form: the same region Earth is in around the Sun. This is not the first Earth-sized planet found in a habitable zone; last year, the world was abuzz with the discovery of Kepler 186f, more similar in size to Earth. But that planet orbited a red dwarf star, smaller and cooler than the Sun. Kepler 452b, excitingly, orbits almost an exact clone of the Sun.

“Sun-like stars are people’s favorites, because we know of one circumstance [Earth] where that paid off [for life],” Seth Shostak, the Director of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which was involved in the planet discovery, told IFLScience.

Shostak revealed to IFLScience that, such was the potential habitability of this world, SETI was already studying it to find out if there were any signs of life coming from it, albeit so far to no avail. “We have actually started looking at this with the Allen Telescope Array to check it for obvious signals of artificial origin,” he said. “We haven’t looked over all the frequencies yet, but if there are any aliens on Kepler 452b they are being very coy.”

 

Shown is an artist’s impression of Earth compared to Kepler 452b. NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle.

Although the mass of the planet can’t be directly determined yet, the scientists think it may be about five times that of Earth based on models. A rocky planet of this size and mass would likely still have active volcanism on the surface.

However, it should be noted that the star it orbits is 1.5 billion years older than our Sun. On the one hand, this increased energy from its star means that any oceans on its surface are likely being evaporated, lowering its chance of being habitable. On the other hand, this planet offers a fascinating opportunity to see what might become of Earth in the future.

“If Kepler 452b is indeed a rocky planet, its location vis-a-vis its star could mean that it is just entering a runaway greenhouse phase of its climate history,” Doug Caldwell, a SETI Institute scientist working on the Kepler mission, said in a statement. “Kepler 452b could be experiencing now what the Earth will undergo more than a billion years from now, as the Sun ages and grows brighter.”

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This new planet joins others such as Kepler 186f, illustrated, as potentially Earth-like worlds. NASA Ames/SETI/JPL-Caltech.

Kepler 452b was found in a new catalog of 500 exoplanet candidates from four years of Kepler data. 12 of these are less than twice Earth’s diameter and orbiting in their star’s habitable zone, but Kepler 452b was the first to be confirmed as a planet. It could therefore be just one of many Earth 2.0s that are on the cusp of being announced.

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“Kepler 452b takes us one step closer to understanding how many habitable planets are out there,” said Joseph Twicken, also of the SETI Institute and the lead scientific programmer for the Kepler mission, in a statement.

While Kepler 452b ticks almost all of the boxes for being an Earth twin, there is one that it doesn’t – its size, which is 60% greater than Earth. Thus, while NASA is heralding it as the best candidate for Earth 2.0 so far, the hunt will go on for even more Earth-like planets.

NASA’s Kepler telescope, artist’s impression shown, was launched in 2009. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech.

Actually finding life on these planets is more difficult. Although upcoming telescopes like theJames Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be designed to study the atmospheres of exoplanets and search for signs of habitability, the range for doing this will be just tens of light-years from Earth, said Shostak. Kepler 452b, at 1,400 light-years away, is too far to be comprehensively studied at the moment.

But one thing is for sure – the chances of us being alone in this universe are looking increasingly slim. Whether it’s Kepler 452b or Kepler 186f or some other undiscovered planet, somewhere out there, there must be a world with life waiting for us to find it.

“Kepler 452b is one small step in answering the question [of are we alone] today,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a press conference.

Paper-Thin Printed Solar Cells Could Provide Power For 1.3 Billion People

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The cost of solar power has declined dramatically over the past few decades, from $40 per watt in 1977 to $0.74 per watt in 2013. This trend is expected to accelerate as improvements in efficiency and new technologies come online. This is good news for citizens of developed countries who want to make the switch to a cleaner and increasingly cheaper energy source. The shift to solar may be most dramatic for those living in developing countries. Thanks to inexpensive printed solar cells, 1.3 billion people currently without electricity may be able to plug in for the first time.

Paper-thin solar cells require only an industrial printer to manufacture and are inexpensive to produce. Unlike traditional panels, the printed solar cells are flexible, which eases their transportation to rural locations. Printed solar cells have developed rapidly, rising from 3% efficiency to 20 percent in just a few years. “I’ve witnessed first-hand how the technology has enabled urban poor communities in India to access off-grid electricity,” says Scott Watkins of Korean firm Kyung-In Synthetic. “Its success is due to its cost effectiveness and simplicity. A 10×10 cm solar cell film is enough to generate as much as 10-50 watts per square meter.”

However, the mass production and distribution of printed solar cells is not without its obstacles. While the panels are inexpensive to produce, an industrial printer requires a substantial capital investment to acquire. The printed panels can be vulnerable to moisture and may lead to lead contamination if broken. Companies such as Kyung-In Synthetic are testing new coatings for the cells to alleviate these problems. A cooperative system in which community members contribute resources and maintain democratic management of the venture may ensure sufficient start-up capital as well as the establishment of a strong local distribution network. Despite the challenges, printed solar cells are a powerful anti-poverty tool and represent a major step towards a 100 percent renewable energy economy.


Learn more here http://www.scidev.net/asia-pacific/energy/news/printed-solar-cells-hold-promise-for-unlit-rural-areas.html

Researchers find evidence: Ancient China discovered America thousands of years before Columbus

It appears that after all, we have history all wrong. Mainstream history and archaeology can try to deny these facts as much as they want, but eventually, things will change and people will open their eyes to new possibilities.

According to a new study, researchers believe that the ancient Chinese discovered the American continent 2000 years before Christopher Colombus.

Trade between Eastern parts of Asia and the New World is believed to have taken place much before Christopher Columbus arrived to the “New World” changing history books .

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The group of researchers have discovered, in Alaska, a dozen of Bronze artifacts that dramatically disprove the usual version that we have been thought in school: that it was Christopher Columbus who discovered the American Continent.

Before Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492 other adventurers had already stepped on American soil. Their “fingerprints” were discovered by a group of American archeologists excavating in Alaska, finding several artifacts including a buckle and a bronze whistle.

Now, researchers propose several new theories that can change history as we have been thought in school. Long before the arrival of Spaniards, the Native Americans were in contact with other great cultures which include: China, Korea and the region of Yakutia, Russia. These exchanges would have taken place 2,600 years ago, marking the date of Columbus’ arrival as something ordinary and not as a historical date like we have been told in history class.

Chinese discovered America
Archaeologists working on Rising Whale, Alaska. Photo: University of Colorado

Researchers say that, the region of North America where these artifacts were found, techniques of obtaining such an alloy were unknown in that time of history, so the scientists conclude, their origin would come from East Asia. It is assumed that trade would have been established through the Bering Strait when it was frozen.

“The traditional story of Columbus and the discovery of the New World is an absolute fantasy, a fairy tales” said Gavin Menzies in an interview with Mail Online.

Some researchers believe that the first inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere came overland from the Bering Strait, but it was the Chinese sailors who first crossed the Pacific Ocean 40 000 years ago.

Experts also believe they have found a much deeper connecting between American natives and Asian inhabitants pointing towards the discovery of DNA markers that show that American Indians and other natives are descendants of several Asian cultures.

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Most scientists believe that humans arrived in the New World 15,000 years, however, a recent genetic study suggests that Asian travels set foot on the New world much before that.

These discoveries can turn out to be radical when it comes to history. The question is, when will we start looking at thing from another perspective. Apparently history has been taught to new generations completely wrong.

We have known for years that human beings inhabited Earth much earlier than science and history tell us, we have also learned that ancient civilizations were extremely intelligent, possessing technologies that we today cannot understand, and now we have been told that some parts of our planet have been discovered thousands of years before than history books have it recorded.

Researchers suggest: Humans are not from Earth

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that human beings are not from Earth.

After a balloon came back from a high altitude flight, it was covered with microscopic life forms that originated from space fueling debate about whether life on earth began here or elsewhere in space.

Other scientists have argued that life originated on Mars due to a mineral found in Martian meteorites, a concept that is crucial for the genesis of life. Another experiment showed that amino acids could have arrived with comet impacts, suggesting life could be widespread in our solar system.

A new book by American ecologist Dr. Ellis Silver – Humans are not from Earth looks at things differently. The author argues that humans may not be “natives” to Earth – and may have arrived separately from elsewhere. Silver provides arguments based on human physiology, suggesting that we have not evolved along with other life forms on Earth, but that we actually come from elsewhere in the universe, brought here by extraterrestrial beings tens of thousands of years ago.

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Does this sound crazy or provocative? Does it go against your beliefs? It should actually. We have to start looking at things in a different way if we want to understand our purpose and origin, and that is exactly what Silver, an environmentalist who is currently working in an effort to clean plastic waste in the Pacific ocean, wants to achieve, provoking a discussion among scientists. Silver has argued that his book is based on scientific work approaching the difference between humans and other animals.

“The Earth approximately meets our needs as a species, but perhaps not as strongly as whoever brought us here initially thought,” Silver said in an interview with Yahoo news.

Silver believes that some of the chronic diseases that affect the human race – such as back pain, could be a very important sign that suggests that humans actually evolved in a world with less gravity. Silver also talks about other unique human traits, like the fact that the heads of babies are relatively large that women have difficulty giving birth, in the past, this was often fatal for the mother, child or both.

Silver argues that no other native species on earth has this issue, pointing to the 223 extra genes in humans, genes that are not found in any other species.

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Silver believes that the human race has “serious flaws” that are evidence pointing towards the fact that we are not from this world.

“We are all chronically ill,” says Silver. “Indeed, if you can find a single person who is 100% fit and healthy and not suffering from some (perhaps hidden or unstated) condition or disorder (there’s an extensive list in the book) I would be extremely surprised – I have not been able to find anyone.”

“I believe that many of our problems stem from the simple fact that our internal body clocks have evolved to expect a 25 hour day (this has been proven by sleep researchers), but the Earth’s day is only 24 hours. This is not a modern condition – the same factors can be traced all the way back through mankind’s history on Earth.”

The book itself is interesting, but we have to look back at recent research in different fields that suggests that there is something anomalous in the human species. Many hidden links in the DNA could well suggest we are a species that was engineered or programmed.

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There are numerous possibilities about our origins. In his book, Silver suggest that one of those possibilities might actually be Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to the sun.

Mankind is supposedly the most highly developed species on the planet, yet is surprisingly unsuited and ill-equipped for Earth’s environment: harmed by sunlight, a strong dislike for naturally occurring (raw) foods, ridiculously high rates of chronic disease, and more. Plus there’s a prevailing feeling among many people that they don’t belong here or that something “just isn’t right”.

“My thesis,” says Silver “proposes that mankind did not evolve from that particular strain of life, but evolved elsewhere and was transported to Earth (as fully evolved Homo sapiens) between 60,000 and 200,000 years ago.”

The debate about human origins is widespread and it is a discussion that has intensified in recent years. Simulation from supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US found that amino acids, the building blocks of life, could have reached Earth via comets or meteors, suggesting that there could be life on other planets and moons in or solar system, and even beyond.

Ivan Petricevic
Ivan is a freelance writer, editor-in-chief of ancient-code.com, he also writes for EWAO, Share Knowledge, Svemir Online and Ancient Origins.History, Archaeology, Space and world’s mysteries are some of the topics he writes about.

500,000 Year Old Artifact Discovered In California; Ancient Machinery?

On February 13, 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell were searching for interesting specimens of minerals, specifically geodes, for their gift shop in Olancha, California. Their geodes search took them approximately 6 kilometers northeast of Olancha, about 4300 feet to the Coso Mountains near the dry bed of Owens Lake, where they were collecting samples. They returned to the shop with several geodes. But one of them had 500,000 reasons to be dubbed as the discovery of a lifetime.

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The next day Mike Miksell broke a blade while cutting what he thought was a geode, inside the object that he was cutting, Mikesell found anything but the typical cavity geodes usually have, to his surprise, he discovered a perfectly circular section of a hard white material that looked like porcelain. In the center of the porcelain cylinder axis was a 2 mm shiny metal. The metal shaft seemed like a magnet but there were other strange qualities in the object. The surface was very rough and it appeared as if it was coated with fossilized shells.

In addition to these strange deposits he also found two nonmagnetic metallic objects embedded in the crust, which seemed like a metallic nail and a packing ring. As Mike Miksell was analyzing the object, it seemed to get even stranger. The inner layer was hexagonal and seemed to form a shell around the cylinder of hard porcelain. On the inside, a layer of very deteriorated copper surrounded the porcelain cylinder.

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Very little is known about the first inspections of this mysterious artifact. According to Virginia Maxey, they consulted a geologist who asked to remain unknown, according to this mysterious geologist who examined the fossil shells embedded in the sample, the piece would have taken at least 500,000 years to reach its current form. So what is a spark plug doing inside an artifact dating at least half a million years?

The object was submitted to further testing that confirmed the anomalies of the object as the artifact was submitted to both X-rays and visible light testing. X-rays revealed that in the upper half of the device there was some sort of coil. In the other half of the artifact revealed what seemed a metal sleeve, presumably the copper covering the porcelain cylinder.

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In 1963, the strange object that was dubbed “The Coso Artifact” and was exhibited at the Museum of East California in the town of Independence for a period of three months. Then, for years it was exhibited in the home of Wallace Lane, one of the original three discoverers of the mysterious 500 thousand ear old artifact. In 1969 Wallace Lane received an offer of $ 25,000 for the mysterious object but he refused to sell it.

The Coso Artifact remains a mystery today, it is an object that appears to be lost as many other artifacts discovered in the past that have provided us with not only subjects to talk about, but with new challenges for the history books as we know it. Who built the artifact, and what its purpose was will probably remain a mystery less the object is found, once again, so that other researchers might analyze it thoroughly.

Coso geoda con objeto foto en colores

Elongated skulls; Traces of an unknown species

In 1928 researchers found on the southern coast of Peru a cemetery that held the remains of 300 individuals with elongated skulls. The discovery was led by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello, and it is believed that the skulls may date from about 3,000 years ago. These are known today as the “Paracas skulls”.

Foerster has conducted thorough DNA analysis of these skulls he has provided new information on the issue.

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Intentional deformation? Yes perhaps, you are right, but there is more! Researchers determined that most of the skull are elongated as a result of intentional deformation. A constant force was applied to the cranium for a long time which caused them to assimilate an elongated skull. Strangely, the volume and weight of the skeletons is anything but normal. According to researchers, the cranial volume of the “Paracas Skulls” is up to 25% larger and 60% heavier than conventional human skulls. And there is more to the mysterious skulls. The human skull is composed of two parietal bones located between the frontal and occipital, forming the sides of the calvaria. The calvaria or also called skullcap, is made up of the superior portions of the frontal bone, occipital bone, and parietal bones. The “Paracas Skulls” only have one!

These differences show us that cranial deformation is unintentional, and makes the “Paracas Skulls” a highly debatable subject among researchers who according to their theories, have solid arguments that sustain their point of views. Yet, even though there are so many explanations regarding the elongated skulls, the “Paracas skulls” remain a mystery among scientists.

Further analysis provided interesting information.

The analysis conducted by Brien Foerster on mitochondrial DNA yielded surprising results. It turns out that the “Paracas Skulls” have unknown mutations not characteristically for any human being or any known animal to date.

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“Whatever the sample labeled 3A has come from – it had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far. The data are very sketchy though and a LOT of sequencing still needs to be done to recover the complete mtDNA sequence. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample 3A indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.. I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree. The question is if they were so different, they could not interbreed with humans. Breeding within their small population, they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.” -Brien Foerster

Researchers speculate that this could be a completely “new” being, very different to the Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and the Denisova hominid.

While there is a lot of interest in the elongated skull phenomena, much more research will need to be done to provide a conclusive answer that can explain once and for all the mysterious elongated skulls. Whether they are traces of a completely new species on Earth, or the remains of otherworldly beings is a debate between believers and disbelievers, between scientists and those who look at science from another perspective.

To understand the phenomena of the elongated skulls, we must exit our comfort zones and look at science from a completely different view.

Quantum Equation Suggests The Big Bang Never Occurred – The Universe Has No Beginning

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When it comes to the science regarding the true nature of our reality, you won’t find a shortage of theories, or a shortage of criticisms of each theory. We are like a race with amnesia, trying to discover and search for an answer that most probably exists, but has yet to be discovered. How did the universe begin?

According to new research, there might not have been a big bang. Instead, the universe might have existed forever. The theory was derived from the mathematics of general relativity, and compliment Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

“The Big Ban singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there.”  – Ahmed Farag Ali, Benha University, Co-Author of the study. (source)

The big bang theory postulates that everything in existence resulted from a single event that launched the creation of the entire universe and that everything in existence today was once part of a single infinitely dense point, also known as the “singularity.”

Here is a good picture representing what the big bang theory is referring to.

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So the big bang, again, postulates that the universe started out as an infinitely small point in space called a singularity, then exploded and created space where there was no space before, and that it is continually expanding. One big question regarding that expansion is; how did it happen? As you can see in the picture, “who is that guy?!”

According to Nassim Haramein, the Director of Research for the Resonance Project

“For every action there is an equal opposite reaction.” is one of the most foundational and proven concepts in all of physics. Therefore, if the universe is expanding then “the guy” (or whatever “he” is), who is blowing up that balloon, has to have some huge lungs that are contracting to be able to blow it up. This a concept that Nassim Haramein began exploring when creating an alternative unified field theory to explain the universe.” (source)

This is one out of many criticisms regarding the big bang theory. There are many considerations to be pondered. Can something come from nothing? What about quantum mechanics and the possibility that there is no moment of time at which the universe did not exist?

Again, so many considerations to be pondered.

According to Phys.org:

“The scientists propose that this fluid might be composed of gravitons—hypothetical massless particles that mediate the force of gravity. If they exist, gravitons are thought to play a key role in a theory of quantum gravity.In a related paper, Das and another collaborator, Rajat Bhaduri of McMaster University, Canada, have lent further credence to this model. They show that gravitons can form a Bose-Einstein condensate (named after Einstein and another Indian physicist, Satyendranath Bose) at temperatures that were present in the universe at all epochs.” (source)

The theory also suggests (obviously) that there are no singularities or dark matter, and that the universe is filled with a “quantum fluid.” These scientists are suggesting that this quantum fluid is filled with gravitons.

According to Phys.org:

“In a related paper, Das and another collaborator, Rajat Bhaduri of McMaster University, Canada, have lent further credence to this model. They show that gravitons can form a Bose-Einstein condensate (named after Einstein and another Indian physicist, Satyendranath Bose) at temperatures that were present in the universe at all epochs.”

As you can see, when quantum mechanics is thrown into the equation things appear to be far different. Again, this new theory is suggesting that the universe could have always existed, that it never was what we perceive to be as “the  beginning.” Perhaps it was just an event that did occur that we perceive as the beginning, perhaps the event occurred not from nothing, but something. Again, who is that guy blowing on the balloon in the picture? There is something there that has yet to be discovered.

“As far as we can see, since different points in the universe never actually converged in the past, it did not have a beginning. It lasted forever. It will also not have an end, in other words, there is no singularity. The universe could have lasted forever. It could have gone through cycles of being small and big. or it could have been created much earlier.” –  Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, Co-Author of the study. (source)

What We Know Is Often Just Theory

To conclude, it’s clear that we do not yet have a solid explanation regarding what happened during the Big Bang, or if it even happened at all. This new theory is combining general relativity with quantum mechanics, and at the end of the day these are all just theories.

Not to mention the fact that theories regarding multiple dimensions, multiple universes and more have to be considered. When looking for the starting point of creation, our own universe might not even be the place to start. It might be hard given the fact that we cannot yet perceive other factors that have played a part in the make up of what we call reality. What is even harder is the fact that quantum physics is showing that the true nature and make up of the universe is not a physical material thing!

We just don’t know yet, and there are still new findings in modern day physics that delve into non-materialistic science that many mainstream materialistic scientists have yet to grasp and acknowledge.

I’ll leave you with a quote that might give you something to think about:

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.” (R. C. Henry, “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29, 2005)

“Despite the unrivaled empirical success of quantum theory, the very suggestion that it may be literally true as a description of nature is still greeted with cynicism, incomprehension and even anger. (T. Folger, “Quantum Shmantum”; Discover 22:37-43, 2001)

Sources:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1404.3093v3

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html

Newly discovered ‘Super Saturn’ has colossal ring system

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This is the first planetary ring system discovered outside the Solar System, and it’s got a diameter roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s.

stronomers have found a planetary ring system with such enormous proportions, it makes Saturn’s rings look puny. The rings have formed around a young, giant exoplanet called J1407b, and they’re the first of their kind to be found outside our Solar System.

The rings were first discovered in 2012, thanks to a team led by Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester in the US, but back then, they had no way of knowing just how big they were. They’ve since teamed up with researchers led by Matthew Kenworthy at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands to analyse 30 individual J1407b rings to finally realise the true scale of these concentric beauties.

Turns out, each ring is tens of millions of kilometres in diameter, and the gaps between them suggest that whole satellites – or ‘exomoons’ – have formed there, just like the many tiny ’shepherd’ moons of Saturn, such as Pan and Daphnis, that continue to orbit it. The diameter of the whole system is about 120 million kilometres wide.

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” said Mamajek in a university press release. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”

The planet is too far away to see the rings directly, so instead, the team analysed data captured by the SuperWASP project – a survey that that detects gas giants that move in front of their parent star and dim their light – so ‘eclipse’ them. In 2012, Mamajek saw odd eclipses moving in front of a young star, called J1407, and suggested that perhaps they were being caused by a moon-forming disc that had formed around a young companion planet.

Now, using imaging techniques such as Doppler spectroscopy to estimate the mass of the ringed object, the Rochester and Leiden Observatory researchers have backed up this claim, saying that the star J1407 likely has a ringed companion, which they’re calling J1407b.

“The details that we see in the light curve are incredible. The eclipse lasted for several weeks, but you see rapid changes on time scales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings,” says Kenworthy. “The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly, but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn’s rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon.”

The team’s paper has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

The researchers also found that this Super Saturn’s ring system likely contains around an Earth’s worth of mass in floating dust particles. “If you were to grind up the four large Galilean moons of Jupiter into dust and ice and spread out the material over their orbits in a ring around Jupiter, the ring would be so opaque to light that a distant observer that saw the ring pass in front of the sun would see a very deep, multi-day eclipse,” Mamajek says. “In the case of J1407, we see the rings blocking as much as 95 percent of the light of this young Sun-like star for days, so there is a lot of material there that could then form satellites.”

In the data the astronomers found at least one clean gap in the ring structure, which is more clearly defined in the new model. “One obvious explanation is that a satellite formed and carved out this gap,” says Kenworthy. “The mass of the satellite could be between that of Earth and Mars. The satellite would have an orbital period of approximately two years around J1407b.”

Nobody tell Saturn she’s been upstaged. There’s no telling what the ‘crazy cat lady of the Solar System’ might do, but I could take a guess, and it involves multiple cats being hurled in our general direction.

Here’s a computer model that fits the light curve of the star J1407, as seen in the SuperWASP data:

Newly Discovered Fossils Hint That All Dinosaurs May Have Had Feathers

photo credit: Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus in its lacustrine environment. Image credit: Andrey Atuchin

Over 30 species of non-avian dinosaurs have been confirmed to have feathers, either from direct fossilized evidence of feathers, or other indicators, such as quill knobs. Up until now, all of those dinosaurs were confirmed to be carnivorous theropods, like Velociraptor and the ancestors of birds. However, fossilized remains of a new type of herbivorous dinosaur indicate that all dinosaurs may have had feathers. The study was led by Pascal Godefroit from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural History in Brussels and the results were published in Science.

The fossils were discovered at the Kulinda site in Siberia, along the banks of the Olov River. The new species, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, was discovered in 2013 and preliminary K-Ar testing estimates that the species lived about 169-150 million years ago. It was approximately 3 meters long, which is relatively small for a dinosaur. The bipedal animal had short forelimbs and longer hind legs with five digits. The description was made based on hundreds of incomplete skeletons, including six skulls.

The fact that the skeletons were not found intact could indicate that while the dinosaurs were alive, that environment had rivers. Upon the dinosaur’s death, the water likely transported the animal, causing portions of the skeleton to disassociate. These particular individuals were likely covered by sediment on the bottom of the river, protecting the carcass from scavengers, and allowing imprints from the feathers and scales to be preserved.

“I was really amazed when I saw this,” Godefroit stated in a press release. “We knew that some of the plant-eating ornithischian dinosaurs had simple bristles, and we couldn’t be sure whether these were the same kinds of structures as bird and theropod feathers.  Our new find clinches it: all dinosaurs had feathers, or at least the potential to sprout feathers.”

The fossilized feathers were sent to specialists who had previous experience with dinosaur feathers. The feathers discovered at the Kulinda site were in remarkable condition, allowing the experts to determine that the feathers were composed of filaments that connected at the base, rather than along a central shaft, like is seen in many modern birds.

“Developmental experiments in modern chickens suggest that avian scales are aborted feathers, an idea that explains why birds have scaly legs,” co-author Danielle Dhouailly added. “The astonishing discovery is that the molecular mechanisms needed for this switch might have been so clearly related to the appearance of the first feathers in the earliest dinosaurs.”

The researchers suspect that feathers were a common feature among dinosaurs, particularly smaller ones. They were likely used to insulate the animals, and evolved to aid in flight much later. Fossils have shown evidence of feathered dinosaurs over a 50 million year timespan, and it is possible that they first appeared 220 million years ago in the Triassic. Of course, it is a bit speculative to assume that every dinosaur could have had feathers, and a great deal of research will be needed to fully explore the prevalence of feathers among dinosaurs.



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New Method Actually Cuts HIV Out Of Human DNA

Researchers from Temple University School of Medicine have developed a method to target and snip out HIV-1 DNA from infected cells which not only successfully eliminated the virus in the lab, but also immunized uninfected cells against infection. The researchers believe this may be a step towards a permanent cure for HIV and could even be translated into an effective mechanism for controlling other viral infections. The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



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HIV/AIDS is one of the most devastating pandemics recorded in human history and continues to be a global burden. Since the dawn of this pandemic, it is estimated that around 75 million people have been infected with HIV and around 36 million have died as a result of infection.

Despite advances in knowledge and treatment, there is no vaccine and drugs are not curative. There are several reasons that therapies fail to eliminate the virus from the body, but one particular hurdle is the fact that HIV permanently inserts its genome into our own, a process called integration. The virus is then able to hide away in certain cells, creating what is known as a latent reservoir, replicating at very low levels. As soon as a patient stops taking drugs, replication is kick started. Furthermore, long-term use of toxic anti-HIV drugs can have health consequences. Therefore, in order for treatments to be effective, these reservoirs need to be permanently eliminated, which current regimens cannot succeed in.

In an attempt to tackle this problem, Temple scientists developed a two-stage system to snip out HIV-1 DNA from the host genome. HIV-1 is one of two types of HIV, the other being HIV-2. While both are important, HIV-1 is responsible for the majority of infections worldwide.

The researchers first targeted specific HIV-1 sequences called long terminal repeats (LTRs). These are repetitive DNA sequences located at both ends of the viral genome that are used to insert the HIV DNA into the host genome and also control viral gene expression. They did this by generating highly specific sequences of RNA called guide RNAs (gRNAs). They then used a bacterial nuclease enzyme called Cas9 which snips out the DNA between the two target sequences. This resulted in the complete excision of the HIV-1 DNA from the host cells with no off-target effects on the host genome. Host repair machinery then took over and stuck the DNA strands back together.

They found this to be successful in several different cell lines, including those that are the primary target for HIV. Furthermore, when the researchers added this system to uninfected cells it successfully prevented infection with the virus, indicating it could be used as a preventative measure as well as a treatment.

While the team has a long way to go before this can be used in humans, they believe this could lead to a valid method to cure HIV and are currently working towards preclinical studies. Furthermore, the approach could easily be personalized to suit the unique viral sequences of different patients, and maybe even developed to target other viruses.