News, Space

Comets stink: space probe finds odor of urine, rotten eggs and alcohol

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: AFP/ESA/Rosetta/MPS

Ever wondered how a comet smells? Well even if you could, you might wish you hadn’t: rotten eggs, horse pee, alcohol and bitter almonds are just a couple of the fragrances you could sniff. A smelly comet These volatile compounds were detected by  a mass spectrometer aboard the Rosetta probe which is currently studying the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The mass spectrometer analyzed the…

News, Pollution, Renewable Energy

Natural gas is not a clean energy bridge, further studies find

Natural gas will not dawn a cleaner day in terms of energy. Image via Ohio Citizen.

A trio of newly published studies showed once again that natural gas is not a clean energy bridge – the studies highlighting the various problems associated with natural gas. Firstly, it was shown that emissions databases underestimate the methane released from fossil-fuel extraction in the U.S. Southwest. “A global gas boom is not a replacement for energy and climate policies,” write…

Geology, News, Physics

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime

Earth's magnetic field is shown in midreversal.COURTESY OF GARY A. GLATZMAIER University of California, Santa Cruz, AND PAUL H. ROBERTS University of California, Los Angeles

Geologists have known for quite a while that the Earth’s magnetic field has flipped many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet maintains the same intensity, but for unknown reason(s), it sometimes becomes weaker and changes polarity. Now, a new study has showed that this phenomenon could happen much faster than previously believed –…

Animals, Videos

Extremely rare footage shows sperm whales sleeping vertically

sperm-whales-sleeping

The sperm whale (also called the cachalot) the largest toothed predator. Mature males average at 16 metres (52 ft) in length but some may reach 20.5 metres (67 ft), with the head representing up to one-third of the animal’s length. The sperm whale feeds primarily on squid, which it hunts at impressive depths, usually deeper than 2 km. Researchers have believed for some…

Feature Post, Great Pics, Space

Planet Earth through the eyes of an Astronaut

On a clear day you can see forever (or at least form Havana to Washington, D.C.).

Col. Chris Hadfield is not your typical astronaut (as far as astronauts can be seen as typical). The first Canadian to walk into outer space, Hadfield caused sensation on social media channels on various occasions, be it after recording a song while surfing gravity in the ISS or when he showed us how to brush your teeth in micro gravity. He’s most popular posts…

Environment, News

UK to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under homes, despite 99% public opposition

Image credits: Rob Brooks.

A new proposed amendment in the UK would make a mockery of existing European shale gas regulation. If the new regulation would pass, it would allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill. The wording of the bill would also allow storing nuclear waste. Europe has much stricter…

Chemistry, Videos

The Pharaoh’s Snake: This Chemical Reaction looks like a Portal to Hell

Image credits.

Many chemical reactions are quite shocking, but this one is definitely something else. Take a look at the decomposition of Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2): Mercury thiocyanate is a white powder that looks pretty inconspicuous when you look at it. However, when you introduce heat (burn it), it produces a blue flame and creates a solid snake-like mass which seems to stem straight…

News, Space

The US and India sign Space Agreement

India's Mars Orbiter Mission got straight down to work on arriving at the Red Planet.

We were telling you a while ago how India launched a probe towards Mars, and how it was successful in reaching the Red Planet’s orbit – a magnificent achievement for any country, let alone India, which is still a developing country. To make their success even more remarkable, they are the first country ever to successfully send a probe to…

News, Physics

Gravity waves laid to dust: when scientists get way ahead of themselves

BICEP2 (in the foreground) and the South Pole Telescope (in the background). Credit: Steffen Richter, Harvard University

Nobel prizes, international press coverage, awards – these were all promises and cheers thrown about all over the web after a team of physicists trumpeted during a conference at Harvard that they’ve made one of the biggest discoveries in science: gravity waves. Some theories claim that these waves were generated brief moments following the Big Bang, and a team of researchers…

Animals, News

Newly Discovered Dart Frog in Amazon is smaller than a Coin

The newfound, orange-colored frog looks nothing like its relatives. Photograph by Abel Batista

Scientists have discovered a toxic, brightly colored and extremely small dart frog in the hilly areas near the Caribbean coast. Measuring just 12.7 millimeters in length, the newly described Andinobates geminisae is quite mysterious. The first strange thing about it is that it looks very different from its closest genetic relatives; namely, it’s bright orange. Andrew Crawford, a professor of evolutionary genetics and…