Shorties: what happens during a nuclear meltdown

The media has significantly distorted (or even misinformed) the image of the nuclear situation in Japan at the Fukushima powerplant. The situation is dire, the dangers are real, and major, but a comparison to Chernobyl is far fetched to say the least. Here is a good explanation and a video of what’s going on during a meltdown, as well as

Europe agrees 2020 space station

Europe has now formally agreed to the extension of the operations at the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020. The work, which started in 1998, is still far from being over, but significant progress is made every single year, even in harsh periods like the one we are going through now. The decisions were taken at a two day meeting

Japan drops water on nuclear plant, situation is still very hot

The situation on the Fukushima nuclear plant is far from calming down, even after the government authorized water being dropped from helicopters, an option which was described as unnacceptable. It is even more unclear what the effect of that water will be, as helicopters threw it without hovering, presumably because of the radiation. Also, this is a good example of

Quartz may be key to plate tectonics

Plate tectonics is one of the most important theories, from the point of view of its practical effects on society – just look at the earthquake in Japan, or the iminent one in California, for example. More than 40 years ago, a man named J. Tuzo Wilson published a paper in Nature, describing how ocean basins open and close, in

The Brain in 3D for the first time

For the first time in modern history, researchers have managed to reconstruct a three dimensional circuit of connected cells in the brain, thus offering insight in how it works; the model, which was built using microscopes and a supercomputer offers a novel insight and an unprecedented opportunity to discover how the complex mechanism of the brain “navigates”, pretty much the

NASA studies laser to remove space junk

Junk is not only limited to our planet, we have a problem with space pollution as well. In 1978, a brilliant NASA researcher named Donald Kessler predicted that a collision between two pieces of space junk could trigger a cascade of further impacts, which would create a significant quantity of debris which would then cause major trouble. He pointed out

New research overturns oldest evidence of life on Earth

It is generally believed, and taught in paleontology courses that the oldest evidence of life on Earth is 3.5 billion years old, and was found in Australia, thanks to some bacterial fossils. However, geologists from the University of Texas conducted a study that concluded that the tiny gaps in the Australian chert are nothing more than… gaps; surrounded by bits

Japan intensifies efforts to cool down nuclear plant

In the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake, Japan has doubled the number of workers trying to overcome a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but the situation appears to be deteriorating. The 100 workers at the site continue to battle a situation which appears to be more and more serious with each passing hour; authorities have abandoned the plan to

X-Ray 1896 machine compared to modern one

Scientists have dusted and cleaned some X-Ray equipment dating shortly after the discovery of the rays in 1895 and found that it creates some images of stunning quality, compared to its age and simple construction. However, the machine requires a radiation level of 1500 times bigger than a modern X-Ray. The machine, developed by school director H J Hoffmans and

Brilliant Very Large Telescope image captures the tumult of a starbirth

The process of starbirth is a beautiful yet violent one; newborn stars spew material into the surrounding gas, creating surreal photos, often with glowing bulbs, arcs or streaks. This kind of picture is always spectacular, and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) managed to catch quite a few of them on camera, delighting astronomers and the general public as well. This

Does expensive beer taste better ?

It never ceases to amaze me how placebo works when it comes to prices – most people tend to be greatly influenced by the price of an item they buy, when it comes to judging its quality. Believe it or not, it has even become a marketing strategy, to raise your price rather than lowering them, to attract clients. Sounds

Japan’s emperor expresses fear over nuclear situation

The situation in Japan is far from calming down; the 9.0 earthquake and the tsunamis it triggered unleashed a chain of events which keep pointing towards a future that can only be dire. In his first official statement since the event, emperor Akihito says events at Fukushima are unpredictable, and he stated that he is “deeply concerned” about the nuclear

Large Hadron Collider can be the world’s first time machine

It’s been a while since we wrote something about the Large Hadron Collider, but this time, some researchers from the LHC come back with a jaw dropping theory – time travel. If this latest theory of Tom Weiler and Chui Man Ho is correct, than the LHC would be the world’s first machine able to send matter back in time.

An earthquake wake up call… to the US

You don’t get any country better prepared for an earthquake than Japan. They know they are at risk, they are prudent, they have the money, the technology, and the work force; and yet, when hit by an earthquake of this magnitude, no matter how well prepared you are, you are in for some massive trouble. It’s a well known fact

Disturbing time-lapse animation shows Japan earthquakes

The 9.0 (it seems this is the actual magnitude) earthquake that hit Japan on the 11th of March created an absolutely incredible number of aftershocks, some of which were pretty intense on their own. However, a few days before it, as stress built up the subduction area between the Pacific and North American plates, one could easily see some foreshocks

The Russian forgotten twin of the LHC.

Pretty much everyone, at least everyone who gives a damn about science, knows about the Large Hadron Collider built in Switzerland; basically, it’s a particle accelerator, a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams, according to wikipedia. But not so many people know about another particle accelerator, built

Quake moved Japan by at least 8 feet

The devastating seismic event that struck Japan is affecting the entire world, and even the entire planet. While smoke continues to rise from the catastrophic temblor, Japan seems to have moved 8 feet inland, or even more, according to the USGS. “That’s a reasonable number,” USGS seismologist Paul Earle told AFP. “Eight feet, that’s certainly going to be in the

The virus that has viruses

Last year, researchers reported the finding of the biggest virus yet discovered, so big that it has more DNA than some bacteria; fortunately, this big bad guy only infects a small, unicellular organism and is absolutely harmless to humans. However, the same team of researchers comes back with another discovery, that the virus itself can be infected by viruses !

Terrifying pictures of the Japan earthquake

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$63 million a seat? NASA says ‘fine’

Amidst all the stuff that’s going on for NASA right now, they can still find the resources to strike a $753 million deal with Russia for 12 round trips to the International Space Station, paying about $63 million a seat. “It’s an 8.5 percent annual increase,” NASA spokesman Josh Bluck told, referring to the overall increase. “The increase covers