martes, 31 de julio de 2012

9 Scientists Receive a New Physics Prize

Published: July 31, 2012

Physicists are rarely wealthy or famous, but a new prize rewarding research at the field’s cutting edges has made nine of them instant multimillionaires. 

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg News.
Yuri Milner
The nine are recipients of the Fundamental Physics Prize, established by Yuri Milner, a Russian physics student who dropped out of graduate school in 1989 and later earned billions investing in Internet companies like Facebook and Groupon.

It knocked me off my feet,” said Alan H. Guth, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was among the winners. He came up with the idea of cosmic inflation, that there was a period of extremely rapid expansion in the first instant of the universe.

When he was told of the $3 million prize, he assumed that the money would be shared among the winners. Not so: Instead, each of this year’s nine recipients will receive $3 million, the most lucrative academic prize in the world. The Nobel Prize currently comes with an award of $1.2 million, usually split by two or three people. The Templeton Prize, which honors contributions to understanding spiritual dimensions of life, has been the largest monetary award given to an individual, $1.7 million this year.

The $3 million has already appeared in Dr. Guth’s bank account, one that had had a balance of $200. “Suddenly, it said, $3,000,200,” he said. “The bank charged a $12 wire transfer fee, but that was easily affordable.

Mr. Milner said that he wanted to recognize advances in delving into the deepest mysteries of physics and the universe. “This intellectual quest to understand the universe really defines us as human beings,” he said.

Four of the physicists work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.: Nima Arkani-Hamed, Juan Maldacena, Nathan Seiberg and Edward Witten. They work on theories trying to tie together the basic particles and forces of the universe, particularly with a mathematical machinery known as string theory.

The other winners are Andrei Linde, a physicist at Stanford who also worked on cosmic inflation; Alexei Kitaev, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology who works on quantum computers; Maxim Kontsevich, a mathematician at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris whose abstract mathematical findings proved useful to physicists unraveling string theory; and Ashoke Sen, a string theorist at Harish-Chandra Research Institute in India.

Mr. Milner personally selected the inaugural group, but future recipients of the Fundamental Physics Prize, to be awarded annually, will be decided by previous winners.

He declined to explain in detail how he selected which accomplishments to honor or why all of the winners are men. “I truly see this as a start,” Mr. Milner said. “Going forward, it’s going to be up to the committee to make those considerations.

According to the rules, the prize in future years may be split among multiple winners, and a researcher will be able to win more than once. Mr. Milner also announced that there would be a $100,000 prize to honor promising young researchers.

Unlike the Nobel in physics, the Fundamental Physics Prize can be awarded to scientists whose ideas have not yet been verified by experiments, which often occurs decades later. Sometimes a radical new idea “really deserves recognition right away because it expands our understanding of at least what is possible,” Mr. Milner said.

Dr. Arkani-Hamed, for example, has worked on theories about the origin of the Higgs boson, the particle thought to have been discovered recently at the Large Hadron Colliderin Switzerland, and about how that collider could discover new dimensions. None of his theories have been proved yet. He said several were “under strain” because of the new data.

Several of the winners said they hoped that the new prize, with its large cash award, would help raise recognition of physics and draw more students into the field. “It’ll be great to have this sort of showcase for what’s going on in the subject every year,” Dr. Arkani-Hamed said.

The winners said they had not yet decided what to do with their windfall.

There are some rather mundane things, like paying out the mortgage,” said Mr. Kitaev, who added that he was thinking about putting some of the money into education efforts.

My success is in large part due to good education, my teachers and the atmosphere of excitement in science when I grew up,” he said. “I might try to help restore this atmosphere as much as I can.

Dr. Guth agreed. “I do think prizes like this help put across to the public that fundamental physics is important, and it’s not just heavyweight boxing that’s worthy of prizes,” he said.

But he was going to warn his students not to get the wrong idea. “Certainly, it’s still not a great idea to go into physics for the money,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 1, 2012
An article on Tuesday about the new Fundamental Physics Prize misattributed a quotation by a winner about how he would spend the $3 million in prize money. It was Alexei Kitaev, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology — not Maxim Kontsevich, a mathematician at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris who is among the eight other prizewinners — who said, in part, “There are some rather mundane things, like paying out the mortgage.” The article also gave an outdated amount for the monetary award to winners of the Nobel Prize. The prize was reduced this year to about $1.2 million, from about $1.5 million.

Earth-like Alien Planets May Hide in Dust

ORIGINAL: The Universe

About the image: Artist’s conception of the newly born alien planet LkCa 15 b and its parent star, which are found about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. CREDIT: Karen L. Teramura, UH IfA
As if the immense distances weren't enough of a challenge to overcome when exoplanet hunting, there are other factors we have to work around. First, only certain objects emit light in the visible wavelengths. Most of them (particularly the cooler celestial objects) emit light in infrared, ultraviolent waves, x-rays or gamma rays. Another "bugaboo" happens to be observing stars that are caressed in thick pockets of interstellar gas and dust clouds that compose the bulk of the interstellar medium. Although these regions are beautiful to behold in the form of cosmic nebulae or supernovae remnants, they propose a significant amount of problems to astronomers when they're trying to hone in on specific stars that are encircled by disks of gas and dust debris; the raw materials that form rocky terrestrial planets such as Earth.

So, it should come of no surprise that these areas are of particular interest to astronomers in the search for "exo-Earth" planets. First, it's important to note that protoplanetary debris disks are thought to only exist for a short amount of time. Most of the dust will eventually be scattered from their respective solar system into interstellar space. Due in part to gravitational disturbances between any existing gas-giant planets as they tug on their parent star. After a relatively short time (cosmically speaking), most of the debris disks should be cleared and only replenished if, or when collisions between inner rocky planets and large asteroids or comets occurs

In order for debris disks to exist around an older star, the system it's located in would have to be very stable. The environment would have to be relatively calm without the larger planets migrating inwards or causing any gravitational perturbations that would disrupt the rest of the planets. The same is needed for the formation of terrestrial planets to commence. Therefore, it's an obvious conclusion to draw, that these two outcomes would be correlated to one another in such a fashion. According to astronomer Sean Raymond from the Observatory of Bordeaux in France, "The most important implication of the findings is that, if I am right, then debris disks can act as signposts for systems with a high probability of having terrestrial planets and, in some cases, Earth-like planets."

To further explore his hypothesis, Raymond and his colleagues created planet formation models to simulate how inner debris disks surrounding a young star would coalesce into rocky planets like the four innermost planets in our solar system. What their models discovered; was that terrestrial planets form somewhat quickly; within 10 to 100 million years after the formation process begins. Most of which, form as a result of impacts between large planetesimal objects similar in size to Pluto, Ceres and Eris; to larger terrestrial protoplanets that range in size from the moon -- to a Mars-sized body. The gas-giants are thought to form even more quickly in an early time-frame of a solar system's evolutionary history. (within the first few million years of the star's protoplanetary disk forming) The inner dust disks don't have the proper amount of mass for the core accretion process to occur for gas-giants like Jupiter or Saturn. (Both are thought to harbor molten cores consisting of large quantities of iron, nickel or a combination of various metals, but the jury is still out on that one) Therefore, It's hypothesized that these gaseous planets must form much farther out in the solar system's outer disks than their rocky counterparts do, somewhere beyond the "snow-line," where the temperatures are cold enough for the hydrogen compounds to condense into icy grains.

If this in indeed correct, gas-giants could play a crucial role in influencing the rocky planets that are in the process of forming in the inner debris disk. To further investigate, Raymond and his team studied hundreds of simulations of a solar system that has an inner disk consisting of 500 planetesimal objects, three gas-giants similar in mass and composition to Jupiter and Saturn, an outer disk of planetesmial objects that are between 50 to 100 Earth masses; along with 50 planetary "embryos" that are nine Earth masses, but located between 1/2 to four AU (Earth - Sun distances) from the disks. The gas giants were each located between five and ten AU from their parent star, while the frozen planetesmial objects linger about 10 to 20 AU from there star, in what is almost certainly an area that's very similar to the Kuiper Belt for more reasons than just one.

After the system "evolved" for 100 million to 200 million years, hundreds of various simulations were ran that spanned a few weeks to six months for completion; he and his team discovered that the gravitational instabilities that reoccurred with the massive planets, can eliminate planetesimal objects and sometimes, they can even rearrange the positions and orbits of the planets in their solar system. This is especially interesting where hot-Jupiter exoplanets are concerned. Their formation and subsequent migration inwards (to dangerously close orbits, I might add) has been of great interest to astronomers. That's not all either. It was discovered that the width, composition and mass of the outer disks play a large role in whether a system is likely to host rocky planets along with the gas-giants. The wider and more massive the disk is, the better the chances are that planetesimal objects could potentially stabilize the gravitational eccentricities in the orbits of the gas giants, which in turn, greatly reduces the odds that a hot-Jupiter migrated inwards, causing the rocky planets to be slung to the outer trenches of the solar system where water would permanently remain in a frozen state. Even worse, sometimes this process causes the planets to be slung out of their solar system entirely, doomed to wonder about the galaxy with no parent star or sister planet in sight.

"Raymond and collaborators have identified a path that can guide us toward terrestrial exoplanets at Earth-like distances from their star," said planetary scientist Rory Barnes at the University of Washington, who did not take part in this research. "These planets are extremely challenging to detect, so any clues that narrow down the search is of great value."

"The good thing about this idea is that it's testable simply by searching for low-mass planets around stars with debris disks. That work is in progress," Raymond noted.

- Jaime

Source Material:

You can read more about Raymond's models in the original published paper:

"Earth’s twin could be hiding in a thick dust cloud:"

"Signposts of Planet Formation & Destruction:"

"Earth-like Alien Planets May Hide in Dust Around Distant Stars:"

"Jupiter Could Have Earth-like Rocky Core:"

Ola de calor en Japón

Written by: masverde

Japón contabilizó 13 personas muertas y más de cinco mil hospitalizadas durante la ola de calor que azotó el país la semana pasada, informó la Agencia de Gestión de Desastres.

Los termómetros superaron los 35 grados centígrados, una temperatura récord en las diversas zonas del archipiélago, destacó la nota.

La Agencia nipona especificó que el 45,9% de las personas ingresadas fueron mayores de 65 años; el 39,5 adultos y el 13,6% adolescentes.

Entre los fallecidos aparecen un hombre de 80 años, encontrado sin vida en un campo de labranza de la provincia noroccidental de Niigata, y una mujer de 37, quien pereció tras sufrir un paro cardiopulmonar.

Fuente: Prensa Latina, Agencias

How to Make Moss Graffiti

Edited byTeresa and 19 others

Moss graffiti, also called eco-graffiti or green graffiti, replaces spray paint, paint-markers or other such toxic chemicals and paints with a paintbrush and a moss "paint" that can grow on its own. As people become more eco-friendly and environmentally aware, the idea of making living, breathing graffiti has become a more green and creative outlet for graffiti artists. It can also be considered another form of guerrilla gardening.

  • One or two clumps (about a small handful) of moss
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • You can also substitute with yogurt (vegan yogurt can be used)
  • 2 cups of water (or beer)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Corn syrup (optional)
1 Gather up as much moss as you can find or buy.
2 Wash the moss to get as much soil out of the roots as possible.

3 Break the moss apart into manageable pieces and place in blender.Break the moss apart into manageable pieces and place in blender.

4 Add the buttermilk/yogurt, water/beer and sugar.Add the buttermilk/yogurt, water/beer and sugar.Blend the mixture until completely smooth. You'll want it to have a paint-like texture.

If the mixture is at a consistency where you feel it will drip, add corn syrup until the consistency you desire is reached.If the mixture is at a consistency where you feel it will drip, add corn syrup until the consistency you desire is reached.

5 Use a paintbrush to apply the moss-paint to the surface on which you wish your design to grow.

6 If possible, check back weekly to either spray the design with water (to encourage moss growth, especially if you live in a dry environment) or apply more moss-paint.

Breakthrough leads to record efficiency for next-generation solar cells

Posted: Jul 29th, 2012

Image: Sargent Group.  U of Toronto
(Nanowerk News) Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) have made a breakthrough in the development of colloidal quantum dot (CQD) films, leading to the most efficient CQD solar cell ever. Their work is featured in a letter published in Nature Nanotechnology ("Hybrid passivated colloidal quantum dot solids").

The researchers, led by U of T Engineering Professor Ted Sargent, created a solar cell out of inexpensive materials that was certified at a world-record 7.0% efficiency.

"Previously, quantum dot solar cells have been limited by the large internal surface areas of the nanoparticles in the film, which made extracting electricity difficult," said Dr. Susanna Thon, a lead co-author of the paper. "Our breakthrough was to use a combination of organic and inorganic chemistry to completely cover all of the exposed surfaces."

Quantum dots are semiconductors only a few nanometres in size and can be used to harvest electricity from the entire solar spectrum – including both visible and invisible wavelengths. Unlike current slow and expensive semiconductor growth techniques, CQD films can be created quickly and at low cost, similar to paint or ink. This research paves the way for solar cells that can be fabricated on flexible substrates in the same way newspapers are rapidly printed in mass quantities.

The U of T cell represents a 37% increase in efficiency over the previous certified record. In order to improve efficiency, the researchers needed a way to both reduce the number of "traps" for electrons associated with poor surface quality while simultaneously ensuring their films were very dense to absorb as much light as possible. The solution was a so-called "hybrid passivation" scheme.

"By introducing small chlorine atoms immediately after synthesizing the dots, we're able to patch the previously unreachable nooks and crannies that lead to electron traps," explained doctoral student and lead co-author Alex Ip. "We follow that by using short organic linkers to bind quantum dots in the film closer together."

Work led by Professor Aram Amassian of KAUST showed that the organic ligand exchange was necessary to achieve the densest film.

"The KAUST group used state-of-the-art synchrotron methods with sub-nanometer resolution to discern the structure of the films and prove that the hybrid passivation method led to the densest films with the closest-packed nanoparticles," stated Professor Amassian.

The advance opens up many avenues for further research and improvement of device efficiencies, which could contribute to a bright future with reliable, low cost solar energy.

According to Professor Sargent, "Our world urgently needs innovative, cost-effective ways to convert the sun's abundant energy into usable electricity. This work shows that the abundant materials interfaces inside colloidal quantum dots can be mastered in a robust manner, proving that low cost and steadily-improving efficiencies can be combined."

Source: University of Toronto

Una tigrilla murió arrollada por un vehículo en Guadalupe

ORIGINAL: El Colombiano
30 de julio de 2012

Dos felinos de especies en extinción, murieron la semana pasada en el cañón de la hidroeléctrica Porce III. FOTO CORTESÍA Y ARCHIVO
El hecho se presentó el viernes, tres días después de la caza de un jaguar en Amalfí.

Notas relacionadas

Otro felino, una tigrilla, esta vez no cazado sino víctima de la imprudencia y la falta de conciencia perdió la vida, al parecer arrollado por un vehículo contratista del proyecto Porce III.

El hecho se presentó en el municipio de Guadalupe, muy cerca y en la misma zona en la que la semana pasada fue cazado por campesinos de Amalfi un jaguar. 

Según empleados de EPM que la encontraron, la tigrilla, de unos 60 centímetros de largo y 35 de alto, pudo ser atropellada entre la media noche del viernes y la madrugada del sábado, y encontrada arrollada en la vía, al medio día.

Esneider Rivera, contó que a pesar de que la empresa es muy drástica en el cuidado del medio ambiente y en la protección de la fauna, que en esta zona es muy rica, hay mucha imprudencia y falta de conciencia por parte de conductores de empresas contratistas, por lo que son muy recurrentes estos hechos.

Señaló que, incluso, ya se inició una investigación por parte del área ambiental del proyecto para hallar el responsable y tomar medidas.

Se advierte que hay que conducir con mucha prudencia y a no más de 40 kilómetros por hora, pero algunos no la cumplen y por eso se encuentran arrollados en la vía, guaguas, armadillos y nutrias”.

Esneider tiene el recuerdo amargo de como en menos de cinco años han cazado en esta zona tres pumas: en la Herradura, en las veredas Guanteros y La Casita, jurisdicción de Guadalupe.

El Camino del Jaguar
Esta es una iniciativa que pretende conservar el corredor genético más grande del mundo protegiendo su conctividad y biodiversidad, desde México hasta el norte de Argentina.

¿Por qué? Explicó el director de la Fundación Panthera Colombia, Esteban Payán, que el jaguar es un animal grande y carnívoro, lo que significa que necesita comer muchas presas para poder sobrevivir y para que estas existan tiene que haber un bosque muy bien conservado. 

Esto también implica que la tierra, la cuenca y el agua estén sanas y que haya bosques de sombra”, expresó Payán.

Indicó que los jaguares, por ser grandes y carnívoros, viven en muy bajas densidades, en promedio hay tres en 100 kilómetros cuadrados, es decir que para tener 500 individuos en un solo sitio se necesitaría un parque de 17 mil kilómetros cuadrados y en Colombia el más grande tiene 14 mil.

Anotó que lo importante de enfocar el esfuerzo en la no extinción del jaguar es que se logra conservar toda la otra biodiversidad, un propósito mundial.

Sin embargo, los recursos y el tiempo son limitados para saber cómo conservar las ranas, los insectos, los reptiles, porque además estamos en una carrera contra el desarrollo, por eso se necesitan atajos y el jaguar es uno. 

El jaguar es un indicador de la salud del ecosistema y por eso la inicaitiva del Corredor del Jaguar para unir las diferentes poblaciones de estas especies que están, por ejemplo en parques, para que haya flujo genético.

La importancia de proteger al jaguar se puede evidenciar en el hecho de que es un vigía del agua, es casi una de las razones del por qué tenemos agua limpia en la casa”, afirmó Payán.

Esto se entiende suponiendo que desaparece el jaguar del bosque, entonces lo que se comía allí: armadillos, venados, cerdos salvajes, chigüiros..., van a aumentar y como estos se alimentan de semillas flores y matas, cambiaría la estructura del bosque: menos sombra, menos retención de agua y más erosión

Esta iniciativa ya tiene el reconocimiento de todos los países centroamericanos y de Colombia y se avanza en otros como Brasil y Argentina.


  • El desarrollo desenfrenado que está acabando con los bosques, hábitat natural del jaguar, que necesita grandes extensiones, usurpadas por la expansión agrícola. 
  • El comercio de su piel es un negocio lucrativo, lo que atrae a cazadores. 
  • También la creencia de que es un animal que ataca a la especie humana, pero este a pesar de ser carnívoro, no son comedores de hombres y solo en ciertas situaciones en que se siente amenazado por el hombre ataca.
  • Otra causa es la falta de una intervención por parte de las autoridades ambientales para protegerlo desde el punto educativo y de control.
Los jaguares siempre han estado, no es que estén sueltos o los hayan dejado libres, solo que con el avance de la frontera agropecuaria cada vez tienen menos espacios para la caza y por eso entran en más contacto con los humanos.

No hay recomendaciones especiales que sirvan a todo el mundo, por lo que hay es que pedir la intervención de las corporaciones autónomas, que por ley deben atender el tema del conflicto para proteger a los jaguares y los intereses de los campesinos.

lunes, 30 de julio de 2012

Sacrificio de tigre blanco genera debate en las redes sociales

ORIGINAL: Publimetro
Foto: AFP

Una polémica se ha generado en las redes sociales de Chile luego de que un tigre blanco que atacó a uno de sus cuidadores fuera sacrificado en el Zoológico Metropolitano de Santiago.

Según varios medios de comunicación chilenos, el animal fue sacrificado para poder rescatar al trabajador del Zoológico. Sin embargo en Twitter y Facebook los ciudadanos criticaron la decisión porque el tigre blanco es una especie en vía de extinción.

El incidente ocurrió la mañana de este domingo cuando el tigre se escapó de su jaula y atacó al trabajador del zoológico. El funcionario fue inmediatamente trasladado el Hospital del Trabajador en la capital chilena.

Publimetro Chile

NASA: Strange and sudden ice melt in Greenland

ORIGINAL: First Coast News

WASHINGTON -- Nearly all of Greenland's massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.

Even Greenland's coldest and highest place, Summit station, showed melting. Ice core records show that last happened in 1889 and occurs about once every 150 years.

Meltwater flooding the Watson River in Greenland. Photo taken on July 12, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory 
Three satellites show what NASA calls unprecedented melting of the ice sheet that blankets the island, starting on July 8 and lasting four days. Most of the thick ice remains. While some ice usually melts during the summer, what was unusual was that the melting happened in a flash and over a widespread area.

"You literally had this wave of warm air wash over the Greenland ice sheet and melt it," NASA ice scientist Tom Wagner said Tuesday.

The ice melt area went from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent in four days, according to NASA. Until now, the most extensive melt seen by satellites in the past three decades was about 55 percent.

Wagner said researchers don't know how much of Greenland's ice melted, but it seems to be freezing again.

"When we see melt in places that we haven't seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what's happening?" NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati said. It's a big signal, the meaning of which we're going to sort out for years to come."

About the same time, a giant iceberg broke off from the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland. And the National Snow and Ice Data Center on Tuesday announced that the area filled with Arctic sea ice continues near a record low.

Wagner and other scientists said because this Greenland-wide melting has happened before they can't yet determine if this is a natural rare event or one triggered by man-made global warming. But they do know that the edges of Greenland's ice sheets have already been thinning because of climate change.

Summer in Greenland has been freakishly warm so far. That's because of frequent high-pressure systems that have parked over the island, bringing warm, clear weather that melts ice and snow, explained University of Georgia climatologist Thomas Mote.

He and others say it's similar to the high-pressure systems that have parked over the American Midwest bringing record-breaking warmth and drought.

Ohio State University ice scientist Jason Box, who returned Tuesday from a three-week visit, said he ditched his cold weather gear for the cotton pants that he normally dons in Nevada.

"It was sunny and warm and all the locals were talking about how sunny it was," Box said after getting off a plane. "Beyond T-shirt weather."

Associated Press

Heavy Load

41. Heavy load. One morning in August, I was on my way to pick up the newspaper. Everything was moist and wet, and I spotted this little fly on a small white flower, just outside my bedroom window. Two hours after I shot this picture I went outside again, and the fly was still sitting on the same flower - still not able to fly. (Photo and caption by Audun Wigen) #

Chemical bond discovered that only exists in space

ORIGINAL: New Scientist

New type of atomic bond can't be observed on Earth(Image: Stocktrek Images/Getty Images)
There's a new bond in town, and this secret agent works best in extreme situations.

The bond, of the chemical variety, occurs in the presence of very strong magnetic fields, such as those found around ultra-dense white dwarf stars. Its discovery not only demonstrates the existence of an unfamiliar and exotic type of chemistry, it may also give insight into the behaviours of these mysterious stellar bodies.

White dwarfs are the remnant cores of low-mass stars that have exhausted all their fuel. They are thought to be the final state for most of the stars in our galaxy. Though they have masses comparable to that of our sun, white dwarfs only occupy the same amount of space as a small planet like Earth, making them incredibly dense.

They also exhibit super-strong magnetic fields on the order of 100,000 tesla10 billion times greater than Earth's magnetic field, and 10 million times greater than that of an average refrigerator magnet. This intense field can affect the behaviour of the electrons that make up chemical bonds.
Exclusion principle

On Earth, atoms usually bond either covalently, by sharing electrons with neighbouring atoms, or ionically, via electrostatic attractions created by the transferral of electrons.

The electrons that give rise to these bonds are governed by the Pauli exclusion principle: two cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. To avoid this scenario, electrons in bonds normally pair up in couples of opposing spin. But under the intense magnetic field of a white dwarf, "this spin interacts with the external field, acting like a little magnet," says lead author Kai Lange at the University of Oslo in Norway.

As a result, the spins of both electrons align with the external field, forcing one of the electrons to move into a different position known as an anti-bonding orbital. Normally, this would spell the end of any chemical bonds. "In a normal molecule these anti-bonding orbitals are not occupied by electrons," says Lange. "If they are occupied, the atoms are no longer bound together and the molecule breaks apart."

Unfamiliar chemistry
Lange and his colleagues wondered if things might be different around white dwarfs. "Chemistry and molecular physics become very different in the presence of a strong magnetic field," says Erik Tellgren, Lange's colleague. "Even very simple systems behave in exotic and unfamiliar ways compared to what we are used to under normal conditions."

With this in mind, the researchers used quantum chemical simulations to model chemical bonding in hydrogen and helium atoms in the magnetic field of a white dwarf. In both cases, the atoms were drawn into strongly bonded pairs.

Because the electrons in these bonded atoms occupied anti-bonding orbitals – which is forbidden in both types of known chemical bond – the researchers say this is a new type of bond. They have dubbed it "perpendicular paramagnetic bonding".

The work shows that "molecules that don't exist under normal conditions can exist in a sufficiently large magnetic field," says Lange.

David Clary of the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the study, called the research "excellent", adding that "the results show that a magnetic field can stabilise molecules".

Reading the stars
Although the authors say that replicating the new bonds on Earth isn't feasible, the finding highlights how molecular chemistry may change in the presence of extreme conditions.

"I think there are probably other weird or unfamiliar types of bonding to be discovered," says Tellgren.

Such work will also help to further our knowledge of astrophysical objects like white dwarfs. By understanding how matter behaves around these objects, it may be possible to interpret their observed spectra more easily and accurately, and to better unravel what is happening in their atmospheres.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1219703

Voltswagon: Do-it-yourself: How to build your own electric car, hacker style

ORIGINAL: Venture Beat
Dean Takahashi

July 29, 2012

By day, David Brown is a security consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. But in his spare time, he’s one of a growing number of do-it-yourself electric vehicle creators. In the past couple of years, Brown retrofitted a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle into an electric car, and he talked about his “Voltswagon” project at the Defcon hacker conference on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Electric cars can save you a lot of money when it comes to skipping gas purchases, and they’ve been getting more popular since Tesla launched its first electric car in 2008. But the sticker price of new electric vehicles is a big barrier to adoption still, so hobbyist mechanics like Brown of Friendswood, Texas, are retrofitting their own cars for a relatively small price tag. Brown (pictured below) did it for about $6,000, not counting the cost of his car, tools, and about 100 hours of labor.

The whole point of designing an electric vehicle is to save energy. So it pays to keep that in mind when you’re adding a bunch of new things to an older car. When you are retrofitting a car, you need to install electric vehicle components such as a motor, controller, batteries, a charger, and accessories.

If you are doing this to save the environment, you probably don’t want to convert a high-performance race car,” he said. “You want to maximize the utility, and figure out how far you need to go and how fast you need to go.

You have to figure out your budget for the project and your own skills for doing the work. The good thing about building an electric vehicle is that a lot of hobbyists have done it before. Open ReVolt is a community dedicated to openly sharing learnings about electric cars including chargers and motor controllers.

This is the part that I wished I had known about before I built my electric car,” Brown said.

A lot of the work is pulling out the old internal combustion engine and other parts that you no longer need in an existing car. You can pull the radiator out of the car since you don’t need it any more, making it lighter. If you convert a car from power brakes to manual, you can save on power consumption.

Brown said that the open-source EV Dashboard puts the makers of electric vehicles to shame with visual gauges that measure the state of your electric car in terms of speed and battery power. The dashboard electronics can be displayed on an iPad or Android tablet. (Android OS Option:

One of the tough problems is getting a vehicle charged in a timely manner. On a 110-volt electrical socket in a home, charging happens at a rate of 8 miles of charge per hour. On a 220-volt electric dryer plug, the rate is 44 miles per hour. A J1776-2009 charger can charge at 76 miles per hour. And a Japanese CHAdeMO charger can charge at 250 miles of charger per hour using 500 volts.

Brown’s car can get a top speed of 70 miles per hour and it goes from zero to 40 miles per hour in two to four seconds. It has 10 12-volt batteries and it gets 250 watt-hours per mile. It has a Curtiss 1221C controller and a D&D Motor Systems electric engine. The range is 16 to 26 miles. That short range is a drawback, for sure, but it is improving over time. And Brown noted that 80 percent of U.S. commutes are under 40 mile, and there is no energy wasted while sitting in traffic. The typical cost is about 2 cents per mile.

For electric vehicle resources, he used vendors including Wilderness EV, KTA Services,Cloud Electric, Sam’s Club, Calib Power, eBay, Lightobject, andChennic. Other helpful web sites included DIY Electric Car, EVTV Motor Verks, EVDL, V is for Voltage Forums and Ecomodder. You can check out the possibilities for projects with DIY electric cars on EV Album.

Brown said some technologies that just aren’t ready for prime time, especially for hobbyists, are: solar, hydrogen, supercapacitors,
hub motors, and DIY hybrids. Modders have to be aware that the laws for each state are different. It’s sometimes tough to get an electric vehicle certified in a smog test because the regulators don’t believe that the emissions for any car are “zero.”

Brown said that the project cost him a fair amount of money. He paid $1,200 for a motor, $1,000 for a controller $800 for batteries, $600 for a charger, $500 for an adapter/charger, and $800 for miscellaneous.On top of that, you need a lot of tools. (Make sure you put electrical tape around the tools, as you don’t want to accidentally hit the battery and short it out).

If you’re doing it yourself, you want to buy your batteries last. That’s because the technology is changing fast and it may change several times in a six-month to two-year project.

But he added the cost for no longer being the “bitch” of OPEC and Exxon: priceless.

Tell the EPA: Shell's latest bait and switch should be the last straw.


Weeks away from starting the first major offshore drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch - telling the EPA its drilling rigs can't meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.1

Shell has known since 2010 it would have problems meeting the rules.2 But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?
It's clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company's last minute request gives the EPA the option to cancel Shell's permit. That's exactly what EPA must do.

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Don't fall for Shell's bait and switch. Reject Shell's permit to drill in the Arctic.
This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.

Just this weekend, Shell literally lost control of its Discoverer drilling rig, which either ran aground or very nearly did so, when its anchor broke while harbored a thousand miles south of the Arctic.3Moderate winds are being blamed -- yet these winds are mild compared to what it will encounter in the Arctic. The rig, one of the oldest in the world, had a similar anchor malfunction just last year, while it was stationed in New Zealand.

Shell is also having problems with its nearly forty-year-old oil spill recovery barge. While Shell promised the Coast Guard it would upgrade it substantially to withstand stronger weather, Shell now says those upgrades aren't necessary. The Coast Guard hasn't yet decided if it will weaken these standards for Shell.4

And of course -- while we've known for some time that the Obama Administration was being hoodwinked by Shell's hopelessly inadequate oil spill response plan -- now Shell has come out and admitted its initial spill response claims were overstated. Shell initially said it could "recover" 95% of oil in the case of a major spill. Now Shell is saying that what it actually meant is "encounter" 95% of the oil -- whatever that means.5

Tell the EPA: Don't fall for Shell's bait and switch. Reject Shell's permit to drill in the Arctic.
Shockingly, the Department of Interior has put the probability of an oil spill in the Arctic at 40%.6
That is simply unacceptable. With Shell in the driver's seat, it's clear that it would be unwise to even bank on those unacceptably high odds.

Shell's request to EPA is a major opportunity for President Obama and the EPA to revisit the undeserved trust they have put in Shell thus far. It's time for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to be a hero, and draw a line stop the next major drilling disaster in the Arctic.
EPA's response could come any day. Please sign the petition now.

Tell the EPA: Don't fall for Shell's bait and switch. Reject Shell's permit to drill in the Arctic.

Glass houses for Hermit crabs

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Staff at the aquarium were intrigued how hermit crabs make their homes in discarded snail shells, it was often asked “How do they manage to squeeze their entire body into such a small space?” or “Wouldn’t it be cool to see inside?

A hermit crab at the NZMSC and Aquarium in Portobello has taken up residence in a glass shell. Just one week after the artificial shell was placed in the tank a hermit crab silently checked it out, sliding his soft abdomen in to check its delicate curves for fit. He has made it home ever since..
Enlisting the expertise of University of Otago scientific glass blower Anne Ryan, the aquarium wanted to replicate a snail shell that would be suitable home for a hermit crab. With the hermit crab taking up residence, it is now clearly visible how they twist their abdomen around the central column of the shell and the well-adapted tip of the abdomen clasps strongly to hold it in place.

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Centre Manager, Tessa Mills said “The staff are so excited. This is going to provide us with new teaching opportunities and will be really fantastic for the public to come and view.” More glass shells have been requested, so soon there may be a whole cast of hermit crabs living in glass shells at Portobello.

Photographs taken by Tomas Bird (Marine Interpreter at the NZ Marine Studies Centre)

domingo, 29 de julio de 2012

Cerrejón la Muerte Negra


Cerrejón la Muerte Negra,
Ubicada en la península de la Guajira al norte de Colombia es la mina de carbón a cielo abierto más grande del mundo que tiene a los wayúu al margen de la extinción, con la polvareda de carbón de las Multinacionales y los drenajes de ácidos y residuos de dinamita que caen al Río Ranchería ha provocado muertes, alteraciones genéticas, diarreas de sangre, severas enfermedades respiratorias y abortos de animales, entre otras se han diagnosticado más de 800 casos de enfermedades. Según el estudio epidemiológico de las semanas 1- 24 del 2010 del departamento de La Guajira, los casos de Infecciones Respiratorias Agudas (IRA) son la segunda causa de morbilidad en los municipios de Albania, Barrancas y Hatonuevo --vecinos de La Mina. Desplazamiento forzado a pueblos ancestrales, muertes provocadas por el ferrocarril que lleva carbón y no se puede detener aunque se le atraviesen chivos o personas. Comunidades Afectadas por el ruido de las maquinarias explosiones, la sísmica. Lideres que han sido amenazados o comprados, medios de comunicación silenciados a cambio de becas y pautas.

Actualmente el cerrejón pretende desviar 26.2 kilómetros de su cauce del Río Ranchería, con ello poner en riesgo la vida de miles de indígenas, afro descendientes y pobladores de varios municipios, para poder extraer más de 500 millones de toneladas de carbón. Es la mayor angustia colectiva, poner en riesgo la vida de miles de indígenas, afro descendientes y pobladores de varios municipios. 

Suficientes estudios socioeconómicos y ambientales han demostrado que los pueblos en el departamento de la Guajira, son más pobres que antes de la explotación carbonífera, Colombia es uno de los países de suministro de carbón más importantes para la Unión Europea. El gobierno y las Multinacionales nos venden la idea de que el interés particular tiene el mismo fin y objetivos del interés general de la sociedad, Las multinacionales tienen apoderado el territorio. 

Las empresas explotadoras no solo saquean nuestro carbón, sino que también arruina el medio ambiente, destruye ríos, degrada la fauna y la flora.

Multinacionales Propietarias del Cerrejón: 
  • BHP Billiton PLC (Australia y Gran Bretaña): 33,3 %
  • Anglo American PLC (Gran Bretaña África del Sur): 33,3%
  • Xstrata PLC (Suiza): 33.3%
Desde febrero de 2012 hay anuncios de fusión entre la suiza Glencore y Xstrata, que crearía la tercera minera más grande del mundo; en el caso de Colombia, la combinación de intereses establecería la mayor productora y exportadora de carbón.[1] El 12 de julio votarán los accionistas de la minera Xstrata sobre la oferta de compra de US$30.000 millones de Glencore. Los accionistas de Glencore ya cuentan con casi un 34% de las acciones de Xstrata.[2]

El Director Ejecutivo Mike Davis, el CEO de Xstrata recibe en el proceso primas de fidelidad en tres años por 80.000 millones de pesos, además de los 25.000 millones de pesos que recibe anualmente como sueldo. Vale la pena hacer la comparación: En 2010, Cerrejón invirtió aprox. 18.000 millones de pesos (10 millones de US dólares) en proyectos sociales -- esto es menos de lo que recibe Mike Davis como salario anual.

[1] Información ASK Suiza, 8 de junio de 2012.
Tema Cerrejón y Naciones Unidas Alexandra Guáqueta trabaja actualmente como miembro del Grupo de Trabajo de Derechos Humanos y Empresas Transnacionales de Naciones Unidas (ver: ver: Previamente, en Colombia, la señora Guáqueta ha sido en el pasado asesora de la empresa minera Cerrejón (ver por ejemplo y ha representado a la empresa y a sus intereses en diferentes espacios, entre ellos en el Comité Minero Energético del Programa Presidencial de DDHH y DIH del gobierno colombiano. 

16 AL 20 DE Agosto de 2012
La inscripción en la Expedición "Río Ranchería 2012" debe hacerse por organizaciones y delegaciones hasta el 5 de agosto de 2012 a través de los siguientes correos:

Equipo de formación CAJAR

Realizador Y Periodista
Bladimir Sánchez Espitia