Soooo what was that pale coloured smudge from yesterday? Isn’t it kinda obvious? You’re looking at a frame grab from a video of a Ciliate in action. Don’t you feel silly for missing that one?
Ciliates are a form of single celled life most notable for the hair like organelles around their exterior. Called ‘Cilia' (Cilium in plural) they are used for various duties such as feeding, locomotion, and as environmental sensors. The cilium of this little critter can be seen quite clearly in the video.
Now, cilium are interesting for a couple of reasons. First, they are related to another awesome organelle called the Flagellum (flangella in plural). This organelle is, essentially, evolution’s answer to the rotary engine. Second, we mammals all have cilium of our very own. In humans cilium can be found in the upper respiratory tract (or in this photo). Groups of them, not unlike tufts of shag rug, work in a unified wave motion to help remove mucus and dirt from our lungs.
So there you have it… it was a ciliate; evolution’s answer to the Roomba.
Sound therapists and Manchester band Marconi Union compiled the song. Scientists played it to 40 women and found it to be more effective at helping them relax than songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay.
Weightless works by using specific rhythms, tones, frequencies and intervals to relax the listener. A continuous rhythm of 60 BPM causes the brainwaves and heart rate to synchronise with the rhythm: a process known as ‘entrainment’. Low underlying bass tones relax the listener and a low whooshing sound with a trance-like quality takes the listener into an even deeper state of calm.
Dr David Lewis, one of the UK’s leading stress specialists said: “‘Weightless’ induced the greatest relaxation – higher than any of the other music tested. Brain imaging studies have shown that music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also ones associated with emotions.”
The study - commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa - found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea. So relaxing is the tune, apparently, that people are being Rex advised against listening to it while driving.
The top 10 most relaxing tunes were: 1. Marconi Union - Weightless 2. Airstream - Electra 3. DJ Shah - Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix) 4. Enya - Watermark 5. Coldplay - Strawberry Swing 6. Barcelona - Please Don’t Go 7. All Saints - Pure Shores 8. AdelevSomeone Like You 9. Mozart - Canzonetta Sull’aria 10. Cafe Del Mar - We Can Fly
A couple months back there was a big todo about space junk. Often space is viewed as so vast that the concept of polluting it seems absurd. However, realistically, and especially around the orbit of a pretty tiny planet like Earth… there’s only so much USEFUL space.
Most of this useful space is around the equator at an altitude of some 35,000km above our heads.. yeah, that’s a heck of a long way. This is a place where Geostationary satellites reside. These are the satellites that deliver GPS, Television, Cellular Phones… basically every thing you consider modern somehow makes use of satellites in this orbital space.
The other useful place is in any orbit between about 200 and 400km This altitude is high enough that atmospheric drag, although still present, is minimal. It is also a relatively easy altitude for spacecraft to attain. The ISS travels between about 320km and 400km depending on how recently it has been boosted. The Space Shuttle traveled at about the same height since most trips were to the ISS. However, the Shuttle could reach a maximum altitude of about 600km as it did to place and repair Hubble Space Telescope.
If you take a look at the image above you can see pretty clearly that, in fact, those are exactly the two places which space junk tends to reside. That’s what’s got people worried. At some point the amount of space junk is so great that it begins to create a runaway situation, known as the Kessler Syndrome, which could ultimately lead to those sections of space becoming entirely useless.
Needless to say, if we can’t access Earth orbit, we aren’t going anywhere else.
Trust the Bad Astronomer to post the gold again! I was going to write an article on Phobos-Grunt today… but… I guess it’s not going anywhere… then I saw this video. Since then, all I can manage to do is watch over, and over, and over again.
Sorry, Phobos-Grunt; please don’t land on my head.
Anyway, This video is one of the most stunning space videos I’ve ever seen… and… unlike many other astronomy images… this one is completely real. No artists renditions, no post processing of science data into something us mere mortals can appreciate. Just regular old time lapse photography like you or I could do… if we were taking a ride on the ISS.
More on this month’s Mars missions tomorrow I guess. Enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget the fullscreen HD… trust me.
On this day in 1895, scientist Wilhelm Roentgen discovers X-Rays.
When Wilhelm Roentgen took the very first X-ray photograph — a ghostly image of his wife’s hand — in 1895, the German physicist not only earned himself the very first Nobel Prize in Physics, he also gave the world the gift of creepy skeletal photographs and seeing bizarre things stuck inside living but unlucky people.
Pictured: 1896 X-ray of Roentgen’s wife’s hand, similar to the very first X-ray picture. Upon seeing her skeletal hand, she reportedly exclaimed, “I have seen my own death!”
This is GK Persei, also known as the Firework Nebula. The star was part of a binary system which consisted of a white dwarf star and cool giant star in a compact orbit. The build up of mass of the white dwarf from the cool giant ultimately ends in a thermonuclear outburst which results in material being ejected from the star without destroying the white dwarf itself.
An outburst such as this occurred in 1901. A Series of photographs have been taken over the course of the last 17 years and a time lapse which depicts the motion of the expelled material can be created.