Scientists could find alien life within 40 years, says royal astronomer

Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society, said evidence of whether beings exist not only beyond earth but beyond our solar system, could be found in that time, a newspaper reported.
Lord Rees said he believed that astro-physicists could be able to view images of distant planets outside the solar system as soon as 2025. This could potentially lead to the discovery of some form of life on them.


NASA's Chandra Shows Milky Way Is Surrounded by Halo of Hot Gas

This artist's illustration shows an enormous halo of hot gas (in blue) around the Milky Way galaxy. Also shown, to the lower left of the Milky Way, are the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, two small neighboring galaxies (roll your mouse over the image for labels). The halo of gas is shown with a radius of about 300,000 light years, although it may extend significantly further.
 Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to find evidence our Milky Way Galaxy is embedded in an enormous halo of hot gas that extends for hundreds of thousands of light years. The estimated mass of the halo is comparable to the mass of all the stars in the galaxy.

How many water molecules does it take to make ice?

Three different-sized clusters with very different structures
How many water molecules does it take to make the smallest possible ice crystal? Around 275: that is the conclusion of researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic, who have developed the first-ever technique for probing large clusters of water molecules. Their findings could help to shed light on the formation of ice high in the atmosphere.


Tiniest trickle will speed all-electronic lab-on-a-chip

FILLING a cup from this tap would take 40,000 years, but luckily its raison d'être has nothing to do with quenching thirst. The trickle in question flows along a silicon chip and is the slowest ever recorded. Its detection should speed up the creation of the first fully electronic lab-on-a-chip.


Curiosity Mars rover picks up the pace

The target rock has been named in honour of a rover engineer, Jake Matijevic, who died in August
The Curiosity rover is making good progress towards its first major science destination on Mars.
The vehicle has now driven 289m (950ft) since its landing on the Red Planet some six weeks ago.

No magic show: Real-world levitation to inspire better pharmaceuticals

It’s not a magic trick and it’s not sleight of hand – scientists really are using levitation to improve the drug development process, eventually yielding more effective pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a way to use sound waves to levitate individual droplets of solutions containing different pharmaceuticals. While the connection between levitation and drug development may not be immediately apparent, a special relationship emerges at the molecular level.


First images of chemical bond differences captured

Different chemical bonds in hexabenzocoronene revealed for the first time (Image: Leo Gross/IBM)
Sharing more leads to tighter bonds – even in the world of molecules. The most detailed images yet made of the chemical bonds in a molecule vividly show what large-scale models had long assumed: the more electrons two atoms share, the shorter the bond. Bonds that are more electron-dense also appear brighter in the new images.


Pinning down the elusive Majorana fermion

It may not be as famous as the Higgs boson but the Majorana fermion is a fascinating particle that has managed to evade physicists for the best part of a century. In this audio interview the theoretical physicist Carlo Beenakker talks to Physics World about how experimentalists may have finally caught a glimpse of these elusive particles.

Today on Mars: Curiosity Is All Set to Sift Sand and Bake Rocks

Sand Sifter This image shows the open inlet where powered rock and soil samples will be funneled down into the Mars rover Curiosity for analysis. It was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Curiosity's 36th Martian day, or sol, on Mars (Sept. 11 on Earth). MAHLI was about 8 inches away from the mouth of the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument when it took this picture. The entrance of the funnel is about 1.4 inches in diameter and the mesh screen is about 2.3 inches deep. Once the samples have gone down the 0.4-inch holes in the funnel, CheMin will be shooting X-rays at the samples to identify and quantify the minerals. Read more about what CheMin can do here. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
A battery of tests checking out the Mars rover Curiosity should wrap up today, and she's passing them all with flying colors. Very soon, the rover will start doing what it was sent to Mars to do: Swallowing some soil, baking it and X-raying it, with the goal of finding out whether life could ever have survived on the planet.
This image shows the entrance to the CheMin instrument (for Chemistry and Mineralogy), which will sift Martian dirt so it can be X-rayed. CheMin will identify minerals by examining the diffraction patterns of X-rays that pass through the spaces between atoms.


World Record Set for Highest Surface Area Material

 Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date.
Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural gas storage for vehicles, catalysts, and other sustainable materials chemistry.


Quantum test pricks uncertainty

The experiment requires preparing pairs of "entangled" photons, the particles from which light is made
Pioneering experiments have cast doubt on a founding idea of the branch of physics called quantum mechanics.


Cern discovery points to new model of universe

SCIENTISTS AT Cern may be on the verge of a discovery that will take them towards a new understanding of the evolution of our universe. The finding may also help explain fundamental things about the cosmos that happened just a minute after the Big Bang.


NASA | Afterschool Universe: Life Cycle of a Small Star

Afterschool Universe is an out-of-school-time astronomy program for middle school students that explores basic astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and then takes participants on a journey through the Universe beyond the Solar System.

This video shows a simple kinesthetic activity that models the life cycle of a star with a mass similar to our sun.



Cat Physics: The Science Behind Why Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Destin at Smarter Every Day answers everything you ever wanted to know about why cats (almost) always land on their feet, but were too afaird to pick up and drop your own cat multiple times from varying heights to find out.


A one-way street for spinning atoms

Elementary particles have a fundamental property called 'spin' that determines how they align in a magnetic field. MIT researchers have created a new physical system in which atoms with clockwise spin move in only one direction, while atoms with counterclockwise spin move in the opposite direction.
Elementary particles have a property called “spin” that can be thought of as rotation around their axes. In work reported this week in the journal Physical Review Letters, MIT physicists have imposed a stringent set of traffic rules on atomic particles in a gas: Those spinning clockwise can move in only one direction, while those spinning counterclockwise can move only in the other direction.

Hot DOG surprise reveals new stage in galaxy evolution

Here's a frankfurter that won't fit on a bun. Hot dust-obscured galaxies, or hot DOGs, are a new type of cosmic object that could help answer a decades-old problem: which came first, the galaxy or the black hole?
The newly discovered galaxies are among the brightest in the universe, 1000 times brighter than the Milky Way, but they are so heavily clouded by dust that they had gone entirely unnoticed until now – hence the description "hot, dust-obscured".