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Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth and Xenology News

Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth and Xenology News
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edX - Home Red Wine, Tartaric Acid, and the Secret of Superconductivity  Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked–white wine, beer, sake and so on–but red wine was by far the best. The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that does the trick? Today, these guys provide an answer, at least in part. First, some background. But even then, FeTeS doesn’t superconduct unless it goes through a final processing stage; heating it in water, for example. Nobody knows what this process does or how it can convert an ordinary material into a superconductor. This is the stage Deguchi and co have been puzzling over. Water works quite well but whiskey, shochu and beer are all better. Now Deguchi and co have repeated the experiment with different types of red wine to see which works best. Corkscrews on standby.

Airborne robot swarms are making complex moves (w/ video) (PhysOrg.com) -- The GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania this week released a video that shows their new look in GRASP Lab robotic flying devices. They are now showing flying devices with more complex behavior than before, in a fleet of flying devices that move in packs, navigate spaces with obstacles, flip over and retain position, and carry out formation flying, The researchers have cut down these robotic creature-like drones to small size to what they call “nano-quadrotors.” The video shows them in action: not just engaged in formation flying, but also creating an impressive looking figure-eight pattern. The video says as much about the GRASP Lab as the flying machines, in that the GRASP Labs seems intent on raising the bar on what robot swarms can achieve. Still, the video is clear proof that the team developers, Alex Kushleyev, Daniel Mellinger, and Vijay Kumar, are able to showcase complex autonomous swarm behavior. The key word is agile. More information: www.swarms.org/

A Better Way to Get Hydrogen from Water An experimental approach to splitting water might lead to a relatively cheap and clean method for large-scale hydrogen production that doesn’t require fossil fuels. The process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using heat and catalysts made from inexpensive materials. Heat-driven water splitting is an alternative to electrolysis, which is expensive and requires large amounts of electricity. The new approach, developed by Caltech chemical-engineering professor Mark Davis, avoids the key problems with previous heat-driven methods of water splitting. It works at relatively low temperatures and doesn’t produce any toxic or corrosive intermediate products. Almost all the hydrogen used now in industrial processes, such as making gasoline, comes from reforming natural gas. The basic approach in high-temperature water splitting is to heat up an oxidized metal to drive off oxygen, then add water. The technology is probably far from being commercialized.

Did Carl Sagan know something? Not sure if this is the right forum? This post is NOT about crop circles though it may appear so at first. Please read all three posts. Below is Chilbolton (UK) radio telescope. One year after the formation in the picture above another formation appeared in the same field. Two days after the face appeared this formation appeared. The following year this formation was found near another radio mast. The disc looks very much like a compact disc and contains a message. Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts and their BROKEN PROMISES. The upper/lower case is how it decodes. In 1974 Carl Sagan Transmitted a signal into space in simple binary form. Our DNA and the dominant substances that create life on earth. The star system that the signal was aimed at (M13) is very distant, infact its 26000 light years distant so we would not expect a reply until about 52000 years later (I did say it was distant). We'll deal with the easy ones first. The following was posted anonymously by a research biologist.

All-carbon solar cell harnesses infrared light About 40 percent of the solar energy reaching Earth’s surface lies in the near-infrared region of the spectrum — energy that conventional silicon-based solar cells are unable to harness. But a new kind of all-carbon solar cell developed by MIT researchers could tap into that unused energy, opening up the possibility of combination solar cells — incorporating both traditional silicon-based cells and the new all-carbon cells — that could make use of almost the entire range of sunlight’s energy. “It’s a fundamentally new kind of photovoltaic cell,” says Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the new device that is being published this month in the journal Advanced Materials. The new cell is made of two exotic forms of carbon: carbon nanotubes and C60, otherwise known as buckyballs. The carbon-based cell is most effective at capturing sunlight in the near-infrared region.

Photosynthesis Fuel Company Gets a Large Investment Green tea: Joule Energy’s SolarConverter turns carbon dioxide and sunlight into ethanol fuel at a pilot plant in Leander, Texas. Joule Unlimited, a startup based in Bedford, Massachusetts, has received $70 million to commercialize technology that uses microörganisms to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into liquid fuel. The company claims that its genetically engineered bacteria will eventually be able to produce ethanol for as little as $1.23 a gallon or diesel fuel for $1.19 a gallon, less than half the current cost of both fossil fuels and existing biofuels. The new funding comes from undisclosed investors and will allow the company to expand from an existing pilot plant to its first small-scale production facility, in Hobbs, New Mexico. Joule Unlimited has designed a device it calls the SolarConverter, in which thin, clear panels circulate brackish water and a nitrogen-based growth medium bubbling with carbon dioxide.

'Paint-on' batteries demonstrated 29 June 2012Last updated at 04:16 ET The authors painted batteries onto standard bathroom tiles, steel, glass and even a beer stein Researchers have shown off a means to spray-paint batteries onto any surface. Their batteries, outlined in Scientific Reports, are made up of five separate layers, each with its own recipe - together measuring just 0.5mm thick. To demonstrate the technique, the team painted batteries onto steel, glass, ceramic tile and even a beer stein. The approach will be of particular interest in industrial applications, as it is compatible with existing spray-painting technology. The most common batteries are made up of negative and positive halves (the anode and the cathode), a material to separate them, and "current collector" layers at top and bottom to gather up the electric charges moving through. Many batteries are made in a kind of "Swiss roll" geometry, in which the layers are rolled up into a cylindrical or round-edged rectangular shape.

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