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Higgs Bosons & Tough Materials | SciByte 25

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We take a look at the breaking news on Higgs Bosons, materials tougher than diamonds, inserting objects in pictures become more realistic, Hubble research hits a milestone, dinosaurs, talking parrots, down-loadable knowledge, information on the unbelievable Lunar eclipse we just had, a quick spacecraft update and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Higgs-Boson confirmation just around the corner?

Tougher than diamond?

*— NEWS BYTE — *

Tricking the eye in photographs

Scientific papers from Hubble hit a milestone

The North American “terrible (large) lizard”

Polly want an explanation for how parrots talk

  • The low down
  • Parrots have neither lips nor teeth, but that doesn’t stop them from producing dead-on imitations of human speech
  • Significance
  • Part of the reason is that, like humans, parrots use their tongues to form sounds
  • Scientists took x-ray movies of monk parakeets
  • Parrots use their mobile, muscular tongues to explore their environment and manipulate food
  • Those capable organs also help parrots utter greetings in words that even humans can understand.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO : X-ray movie of a vocalizing monk parakeet
  • Social Media
  • Twitter Results for [#]()
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • How Parrots Talk @ ScienceMag.org](http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/12/scienceshot-how-parrots-talk.html?ref=hp)

Learning by the Matrix/Chuck way

  • The low down
  • Pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas
  • The brain then fills in greater detail
  • New research in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort
  • Significance
  • Researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks
  • Think of a person watching a computer screen and have brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease
  • This research is a novel learning approach sufficient to cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that require visual performance
  • None of these studies directly addressed the question of whether early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning
  • * Of Note*
  • The approached worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning
  • The decoded neurofeedback method might be used for various types of learning, including memory, motor and rehabilitation
  • On the flip side the neurofeedback mechanism could just as soon be used for purposes of hypnosis or covert mind control
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Learning high-performance tasks with no conscious effort may soon be possible (w/ video) @ Midical Xpress
  • Download Knowledge Directly to Your Brain, Matrix-Style @ PopSci
  • Scientists say they’re getting closer to Matrix-style instant learning @io9

Lunar eclipse, with a twist

SPACECRAFT UPDATE

DAWN Spacecraft reachest closts orbit to the asteroid Vesta

  • Vesta:
  • Discovered: March 29, 1807 by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers of Germany (fourth asteroid discovered)
  • Dimensions: About 578 by 560 by 458 kilometers (359 by 348 by 285 miles)
  • Shape: Nearly spheroid, with a massive chunk out of the south pole
  • Rotation: Once every 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • About the length of Arizona, it appears to have a surface of basaltic rock – frozen lava – which oozed out of the asteroid’s presumably hot interior shortly after its formation 4.5 billion years ago, and has remained largely intact ever since.
  • DAWN:
  • Launch Date : Sep 27, 2007
  • Mission will go through through July 2015
  • Framing Camera (FC) : Scientific imaging system of the Dawn Mission to the two complementary protoplanets, 1 Ceres and 4 Vesta.
  • Visible & Infrared Spectrometer (VIR) : Accomplishes the Dawn mission’s scientific and measurement objectives of producing spectral images. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully maneuvered into its closest orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta today
  • Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRaND) : Measures elemental abundances on the surface of Vesta and Ceres.
  • Gravity Science : The team utilizes the radio link used for communications and carefully observe the Doppler shift in the link’s carrier frequency (when received at ground stations) due to
    gravitational forces acting on the spacecraft center-of-mass in the environment of Vesta and Ceres.
  • Multimedia
  • DAWN Media Gallery @ NASA
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • NASA DAWN website
  • NASA DAWN website

SCIENCE CALENDER

Looking back

  • Dec 15 1612 – 399 years ago – A telescope meets the Andromedo galaxy : [Simon Marius](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Marius, namer of Jupiter’s 4 inner satellites, is first to observe Andromeda galaxy through a telescope. Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way, but not the closest galaxy overall. The Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi wrote a tantalizing line about it in his Book of Fixed Stars around 964, describing it as a “small cloud”.
  • **Dec 14 1807 – 204 years ago – Meteorite gets scienced ** : In Weston, (now called Easton) Connecticut at 6:30 am, a meteorite was seen with an aparent size of 2/3 the size of the moon. Eyewitnesses reported three loud explosions, as it fell and broke apart to fall in at least six locations. This meteor became the first to fall in the New World to be documented, collected, and chemically analyzed and received much attention in the national and international press. The largest and only unbroken specimen weighing in at 36.5 pounds (16.5 kilograms) was recovered and made a hole 5 ft long and 4.5 ft wide (1.5 m long and 1.4 m wide) now resides within the oldest collection of meteorites in the United States. Out of the approximately 350 pounds of the meteorite that fell on the town of Weston, less than 50 pounds can now be accounted for. Yale Peabody Museum – Weston Meteorite
  • **Dec 17 1903 – 108 years ago – The Wright brother fly ** : In 1903, the first powered flight was achieved by the [Wright brothers](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers#Flights in the Kitty Hawk, at Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina. That morning, the biting cold wind had a velocity of 22 to 27 miles an hour. As ten o’clock arrived, the Wrights decided, nevertheless, to get the machine out and attempt a flight. Orville Wright launched from a track, taking off into the wind. The aircraft covered 120 feet, aloft for 12 seconds. Thus for the first time, a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started. First flight photo

Looking up this week

  • You might have seen …
  • On Dec. 8th, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed an unusual event on the sun: An erupting cloud of plasma was eclipsed by a dark magnetic filament. VIDEO By studying how the light of the explosion is filtered by the foreground material, SDO mission scientists might be able to learn something new about dark filaments on the sun.
  • Keep an eye out for …>
  • Wed, Dec 14 : Orion is up in the east-southeast after dinnertime, and higher in the southeast later in the evening. IMAGE
  • Thurs, Dec 15 : The Moon has a bright companion as it rises late this evening: Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the lion, sits to it’s upper left.
  • Fri, Dec 16 : Mars is close to the upper left of the Moon as they climb into view after midnight, and looks like a bright star.
  • Sat, Dec 17 : Last-quarter moon. Above it around midnight is Mars
  • More on whats in the sky this week
  • Sky&Telescope
  • AstronomyNow<
  • SpaceWeather.com
  • HeavensAbove
  • StarDate.org