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Old 05-21-2012, 09:43 PM  
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Science is Cool....

This is a repository for all cool scientific discussion and fascination. Scientific facts, theories, and overall cool scientific stuff that you'd like to share with others. Stuff that makes you smile and wonder at the amazing shit going on around us, that most people don't notice.

Post pictures, vidoes, stories, or links. Ask questions. Share science.

This is in support of the Penny 4 NASA project. If you enjoy anything you learned from this thread, consider making a donation and signing the petition.

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Old 01-31-2014, 06:17 AM   #1291
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:03 AM   #1292
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Giant Crystal Caves Yield New "Ice Palace," More



It looks like Superman's Fortress of Solitude and is nearly as hard to get into, but that hasn't stopped explorers from uncovering new secrets in and around Mexico's deep, deadly hot Cave of Crystals.

Outfitted with ice-cooled suits, teams have found biological mysteries, parallels with other planets, and the "Ice Palace," an unexplored cavern lined with rare crystal formations—and just in time too. Parts of the complex may soon be returned to their natural, submerged states.

A thousand feet (304 meter) underground, the Cave of Crystals (pictures) is just one of a series of glittering caverns beneath the Chihuahuan Desert's Naica mountain (map). Much of the complex would naturally be filled with scorching water, were it not for industrial pumps that facilitate the mining of silver, zinc, lead, and other minerals in the caves.

In the two-story-tall, football-field-size Cave of Crystals, enormous beams of gypsum—among the largest freestanding crystals in the world—sprout haphazardly from the ceiling, floor, and walls. Individually, though, the crystals appear anything but haphazard, sporting the sharp, geometric appearance that scientists call euhedral.
This jewel-like effect makes the giant crystals truly unique, according to John Rakovan, a mineralogist at Miami University in Ohio, who was not involved in the project.

"When crystals get larger and larger, they become less euhedral, typically"—and more rocklike. "Scientists didn't think it was possible to get large crystals that are so morphologically perfect" before the Cave of Crystals discovery, Rakovan said.
The translucent columns also resemble giant pillars of ice but are warmed by superheated air leaking up from underground magma chambers.

The combination of 90 percent humidity and a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) inside the cave can kill an unprepared human in just 30 minutes.

"It's a terrible and magical environment all at the same time," said Penelope Boston, an astrobiologist and cave scientist who appears in the new documentary Into the Lost Crystal Caves, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.

Beyond the Cave of Crystals

Discovered by miners in 2000, the Cave of Crystals is just one chamber in what appears to be a network of subterranean caverns beneath Naica—some well known and evocatively named: the Cave of Swords, the Queen's Eye, the Cave of Sails.

In 2009 a video camera attached to a drill bit found hints of one more crystal-lined cave during the creation of the Robin Hole, a 2,000-foot-deep (600-meter-deep) ventilation shaft meant to cool mining tunnels below.

Descending into the hole months later, in December 2009, a scientific team confirmed the new, naturally dry crystal cave about 500 feet (150 meters) below the surface.

Dubbed the Ice Palace, the new cave lacks giant pillars, but sparkles with rare crystal formations, including minerals resembling cauliflower and fiber-optic-like filaments.

The mysteries of the Ice Palace will likely remain unsolved, however. The Industrias Peñoles mining company has decided to cover the Robin Hole and has also hinted that it may shut down the expensive water pumps that keep the Cave of Crystals dry, according to the documentary.

"I don't think they'll ever be able to preserve those caves," Miami University's Rakovan said. "It'll be economically unfeasible."
But shutting down the caves isn't necessarily a bad thing, Rakovan added. "It might actually preserve the crystals. And if at a later date it becomes important to get in there again, they could repump."
Ice-Cooled Suits Required

Exploring the Naica caves requires more than just industrial strength water pumps. Scientists entering the complex in 2008 and 2009 wore custom-made, 45-pound (25-kilograms) cooling suits that extend mission times from 15 minutes to an hour.

Each suit contains several ice-filled compartments as well as respirators connected to ice-filled backpacks, which send cool air to the wearer's lungs. Masks protect the eyes, which can scorch in the cave's heat.


"It's funny, because when you look at the pictures of us in there in the suits, it looks like we're in an ice chamber, but it's just the reverse," said Boston, of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Even with the protective gear, the scientists often operated at the edge of safety.


Ontario, Canada-based astrophysicist Sara Poirier said, "We all just kept pushing further and further [into the cave], so by the time you are heading back, you've pushed yourself beyond the limits that are safe"—and that's with the gear operating properly.

At least one piece of equipment offered little protection. The portable Ice Cube—a newly designed, air-cooled, transparent tent designed to allow for two-hour Naica-caves missions—never cooled down enough to bring overheated bodies back to safe levels.

Microbial Mystery in Cave of Crystals

Though the calling card of the horseshoe-shaped Cave of Crystals may be its massive mineral formations, some of its biggest surprises are literally microscopic.

In 2008 a team of scientists, including New Mexico Tech's Boston, investigated the cave and found microbial life living in tiny air pockets in the crystals.

In December 2009 Boston returned to the cave with another team. From pools of water that hadn't been present during her first trip, the scientists collected bacteria as well as viruses that prey on the bacteria—something that was suspected but had not been confirmed on the first expedition.

Viruses, after all, are among the "primary predators of bacteria," explained Danielle Winget, a biologist at the University of British Columbia, in the new documentary.

Sure enough, the team found as many as 200 million viruses in a single drop of Cave of Crystals water.

But the virus finding was perhaps not the expedition's most surprising microbial discovery. Analysis of bacterial DNA from the Cave of Crystals showed that the tiny life-forms are related to microbes living in other extreme environments around the world, including caves in South Africa and Australia as well as hydrothermal vents (video).

"We're picking up these patterns of similarities in places that are geographically widely separated," Boston said.

That similarity and separation adds up to a mystery, according to Curtis Suttle, a biologist at University of British Columbia and a member of the 2009 Cave of Crystals expedition.

"We don't really understand how it is that the organisms in a hydrothermal vent in Greece or a deep gold mine in South Africa are related to organisms that we find in a subsurface cave" at Naica, Suttle said.

"It's hard to imagine some kind of underground [network] connecting South Africa with Mexico."

Alien Underworlds

As mind-boggling as the idea of a possibly globe-spanning, underground bacterial network may be, some scientists see potential links between the Cave of Crystals and even farther-flung hot spots—for example, extreme environments on Mars and other worlds.

Though Martian geology might be more static overall than Earth's, "there may be residual pockets of geothermal activity that could provide a zone where water could be liquid and where chemically reduced gases from below can percolate up and act as a nutrient source," as in the Cave of Crystals, Boston said.

Poirier, the Ontario astrophysicist, agreed.

"For Mars, our best bet of finding life is to look underground," Poirier said. "So there are a lot of parallels between humans exploring subterranean caves looking for microbes and Martian exploration in the future."

If the caves on Mars are anything like the caverns beneath Naica mountain, she said, future Martian explorers will have to be trained to ignore the strange sights surrounding them.

"When you're in the caves, you're overwhelmed by the [harsh] conditions, but you're also overwhelmed by the beauty, and it's really hard to maintain your focus," she said.

Even if scalding water submerges that beauty tomorrow, Boston said, the caves' scientific potential should live on, thanks to the multitude of samples already collected.

"My usual rule of thumb is for every hour you spend in the field, you spend at least a thousand hours on analysis," Boston said. "So we've got our hands full."




Scientists rest in a cooling tent at an underground base camp outside the Cave of Crystals. That cavern's combination of 90 percent humidity and a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) can kill an unprepared human in just 30 minutes.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:08 AM   #1293
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Sugar-powered biobattery has 10 times the energy storage of lithium: Your smartphone might soon run on enzymes



As you probably know, from sucking down cans of Coke and masticating on candy, sugar — glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose — is an excellent source of energy. Biologically speaking, sugar molecules are energy-dense, easy to transport, and cheap to digest. There is a reason why almost every living cell on Earth generates its energy (ATP) from glucose. Now, researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully created a sugar-powered fuel cell that has an energy storage density of 596 amp-hours per kilo — or “one order of magnitude” higher than lithium-ion batteries. This fuel cell is refillable with a solution of maltodextrin, and its only by products are electricity and water. The chief researcher, Y.H. Percival Zhang, says the tech could be commercialized in as soon as three years.

Now, it’s not exactly news that sugar is an excellent energy source. As a culture we’ve probably known about it since before we were Homo sapiens. The problem is, unless you’re a living organism or some kind of incendiary device, extracting that energy is difficult. In nature, an enzymatic pathway is used — a production line of tailor-made enzymes that meddle with the glucose molecules until they become ATP. Because it’s easy enough to produce enzymes in large quantities, researchers have tried to create fuel cells that use artificial “metabolism” to break down glucose into electricity (biobatteries), but it has historically proven very hard to find the right pathway for maximum efficiency and to keep the enzymes in the right place over a long period of time.

Now, however, Zhang and friends at Virginia Tech appear to have built a high-density fuel cell that uses an enzymatic pathway to create a lot of electricity from glucose. There doesn’t seem to be much information on how stable this biobattery is over multiple refills, but if Zhang thinks it could be commercialized in three years, that’s a very good sign. Curiously, the research paper says that the enzymes are non-immobilized — meaning Zhang found a certain battery chemistry that doesn’t require the enzymes to be kept in place… or, alternatively, that it will only work for a very short time.

The Virginia Tech biobattery uses 13 enzymes, plus air (it’s an air-breathing biobattery), to produce nearly 24 electrons from a single glucose unit. This equates to a power output of 0.8 mW/cm, current density of 6 mA/cm, and energy storage density of 596 Ah/kg. This last figure is impressive, at roughly 10 times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries in your mobile devices. [Research paper: doi:10.1038/ncomms4026 - "A high-energy-density sugar biobattery based on a synthetic enzymatic pathway"]

If Zhang’s biobatteries pan out, you might soon be recharging your smartphone by pouring in a solution of 15% maltodextrin. That battery would not only be very safe (it produces water and electricity), but very cheap to run and very green. This seems to fit in perfectly with Zhang’s homepage, which talks about how his main goals in life are replacing crude oil with sugar, and feeding the world.

The other area in which biobatteries might be useful is powering implanted devices, such as pacemakers — or, in the future, subcutaneous sensors and computers. Such a biobattery could feed on the glucose in your bloodstream, providing an endless supply of safe electricity for the myriad implants that futuristic technocrats will surely have.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:52 PM   #1294
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Did anybody else see Bill Nye take Ken Ham to the woodshed last night via the topic of Evolution vs Creationism?

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I'm just saying there's all sorts of shit i could be doing! I could watch a movie, play a video game, rub one out, read a book, learn a foreign language, etc.. But i'm still watching the assholes because i love them, and I hate myself
- On watching the Royals.
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:06 PM   #1295
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post
Did anybody else see Bill Nye take Ken Ham to the woodshed last night via the topic of Evolution vs Creationism?

its been all over the internet.


Nye destroyed him.

Not that its hard :/
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:00 PM   #1296
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hometeam View Post
its been all over the internet.


Nye destroyed him.

Not that its hard :/
Depends on who you're friends with on Facebook. I have more than one lunatic and when I first saw some postings this morning I was lead to believe that Mr. Nye threw a curse filled tantrum and gave up.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:15 PM   #1297
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Truth > superstition.

Fact.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:21 PM   #1298
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiveturkey View Post
Depends on who you're friends with on Facebook. I have more than one lunatic and when I first saw some postings this morning I was lead to believe that Mr. Nye threw a curse filled tantrum and gave up.
Link?

You know how I know Nye won? There's no thread about it in DC.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:28 PM   #1299
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lane View Post
Link?

You know how I know Nye won? There's no thread about it in DC.
I'm not digging back through the comments.

I'd love to see more debates like this.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:54 PM   #1300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiveturkey View Post
Depends on who you're friends with on Facebook. I have more than one lunatic and when I first saw some postings this morning I was lead to believe that Mr. Nye threw a curse filled tantrum and gave up.
No, Nye didn't throw a curse filled tantrum. He never even cursed or lost his composure in any way.

I thought he pretty clearly won the debate. Ham didn't really try and put forth any evidence at all.

Plus, when Pat Roberts essentially says quit talking crazy, you're making the rest of us look bad, it's a pretty good indicator as to who won...

Quote:
Pat Robertson responded to the recent debate between Young Earth creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye, a.k.a. “The Science Guy,” by reiterating his disagreement with Ham’s form of creationism.

“Let’s face it,” Robertson said, “there was a Bishop [Ussher] who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years.”

“There ain’t no way that’s possible,” he continued. “To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.”

“Let’s be real, let’s not make a joke of ourselves.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/0...e-of-ourselves
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:55 PM   #1301
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Here's a good, yet slightly biased, recap of the debate:

http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/bill-n...s-and-who-won/
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:01 PM   #1302
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish View Post
Sugar-powered biobattery has 10 times the energy storage of lithium: Your smartphone might soon run on enzymes



As you probably know, from sucking down cans of Coke and masticating on candy, sugar — glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose — is an excellent source of energy. Biologically speaking, sugar molecules are energy-dense, easy to transport, and cheap to digest. There is a reason why almost every living cell on Earth generates its energy (ATP) from glucose. Now, researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully created a sugar-powered fuel cell that has an energy storage density of 596 amp-hours per kilo — or “one order of magnitude” higher than lithium-ion batteries. This fuel cell is refillable with a solution of maltodextrin, and its only by products are electricity and water. The chief researcher, Y.H. Percival Zhang, says the tech could be commercialized in as soon as three years.

Now, it’s not exactly news that sugar is an excellent energy source. As a culture we’ve probably known about it since before we were Homo sapiens. The problem is, unless you’re a living organism or some kind of incendiary device, extracting that energy is difficult. In nature, an enzymatic pathway is used — a production line of tailor-made enzymes that meddle with the glucose molecules until they become ATP. Because it’s easy enough to produce enzymes in large quantities, researchers have tried to create fuel cells that use artificial “metabolism” to break down glucose into electricity (biobatteries), but it has historically proven very hard to find the right pathway for maximum efficiency and to keep the enzymes in the right place over a long period of time.

Now, however, Zhang and friends at Virginia Tech appear to have built a high-density fuel cell that uses an enzymatic pathway to create a lot of electricity from glucose. There doesn’t seem to be much information on how stable this biobattery is over multiple refills, but if Zhang thinks it could be commercialized in three years, that’s a very good sign. Curiously, the research paper says that the enzymes are non-immobilized — meaning Zhang found a certain battery chemistry that doesn’t require the enzymes to be kept in place… or, alternatively, that it will only work for a very short time.

The Virginia Tech biobattery uses 13 enzymes, plus air (it’s an air-breathing biobattery), to produce nearly 24 electrons from a single glucose unit. This equates to a power output of 0.8 mW/cm, current density of 6 mA/cm, and energy storage density of 596 Ah/kg. This last figure is impressive, at roughly 10 times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries in your mobile devices. [Research paper: doi:10.1038/ncomms4026 - "A high-energy-density sugar biobattery based on a synthetic enzymatic pathway"]

If Zhang’s biobatteries pan out, you might soon be recharging your smartphone by pouring in a solution of 15% maltodextrin. That battery would not only be very safe (it produces water and electricity), but very cheap to run and very green. This seems to fit in perfectly with Zhang’s homepage, which talks about how his main goals in life are replacing crude oil with sugar, and feeding the world.

The other area in which biobatteries might be useful is powering implanted devices, such as pacemakers — or, in the future, subcutaneous sensors and computers. Such a biobattery could feed on the glucose in your bloodstream, providing an endless supply of safe electricity for the myriad implants that futuristic technocrats will surely have.

You sure as hell won't be using your cell phone very long in NYC if Bloomberg hears about this...
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:13 PM   #1303
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Creationists send messages to people who believe in evolution

Sample image from the 22 of them

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHENZ A! View Post
I'm just saying there's all sorts of shit i could be doing! I could watch a movie, play a video game, rub one out, read a book, learn a foreign language, etc.. But i'm still watching the assholes because i love them, and I hate myself
- On watching the Royals.
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Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.Shogun has enough rep power to blowy ou to bits.
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:15 PM   #1304
Beef Supreme Beef Supreme is online now
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Yeah, this thread is generally pretty cool. So why don't we keep the creation vs evolution debate in the DC thread that already exists.
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Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Beef Supreme has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:52 PM   #1305
ChiefRocka ChiefRocka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post
Wrong use of there, there.
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ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.ChiefRocka Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.
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