Science Channel - InSCIder

11 Jul

Dry Ice, Not Liquid Water, Formed Gullies On Mars, NASA Says

PIA18400_ipImages taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that dry ice and not liquid water formed gullies on the surface of Mars.

"As recently as five years ago, I thought the gullies on Mars indicated activity of liquid water," said researcher Colin Dundas, of the U.S. Geological Survey, in a statement. "We were able to get many more observations, and as we started to see more activity and pin down the timing of gully formation and change, we saw that the activity is in winter."

Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) is abundant on the red planet, NASA says.

According to the new report, "all of the fresh-appearing gullies seen on Mars can be attributed to processes currently underway, whereas earlier hypotheses suggested they formed thousands to millions of years ago when climate conditions were possibly conducive to liquid water on Mars."

This 2013 video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrates what happens when dry ice meets sand dunes.

Here's a closer look at the search for signs of water on Mars:

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10 Jul

410-Million-Year-Old Arachnid Brought Back to Life in Extraordinary New Video

A 410-million-year-old relative of modern-day spiders crawls again in a remarkable new video from scientists at The University of Manchester and Berlin's Museum für Naturkunde.

The team used fossils to recreate the ancient arachnid's movements on open-source software; the creature is now extinct but "300 to 400 million years ago, seem to have been more widespread than spiders," palaeontologist Dr. Russell Garwood said in a statement.

Watch the arachnid in action:

If this arachnid were still living today, might it face off with the ogre-faced spider? We can only speculate...

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9 Jul

Voyager 1 Hit By 'Tsunami Waves' From The Sun

PIA17462_ipEven in interstellar space, Voyager 1 can hear the sounds of the sun. NASA reports the craft has been hit by "tsunami waves" emanating the sun, the third time this has been detected since 2012.

"The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing," mission specialist Ed Stone said in a release.

"The tsunami wave rings the plasma like a bell," said Stone. "While the plasma wave instrument lets us measure the frequency of this ringing, the cosmic ray instrument reveals what struck the bell -- the shock wave from the sun."

Launched on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1 has been hurtling away from Earth for nearly 37 years.

Tonight's season premiere of How the Universe Works probes the inner workings of the sun, so, what does the sun sounds like?

How the Universe returns TONIGHT at 9/8c, followed by a new episode of Through the Wormhole that asks the provocative question, "Will we become God?"

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8 Jul

Your Car Could Soon Run on Green Fuel -- Literally

As gas prices rise, your thoughts may begin to turn to alternate fuel sources that are less costly to both your wallet and the environment.

Introducing, algae fuel.

Tonight on World's Strangest, take a closer look at this green energy source that could change the way we get around.

Algae "could potentially produce up to 60 times more oil per acre than land-based plants," according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, meaning we'd get a lot more bang for our buck (i.e., get more oil from a smaller space).

Here's how it works:

World's Strangest airs TONIGHT at 8/7c on Science Channel

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7 Jul

Chimpanzees and Humans Have Something Big in Common: We Both Hunt and Eat Meat

Humans share over 90 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees and we share something else too: chimps and humans are the only "higher primates" that hunt and eat meat.

Mutant Planet returns tonight at 10/9c on Science Channel with a look at the unique creatures that call Africa home. The show opens by exploring the predator-prey relationship between red colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. Chimps love eating fruit and plants but, sometimes, they also have a taste for meat -- and red colobus are their favorite prey.

Recent research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that adult male chimpanzees regularly eat meat, although the bulk of the chimp diet comes from plants.

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3 Jul

'Our Flag Was Still There': American Flags Still Flying On Moon

As Americans head into a long weekend in observance of Independence Day, we're remembering the six American flags planted on the moon. But, decades later, are those flags still flying?

A 2012 report from NASA says that despite theories to the contrary, all but one of the flags are still standing:

"Combined with knowledge of the Apollo site maps which show where the flag was erected relative to the Lander, long shadows cast by the flags at three sites  - Apollo 12, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 - show that the these flags  are still 'flying,' held aloft by the poles."

The flags may not still display the stars and stripes, however:

"All Moon and material experts have no doubt about it: the flags are now completely white. If you leave a flag on Earth for 43 years, it would be almost completely faded. On the Moon, with no atmospheric protection whatsoever, that process happens a lot faster. The stars and stripes disappeared from our Moon flags quite some time ago."

On this Independence Day weekend, here's a look back at the historic moment in 1969 humans first landed on the moon and planted an American flag to mark the moment:

The next Apollo mission, Apollo 12, had adventures of its own before even leaving Earth's orbit -- and things only got stranger once the crew was in space.

WATCH:

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2 Jul

Bad News For Bigfoot Believers, But Another Mystery Awaits

139958598861414503300601197_SurvivormanBigfoot_EP2_3Sorry, Bigfoot believers: DNA testing of hair purportedly belonging to Bigfoot has revealed that the found follicles actually come from more commonplace creatures like bears, wolves and and humans.

The study was published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This doesn't mean there's not other evidence out there, our friends at DNews note:

"The study solely focused on hair samples, and did not address the footprints, photographs, recorded sounds and other “evidence” purportedly linked to Bigfoot, the Yeti and similar supposedly human-like creatures."

Also, another mystery was borne from the genetic testing: some hairs linked to a "Yeti" were found to belong to an unknown species of bear.

"The paper refers to two Himalayan samples attributed to yetis and which turned out to be related to an ancient polar bear," lead author Bryan Sykes told DNews. "This may be the source of the legend in the Himalayas."

When Survivorman Les Stroud went looking for Bigfoot, he found some unusual footprints. Are these signs that Bigfoot is out there?

Looking for more mysteries? Tonight's Through the Wormhole (10/9c on Science Channel) asks a provocative question: "Is gravity an illusion?"

Here's a sneak peek:

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1 Jul

What Are The Odds Of A Massive Asteroid Hitting Earth?

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.04.35 AMCould a collision with a giant asteroid wipe out life on Earth?

On tonight's season finale of "Alien Encounters," that's the quandary facing Earthlings as a virtual reality simulator sees a huge object hurtling through space toward Earth.

NASA's Near Earth Object Program tracks the risk of objects from space colliding with Earth (it's been calculated that your odds of being killed by an asteroid impact are 1 in 700,000), but a 2013 article in Nature claims that the "risk of [a massive asteroid] hitting our planet may be ten times larger than previously thought."

Reporter Quirin Schiermeier writes:

"Of the millions of estimated near-Earth asteroids 10–20 metres in diameter, only about 500 have been catalogued. Models suggest that an object the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid hits Earth once every 150 years on average, [planetary scientist Peter] Brown says. But the number of observed impacts exceeding 1 kiloton of TNT over the past 20 years alone hints at an actual impact risk that may be an order of magnitude larger than previously assumed, Brown and his co-workers show in their study."

One asteroid causing panic among starwatchers was Asteroid 2013 TV135, which buzzed Earth in 2013 and could return in 2032.

"Asteroid 2013 TV135 Could Hit Earth In 2032, Says Ukrainan Observatory," one headline trumpted.

Are we actually in danger?

Almost certainly not. NASA puts "the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent"; in other words, there's less than a .0021 percent chance the asteroid will hit Earth.

So, are asteroids a threat to Earth?

Here, Dr. Michio Kaku explains his solution should an asteroid threaten our planet.

Be sure to watch "Alien Encounters" TONIGHT at 10/9c on Science Channel.

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30 Jun

5 Facts You Didn't Know About Fireworks, Just In Time For July 4th

We're just days away from Independence Day and Americans from Washington, D.C. to Washington State are preparing for star-spangled celebrations.

Whether you spend July 4th at a backyard barbecue or celebrate America in a big city, it wouldn't be the Fourth of July without some fantastic fireworks. Here are five facts you may not have known about fireworks and why we use them to celebrate Independence Day.

1) The first fireworks were created about 2,200 years ago in China, where the fiery bamboo was thought to frighten evil spirits.

2) It was Founding Father John Adams' idea to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote that the first American Independence Day should be celebrated "with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

3) On January 1, 2014, Dubai set a world record for the largest-ever fireworks display: "The history-making performance saw 479,651 shells fired in just six minutes on New Year's Eve, at a rate of almost 80K shells per minute and 1,332 fireworks per second."

4) In 2011, Americans spent more than $649 million on backyard fireworks.

5) Fireworks have even been set off in Antarctica; in 1934, American explorer Richard Byrd and his team "set off fireworks in a storm when the temperature was actually quite warm for them -- 33 degrees below zero."

Craving something more extreme than your typical hometown fireworks?

Sledgehammer + fireworks = one epic explosion. (Don't try this at home.)

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27 Jun

This Is How Astronauts Settle A World Cup Bet

We know that astronauts love the World Cup, just like us, but when there are two Americans and one German living aboard the International Space Station, it's only natural a little light-hearted ribbing will take place.

In the case of Americans Reid Wiseman and Steve Swanson, and German Alexander Gerst, head-shaving was part of a World Cup bet during Thursday's match between the United States and Germany.

After Germany defeated the U.S. 1-0, Gerst shaved his crewmates' heads:

At least Wiseman has a sense of humor about it!

"This is why you shouldn’t make bets," Swanson joked on Instagram.

If the United States had won, the Americans would have painted an American flag on Gerst's bald head.

Hey, at least Gerst used an electric razor and not a straight razor -- yikes!

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