Like a hit-and-run driver who races from the scene of a crash, the interstellar guest known as ’Oumuamua has bolted out of the solar system, leaving confusion in its wake. Early measurements seemed to indicate that it was an asteroid—a dry rock much like those found orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Then by this past summer, astronomers largely came around to the conclusion that it was instead a comet—an icy body knocked out of the distant reaches of a far-off planetary system. Quanta Magazine About Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Now a new analysis has found inconsistencies in this conclusion, suggesting that ’Oumuamua may not be a comet after all. Whether it’s actually a comet or an asteroid, one thing … [Read more...] about ‘Oumuamua Was Neither Comet nor Asteroid…So What Was It?
Janet Mcconnaughey, Associated Press Updated 2:38 pm PDT, Saturday, October 20, 2018 Bob Thomas is photographed during Science Day at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Barataria Unit on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 in Marrero, La. Thomas was honored by having one of three newly identified species of snakes from the Galapagos Islands named after him. He is an environmental biologist and head of the Center for Environmental Communication at Loyola University New Orleans. He says he has a picture of the snake on his wall and it makes him smile every time he looks at it. It's called Pseudalsophis thomasi. less Bob Thomas is photographed during Science Day at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Barataria Unit on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 in Marrero, La. Thomas was honored by having one of three ... more Photo: Janet McConnaughey, AP … [Read more...] about Snake names honor Darwin, fire god, Louisiana professor
The Cambodian city of Angkor was once the largest in the world... then the vast majority of its inhabitants suddenly decamped in the 15th century to a region near the modern city of Phnom Penh. Historians have put forth several theories about why this mass exodus occurred. A new paper in Science Advances argues that one major contributing factor was an overloaded water distribution system, exacerbated by extreme swings in the climate.Further ReadingHow archaeologists found the lost medieval megacity of Angkor Angkor dates back to around 802 CE. Its vast network of canals, moats, embankments, and reservoirs developed over the next 600 years, helping distribute vital water resources for such uses as irrigation and to help control occasional flooding. By the end of the 11th century, the system bore all the features of a complex network, with thousands of interconnected individual components heavily dependent on each other. Such a configuration, hovering at or near the so-called critical … [Read more...] about Climate stress likely contributed to fall of Angkor in 15th century
Today we’re presenting the fourth and final installment of my conversation with the outspoken author, podcaster, philosopher, and recovering neuroscientist Sam Harris. Please check out parts one, two, and three if you missed them. Otherwise, you can press play on the embedded audio player or pull up the transcript, both of which are below. Further ReadingArs on your lunch break: Let’s talk about religion, politics, guns, and privacyWe open today’s conversation by talking about bioterrorism. Because that’s not uplifting enough, we then move on the dangers a super AI could present in certain worst-case scenarios (which was the topic of a popular TED talk of Harris'). This conversation builds on yesterday’s cheerful discussion of nuclear terrorism. The final part of the podcast is a conversation between me and podcasting superstar Tom Merritt. In it, Merritt and I discuss my interview with Harris—as well as a chunk of my novel After On. This section … [Read more...] about Ars on your lunch break: Theaterwide biotoxic and chemical warfare
With the price of photovoltaics having plunged dramatically, solar is likely to become a major contributor to the electrical generating mix in many countries. But the intermittent nature of photovoltaics could put a limit on how much they contribute to future grids or force us to develop massive storage capabilities. But photovoltaics aren't the only solar technology out there. Concentrated solar power uses mirrors to focus the Sun's light, providing heat that can be used to drive turbines. Advances in heat storage mean that the technology can now generate power around the clock, essentially integrating storage into the process of producing energy. Unfortunately, the price of concentrated solar hasn't budged much, and photovoltaics have left it in the dust. But some materials scientists may have figured out a way to boost concentrated solar's efficiency considerably, clawing back some of photovoltaics' advantage. Feel the heat Solar thermal revolves around transfers of heat. Sunlight … [Read more...] about New material could up efficiency of concentrated solar power