Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Coming Soon: Smart Textiles

Laser printed wearable smart fabrics have a range of potential applications from monitoring vital signs of patients, to tracking the location and health status of soldiers, and monitoring pilots or drivers for fatigue.

Dr. Litty Thekkakara, a researcher in RMIT's School of Science in Melbourne, Australia, said smart textiles with built-in sensing, wireless communication or health monitoring technology called for robust and reliable energy solutions.

"Current approaches to smart textile energy storage, like stitching batteries into garments or using e-fibres, can be cumbersome and heavy, and can also have capacity issues," Thekkakara said.

Thekkakara and a team from RMIT University have developed a cost-efficient and scaleable method for rapidly fabricating textiles that are embedded with energy storage devices.

In just three minutes, the method can produce a 10x10cm smart textile patch that's waterproof, stretchable and readily integrated with energy harvesting technologies.

The technology enables graphene supercapacitors -- powerful and long-lasting energy storage devices that are easily combined with solar or other sources of power -- to be laser printed directly onto textiles.

Read more here.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Egyptian Glass in Ancient Nordic Graves

A glass bead found in a 3400-year old Nordic grave came from ancient Egypt.
Credit: Roberto Fortuna and Kira Ursem

Around the time that Moses lived, Egyptians and Mesopotamians were engaged in trade with Scandinavian peoples. Discovery of glass beads found in Nordic Bronze Age tombs proves that there were established trade routes between the far north and Levant as early as the 13th century BC.

Twenty-three of the glass beads found in Danish Bronze Age burials by the team of Danish and French archaeologists were blue, a rare color in ancient times.

One of the blue glass beads was found with a Bronze Age woman buried in Olby, Denmark, in a hollowed oak coffin wearing a sun disc. Among the R1b populations, the sun was the symbol of the High God and royal persons.

The analysis showed that the blue beads buried with the women originated from the same glass workshop in Amarna that adorned King Tutankhamun at his funeral in 1323 BC.

This map shows the dispersion of Haplogroup R1b populations. King Tut's Y-DNA has been identified as R1b.

Of special interest is an elaborate glass bead with amber embedding. It
appears to be from the royal workshop that made the blue beads buried with Tutankhamun.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fresh Water Aquifers in the Atlantic

Fresh water was discovered at 800 meters below the surface in two small canyons on the continental slope outside Lofoten, Norway.

"When we the found fresh water leaking from the seabed, we were very surprised," explains marine geologist Wei-Li Hong at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

The leakage likely originated from a large pocket of fresh water, otherwise known as an aquifer, hidden beneath the sediment of the seabed, a remnant of the last Ice Age. The thick ice caps that enveloped Norway pushed down on the crust of the Earth with tremendous force, squeezing large amounts of melt water down through cracks in the seabed.

Scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts recently found fresh water in the Atlantic Ocean along the east coast of the United States. The large aquifer extends along the eastern coast of the US from the southern tip of New Jersey to the northern end of Massachusetts.

Marine geologist Jochen Knies reports, "It’s the exact same phenomenon that we have here in Norway."  Knies is the NGU project manager.

Read more here.

Monday, August 19, 2019

France's Wattway is a Design Failure

Getty Images

France's Wattway is a solar roadway that was built outside Tourouvre-au-Perch in Normandy in 2016. It has proven to be an expensive failure. The 1 kilometer (less than 1 mile) road in Normandy cost 5 million Euros to build, which is around 5.5 million US dollars for a single lane of a two-lane highway!

The solar roadway has a photovoltaic surface constructed from panels with a silicon resin used to protect the driving surface. The designer, a company called Colas, claimed it would stand up to a heavy trucks and tractors, but farm trucks and tractors have caused the silicon layer to flake and crack, damaging the delicate solar panels underneath.

There is also the problem of noise pollution when traffic passes on the road. The noise is so loud that the local government has limited traffic to just 70 kilometers per hour (around 43 miles per hour) to cut down on the sound.

The Wattway also is a failure at generating solar energy. According to the designers of the system, it was meant to capture 790 kilowatt-hours per day. That sounds good, but that part of Normandy averages only around 44 days of strong sunlight per year; too little to reach the designer's anticipated levels of energy.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Francis Collins Marks Ten Years as NIH Director

In June 2017, the White House announced that Francis Sellers Collins would remain NIH director. This month Collins completes a decade as director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Collins, 69, is one of a few top-level holdovers from the Obama's administration, and he has served longer than any other NIH head in 50 years. Collins has been influential in shaping NIH, with a budget of $39 billion this year, making it the world's largest biomedical research agency.

Francis Collins is an American physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project. Under his direction the the Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed in April 2003.This was an international research effort to sequence and map all of the genes of members of Homo sapiens. With this data, scientists are now able to read the complete genetic blueprint for humans.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Censorship of Unpopular Scientific Theories

This week Forbes removed an article about the climate theory of the Israeli-American astrophysicist Nir Shaviv, stating "After review, this post has been removed for failing to meet our editorial standards."

Professor Shaviv commented on this, saying:
"A few days ago I was interviewed by Doron Levin, for an article to appear online on After having seen a draft (to make sure that I am quoted correctly), I told him good luck with getting it published, as I doubted it will. Why? Because a year ago I was interviewed by a reporter working for Bloomberg, while the cities of San Francisco and Oakland were deliberating a climate change lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil (which the latter won!), only to find out that their editorial board decided that it is inappropriate to publish an interview with a heretic like me. Doron’s reply was to assure me that Forbes’ current model of the publication online allows relative freedom with 'relatively little interference from editors'. Yeah Sure."
When pressed about this, Dr. Shaviv added, "Well, the official reason is that it 'fails to meet our editorial standards'. Do you really expect them to admit 'because we were pressured by alarmists'?"

Clearly, censorship happens, and it appears that global warming alarmists are blocking solid science and even solid legislation. Consider what happened when the Kansas legislature attempted to pass a bill calling for objectivity in Science education in the Kansas public schools.

House Bill 2306 said teachers will “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis” and encourages the “teaching of such scientific controversies to be made in an objective manner.”

The bill failed. Jane Orient, M.D., president of Physicians for Civil Defense, noted that the Kansas public schools generally do not teach climate science, but she fears that the theory of catastrophic global warming due to human activity has become the ideological king of the mountain. Dr. Orient said, "This alarmism resembles religious dogma."

There are good reasons to push for objectivity in climate science. It is complex and scientists do not agree on all the factors and mechanisms affecting climate. Climate science, as with all science, requires objectivity.

Here we will give Dr. Nir Shaviv a fair hearing. Listen to this 22-minute summary of his theory on global warming.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Hubble Catches Jupiter's Vibrant Colors

New Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

A new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere.

The colorful bands of ammonia clouds, which flow in opposite directions at various latitudes, result from different atmospheric pressures. Lighter bands rise higher and have thicker clouds than the darker bands.

The Great Red Spot is a towering structure, whose upper haze layer extends more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) higher than clouds in other areas. The gigantic ovoid structure, with a diameter slightly larger than Earth's, is a high-pressure wind system called an anticyclone that has been slowly downsizing since the 1800s. The reason for this change in size is still unknown.

In recent months observers have seen some changes in the Red Spot, described as "flaking." However, the data indicates that the Spot is not going to disappear any time soon. Its position has never shifted. Twin jet streams that circle the planet in opposite directions lock the storm in place.

Observations of Jupiter have come a long way from the early days of the planet's exploration. On October 18, 1989 the space probe Galileo, named after Galileo Galilei, was launched to study the planet Jupiter. The space probe orbited Jupiter 35 times then in 2003 was terminated by sending it into Jupiter's atmosphere at a speed of over 48 kilometers per second (30 mi/s), eliminating the possibility of contaminating local moons with Earth bacteria.

The Galileo probe took close-ups on Jupiter’s rings and found evidence that its icy moons might hold atmosphere.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Liquid Magnets?

Three permanently magnetized liquid droplets floating in oil. As they spin in response to a rotating magnetic field, their activity wraps orange dye around themselves. (X. LIU ET AL/SCIENCE 2019)

Some liquids contain particles that can become magnetized when placed in a magnetic field. However, the orientation of their magnetic poles tends to get jumbled as soon as the magnetic field goes away. At this point, the liquid no longer is magnetic.

Thomas Russell, a polymer scientist, and his colleagues added certain polymers to the droplets’ recipe which allowed them to make permanently magnetized droplets. Such magnetic drops could be used to build soft robots. They might also be used in ingested capsules that doctors could use to direct the medicine to targeted cells.

Read more about liquid reconfigurable ferromagnetic materials here.