tech e blog

Comet Landing

Photo credit: Dailymail

Philae successfully landed on comet 67P today at 3:30pm GMT, making it the first craft in history to land on a comet. The probe separated from the Rosetta spacecraft approximately 7-hours earlier after spending 10-years in space. ESA director says: "It's a big step for human civilization. Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured another place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a probe to a comet's surface." Continue reading for the 13 things you may not know.

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Vesuvian Fire Ammonium Dichromate

Ammonium dichromate is commonly known as Vesuvian Fire, because of its use in demonstrations of tabletop "volcanoes". In today's world, it's used in pyrotechnics, but previously, photography. In this compound, as in all chromates and dichromates, chromium is in a +6 oxidation state, commonly known as hexavalent chromium. It is a salt consisting of ammonium ions and dichromate ions. Continue reading for five mind-blowing videos.

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Graphene Aerogel

ZheJiang University researchers in China demonstrate graphene aerogel by placing the extremely light substance on a flower. Professor Gao Chao created this by using a new freeze-drying method that involved freeze-drying solutions of carbon nanotubes and graphene to form a carbon sponge that can be arbitrarily adjusted to any shape. The final result is a very strong and extremely elastic material that can also absorb up to 900 times its own weight in oil - one gram of aerogel can absorb up to 68.8 grams of organics per second, making it perfect for mopping up oil spills at sea. Continue reading for more.

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Amazing Opal

These are not from alien worlds, just opals mined here on Earth. The opal is basically a hydrated amorphous form of silica, and its water content may range from 3% - 21%. They are deposited at a relatively low temperature and may occur in the fissures of almost any kind of rock, being most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl and basalt. Australia produces 97% of the world's supply, and the internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed, it can take on many colors. Click here to view the first image in this week's funny work pictures gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of an energetic dog teaching a baby how to bounce, or is just trying to pounce on a shadow.

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Stranger Visions DNA

After seeing this, you may think twice before spitting out a piece of gum or dropping a cigarette butt. For information artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg' Stranger Visions project, she collects DNA samples from discarded objects found on the street - like hair, nails, cigarette butts, chewing gum, etc. - and extracts the DNA from them to create a 3D face model. Continue reading for more pictures and information.

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Sonic Boom Volcano

Mount Tavurvur, a volcano in Papua New Guinea, erupted this past August 29, spewing ash and causing a shock wave and resulting sonic boom. Phil McNamara, while in a boat near the New Guinea coast, caught the initial explosion of a volcano. Mount Tavurvur is known as a rather active volcano, one that caused many deaths and covered a nearby town in ash in 1994. Continue reading for the video and more information.

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Nanoflower

This may look like a rose, but it's actually a self-assembling nanostructure designed to look like one by researchers at Harvard University. These were made using a solution of chemicals and minerals, with some of the structures being smaller than the width of a human hair. Practical users are in the optics and engineering fields. They started with flowers, stems and vases because these shapes are the to start with. By simply changing the temperature, pH, and carbon dioxide content of the chemical solutions, the scientists were able to manipulate and control the growth of the structures. Continue reading for more.

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Moonquake

We all know about earthquakes, but did you know that moonquakes also exist? That's right, they were first discovered by the Apollo astronauts. Moonquakes are much weaker than the largest earthquakes, though they can last for up to an hour, due to the lack of water to dampen seismic vibrations. Information about moonquakes comes from seismometers placed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts from 1969 through 1972. The instruments placed by the Apollo 12, 14, 15 and 16 functioned perfectly until they were switched off in 1977. The first three kinds of moonquakes mentioned above tend to be mild; however, shallow moonquakes can register up to 5.5 on the Richter scale. Between 1972 and 1977, twenty-eight shallow moonquakes were observed. On Earth, quakes of magnitude 4.5 and above can cause damage to buildings and other rigid structures. Continue reading for more.

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Glass Frog

The glass frog (above) are primarily lime green, and the abdominal skin of some members of this family is translucent. The heart, liver, and gastrointestinal tract, are visible through this translucent skin, hence the common name. They live along rivers and streams during the breeding season, and are particularly diverse in montane cloud forests of Central and South America, although some species occur also in Amazon and Chocoan rainforest and semi-deciduous forests. Continue reading for more transparent animals that have not been Photoshopped.

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False Sunrise

What you're looking at above is not a real sunrise, but rather a dawn sundog, which refers to particular kind of ice crystal halo. This atmospheric optical phenomenon is associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds in the very particular case when the sun is still below the horizon. The spread light of a false sunrise has less power than that of a real sun, but sometimes is amazingly similar in its visual behavior at distance. It is similar to a subsun, except that in a false sunrise the sun is below the horizon and the ice crystals are above it. Continue reading for more.

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