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Two Female Astronauts Are Making History

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed Friday with spacewalk No. 421.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station before 8 a.m. ET Friday and will spend over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.

The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far for it to reach.

The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.

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The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.

The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.

All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during Friday’s spacewalk.

The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.

Koch and Meir will have some time left over during their extravehicular activity, or EVA, to finish additional tasks like hardware installations for the European Space Agency.

The planned EVA comes almost seven months since the first all-female spacewalk was canceled due to a lack of properly sized spacesuits for astronauts Koch and Anne McClain. Astronaut Nick Hague ended up joining Koch instead.

But this time, the right spacesuit hardware is in place.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history months after the first all-female spacewalk was supposed to take place with Anne McClain. USA TODAY

NASA, meanwhile, is asking schoolteachers to share photos of their students celebrating “HERstory in the making.” The pictures could be featured on the spacewalk broadcast.

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Russia holds claim to the first spacewalk in 1965 and also the first spacewalk by a woman in 1984. The U.S. trailed by a few months in each instance.

As of Thursday, men dominated the spacewalking field, 213 to 14.

Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last month, will be the 15th female spacewalker. Koch, an electrical engineer, is seven months into an 11-month spaceflight that will be the longest by a woman.

Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida TodayAssociated Press

Source: Two female astronauts are making history. How to watch NASA’s first all-female spacewalk

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Watch as NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir prepare tools necessary for their spacewalk duties outside of the International Space Station. Watch the Spacewalk Live https://www.space.com/first-all-femal… Credit: NASA

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Scientists Weighed All The Mass In The Milky Way Galaxy It’s Mind Boggling

Something weird is happening in our galaxy: It’s spinning fast enough that stars ought to be flying off, but there’s something holding them together.

The substance that acts as a gravitational glue is dark matter. Yet it’s incredibly mysterious: Because it doesn’t emit light, no one has ever directly seen it. And no one knows what it’s made of, though there are plenty of wild hypotheses.

For our galaxy — and most others — to remain stable, physicists believe there’s much, much more dark matter in the universe than regular matter. But how much?

Recently astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia star map attempted to calculate the mass of the entire Milky Way galaxy.

It’s not an easy thing to do. For one, it’s difficult to measure the mass of something we’re inside of. The Milky Way galaxy measures some 258,000 light-years across. (Recall that one light-year equals 5.88 trillion miles. Yes, the galaxy is enormous.) And an abundance of stars and gas obscures our view of the galactic center. The team of astronomers essentially measured the speed of some objects moving in our galaxy and deduced the mass from there (the more massive the galaxy, the faster the objects should move.)

Their answer: The galaxy weighs around 1.5 trillion solar masses. This number helps put in perspective how very small we are.

Take, for instance, where stars in the Milky Way fit in.

If you’re lucky enough to get a completely dark, clear sky for stargazing, it’s possible to behold as many as 9,000 stars above you. That’s how many are visible to the naked eye. But another 100 billion stars (or more) are out there just in our own Milky Way galaxy — yet they’re just 4 percent of all the stuff, or matter, in the galaxy.

Another 12 percent of the mass in the universe is gas (planets, you, me, asteroids, all of that is negligible mass in the grand accounting of the galaxy). The remaining 84 percent of the matter in the galaxy is the dark matter, Laura Watkins, a research fellow at the European Southern Observatory, and a collaborator on the project, explains.

The enormity of the galaxy, and the enormity of the mystery of what it’s made of, is really hard to think through. So, here, using the recent ESA-Hubble findings, we’ve tried to visualize the scale of the galaxy and the scale of the dark matter mystery at the heart of it.

As a visual metaphor, we’ve constructed a tower of mass. You’ll see that all the stars in the galaxy just represent a searchlight at the top of the building. The vast majorities of the floors, well, no one knows what goes on in there.

The mass of the Milky Way, visualized

To visualize the mass of 1.5 trillion suns, let’s start small. This is the Earth. It has a mass of 5.972 × 10^24 kilograms.

This is the Earth compared to the sun. The sun is 333,000 times more massive than Earth.

Now let’s try to imagine the mass of the 100 billion stars (or more) stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

That’s enormous.

Another 12 percent** of the mass in the galaxy is just gas floating between stars (mostly hydrogen and helium).

Here’s what the gas looks like using this same visual scale.

What about black holes? “It’s a bit harder to put an exact number of how much they contribute to the total mass, as we don’t know how many there are, but it will be a very, very very small fraction,” Watkins explains. “The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is around 6 million solar masses,” which is really tiny on the scale of the entire mass of the galaxy.

And it’s tiny on the scale of the most abundant, mysterious matter in the galaxy: the dark stuff. Again: 84 percent of the galaxy is made up of dark matter.

Dark matter doesn’t seem to interact with normal matter at all, and it’s invisible. But our galaxy, and universe, would fall apart without it.

Scientists hypothesized its existence when they realized that galaxies spin too quickly to hold themselves together with the mass of stars alone. Think of a carnival ride that spins people around. If it spun fast enough, those riders would be ripped off the ride.

Accounting for “dark matter,” and the gravity it generates, made their models of galaxies stable again. There’s some other evidence for dark matter, too: It seems to produce the same gravitational lensing effect (meaning that it warps the fabric of spacetime) as regular matter.

Now let’s try to visualize the mass of dark matter, compared to the mass of stars and gas.

And remember: This is just our galaxy. There are some hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.

Also remember that dark matter isn’t even the biggest mystery in the universe, in terms of scale. Some 27 percent of the universe is dark matter, and a mere 5 percent is the matter and energy you and I see and interact with.

The remaining 68 percent of all the matter and energy in the universe is dark energy (which is accelerating the expansion of the universe). While dark matter keeps individual galaxies together, dark energy propels all the galaxies in the universe apart from one another.

What you can see in the night sky might seem enormous: the thousands of stars, and solar systems, to potentially explore. But it’s just a teeny-tiny slice of what’s really out there.

**(Clarification: Ari Maller, a physics professor at New York City College of Technology, wrote in, pointing out that the proportions in our graphic —4 percent of the matter in the galaxy being stars, 12 percent gas, and 84 percent dark matter — are a bit off. They do, he says, represent the overall proportions of each in the universe. But, he writes “we don’t live in an average place,” clarifying that instead ”the gas in the Milky Way is only about 10 percent of its mass.”)

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Source: Scientists weighed all the mass in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s mind-boggling.

Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/m… The latest weigh-in of our home galaxy shows much less mass from dark matter, which means we may live in a cosmic oddball

15 Gripping Facts About Galileo

Albert Einstein once said that the work of Galileo Galilei “marks the real beginning of physics.” And astronomy, too: Galileo was the first to aim a telescope at the night sky, and his discoveries changed our picture of the cosmos. Here are 15 things that you might not know about the father of modern science, who was born February 15, 1564.

1. There’s a reason why Galileo Galilei’s first name echoes his last name.

You may have noticed that Galileo Galilei’s given name is a virtual carbon-copy of his family name. In her book Galileo’s Daughter, Dava Sobel explains that in Galileo’s native Tuscany, it was customary to give the first-born son a Christian name based on the family name (in this case, Galilei). Over the years, the first name won out, and we’ve come to remember the scientist simply as “Galileo.”

2. Galileo Galilei probably never dropped anything off the leaning tower of Pisa.

With its convenient “tilt,” the famous tower in Pisa, where Galileo spent the early part of his career, would have been the perfect place to test his theories of motion, and of falling bodies in particular. Did Galileo drop objects of different weights, to see which would strike the ground first? Unfortunately, we have only one written account of Galileo performing such an experiment, written many years later. Historians suspect that if Galileo taken part in such a grand spectacle, there would be more documentation. (However, physicist Steve Shore did perform the experiment at the tower in 2009; I videotaped it and put the results on YouTube.)

3. Galileo taught his students how to cast horoscopes.

It’s awkward to think of the father of modern science mucking about with astrology. But we should keep two things in mind: First, as historians remind us, it’s problematic to judge past events by today’s standards. We know that astrology is bunk, but in Galileo’s time, astrology was only just beginning to disentangle from astronomy. Besides, Galileo wasn’t rich: A professor who could teach astrological methods would be in greater demand than one who couldn’t.

4. Galileo didn’t like being told what to do.

Maybe you already knew that, based on his eventual kerfuffle with the Roman Catholic Church. But even as a young professor at the University of Pisa, Galileo had a reputation for rocking the boat. The university’s rules demanded that he wear his formal robes at all times. He refused—he thought it was pretentious and considered the bulky gown a nuisance. So the university docked his pay.

5. Galileo Galilei didn’t invent the telescope.

We’re not sure who did, although a Dutch spectacle-maker named Hans Lipperhey often gets the credit (he applied for a patent in the fall of 1608). Within a year, Galileo Galilei obtained one of these Dutch instruments and quickly improved the design. Soon, he had a telescope that could magnify 20 or even 30 times. As historian of science Owen Gingerich has put it, Galileo had managed “to turn a popular carnival toy into a scientific instrument.”

6. A king leaned on Galileo to name planets after him.

Galileo rose to fame in 1610 after discovering, among other things, that the planet Jupiter is accompanied by four little moons, never previously observed (and invisible without telescopic aid). Galileo dubbed them the “Medicean stars” after his patron, Cosimo II of the Medici family, who ruled over Tuscany. The news spread quickly; soon the king of France was asking Galileo if he might discover some more worlds and name them after him.

7. Galileo didn’t have trouble with the church for the first two-thirds of his life.

In fact, the Vatican was keen on acquiring astronomical knowledge, because such data was vital for working out the dates of Easter and other holidays. In 1611, when Galileo visited Rome to show off his telescope to the Jesuit astronomers there, he was welcomed with open arms. The future Pope Urban VIII had one of Galileo’s essays read to him over dinner and even wrote a poem in praise of the scientist. It was only later, when a few disgruntled conservative professors began to speak out against Galileo, that things started to go downhill. It got even worse in 1616, when the Vatican officially denounced the heliocentric (sun-centered) system described by Copernicus, which all of Galileo’s observations seemed to support. And yet, the problem wasn’t Copernicanism. More vexing was the notion of a moving Earth, which seemed to contradict certain verses in the Bible.

8. Galileo probably could have earned a living as an artist.

We think of Galileo as a scientist, but his interests—and talents—straddled several disciplines. Galileo could draw and paint as well as many of his countrymen and was a master of perspective—a skill that no doubt helped him interpret the sights revealed by his telescope. His drawings of the Moon are particularly striking. As the art professor Samuel Edgerton has put it, Galileo’s work shows “the deft brushstrokes of a practiced watercolorist”; his images have “an attractive, soft, and luminescent quality.” Edgerton writes of Galileo’s “almost impressionistic technique” more than 250 years before Impressionism developed.

10. Galileo wrote about relativity long before Einstein.

He didn’t write about exactly the same sort of relativity that Einstein did. But Galileo understood very clearly that motion is relative—that is, that your perception of motion has to do with your own movement as well as that of the object you’re looking at. In fact, if you were locked inside a windowless cabin on a ship, you’d have no way of knowing if the ship was motionless, or moving at a steady speed. More than 250 years later, these ideas would be fodder for the mind of the young Einstein.

10. Galileo never married, but that doesn’t mean he was alone.

Galileo was very close with a beautiful woman from Venice named Marina Gamba; together, they had two daughters and a son. And yet, they never married, nor even shared a home. Why not? As Dava Sobel notes, it was traditional for scholars in those days to remain single; perceived class difference may also have played a role.

11. You can listen to music composed by Galileo’s dad.

Galileo’s father, Vincenzo, was a professional musician and music teacher. Several of his compositions have survived, and you can find modern recordings of them on CD (like this one). The young Galileo learned to play the lute by his father’s side; in time he became an accomplished musician in his own right. His music sense may have aided in his scientific work. With no precision clocks, Galileo was still able to time rolling and falling objects to within mere fractions of a second.

12. His discoveries may have influenced a scene in one of Shakespeare’s late plays.

An amusing point of trivia is that Galileo and Shakespeare were born in the same year (1564). By the time Galileo aimed his telescope at the night sky, however, the English playwright was nearing the end of his career. But he wasn’t quite ready to put down the quill: His late play Cymbeline contains what may be an allusion to one of Galileo’s greatest discoveries—the four moons circling Jupiter. In the play’s final act, the god Jupiter descends from the heavens, and four ghosts dance around him in a circle. It could be a coincidence—or, as I suggest in my book The Science of Shakespeare, it could hint at the Bard’s awareness of one of the great scientific discoveries of the time.

13. Galileo had some big-name visitors while under house arrest.

Charged with “vehement suspicion of heresy,” Galileo spent the final eight years of his life under house arrest in his villa outside of Florence. But he was able to keep writing and, apparently, to receive visitors, among them two famous Englishmen: the poet John Milton and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

14. Galileo’s bones have not rested in peace.

When Galileo died in 1642, the Vatican refused to allow his remains to be buried alongside family members in Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica; instead, his bones were relegated to a side chapel. A century later, however, his reputation had improved, and his remains (minus a few fingers) were transferred to their present location, beneath a grand tomb in the basilica’s main chapel. Michelangelo is nearby.

15. Galileo might not have been thrilled with the Vatican’s 1992 “apology.”

In 1992, under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican issued an official statement admitting that it was wrong to have persecuted Galileo. But the statement seemed to place most of the blame on the clerks and theological advisers who worked on Galileo’s case—and not on Pope Urban VIII, who presided over the trial. Nor was the charge of heresy overturned.

By: Dan Falk

Source: 15 Gripping Facts About Galileo

Additional sources: The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo; Galileo’s Daughter; The Cambridge Companion to Galileo.

Check out Brilliant: http://brilliant.org/biographics →Subscribe for new videos every Monday and Thursday! https://www.youtube.com/c/biographics… This video is sponsored by Brilliant. Visit our companion website for more: http://biographics.org Credits: Host – Simon Whistler Author – Steve Theunissen Producer – Jennifer Da Silva Executive Producer – Shell Harris Business inquiries to biographics.email@gmail.com Other Biographics Videos: Albert Einstein: A Pillar of Modern Physics https://youtu.be/VnVVuLIoSWI Satoshi Nakamoto: The Mysterious Founder of Bitcoin https://youtu.be/2Mlw_jVHq7U Source/Further reading: Galileo by Mitch Stokes Galileo and the Scientific Revolution by Laura Fermi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgaV5…

Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

Want to see the Northern Lights AND the Milky Way? Those in the northern U.S. states–and even in cities including New York and Boston–could have some extraordinary luck this weekend. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center is predicting a G1 or G2 Geomagnetic Storm for both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Where to see the northern lights this weekend

The aurora borealis are possible overhead in the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine according to abc57. Although they’re not nearly as well placed, cities including Omaha, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York City and Boston could also get a glimpse of a “forest fire” layer of green above the northern horizon.

How to see the Milky Way

Even if the northern lights don’t materialize, or take their time, this weekend is a fine time to look for the Milky Way while you wait. The rules for finding the Milky Way are pretty simple. Just wait for a New Moon in summer and go to where people are not. That scenario happens for the final time of 2019 this weekend. It’s a last chance for galaxy-gazers and night-scape photographers to gawp at our home galaxy.

While the Milky Way will be visible to the south, the northern lights will–as the name suggests–be in the north (with a little luck).

Today In: Innovation

When to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

This weekend is perfect for seeing both because there’s a New Moon. Technically it’s a “Supermoon New Moon” because it’s relatively close to Earth. However, its only relevance is that there will be no bright moonlight in the sky. The New Moon occurs on Friday, August 30, but for a good few days after there is no significant moonlight.

This is the tail-end of late August’s “stargazing window,” (when the moon is down), but as a bonus, if you get to your observing location around sunset on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you may see a beautifully slim crescent moon setting in the western sky soon after the Sun.

The ideal time to look at the Milky Way is when it’s arching overhead. That occurs in the northern hemisphere from around 10 p.m. through until about 1 a.m. Before that, and after that, it will be at an angle and closer to the horizon, which makes it more difficult to appreciate. However, true darkness is limited at this time of year, so for best results have a look around 11 p.m. to midnight.

For the northern lights, the prediction for this weekend is more general, and there are no specific times to look. It will be best to be outside after dark, and for as long as possible.

Wherever you plan to go, do check the weather forecast, as well as the space weather forecast. You need clear skies to see anything at all.

Where to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

Anywhere with an inky-black dark sky. Unfortunately, the combined light of billions of stars can easily be smudged-out by artificial light pollution. However, don’t ever use light pollution as an excuse. You just need to make a little effort, which will be well rewarded if the the skies are clear.

As a rule of thumb, anywhere about 40 miles from a significant town or city (or other major source of light pollution) will be ideal. However, just as important for you to see the bright core of the Milky Way is to look for a location that has no sources of light pollution to the south. It’s above the southern horizon that the Milky Way will impress most. Thankfully, there are a number of websites to help you choose a place to view from:

Beware the ‘Supermoon New Moon’

Although a visit to a south-facing coastal location may be tempting for a view of the Milky Way over the ocean (a reliably dark place, and great for interesting photographic compositions), note that the Supermoon New Moon will cause “king” tides this weekend. So be sure to study tide times for wherever on our planet you go, and tread carefully.

How to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

You need to give your eyes a little time to adjust to darkness. Although you may get a “wow” moment when you step out of the car having driven to a dark sky site, and see the Milky Way above you, it’s still worth switching-off all lights and simply standing in the dark for 20 minutes. After that time your eyes will have adjusted to the dark and will let more light in. Ditto for a subdued display of the northern lights. However, beware the smartphone; even a quick peek at a planetarium app will destroy your night vision. The Milky Way will be gradually revealed to you, but it can be quickly snatched away.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.

Source: Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

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Apple Just Did Something Remarkable And It’s Very Good News For Its Customers

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No one likes to admit when they’re wrong. That’s true for you and me, and it’s especially true for big companies like Apple. The thing is, when you’re willing to admit when you made a mistake, it goes a long way towards building trust. And trust is, by far, your brand’s most valuable asset.

Today, Apple apologized for how it had handled recorded snippets of users’ voice interactions with Siri, the company’s digital assistant. In a statement, the company said that  “we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize.”

You might remember that Apple, like pretty much every other tech company, recently admitted that it used contractors to listen to, and transcribe these recordings in an effort to improve the artificial intellience-powered service. Making matters worse is that fact that the company hadn’t disclosed this practice, and contractors often heard false-activations that revealed personal information and other private conversations.

Earlier this month, Apple paused its review program and ended its relationship with the contractors involved. Now, it appears to be taking the next step, which started with an apology.

That’s actually pretty remarkable. It’s not often that companies say, “I’m sorry. We messed up.” Sure, they sometimes say a lot of words that vaguely sound like “I’m sorry,” but rarely are they this direct. Apple basically called itself out, saying that it wasn’t living up to its own standards, and that it owed customers an apology for a problem it caused.

Along with the apology, maybe the even bigger news here is that Apple announced a series of steps it plans to take moving forward, including:

  • The company will no longer retain recorded Siri interactions, but will use computer-generated transcripts instead.
  • Apple will allow users to opt in to having their audio samples included in the company’s efforts to improve the product. Users will also be able to opt out at any time after that.
  • Apple will only allow its employees (not contractors) to listen to audio samples, and will delete any “inadvertent trigger,” of Siri.

This is a big deal for a lot of reasons, but mostly because Apple will now allow users to ‘opt in.’ This is exactly how it should work.

There are perfectly legitimate reasons why Apple would want to listen to recorded snippets of Siri interactions. That’s one of the only ways it can really know how accurate the AI is at understanding user requests and providing the right information for a human to review and correction. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t agree that that’s reasonable.

But Apple is changing the default assumption of an unspoken ‘opt in’ to one where people are given the choice to participate, instead of simply offering some opaque way of opting out. Companies offer opt out because they know most people won’t go through the trouble of changing whatever the default setting is, meaning people stay in whether they really want to or not.

Every tech company handling sensitive data should do exactly this. Don’t just let people opt out, or delete their history, or make a request to no longer be recorded. Make the default position the thing that’s best for the user, even if it makes your job a little harder.

Then, make your case for why your practice is worth it to the customer, and let them decide to participate or not.

By: Jason Aten

 

Source: https://www.inc.com/

At its 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple showed off iOS 13, which will be coming to iPhones this fall. Some of the new features include a dark mode, an overhaul for Maps, and the ability to swipe to type. Here are the best features Apple showed off. The event took place at the San Jose Convention Center, not Cupertino as mentioned in the video. Tech Insider regrets the error. MORE IPHONE CONTENT: 23 iPhone Tricks To Make Your Life Easier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U52mI… $479 Pixel 3a XL VS. $1,099 iPhone XS Max https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ddAY… Lifelong iPhone User Switches To The Galaxy S10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r3wb… —————————————————— #Apple #iPhone #TechInsider Tech Insider tells you all you need to know about tech: gadgets, how-to’s, gaming, science, digital culture, and more. Visit us at: https://www.businessinsider.com TI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/techinsider TI on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tech_insider/ TI on Twitter: https://twitter.com/techinsider TI on Amazon Prime: http://read.bi/PrimeVideo INSIDER on Snapchat: https://insder.co/2KJLtVo The Best Features Apple Just Announced Coming To The iPhone

Amazon Is The Second Company To Report Tesla Solar Panel Fire

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Topline: Amazon is joining Walmart in pointing the finger at Tesla solar panels for fires on the roofs of their facilities in what is yet another hiccup for Tesla’s embattled solar business.

  • Amazon said Tesla solar panels caught fire in June 2018 at one of its warehouses in Redlands, California.
  • Amazon’s disclosure comes days after Walmart sued Tesla for breach of contract and gross negligence after seven stores experienced roof fires allegedly caused by faulty Tesla solar panels. Both companies later said they are working together to “addressing all issues.”
  • Amazon said it would not install any more Tesla panels.

In a statement to Forbes, a Tesla spokesperson said in an email that the Amazon fire was an “isolated event” at one of 11 Amazon sites with solar panels.

“Tesla worked collaboratively with Amazon to root cause the event and remediate. We also performed inspections at the other sites, which confirmed the integrity of the systems. As with all of our commercial solar installations, we continue to proactively monitor the systems to ensure they operate safely and reliably,” the statement continues.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla did not respond when Forbes asked whether the company has plans for broader inspections of both commercial and residential solar power installations.

According to a Business Insider report, Tesla was aware of problems related to its solar panels. In the summer of 2018, around the same time as the Amazon fire, Tesla launched a secret internal project called Project Titan to replace what the company said were faulty “connectors” manufactured by Connecticut-based Amphenol, according to the report.

“We have no reason to believe that Amphenol’s products are the cause of any issues related to the claims filed by Walmart against Tesla,” an Amphenol spokesperson said in a statement.

Key Background: Tesla’s embattled solar business has been plagued by plunging sales, production delays and layoffs since CEO Elon Musk acquired solar company SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016.

Musk hasn’t tweeted about the Walmart or Amazon complaints, but instead announced a revamped pricing plan in an effort to boost the slowing solar panel business. The new pricing model allows residents in six states to rent solar power systems starting at $50 a month ($65 a month in California) instead of buying them up front.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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“Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

Lea Grinberg, a neuropathologist and associate professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, holds slides of brain tissue used for research on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

People who donate their bodies to science might never have dreamed what information lies deep within their brains.

Even when that information has to do with sleep.

Scientists used to believe that people who napped a lot were at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. But Lea Grinberg with the UCSF Memory and Aging Center started to wonder if “risk” was too light a term — what if, instead, napping indicated an early stage of Alzheimer’s?

About a decade ago, Grinberg — a neuropathologist and associate professor — was working with her team to map a protein called tau in donated brains. Some of their data, published last week, revealed drastic differences between healthy brains and those from Alzheimer’s patients in the parts of the brain responsible for wakefulness.

Lea Grinberg uses a program that takes a microscope’s magnification of brain tissue on a slide and projects it on a computer screen on August 15, 2019. The different colors represent different biological features in the brain tissue sample, including neurons and tau protein. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

Wakefulness centers in the brain showed the buildup of tau — a protein that clogs neurons, Grinberg says, and lets debris accumulate. Gradually, these clogged neurons die. Some areas of the diseased brains had lost as much as 75% of their neurons. That may have led to the excessive napping scientists had observed before. Although the team only studied brains from 13 Alzheimer’s patients and 7 healthy individuals, Grinberg says that the degeneration caused by Alzheimer’s was so profound they were sure of its significance.

“We are kind of changing our understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is,” she says. “It’s not only a memory problem, but it’s a problem in the brain that causes many other symptoms.”

Although these symptoms aren’t as severe as complete loss of memory or motor functions, Grinberg says they can still hold real consequences for a person’s quality of life. “Because if you don’t sleep well every day and if you… are not in the mood to do things like you were before, it’s very disappointing, right? My grandparents were like this.”

Grinberg says it’s important to know whether napping could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, for treating symptoms and developing drugs that could slow the progression of the disease. Although there are no prescription drugs available to treat tau buildup, she says, a few are in clinical trials.

Lea Grinberg holds boxes filled with samples of brain tissue for study on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

A public health professor and neuroscientist at UC Berkeley says the new information offers hope to researchers. William Jagust, who has studied Alzheimer’s for over 30 years, says the results could help select patients for clinical trials of new drugs that require early treatment. “It’s also just very important for understanding the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease with the hope that we eventually will have a drug,” he adds.

It’ll be awhile before doctors can diagnose anyone with Alzheimer’s based on how often they doze off. “There’s no practical application of this to clinical medicine as of today,” Jagust says, “but I think it’s on the cutting edge of the very, very important questions.”

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Source: “Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

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The 5 Lessons Everyone Should Learn From Einstein’s Most Famous Equation: E = mc^2

If you’ve ever heard of Albert Einstein, chances are you know at least one equation that he himself is famous for deriving: E = mc2. This simple equation details a relationship between the energy (E) of a system, its rest mass (m), and a fundamental constant that relates the two, the speed of light squared (c2). Despite the fact that this equation is one of the simplest ones you can write down, what it means is dramatic and profound.

At a fundamental level, there is an equivalence between the mass of an object and the inherent energy stored within it. Mass is only one form of energy among many, such as electrical, thermal, or chemical energy, and therefore energy can be transformed from any of these forms into mass, and vice versa. The profound implications of Einstein’s equations touch us in many ways in our day-to-day lives. Here are the five lessons everyone should learn.

This iron-nickel meteorite, examined and photographed by Opportunity, represents the first such object ever found on the Martian surface. If you were to take this object and chop it up into its individual, constituent protons, neutrons, and electrons, you would find that the whole is actually less massive than the sum of its parts.

This iron-nickel meteorite, examined and photographed by Opportunity, represents the first such object ever found on the Martian surface. If you were to take this object and chop it up into its individual, constituent protons, neutrons, and electrons, you would find that the whole is actually less massive than the sum of its parts.

NASA / JPL / Cornell

1.) Mass is not conserved. When you think about the things that change versus the things that stay the same in this world, mass is one of those quantities we typically hold constant without thinking about it too much. If you take a block of iron and chop it up into a bunch of iron atoms, you fully expect that the whole equals the sum of its parts. That’s an assumption that’s clearly true, but only if mass is conserved.

In the real world, though, according to Einstein, mass is not conserved at all. If you were to take an iron atom, containing 26 protons, 30 neutrons, and 26 electrons, and were to place it on a scale, you’d find some disturbing facts.

  • An iron atom with all of its electrons weighs slightly less than an iron nucleus and its electrons do separately,
  • An iron nucleus weighs significantly less than 26 protons and 30 neutrons do separately.
  • And if you try and fuse an iron nucleus into a heavier one, it will require you to input more energy than you get out.

Iron-56 may be the most tightly-bound nucleus, with the greatest amount of binding energy per nucleon. In order to get there, though, you have to build up element-by-element. Deuterium, the first step up from free protons, has an extremely low binding energy, and thus is easily destroyed by relatively modest-energy collisions.

Iron-56 may be the most tightly-bound nucleus, with the greatest amount of binding energy per nucleon. In order to get there, though, you have to build up element-by-element. Deuterium, the first step up from free protons, has an extremely low binding energy, and thus is easily destroyed by relatively modest-energy collisions.

Wikimedia Commons

Each one of these facts is true because mass is just another form of energy. When you create something that’s more energetically stable than the raw ingredients that it’s made from, the process of creation must release enough energy to conserve the total amount of energy in the system.

When you bind an electron to an atom or molecule, or allow those electrons to transition to the lowest-energy state, those binding transitions must give off energy, and that energy must come from somewhere: the mass of the combined ingredients. This is even more severe for nuclear transitions than it is for atomic ones, with the former class typically being about 1000 times more energetic than the latter class.

In fact, leveraging the consequences of E = mc2 is how we get the second valuable lesson out of it.

Countless scientific tests of Einstein's general theory of relativity have been performed, subjecting the idea to some of the most stringent constraints ever obtained by humanity. Einstein's first solution was for the weak-field limit around a single mass, like the Sun; he applied these results to our Solar System with dramatic success. We can view this orbit as Earth (or any planet) being in free-fall around the Sun, traveling in a straight-line path in its own frame of reference. All masses and all sources of energy contribute to the curvature of spacetime.

Countless scientific tests of Einstein’s general theory of relativity have been performed, subjecting the idea to some of the most stringent constraints ever obtained by humanity. Einstein’s first solution was for the weak-field limit around a single mass, like the Sun; he applied these results to our Solar System with dramatic success. We can view this orbit as Earth (or any planet) being in free-fall around the Sun, traveling in a straight-line path in its own frame of reference. All masses and all sources of energy contribute to the curvature of spacetime.

LIGO scientific collaboration / T. Pyle / Caltech / MIT

2.) Energy is conserved, but only if you account for changing masses. Imagine the Earth as it orbits the Sun. Our planet orbits quickly: with an average speed of around 30 km/s, the speed required to keep it in a stable, elliptical orbit at an average distance of 150,000,000 km (93 million miles) from the Sun. If you put the Earth and Sun both on a scale, independently and individually, you would find that they weighed more than the Earth-Sun system as it is right now.

When you have any attractive force that binds two objects together — whether that’s the electric force holding an electron in orbit around a nucleus, the nuclear force holding protons and neutrons together, or the gravitational force holding a planet to a star — the whole is less massive than the individual parts. And the more tightly you bind these objects together, the more energy the binding process emits, and the lower the rest mass of the end product.

Whether in an atom, molecule, or ion, the transitions of electrons from a higher energy level to a lower energy level will result in the emission of radiation at a very particular wavelength. This produces the phenomenon we see as emission lines, and is responsible for the variety of colors we see in a fireworks display. Even atomic transitions such as this must conserve energy, and that means losing mass in the correct proportion to account for the energy of the produced photon.

Whether in an atom, molecule, or ion, the transitions of electrons from a higher energy level to a lower energy level will result in the emission of radiation at a very particular wavelength. This produces the phenomenon we see as emission lines, and is responsible for the variety of colors we see in a fireworks display. Even atomic transitions such as this must conserve energy, and that means losing mass in the correct proportion to account for the energy of the produced photon.

GETTY Images

When you bring a free electron in from a large distance away to bind to a nucleus, it’s a lot like bringing in a free-falling comet from the outer reaches of the Solar System to bind to the Sun: unless it loses energy, it will come in, make a close approach, and slingshot back out again.

However, if there’s some other way for the system to shed energy, things can become more tightly bound. Electrons do bind to nuclei, but only if they emit photons in the process. Comets can enter stable, periodic orbits, but only if another planet steals some of their kinetic energy. And protons and neutrons can bind together in large numbers, producing a much lighter nucleus and emitting high-energy photons (and other particles) in the process. That last scenario is at the heart of perhaps the most valuable and surprising lesson of all.

A composite of 25 images of the Sun, showing solar outburst/activity over a 365 day period. Without the right amount of nuclear fusion, which is made possible through quantum mechanics, none of what we recognize as life on Earth would be possible. Over its history, approximately 0.03% of the mass of the Sun, or around the mass of Saturn, has been converted into energy via E = mc^2.

A composite of 25 images of the Sun, showing solar outburst/activity over a 365 day period. Without the right amount of nuclear fusion, which is made possible through quantum mechanics, none of what we recognize as life on Earth would be possible. Over its history, approximately 0.03% of the mass of the Sun, or around the mass of Saturn, has been converted into energy via E = mc^2.

NASA / Solar Dynamics Observatory / Atmospheric Imaging Assembly / S. Wiessinger; post-processing by E. Siegel

3.) Einstein’s E = mc2 is responsible for why the Sun (like any star) shines. Inside the core of our Sun, where the temperatures rise over a critical temperature of 4,000,000 K (up to nearly four times as large), the nuclear reactions powering our star take place. Protons are fused together under such extreme conditions that they can form a deuteron — a bound state of a proton and neutron — while emitting a positron and a neutrino to conserve energy.

Additional protons and deuterons can then bombard the newly formed particle, fusing these nuclei in a chain reaction until helium-4, with two protons and two neutrons, is created. This process occurs naturally in all main-sequence stars, and is where the Sun gets its energy from.

The proton-proton chain is responsible for producing the vast majority of the Sun's power. Fusing two He-3 nuclei into He-4 is perhaps the greatest hope for terrestrial nuclear fusion, and a clean, abundant, controllable energy source, but all of these reaction must occur in the Sun.

The proton-proton chain is responsible for producing the vast majority of the Sun’s power. Fusing two He-3 nuclei into He-4 is perhaps the greatest hope for terrestrial nuclear fusion, and a clean, abundant, controllable energy source, but all of these reaction must occur in the Sun.

Borb / Wikimedia Commons

If you were to put this end product of helium-4 on a scale and compare it to the four protons that were used up to create it, you’d find that it was about 0.7% lighter: helium-4 has only 99.3% of the mass of four protons. Even though two of these protons have converted into neutrons, the binding energy is so strong that approximately 28 MeV of energy gets emitted in the process of forming each helium-4 nucleus.

In order to produce the energy we see it produce, the Sun needs to fuse 4 × 1038 protons into helium-4 every second. The result of that fusion is that 596 million tons of helium-4 are produced with each second that passes, while 4 million tons of mass are converted into pure energy via E = mc2. Over the lifetime of the entire Sun, it’s lost approximately the mass of the planet Saturn due to the nuclear reactions in its core.

A nuclear-powered rocket engine, preparing for testing in 1967. This rocket is powered by Mass/Energy conversion, and is underpinned by the famous equation E=mc^2.

A nuclear-powered rocket engine, preparing for testing in 1967. This rocket is powered by Mass/Energy conversion, and is underpinned by the famous equation E=mc^2.

ECF (Experimental Engine Cold Flow) experimental nuclear rocket engine, NASA, 1967

4.) Converting mass into energy is the most energy-efficient process in the Universe. What could be better than 100% efficiency? Absolutely nothing; 100% is the greatest energy gain you could ever hope for out of a reaction.

Well, if you look at the equation E = mc2, it tells you that you can convert mass into pure energy, and tells you how much energy you’ll get out. For every 1 kilogram of mass that you convert, you get a whopping  9 × 1016 joules of energy out: the equivalent of 21 Megatons of TNT. Whenever we experience a radioactive decay, a fission or fusion reaction, or an annihilation event between matter and antimatter, the mass of the reactants is larger than the mass of the products; the difference is how much energy is released.

Nuclear weapon test Mike (yield 10.4 Mt) on Enewetak Atoll. The test was part of the Operation Ivy. Mike was the first hydrogen bomb ever tested. A release of this much energy corresponds to approximately 500 grams of matter being converted into pure energy: an astonishingly large explosion for such a tiny amount of mass.

Nuclear weapon test Mike (yield 10.4 Mt) on Enewetak Atoll. The test was part of the Operation Ivy. Mike was the first hydrogen bomb ever tested. A release of this much energy corresponds to approximately 500 grams of matter being converted into pure energy: an astonishingly large explosion for such a tiny amount of mass.

National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office

In all cases, the energy that comes out — in all its combined forms — is exactly equal to the energy equivalent of the mass loss between products and reactants. The ultimate example is the case of matter-antimatter annihilation, where a particle and its antiparticle meet and produce two photons of the exact rest energy of the two particles.

Take an electron and a positron and let them annihilate, and you’ll always get two photons of exactly 511 keV of energy out. It’s no coincidence that the rest mass of electrons and positrons are each 511 keV/c2: the same value, just accounting for the conversion of mass into energy by a factor of c2. Einstein’s most famous equation teaches us that any particle-antiparticle annihilation has the potential to be the ultimate energy source: a method to convert the entirety of the mass of your fuel into pure, useful energy.

The top quark is the most massive particle known in the Standard Model, and is also the shortest-lived of all the known particles, with a mean lifetime of 5 × 10^-25 s. When we produce it in particle accelerators by having enough free energy available to create them via E = mc^2, we produce top-antitop pairs, but they do not live for long enough to form a bound state. They exist only as free quarks, and then decay.

The top quark is the most massive particle known in the Standard Model, and is also the shortest-lived of all the known particles, with a mean lifetime of 5 × 10^-25 s. When we produce it in particle accelerators by having enough free energy available to create them via E = mc^2, we produce top-antitop pairs, but they do not live for long enough to form a bound state. They exist only as free quarks, and then decay.

Raeky / Wikimedia Commons

5.) You can use energy to create matter — massive particles — out of nothing but pure energy. This is perhaps the most profound lesson of all. If you took two billiard balls and smashed one into the other, you’d always expect the results to have something in common: they’d always result in two and only two billiard balls.

With particles, though, the story is different. If you take two electrons and smash them together, you’ll get two electrons out, but with enough energy, you might also get a new matter-antimatter pair of particles out, too. In other words, you will have created two new, massive particles where none existed previously: a matter particle (electron, muon, proton, etc.) and an antimatter particle (positron, antimuon, antiproton, etc.).

Whenever two particles collide at high enough energies, they have the opportunity to produce additional particle-antiparticle pairs, or new particles as the laws of quantum physics allow. Einstein's E = mc^2 is indiscriminate this way. In the early Universe, enormous numbers of neutrinos and antineutrinos are produced this way in the first fraction-of-a-second of the Universe, but they neither decay nor are efficient at annihilating away.

Whenever two particles collide at high enough energies, they have the opportunity to produce additional particle-antiparticle pairs, or new particles as the laws of quantum physics allow. Einstein’s E = mc^2 is indiscriminate this way. In the early Universe, enormous numbers of neutrinos and antineutrinos are produced this way in the first fraction-of-a-second of the Universe, but they neither decay nor are efficient at annihilating away.

E. Siegel / Beyond The Galaxy

This is how particle accelerators successfully create the new particles they’re searching for: by providing enough energy to create those particles (and, if necessary, their antiparticle counterparts) from a rearrangement of Einstein’s most famous equation. Given enough free energy, you can create any particle(s) with mass m, so long as there’s enough energy to satisfy the requirement that there’s enough available energy to make that particle via m = E/c2. If you satisfy all the quantum rules and have enough energy to get there, you have no choice but to create new particles.

The production of matter/antimatter pairs (left) from pure energy is a completely reversible reaction (right), with matter/antimatter annihilating back to pure energy. When a photon is created and then destroyed, it experiences those events simultaneously, while being incapable of experiencing anything else at all.

The production of matter/antimatter pairs (left) from pure energy is a completely reversible reaction (right), with matter/antimatter annihilating back to pure energy. When a photon is created and then destroyed, it experiences those events simultaneously, while being incapable of experiencing anything else at all.

Dmitri Pogosyan / University of Alberta

Einstein’s E = mc2 is a triumph for the simple rules of fundamental physics. Mass isn’t a fundamental quantity, but energy is, and mass is just one possible form of energy. Mass can be converted into energy and back again, and underlies everything from nuclear power to particle accelerators to atoms to the Solar System. So long as the laws of physics are what they are, it couldn’t be any other way. As Einstein himself said:

It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.

More than 60 years after Einstein’s death, it’s long past time to bring his famous equation down to Earth. The laws of nature aren’t just for physicists; they’re for every curious person on Earth to experience, appreciate, and enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Ethan Siegel Ethan Siegel

I am a Ph.D. astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at various colleges. I have won numerous awards for science writing si…

 

Starts With A Bang is dedicated to exploring the story of what we know about the Universe as well as how we know it, with a focus on physics, astronomy, and the scientific story that the Universe tells us about itself. Written by Ph.D. scientists and edited/created by astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, our goal is to share the joy, wonder and awe of scientific discovery.

 

Source: The 5 Lessons Everyone Should Learn From Einstein’s Most Famous Equation: E = mc^2

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Irish Teen Wins 2019 Google Science Fair For Removing Microplastics From Water

An Irish teenager just won $50,000 for his project focusing on extracting micros-plastics from water.

Google launched the Google Science Fair in 2011 where students ages 13 through 18 can submit experiments and their results in front of a panel of judges. The winner receives $50,000. The competition is also sponsored by Lego, Virgin Galactic, National Geographic and Scientific American.

Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old from West Cork, Ireland won the competition for his methodology to remove microplastics from water.

Microplastics are defined as having a diameter of 5nm or less and are too small for filtering or screening during wastewater treatment. Microplastics are often included in soaps, shower gels, and facial scrubs for their ability to exfoliate the skin. Microplastics can also come off clothing during normal washing.

These microplastics then make their way into waterways and are virtually impossible to remove through filtration. Small fish are known to eat microplastics and as larger fish eat smaller fish these microplastics are concentrated into larger fish species that humans consume.

Ferreira used a combination of oil and magnetite powder to create a ferrofluid in the water containing microplastics. The microplastics combined with the ferrofluid which was then extracted.

After the microplastics bound to the ferrofluid, Ferreira used a magnet to remove the solution and leave only water.

After 1,000 tests, the method was 87% effective in removing microplastics of all sorts from water. The most effective microplastic removed was that from a washing machine with the hardest to remove being polypropylene plastics.

With the confirmation of the methodology, Ferreira hopes to scale the technology to be able to implement at wastewater treatment facilities.

This would prevent the microplastics from ever reaching waterways and the ocean. While reduction in the use of microplastics is the ideal scenario, this methodology presents a new opportunity to screen for microplastics before they are consumed as food by fish.

At 18 Ferreira has an impressive array of accomplishments. He is the curator at the Schull Planetarium, speaks 3 languages fluently, won 12 previous science fair competitions, plays the trumpet in an orchestra and has a minor planet named after him by MIT.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a geologist passionate about sharing Earth’s intricacies with you. I received my PhD from Duke University where I studied the geology and climate of the Amazon.

 

Source: Irish Teen Wins 2019 Google Science Fair For Removing Microplastics From Water

Have Scientists Found Source Of Mysterious Hum?

It’s been blamed on everything from high-pressure gas lines to low-frequency earth tremors to submarine communications, but so far researchers have been unable to pinpoint the source of a loud, mysterious humming sound that people around the world have reported hearing.

Now science has an answer. Maybe.

Unofficially known as the Hum, the sound is a droning noise that has been heard from Southampton and Leeds in England to Bondi, Australia, and even Seattle, Wash. While people in a few regions have complained about the intermittent humming for decades, residents in other places have only recently reported hearing it. And for some, the din is unbearable.

LISTEN: The Hum heard in Terrace, British Columbia. (Story continues below.)

                                         

“It’s a kind of torture; sometimes, you just want to scream,” Leeds resident Katie Jacques told the BBC. “It’s hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background.”

The humming has also been driving residents of Southampton batty, prompting scientists there to search for a source, which has led to a new theory involving the male Midshipman fish that lets out a distinctive drone when searching for a mate, The Telegraph reported.

LISTEN: The “humming” sounds of male Midshipmen.

                                            

Yet despite widespread media coverage, there is scant evidence to back up the hypothesis. The reports appear to be based on comments made last week by Dr. Ben Wilson, a Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) scientist who said only that it was possible that fish were causing the throbbing sound.

“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility,” Dr. Wilson said, according to local publication the Daily Echo. “There are certainly ‘sonic fish’ in the north Atlantic and the approaches to the English Channel.”

This theory is not without precedent. Researchers from the University of Washington’s Marine Biology program said last year that Midshipmen fish were to blame for Seattle’s humming problem. Scientists speculated that the calls of the fish in Washington State could be reverberating off of boat hulls and buildings.

But while researchers in Seattle had studied the possible link between the fish and humming, no such research has yet been conducted in England. A statement released by SAMS on Friday attempted to clarify the quotation:

Ben did suggest to the Daily Echo reporter how he might record the noises (by putting a microphone into a condom, sealing it and dropping into the water), but he hasn’t received an audio file yet. Perhaps someone would like to take up the task. Or perhaps a media organization would fly Ben and his equipment south to listen to the hum in situ. Fish might be then ruled in or out.

 

Source: Have Scientists Found Source Of Mysterious Hum?

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