Saturday, December 15, 2012

Most fascinating science news of the week (Dec 15, 2012)

Here are some of the most fascinating science news stories of the week:

CU-Boulder team develops swarm of pingpong ball-sized robots
University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll likes to think in multiples. If one robot can accomplish a singular task, think how much more could be accomplished if you had hundreds of them. Read more:

Astronomers discover 'missing link' of black holes 
The discovery of a bingeing black hole in our nearest neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, has shed new light on some of the brightest X-ray sources seen in other galaxies, according to new work co-authored by astronomers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research's Curtin University node. Read more:\

UCLA engineers develop new energy-efficient computer memory using magnetic materials
By using electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current, researchers from UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have made major improvements to an ultra-fast, high-capacity class of computer memory known as magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM. Read more:  

Stretchable electronics
Electronic devices become smaller, lighter, faster and more powerful with each passing year. Currently, however, electronics such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., are rigid. But what if they could be made bendable or stretchy? Read more:  

Dolphin hearing system component found in insects
A hearing system component thought to be unique in toothed whales like dolphins has been discovered in insects, following research involving the University of Strathclyde. Read more:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geminid meteor shower live stream

The Geminid meteor shower occurs on an annual basis, when the extinct comet 3200 Phaethon sprinkles the Earth with its debris tail. Get outside tonight between midnight and 3 a.m. to catch a glimpse of this amazing spectacle.

Expect to see roughly 100+ meteors per hour during the peak at 2-3 a.m.

If you can't get out to see Geminid, NASA will be live streaming the event via a camera at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Below is the embedded live stream:

If you would like to go directly to the NASA live stream event, here's the link:

Video streaming by Ustream

The damage Toutatis would cause if it struck Earth

If the asteroid Toutatis were to hit planet Earth, the aftermath would be catastrophic. The asteroid that ended-it-all for the dinosaurs was 6-miles wide. At 3-miles wide, Toutatis is half the size of the rock that killed off the dinosaurs.

Experts say that an impact from Toutatis could possibly end civilization as we know it. Even an asteroid 0.6 miles wide would cause severe global damage. Don't panic though, experts are fairly confident that Toutatis will not hit the Earth for at least 600 years, if ever.

Calculate the potential damage yourself by using the asteroid damage calculator: Impact: Earth

Set the diameter to 2.45 km (Toutatis is 3-miles wide, but 2.45 km for the diameter would be equal to its overall volume. )

Set the density to dense rock (Toutatis has a varying spectrum of density, due to this, scientists believe that Toutatis may be made up of several smaller asteroids.)

Set the velocity to 7 m/s or so (Toutatis was observed traveling at around 24,000 mph, convert that into miles per second and you get 6-7 m/s.)

The other parameters you can just play around with.

As I ran the simulator, I kinda came out thinking that Toutatis would probably cause more damage than what the simulator calculates. Since Toutatis is shaped like a peanut, has a weird orbit, tumbles like a football, and has varying density, I think the consequences of an impact would be species-ending.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toutatis Live Stream On Thursday

If you missed the live stream of Toutatis on Tuesday, there will be another live event courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. Central).

Here's the link to the event:

This is your last chance to see one of the live events so make sure you bookmark the link above. The next time you will see Toutatis will be in 2016.

Here is a video of Toutatis taken on December 8, 2012 by the Virtual Telescope Project: