Move over Perseid, This Is the Future of Space-Based Entertainment

‘The Perseid meteor shower is at its peak—a stellar show that occurs every August and can be seen by anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere. But what if we didn’t have to wait till August or the next meteor shower–what if we could create our own?

…Japanese company ALE says it’s working on creating the future of entertainment in space as part of it’s project Sky Canvas. Yup, artificial “meteor” showers. The company says it has plans to release a satellite capable of mimicking these stellar shows into orbit within the next two years…’

Source: Big Think

Army Veteran Creates a Cyborg Stingray Guided by Lasers, Powered by a Rat’s Heart

‘This is a cyborg stingray. It’s as big as a penny, guided by a laser, and moves on its own when exposed to blue light. And it’s the brainchild of Kevin Kit Parker…

“I had this whole idea of a laser-guided, tissue-engineered stingray made out of rat,” Parker told Phys.org. As he described the idea to mechanical engineer Sung-Jin Park, he had a less than enthusiastic response. “He looked at me like a hog staring at a wristwatch,” Parker continued. “He was like, ‘Have I trusted my career to this yahoo’? I think he thought I was unglued.” …’

Source: Big Think

Study: Greenland shark could be 400 years old

‘At four to five meters in length, the Greenland shark (Squaliformes, Somniosus microcephalus) is the largest fish native to the Arctic waters. Getting that big must take a while, and scientists have long known that these sharks grow less than one cm per year. So these sharks probably live a very long time, but little was known about their longevity and maturation.

In an investigation recently published in Science, a team of researchers used radiocarbon dating to put together a timeline of the Greenland shark’s lifespan.Because Greenland sharks lack bones—they’re cartilaginous fish—conventional methods of tracking growth, like carbon dating of bones, won’t work. Instead, the team used a modified radiocarbon dating technique that has worked before on other boneless animals: tracking the chronology of the eye lens. The eye lens nucleus is composed of inert proteins. The central portion of the lens is formed during prenatal development, and during growth, the tissue retains the original proteins, which were largely made before birth.

As a result, carbon-dating these proteins can help determine how long ago the shark was born. For this work, researchers performed radiocarbon dating on the eyes of 28 female sharks that were collected in Greenland during scientific surveys that took place between 2010 and 2013. According to the radiocarbon dating, these sharks live at least 272 years…’

Source: Ars Technica

Meet the worst ants in the world

‘L. humile isn’t your stereotypical ant, with one queen and many workers laboring in a single nest. Argentine ants have multiple queens per colony, and there can be as many as 300 queens for every 1,000 workers. This makes them virtually impossible to kill with poison bait traps, which work on the principle that workers bring the tasty toxins back to the queen, whose death destroys the colony. When you have a lot of queens, that’s not an effective strategy.

Argentine ants are unusual in another way, too. They don’t build one large nest with lots of tunnels and rooms. Instead, they live in constantly shifting networks of temporary, shallow nests that change from day to day. .. Queens and workers are used to transiting from nest to nest, rarely staying put for long.

Despite their name, Argentine ants have now lived in the United States for more than 120 ant generations, which are roughly a year long due to their short lifespans. It’s been a struggle. The environment in North America is dramatically different from the tropical ecosystems where the ants originally evolved. These ants had to become an urban species to survive, living almost exclusively in cities and agricultural areas where plumbing and irrigation provide the water they desperately need. Entirely thanks to humans, Argentine ants have now become the dominant ant species in California cities, driving out dozens of native species. Today they’ve actually invaded most major landmasses in the world, including North America, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, and quite a few islands…’

Source: Ars Technica

Proton Radius Puzzle Deepens With New Measurement

‘The puzzle is that the proton — the positively charged particle found in atomic nuclei, which is actually a fuzzy ball of quarks and gluons — is measured to be ever so slightly larger when it is orbited by an electron than when it is orbited by a muon, a sibling of the electron that’s 207 times as heavy but otherwise identical. It’s as if the proton tightens its belt in the muon’s presence. And yet, according to the reigning theory of particle physics, the proton should interact with the muon and the electron in exactly the same way. As hundreds of papers have pointed out since the proton radius puzzle was born in 2010, a shrinking of the proton in the presence of a muon would most likely signify the existence of a previously unknown fundamental force — one that acts between protons and muons, but not between protons and electrons…’

Source: Quanta Magazine