Novas emitting huge gamma ray bursts

At August 14th ... gamma rays were thought only to come from supernovae but amateur astronomers in Japan have changed that view. They imaged a change in brightness of a small star in the constellation of Cygnus, ten times brighter than it had been a couple of days before, and reported the discovery of a nova event, a short lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star. Novas are thought to occur when a white dwarf in a binary system erupts in an enormous thermo-nucleur explosion.

No One Has Ever Been Here - where? August 13th ... George Howard has a couple of pictures of craters on the Gilf Kahir plateau in the Egyptian Sahara, near the border with Libya. Norbert Brugge, a German geologist, said 'no one has ever been here!' What he means is that no geologist or anyone with a camera has visited the site, and George laughs, it 'only reinforces my belief that people (scientists as well as the general public) overestimate what we know and vastly discount what we do not'.

electron fractionalisation

At there is a report on a paper in Physical Review Letters 105, 057201 (2010) concerning the puzzle of electrons as they fractionalise into two separate quasi-particles, spinons and chargons, which carry spin, and charge, respectively, This is known as spin-charge separation and this paper is basically a new theory to explain what happens.

Big Bang

At August 11th ... Casey Kazan wonders why the prevailing Big Bang theory predicts all galaxies should be evenly distributed on the outer rims of the initial expanding explosive force, but aren't. Galaxies move in the wrong directions, at different speeds, and collide into one another from every conceivable angle throught the Hubble Length Universe. Hundreds of millions of galaxies appear to clump together forming super clusters while great walls of galaxies are separated by apparently vast voids of empty space.

An Indonesian glacier

At we have an interesting story about a shrinking glacier on a 16,000 feet high Indonesian mountain ridge that is disappearing - rapidly. The glacier is another victim of AGW according to the bumph (supported by a National Science grant). Three cores have been drilled out of the glacier and it is hoped evidence of past climate change will emerge that might throw some light on the ebb and flow of El Ninos, for example, as well as past cooling and warming episodes.

Space Time may be just a mirage?

At August 10th ... Casey Kazan is winding people up again by questioning space time. Quoting a scientist from Berkely University in California, Peter Horava, who wants to split time apart from space in order to reconcile quantum mechanics with the mystery of dark energy (source New Scientist). The problem is that if he is right it will require a major overhaul of black hole physics.

Life influenced by cosmic rays (?)

At August 12th ... palaeontologist Bruce Leiberman suggests we should think about extraterrestrial events leading to higher rates of mutations in organisms and damage to DNA. However, the rate of change is on a uniformitarian scale and relates to the rotation of the solar system within the Milky Way galaxy and periodic encounters it may have with greater rates of radiation and cosmic ray bombardment.

Giant loops of ultraviolet light in deep space

At August 11th ... astronomers have found giant loops of ultraviolet light in old galaxies which seem to have a second lease of life. The discovery implies that such galaxies, that appear to be dead, or are assumed to be dead by astronomers, are not so.

Mountains on Titan

At August 12th .... Titan, a moon of Saturn, ripples with mountains - but how did they form? On earth mountains form at plate boundaries as a result of subduction, it is thought, but it is being suggested that on Titan mountains form as a result of Titan shrinking, wrinkling the surface. Apparently, a similar kind of thing might have happened on earth where the lithosphere crumpled to create the Zagros mountain chain in the Middle East.

A Solar Tsunami (?)

At ... it seems the journalist is describing a solar flare, and presumably his analogy with a tsunami wave comes from the rapid advance of plasma from the Sun towards the earth as a result of the flare.