Information that deserves attention, 15

These are the articles and videos from the previous week I found most interesting.

  1. The Role of Synapses in Memory – On Our Mind
  2. Fermi Catches a ‘Transformer’ Pulsar
  3. ATV-5: Georges Lemaître, Monseigneur Big Bang
  4. Charting culture
  5. Mass and Weight are (sort of) the SAME
  6. Cosmic Journeys : The Search for Earth-like Planets


The Role of Synapses in Memory – On Our Mind

University of California Television (UCTV)

Can lost memories be found? Is it possible to erase a memory from the brain? Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD joins William Mobley MD,PhD to discuss his recent study where memories were not only erased but restored in rats. Learn about how synapses in the brain function and how findings of this study could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Series: “The Brain Channel” [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 28391]


Fermi Catches a ‘Transformer’ Pulsar

NASA Goddard

In late June 2013, an exceptional binary system containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar’s radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

The system, known as AY Sextantis, is located about 4,400 light-years away in the constellation Sextans. It pairs a 1.7-millisecond pulsar named PSR J1023+0038 — J1023 for short — with a star containing about one-fifth the mass of the sun. The stars complete an orbit in only 4.8 hours, which places them so close together that the pulsar will gradually evaporate its companion.

To better understand J1023’s spin and orbital evolution, the system was routinely monitored in radio. These observations revealed that the pulsar’s radio signal had turned off and prompted the search for an associated change in its gamma-ray properties.

What’s happening, astronomers say, are the last sputtering throes of the pulsar spin-up process. Researchers regard the system as a unique laboratory for understanding how millisecond pulsars form and for studying details of how accretion takes place on neutron stars.

In J1023, the stars are close enough that a stream of gas flows from the sun-like star toward the pulsar. The pulsar’s rapid rotation and intense magnetic field are responsible for both the radio beam and its powerful pulsar wind. When the radio beam is detectable, the pulsar wind holds back the companion’s gas stream, preventing it from approaching too closely.

But now and then the stream surges, pushing its way closer to the pulsar and establishing an accretion disk. When gas from the disk falls to an altitude of about 50 miles (80 km), processes involved in creating the radio beam are either shut down or, more likely, obscured. Some of the gas may be accelerated outward at nearly the speed of light, forming dual particle jets firing in opposite directions. Shock waves within and along the periphery of these jets are a likely source of the bright gamma-ray emission detected by Fermi.

Read more at: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/n…


ATV-5: Georges Lemaître, Monseigneur Big Bang

European Space Agency, ESA

With ATV-5 George Lemaitre soon to be launched to the ISS from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, ESA pays tribute to George Lemaitre, the Belgian cleric and professor who was the first to conceive the idea of a big bang.

The name of the man who proposed the prevailing ‘expansion’ theory on the beginning of the universe was proposed by Belgium’s delegation to ESA.

This video explains who was Georges Lemaitre and how he contributed to modern Cosmology. It includes an interview in English and French with Professor Dominique Lambert, Theoretical physics – University of Namur


Charting culture

nature video

This animation distils hundreds of years of culture into just five minutes. A team of historians and scientists wanted to map cultural mobility, so they tracked the births and deaths of notable individuals like David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, from 600 BC to the present day. Using them as a proxy for skills and ideas, their map reveals intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble. The information comes from Freebase, a Google-owned database of well-known people and places, and other catalogues of notable individuals. The team is based at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Read Nature’s news story: http://www.nature.com/news/1.15650

Find the research paper in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/…


Mass and Weight are (sort of) the SAME

Sixty Symbols

That’s what genius is about: it’s been the first person to point the obvious.

The Equivalence Principle, starring Professor Mike Merrifield from the University of Nottingham (plus Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton).
Feather in vacuum: http://youtu.be/cjSvxWpbP_o


Cosmic Journeys : The Search for Earth-like Planets

YouTube

Get the latest from the planet-hunting frontier. Find out what we are learning about our place in the cosmos from the search for earth-like planets.

This journey started tens of thousands of years ago, when humans began to fan out across the planet, following unknown pathways, crossing unmeasured distances. We traced coastlines, and sailed uncertain seas. We crossed ocean straits drained by an ice age.

Into every corner of Earth we ventured, looking for places to put down our roots, to raise our families, or just to see what was there. Today, it’s the final frontier that fires our imaginations. With so many stars in our galaxy, we make a simple extrapolation, that the cosmos must be filled with worlds like ours, with life, even intelligent life.

For four years, the historic planet hunting mission, Kepler, starred at a group of 150,000 stars located in a region extending three thousand light years away from earth.

The data collected by this spacecraft has brought a turning point in the long search for other planets like earth. Is ours one of countless life-bearing worlds strewn about the galaxy; or is it a rare garden of eden in a barren universe?

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