NYTimes.com: India’s national space agency said that communications with Chandrayaan-1, its first spacecraft to orbit the moon, were lost on Saturday and that its scientists were no longer controlling the orbiter.
Chandrayaan-1‘s mission was expected to continue for at least another year.
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CNN.com: American children aren’t necessarily getting smarter or dumber, but that might not be good enough to compete globally, according to numbers cited by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
He noted a special analysis put out by the National Center for Education Statistics that compares 15-year-old US students with students from other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The report says that it found US students placed below average in math and science, and that 16 of the 29 other participating OECD member countries outperformed their US peers in terms of average scores.
latimes.com: Scientists have discovered a planet that shouldn’t probably exist.
The planet is known as a “hot Jupiter,” a gas giant orbiting the star Wasp-18, about 330 light-years from Earth. The planet, Wasp-18b, is so close to the star that it completes a full orbit (its “year”) in less than an Earth day, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature.
An orbital period of 0.94 days for the hot-Jupiter planet WASP-18b
Physics Today: Last year, Derek Briggs, director of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, and colleagues discovered that tiny fossilized structures usually 1-2 μm long, which were previously believed to be the remains of bacteria on fossilized feathers, were in fact carbon deposits called melanosomes that could produce black and white strips on the ancient feathers.
Briggs’s team published new research in the journal Biology Letters, based on 40-million-year-old fossilized feathers obtained from deposits in Messel, Germany. Using scanning electron microscopy, the team proved that shining some light on the melanosomes can create a diffraction pattern whose iridescence, or color sheen, is similar to that seen on modern bird feathers.
“Discovery of a color-producing nanostructure in a fossil feather opens up the possibility that we someday be able to determine such colors in fossil birds, as well as in feathered dinosaurs,” said H. Richard Lane, a paleontologist and program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.
“The feathers produced a black background with a metallic greenish, bluish or coppery color at certain angles—much like the colors we see in starlings and grackles today,” said Richard Prum, one of the paper’s authors.
Structural coloration in a fossil feather
The colour of fossil feathers
WSJ.com: In a vault beneath the British Library, Jeremy Leighton John, the library’s first curator of eManuscripts, grapples with a formidable historical challenge.
How to archive the deluge of computer data swamping scientists so that future generations can authenticate today’s discoveries and better understand the people who made them.
His task is only getting harder: Scientists who collaborate via e-mail, Google, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook are leaving fewer paper trails, while the information technologies that do document their accomplishments can be incomprehensible to other researchers and historians trying to read them.
Computer-intensive experiments and the software used to analyze their output generate millions of gigabytes of data that are stored or retrieved by electronic systems that quickly become obsolete.
“It would be tragic if there were no record of lives that were so influential,” John says.
The future of saving our past Nature
Nature News: Nitrous oxide (N2O) has become the greatest threat to the ozone layer, a new analysis in Science suggests. The ozone-destroying abilities of the gas have been largely ignored by policy-makers and atmospheric scientists alike, who have focused on the more potent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—historically the dominant ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O): The Dominant Ozone-Depleting Substance Emitted in the 21st Century
guardian.co.uk: For all we know we may live in a world in which windows unbreak and cold cups of coffee spontaneously heat up, we just don’t remember. The explanation is quantum entanglement, says Lorenzo Maccone at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but other physicists, such as Huw Price, head of the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney, remain skeptical.
Quantum Solution to the Arrow-of-Time Dilemma Phys. Rev. Lett.
Science: As they prepare to restart the Large Hadron Collider, accelerator physicists are confident that, instead of suffering a second catastrophic breakdown, the world’s largest atom smasher will perform to the standards set by its predecessors—and give them lots of smaller headaches to struggle with.
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NPR: Iran’s leaders say the country’s nuclear program exists only for the purpose of generating electricity. Western intelligence agencies say the Islamic republic aims to produce nuclear weapons and intimidate its neighbors. How close is Iran to getting the bomb? How might it be stopped? And what are the implications for the United States and the rest of the world if Iran succeeds? This week, NPR looks at Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons programs in a series.
Iran And The Bomb: US Keeps Options Open
Nature: Certain insulators have conducting surfaces that arise from subtle chemical properties of the bulk material. The latest experiments suggest that such surfaces may compete with graphene in electronic applications.
Topological surface states protected from backscattering by chiral spin texture
A tunable topological insulator in the spin helical Dirac transport regime