When you’re a company the size of Apple and under the scrutiny that Apple is, keeping secrets is hard. That’s what Tim Cook told investors during Tuesday’s annual investors meeting, during which he described how, “keeping stuff confidential is the bane of my existence.” In other words, with the exception of the visitor’s center, you […]
When we talk about death machines, we’re usually speaking hyperbolically about contraptions like this one, or the rise of AI overlords that get bored with their menial tasks before rising up against their oppressors. This might start with buying up Papa Johns franchises and taking up Soul Cycle but it’ll undoubtedly end with eradicating the human race. Sarco involves no hyperbole; it’s a literal machine used for the sole purpose of killing whomever steps inside. Created by Phillip Nitschke — who’s now known affectionately as “Dr. Death.” by his peers — Sarco is a 3D-printed euthanasia tool that look suspiciously…
Numerous tech companies have voiced their support for a bill currently working its way through Congress, the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (or SESTA), which is designed to make it easier for prosecutors to target websites that enable sex work. Wikimedia, the foundation behind Wikipedia, is concerned that the new bill will overreach, and make it difficult for sites built on user-generated content to continue to operate.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio introduced SESTA in August, which aims to scale back part of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides sites with immunity from liability the content that is generated by users. The bill has been criticized by groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say…
Swedish Viking Age
Researchers from Stockholm University and Uppsala University uncovered new DNA evidence proving that female Viking warriors existed. The testing identified some of the remains in the iconic mid-10th century Swedish Viking Age grave in Birka as female. This is of huge value, both historically, anthropologically and socially, because it proves war was not an exclusively male practice, even at the higher ranks.
Excavated in the 1880s, the remains and artifacts from the gave include the warrior and her two glorious steeds, a sword, armor-piercing arrows, and a complete set of gaming pieces with a board. Although some of the skeletal morphology suggested that the warrior was female, the warrior’s sex was originally presumed male until cutting-edge DNA testing technology provided a quick new means to solidify our scientific understanding of human history, and turn ancient Viking sagas into natural history.
To get the complete picture provided by this grave, which has served as an example of Viking warrior burials for more than a century, archaeologists, archaeogeneticists, and geneticists collaborated in this landmark study. The team retrieved DNA from the skeleton, and it demonstrated that the warrior carried no Y chromosome and two X chromosomes. Her nomadic lifestyle was confirmed by isotope analyses, a finding that complements what historians already knew about the martial society of Northern Europe that dominated the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries.
“The gaming set indicates that she was an officer, someone who worked with tactics and strategy and could lead troops in battle. What we have studied was not a Valkyrie from the sagas but a real life military leader, that happens to have been a woman,” Stockholm University study leader Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson told Phys.org.
Connecting Past and Present
More than the first solidifying evidence of female viking warriors, this discovery is a prime example of the ways new technology enables us to better understand our ancestors. We can even look them in the eyes. Researchers in Cambridge used various forensic science techniques to reconstruct the face of a working class, 13th-century British man now called Context 958, and drew conclusions about his life from their findings. Scientists are also now able to extract and analyze the DNA of our ancient human ancestors from ordinary sediment, providing fresh opportunities to explore early human evolution without need of bones or fossils.
These technological advances provide new insights into the rich history all humans share. “Written sources mention female warriors occasionally, but this is the first time that we’ve really found convincing archaeological evidence for their existence,” Uppsala University Department of Archaeology and Ancient History Professor Neil Price told Phys.org. As the techniques used in this case are applied at sites around the world, exciting new insights are sure to teach us more about the past and ourselves.
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Hashtags could soon be useful for a lot more than fostering discussion on your favorite social network. Researchers have developed a hashtag-shaped quantum chip (shown below) that could confirm the existence of the oddball Majorana particle, which ex…
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A New Perspective
In 2016, one decade after Pluto was downgraded to the status of dwarf planet, Caltech researchers proposed the existence of a new Planet Nine. Their conclusion was based largely on the distribution of objects in the space known as the Kuiper Belt, and not long after their data was released, it was challenged for possible observational bias.
Now, two astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid have used a new technique that’s less susceptible to this observational bias to analyze the space where Planet Nine could be lurking. The new study is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).
Each celestial object has two nodes, points where the object’s orbit crosses the solar system’s plane. These are the points where a possible interaction with another celestial object — like a Planet Nine — is likely to occur.
For their study, the researchers measured the distance between the nodes of the 28 known extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs) and the Sun. They noticed that the nodes of the ETNOs’ were clustered at a particular range of distances from the Sun, and they also found a correlation where there shouldn’t be one between the nodes’ positions and inclinations.
“Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU,” study author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos told the Information and Scientific News Service (SINC). “We believe that what we are seeing here cannot be attributed to the presence of observational bias.”
Free of Bias
Of course, there’s still no certainty yet whether the cause of these perturbations is indeed a planet. To be really sure that Planet Nine — and maybe even Planet Ten — exists, we might have to wait for data from the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in October 2018.
If we do uncover additional planets in our solar system, they’ll do more than simply force us to update our science texts. Such a discovery could help us solve a decades-old questions about our corner of the universe — why the Sun has an unusual tilt — and it would also force us to rethink our simulations about the future of our solar system and how it might meet its ultimate end.
For now, however, all we can do is wait to see if the elusive Planet Nine actually exists. Future observations similar to those conducted by the team at the Complutense University of Madrid will ensure that we avoid any observational bias as the hunt continues.
The post Scientists Just Presented New Evidence That Supports Planet Nine’s Existence appeared first on Futurism.
Researchers at the University of New Mexico (UNM) have made an incredible discovery that could help us better understand not just black holes, but also the universe.
For the first time ever, astronomers have observed and measured two supermassive black holes orbiting one another. The black holes are hundreds of millions of light-years from us, but that just happens to be the perfect distance from the Earth for optimal observation.
The observation process was an undertaking 12 years in the making. “For a long time, we’ve been looking into space to try and find a pair of these supermassive black holes orbiting as a result of two galaxies merging,” professor Greg Taylor explained in a UNM news release. “Even though we’ve theorized that this should be happening, nobody had ever seen it until now.”
The team used the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to plot the black holes’ trajectories and confirm that they are indeed in orbit with one another. However, the size of the black holes makes their orbital period around 24,000 years, so even after viewing the binary system for over a decade, the scientists have yet to witness any curvature in their orbit.
These orbiting black holes could teach us a great deal about our universe. “Supermassive black holes have a lot of influence on the stars around them and the growth and evolution of the galaxy,” Taylor explained. “So, understanding more about them and what happens when they merge with one another could be important for our understanding for the universe.”
Bob Zavala, an astronomer with the U.S. Naval Observatory, likens the potential of this discovery to what astronomers were able to learn about stars from studying their binary orbits. “Now we’ll be able to use similar techniques to understand super-massive black holes and the galaxies they reside within,” he told UNM.
The UNM team plans to observe the black holes again in three or four years to confirm their findings and get a more precise reading of the orbit. This discovery will undoubtedly provide a wealth of new knowledge for many years to come.
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