Science

Supermassive black hole’s quasar is fastest ever formed

Supermassive black hole’s quasar is fastest ever formed

Scientists lead by Xue-Bing Wu from Peking University have spotted a quasar that dates back nearly to the beginning of time. This beast goes by the name of SDSSJ010013.021280225.8 - or if you want to be short about it, just SDSS J0100+2802. What makes this monstrous heavenly body so important is its age and its size. While it's not the largest black hole ever detected, it's still 12 billion times our own Sun's mass - and it's sitting in the center of a quasar that's very, very bright.

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Google’s AI wins Space Invaders, proves “human-level control”

Google’s AI wins Space Invaders, proves “human-level control”

A new study has been published this week which suggests that artificial intelligence can now learn "human-level control." The team of researchers come from Google's DeepMind, where they're using Space Invaders - the video game - to show how the search for truly human artificial intelligence isn't too far off. The machine learns to play the video game, learns to win at the video game, and dominates all humans at the game they've created to help us defend our planet against the alien hordes.

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NASA satellite shows how much sand from the Sahara is in the atmosphere

NASA satellite shows how much sand from the Sahara is in the atmosphere

NASA is using one of its satellites to determine how much sand from the Sahara Desert in Africa ends up helping the Amazon rainforest in South America to grow. While the two locations are on different continents, the amount of dust from the desert that makes its way to the rain forest will surprise you. NASA used one of its satellites to quantify how much dust from the desert makes it to South America for the first time.

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Gerbils replace rats as historical plague spreaders

Gerbils replace rats as historical plague spreaders

It would appear that our hatred of rats for the past several hundred years may be due to a bit of mistaken identity. Scientists this week have published a paper which suggests that it wasn't so much rats that spread the bubonic plague across the planet, but gerbils. Your best buddy, the gerbil - the one you've got in a plastic tube cage sitting in your living room right now. He may have been guilty this whole time! All these hundreds of years, keeping silent for his ancestors, the real-deal spreaders of plague.

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Unseen vintage NASA photos shown in Bloomsbury Auction house

Unseen vintage NASA photos shown in Bloomsbury Auction house

This week the folks at Dreweatts for Bloomsbury Auctions have revealed a collection previously uncirculated NASA photos from space. These photos will go up for auction after being exhibited for a period of time in London at Mallett Antiques. The photos in this collection were sourced from the archives of the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, where many unreleased NASA photos go after a mission is complete. What we're hoping to do today is to show you the largest versions of these photos available and make them widely available so they'll never be shut away again.

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Lunar XPrize teams collaborate to put rovers on the moon

Lunar XPrize teams collaborate to put rovers on the moon

Google has been hosting the Lunar XPrize for a number of years putting up a significant amount of money as an award for any company that is able to land a rover on the surface of the moon. The prize a successful team will get for landing on the surface of the moon is $30 million. Two competing teams announced this week that they would team up in their effort to win.

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Buddha statue contains mummy in “advanced state of meditation”

Buddha statue contains mummy in “advanced state of meditation”

The man inside this statue is dead according to conventional knowledge and science - but don't tell him that. The Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort has taken to scanning this particular fellow recently. The only Chinese buddhist mummy "available in the West for scientific research," they say, and Erik Bruijn, buddhist art and culture expert, is in charge of the project. Under his care, this reliquary - as its being called - has been under close watch, and ceremonies before scans have been implemented.

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Animals grow as they evolve: so says science

Animals grow as they evolve: so says science

This week a paper has been published in the journal Science which suggests that the mean size of marine mammals has increased 150-fold in the last 542 million years. It's a massive jump, suggests postdoctoral researcher and co-author of this paper, Noel Heim, suggesting that though it may not seem like a lot when seen between one animal and its closest cousin, it's quite significant. This discovery includes word that increase in body size isn't always due to animal lineages growing bigger, but to the diversification of groups of organisms that are larger, and grow larger than their predecessors early in their line's history.

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Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

One supermassive black hole's blasting winds could have major effects on the growth of stars in its host galaxy. NASA and the ESA have both observed winds being blown out of a black hole called PDS 456. Using NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope, scientists like Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have been able to begin calculations of the power of this and other black holes in the near future. With great power comes the supreme ability to slow down the speed at which stars age.

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NYC Sea Level to rise 6 feet by 2100

NYC Sea Level to rise 6 feet by 2100

According to a paper published by the New York Panel on Climate Change, projections have New York City sea level rising well above the global average for the next 100 years. According to this paper, projections for sea level rise in New York City could reach as high as 6 feet by 2100. Within the next 40 years, sea level rise in New York City could reach 11 to 12 inches. Does that mean you'll be pumping your basement soon? Not so much - but your kids might.

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