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Bend the laws of physics? More like rewrite them.

Scientists all over the world are reconsidering what they previously thought about the laws that govern our physical universe. Laws of physics beware: there’s a black hole bigger than its galaxy – and it’s growing. Astrophysicists are, quite rightfully, scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders.

Black holes are already known to be ginormous areas in space. They have a gravitational pull which is so strong, they can literally absorb light. If you didn’t guess it, that’s why they’re black. Supermassive black holes are those of them which are situated at the middle of galaxies. Galaxies like our own Milky Way, yet the size of the closest known black hole is relatively small compared to this plus-sized monster found in the galaxy CID-947.

The biggest contradiction this discovery brings to the known theories about black holes is that they don’t necessarily expand at the same rate. In this particular case, the black hole is growing much, much faster than starry sky that makes up its quite skinny galaxy.

The galaxy, and its corresponding black hole, was formed in the very early years of the universe. That’s the Big Bang plus two billion years. It may seem like a lot, but in universe-wise, that’s like a two-week old baby. An international study group made this surprise discovery while looking for average black holes in a mapping project for the supermassive black holes and how they grow or evolve across long periods of cosmic time.

Among the biggest black holes ever discovered, this one measures nearly 7 billion times the mass of our star. That’s especially fascinating since the galaxy around it is relatively normal, weighing just about as much as a typical galaxy.

Another breakthrough discovery that contradicts previous known facts was that there were still stars forming within the distant galaxy. The researchers thus maintain that it will continue to grow, despite its strangeness and the size of its black hole.

Scientific speculation has prompted those behind the discovery to say that it may be a predecessor of the more extreme and massive neighboring galaxies like NGC 1277, from the constellation Perseus, situated just two hundred and twenty light years away from our own.

The biggest thanks for this discovery, the scientists said, are to go to the Hawaii Observatory, W.M. Keck and to the Chandra COSMOS survey, both having aided them greatly. They especially mentioned MOSFIRE, the new infrared spectrometer from Keck.

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Scientists have recently developed a robot with a 3D printed body that has a rigid core and a soft exterior which is capable of jumping over 30 times without being powered from the outside. The researchers said that the robot gets its power from a mix of oxygen and butane.

Michael Tolley which is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California – San Diego said that they believe that putting together both rigid and soft materials they will be capable of creating a new generation of agile and fast robots that are more a lot more adaptable and robust than the ones before them and which can safely work together with humans. Tolley also said that the idea of combining these two types of materials came right from nature. For instance, some mussels have feet that begin as soft and become rigid where they contact rocks.

The work took place at the Wyss Institute at Harvard and Nicholas Bartlett and Michael Tolley supervised the entire project. They said that complexity comes at a very low cost in nature and by using new technologies, such as 3D printing, they are trying to translate this to robotics as well.

Tolley said that soft robots are usually slow, particularly when completing tasks without being connected to any power sources and electronics. The researchers hope that they will be able to integrate rigid components in soft robots a lot better, which will allow those robots to move a lot faster without endangering any humans working alongside them.

The rigid layers on the robot are better for protecting the brain and power source while the soft parts make the machine a lot less vulnerable to any damage when landing from jumps. The new robot is constructed out of two hemispheres. The upper one is similar to half of a shell and it is 3D printed with nine different layers with various levels of stiffness, which creates a structure that is flexible similar to rubber on the exterior and very rigid near the core of the robot.

The scientists tried numerous design versions and came to the conclusion that a top that is completely rigid would allow the robot to jump higher. However, a flexible top was capable of surviving impacts, so the researchers decided to stick to the flexible design.

The half of the robot at the bottom is more flexible and also includes a chamber where butane and oxygen are being pushed in before the robot makes the jump. After ignition of the two gases, the half behaves pretty much like a ball that inflates instantaneously and propels the robot into the air. This makes it look like the 3D printed soft robot jumps like humans.

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The U.S. is getting ready to send the first commercial flight out in space, and the astronaut pilots have already been chosen. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named this week the four experienced pilots to get the chance of flying private-owned capsules into space.

Boeing and SpaceX are both sending spacecraft, but their bets are safe with the chosen astronauts: each one has already flown into space twice; they are: Air Force Col. Robert Behnken, former chief of the astronaut office; retired Marine Colonel Douglas Hurley; Air Force Col. Eric Boe, who flew with Discovery’s last shuttle crew; and Navy Capt. Sunita Williams, an experienced astronaut who flew to the International Space Station twice.

By 2017, the commercial flight companies hope to have their test flights to the space station done and over with. Cape Canaveral, Florida will see its first launch of astronauts ever since 2011 when the space shuttles retired.

For the last four years, NASA has been paying out of pocket for Russia to ferry their astronauts to space – tens of millions of dollars were spent on each ride with the Soyuz spacecraft. NASA has still got $76 more million to pay.

With each counting at least 15 years of experience, the four astronauts range in age from 44 to 50; before the actual launch, they will work closely at the spacecraft development in partnership with the companies.

NASA said spaceflight experience was the most important criteria these astronauts fulfilled. In addition to that, the crew combines a total of more than 400 days spent in space; Williams is the one accounting for most of those, as she most recently lived on ISS in 2012.

They also have among themselves more than 85 hours of spacewalking time, a category in which Williams holds the world record for most spacewalking time by a woman.

Before taking them for the commercial space missions, the SpaceX and Boeing crew capsules will have to perform at least one test flight with NASA astronauts on board; the pricing gets close to $7 billion.

According to a NASA interview, there will be more than the 4 astronauts checking the safety and the certification of the vehicle, with a great team working diligently at making the spacecraft as safe as possible.

John Holdren, head of the White House office of technology and science policy, said that finally selecting a crew for the commercial flight is another step towards getting America closer to meeting President Barack Obama’s goal of landing astronauts on Mars in the 2030s.
Image Source: Spaceflight Insider

Rapidly decreasing population of wild bees is yet another disastrous side-effect of our planet’s changing climate, leaving us without one of the most important pollinators of crops and wildflowers.

Reports covering the bee populations across North America and Europe have been going on for the past century. Jeremy Kerr, a biologist from the University of Ottawa, decided to narrow his bee observations to bumblebees, which are easily identified by their big, fuzzy shape.

Unlike the honeybees managed by beekeepers, bumblebees roam freely across North America in dozens of different species. In total, bee observations have exceeded 422,000, and Kerr explained that each one of them is carefully registered so researchers know what type of bumblebee was observed and the time and location of the bee colony.

Kerr’s focus was a cross-reference between where each species was found several years back and where they are now. His collaborators helped him identify potential effects of a warming climate, as it was shown when some species of these wild bees were nowhere to be found in the warmest places where they used to buzz.

Published in the journal Science, Kerr’s report clearly reveals that the decrease in bumblebee population is not the results of pesticide use or land clearing. Ecologist Lawrence Harder of the University of Calgary has been studying and observing bumblebees for the past 35 years.

Even though she was not involved in this particular study, she complete agrees with its conclusions, explaining that the shape of a furry bumblebee allows it to keep its warmth in colder environments. However, the same characteristic makes it difficult for them to survive in heat.

One of the most surprising things that Kerr and his colleagues noticed is that bumblebees are rather different from other insects in the aspect of expanding their range at the cooler edge. Butterflies and insects in general move along to cooler regions when heat comes, but not bumblebees.

Kerr explained their observations showed they seemed kind of stuck, and Harder thinks he might know why. Unlike other insects, many bumblebee species are restricted by boundaries of vegetation, and not by cold temperatures criteria. Even if it gets really warm, bumblebees will stick to their favored open grassland instead of moving northward into Canada’s forests.

Honeybees get all the attention nowadays, as their numbers are threatened as well. But bumblebees play a crucial role in various ecosystems, as agricultural crops and wildflowers depend on them for the complex task of pollination.
Image Source: Beneficial Bugs

Google recently revealed its latest developer preview of the new Android M operating system, which is the company’s next mobile OS and it is expected to launch somewhere in the third 2015 quarter.

The new OS is referred to as Macademia Nut Cookie, but it’s uncertain whether Google will change the name or not at the time. The company claims that this is the most powerful release and the update will bring numerous improvements. However, most of these improvements are incremental so most users won’t really see them at all.

The Android M operating system will feature support for the USB-C connector which the company claims it is able to charge devices up to five times faster. And like the Lightning connector used by Apple, the USB-C can be plugged on both sides, so people won’t have to check which side is which.

The new operating system will also feature some new permissions that will make things a lot easier for people to decide what information can be used by apps, by giving them the option to restrict the data used. For instance, if you download WhatsApp on your Android device right now, you have to grant the app permission to access your microphone, camera, photos, location, calendar, contacts and many more. But with the new Android M, people won’t be asked to give permissions when downloading the app. Users will have to grant access only when trying to send a memo, for instance, case in which they will be asked to give permission to access the microphone on their device.

People will also be able to revoke any permission through the help of a special segment in the settings section of the operating system. Other Android M improvements will be incremental but will help the users have a better experience with their device altogether. There will be a new feature named Android Auto Backup and Restore which will be used together with Google Drive in order to backup settings files and data automatically to the cloud.

The Android M developer preview is already available to download for the Google Nexus 6 and the Google Nexus 5, as well as the Nexus Player and Nexus 9 tablet. The official release date to the public is set to come in the third 2015 quarter but there is no information more specific than this at the current time. However, a lot of people are anticipating a September release.

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While this idea seems more like something you would find in a science fiction movie, the truth is that researchers have made in significant breakthrough in brain networking. And exactly as the name suggests, this method involves the linking together of brains in order to make a collective thought network and this is why rat and monkey brains were linked by scientists.

Miguel A. Nicolelis, director of the Centre for Neuroengineering at the Duke University has spent more than 20 years trying to make this science fiction dream a reality. For 25 years Nicolelis, together with his colleagues, have been attempting to decipher signals recorded by some electrodes inserted in brains with the help of some devices that they designed. And now it seems like this time was a time well spent as they had a breakthrough and they wired the brains of animals in order for them to collaborate on tasks.

Nicolelis said that this discovery is the first display of a shared brain to machine interface, something that has been translated very successfully over the last years from clinical applications to studies in animals as well. He believes that these shared brain-machine interfaces will get the same attention and might soon be put into clinical practice.

Four rats had delivered into their brains the same signal in the study and when a digital monitor revealed that their thoughts were in synch the rats were given some water as reward. After some more tests the scientists discovered that they were able to manipulate the patterns in the brains of the animals so that they had a collective thought 87% of the time.

What is even more impressive than this is that the researchers were capable of successfully manipulating three rats in order for them to act as a chain of information processing. This means that they were able to make the first rat create a specific type of activity in the brain and then pass it on next in the chain and so on.  After they were successful in their experiment, the scientists focused on monkeys as well. Two monkeys were shown in the study images of a ball and an arm and by giving them similar brain signals the monkeys were capable of working together in order to move the arm next to the ball.

Karen S. Rommelfanger, director at the Neuroethics Program in the Centre of Ethics at the Emory University said that she was very impressed by the experiment and the discovery but that she was a little worried about how this could create potential legal and privacy issues.

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IBM was the first to introduce the 7nm chip.

As the famous computer company launched a new product, here are the most important things you need to know about IBM’s 7nm computer chips. The enterprise is now under the media’s attention because they were the first to introduce a tiny, yet functional and powerful silicon chip on the market.

The manufacturing of the silicon chip was made possible through a recent collaboration between IBM, Samsung, GobalFoundries and SUNY. The four companies have joined hands for one of the most daring initiative in the technological field.

Thanks to the new achievement that IBM has made, the standard size of the silicon chip has been significantly reduced. Silicon chips that were initially 10nm large could soon be reduced to just 7nm. The good news, however, is that the chips are functional and they could soon be used for the production of highly advanced technological devices.

In spite of the positive outcome that the chips have had during tests, IBM has further disclosed that the 7nm-wide chip will undergo a series of experiments and tests in the next two years. Scientists have praised IBM’s achievement because it is for the first time that such a tiny chip will be introduced on the market.

In addition, the chip is the first to be created out of silicon-germanium and the first to incorporate extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in its production process. The silicon-germanium composition is much more powerful than the silicon material that was once used.

The incredibly small transistors could only be recreated with the help of the extreme lithography, which is why scientists have opted for this method, instead of others. IBM developers have also used a quadruple-patterning to properly arrange the transistors on the chip.

The company has stated that the size of the chip has been reduced by 50%, thus making commercial models a lot smaller. The regular size is of 14nm and scientists currently aspire to lower the size to 10nm.

A 7nm commercial model would definitely represent the beginning of a new era for silicon chips and for the additional products that may be created with their help.

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Facebook has added new settings for your News Feed.

We invite you to take a look at Facebook’s News Feed settings as the social network has included new options to allow users to better organize the displayed information. The new tools give user the possibility to choose the information they want to view on top of their pages and to do away with the less interesting data.

Mark Zuckerberg has recently disclosed that Facebook’s News Feed page will be organized from now on, according to users’ preferences. This is possible due to the new tools that the social network has embedded, enabling users to follow or unfollow certain pages.

The first setting was inserted after users repeatedly complained that their News Feed pages are flooded by irrelevant pieces of information, which prevents them from seeing what they are really interested in. Thus, Facebook allows social networkers to place their favorite pages on top of the News Feed page, being able to quickly see their recent posts.

At the opposite pole, Facebook is also allowing users to unfollow certain page, so users would no longer be stressed by unnecessary posts. There is also the option to temporarily unfollow a friend or a page and then resume following him/her, once the queue of boring posts has finished.

The third feature that Facebook inserted is a menu that suggests users which pages or persons to follow, based on their previous preferences. The menu will pop-up as soon as users log into their profiles; however, they can later on choose whether they want to see more suggestions or not.

The current changes that Facebook is making are meant to render the News Feed a lot easier to read and to eliminate all the “white noise”. For that matter, the new options will not be displayed on this page, but rather inserted in the menu, underneath the “More” button.

Users will have to click on this button, access the Settings menu and choose which options they want to apply to their News Feed.

These features were first tested in Spain during a quiet experiment and the good feedback stimulated Facebook to spread them in other countries, as well. Users should be pleased with the new settings as they have many more possibilities to organize their friends and pages.

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Even though Pluto was demoted from its former full planet status in 2006, it appears that the dwarf planet is still in a pretty good mood and also appears to be in love. NASA’s spacecraft called New Horizons is currently closing in on Pluto and an image taken by it shows that the surface of the small planet has a heart on it.

The heart shaped area on Pluto is around 1,200 miles across and its material which is of lighter color is quite in contrast with other dark spots that are similar in size and were spotted in images taken prior to this one. The image was shot on Tuesday from a 5 million miles distance. NASA’s probe is currently moving in even closer to the dwarf planet and will soon be able to send higher quality pictures back containing this interesting feature on the surface of Pluto.

Jeff Moore from NASA said that the next time they will be able to spot this part of the planet, this region will be captured at a quality of around 500 times better than the one they have at the moment. He also said that this will be incredible.

Other than the lighter colored heart, there is another darker area in the picture in the lower half which is known as “the whale”.

The New Horizons spacecraft was sent out in 2006 in a mission to analyze the planet and ever since then the probe has been constantly sending back images which are increasingly clearer as it’s approaching its target. NASA said that they’ve gone from incredibly blurry pictures to images showing identifiable features on the landscape. And “the heart” is probably one of the best examples of said clearer pictures.

NASA announced earlier this week that New Horizon is facing some technical issues which came as a scare to space fans. The spacecraft couldn’t get in contact with mission control for more than an hour and it eventually ended up switching to a computer used as backup.

Fortunately the spacecraft recover from the hiccup and is currently on track to finish its mission as it was intended to. NASA said that the spacecraft is officially back on track and is expected to complete the mission. This image with the heart spotted on Pluto is the first one received by mission control on Earth after the technical difficulty occurred.

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Ten years ago, Facebook was starting to become the most favored social network for people who wanted to keep tabs on friends and family. Now we can choose from several popular messaging apps on our smartphones when it comes to sharing what we want with whom we want.

And in recent months, the trend of one-to-one communication has been gaining traction among users of social media, simply because when you message someone in private, we expect a reply. When you post on Facebook, it often feels like leaving a note on a friend’s door in the hope they’ll see it.

Social networking is going through a makeover with the rise of messaging services, and Facebook’s one-to-many type of communication is being gradually being replaced by more direct messaging.

According to a recent report of data startup Quettra, six of the 10 most-downloaded and most-used apps are the ones providing messaging services – the average user opens one of them 9 times a day.

When it comes to Facebook-owned texting apps, WhatsApp and Messenger are opened on average 25 to 30 times a day, while the classic Facebook app only comes up 15 times. This doesn’t mean that Facebook is getting dumped, it only means its purpose has changed and its messaging apps have become more relevant.

People are starting to appreciate more the one-to-one chatting, because it reflects more closely the way people interact every day. And Facebook has noticed the trend and it has happily hopped on board.

After purchasing WhatsApp for $22 billion last year, the Silicon Valley tech giant has also invested and promoted in the upgraded version of Messenger, transforming it in a stand-alone platform boasting more than 700 million users.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Q&A session that numbers show that messaging is the only thing people love more than social networking – and they directed their efforts accordingly. But trouble might be looming still.

With its primary revenue coming from advertising that shows up in the users’ feed, there’s a certain risk hidden in the shift to messaging apps, as they don’t benefit from such a stream that makes room for displaying ads.

But Facebook is hinting to other ways of making money, such as monetizing Messenger. After opening it to outside developers that brought in games and its own payment method, no one is worried that Facebook’s deep pockets will have to suffer.
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