Breath Analysis & Large Structures | SciByte 77

Breath Analysis & Large Structures | SciByte 77

We take a look at analyzing your breath, large structures on a universal scale, inflatable space station modules, spacecraft update, Curiosity news and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Big on a Universal Scale

  • Image Credit: R. G. Clowes / UCLan
  • The low down
  • Quasars are the nuclei of galaxies from the early days of the universe that undergo periods of extremely high brightness that make them visible across huge distances that last 10–100 million years, which is brief on the astronomical time scale
  • Since 1982 it has been known that quasars tend to group together in clumps or ‘structures’ of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs.
  • Significance
  • Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an international team of researchers has discovered a record-breaking cluster of quasars-young active galaxies at a mind blowing 4 billion years across
  • The Milky Way is a hundred thousand light-years across and is separated from its nearest neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy, by 2.5 million light-years [~0.75 Megaparsecs (Mpc)]
  • The local supercluster of galaxies in which it’s located, the Virgo Cluster, is only a hundred million light-years wide
  • LQGs can be 650 million light-years [200 Mpc] or more across while Whole clusters of galaxies can be a mere 6.5 million light-years [2–3 Mpc]
  • While this elongated LQC has a typical dimension of 1.6 billion light-years [500 Mpc] with its longest dimension at 4 billion light years [1200 Mpc]
  • This would make it some 1600 times larger than the distance from the Milky Way to Andromeda
  • The LQG is so significant in size it also challenges the Cosmological Principle: the assumption that the universe, when viewed at a sufficiently large scale, looks the same no matter where you are observing it from.
  • Of Note
  • The modern theory of cosmology is based on the work of Albert Einstein, and depends on the assumption of the Cosmological Principle
  • The Principle is assumed but has never been demonstrated observationally ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
  • Based on the Cosmological Principle and the modern theory of cosmology, calculations suggest that astrophysicists should not be able to find a structure larger than 1.2 million light-years [370 Mpc].
  • Recall that this elongated LQC has a typical dimension of 1.6 billion light-years [500 Mpc] with its longest dimension at 4 billion light years [1200 Mpc]
  • This discovery could mean that current mathematical descriptions of the universe has been oversimplified
  • It represents a serious difficulty and a serious increase in complexity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Biggest Thing in Universe Found—Defies Scientific Theory |
  • Astronomers discover the largest structure in the universe |


Inflatable Space Station Modules

  • On Jan 11 NASA announced they have awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow to provide a new inflatable module for the ISS, making it the first privately built module to be added to the space station
  • The low down
  • According to the website Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis I inflatable test module was inserted into orbit and is still functioning and “continuing to produce invaluable images, videos and data
  • A second Genesis module was launched in 2007 and it, too, is still functioning in orbit.
  • Previous information given out said the inflatable module for the space station would be used for adding additional storage and workspace, and certified to remain on-orbit for two years
  • Significance
  • The outer shell of their module is soft, as opposed to the rigid outer shell of current modules at the ISS, Bigelow’s inflatable modules are more resistant to micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes it uses multiple layers of Vectran, a material which is twice as strong as Kevlar
  • NASA officials have said that BEAM could be on orbit about two years after getting an official go-ahead
  • The module will likely be launched by one of the agency’s commercial cargo suppliers, California-based SpaceX or Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp
  • Of Note
  • The company wants to launch and link up several of its larger expandable modules to create private space stations, which could be used by a variety of clients.
  • They are looking at a possible outpost on the moon that would use several modules, propulsion tanks, and power units that would be joined together in space and then flown down to the lunar surface.
  • Lunar dirt would be piled over the modules to protect against radiation, thermal extremes and micrometeorite strikes.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Bigelow Inflatable Module Will be Added to Space Station |
  • NASA Buys Private Inflatable Room for Space Station |

What Else is on Your Breath

  • Last time on SciByte
  • SciByte 46 | Mayan Calendar & Cancer Research | A breathalyzer that does more than find out how much you’ve had to drink [May 15, 2012]
  • The low down
  • Researchers have developed a test that can detect the presence of common infectious bacteria based just on the breath
  • The test measures the VOC, volatile organic compound, particles emitted in gasses, profiles that the bacteria create that are distinct those that the body, or other bacteria, give off
  • Significance
  • They conducted studies in lab mice that were infected with different types of common bacteria
  • Researchers used two different strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause pneumonia, and one strain of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause respiratory infections
  • The researchers tested the animals’ breath the next day by ionizing breath samples then then shooting them through a mass spectrometer to analyze concentrations of various VOCs in a process called secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
  • The test identified the different bacterial infections as well as differentiated between healthy and infected
  • The team also located the difference between the two strains of P. aeruginosa
  • The speedy results of the test is appealing. And it could at least make it a good first step in detecting bacterial infections, with a follow-up culture coming later if deemed necessary-to detect drug-resistant TB, for example
  • This technique will have to be tested in large human trials before it can be used on a large scale in offices
  • Of Note
  • Similar breath tests have also been studied for detecting other ailments, such as diabetes and cancer
  • In addition it is thought that we will also be able to distinguish between bacterial, viral and fungal infections of the lung
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Breath Test Could Sniff Out Infections in Minutes | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network |


One Way Trip to Mars

  • Last time on SciByte
  • SciByte 61 | ‘Tatooine’ Exoplanets & Eye’s | Martian Reality TV [September 4, 2012]
  • The low down
  • The Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One, which hopes to put the first boots on the Red Planet in 2023, released its basic astronaut requirements on Jan 8
  • A televised global selection process will begin later this year.
  • Significance
  • Anyone who is at least 18 years old can apply to become a Mars colony pioneer
  • Important criteria, officials say, are intelligence, good mental and physical health and dedication to the project, as astronauts will undergo eight years of training before launch.
  • Even Well before the official Astronaut Selection Program, the project has already received more than 1,000 emails from individuals who desire to go to Mars
  • Of Note
  • Mars One plans to launch a series of robotic cargo missions between 2016 and 2021, which will build a habitable Red Planet outpost ahead of the arrival of the first four colonists in 2023.
  • More settlers will arrive every two years after that. There are no plans to return the pioneers to Earth
  • The project will be largely funded by staging a global reality-TV event
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Mars One introduction film | MarsOneProject
  • YouTube Construction steps of Mars One settlement | MarsOneProject
  • YouTube Channel [Mars One
  • Social Media
  • Mars One @MarsOneProject
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mars One Homepage
  • Mars Colonists Wanted to Explore Red Planet |



  • The low down
  • The MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) took more than 115,000 total images of the lunar surface, and imaging targets were proposed by middle school students
  • Some of the final images taken by the GRAIL MoonKAM educational cameras on board Ebb and Flow, the twin spacecraft for the mission
  • The spacecraft had lowered their orbit to only about 6.8 miles [11 km] above the lunar surface. While these images aren’t of the highest of resolution, they provide a great sense of what it would be like to orbit close to the Moon
  • This footage was shot just three days prior to when the mission ended with the planned impacts on a rim of a crater near the lunar north pole.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Parting Moon Shots from NASA’s GRAIL mission | JPLnewsJPLnews
  • Social Media
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • New Video Shows the GRAIL MoonKAM’s Final Looks at the Moon |



Looking back

  • Jan 21, 1979 : 34 years ago : Neptune : Pluto has a highly elliptical orbit, completing its journey around the Sun every 248 years. Pluto’s distance from the Sun varies, most of the time, Pluto is the farthest planet from the Sun, but every 497 years, for 20 years during its orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune. In reality Pluto is actually quite a distance “above” Neptune and orbits the Sun twice for every three orbits of Neptune. Pluto “crossed” Neptune’s orbit on January 21, 1979, and temporarily became the 8th planet from the sun. On February 11, Pluto moved farther from the Sun than Neptune, regaining its status as the most distant planet in the solar system. well planet at that time Image| Orbits of Pluto and Neptune
  • Pluto and Neptune: Collision? |

Looking up this week

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