Titanosaurus & Monopoles | SciByte 118

Titanosaurus & Monopoles | SciByte 118

We take a look at a new dinosaur discovery, a synthetic monopole, strong glass, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Show Notes:

New Titanosaurs Discovery in China

  • Paleontologists has characterized a new dinosaur based on fossil remains found in northwestern China
  • The species, a plant-eating sauropod named Yongjinglong datangi, roamed during the Early Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago
  • This Discovery
  • At roughly 50-60 feet long, the Yongjinglong individual discovered was a medium-sized Titanosaur, anatomical evidence, however, points to it being a juvenile; adults may have been larger.
  • An unfused portion of the shoulder blade indicated to the researchers that the animal under investigation was a juvenile or subadult, a full-grown adult might be larger than this 50-60 foot long individual
  • Unique Characteristics
  • The shoulder blade was nearly 2 meters [6 ft], with sides that were nearly parallel, unlike many other Titanosaurs whose scapulae bow outward
  • The scapula was so long, indeed, that it did not appear to fit in the animal\’s body, if placed in a horizontal or vertical orientation.
  • This suggest the bone must have been oriented at an angle of 50 degrees from the horizontal.
  • **Anatomical Features ***
  • The anatomical features of the bones bear some resemblance to another Titanosaur that had been discovered by paleontologists in China in 1929
  • The ulna and radius were well preserved, enough so that the researchers could identify grooves and ridges they believe correspond with the locations of muscle attachments in the dinosaur\’s leg
  • The vertebrae had large cavities in the interior that the team believes provided space for air sacs in the dinosaur\’s body
  • It\’s believed that dinosaurs, like birds, had air sacs in their trunk, abdominal cavity and neck as a way of lightening the body
  • The longest tooth they found was nearly 15 centimeters long
  • **Titanosaurs **
  • The discovery point to the fact that Titanosaurs encompass a diverse group of dinosaurs,
  • It was once thought that sauropods dominated herbivorous dinosaur fauna during the Jurassic but became almost extinct during the Cretaceous
  • In other parts of the world, particularly in South America and Asia, sauropod dinosaurs continued to flourish in the Cretaceous
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Dinosaur fossils from China help researchers describe new \’Titan\’ | ScienceDaily


Synthetic Monopole

  • Physicists predicted the possibility of magnetic monopoles nearly 85 years, now scientists have identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles
  • The groundbreaking accomplishment paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature
  • \”The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole should provide us with unprecedented insight into aspects of the natural magnetic monopole-if indeed it exists,\” | Physics Professor David S. Hall \’91 and Aalto University (Finland)
  • Magnetic Monopole
  • Ordinarily, magnetic poles come in pairs: they have both a north pole and a south pole
  • A magnetic monopole is a magnetic particle possessing only a single, isolated pole-a north pole without a south pole, or vice versa
  • In 1931, a pater was published that explored the nature of these monopoles in the context of quantum mechanics
  • Despite extensive experimental searches since then, in everything from lunar samples-moon rock-to ancient fossilized minerals, no observation of a naturally-occurring magnetic monopole has yet been confirmed
  • The Investigation
  • The team adopted an innovative approach to investigating
  • An artificial magnetic field generated by a Bose-Einstein condensate, an extremely cold atomic gas tens of billionths of a degree warmer than absolute zero.
  • The team relied upon theoretical work that suggested a particular sequence of changing external magnetic fields could lead to the creation of the synthetic monopole
  • Their experiments subsequently took place in the atomic refrigerator built in a basement laboratory in the Merrill Science Center
  • After resolving many technical challenges, the team was rewarded with photographs that confirmed the monopoles\’ presence at the ends of tiny quantum whirlpools within the ultracold gas.
  • **What It Means To Science*
  • Modern interest in the concept stems from particle theories, notably the grand unified and superstring theories, which predict their existence
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Making Monopoles – Synthetic Magnetic Monopole Finally Observed | Aalto University
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopole predicted more than 80 years ago | Phys.org
  • Magnetic monopole | Wikipedia


Super Glass

  • Engineers intrigued by the toughness of mollusc shells, which are composed of brittle minerals, have found inspiration in their structure to make glass 200 times stronger than a standard pane
  • What Has Been Tried So Far
  • Previous attempts to copy the sturdy structure of mollusc shells had focused on creating new materials by assembling miniscule \”building blocks\”-like building a microscopic wall
  • The shiny, inner shell layer of some molluscs, known as nacre or mother of pearl, is some 3,000 times tougher than the minerals it is made of
  • Cracks Make it Stronger?
  • The glass is strengthened by introducing a network of microscopic cracks, the secret lies in the fact that the minerals are bound together into a larger, tougher unit.
  • The binding means the shell contains abundant tiny fault lines called interfaces, in practice it is a masterful deflector of external pressure.
  • The glass could absorb impacts better-yielding and bending slightly instead of shattering
  • The team used a 3D laser to engrave microscopic fissures into glass slides, filled them with a polymer, and found it made them 200 times tougher
  • The engraved glass can \”stretch\” by almost five percent before snapping-compared to a strain capacity of only 0.1 percent for standard glass
  • The stronger glass may find application in bullet-proof windows, glasses, or even smartphone screens
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mollusc shells inspire super-glass | Phys.org

Mirror Image Scratching

  • A study of mirrors and the tricks they can play on the mind has led to a finding that people scratching a mirror image of an arm instead of the one that truly itches, can provide some relief
  • Other experiments that have shown that the use of mirrors can cause strange behavior in people
  • The Study
  • 26 healthy male volunteers who agreed to participate in their study
  • All of the volunteers were injected on the underside of their forearms with a chemical known to cause a certain amount of itching
  • It also causes a small red bump to appear. Each of the volunteers had a similar looking dot printed in the same location on their other arm
  • The experiment consisted of scratching each of the volunteers individually on the actual injection site and on the site of the non-injected red mark on the other arm then asking them as to whether the scratching provided any relief
  • Using Mirrors
  • None of the volunteers reported receiving any relief from the scratching on the non-injected arm and all reported relief from scratching on the read injection site.
  • Next, all of the volunteers were placed individually in a position with a mirror between their arms-the arm with the chemical injection was hidden from view-the reflection of the other arm took its place.
  • Once in place, the volunteers were asked to focus their attention on the red dot on their arm-the one drawn there by the researchers-as the researchers once again scratched both of the red marks
  • After this all of the volunteers reported some degree of relief from the itching when the non-injected spot was scratched, and also, of course when the real site was scratched, despite it being out of their view.
  • What It Means
  • The amount of relief felt on the non-injected site wasn\’t equal to the real site, of course-all told it amounted to approximately 25 percent of the real deal
  • This indicates, the researchers claim, that visual cues can oftentimes override information from other senses when there is conflicting information.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Study shows mirror image scratching offers some relief | MedicalXPress


  • The team operating NASA\’s Mars rover Curiosity is considering a path across a small sand dune to reach a favorable route to science destinations
  • Wheel Wear and Tear
  • A favorable route would skirt some terrain with sharp rocks considered more likely to poke holes in the rover\’s aluminum wheels
  • There has been an accumulation of punctures and rips in the wheels accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2013
  • Some of the wheel damage may result from the force of rear wheels pushing middle or front wheels against sharp rocks, rather than simply the weight of the rover driving over the rocks
  • Much like rolling your wheeled luggage over a curb, you can feel the difference between trying to push it over the curb or pull it over the curb
  • Precautions
  • The team now drives the rover with added precautions, thoroughly checks the condition of Curiosity\’s wheels frequently, and is evaluating routes and driving methods that could avoid some wheel damage
  • To prepare for destinations farther ahead, engineers are using a test rover at JPL to check the rover\’s ability to tolerate slight slippage on slopes while using its drill
  • With the drill bit in a rock, tests simulating slips of up to about 2 inches (5 centimeters) have not caused damage
  • Other testing at JPL is evaluating possible driving techniques that might help reduce the rate of wheel punctures, such as driving backwards or using four-wheel drive instead of six-wheel drive.
  • The Dune Route
  • A candidate drilling site lies about half a mile (800 meters / 0.5 mi) away by straight line, but considerably farther by any of the driving routes assessed, the area is appealing because we can see terrain units unlike any that Curiosity has visited so far.
  • A dune about 1 meter [3 feet] high spans the gap between two scarps that might be a gateway to a southwestward route over relatively smooth ground
  • Other routes have also been evaluated for getting Curiosity from the rover\’s current location to a candidate drilling site
  • Curiosity reached the eastern side of the dune on Jan. 30 and returned images that the rover team is using to guide decisions about upcoming drives
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Curiosity Rover Report JPLnews
  • Image Galleries at JPL and Curiosity Mulimedia
  • Social Media
  • Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mars Science Laboratory: NASA Mars Rover\’s View of Possible Westward Route | mars.jpl.nasa.gov
  • Mars Science Laboratory: Curiosity Mars Rover Checking Possible Smoother Route | mars.jpl.nasa.gov


Looking back

  • Feb 11, 1801 : 231 years ago : Ceres observation interruption : Giuseppe Piazzi made a 24th observation of the position of Ceres, the asteroid he discovered between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, on 1 Jan 1801. It was the first and largest of the dwarf planets now known. After this, it moved into the light of the Sun, and was lost to view for most of the rest of the year. To mathematically relocate Ceres, Carl Gauss, age 24, took up the challenge to calculate its orbital path, based on the limited number of observations available. His method was tedious, requiring 100 hours of calculation. He began with a rough approximation for the unknown orbit, and then used it to produce a refinement, which became the subject of another improvement.. And so on. Astronomers using them found his results in close agreement as they located Ceres again 25 Nov-31 Dec 1801
  • Kepler had already noticed the gap between Mars and Jupiter in 1596. In 1772, it first suggested that an undiscovered planet could exist between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter Giuseppe Piazzi at the Academy of Palermo discovered Ceres on 1 January 1801. While he was looking for a star, Piazzi had found a moving star-like object, which he first thought was a comet. Piazzi observed Ceres a total of 24 times, the final time on 11 February 1801, when illness interrupted his observations. The information about his discovery was published in the September 1801 Ceres (dwarf planet) | Wikipedia

Looking up this week

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