Daily Archives: January 29, 2013

Galactic Views (73)


Andromeda’s Colorful Rings
NASA – The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation.

The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size. Herschel’s ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.

The colors in this image have been enhanced to make them easier to see, but they do reflect real variations in the data. The very coldest clouds are brightest in the longest wavelengths, and colored red here, while the warmer ones take on a bluish tinge.

These data, together with those from other observatories, reveal that other dust properties, beyond just temperature, are affecting the infrared color of the image. Clumping of dust grains, or growth of icy mantles on the grains towards the outskirts of the galaxy, appear to contribute to these subtle color variations.

These observations were made by Herschel’s spectral and photometric imaging receiver (SPIRE) instrument. The data were processed as part of a project to improve methods for assembling mosaics from SPIRE observations. Light with a wavelength of 250 microns is rendered as blue, 350-micron is green, and 500-micron light is red. Color saturation has been enhanced to bring out the small differences at these wavelengths Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/NHSC

How President Obama Lost His Shirt to John Boehner

Ralph BenkoBy Ralph Benko – In retrospect, at the Battle at Fiscal Cliff, the House Speaker John Boehner took President Obama to the cleaners. He did it suavely, without histrionics.

Boehner, last week, again bested Obama by pushing the debt ceiling fight back to May. This is a double whammy by Boehner. According to specialists, by structuring the law to allow new borrowing only to the extent of obligations “outstanding on May 19, 2013, exceeds the face amount of such obligations outstanding on the date of the enactment of this Act” Boehner effectively instituted a spending freeze. more> http://tinyurl.com/bh5lsl4

Hotspots and have-nots

By John C Abell – No technology changed the world as profoundly as the telephone did, but it only happened because of universal access. Governments and phone companies were willing to heavily subsidize wiring locations that were not cost-effective, precisely because the telephone was just a toy if you couldn’t call anyone from anywhere. The parallel here is obvious and important: The Internet rapidly evolved from a forum for bored geeks into the essential connector to services, goods and other people when it was made available to the masses.

The Internet is now a utility everyone needs and deserves, and the case for universal access has already been made: Entire industries have been created or disrupted into oblivion because of it. Blanket the world with broadband, and the have-nots will have a fighting chance. more> http://tinyurl.com/azhu6fb

DARPA funds research for electronics that disappear

R&D Magazine – What if these electronics simply disappeared when no longer needed? DARPA announces the Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program with the aim of revolutionizing the state of the art in transient electronics or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them. Transient electronics developed under VAPR should maintain the current functionality and ruggedness of conventional electronics, but, when triggered, be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings. Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them. more> http://tinyurl.com/a9awpvm

Employers encouraged by proposal to fix U.S. immigration chaos

CCIR protester

CCIR protester (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Lisa Baertlein and Sarah McBride – From farmers who cannot find Americans to pick their crops to technology firm who need more engineers from abroad, the bipartisan plan from eight U.S. senators announced on Monday offered solutions like a “workable” program for seasonal farm labor and a commitment to “attracting and keeping the world’s best and brightest.”

Companies and business groups of all stripes have come out in favor of immigration reform, hoping to tap the immigrant labor force that has long been a key to growth of the U.S. economy. more> http://tinyurl.com/b3u3ohj