Monthly Archives: June 2014

Galactic Views (131)


Hubble Sees a Dwarf Galaxy Shaped by a Grand Design

NASA – The subject of this Hubble image is NGC 5474, a dwarf galaxy located 21 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). This beautiful image was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

The term “dwarf galaxy” may sound diminutive, but don’t let that fool you — NGC 5474 contains several billion stars! However, when compared to the Milky Way with its hundreds of billions of stars, NGC 5474 does indeed seem relatively small.

NGC 5474 itself is part of the Messier 101 Group. The brightest galaxy within this group is the well-known spiral Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101). This galaxy’s prominent, well-defined arms classify it as a “grand design galaxy,” along with other spirals Messier 81 and Messier 74.

Also within this group are Messier 101’s galactic neighbors. It is possible that gravitational interactions with these companion galaxies have had some influence on providing Messier 101 with its striking shape. Similar interactions with Messier 101 may have caused the distortions visible in NGC 5474.

Both the Messier 101 Group and our own Local Group reside within the Virgo Supercluster, making NGC 5474 something of a neighbor in galactic terms.

European Space Agency
Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Updates from OECD

Financial Education for Youth
OECD – The term “financial education” in a school context is used to refer to the teaching of financial knowledge, understanding, skills, behaviors, attitudes and values which will enable students to make savvy and effective financial decisions in their daily life and when they become adults.

The outcome of financial education is typically referred to as financial literacy or financial capability.

The individual is responsible for the financial product he or she decides to purchase, and the individual will face all the consequences of the choice. In addition, the current economic and financial environment can make it even more difficult for individuals to find and remain in a stable and salaried occupation.

All of these trends have transferred the responsibility of major financial decisions to individuals. more>

How Our Minds Actually Affect Our Bodies


Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion, Author: Jeremy Webb.

By Maria Popova – What the researchers found was startling in its implications for medicine, philosophy, and spirituality — despite being aware they were taking placebos, the participants rated their symptoms as “moderately improved” on average. In other words, they knew what they were taking wasn’t a drug — it was a medical “nothing” — but the very consciousness of taking something made them experience fewer symptoms.

“Realism can be bad for your health. Optimists recover better from medical procedures such as coronary bypass surgery, have healthier immune systems and live longer, both in general and when suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and kidney failure.

“Optimism seems to reduce stress-induced inflammation and levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. It may also reduce susceptibility to disease by dampening sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter governs what’s called the “rest-and-digest” response — the opposite of fight-or-flight.” more>

Updates from GE


The Smartest Bulb in the Box Will Talk to Your Smartphone

GE – Engineers at GE, the company Edison founded, have helped develop an affordable LED light bulb that can talk to its owners’ tablets and smartphones. The bulb, which starts at just under $15, contains a chip that can wirelessly connect to the Internet and communicate with users via a mobile app called Wink.

Wink is also the name of a new software business launched by the collaborative design company Quirky. more>

SEC Wants to Look at Bigger Ticks

By Matt Levine – There’s a social benefit in having liquidity providers who are willing to take risks. The idea is that, in the olden days, NYSE specialists were supposed to step in to keep markets orderly, buying for their own account — at their own risk — when everyone else was selling. This reduced volatility and increased public confidence, as people felt that markets would be stable and they’d always be able to trade at a reasonable price.

That system is mostly gone.

If a stock doesn’t trade very much, then you can’t make very much money quoting it — but you can lose a lot of money if the price moves away from you. So you manage your risk by quoting only small sizes, and moving your quote very rapidly if someone trades with you. Or by just not quoting the stock. So low natural liquidity — low interest from fundamental buyers and sellers — leads to low profits for market-makers, which leads them to be very jittery in making markets. more>