Archive for August 22nd, 2011
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Exactly a century ago, on June 28, 1911, an explosion shook the Nakhla region of Alexandria in Egypt at 9 a.m. Soon after, around 40 chunks of meteorite debris from the high altitude blast rained down. 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of the bolide were recovered by witnesses of this cosmic event.
The Smithsonian received two samples of the Nakhla meteorite the following August and then acquired a larger 480 gram (one pound) piece in 1962 (pictured top). By the 1970′s, the Smithsonian had collected 650 grams (1.4 pounds) of the meteorite.
The Nakhla meteorite fragments — dubbed “Nakhlites” — are now known to originate from Mars. Even better than that, scientists have been able to narrow down to where on the Martian surface the original meteoroid came from.
Nakhlites are igneous rocks rich in the mineral augite. This indicates the original rock formed as a basaltic magma approximately 1.3 billion years ago, when Mars was volcanically active.
Don’t feel guilty about browsing the Internet at work—turns out it may actually improve your performance.
According to a new study, Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails, let alone working straight through with no rest at all.
The study, “Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement,” by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore, was presented last week in San Antonio, Texas, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, an association of management scholars.
The researchers conducted two studies. In the first, they assigned 96 undergraduate management students into one of three groups—a control group, a “rest-break” group and a Web-surfing group. All subjects spent 20 minutes highlighting as many letter e’s as they could find in a sample text. For the next 10 minutes, the control group was assigned another simple task; members of the rest-break group could do whatever they pleased, except surf the Internet; and the third group could browse the Web. Afterward, all of the subjects spent another 10 minutes highlighting more letters.
Swedish divers have uncovered what they believe to be the legendary Swedish warship Mars, lost in a sea battle with the Danish-Lübeckian navy in 1564, near the coast of the Baltic island of Öland.
“The ship is lying port-side up and the site is virtually littered with cannons,” said diver Richard Lundgren to The Local.
Mars was one of the largest ships of its time with 107 guns and a crew of 800 men, both out-sizing and outgunning the famous warship Vasa, which has been on show in Stockholm since it was lifted from city’s harbour in the 1960s.
Divers have been searching for the legendary Mars for decades. And on Friday it was announced that it might have been found.
“We certainly don’t know of any other ships sinking near those coordinates,” said Andreas Olsson, head archaeologist at the Royal Swedish Maritime museum (Sjöhistoriska muséet).
The shipwreck was discovered at a depth of 75 metres, near the northern promontory of the Baltic island of Öland off of Sweden’s east coast. The wreckage is reportedly solid oak and the seabed is strewn with bronze cannons.
For about 250 years, our species has been known as Homo sapiens, a scientific name in Latin that means “wise man.”
Given the havoc humans are wreaking on natural systems, putting ourselves and so many other living things in peril, we don’t deserve this name, contends Julian Cribb, an Australian science writer and book author. In a letter published in the Aug. 18 issue of the journal Nature, Cribb makes a proposal.
“Changing our species name might risk infringing some of the hallowed rules of nomenclature, but it would send an important signal about our present collective behavior,” he writes.
Cribb has no suggestion for a new name, “because I want humanity at large to discuss this issue — not just scientists,” he said in an email to LiveScience.com.
Meanwhile, some scientists have a name for Cribb’s suggestion. They call it silly.