Here’s a tale of Pluto… the secrete uncovered! Yes, right when the researchers are working hard to trace the evidences of life on Mars, a group of scientists concluded some interesting fact about Pluto – the last member of the solar family of planets. Pluto – a planet that still remains an enigma, is the tenth largest known orbiting family the Sun and the second largest dwarf planet discovered till date. Although not much is known about the Pluto and its atmosphere, yet researchers say that it is around 58,736,000 kilometers away from the Sun, which is an incredibly long distance. According to the researchers, it is certain that Pluto quite cold. Now the question is, how freezing is Pluto? How cold Pluto is, is still a matter of conjecture! In a research paper published in ‘Science’, volume – 261, pp 1713-1716, in 1993, a group of scientists led by S Alan Stern, at Space Science Department, South West Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, United States, talked about something really astonishing about the atmosphere of Pluto. They researched to conclude that Pluto may be as cold as 25 to 40 Kelvins at the surface, which is some tens of degree below the temperature of the liquid Nitrogen.

The researchers studied Pluto and the atmosphere there, using the highly sophisticated device that could track even the millimetrewave thermal emission (low heat radiation) that came from Pluto. The conclusion changed many other believes about Pluto. It used to be believed that Pluto’s atmosphere had methane gas as one of the major constituents, but now the belief has changed. Such a colder surface cannot have methane in the atmosphere. The thin dark line seen in the spectra of Pluto, which was believed to be due to the presence of methane, may be caused by the gas frozen on the surface of Pluto. Stern’s team contended that the atmosphere of Pluto constitutes chiefly nitrogen and carbon monoxide, with just a little trace of methane, instead of mostly methane.

Now again another question arises. Does the temperature on Pluto remain same all through? Not obviously! Temperature on Pluto varies hugely due to its highly elliptical orbit that ranges something between 4.4 billion km and 7.4 billion km away from the Sun. Another source suggested that the temperature of Pluto comes down to as low a 33 K, which is -240 degree Celsius when it is furthest from the Sun. Different sources have been laying their own unique view points, which s why Pluto is still a wondrous enigma.

Here are some view points regarding the atmosphere of Pluto, as laid down by various sources:

Lodders, Katharina & Bruce Fegley, (Jr. The Planetary Scientists Companion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998: 237-240), said: "… the surface temperature of 40 K implies a surface pressure of approximately 58 millibar".

Rosanna L. Hamilton has more advanced view about Pluto. Hamilton says: "Due to its great distance from the sun, Pluto's surface is believed to reach temperatures as low as -240 degrees C (-400 degrees F)".

According to "Pluto." (The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 15, Chicago: World Book, 1999: 580-589), "Astronomers believe the temperature on Pluto may be about -390 to -370 degrees F (-230 to -220 degrees C)"

As per "The Heavens", Chicago: World Book, 1989: 120-121, "Its estimated temperature: -369 degrees F (-223 degrees C) also makes the presence of a gaseous atmosphere unlikely".

Here are some facts about Pluto:

  • Composition of atmosphere: Methane and Nitrogen
  • Discovered by: Clyde W. Tombaugh
  • Date of discovery February: 18, 1930
  • Equatorial radius (km): 1,137
  • Equatorial radius (Earth = 1): 0.1783
  • Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2): 0.4
  • Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec): 1.22
  • Magnitude (Vo): 15.12
  • Mass (kg): 1.27e+22
  • Mass (Earth = 1): 2.125e-03
  • Mean density (gm/cm^3): 2.05
  • Mean distance from the Sun (km): 5,913,520,000
  • Mean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1): 39.5294
  • Mean orbital velocity (km/sec): 4.74
  • Orbital period (years): 248.54
  • Orbital eccentricity: 0.2482
  • Orbital inclination (degrees): 17.148
  • Rotational period (days): -6.3872
  • Tilt of axis (degrees): 122.52
  • Visual geometric albedo: 0.3

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Correlations Between Music and Mind , science of Music and Mind and music stimulating mind, music mind music, research on music and concentrationThe topic was submitted by Meg Rebholz, Wiley Curran, Katie Kean and Andrew Hagan on October 21 2005. Although I posted about the Magic of Music before, I thought of talking a bit more about it. Scientists have been researching with the biochemistry of brain for many years now and the studies have been becoming essential endeavor in understanding human psychology and behavior. Music has been found to have a profound impact on brain, thereby favorably affecting the mood, concentration and work efficiency.

While just scrambling through the web, looking for information about "correlation between music and mind", I just came across a brief extract written by the researchers about their study on the effect of music on brain. "We hope to find a correlation between a specific genre of music and greater work efficiency and concentration", they said. They gave Miami University students of short reading comprehension test while listening to specific genres of music - classical, rock, rap, techno, pure instrumental. A group of students had been examined with the same reading comprehension test without music. A totality of 90 students were examined, hoping to unfold the miraculous relation between music and mind. Although there has been thousands of studies to uncover the impact of music on brain, but this time the research was about a bit more specific concept. The motive of this research project was to find out what genre of music could spell the greatest beneficial effect on comprehension and concentration. However, their studies examined some more broader topic in this relation. Not just what genre of music could have better effect on brain, the researchers moved a step ahead to to reach conclusions on how could a student improve his or her academic performance along side the mental efficiency. It was found that with no music the work efficiency was the worst.

A path-breaking study "The Effects of Music on Helping Behavior" was carried out by David Hargreaves, Mark Tarrant and Adrian North in 2004, seeking to examine how music manipulated human behavior. They played music in a gym to examine the affect that the tunes on behaviors of their subjects immediately after their workout. The participants were asked to help out a charity. The participants were divided into two groups:

Correlations Between Music and Mind , science of Music and Mind and music stimulating mind, music mind music, research on music and concentrationFirst: the ones who were exposed to the annoying music like hard rocks
Second: the ones who were exposed to the cool uplifting music

The researchers reached the conclusion that those given to listen to the uplifting music were seen to be more supportive than those who were exposed to the annoying tunes.

Another study "The Mozart Effect" carried out by Weinberger, Norman suggested that the format of the mathematical rhythms in Mozart's symphonies contain certain factors that could enhance the mental clarity and the work efficiency. Rollin McCraty's study "The Effects of Different Types of Music on Mood, Tension, and Mental Clarity" sought to test the different effects that different genres of music had on the mental clarity. In this study four distinctive genres of music, including New Age, Classical, Grunge Rock and Designer music had been put to test. As a result, Grunge Rock had been seen to have to reduced mental clarity and motivation greatly. This implies more noisy the music will be, greater will be the interference in the quality of the signals promotes mental clarity. Work efficiency of a subject will have a definite fall if he is exposed to noisy music.

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Life in Mars

life in mars, life on mars, extraterrestrial life, life mars life, life mars pictures, life in mars, life on mars, extraterrestrial life, life mars life, life mars picturesOwing to similarity and proximity to the Earth, scientists have long speculated the possibilities of life in Mars. For several years, scientists have been putting forth loads of convincing logics to support their believes that Mars used to host water early in its history, if not now. Very recently, observations from the Mars Phonenix landers and the certain other spacecrafts have given evidences of the deposition of water as ice at the polar region of the planet. Evidences ice have also been shown in the soil-covered glaciers in the mid-latitude region of the red planet – the Mars more than around 3.6 billion years ago. Now the question is how much of the planet was occupied by water. Also very less is know about what actually happened to the water during its geological march till the present times.

Scientists have pointed out a period when the water in Mars formed clay-rich minerals, after a drier span of time. Moreover the minerals and acidic water had an adverse effect on the plants that believed to have existed in Mars. If this had been a true incedence, then it can be assumed that life might have there in Mar, and they ceased to existed due to the adverse reaction.

A team researchers led by Brown University has been burning the midnight oil, looking for the evidences if there was life in Mars at all. They found traces of carbonates, which is a long sought minerals that proves the the existences of life in Mars – especially water organisms. Scientists have ascertained that the acidic effect had left some parts of the red planet unscatched, where life (that could have probably existed) came to an end due to other adverse affects. Clue for life may be there in those regions of Mars that had not underwent the acidic transformation. A graduate student of Brown University, Bethany Ehlmann, who's also the lead author of the paper that appears in the December 19 2008 edition of “Science”, said that "Primitive life would have liked it". He added: “It's not too hot or too cold. It's not too acidic. It's a 'just right' place”.

The finding of carbonates in Mars, strengthened the belief of existence of life in Mars. Presence of carbonates implies that planet had neutral to the alkaline water, when the minerals formed in the mid-latitude region of Mars. The carbonate traces have been showed up clearly in about 24 images captured by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, which is a hi-tech device installed by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometers for Mars (CRISM) searches for the residual of minerals that had formed due to presence of water or might have been formed due to thermal vents or hot springs on Mars. The existences of water in Mars spans far back in its history – around millions and millions of years back. Scientists have traced the minerals depositions around the trough, called Nili Fossae. Nili Fossae is 667 kilometers long crack in the surface of Mars that has been eroded and partially filled up by the sediments of minerals. Evidences of carbonate depositions have been found in the sides of eroded mesas, sedimentary rocks within Jezero crater. Traces of carbonates have also been found in Libya Montes, Terra Tyrrhena and even on rocks that are exposed on sides of valleys in the crater's watershed. Researchers assumes that possible evidence of past life in Mars could be found on these locations in the planet.

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This news first came up in the Science Reporter in February 1979. Part of the title “Fossil Fragments of Primitive Jawless Fish” is exactly what was there in the original article.

The article stated about John E Repetski of US Geological Survey, who discovered the fossils fragments an amazing creature… a fish that hadn’t had its jaws and used to live around 510 million years ago. Some fragments of the fish’s external plates were found in the rock collected in Crook Country in Wyoming, where there used be a warm sea before North America got its present position in the atlas. For millions of years, this warm sea had been natural thriving place for great varieties of plants and animal lives.fossil discovered, discovery of fossil fish, fossil discovery, discovery discovered, blogs on discovery blogs, sites on discovery sites, sites on discoveries, scientific discoveries

Repetski claimed that the fish in question was the world’s oldest known vertebrates and believed to have been sharing the oceans of the late Cambrian period with trilobites and other primitive invertebrates. Repetski’s discoveries include around 2 dozens of fragments that he termed as Anatolepis. Although the fishy nature of Anatopelis has always been in many disputes, with some scientists suggesting that the fragments actually belonged to a Crustacean, and not to a fish-like vertebrate, but later the issue was resolved with a confirmed conclusion that Anatolepis was a vertebrate indeed. By scientific analysis of the fragments, it was found that the creature was of bony composition, which strongly indicated that they came from a vertebrate.

Radioactive dating of the fossil fragments indicated that this fish used to be there around middle late Cambrian age – some 510 million years ago. Repetski said that the fish was about 7.5 cm long and had a protective hard covering that acted as a shield or armor for the creature. The scales were attached to this hard covering and probably the middle and the rear part of the body was covered with smaller plates that helped the fish in locomotion. Repetski concluded that the Wyoming fish was apparently very much similar to the primitive fish that had been reported in Australia, which was believed to have been in existence about 480 million years ago.

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Flowers and Fragrances - Effects of Air Pollution on Flowers, fragrances of flowers, chemistry of fragrance, science of fragrance, science of flowers, discovery, discoveries, science of air pollutionI am sure you have been wondering why roses, these days, can't spread out such strong aromas that they used to do years ago! Your granny probably blames the gardener. I have heard people saying that it's due to the degrading qualities sold by unscrupulous floral traders that we can't smell roses from distance.

Hey... here's something that can bring wrinkles on your forehead. Yes... it's such an information that compelled many intelligent brains to be worried about the future - future of the planet. Biochemists and environmental scientists have traced out an adverse effect of air pollution on the floral fragrances. They have shown that air pollution restrains the fragrances of flowers from traveling spontaneously the distance they should. The pollutants released out of the flues of automobiles and industries, break apart the scent molecules, thereby altering the underlying chemistry. This results in destroying the delicate floral orders that are responsible for attracting bees and the other insects that act as the pollinating agents. Evidences have shown that these insects used to travel as long as three times the distance they are traveling these days. This means, the fragrances of the flowers can't travel more than one-third of the former distances! "What we find is that these fragrances only travel one-third of the distance that they used to travel," said Dr. Fuentes. I wonder, those days are not far away when roses will cease to spread out aroma. Dr. Fuentes also adds that "the pollinators are spending more time trying to locate food and less time trying to actually harvest food that they need". What if it continues to be like this? A time will come soon when this green planet will turn into a gray grave. Flowers and Fragrances - Effects of Air Pollution on Flowers, fragrances of flowers, chemistry of fragrance, science of fragrance, science of flowers, discovery, discoveries, science of air pollutionPlant population is running a risk of being destroyed, because plants need insects to pollinate that allows flowers to reproduce. According to him, one single action that we can take to prevent this situation from getting more grave is to “work towards having a very clean environment”.

Let's have a brief understanding of sensing mechanism of smells.

What is smell? Smell is the sensory response to the complex combination of certain chemicals present in the atmosphere surrounding us. These chemicals are called “Odorants”. We can sense a smell when we are able to sense a specific combination of these chemicals. These chemicals bind into distinctive combinations to form specific proteins, which stimulates the protein receptors that line the cells present in our nose. Each kind of receptors can detect only a specific kind of fragrance, i.e. each specific kind of chemical combinations. This way we can sense smell and distinguish one from the other.

Why is air pollution held responsible?

Air pollution is promoted by millions of pollutant particles (called Aerosols) present in gases, droplets and smokes. Once released, these pollutants remain suspended freely in the air, making it dirty. These chemical particles reacts with the fragrance molecules of the flowers and breaks off their chemical bondage. This consequently cause the loss of chemical properties in the fragrance molecules released by flowers. It's due to this typical chemical soup that floral fragrances are not perceived from distances.

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Yes, Plant Fossil Discovered!

The new archeological site in St George, Utah, U.S. has recently been brought to notice by Jim Kirkland, the State Paleontologist, another paleontologist, Andrew Milner and a paleo-botanist Sidney Ash. This archeologal site in St George, wasn't so famous until Andrew and Sidney highlighted the site and brought to the attention of the general mass in 2008, although the first scientific studies at the site was carried out in 2006. Why has this archeological site in Utah become so famous? Well, the site is actually more important to the researchers than it is famous to the general mass. Interestingly, this is the only early Jurassic land flora site ever known in the western United States.

fossils discovered, discovery news, fossil plants fossil discovered, discoveries, news results for fossils, fossil news, discovery of fossilThe St George archeological site in Utah provides traces of plants fossil of a variety of land plants that had been in existence at this location around 200 million years ago.

Courtesy: Image courtesy of St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site The St George acrcheological site provides tons of evidences of the variety of land plants that were present in that region about 200 million years ago.

Spanning shortly back to 2006, this St George site in Utah was being excavated for the purpose of an industrial Park, when a developer fortunately discovered a plant fossil. Never until then it had been given so much importance as an archeological site. Good news is that, the developers and the researchers have joined hand to work together on a project of preservation of the fossils. This is one site in the entire western United States that promises million dollar information for the archaeologists. "This plant site is extremely important to help us examine further the vegetation recovery of plant life during the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic epoch," said Jim Kirkland, Utah State Paleontologist. Staff from the City of St. George and the State of Utah have teamed up with developers the Wadman Corporation, Bob Anderson and Kastle Rock Excavation and have started working to find out more evidence of puzzling plant fossils. Such findings help the researchers to make study of the environment of those times.

The excavation has been marked to be one of the major excavations occurred all across the globe so far, because this has put forth certain valid evidences of a mass extinction that had happened during late Triassic, where many organisms went completely extinct. The dinosaurs consequently became the most dominating land animals on the planet! Tracks of dinosaur have been discovered in the same area, at Johnson Farm, in February 2000.

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