Gravity Wells

Another awesome xkcd comic (click to enlarge)…

The Physics of Space Battles

From the article:

“Enemies could come at your ship from any direction in space, which means that you would want to react, strike, and counterattack in any direction. So, you would either have to mount weaponry all around your starfighter, put the weapons on gimbals so that they could rapidly point in any direction, or make the fighter maneuverable enough that it could rapidly point in any direction. Gimbals would be a bad option, because they would introduce points of increased vulnerability, unless they could be very well-armored. I conclude that the big ships would have many weapons, pointed in many directions; the small ships would have a few weapons, with the main weapon systems pointed in one direction.”

How big is a carbon atom compared to a coffee bean?

The Human Genome in 3D

“To determine genome structure without being able to directly see it, the researchers first soaked cell nuclei in formaldehyde, which interacts with DNA like glue. The formaldehyde stuck together genes that are distant from each other in linear genomic sequences, but adjacent to each other in actual three-dimensional genomic space.

The researchers then added a chemical that dissolved the gene-by-gene linear sequence bonds, but left the formaldehyde links intact. The result was a pool of paired genes, something like a frozen ball of noodles that had been sliced into a million fragmentary layers and mixed.

By studying the pairs, the researchers could tell which genes had been near each other in the original genome. With the aid of software that cross-referenced the gene pairs with their known sequences on the genome, they assembled a digital sculpture of the genome. And what a marvelous sculpture it is.

“There’s no knots. It’s totally unentangled. It’s like an incredibly dense noodle ball, but you can pull out some of the noodles and put them back in, without disturbing the structure at all,” said Harvard University computational biologist Erez Lieberman-Aiden, also a study co-author.

In mathematical terms, the pieces of the genome are folded into something similar to a Hilbert curve, one of a family of shapes that can fill a two-dimensional space without ever overlapping — and then do the same trick in three dimensions.”

To say this is an astounding breakthrough is an understatement. 

More at source

Trailer: Not Evil Just Wrong — new film challenging man-induced global warming

E Coli can Be Used to Clean Up Nuclear Waste

Learn something new every day…


“Using the bacteria along with inositol phosphate, the bacteria breaks down the phosphate–also called phytic acid–to free the phosphate molecules. The phosphate then binds to the uranium forming a uranium-phosphate precipitate on the cells of the bacteria. Those cells can then be harvested to recover the uranium.

Mythbusters lights 1,000,000 match heads at once