I'm Bob Wilton & this is my blog Skyward Awe. Posts revolve around Astronomy & Aviation, however anything science related is likely to show up.
Harvard Researchers Create Self-Assembling Nano Bricks Made of DNA
Harvard’s Wyss Institute, which brought us 700-terabytes-per-gram-of-DNA data storage earlier in the year, has now produced DNA Lego bricks — three-dimensional DNA building blocks that self-assemble into more than 100 different, three-dimensional structures (pictured above).
These DNA Lego bricks are short strands of DNA that have been specially crafted to join with other DNA bricks at a 90-degree angle — just as if you had pushed two eight-stud Lego bricks on top of each other at 90 degrees.
By joining more and more of these DNA bricks together, a 3D structure emerges. In this case, the DNA Legos are built into 25-nanometer cubes, which consist of around 1,000 voxels, with each voxel consisting of DNA strands that are just 2.5nm. A voxel (volumetric pixels) is a term borrowed from graphics; it’s essential the 3D equivalent of a 2D pixel.
Frost Flowers Blooming in the Arctic Ocean
Here’s a magical view of “frost flowers” blooming over the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Frost flowers form when newly formed ice “sublimates,” or changes directly from a solid to a gas without going through the liquid stage in subzero air temperature (-22C or -7.6F).
Philosopher’s Minimalism by Genís Carreras
Prints available at society6. Entitled “Philographics”, these minimalist geometric shapes represent various philosophical doctrines like existentialism, empiricism, nihilism, and solipsism. Several more can be seen on Carreras’ website, but spoiler alert: there appears to be no mention of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, which is just as much a code of ethics as it is a religious experience.
Even though NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft — aka WISE — ran out of coolant in October 2010, bringing its infrared survey mission to an end, the data that it gathered will be used by astronomers for decades to come as it holds clues to some of the most intriguing and hard-to-find objects in the Universe.
Recently astronomers using WISE data have found evidence of a particularly curious disk of dust and gas surrounding a pair of stars — one a dim red dwarf and the other the remains of a dead Sun-sized star — a white dwarf. The origin of the gas is a mystery, since based on standard models of stellar evolution it shouldn’t be there… yet there it is.
The binary system (which has the easy-to-remember name SDSS J0303+0054) consists of a white dwarf and a red dwarf separated by a distance only slightly larger than the radius of the Sun — about 700,000 km – which is incredibly close for two whole stars. The stars orbit each other quickly too: once every 3 hours.
The stars are so close that the system is referred to as a ”post-common envelope” binary, because at one point the outer material of one star expanded out far enough to briefly engulf the other completely in what’s called a “common envelope.” This envelope of material brought the stars even closer together, transferring stellar material between them and ultimately speeding up the death of the white dwarf.
The system was first spotted during the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (hence the SDSS prefix) and was observed with WISE’s infrared abilities during a search for dust disks or brown dwarfs orbiting white dwarf stars. To find both a red (M) dwarf star 40-50 times the mass of Jupiter and a disk of dust orbiting the white dwarf in this system was unexpected — in fact, it’s the only known example of a system like it.
Cosmic clouds seem to form fantastic shapes in the central regions of emission nebula IC 1805.
Of course, the clouds are sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula’s newborn star cluster, Melotte 15. About 1.5 million years young, the cluster stars are toward the right in this colorful skyscape, along with dark dust clouds in silhouette against glowing atomic gas.
A composite of narrow and broad band telescopic images, the view spans about 30 light-years and includes emission from hydrogen in green, sulfur in red, and oxygen in blue hues. Wider field images reveal that IC 1805’s simpler, overall outline suggests its popular name - The Heart Nebula. IC 1805 is located about 7,500 light years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Britain’s first contribution to space exploration.
On 26 April 1962, its first satellite, Ariel 1, was launched by NASA, carrying experiments designed by British universities and making Britain the world’s third spacefaring nation, after Russia and America. Royal Mail is celebrating with a set of six commemorative stamps, which went on sale the 16th of October, featuring images from European Space Agency missions.
Kees Veenenbos: Mars
Dutch artist Kees Veenenbos is one of the leading digital artist who creates amazing renderings of space and planetary landscapes. His work has been featured in National geographic on numerous occasions, as well as being used in several NASA’s projects. In fact, majority of his Mars digital elevation models have been used by NASA depicing beautiful images of Mars, including creative concept renderings with water and ice present on the Martian surface.
[via Empty Kingdom]