Ghostly remnants of galaxy interactions uncovered in a nearby galaxy group

Astronomers have observed the nearby large spiral galaxy M81, together with its two brightest neighbors. The team obtained deep and super wide-field images of the galaxies and discovered that the spatial distribution of the young stars around these galaxies follows very closely that of their distribution of neutral hydrogen. This is the first endeavor beyond the Local Group of galaxies to demonstrate the hierarchical galaxy assembly process on galactic scales. —> Read More

Giving robots a more nimble grasp

Engineers have now hit upon a way to impart more dexterity to simple robotic grippers: using the environment as a helping hand. The team has developed a model that predicts the force with which a robotic gripper needs to push against various fixtures in the environment in order to adjust its grasp on an object. —> Read More

The Movie BP (Probably) Doesn’t Want You To See

By Andrew Kornblatt

Opening this week, a film called “The Runner,” starring Nicolas Cage and Mad Men’s Bryan Batt, is causing both marine biologists and politicians to take note. This film depicts a tragic hero Congressman, played by Mr. Cage, crusading for the rights of fishermen in his district in early days following BP’s Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Nicolas Cage’s character comes across as a mixture of the earnest Mr. Smith when he went to Washington, the southern sexual magnetism of Bill Clinton, and the tragic scandal-entangled fall of Anthony Weiner. What marks this film as especially interesting from an ocean advocacy perspective is that it marks the first time BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill will highlighted as the setting in a movie that isn’t a documentary.

“The Runner”’s setting develops naturally, according to Austin Stark, who makes his writing and directing debut with the film. “Originally, I decided to set the film in Louisiana due to its rich culture and scandal-plagued political history. But when I went down there do research for the project a year after the Macondo well had been capped, I didn’t expect to see the continued suffering and impact that I witnessed,” said Stark, “It seemed that the mainstream media only showed an image of a region that was recovering. I got to meet fishermen and other business owners in the area, and it became very clear to me that those communities hadn’t recovered and that it was still very much a real issue. It occurred to me that making the spill prominent in our story would feel very organic, while also drawing attention to a tragedy that was being swept under the rug.”

Mr. Stark wanted to be as precise as possible in his portrayal of the spill-from how it happened as well as its continuing effects. Stark had Nicolas —> Read More

Could A 1-Hour Flight From NYC to London Really Ever Exist?

Airbus has patented an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” that would move at more than four times the speed of sound, making the trip from NYC to London in under two hours.

The super-sleek aircraft — which was granted an official U.S. patent last month — would take off near-vertically, almost like a rocket, at supersonic speeds. The patent was unearthed by PatentYogi’s Deepak Gupta, who seems particularly enthused by the concept in the video above.

Though Gupta and other reports have said the flight to London could happen in as little as an hour, CBC News notes the plane wouldn’t be traveling at Mach 4.5 speed the entire time. But the newly patented plane would still take just a fraction of the seven hours it typically takes to fly between the two cities today.

Inside the jet, there would be room for approximately 20 passengers, according to patent filings. The aircraft would have a system of motors that includes at least one ramjet, at least one turbojet and a rocket motor.

The sad part about the design? Airbus did not indicate that it has any immediate plans to make the plane.Airbus Group and its divisions apply for hundreds of patents every year in order to protect intellectual property,” an Airbus spokesperson told The Huffington Post. “These patents are often based on R&D concepts and ideas in a very nascent stage of conceptualization, and not every patent progresses to becoming a fully realized technology or product.”

Last year, the company filed patents for a “flying doughnut” and passenger isolation helmets. Much to our dismay, neither has to come to fruition.

But we can —> Read More

C40 Mayors Agree: Clean Power Plan is a Big Win

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C40 mayors around the United States were eager to support President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was finalized Monday and is seen as a key component of the country’s climate commitment for the COP21 climate negotiations at the end of the year.

The new plan is widely lauded by the environmental community as an expression of the country’s leadership on climate change. Here at C40, we’re all about climate action, and we know our mayors – including those located in the United States – play an important role in helping countries around the world achieve their emissions reduction commitments.

The C40 Steering Committee met in New York last September (Photo credit: C40)

Of course, mayors around the world have made a commitment of their own for Paris: the Compact of Mayors is the world’s largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change through emissions reduction commitments, tracking progress and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

This week, though, C40 mayors in the United States cheered the Clean Power Plan. Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – both members of the C40 Steering Committee and founders of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda – issued a joint statement:

“We don’t need more debate on climate change from Washington; we need action, and that’s what we’re seeing from President Obama today. Today’s Clean Power Plan will add to the benefits we’re already seeing from our cities’ strong leadership against climate change, including cleaner air and thousands of green jobs.”

Other mayors commenting on the plan included Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who alluded to the recent meeting between more than 60 mayors and Pope Francis, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and <a target="_blank" —> Read More

This Is What The Inside Of A Kangaroo Pouch Looks Like

If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like inside a kangaroo pouch (or even where exactly the pouch is located), here’s your chance.

A new episode of the YouTube series “Smarter Every Day” (above) gives a privileged peek inside the hard-to-find pouch — and if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, just fast-forward to 6:20.

“There’s white and black spots in the back,” Destin Sandlin, the series’ host and creator, says in the video. “It’s really small and it stretches out… I always had the misconception that it was like a pocket, right here on the belly, because that’s the way it is on cartoons.”

Only female kangaroos sport pouches, which contain mammary glands and hold their joeys until they are ready to leave the pouch after an average of 46 weeks or so. A mother roo often cleans her pouch with her tongue, licking away dirt and baby roo poo. Talk about marsupial maintenance!

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