Scientists are learning how to grow custom-made body parts so they can be ready when you—and your vital organs—start falling apart. At the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor and her colleagues strip organs of their cells, reseed the organ “skeletons” with living cells, and watch as the organs start working right in front of their eyes. more here
Posts from the ‘nova’ Category
When you hear the word evolution, you may think of iconic images of Darwin and the Beagle, representations of the “tree of life,” pictures of apes and the DNA double helix.
But do you realize just how thoroughly the subject seeps into our everyday lives?
To give a sense of this, we asked five experts in different fields to briefly describe an example. Listen in, and find out how evolution and the process of natural selection–the survival of those creatures that are best adapted to their environment–gives us dogs, makes us such good runners, and even helps us solve crimes.
Earth Will One Day See a Second Sun
Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star located in the Orion constellation, about 640 light-years away from Earth – is preparing to explode via a supernova. When it does, the Earth will have a front-row seat; in fact, the explosion will be so bright that Earth will seem to briefly have two suns in the sky.
Betelgeuse is one of the brightest and largest stars in our immediate galactic neighborhood – if you dropped it in our Solar System, it would extend all the way out to Jupiter, leaving Earth completely engulfed. In stellar terms, it’s predicted to explode in the very near future. Of course, the conversion from stellar to human terms is pretty extreme, as Betelgeuse is predicted to explode anytime in the next million years.
But still, whether the explosion occurs in 2011 or 1002011 (give or take 640 years for the light to reach Earth), it’s going to make for one of the most unforgettable light shows in our planet’s history. For a few weeks, the supernova will be so bright that there will appear to be two stars in the sky, and night will be indistinguishable from day for much of that time. So don’t count on getting a lot of sleep when Betelgeuse explodes, because the only sensible thing for the world to do will be to throw a weeks-long global supernova party.
Physicist Brad Carter explains what Earth (and hopefully humanity) can look forward to:
“This is the final hurrah for the star. It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up – we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”
Although there’ll be no missing the explosion, Carter points out that the vast majority of material shot out from the supernova will pass by Earth completely unnoticed:
“When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called neutrinos. They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever.”
In any event, the Betelgeuse explosion will likely be the most dramatic supernova Earth ever witnesses – well, unless our Sun eventually explodes and destroys our planet, which would probably leave Betelgeuse the runner-up.
We should have a global supernova party every year anyway!