The Interesting, The Strange, The News.

Posts Tagged ‘mystery

The mystery creature that nobody can identify

leave a comment »

If this cute little chap looks a wee bit confused, it’s no wonder.

His big wide eyes stare out at the world around him – which in turn is staring back at him.

Because nobody has seen a creature quite like this one before.

Who am I? The unidentifed animal sitting in his cage after being handed in to Wenling Zoo, in China

Who am I? The unidentifed animal sitting in his cage after being handed in to Wenling Zoo, in China.

With a nose that looks more like a rodent’s but long, pointy paws and white fur dappled with brown and orange, he is quite unique.

And zookeepers at Wenling, in eastern China, who were handed the animal by an anonymous man, have been unable to work out exactly what species he belongs to.

They think they are looking at some strange type of monkey – but other students of nature might recognise the characteristics of a bush baby.

As he sits in his cage, the creature therefore awaits an uncertain fate.

And the zookeepers sit and monitor his development and hopes he grows up into something slightly more recognisable.

Where did I come from? The rodent-like creature was handed in anonymously

Where did I come from? The rodent-like creature was handed in anonymously.

Via DailyMail

Written by Nokgiir

September 26, 2011 at 1:47 am

Secrets of Giant Cloud Holes Revealed

leave a comment »

An airplane-induced hole punch cloud.

Mysterious holes in clouds made by aircraft may owe their huge sizes to a little bit of heat, a new study suggests.

For decades people have seen gargantuan holes form in high, thin clouds made of supercooled water—liquid droplets that are chilled below the freezing point but that don’t have any particles around which ice crystals can form.

In the absense of dust, these cloud droplets can turn to ice if the water gets cooled beyond -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). At such chilly temperatures the water molecules slow down enough to freeze spontaneously.

Researchers previously knew that plane wings, propellers, and turbines could chill supercooled water via rapid expansion of air in their wakes—making things cold enough to force the liquid to become ice. This mechanism is thought to be what creates hole-punch clouds.

As the water freezes, though, the change of state releases energy in the form of what’s called latent heat, and the role of this heat was suspect.

“I didn’t think the latent heat would be so important, but it drives the whole feedback cycle, in some cases for hours after a plane flies through,” said study co-author Gregory Thompson, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

“That’s why the holes can grow to the size of cities under the right conditions.”

Research Flights Affecting Cloud Data?

The researchers theorized that, as latent heat rises, it carries freshly frozen ice—material that would normally float down—back up into the cloud.

There, supercooled water droplets migrate to the ice crystals, feeding a chain reaction of ice formation. Eventually the ice patch becomes too dense and falls out as a flurry of snow.

To see if latent heat does lead to hole-punch clouds, the researchers ran cloud-model simulations with and without the effect.

The first simulation, which incorporated latent heat, showed that the heat suspended ice in the cloud, powered nearby evaporation, pulled surrounding vapor into the zone of crystallization, and created snow. The model ultimately formed holes in clouds that closely matched real images of the phenomenon.

The simulation without the latent-heat effect didn’t replicate what’s been documented in nature.

Thompson emphasized that this finding almost certainly doesn’t change our understanding of the role of aircraft in global climate. Nor do hole-punch clouds cause significant snowfalls around airports, he said: “It’s likely too minor for that.”

However, researchers “spend an awful lot of time flying through clouds to collect data, which we use to build models that mimic natural clouds. We may be altering that data as we measure it,” he said.

“It’s not a big effect, but it’s something to be mindful of in future atmospheric modeling.”


Via NatGeo

Subatomic mystery leads to standoff

leave a comment »

Fred Ullrich / Fermilab

Two experiments at Fermilab’s Tevatron collider have come to different conclusions about a scientific mystery.

Two months ago, physicists on the CDF detector team at Fermilab’s Tevatron collider, just outside Chicago, reported a mysterious “bump” in the distribution of data from their proton-antiproton collisions, hinting at a non-standard twist in the Standard Model that has governed particle physics for decades.

The anomaly could have been caused by a glitch in the analysis of results from the CDF detector, or it could have been caused by a previously undetected breed of subatomic particle. If the latter turned out to be the case, that would send theorists back to the drawing board — lending weight to exotic concepts such as the existence of a “fifth force” known as technicolor. Such a finding might also suggest that the Higgs boson, the so-called “God Particle,” needn’t exist.

Since then, additional data from the CDF detector added to the team’s confidence. They thought it was increasingly likely that something strange was really happening. But the CDF isn’t the only detector at the Tevatron. There’s a second detector, known as DZero, which should have seen the bump as well. In fact, the main reason why there are two detectors is so that one detector’s data can be confirmed by the other. So researchers around the world anxiously awaited word from the DZero team.

Now the DZero tribe has spoken: They don’t see the bump. “Nope, nothing here — sorry,”New Scientist quoted DZero co-spokesperson Dmitri Denisov as saying.

The discrepancy may be due to the different computer models that the teams used to interpret what they were seeing in the masses of data from the collider. It’s also possible that as more readings are added to the analysis, the margins of uncertainty will narrow down and result in more consistent conclusions. But in any case, it’s way too early to write off the Standard Model, or to declare that the God (Particle) is dead.

“This is exactly how science works,” DZero co-spokesperson Stefan Söldner-Rembold said in a Fermilab news release. “Independent verification of any new observation is the key principle of scientific research. At the Tevatron, we have two experiments that, by design, can check each other.”

The relationship between the CDF and DZero collaborations has been compared to the rivalry between two sports teams — like the Cubs and the White Sox. But the discrepancy between the two findings “must be understood and resolved,” Fermilab said. Toward that end, the lab is setting up a task force with representatives from the two teams as well as two Fermilab theorists.

Although this matchup is going into extra innings, the game won’t always be tied up. Eventually, Europe’s more powerful Large Hadron Collider is likely to come into play and clear up the mystery for good.