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January 2008

The study of planets circling distant stars is scarcely more than a decade old — the fantastic assumption that planetary systems exist outside our own was first confirmed in 1991 — and already it is making exciting progress. Over 110 extrasolar planets have been detected so far. Now, a team of Canadian astronomers has found that one such planet actually is heating its parent star and leaving a telltale imprint of its travels. The finding bolsters astronomers' theoretical understanding of planetary formation and offers a new method of detecting elusive yet intriguing worlds that dance unseen in the sky.


Read On....

Posted by Jay Roberts at 06:13 PM | Permalink

Until the middle of the 20th century the Earth's magnetism seemed to be a happy accident of nature. Too many factors had to fit just right--the fluid core of the Earth, its electrical condctivity and its motions, all had to satisfy the strict requirements of dynamo theory.

That was before other planets in the solar system were visited and examined. Now we know that among those planets, only Venus lacks any magnetism.     

Read ON.....

Posted by Jay Roberts at 06:00 PM | Permalink

By compiling all the solar wind data gathered in the space age, NASA scientists have concluded that even though the solar magnetic field is constantly changing, it always returns to its original shape and position.

       "We now know that the Sun's magnetic field has a memory and returns to approximately the same configuration in each 11- year solar cycle," said Dr. Marcia Neugebauer, a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Current theories imply that the field is generated by random, churning motions within the Sun and should have no long- term memory. Despite this expectation, the underlying magnetic structure remains fixed at the same solar longitude."

       "It's interesting that the solar magnetic field varies in strength and direction, but not in longitude," said Dr. Edward Smith, senior research scientist at JPL.

       The solar wind is composed of charged particles ejected from the Sun that flow continuously through interplanetary space. The solar wind carries Read ON................

Posted by Jay Roberts at 05:54 PM | Permalink

A second magnetic levitation track is up and running at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The experimental track  was installed inside a high-bay facility at the Marshall Center this month. Marshall’s Advanced Space Transportation Program is developing magnetic levitation — or maglev — technologies that could give a space launch vehicle a "running start" to break free from Earth’s gravity. A maglev launch system would use magnetic fields to levitate and accelerate a vehicle along a track at speeds up to 600 mph. The vehicle would shift to rocket engines for launch to orbit. Maglev systems could dramatically reduce the cost of getting to space because they’re powered by electricity, an inexpensive energy source that stays on the ground — unlike rocket fuel that adds weight and cost to a launch vehicle.

The Foster-Miller experimental track accelerates a carrier to 57 mph at its peak — traveling 22 feet in 1/4 second, the equivalent of 10 times the acceleration of gravity. The tabletop track is 44 feet long, with 22 feet of powered acceleration and 22 feet of passive braking. A 10-pound carrier with permanent magnets on its sides swiftly glides by copper coils, producing a levitation force. The track uses a linear synchronous motor, which means the track is synchronized to turn the coils on just before the carrier comes in contact with them, and off once the carrier passes. Sensors are positioned on the side of the track to determine the carrier’s position so the appropriate drive coils can be energized. Engineers are conducting tests on the indoor track and a 50-foot outdoor maglev track installed at Marshall last September by NASA and industry partner PRT Advanced Maglev Systems Inc. of Park Forest, Ill. The testing is expected to help engineers better understand maglev vehicle dynamics, the interface between a carrier and its launch vehicle and how to separate the vehicle from the carrier for launch. Future work on large systems will be led by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Read On...

Posted by Jay Roberts at 07:46 PM | Permalink

It’s the year 2027 and NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration is progressing right on schedule. The first interplanetary spacecraft with humans aboard is on course for Mars. However, halfway into the trip, a gigantic solar flare erupts, spewing lethal radiation directly at the spacecraft. But, not to worry. Because of research done by former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman and a group of MIT colleagues back in the year 2004, this vehicle has a state-of-the-art superconducting magnetic shielding system that protects the human occupants from any deadly solar emissions.

New research has recently begun to examine the use of superconducting magnet technology to protect astronauts from radiation during long-duration spaceflights, such as the interplanetary flights to Mars that are proposed in NASA’s current Vision for Space Exploration. Read On...

Posted by Jay Roberts at 07:43 PM | Permalink

Thanks to the hard work of two vigilant astronomers, one of the great mysteries surrounding solar magnetic fields is a mystery no longer.

The two scientists, David McKenzie of Montana State University at Bozeman and Hugh Hudson of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan, have witnessed for the first time evidence of a mysterious solar phenomenon long thought to exist, but never before seen. Known to experts as "magnetic-field line shrinkage" or "reconnection outflow," the behavior involves magnetic fields snapping back to the sun as if being pulled and then released like a rubber band.

"This is the motion weve been looking for, and now weve been able to spot it," said McKenzie.

Decades-old mystery comes to light

Read On........

Posted by Jay Roberts at 07:38 PM | Permalink

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University physicists and their colleagues have demonstrated for the first time a type of magnetic behavior that was predicted to exist more than 50 years ago.

The behavior involves a special kind of energy transition among atoms in a very small magnet, called chromium-8 (Cr8). And while scientists have long thought that the effect was controlled purely by quantum mechanics, the magnet’s behavior appears to reflect the laws of classical physics.

Oliver Waldmann

The classical laws of movement and energy are ones that people experience in daily life, and they normally only apply to objects that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. In contrast, the molecular magnet Cr8 is so small that quantum mechanics -- the science that describes the interactions of subatomic particles -- should rule its behavior.

The finding could help bridge the gap between quantum and classical approaches for understanding these tiny structures, and aid the future development of useful devices based on nanotechnology, such as very powerful, very small computers.Read on......

Posted by Jay Roberts at 07:35 PM | Permalink

Turning cancer cells into mini magnets by using nanoparticles could make biopsies so sensitive and efficient that there will be no need to repeat these invasive tests.

Biopsy results can be ambiguous: sometimes they can be negative simply because there are too few malignant cells in the sample to be detected Ð not because all trace of disease has gone. Now researchers from the University of New Mexico and the company Senior Scientific, both in Albuquerque, have come up with a solution that harnesses the power of magnetic attraction.


The idea is to use magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles encased in a biocompatible material. These in turn can be coated with antibodies that bind to chemicals found only in cancerous cells. When injected into the body, thousands of the particles stick to cancer cells, turning them into miniature magnets. The cells can then be drawn towards magnets encased in the tip of a biopsy needle (Physics in Medicine and Biology, vol 52, p 4009).

A mathematical model of the system confirmed that significant numbers of cancer cells, laden with nanoparticles, could be attracted to a needle within two or three minutes. In the lab....Read More....Click Here

Posted by Jay Roberts at 02:01 AM | Permalink

A recent study demonstrates that the use of an acute, localized static magnetic field of moderate strength can result in significant reduction of swelling when applied immediately after an inflammatory injury. Magnets have been touted for their healing properties since ancient Greece.  Magnetic therapy is still widely used today as an alternative method for treating a number of conditions, from arthritis to depression, but there hasn’t been scientific proof that magnets can heal..... To Read On Click Here...

Posted by Jay Roberts at 06:04 PM | Permalink