Evidence Builds for a New Kind of Neutrino

Do you ever look in the sky and wonder about all the things seen and unseen?

Physicists spend their whole lives attempting to explain the mysteries of the world around us. They think beyond the problems and issues of a layman.

Their main concern is how things happen on earth the way they do. Many of their research often prove to be hypothetical assumptions that hang by a thread.

Yet, they still get excited about the smallest sub-atomic particles and their odd behaviors. One such discovery is the neutrino that has been scrutinized quite a lot.

What is neutrino?

Image via Quanta Magazine

Neutrino is a minuscule sub-atomic particle that was discovered in the mid-90s. It is assumed to have been formed along with the universe and is present in the center of stars and other celestial bodies. Some believe that they travel at light speed all around us.

Maybe one hit you on your way to work today? Who knows?

The particles are unseen to the naked eye and were presumed to be weightless until the end of 20th century.

What do we know?

Image via The T2K Experiment

There has been extensive research done on these tiny particles.

Results show that they appear in three flavors:

  • Electron neutrinos
  • Muon neutrinos
  • Tau neutrinos

All three types can transform into each other through a reaction that emits flashes of light.

Although they are fundamental particles that build the universe and yet there hasn’t been a definite definition of their essence or function.

This is why the smallest fluctuation becomes the talk of the town!

The elusive sterile neutrino

Image via Las Cruces Sun News

Latest research shows evidence that there might be another flavor of neutrino out there.

These ghostly particles were discovered when during two famous neutrino based experiments, ‘The Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment (MiniBooNE)’ and the ‘Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND)’. Both pieces of researches joined together to form a hypothesis based on 15 years of hard work.

In the LSND, scientists observed the neutrino particles misbehaving in the sense that the oscillating particles started out as a certain number of muon neutrinos but converted into a much larger number of electron neutrinos by the end of the experiment.

This was considered an anomaly until years later the MiniBooNE showed a similar behavior.

What did this increased amount imply?

According to the researchers, the only rational reasoning behind this could be that there as a fourth flavor present in the experiment tube. It was ghostly in nature, remained unseen but transformed into the electron form just like its sibling the muon neutrinos.

These sterile neutrinos are said to react by weak gravitational force and not follow the standard model of interactions or physicality previously associated with the other three flavors.

The verdict

Image via Quanta Magazine

While many cosmologists rejoice in this discovery pertaining that this may be the particle that composes the mysterious dark matter in the universe. Like always, the commotion was brought down by naysayers who believe this is a fluke.

Do believe that scientists could be on to something?

Could this be a step towards solving the mystery of the universe?

 

New Invention Pulls Drinking Water from Thin Air

Squeezing blood from a stone may seem impossible but pulling water straight from the desert air is now possible.

Image via Inhabitat

An estimate of 13 trillion liters of water floats in the atmosphere at any given time – it equals to 10% of freshwater found in Earth’s lakes and rivers. Over the years, researchers have tried to grab a few trickles by using fire nets and power-hungry dehumidifiers, but the conditions both approaches require to work in are not easily achieved and are expensive.

The success story

In search of an all-purpose solution, a team of researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, shifted their focus to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks. Thanks to a structure known as a metal organic framework, that traps water vapors at night and then releases them the next day when heated, scientists at last welcomed success.

Image via Nanoshel

The idea of this structure has come straight out of Star Wars: suck the humidity from the dry air of desert and convert it into drinking water.

Yaghi developed the first metal organic framework more than 20 years ago. These are porous crystals forming continuous 3D networks. The networks are arranged in Tinker toy-like fashion with metal atoms that serve as the hubs and stick-like organic compounds that aim to link the hubs together.  

Image via CNN

If you have seen Star Wars, you would remember the vaporators in the moisture farms. Well, following the same pattern, scientists now use a box of gunmetal gray powder to suck moisture from the dry Arizona air at night and then provide drinking water the next day.

The gray powder consists of tiny structures called metal organic frameworks, which are made up of even tinier pores for grabbing water.

How does it work?

The box filled with powder is actually built inside another larger box. At night, the lid of the larger box is left open and then when it is closed in the morning, it traps heat and evaporated water inside it. What happens is when the water goes in, it increases the polarity of the pores so that more water comes in. Upon condensation in the larger box, the water trickles down and it is then collected in the box. The best thing is that this process does not require any cooler or power source.

Image via Technology Review

Using different organics and metals can trigger different properties of metal organic frameworks – chemists can dial in and manage what gases bind to them and the strength of their bond.  

Despite being a successful invention, the metal organic frameworks would require truckloads of powder to benefit the whole community. Each pound of a zirconium-based metal organic framework is able to squeeze only three ounces of water from the desert air in a day. However, Yaghi is testing the aluminum-based powder and is working on coming up with a much cheaper yet effective alternative – you can expect better versions of it in the future!

 

  

 

What’s That Ringing Sound Only You Can Hear?

Do you occasionally hear a ringing sound in your ears and have no idea where it’s coming from?

It is a sound that appears out of nowhere and then gradually disappears. You know, one minute you are just walking or sitting around and the next minute ‘ring-ring’.

The weird part is that there is no apparent trigger to this vibration. Although it doesn’t last very long the ringing may drive you crazy. You try to find the source or start to panic about the implications of this abrupt intrusion.

Is this it? Is this how you find out that you’re crazy? What is causing all this?

Most importantly:

Is this sound scientifically proven?

Yes, it is. Despite what you may have thought, you are not the only person who experiences this spontaneous ringing sensation.

The ‘ringing in the ears’ is actually a scientifically proven phenomenon called tinnitus. A perceived sensation where the person starts hearing ringing, whistling, hissing and even chirping in one or both their ears. The ringing gradually fades away as quickly as it started.

It has been observed that the noise is varied for each person. For some, the sensation lasts for a couple of seconds. On the other hand, for many, it is a continuous torment that lasts longer than an hour.

Furthermore, the ringing gets worsens in situations where the background noises are non-existent.

What exactly is going on?

Our ears are very sensitive to vibrations in the air. The noise we hear is actually vibrations that are converted into signals sent to the brain. Once it receives the signals the brain decodes the vibrations and registers it as a sound.

Without turning this into a human biology lesson about the inner workings of the ears we will focus on the part that stimulates tinnitus. Have you noticed a lining of hair cells inside your ear? These fine hairs expand and contact when the detect vibrations. Sometimes they create their own vibrations. In doing so, they reduce friction and amplify the sound waves that reach our inner ear. Due to this, we are able to hear high-frequency ranges (40-60 dB).

On normal days, you won’t even realize the functioning of these hair cells. They are just a doorway through which the vibrations enter, you hear sound waves that go through the inner ear and are transferred to the brain via signals.

However, sometimes things don’t go smoothly. The hair cells begin to malfunction and randomly start to oscillate. This spontaneous activity is audible and the cause of tinnitus.

How does it stop?

As soon as the negative reactions begin our brain orders the nervous system to fix the problem. It does so by sending signals to the outer ear to stop the vibration. It usually takes anywhere from a few seconds to a couple minutes to resolve the issue. You will know that the situation is under control when the background noises start to go mute and there is ‘fullness’ in the ear.

Should you be worried?

It may be a common thing but frequent occurrences could be a symptom of a hearing disorder. This is why if the tinnitus persists then you should get an ENT specialist’s appointment.

 

25 Things In The World Today That Many People Don’t Know About

Surprisingly, we have a twisted view of the world around us because we only know what they choose to show us. There are times when we wonder if the world is worse than what we think and if there are some important things happening in the world that we don’t know about.

If you are curious, here are 25 things in the world today that many people don’t know about!

25. Desertification

Several deserts of the world are growing larger every year.

24. Flynn Effect

Every year, humans tend to get smarter with the increase in IQ by about 3 IQ points per year. Scientists don’t know why!

23. Cancer Rates Are Down

Cancer rates have fallen by 20% over the last 2 decades i.e. 20 years and continue to drop.

22. Palm Oil Deforestation

A large number of rainforests are being cut down to grow oil palms for us when they know palm oil isn’t especially healthy.

21. Development of Africa

 

Africa is the region of the world that is developing faster than most nations. It’s just easy to ask you for funds showing you the pictures of starving children.

20. Mexican Cartel Wars

Since 2000, over 150,000 Mexicans have died due to fights between drug cartels.

19. Lethal Construction of FIFA World Cup Stadium in Qatar

 

In Qatar, over 100 people have died building the grand FIFA stadium and the numbers don’t get published because most of them are Asians. Not to mention, several foreign news teams have even been detained for covering this.

18. Facebook’s Influence on Elections

There was an improvement in voter turnout for certain candidates based on the “I voted” messages on Facebook.

17. Blood Farming

Chained up and ‘milked’ for their blood, a lot of people fall prey to blood farming in poorer countries such as India. One especially famed case is known as the Blood Factory by the Indian media.

16. Bees

The population of bees is decreasing at an alarming rate.

15. Failing Antibiotics

 

Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics because of excessive usage.

14. Internet Shills

Most of the comments you read on the internet including social media networks, news websites, and online forums are actually paid and false.

13. Machine Learning

It is advancing faster than anybody expected. Computers have been made able to study and reprogram themselves – something which only humans were thought to be capable of.

12. Designer Babies

Asian countries including China and India are probable to make use of CRISPR to produce designer babies because they have less public resistance to genetic alteration and gene mutilation.

11. Refugees

Image via Columbia

With 4 million (1/5thof the population) refugees who were killed or fled from Syria alone, there are more refugees in the world today than ever before.

10. Big Banks

The big banks are doing what caused the Great Recession in 2008; of course, with a different name i.e. Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO).

9. Military Suicides

More British soldiers die of suicide than in battle. This military suicide trend can be found in many other countries as well.

8. Slavery

The number of slaves today is higher than it has ever been in the history; nearly 30 million.

7. Coltan Mining

Most phones require an ore called Coltan and the largest source of Coltan comes from mines on the Rwandan border. Unfortunately, a lot of this Coltan is harvested using brutal slavery methods.

6. America’s Infrastructure Is “Greater” Than You Think

Contrary to what you think reading the American Society of Civil Engineers report card (D+), the infrastructure is actually improving in the U.S, especially the areas of rail and road.

5. Detroit

Detroit is really a good place; it is only the outside areas in the downtown that are shabby.

4. Self Driving Cars

To radically reduce traffic-related fatalities, they have poised the self-driving cars.

3. Toddlers with Guns

Toddlers kill more people each year than terrorists do.

2. Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power, because of technological advancements, has become one of the most secure and cleanest ways of power generation. Don’t think bad of it based on the past!

1. Cow Farts

Gas passed by livestock is what causes the majority of greenhouse gas emissions.

So which one of these 25 things did you know?

 

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