• An artist's illustration of the Thirty-Meter Telescope in Hawaii. (Space.com)An artist's illustration of the Thirty-Meter Telescope in Hawaii. (Space.com)

    After some nerve-wracking months, many a Canadian astronomer’s dream is one step closer to reality. The Federal government has finally come through with $243.5 million in funding to ensure that our nation remains a partner in the building of the largest telescope the world has ever seen.

    The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), truly promises to be a cosmic discovery machine. It represents an ambitious $1.4 billion project to build an optical instrument that is three times larger than the biggest observatory in existence today. It will have views that will be 10 to 100 times better than anything we have now—even outdoing the venerable Hubble Space Telescope. And this incredible power will allow us to literally peer into the most distant corners of the Universe and explore alien worlds like never before. The goal is to be able to shed light on some of the most fundamental workings of the cosmos

    “TMT concentrates nine times more light into one ninth the area on a detector boosting brightness a

    Read More »from Massive telescope to help Canadian scientists solve mysteries of the Universe
  • Who ya gonna call? Possibly a mould removal expert (courtesy Yahoo Movies)Who ya gonna call? Possibly a mould removal expert (courtesy Yahoo Movies)

    Ghost stories have been around for countless generations, and belief in them appears to cross geographical and cultural boundaries. But these days, what everyone wants to know is if the paranormal phenomena is real.

    One environmental engineering scientist thinks he may have come across a possible answer to at least some of the creepy, hair-raising sighting of spirits—and it just might have to do with bad air.

    “I believe hauntings are a widely-reported phenomena that largely get ignored by the scientific community, but may have potential to yield insightful data regarding human experiences as related to indoor air quality,” explained Shane Rogers, a professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York in an interview with Yahoo Canada News.

    A long-time fan of ghost stories, Rogers felt that haunting experiences are strikingly similar to the experiences described by individuals that have been exposed to toxic moulds.

    “We are not looking to necessarily debunk hauntings, unless we can

    Read More »from Real-life ghostbuster explores link between hauntings and poor air quality
  • Children attend class in Dehli, India, identified last year as the world's most polluted city by WHO. (Getty)Children attend class in Dehli, India, identified last year as the world's most polluted city by WHO. (Getty)

    We have all heard of the warnings of air pollution affecting our health, but a sobering study released last week suggests that even the developing brain of the unborn can be affected. The effect can be so profound, in fact, that it may lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder later on during childhood.

    A worrisome new brain imaging study carried out by researchers at the Institute of the Developing Mind, Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, suggests that prenatal exposure to common air pollutants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAH]), are able to cross the placenta and lead to both developmental and cognitive impairment years later after birth. These pollutants are all around us, and not only include car exhaust, but also emission from burning fossil fuels for energy generation, tobacco smoke and even fumes from charred foods.

    The California study included 40 school-aged urban children born to Hispanic or African-American parents, and were followed from before birth to ages

    Read More »from Link between ADHD in kids and air pollution found, but requires further study
  • A partially eclipsed Moon, seen in an image by Sky & Telescope contributing photographer Johnny Horne.A partially eclipsed Moon, seen in an image by Sky & Telescope contributing photographer Johnny Horne.

    Early risers across Western and central Canada this Saturday, April 4, will get treated to a ‘blood Moon’ as Earth’s companion undergoes the briefest total eclipse this century.

    Lunar eclipses occur whenever the Sun, Earth, and the Moon line up such that our planet’s shadow is cast onto the lunar disk. Over the course of about an hour or so, the shadow appears to slowly creep across the the moon, taking bigger and bigger bites until the entire silvery orb has dramatically darkened.

    When the moon enters the darkest part of Earth’s shadow the lunar disk can turn a coppery-red colour known as the totality phase of the eclipse. This dramatic reddish hue occurs because sunlight has passed through Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most of its blue light and this refracted light then is cast on the lunar surface, earning the nickname ‘blood Moon’.

    While Canadians west of the Ontario-Manitoba line will get to see most of the eclipse, skywatchers in Eastern and Atlantic Canada will only

    Read More »from When and where in Canada to get the best view of Saturday‘s ‘blood Moon‘
  • Dark, seasonal flows emanate from bedrock exposures at Palikir Crater on Mars. (NASA)Dark, seasonal flows emanate from bedrock exposures at Palikir Crater on Mars. (NASA)The possibility of finding present day life on Mars may have just taken a dramatic step closer to reality, according to a new study indicating the current Martian atmosphere could sustain microbial communities.

    Until today, studies have focused on liquid water as the main fuel source needed for any life form on the Red Planet. New findings published this week in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), however, switch things up for astrobiologists, suggesting that carbon monoxide in Mars’ atmosphere could very well be the key energy source for bacteria-like life forms to eek out a living anywhere at or near the surface.

    For years Mars scientists have speculated that whole microbial communities may have existed in the planet’s ancient past and possibly even today within briny pools trapped underneath the barren planet’s ice caps and soil. However the big unknown has always been what food source they would have access to.

    As it turns out, all that carbon

    Read More »from Martian microbes could sustain themselves on Red Planet air: study
  • Sending humans on a mission to Mars is hard, dangerous and expensive. No one doubts that, but the folks running the Mars One project believe it’s not an insurmountable venture.

    Considered by many to be the most audacious and complex space mission of its kind, the aim is to select astronaut candidates from the general public, send them on a one-way journey to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet and have the entire adventure broadcast and paid for as a TV reality show.

    In order to pave the way for the first humans to Mars, the Dutch-based Mars One foundation plans on placing communication satellites, rovers and supplies on Mars.

    The space exploration community at large has been skeptical about the Mars One mission and its ability to turn plans into reality, considering the many technical, financial and logistic hurdles.  


    Related:

    Read More »from Former Canadian astronaut unearths craters in Mars One mission possibilities
  • Sending humans on a mission to Mars is hard, dangerous and expensive. No one doubts that, but the folks running the Mars One project believe it’s not an insurmountable venture.

    Considered by many to be the most audacious and complex space mission of its kind, the aim is to select astronaut candidates from the general public, send them on a one-way journey to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet and have the entire adventure broadcast and paid for as a TV reality show.

    In order to pave the way for the first humans to Mars, the Dutch-based Mars One foundation plans on placing communication satellites, rovers and supplies on Mars.

    The space exploration community at large has been skeptical about the Mars One mission and its ability to turn plans into reality, considering the many technical, financial and logistic hurdles.  

    And this week Canadian ex-astronaut Julie Payette poured cold water over the much-hyped plans by saying she believes “no one is going anywhere in ten

    Read More »from Mars One mission may not be possible without advancement in technology, methods
  • Space buffs are getting ready for a cosmic triple play this Friday as a rare total solar eclipse takes place during a ‘supermoon’ on the Spring equinox.

    Starting at 4:30 am EDT on the morning of Mar. 20 the moon will go between the Earth and the sun, creating a total solar eclipse.  A lucky few people on remote islands in the northern Atlantic and Arctic Oceans will get a chance to witness the eerie black hole effect in the sky as the moon completely blocks out the sun for a fleeting few minutes. Optimum visibility will be from Norway’s Faroe Islands, however most of Europe, north-east Asia and north-west Africa will be able to see at least a partial eclipse where the Sun will appear to have a bite taken out of it to varying degrees, depending on one’s location.

    Here in Canada unfortunately the show will be over by our sunrise, expect perhaps for those in Newfoundland, southeastern Baffin Island or northeastern Ellesmere Island where keen onlookers may be able to (theoretically at

    Read More »from Spring kicks off with a super total eclipse of the sun on Friday
  • This past Sunday the Sun’s surface threw off the largest explosion seen in two year and it had Earth in its cross-hairs. By early morning Tuesday the energetic and fast moving blast wave slammed into our planet’s protective magnetic field, causing intense Northern Lights shows across the entire Northern Hemisphere — including Canada — last night.

    Skywatchers in parts of Canada and as far south as Kansas and Virginia reported on social media distinct, colourful glows, but if forecasters have it right, a cosmic second act may be in the works for tonight.

    It turns out that two of these titanic bubbles of charged particles known as coronal mass ejections were belched by the sun over the weekend, but on their trip over to Earth, they merged into one gargantuan cloud measuring many times the size of our planet.  

    Once these fast moving particles hit Earth’s magnetosphere, they get naturally funneled down by the magnetic field towards the north and south poles. There they enter the

    Read More »from Prepare for another dazzling Northern Lights show in Canada Wednesday night
  • When we forget things we often chalk it up to our memory failing us, but new research suggests that this brain process is just a way for us to wipe out irrelevant information that is cluttering our minds.

    “It’s an active mechanism to get rid of memories that distract us from remembering the truly relevant things,” lead author Maria Wimber from the University of Birmingham said in an interview with Yahoo Canada News.

    “And in our study we have been able to even watch individual memories while they are being ‘wiped out’ in the brain."

    A team of British researchers who published their findings this week in the journal of Nature Neuroscience, developed a method that allows them to identify the “neural fingerprints” of individual memories as they return to the brains of human volunteers who were monitored using an MRI scanner.

    Each participant’s brain images were divided into tiny three-dimensional pixels. Researchers could then observe detailed patterns of brain activity that pictures like

    Read More »from Remembering the past can wipe out irrelevant memories, new study suggests

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