To Nearby Dwarf Galaxies, the Milky Way is a Big Bully

Like a bully running around the playground stealing smaller kids’ lunch money, our Milky Way galaxy has been ransacking nearby dwarf galaxies, stealing their precious star-forming gases.

In a new study carried out by astronomers using NSF’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT), W.Va., and data from other ground-based radio telescopes, the dwarf galaxies that orbit closest to the Milky Way’s gravitational sphere of influence appear to be devoid of star-forming hydrogen gas, which has, in turn, stunted their growth.

ANALYSIS: Many Dwarfs Died In the Making of This Galaxy

“After billions of years of interaction, astronomers wondered if the nearby dwarf spheroidal galaxies have all the same star-forming ‘stuff’ that we find in more distant dwarf galaxies,” said astronomer and lead researcher Kristine Spekkens, of the Royal Military College of Canada.

Our galaxy is the largest member of a compact group of galaxies — the Milky Way has a swarm of smaller dwarf galaxies surrounding it. Very close to the Milky Way is a collection of dwarf ‘spheroidals’ that are believed to be the left-over ancient ‘crumbs’ from our galaxy’s early evolution. Further away, irregularly-shaped dwarf galaxies, which are not gravitationally bound to the Milky Way, gather and are thought to be newcomers to the galactic neighborhood.

NEWS: Galactic Cannibal Revealed by Cosmic Crumbs

As discussed in a paper published in the current edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Spekkens’ team spotted a very definite boundary in the star-forming neutral hydrogen gas that should be contained within the surrounding dwarf galaxies. This is the most detailed survey of neutral hydrogen in nearby dwarf galaxies ever carried out.

“What we found is that there is a clear break, a point near our home Galaxy where dwarf galaxies are completely devoid of any traces of neutral atomic hydrogen,” Spekkens said in a National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) news release.

PHOTOS: Hubble’s Sexiest Spiral Galaxies

It appears that, within a distance of 1,000 light-years from the outer edge of our galaxy, the dwarf spheroidal galaxies are rare, but beyond 1,000 light-years, the dwarf irregular galaxies “flourish.”

Surrounding our galaxy is a halo of hot hydrogen plasma and, as the dwarf spheroids orbit the Milky way at speeds in excess of a million miles per hour, the neutral hydrogen gas is stripped from within the dwarfs. Therefore, there appears to be a “danger zone” surrounding the Milky Way where neutral hydrogen is stripped away, shutting down star formation in these dwarf galaxies. Beyond 1,000 light-years, however, dwarf galaxies’ neutral hydrogen is retained and fuels star formation.

“These observations therefore reveal a great deal about size of the hot halo and about how companions orbit the Milky Way,” said Spekkens.

Source: NRAO


8 Things You May Not Know About Emperor Claudius

On October 13, A.D. 54, the Roman Emperor Claudius died at the age of 63, possibly as a result of poisoning by his wife, Agrippina. Claudius had ascended the throne almost by accident in A.D. 41 following the assassination of Caligula, and he would spend the majority of his 13-year reign dodging murder plots and tangling with the Roman senate. Though often chided for carrying a limp and other physical ailments, he proved a capable administrator and helped bring new frontier territories under Roman rule. On the 1,960th anniversary of his death, check out eight surprising facts about the life of Rome’s fourth emperor.

A 1st century Roman coin depicting Emperor Claudius (Credit: CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images)

1. His own family ridiculed his physical disabilities.
Claudius struggled with various physical ailments including tremors of the head and hands, a limp, a runny nose and foaming at the mouth. Historians have since speculated that he may have suffered from cerebral palsy or Tourette’s syndrome, but his family considered his condition a sign of weakness and a source of great public embarrassment. His own mother supposedly called him “a monstrosity of a human being, one that nature began and never finished,” and his sister is said to have prayed that Rome would never have to endure him becoming its emperor. He later faced constant humiliation at the hands of his nephew, the Roman Emperor Caligula. According to the ancient historian Suetonius, Caligula delighted in mocking his uncle for his infirmities, and if Claudius dozed off during dinner gatherings, guests were encouraged to pelt him “with the stones of olives and dates.”

2. He entered politics relatively late in life.
Claudius’ handicaps saw him repeatedly passed over for a chance at important public office. He was kept out of sight for most of his youth, and his royal relatives went out their way to place him far down the line of succession. Claudius’ uncle, the Emperor Tiberius, repeatedly rebuffed his requests to begin a political career, instead appointing him to low-prestige priesthoods. Claudius abandoned his political aspirations and filled his days with drinking, gambling and womanizing until A.D. 37, when his nephew Caligula assumed the imperial purple. Caligula was inexperienced and vulnerable, and to help shore up his claim to the throne, he appointed Claudius, then almost 46 years old, as his co-consul.

3. He was an accomplished historian.
When he wasn’t distracting himself with drink and games of chance, Claudius spent long hours immersed in books and academic study. Despite having been labeled a dullard by his family, he possessed a keen intellect that impressed the historian Livy, who encouraged him to take up writing. Claudius would later produce dozens of volumes on the history of Carthage, the Etruscans, the Roman Republic and even the Roman alphabet. All of the future emperor’s works have since been lost, but they appear to have been reasonably respected in their time. The legendary Roman historian Tacitus even used Claudius’ work as a source for his own writings.

Claudius is proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard.

4. The Praetorian Guard installed him as emperor.
In A.D. 41, a cabal of Praetorian Guards—the sworn protectors of the Roman emperor—assassinated Caligula and brutally murdered his wife and child at the imperial palace. As the story goes, upon hearing the commotion, a frightened Claudius ran for his life and took refuge on a balcony. The Praetorians eventually found him cowering behind a curtain, but rather than killing him, they saluted him as Rome’s new emperor. Claudius’ disabilities may have given the impression that he could be easily manipulated, but once in power, he showed himself to be cleverer than previously believed. He deftly avoided a confrontation with the Roman senate, and purchased the loyalty of the Praetorian Guard with a massive 15,000-sesterce per man donative. His ailments appeared to improve after he took the throne, and he later claimed that he had only pretended to be dimwitted to protect himself. Some historians have even argued that he helped plan or was at least aware of the plot on Caligula’s life.

5. He completed the Roman annexation of Britain.
Upon taking power, Claudius faced rabid opposition from Rome’s senators, many of whom viewed him as a weak and illegitimate claimant to the throne. To help prove himself as a leader, he launched one of the most audacious military campaigns of the 1st century: the conquest of Britain. In A.D. 43, he dispatched a force of 40,000 troops and several war elephants across the English Channel. The Romans had soon conquered a stronghold at modern day Colchester, and eventually succeeding in capturing the Catuvellauni tribal leader Caratacus. Claudius visited Britain during the invasion and remained for 16 days before returning to a hero’s welcome in Rome. He was later honored with a triumphal arch on the Via Flaminia that hailed him as the man who “brought barbarian peoples beyond Ocean for the first time under Rome’s sway.”

6. He was an avid fan of the Roman games.
Claudius organized and attended chariot races and gladiatorial bouts religiously, often staying glued to his seat for hours at a time to avoid missing even a second of the bloodshed. He is even said to have joined in with the rest of the audience in counting aloud as gold pieces were paid to the victors. The Emperor once staged a massive, 19,000-man mock sea battle on the Fucine Lake, but perhaps his most bizarre public spectacle came during a trip to the Roman seaport at Ostia. According to an account by Pliny the Elder, when a killer wale became stuck in the city’s harbor, Claudius had the creature ensnared in nets, “and setting out in person with the praetorian cohorts gave a show to the Roman people, soldiers showering lances from attacking ships, one of which I saw swamped by the beast’s waterspout and sunk.”

Bust of Claudius

7. He was notoriously unlucky in love.
Claudius’ first betrothal was canceled after the girl’s parents endured a political disgrace, and his second bride fell ill and died on their wedding day. He would later marry four times, with each match seemingly more ill fated than the one that preceded it. He divorced his first wife on suspicions of adultery and murder, and then called off his second marriage for political reasons. Ancient sources describe Claudius’ third wife, Messalina, as scheming and sex obsessed. She supposedly carried out numerous affairs until A.D. 48, when she participated in a mock marriage ceremony with one of her lovers, the consul-elect Gaius Silius. Fearing that the pair planned to murder him and install Gaius on the throne, Claudius had both of them executed. The emperor swore he would never marry again, yet only a year later he wed the beautiful Agrippina, his niece. Agrippina proved even more treacherous than Messalina, and is said to have manipulated Claudius into naming her son Nero as his successor before engineering his assassination.

8. The circumstances of his death are still unclear.
Ancient chroniclers say Claudius was killed after ingesting a poisonous mushroom, but they differ on certain key facts. The historian Cassius Dio claims Agrippina procured the deadly fungus from a poisoner named Locusta and served it to Claudius during a dinner at the palace. Tacitus, meanwhile, says the emperor’s food taster delivered the dish, and when it didn’t immediately work, Claudius’ doctor shoved a poison-dipped feather down his throat to finish the job. Suetonius mentions both stories as a possibility, but argues the second dose of poison was mixed with a batch of gruel. Almost all the ancients say Agrippina masterminded the plot to ensure her son Nero’s ascension to the throne. Still, some modern historians have since argued that Claudius’ death could have been an accident caused by him unknowingly eating an Amanita phalloides—a highly toxic strain of mushroom also known as “Death Cap.”

Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki Voyage

Born on October 6, 1914, in Larvik, Norway, Thor Heyerdahl was no armchair anthropologist. He gained worldwide fame in 1947 when he crossed the Pacific Ocean on a primitive balsawood raft to prove his theory that South Americans could have originally populated Polynesia. On the 100th anniversary of Heyerdahl’s birth, look back at his historic Kon-Tiki voyage.

The Kon-Tiki voyage, 1947.

In 1937, fledgling Norwegian zoological researcher Thor Heyerdahl traveled to the South Pacific with his newlywed wife to study the flora and fauna of the isolated Marquesas Islands. As he collected a menagerie of specimens on the tiny Polynesian island of Fatu Hiva, however, Heyerdahl’s curious mind drifted from thoughts of living creatures to those of ancient civilizations.

Aware of the prevailing scholarly wisdom that people from Southeast Asia had arrived from the west to first populate Polynesia, the Norwegian couldn’t help but notice the trade winds and breakers rolling across the Pacific Ocean from the east. Heyerdahl noted the presence of South American plants such as the sweet potato in Polynesia and the similarities between stone figures on Fatu Hiva and the monoliths erected by ancient South American civilizations. He saw parallels in the physical appearances, rituals and myths of Polynesians and South Americans, and around the glow of a fire, he listened as an elder spoke of a demigod named Tiki who brought his ancestors to the island from a big country beyond the eastern horizon.

Heyerdahl on board Kon-Tiki. (Credit: Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Heyerdahl returned to Norway with fish, jars of beetles and a new dream—to challenge conventional wisdom and demonstrate that the first people who settled Polynesia came from the east, not the west. He abandoned his zoology studies and developed an ethnological theory that two waves of people from the Americas populated the South Pacific. The first wave, Heyerdahl said, arrived around A.D. 500 from pre-Incan Peru by way of Easter Island on rafts that drifted on the currents of the Pacific Ocean; the second came approximately 500 years later from the coast of British Columbia by way of Hawaii. Critics thought the theory impossible and said the open rafts of South America’s pre-Incan civilizations were hardly seaworthy enough to make an oceanic crossing.

Heyerdahl, however, was determined to prove that such a voyage was possible—even if it meant risking his life. Although the Norwegian had no sailing experience and couldn’t even swim, he announced plans to make the perilous crossing on a log raft built only with tools available to pre-Columbian South Americans. “Your mother and father will be very grieved when they hear of your death,” one skeptical diplomat told Heyerdahl when hearing of his plan. Promising “nothing but a free trip to Peru and the South Sea islands and back,” Heyerdahl recruited a five-man crew who built a 30-by-15-foot raft made of nine balsawood logs harvested from the Ecuadorian jungle lashed together with hemp ropes. An open bamboo cabin with overlapping banana leaves covering the roof provided the only protection from the elements.

With a smash of a coconut against the bow, the vessel was christened Kon-Tiki after the legendary Peruvian sun god who had vanished westward across the sea, a mythical figure who served as the mirror image to the Polynesian demigod Tiki who had arrived from the east. On April 28, 1947, Kon-Tiki departed Callao, Peru, with six men and a Spanish-speaking green parrot aboard. Borne along by the northeast-east trade winds that billowed the massive square sail bearing the image of the bearded Kon-Tiki, the raft groaned and creaked as it drifted across the vast blue desert of water.

Although the vessel carried a radio that the crew used to provide daily meteorological and oceanographic observations, a rescue would have been nearly impossible given their remote location in the ocean. They navigated with just the sun, stars, currents and winds as their guides. They maneuvered the raft with only the sail, paddles and a temperamental steering oar as they beat against waves that in stormy conditions towered higher than their masts.

Kon-Tiki on display in Oslo, Norway. (Credit: Getty Images)

Each morning the cook collected the flying fish that flopped onto the deck overnight. The seaweed and shellfish that grew on Kon-Tiki’s underside lured sardines, tuna, dolphins and at least one unwelcome visitor. One day when crewmember Knut Haugland leaned over to wash his hands, he came face-to-face with a 30-foot whale shark, the world’s largest fish species. “Its body rose to the surface like a small mountain,” he recalled in his diary. After circling the vessel for an hour, the enormous sea monster thankfully found other ocean prey.

On the voyage’s 93rd day, Heyerdahl and his crew finally spotted palm trees on the horizon. The winds and currents, however, kept the vessel out at sea. More than a week later, as dawn broke on August 7, they spotted a reef on the starboard side. As the fragile timber raft approached the jagged reef, the cresting waves grew and sent tons of water splashing over Kon-Tiki. The crew clung to whatever they could as the mast snapped and the swells heaved them onto the Raroia atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago near Tahiti.

All arrived safely—except for the parrot that had vanished during a storm out at sea—after covering 4,300 nautical miles in 101 days, an average speed of 42.5 miles per day. Heyerdahl had proved that an ancient voyage from South America to Polynesia was possible. However, he could not prove that it had actually occurred, and most scholars continue to dismiss his theory and believe the first Polynesian settlers arrived from Southeast Asia.

Heyerdahl poses in front of Kon-Tiki display, 1990. (Credit: AGNETE BRUN/AFP/Getty Images)

Heyerdahl recounted the epic voyage in the bestselling 1950 book “Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft” and in a documentary the following year that won the Academy Award. He continued to conduct research expeditions to Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands and South America until his death in 2002, and he led voyages across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in primitive vessels similar to Kon-Tiki to prove how other ancient civilizations may have been interconnected. The raft he sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1947 is now on display at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.

“You Are What You Remember.”

The Museum of Thin Objects

IMG_4984 A Valentine’s Series No. 61566 card. I love this postcard of Matlock Bath. It’s one of the first ones I bought. There’s something deeply familiar about this image. I know the path, and have often walked it. I know those colours, those autumnal trees too, they form part of my memories of childhood, I know the Victoria Prospect tower, heck I swept it out often enough in my teens! Yet at the same time as being familiar there’s also those two ghostly figures staring towards the lens. For me this is an unheimlich or uncanny image.

You are what you remember. It’s difficult to imagine being ‘you’ without some access to your remembered life story. But the new science of memory tells us that remembering is just that: a story.

Memories are not stashed away, fully formed, in the vaults of the brain; they are constructed, when needed, according to…

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2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered

On Monday, the government of Malta announced that an international team of researchers has discovered the wreck of a 2,700-year-old Phoenician trading ship and its cargo off the island country’s coastline. The ancient shipwreck may be the oldest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea.


The discovery was made several months ago one mile off the coast of Gozo Island, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago. Nearly 400 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, researchers located a 50-foot-long sunken ship and its cargo strewn over a 700-square-foot area. The remains included 20 lava grinding stones weighing nearly 80 pounds each and 50 amphorae—large ceramic jugs with two handles and narrow necks used to hold wine. Since the Mediterranean’s sandy seabed cushioned the impact of the wreck, the relics were well preserved and could be dated to 700 B.C., which could make the discovery the oldest shipwreck in the Mediterranean.

The ancient Phoenician ship was typical of the trading vessels that stopped in Malta to sell cargo, and since researchers discovered seven different types of amphorae in the wreck, they surmised that the ship had made numerous ports of call. It is believed that the vessel was sailing between Sicily and Malta when it met its watery demise.

Independent Phoenician city-states such as Tyre and Sidon flourished along the Mediterranean coast on the western edge of the Fertile Crescent (modern-day Lebanon and portions of Syria) at the dusk of the Bronze Age and the dawn of the Iron Age. The Phoenicians were a maritime people known as master shipbuilders and merchants who plied ancient trade routes across the Mediterranean from 1550 B.C. to 300 B.C. They were known among ancient cultures as purveyors of purple dye extracted from murex snails that was used as pigment for royal clothing. Phoenicians traded their coveted dyes and woven items for raw materials, and they are credited with developing the first known alphabet, which is generally considered the forebear of all modern alphabets. The civilization ended after they were conquered by the Persians and then the Greeks.

Engraving of Phoenician ship

Phoenician traders were thought to have been the first known inhabitants of Malta, which makes the new discovery of particular interest. They were drawn to the archipelago’s safe harbors that offered refuge on long voyages. The research expedition, which has taken place under the supervision of Malta’s Superintendence of National Heritage, has been conducted by the GROplan Project, which is funded by the French National Research Agency. The international team of researchers includes scholars from the University of Malta, University of Marseilles and Texas A&M University.

“The discovery is considered to be unique,” University of Malta researcher Timothy Gambin said in an interview with the Times of Malta, “because it is the oldest shipwreck in the central Mediterranean and it is in a fantastic state of preservation.” Gambin says the technical team is now working on compiling the data gathered in their fieldwork and creating a very high-resolution 3D model of the site based on more than 8,000 photographs taken of the wreck. They are also continuing to study the samples raised to the surface.

“It’s an important reference point for the entire central Mediterranean,” a Maltese culture minister told the Times of Malta of the shipwreck. “It is a point where we can understand interregional trade and exchange in antiquity.” Researchers hope to find additional artifacts and portions of the ship, and the government of Malta plans to disclose the location of the wreck after all work at the site has been completed and relics have been recovered. The government plans to add the shipwreck to its national inventory of cultural properties and eventually make it accessible to the public.

Not satisfied with work…?

A playing boy in the field when see an airplane in sky, he imagine if he were flying airplane .At the same time pilot of aero plane see open field and plying boy. He thinks to return his home and enjoy playing with his son and beauty of open field. You are unsatisfied with your work; however, there are thousands who follows you and want to become like you……

Orchid beauty is breathtaking .Do you know why they are smuggled?

Orchid flower are known for their beauty .They are colorful, fragrant and with delicate petals .The are mostly found in the eastern hills of Nepal. Locally they are known as “Sunakhari” or “Sungabha” .They are of different type like; cymbidium Sp, dendrobium Sp, epigenium Sp, pleione Sp, habenaria Sp, spiranthes Sp and vandopsis Sp species.

Cymbidium orchid known as Sunakhari in Nepal is one among many species of flower found in Nepal. It is so breathtaking colorful with enticing aromatic that it is impossible for people not to be smitten with it.

The Sunakhari flower grow on tree, mostly old and rotting tree trunk, however, they are not parasitic plant because the can prepare food themselves .Sunakhari can be bloomed on an old tree trunk s kept in a closed room .It leaves are not only lovely in shape but unlike other plant leaves, its salient feature is that they do not dry and fall faster.

In addition, Sunakhari, especially with Panch Aunle (a plant of the same orchid family with its roots like the five finger palm) is also known for its medicinal value. Such flowers are of high demand and good income can be generated through Panch Aunle when produced.

Smuggling of orchid plants is on the rise not only due to their colorful beauty but also aromatic quality. They   are smuggled out of country for their medicinal values too.

This flower is smuggled from the hilly villages of Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung district of eastern Nepal that connect with Darjeeling and Sikkim of India. Smuggling of Sunakhari is done after they are dried and such dry flower are used for manufacturing medicine.

Lion cub vs. GoPro

Why Evolution Is True

Now that we have the GoPro camera (a great invention, whose only downside may be the tendency of people to care more about the video than the experience), we’re going to see a whole lot more video closeups of animals in the wild.  Here’s one by photographer Chris Bray with the following information (among other stuff):

While running one of our five 2-week photo safaris to Kenya in 2014, we attached a GoPro camera to a remote control car and drove it up to a lioness with cubs, stopping at a distance where they still showed no interest, and then jiggled the car around just enough to invoke the cubs curiosity. Two of the three cubs then came over and investigated it for 20min, before growing bored and tired and falling asleep back with mum. Our 8th safari to Kenya, we had off-road permits and filming permits for this national…

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