06/29/2016: Seeking Radio Silence in West Virginia’s Quiet Zone

Newsweek_Radio_Silence_2016The town of Green Bank, West Virginia, is a sleepy Appalachian town, the kind one might move to in order to escape the grind of urban centers and bustling suburbs.

But its 143 residents didn’t exactly move there for literal quiet. Green Bank is located in eastern West Virginia, in what’s known as the National Radio Quiet Zone, where radio transmissions are heavily restricted and cellphones are scarce, all in service of actual radio silence for the world’s largest steerable radio telescope. The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, which opened in 2001 and is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, is used to detect electromagnetic signals in deep space. Any man-made interference limits its ability to “hear” information from the universe’s farthest reaches, necessitating its location in Green Bank.

Between 50 and 60 of Green Bank’s residents suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a condition purported to be a debilitating sensitivity to the electromagnetic waves emitted by Wi-Fi routers and cellphone towers. Its sufferers report experiencing headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, sleep problems and other symptoms they believe are connected to exposure to such waves. Though medical research on the persistent condition is still scarce, it often inspires sufferers to rearrange their lives to limit such exposure, insulating their living spaces, eschewing wireless technology and, for some, moving to Green Bank.

Published by Newsweek.  See more at: http://www.newsweek.com/seeking-radio-silence-west-virginias-quiet-zone-475589

 

06/29/2016: Clandestine Black Hole May Represent New Population

nature_world_news_2016_new-galazy-is-discoveredAstronomers combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) [and the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope] to find out that there is a peculiar source of radio waves originally thought to be a distant galaxy.

As it turns out, the source is a nearby binary star system with its low-mass star and a black hole. This discovery led the astronomers to believe that there are vast numbers of galaxies that remain undiscovered until today.

Published by Nature World News.  See more at: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/24419/20160629/clandestine-black-hole-may-represent-new-population.htm

 

06/26/2016: ‘Full Measure’: The No-Fi zone

85ft_Twitter_2016Just three hours from the nation’s capital, two unthinkable acts are occurring.

One, an unlikely partnership with the Russians, and two — prepare yourself — the government is cutting ties to your cellphone. “Full Measure” news correspondent Joce Sterman traveled to the No-Fi zone.

In the digital age, we live on an electronic leash, and sometimes we dream of a life not on a tether.

You’ll find it in this town of fewer than 200 people. Green Bank, West Virginia is the kind of place where chickens roam free, country songs spill from the lone AM station, and the sound of crickets is drowned out only by a passing car on a country road.

It’s not the shelter of the mountain hills that shields Green Bank from the intrusions of technology. It is the demands of the technology itself.

Aired on WJLA.  See more at: http://wjla.com/news/nation-world/full-measure-the-no-fi-zone

 

06/15/2016: Twisty molecules with ‘handedness’ that are essential to life found in deep space

mother_nature_news_chiral_2016It might be weird to think about molecules as expressing “handedness.” After all, molecules don’t have hands. But there is a class of organic molecules known as chiral molecules that can be thought of as being either left-handed or right-handed, similar to the way we favor one appendage over the other.

Basically, chiral molecules with different handedness will share the same chemical structure, but with different geometries. They’re essentially arranged as mirrors of one another, in such a way that they’re non-superposable. So it’s impossible to flip one to make it match the other.

“When you shake somebody’s hand, your right hand shakes another right hand, and it forms that nice, interlocking gesture; if you try to shake a left hand with your right hand it’s a little awkward because the interaction is different,” explained Brett McGuire, a researcher at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia. “Chiral molecules work the same way.”

Published by .  See more at: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/twisty-molecules-handedness-are-essential-life-found-deep-space

Many more articles can be viewed at: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&authuser=0&q=chiral+molecule+gbt

 

5/26/2016: SETI Gets an Upgrade

Siemion_Air_and_Space_2016Dan Werthimer doesn’t mean to be rude, but he’s getting ready to eavesdrop on the neighbors.

For decades, astronomers have been listening for messages sent to us—a “Hello, is anyone out there?” signal from intelligent aliens. But now Werthimer is about to get nosier; his team at the University of California at Berkeley is conducting the first search for communities on other worlds that are speaking to one another—between planets and even across star systems. And to do it, he has two of the world’s largest radio telescopes and support from a planet‑hunting optical telescope.

Thanks to a new initiative announced last July, Werthimer’s team will begin searching for extraterrestrial civilizations, using instruments with greater sensitivity and scanning across a wider range of frequencies than any SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project to date. Called Breakthrough Listen, it began earlier this year and will continue for a decade at a price tag of $100 million. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of telescope time,” says Werthimer. “We’ll be able to look at a hundred billion radio channels simultaneously. A big problem in SETI is we don’t know on what frequency ET might be transmitting, so the more channels you can listen to, the better chance you have of finding” a communication.

Published by Air & Space.  Read more: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/new-seti-search-180959126/#G7SLUp3kU2JLvsc2.99