Fragments of Continents Hidden Under Lava in Indian Ocean

The islands Reunion and Mauritius, both well-known tourist destinations, are hiding a micro-continent, which has now been discovered. The continent fragment known as Mauritia detached about 60 million years ago while Madagascar and India drifted apart, and had been hidden under huge masses of lava.

lemuria - gondwana

The coloured track (left colour scale) west of Reunion is the calculated movement of the Reunion hotspot. The black lines with yellow circles and the red circle indicate the corresponding calculated track on the African plate and the Indian plate, respectively. The numbers in the circles are ages in millions of years. The areas with topography just below the sea surface are now regarded as continental fragments. (Credit: © GFZ/Steinberger)

Such micro-continents in the oceans seem to occur more frequently than previously thought, says a study in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience.

The break-up of continents is often associated with mantle plumes: These giant bubbles of hot rock rise from the deep mantle and soften the tectonic plates from below, until the plates break apart at the hotspots. This is how Eastern Gondwana broke apart about 170 million years ago. At first, one part was separated, which in turn fragmented into Madagascar, India, Australia and Antarctica, which then migrated to their present position.

Plumes currently situated underneath the islands Marion and Reunion appear to have played a role in the emergence of the Indian Ocean. If the zone of the rupture lies at the edge of a land mass (in this case Madagascar / India), fragments of this land mass may be separated off. The Seychelles are a well-known example of such a continental fragment.

A group of geoscientists from Norway, South Africa, Britain and Germany have now published a study that suggests, based on the study of lava sand grains from the beach of Mauritius, the existence of further fragments. The sand grains contain semi-precious zircons aged between 660 and 1970 million years, which is explained by the fact that the zircons were carried by the lava as it pushed through subjacent continental crust of this age.

This dating method was supplemented by a recalculation of plate tectonics, which explains exactly how and where the fragments ended up in the Indian Ocean. Dr. Bernhard Steinberger of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and Dr. Pavel Doubrovine of Oslo University calculated the hotspot trail: “On the one hand, it shows the position of the plates relative to the two hotspots at the time of the rupture, which points towards a causal relation,” says Steinberger. “On the other hand, we were able to show that the continent fragments continued to wander almost exactly over the Reunion plume, which explains how they were covered by volcanic rock.” So what was previously interpreted only as the trail of the Reunion hotspot, are continental fragments which were previously not recognized as such because they were covered by the volcanic rocks of the Reunion plume. It therefore appears that such micro-continents in the ocean occur more frequently than previously thought.


Courtesy: science Daily

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante- World’s Famous People Art Image

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante
Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante

( Click on image to enlarge)

There are totally 103 famous people present in the image( a Taiwanese Oil Painting by Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang in the year 2006 ), You may recognise some of them, but not all of them. I want to share this art along with their names , here it is

Influential people oil painting

( Click on image to enlarge)

1 Bill Gates, Microsoft founder
2 Homer, Greek poet
3 Cui Jian, Chinese singer
4 Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary
5 Pavel Korchagin, Russian artist
6 Bill Clinton, former US President
7 Peter the Great, Russian leader
8 Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister
9 Bruce Lee, martial arts actor
10 Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister
11 Henri Matisse, French artist
12 Gengis Khan, Mongolian warlord
13 Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader
14 Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary
15 Fidel Castro, former Prime Minister and President of Cuba
16 Marlon Brando, actor
17 Yasser Arafat, former leader of Palastine
18 Julius Caesar, Roman emperor
19 Claire Lee Chennault, Second World War US Lieutenant
20 Luciano Pavarotti, singer
21 George W. Bush, former US President
22 The Prince of Wales
23 Liu Xiang, Chinese hurdler
24 Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General
25 Zhang An (the painter)
26 Mikhail Gorbachev, former Russian leader
27 Li Tiezi (the painter)
28 Dante Alighieri, Florentine poet
29 Dai Dudu (the painter)
30 Pele, footballer
31 Guan Yu, Chinese warlord
32 Ramses II, Egyptian pharoah
33 Charles De Gaulle, French general
34 Albert Nobel, Swedish chemist, founder of Nobel prizes
35 Franklin Roosevelt, former US President
36 Ernest Hemingway, American novelist
37 Elvis Presley, American singer
38 Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist
39 William Shakespeare, English playwright
40 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer
41 Steven Spielberg, American film director
42 Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter
43 Marie Curie, physicist and pioneer of radioactivity
44 Zhou Enlai, first Premier of the People’s Republic of China
45 Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, German writer
46 Laozi, Chinese philosopher
47 Marilyn Monroe, American actress
48 Salvador Dali, Spanish painter
49 Dowager Cixi, former ruler of China
50 Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister
51 Qi Baishi, Chinese painter
52 Qin Shi Huang, former Emperor of China
53 Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic Missionary (India- Missionaries of Charity)
54 Song Qingling, Chinese politician
55 Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet
56 Otto Von Bismarck, German statesman
57 Run Run Shaw, Chinese media mogul
58 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Swiss philosopher
59 Audrey Hepburn, Belgian-born actress
60 Ludwig Van Beethoven, German composer
61 Adolf Hitler, Nazi leader
62 Benito Mussolini, Italian fascist politician
63 Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq
64 Maxim Gorky, Russian writer
65 Sun Yat-Sen, Chinese revolutionary
66 Den Xiaoping, Chinese revolutionary
67 Alexander Pushkin, Russian author
68 Lu Xun, Chinese writer
69 Joseph Stalin, former Soviet Union leader
70 Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian painter
71 Karl Marx, German philosopher
72 Friedrich Nietzche, German philosopher
73 Abraham Lincoln, former US President
74 Mao Zedong, Chinese dictator
75 Charlie Chaplin, British actor
76 Henry Ford, founder of Ford motor company
77 Lei Feng, Chinese soldier
78 Norman Bethune, Canadian physician
79 Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist
80 Juan Antonio Samaranch, former International Olympic Committee president
81 Chiang Kai Shek, Chinese general
82 Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom
83 Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist
84 Li Bai, Chinese poet
85 Corneliu Baba, Romanian painter
86 Auguste Rodin, French artist
87 Dwight Eisenhower, former US President
88 Michael Jordan, American basketball player
89 Hideki Tojo, former Japan Prime Minister
90 Michelangelo, Italian Renaissance painter
91 Yi Sun-Sin, Korean naval commander
92 Mike Tyson, American boxer
93 Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister
94 Hans Christian Andersen, Danish author
95 Shirley Temple, American actress
96 Albert Einstein, German physicist
97 Moses, Hebrew religious leader
98 Confucius, Chinese philosopher
99 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian Nationalist Movement leader
100 Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch painter
101 Toulouse Lautrec, French painter
102 Marcel Duchamp, French artist
103 Behind George Bush (former US President) is Osama bin Laden ( founder of Al Qaeda a global militant Islamist organisation  )


Origin of Life

A coherent pathway — which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells — has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week.At the origin of life the first protocells must have needed a vast amount of energy to drive their metabolism and replication, as enzymes that catalyse very specific reactions were yet to evolve. Most energy flux must have simply dissipated without use.

origin of life

A major new hypothesis outlines a coherent pathway that starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells. (Credit: iStockphoto/Henrik Jonsson)

So where did it all that energy come from on the early Earth, and how did it get focused into driving the organic chemistry required for life?

The answer lies in the chemistry of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. In their paper Nick Lane (UCL, Genetics, Evolution and Environment) and Bill Martin (University of Dusseldorf) address the question of where all this energy came from — and why all life as we know it conserves energy in the peculiar form of ion gradients across membranes.

“Life is, in effect, a side-reaction of an energy-harnessing reaction. Living organisms require vast amounts of energy to go on living,” said Nick Lane.

Humans consume more than a kilogram (more than 700 litres) of oxygen every day, exhaling it as carbon dioxide. The simplest cells, growing from the reaction of hydrogen with carbon dioxide, produce about 40 times as much waste product from their respiration as organic carbon (by mass). In all these cases, the energy derived from respiration is stored in the form of ion gradients over membranes.

This strange trait is as universal to life as the genetic code itself. Lane and Martin show that bacteria capable of growing on no more than hydrogen and carbon dioxide are remarkably similar in the details of their carbon and energy metabolism to the far-from-equilibrium chemistry occurring in a particular type of deep-sea hydrothermal vent, known as alkaline hydrothermal vents.

Based on measured values, they calculate that natural proton gradients, acting across thin semi-conducting iron-sulfur mineral walls, could have driven the assimilation of organic carbon, giving rise to protocells within the microporous labyrinth of these vents.

They go on to demonstrate that such protocells are limited by their own permeability, which ultimately forced them to transduce natural proton gradients into biochemical sodium gradients, at no net energetic cost, using a simple Na+/H+ transporter. Their hypothesis predicts a core set of proteins required for early energy conservation, and explains the puzzling promiscuity of respiratory proteins for both protons and sodium ions.

These considerations could also explain the deep divergence between bacteria and archaea (single celled microorganisms) . For the first time, says Lane, “It is possible to trace a coherent pathway leading from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide to the strange bioenergetic properties of all cells living today.”

courtesy: sciencedaily

New System Successfully Classifies Symmetry-Protected Phases (Matter)

Forget solid, liquid, and gas: there are in fact more than 500 phases of matter. In a major paper in a recent issue of Science, Perimeter Faculty member Xiao-Gang Wen reveals a modern reclassification of all of them.Condensed matter physics — the branch of physics responsible for discovering and describing most of these phases — has traditionally classified phases by the way their fundamental building blocks — usually atoms — are arranged. The key is something called symmetry.

classification of matter

Artist’s impression of a string-net of light and electrons. String-nets are a theoretical kind of topologically ordered matter. (Credit: Xiao-Gang Wen/ Perimeter Institute)

To understand symmetry, imagine flying through liquid water in an impossibly tiny ship: the atoms would swirl randomly around you and every direction — whether up, down, or sideways — would be the same. The technical term for this is “symmetry” — and liquids are highly symmetric. Crystal ice, another phase of water, is less symmetric. If you flew through ice in the same way, you would see the straight rows of crystalline structures passing as regularly as the girders of an unfinished skyscraper. Certain angles would give you different views. Certain paths would be blocked, others wide open. Ice has many symmetries — every “floor” and every “room” would look the same, for instance — but physicists would say that the high symmetry of liquid water is broken.

Classifying the phases of matter by describing their symmetries and where and how those symmetries break is known as the Landau paradigm. More than simply a way of arranging the phases of matter into a chart, Landau’s theory is a powerful tool which both guides scientists in discovering new phases of matter and helps them grapple with the behaviours of the known phases. Physicists were so pleased with Landau’s theory that for a long time they believed that all phases of matter could be described by symmetries. That’s why it was such an eye-opening experience when they discovered a handful of phases that Landau couldn’t describe.

Beginning in the 1980s, condensed matter researchers, including Xiao-Gang Wen — now a faculty member at Perimeter Institute — investigated new quantum systems where numerous ground states existed with the same symmetry. Wen pointed out that those new states contain a new kind of order: topological order. Topological order is a quantum mechanical phenomenon: it is not related to the symmetry of the ground state, but instead to the global properties of the ground state’s wave function. Therefore, it transcends the Landau paradigm, which is based on classical physics concepts.

Topological order is a more general understanding of quantum phases and the transitions between them. In the new framework, the phases of matter were described not by the patterns of symmetry in the ground state, but by the patterns of a decidedly quantum property — entanglement. When two particles are entangled, certain measurements performed on one of them immediately affect the other, no matter how far apart the particles are. The patterns of such quantum effects, unlike the patterns of the atomic positions, could not be described by their symmetries. If you were to describe a city as a topologically ordered state from the cockpit of your impossibly tiny ship, you’d no longer be describing the girders and buildings of the crystals you passed, but rather invisible connections between them — rather like describing a city based on the information flow in its telephone system.

This more general description of matter developed by Wen and collaborators was powerful — but there were still a few phases that didn’t fit. Specifically, there were a set of short-range entangled phases that did not break the symmetry, the so-called symmetry-protected topological phases. Examples of symmetry-protected phases include some topological superconductors and topological insulators, which are of widespread immediate interest because they show promise for use in the coming first generation of quantum electronics.

In the paper featured in Science, Wen and collaborators reveal a new system which can, at last, successfully classify these symmetry-protected phases.

Using modern mathematics — specifically group cohomology theory and group super-cohomology theory — the researchers have constructed and classified the symmetry-protected phases in any number of dimensions and for any symmetries. Their new classification system will provide insight about these quantum phases of matter, which may in turn increase our ability to design states of matter for use in superconductors or quantum computers.

This paper is a revealing look at the intricate and fascinating world of quantum entanglement, and an important step toward a modern reclassification of all phases of matter.

courtesy: sciencedaily

Study Shows Rapid Warming On the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

In a discovery that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study finds that the western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.The temperature record from Byrd Station, a scientific outpost in the center of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), demonstrates a marked increase of 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) in average annual temperature since 1958 — that is, three times faster than the average temperature rise around the globe.

Global warming

Researchers have determined that the central region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is experiencing twice as much warming as previously thought. Their analysis focuses on the temperature record from Byrd Station (indicated by a star), which provides the only long-term temperature observations in the region. Other permanent research stations with long-term temperature records (indicated by black circles) are scattered around the continent. On this map, the color intensity indicates the extent of warming around Antarctica. (Credit: Image by Julien Nicolas, courtesy of Ohio State University)

This temperature increase is nearly double what previous research has suggested, and reveals — for the first time — warming trends during the summer months of the Southern Hemisphere (December through February), said David Bromwich, professor of geography at Ohio State University and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Our record suggests that continued summer warming in West Antarctica could upset the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea level rise than it already does,” said Bromwich.

“Even without generating significant mass loss directly, surface melting on the WAIS could contribute to sea level indirectly, by weakening the West Antarctic ice shelves that restrain the region’s natural ice flow into the ocean.”

Andrew Monaghan, study co-author and scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), said that these findings place West Antarctica among the fastest-warming regions on Earth.

“We’ve already seen enhanced surface melting contribute to the breakup of the Antarctic’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, where glaciers at the edge discharged massive sections of ice into the ocean that contributed to sea level rise,” Monaghan said. “The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous WAIS glaciers.”

Researchers consider the WAIS especially sensitive to climate change, explained Ohio State University doctoral student Julien Nicolas. Since the base of the ice sheet rests below sea level, it is vulnerable to direct contact with warm ocean water. Its melting currently contributes 0.3 mm to sea level rise each year — second to Greenland, whose contribution to sea level rise has been estimated as high as 0.7 mm per year.

Due to its location some 700 miles from the South Pole and near the center of the WAIS, Byrd Station is an important indicator of climate change throughout the region.

In the past, researchers haven’t been able to make much use of the Byrd Station measurements because the data was incomplete; nearly one third of the temperature observations were missing for the time period of the study. Since its establishment in 1957, the station hasn’t always been occupied. A year-round automated station was installed in 1980, but it has experienced frequent power outages, especially during the long polar night, when its solar panels can’t recharge.

Bromwich and two of his graduate students, along with colleagues from NCAR and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, corrected the past Byrd temperature measurements and used corrected data from a computer atmospheric model and a numerical analysis method to fill in the missing observations.

Aside from offering a more complete picture of warming in West Antarctica, the study suggests that if this warming trend continues, melting will become more extensive in the region in the future, Bromwich said.

While the researchers work to fully understand the cause of the summer warming at Byrd Station, the next step is clear, he added.

“West Antarctica is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth, but it is also one of the least known,” he said. “Our study underscores the need for a reliable network of meteorological observations throughout West Antarctica, so that we can know what is happening — and why — with more certainty.”

Articles :

courtesy: scienedaily,Journal Nature & Forbes

A Mathematical Formula to Decipher the Geometry of Surfaces Like That of Cauliflower

Scientists at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) have taken part in a research project that describes, for the first time, that laws that govern the development of certain complex natural patterns, such as those found on the surface of cauliflower.The scientists have found a formula that describes how the patterns found in a multitude of natural structures are formed. “We have found a model that describes, in detail, the evolution in time and in space of cauliflower-type fractal morphologies for nanoscopic systems,” explains Professor Rodolfo Cuerno, of UC3M’s Mathematics Department, author of the research, together with scientists from Universidad Pontificia Comillas (UPCO), the Instituto de Ciencia de los Materiales de Madrid (the Materials Science Institute of Madrid) of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) (Spanish National Research Council), la Escuela Politécnica de París (Polytechnic School of Paris, France) and the Universidad Católica de Lovaina (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium).

geometry of  surface in cauliflower

Scientists at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) have taken part in a research project that describes, for the first time, that laws that govern the development of certain complex natural patterns, such as those found on the surface of cauliflower. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Oficina de Información Científica)

This work, which was recently published in the New Journal of Physics, falls within the field of fractal geometry, which is based on the mathematical description of many natural forms, such as sea coasts, the borders between countries, clouds, snowflakes and even the networks of blood vessels. A fractal is characterized because its parts are similar to the whole. “In the case of cauliflowers, this property (self-similarity) becomes evident if you look closely at a photo of them,” says another of the researchers, Mario Castro, a professor at UPCO. “In fact,” he adds, “without more information, it is impossible to know the size of the object.” This way, using relatively simple algorithms, complex structures almost indistinguishable from certain landscapes, leaves or trees, for example, can now be generated. “However, the general mechanisms that govern the appearance or evolution over time of those natural structures have rarely been identified beyond a merely visual or geometric reproduction,” clarifies the researcher.

From the supermarket to the laboratory

The cauliflower-type morphologies were known is this realm in an empirical way, but no one had provided a model like the one that these scientists have developed. “In our case,” they comment, “the connection came about naturally when a certain ingredient (noise) was added to a related model that we had worked on previously. When we did that, in the numeric simulations, surfaces appeared, and we quickly identified them as the ones that our experiment colleagues had been able to obtain, under the right conditions, in their laboratories.” Based on the characteristics of this theoretical model, they have inferred general mechanisms that can be common and can help in making models of other very different systems, such as a combustion front or a cauliflower like the ones that can be found in any supermarket.

Fractals of this type are interesting because they are ubiquitous, that is, they appear in systems that vary widely in their nature and dimensions. In general, fractals can be found in any branch of the natural sciences: mathematics (specific types of functions), geology (river basins or the outline of a coast), biology (forms of aggregate cells, of plants, of the network of blood vessels…), physics (the growth of amorphous solid crystals or the distribution of galaxies), chemistry (the distribution in space of the reagents of chemical reactions). Moreover, they have also been studied due to their relationship with structures created by man, such as communication and transportation networks, city layouts, etc.

This finding may help to discover concrete applications for improving the technologies used in thin film coatings, and to understand the conditions under which they are smooth or have wrinkles or roughness. “This is also useful in generating textures in computer simulations,” the researchers point out. “And, conceptually,” they add, “this can give us clues about the general mechanisms involved in forming structures in areas that are very different from the ones in which the model was formulated, such as those in which there is competition for growth resources among the various parts of the system.”


courtesy: sciencedaily

Multi-Tasking Whales Sing While Feeding, Not Just Breeding

Humpback whales are famed for their songs, most often heard in breeding season when males are competing to mate with females. In recent years, however, reports of whale songs occurring outside traditional breeding grounds have become more common. A new study may help explain why.Humpbacks sing for their supper — or at least, they sing while they hunt for it.The research, published December 19 in PLoS ONE, uncovers the whales’ little-understood acoustic behavior while foraging.

humpbak whales

Humpback whales are famed for their songs, most often heard in breeding season when males are competing to mate with females. In recent years, however, reports of whale songs occurring outside traditional breeding grounds have become more common. A new study may help explain why. (Credit: © jankratochvila / Fotolia)

It also reveals a previously unknown behavioral flexibility on their part that allows the endangered marine mammals to balance their need to feed continuously with the competing need to exhibit mating behaviors such as song displays.

“They need to feed. They need to breed. So essentially, they multi-task,” said study co-author Ari S. Friedlaender, research scientist at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “This suggests the widely held behavioral dichotomy of breeding-versus-feeding for this species is too simplistic.”

Researchers from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the University of California-Santa Barbara and Duke tracked 10 humpback whales in coastal waters along the Western Antarctic Peninsula in May and June 2010. The peninsula’s bays and fjords are important late-season feeding grounds where humpbacks feast on krill each austral autumn before migrating to warm-water calving grounds thousands of miles away.

Using non-invasive multi-sensor tags that attach to the whales with suction cups, the researchers recorded the whales’ underwater movements and vocalizations as they foraged.

All 10 of the tags picked up the sounds of background songs, and in two cases, they recorded intense and continuous whale singing with a level of organization and structure approaching that of a typical breeding-ground mating display. The song bouts sometimes lasted close to an hour and in one case occurred even while sensors indicated the whale, or a close companion, was diving and lunging for food.

Humpbacks sing most frequently during breeding season, but are known to sing on other occasions too, such as while escorting mother-calf pairs along migratory routes. Though the reasons they sing are still not thoroughly understood, one distinction is clear: Songs sung in breeding grounds are quite different in duration, phrase type and theme structure from those heard at other locations and times.

“The fact that we heard mating displays being sung in late-season foraging grounds off the coast of Antarctica suggests humpback whale behavior may be more closely tied to the time of year than to physical locations. This may signify an ability to engage in breeding activities outside their traditional warm-water breeding grounds,” said Douglas P. Nowacek, Repass-Rogers University Associate Professor of Conservation Technology at Duke’s Nicholas School.

As the region’s climate warms, sea ice cover around the Western Antarctic Peninsula has thinned in recent years and the water stays open later in the foraging season, he explained. Whales are remaining there longer into austral autumn to feast on krill instead of heading off to warm-water breeding grounds, as many scientists previously believed.

“Mating may now be taking place at higher latitudes,” Nowacek said. “This merits further study.”

Alison K. Stimpert, research associate in oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School, was lead author of the new study. Lindsey E. Peavey, a PhD Student at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, co-authored it with Stimpert, Friedlaender and Nowacek.

Audio of whale:

courtesy: sciencedaily