Scientific discoveries this week: 9-13-10

Kansas City, MO – The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives collaborated with  a Kansas City cardiologist and the curator of the Nelson-Atkins museum of art to reveal the identity of a 2500-year-old Egyptian mummy. The mummy, named Ka-i-nefer, is part of a new Egyptian exhibit at Nelson-Atkins that opened in May. Using CT scans of the mummy and making graphical drawings from those scans, the team of researchers from ATF and the cardiologist determined that the mummy was a man who lived to be 45-55 years old, and was five-foot seven-inches tall and wore a size 7 shoe. “The image of by ATF adds a powerful immediacy to this man who lived thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt,” said Robert Cohon, the curator of the art exhibit at Nelson-Atkins.

Mars – The Phoenix lander that has been on Mars since 2008 has returned data that would suggest that Mars, in its younger days, experienced significant climatic events that indicate volcanic action, perhaps as recently as the last few billion years. The isotopic measurements returned by Phoenix reinforce these findings. This new information is also challenging the former belief that Mars has been dry for eons. There may have been recent interactions with liquid water, and as they say, where there’s water, there’s life.

Paris, France – Humans milling about below ground will be the new heat source for a new housing complex near a metro station. The French are hoping to cut carbon emissions in the 17 apartments by 30% compared to traditional boiler heating systems. The heat will be conducted up to the heat piping system via the main stairwell up from the metro station, resulting in no new infrastructure in the station itself. While Paris has no plans to extend the project beyond this housing complex, they are investigating other opportunities.

Glasgow, UK/Canberra, AU – Experimental physicists at University of Glasgow, in Glasgow, UK are experimenting with using “light tubes” to transport tiny objects over relatively long distances. Cooperating with researchers working at Australia University in Canberra, they have been able to use a laser to move a tiny particle in the range of 50 nanograms along a tube of 1.5 meters in length. Using whats called a Vortex Beam, they feed tiny particles of carbon and hollow glass spheres into the beam and move them along the tube. “I can’t see anything that would stop us from delivering [a particle] over 10 meters” said Andrei Rode, one of the researchers at Canberra.

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