Scientific discoveries this week: 9-27-10

Pasadena, California – Scientists at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena  have discovered what appears to be a magnetic field they suspect could be left over from the Big Bang. While the true origin of this magnetic field is unclear, the researchers hope that it will point them to the origin of magnetism. The distortion and static from super-massive black holes and supernovae is the primary obstacle at this point in time, but scientists believe that the static can be eliminated from the signal.

Dublin, United Kingdom – Magnetic storms launched from the Sun can still hit Earth, even if they leave the Sun from the poles. Known as Coroneal Mass Ejections, or CME’s, these highly charged, hot gas particles flying away from the Sun at 1,118,000 miles per hour can cause extensive damage to satellites, power grids on the ground, astronauts in orbit, and TV and radio transmissions. Scientist initially thought that only CME’s launched from the Sun’s equator were a danger to  Earth, but this new evidence shows that the magnetic field of the Sun can bend the storms ejections back down to the equatorial plane in line with Earth.

Norman, Oklahoma – Scientists have discovered what may cause the violent earthquakes associated with fault movement. Known as ‘fault gouge’, a powder results from two faces of a fault grinding together under extremely high pressure. At a certain temperature, the powder becomes very slippery, essentially weakening the fault enough to allow it to slip at a meter per second, the normal speed of fault movement during an earthquake.

Almaty, Kazakhstan – A Russian Soyuz successfully undocked from the International Space Station Friday after resolving two issues that had prevented the undocking operation Thursday. The capsule, carrying two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut, is expected to land in the plains of Kazakhstan at 11:21 AM local time after six-months docked with the ISS.

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