We’re heading into a solar minimum, the period of the least sunspot activity in our Sun’s roughly 11-year cycle. But despite that, in September this year the Sun erupted into massive activity.
From one single active sunspot region our home star belched out more than 30 solar flares, including the biggest one we’ve seen since 2005. And now we have new images of what that insane activity looked like from space.
Lucky for us, the NOAA, NASA, JAXA, the ESA and others had many eyes trained on the old treacle bun, tracking the active region AR 2673 as it moved across the surface of the Sun, facing towards Earth.
Different space-based observatories are set up to study the Sun at different wavelengths, to capture as much information about its activity as possible.
“With multiple views of solar activity, scientists can better track the evolution and propagation of solar eruptions, with the goal of improving our understanding of space weather,” wrote Lina Tran of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
“On the other hand, depending on the direction they’re traveling in, CMEs can spark powerful geomagnetic storms in Earth’s magnetic field.”
Different wavelengths can reveal unique structures and dynamics around solar flares, as well as the surface of the Sun itself.
Most solar observatories are set up to take observations in several wavelengths, all of which are measured in Angstroms. Here’s what some of that looks like.
Below, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory images the corona in 10 wavelengths for a wide range of data. This timelapse is of the X9.3 event. The footage might look staticky – that’s caused by solar particles hitting the instrument.
This sequence from NASA and JAXA’s Hinode isn’t in visible light, but X-rays. It shows the X8.2 flare that erupted on 10 September, 2017:
This series from NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory shows two coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, the first from 9 September, and the second from 10 September, associated with the X8.2 flare and travelling at speeds as high as 11.2 million kph (7 million mph). It’s one of the fastest ever recorded.
CMEs are distinct from flares, and are made up of the magnetised particles that the sun hurls into space. They are very hot, and can best be imaged with a coronagraph, which has a metal disc, called an occulting disc, that blocks out the light from the sun.
Just in time for the culmination of this year’s spooky season, NASA has debuted a playlist of sounds from space. And even though we know none of it is aliens, those noises are creepy as.
From cacophonic plasma waves to eerie Saturn radio emissions and whispers caught off Jupiter’s moons, this playlist of space sounds is weird, beautiful, and a little unpleasant at times.
Now, these sounds are not actually captured using audio recorders, so we just have to make clear – if you were hanging out in Ganymede’s orbit, this is not what you would hear.
Instead, it’s the output of data from when astronomers convert the readings captured by various space probes and instruments into audible sound waves. Thanks to NASA’s SoundCloud account, we can enjoy them too:
Judging from this playlist, the creepiest planet in our Solar System appears to be the gas giant Jupiter and its numerous gigantic moons.
For example, some haunting screeching and roaring was produced when Juno crossed into Jupiter’s formidable magnetic field – the protective shield that screens the planet from the blasting winds of our home star.
As we reported last year, the probe actually underwent a ‘bow shock’ when it was crossing into Jupiter’s magnetosphere, and the event lasted for two hours:
The sound is produced when the supersonic solar winds that are hurtling through the Solar System are suddenly slowed down and heated up as they plough into Jupiter’s magnetosphere, resulting in bow shock – it’s sort like the sonic boom produced when an aircraft exceeds the speed of sound here on Earth, and the compression waves coming off it combine to form a shock wave.
And even though we know what we’re listening to is actually an awesome output of scientific data, we’re still pretty sure Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede must be haunted – just listen to those unnerving whispers coming out of its own magnetosphere:
Meanwhile the radio waves captured from the intense emissions spewed out by Saturn are more akin to classic sound effects you’d find on Star Trek: The Original Series – but with added spookiness:
But creepy noises don’t just come from elsewhere in the Solar System – turns out our own planet’s magnetosphere can generate some pretty intense noises, too.
“In regions laced with magnetic fields, such as the space environment surrounding our planet, particles are continually tossed to and fro by the motion of various electromagnetic waves known as plasma waves,” NASA explained earlier this year.
“These plasma waves, like the roaring ocean surf, create a rhythmic cacophony that – with the right tools – we can hear across space.”
That’s pretty damn awesome.
We recommend you use this playlist to marvel at the cosmic wonders of the universe, but it might also work as nice ambience to blast out the living room when trick-or-treaters arrive at your door. Whoosh!
Fear may be as old as life on Earth. It is a fundamental, deeply wired reaction, evolved over the history of biology, to protect organisms against perceived threat to their integrity or existence.
Fear may be as simple as a cringe of an antenna in a snail that is touched, or as complex as existential anxiety in a human. Whether we love or hate to experience fear, it’s hard to deny that we certainly revere it – devoting an entire holiday to the celebration of fear.
Thinking about the circuitry of the brain and human psychology, some of the main chemicals that contribute to the “fight or flight” response are also involved in other positive emotional states, such as happiness and excitement.
So, it makes sense that the high arousal state we experience during a scare may also be experienced in a more positive light. But what makes the difference between getting a “rush” and feeling completely terrorised?
We are psychiatrists who treat fear and study its neurobiology. Our studies and clinical interactions, as well as those of others, suggest that a major factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context.
When our “thinking” brain gives feedback to our “emotional” brain and we perceive ourselves as being in a safe space, we can then quickly shift the way we experience that high arousal state, going from one of fear to one of enjoyment or excitement.
When you enter a haunted house during Halloween season, for example, anticipating a ghoul jumping out at you and knowing it isn’t really a threat, you are able to quickly relabel the experience.
In contrast, if you were walking in a dark alley at night and a stranger began chasing you, both your emotional and thinking areas of the brain would be in agreement that the situation is dangerous, and it’s time to flee!
But how does your brain do this?
How do we experience fear?
Fear reaction starts in the brain and spreads through the body to make adjustments for the best defense, or flight reaction.
The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This almond-shaped set of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain is dedicated to detecting the emotional salience of the stimuli – how much something stands out to us.
For example, the amygdala activates whenever we see a human face with an emotion. This reaction is more pronounced with anger and fear.
A threat stimulus, such as the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved in preparation for motor functions involved in fight or flight. It also triggers release of stress hormones and sympathetic nervous system.
This leads to bodily changes that prepare us to be more efficient in a danger: The brain becomes hyperalert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate and breathing accelerates. Heart rate and blood pressure rise.
Blood flow and stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase. Organs not vital in survival such as the gastrointestinal system slow down.
A part of the brain called the hippocampus is closely connected with the amygdala. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. T
hey are involved in a higher-level processing of context, which helps a person know whether a perceived threat is real.
For instance, seeing a lion in the wild can trigger a strong fear reaction, but the response to a view of the same lion at a zoo is more of curiosity and thinking that the lion is cute.
This is because the hippocampus and the frontal cortex process contextual information, and inhibitory pathways dampen the amygdala fear response and its downstream results.
Basically, our “thinking” circuitry of brain reassures our “emotional” areas that we are, in fact, OK.
How do we learn the difference?
Similar to other animals, we very often learn fear through personal experiences, such as being attacked by an aggressive dog, or observing other humans being attacked by an aggressive dog.
However, an evolutionarily unique and fascinating way of learning in humans is through instruction – we learn from the spoken words or written notes! If a sign says the dog is dangerous, proximity to the dog will trigger a fear response.
We learn safety in a similar fashion: experiencing a domesticated dog, observing other people safely interact with that dog or reading a sign that the dog is friendly.
Why do some people enjoy being scared?
Fear creates distraction, which can be a positive experience.
When something scary happens, in that moment, we are on high alert and not preoccupied with other things that might be on our mind (getting in trouble at work, worrying about a big test the next day), which brings us to the here and now.
Furthermore, when we experience these frightening things with the people in our lives, we often find that emotions can be contagious in a positive way. We are social creatures, able to learn from one another. So, when you look over to your friend at the haunted house and she’s quickly gone from screaming to laughing, socially you’re able to pick up on her emotional state, which can positively influence your own.
While each of these factors – context, distraction, social learning – have potential to influence the way we experience fear, a common theme that connects all of them is our sense of control.
When we are able to recognise what is and isn’t a real threat, relabel an experience and enjoy the thrill of that moment, we are ultimately at a place where we feel in control. That perception of control is vital to how we experience and respond to fear.
When we overcome the initial “fight or flight” rush, we are often left feeling satisfied, reassured of our safety and more confident in our ability to confront the things that initially scared us.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone is different, with a unique sense of what we find scary or enjoyable. This raises yet another question: While many can enjoy a good fright, why might others downright hate it?
Why do some people not enjoy being scared?
Any imbalance between excitement caused by fear in the animal brain and the sense of control in the contextual human brain may cause too much, or not enough, excitement.
If the individual perceives the experience as “too real,” an extreme fear response can overcome the sense of control over the situation.
This may happen even in those who do love scary experiences: They may enjoy Freddy Krueger movies but be too terrified by The Exorcist, as it feels too real, and fear response is not modulated by the cortical brain.
On the other hand, if the experience is not triggering enough to the emotional brain, or if is too unreal to the thinking cognitive brain, the experience can end up feeling boring. A biologist who cannot tune down her cognitive brain from analysing all the bodily things that are realistically impossible in a zombie movie may not be able to enjoy The Walking Dead as much as another person.
So if the emotional brain is too terrified and the cognitive brain helpless, or if the emotional brain is bored and the cognitive brain is too suppressing, scary movies and experiences may not be as fun.
What are disorders of fear?
All fun aside, abnormal levels of fear and anxiety can lead to significant distress and dysfunction and limit a person’s ability for success and joy of life. Nearly one in four people experiences a form of anxiety disorder during their lives, and nearly 8 percent experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Disorders of anxiety and fear include phobias, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder. These conditions usually begin at a young age, and without appropriate treatment can become chronic and debilitating and affect a person’s life trajectory.
The good news is that we have effective treatments that work in a relatively short time period, in the form of psychotherapy and medications.
A new method of using photons to carry information might provide a new wireless solution for communication.
A collaborative team of researchers developed a way to ‘twist’ photons to improve on open-area quantum information transfer.
Using particles of light, i.e. photons, to transmit information isn’t exactly new.
Photons have seen use in a number of tests to determine the precision of quantum networks over long distances.
While the advent of quantum communication might just well be on the horizon, another team of researchers have figured out a way to use photons to carry information and data wirelessly, potentially replacing today’s fibre optics and creating a much faster internet.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow in the UK, working with colleagues from Germany, New Zealand, and Canada, described what they call ‘optical angular momentum’ (OAM) in a study recently published in the journal Science Advances.
This works by ‘twisting’ light across open spaces.
Concretely, the team twisted photons by passing them through a special kind of hologram, which they described as “similar to that on a credit card”, to give the photons this OAM.
Capable of traveling across open spaces, these twisted photons can carry more data in each transmission, while also becoming strong enough to withstand interference caused by turbulent air.
The hologram enables the photons to carry more than just the usual binary bits of 0s and 1s used in today’s digital communications — the same way a quantum network relies on quantum bits (qubits) to relay information.
The method was shown to be effective across a 1.6 km (roughly a mile) free space link the research team built in Erlangen, Germany, an area that simulated an urban environment with all the potential sources for signal disruption.
Faster and more reliable
The development of more reliable means to transfer information is necessary, given how the world consumes data and information today.
“In an age where our global data consumption is growing at an exponential rate, there is mounting pressure to discover new methods of information carrying that can keep up with the huge uptake in data across the world,” Martin Lavery, head of the Structured Photonics Research Group at Glasgow, said in a press release.
“A complete, working optical angular momentum communications system capable of transmitting data wirelessly across free space has the potential to transform online access for developing countries, [defense] systems and cities around the world,” he added.
Though effective, this type of communication has its own limits.
For one, relying on photons means it can’t be used in transmitting indoors, obviously.
Furthermore, for such a wireless network to be practical, one has to consider a number of other issues: Does it withstand interference from extreme weather conditions? How much information can it handle effectively?
Here’s a DIY descriptive tutorial to teach you how to get internet router power backup in various ways. As we may need a backup at our home of office for several reasons such as load-shedding, power failures, blackout, etc. and we may want to regain access to the internet service through internet router. This can only be possible with power backup options for which this tutorial is brought out to everyone interested. Moreover, the project is really cheap and possible to be accomplished with scratch components.
Lets begin with listing out the components required:
1. Internet router : Any router for which we design the project. Our system works at least for wireless functions of a router, while Ethernet may not work in some.The best is low powered about 2-3 watt for long time operation.
2. USB Power Bank/Backup : The power bank to power our internet router. The best one would be high powered i.e. 15000 mAh or more with current capacity 1A. And multiple USB out option would be suitable for simultaneous powering of router and mobile device.
3. USB cable : We require a USB cable for making a power cable matching the router’s power input. Instead of buying some extra USB cable, we advice you to use some not in use USB mouse or other USB cables.
4. Cutter : A cutter or scissor can be used for cutting cables and stripping out conductive part of wire.
5. Multi-meter : We need a multi-meter for proper voltage polarity tests and conductivity tests while making the correctly working cable, but at unavoidable circumstances we may omit the device and follow hit and trial method until the router functions.
6. Lead acid battery : This is required for high power alternative only, to be connected with a low wattage inverter. Advisable requirement is 12V and 7.2 Ah or more
7. Low power inverter :A simple 300 watt or more for inverter is required for higher power optional requirement.
That’s all for components’ requirement. Now lets jump to the descriptive procedures of the project.