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15 Science and Technology News Bytes From 2013

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Posted in Science on 29th Dec, 2012 01:25 AM by AlexMuller

Black Hole Chows Down


A giant blob of gas headed directly for the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy could begin to drop into the abyss mid-year, blasting x-ray radiation into space in a brilliant display of light.

 

Witnessed for the first time by scientists, the decades-long process will help answer the question of how black holes grow. —Miriam Kramer


Ocean X PRIZE Launches


As ocean water absorbs carbon dioxide, it becomes more acidic and incompatible with life. But pH sensors that can affordably, accurately, and wirelessly measure that change on a global scale don’t yet exist. This year, the X PRIZE Foundation will announce a competition meant to kick-start the invention of those instruments. —Taylor Kubota


Mental Disorders Better Defined


For the first time in 12 years, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will update The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which guides how psychiatrists and psychologists diagnose patients. The APA invited the public to comment on the draft, and its working groups are using the feedback to revise criteria. By clearly defining new disorders, the manual could help patients with previously vague diagnoses find new treatments and resources. —Miriam Kramer


Planck Dumps New Data


For the past three years, the Planck spacecraft has mapped and measured cosmic background radiation left behind from the Big Bang­­ using its high-frequency instrument sensor. In early 2013, the European Space Agency plans to publicly release the craft’s most recent findings, the first data dump since 2011. The information will further reveal what the universe might have looked like as it was first forming. —Miriam Kramer


Supercomputer Crunches Climate


A 1.5-petaflops IBM supercomputer, dubbed Yellowstone, will begin full operations this year at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center. Its 72,288 processor cores can perform 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second. Yellowstone will dramatically improve climate models and visualizations in the earth sciences, including simulations that show how tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires move across the landscape. —Taylor Kubota



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