13 things that just don’t make any sense

There are mysteries in this world that still confound us.

1 The placebo effect

You induce pain in someone several times a day, for several days. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.  But, don’t try this at home.



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Astronauts Could One Day Reach Mars by Riding Asteroids


In 2005, Japan’s unmanned Hayabusa spacecraft (illustration) successfully landed on an asteroid.

Getting to Mars is going to involve building a huge spacecraft and loading it up with tons of fuel and radiation shielding. Unless, that is, we could just tag along with a spacecraft that’s already headed in that direction, like an asteroid.



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Suzaku Catches Retreat of a Black Hole’s Disk


GX 339-4, illustrated here, is among the most dynamic binaries in the sky, with four major outbursts in the past seven years.

Studies of one of the galaxy’s most active black-hole binaries reveal a dramatic change that will help scientists better understand how these systems expel fast-moving particle jets.

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Magnetic Power Revealed in Gamma-Ray Burst Jet


Gamma-ray bursts that are longer than two seconds are caused by the detonation of a rapidly rotating massive star at the end of its life on the main sequence.

A specialized camera on a telescope operated by U.K. astronomers from Liverpool has made the first measurement of magnetic fields in the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst (GRB). The result is reported in the Dec. 10 issue of Nature magazine by the team of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) astronomers who built and operate the telescope and its unique scientific camera, named RINGO.

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Nasa’s Fermi Telescope Peers Deep Into a ‘Micro-Quasar’


n Cygnus X-3, an accretion disk surrounding a black hole or neutron star orbits close to a hot, massive star.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has made the first unambiguous detection of high-energy gamma-rays from an enigmatic binary system known as Cygnus X-3. The system pairs a hot, massive star with a compact object — either a neutron star or a black hole — that blasts twin radio-emitting jets of matter into space at more than half the speed of light.

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Origin Of Cosmic Rays: VERITAS Telescopes Help Solve 100-year-old Mystery


This representative-color figure shows the very-high-energy gamma-ray emission observed by VERITAS coming from the Cigar Galaxy, also known as Messier 82.

Nearly 100 years ago, scientists detected the first signs of cosmic rays — subatomic particles (mostly protons) that zip through space at nearly the speed of light. The most energetic cosmic rays hit with the punch of a 98-mph fastball, even though they are smaller than an atom. Astronomers questioned what natural force could accelerate particles to such a speed. New evidence from the VERITAS telescope array shows that cosmic rays likely are powered by exploding stars and stellar “winds.”

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NASA’s Fermi Telescope Detects Gamma Rays From ‘Star Factories’ In Other Galaxies


Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) shows that an intense star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud named 30 Doradus is also a source of diffuse gamma rays.

Nearby galaxies undergoing a furious pace of star formation also emit lots of gamma rays, say astronomers using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Two so-called “starburst” galaxies, plus a satellite of our own Milky Way galaxy, represent a new category of gamma-ray-emitting objects detected both by Fermi and ground-based observatories.

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Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High


An artist’s concept of the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble that partially protects the solar system from cosmic rays.

Planning a trip to Mars? Take plenty of shielding. According to sensors on NASA’s ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high.

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New Drake Equation To Quantify Habitability?


An image showing microbes living in sandstone in Antarctica.

Researchers from the Open University are laying the groundwork for a new equation that could mathematically quantify a habitat’s potential for hosting life, in a similar way to how the Drake equation estimates the number of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way. Continue reading… “New Drake Equation To Quantify Habitability?”


New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn


Radiation belt map of the ions with energies between 25-60 MeV, in Saturn’s magnetosphere, based on several years of Cassini MIMI/LEMMS data.

Scientists using the Cassini spacecraft’s Magnetospheric Imaging instrument (MIMI) have detected a new, temporary radiation belt at Saturn, located around the orbit of its moon Dione at about 377,000 km from the center of the planet. Continue reading… “New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn”


Astrophysics: High Energy Galactic Particle Accelerator Located


The Messier 87 galaxy.

An unprecedented measuring campaign has succeeded in precisely defining the place of origin of high-energy gamma radiation in the galaxy Messier 87. This radiation can only be produced by accelerating elementary particles to very high energies in enormous cosmic objects. Now the underlying extreme physical processes and inherent implications can be investigated in more detail.

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