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Kilogram gets a new definition

Kilogram gets a new definition

Science
Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined. Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called "Le Grand K" which is locked away in a safe in Paris. On Friday, researchers meeting in Versailles voted to get rid of it in favour of defining a kilogram in terms of an electric current. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures.But some scientists, such as Perdi Williams at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, have expressed mixed feelings about the change."I haven't been on this project for too long but I feel a weird attachment to the kilogram," she said. "I think it is such an exciting thing and this is a really big moment. So I'm a little bit sad about [the cha...
Humpback whales travel to the Mediterranean to feed

Humpback whales travel to the Mediterranean to feed

Science
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Humpback whales are visiting the Mediterranean to feed, according to a new study. Historically, humpback whales in the Mediterranean Sea have been a rare sight, but anecdotal evidence hinted at increased visitation over the last 150 years. Until now, researchers weren't sure why the large marine mammals were visiting the region. Now, scientists are certain the whales are coming to eat. The revelation was made possible by the serendipitous meeting of one young humpback and whale watching boat in the Strait of Gibraltar. The initial sighting allowed researchers in Spain to track the individual over two periods of consecutive days, each coinciding with spring tides. "For almost a month, it was possible to follow the animal within the Bay of Algeciras, taking exhaustive data...
Greenland ice sheet hides huge 'impact crater'

Greenland ice sheet hides huge 'impact crater'

Science
What looks to be a large impact crater has been identified beneath the Greenland ice sheet. The 31km-wide depression came to light when scientists examined radar images of the island's bedrock. Investigations suggest the feature was probably dug out by a 1.5km-wide iron asteroid sometime between about 12,000 and three million years ago. But without drilling through nearly 1km of ice to sample the bed directly, scientists can't be more specific. "We will endeavour to do this; it would certainly be the best way to get the 'dead fish on the table' (acknowledge the issue, rather than leaving it), so to speak," Prof Kurt Kjær, from the Danish Museum of Natural History, told BBC News.If confirmed, the crater would be the first of...
Exoplanet discovered around neighbouring star

Exoplanet discovered around neighbouring star

Science
Astronomers have discovered a planet around one of the closest stars to our Sun.Nearby planets like this are likely to be prime targets in the search for signatures of life, using the next generation of telescopes.The planet's mass is thought to be more than three times bigger than our own, placing it in a category of world known as "super-Earths".It orbits Barnard's star, which sits "just" six light-years away.The star is an extremely faint "red dwarf" that's about 3% as bright as the Sun.Writing in the journal Nature, Guillem Anglada Escudé and colleagues say its newly discovered planetary companion has a mass 3.2 times bigger than the Earth's.Dr Anglada Escudé said it was "possibly a mostly rocky planet with a ma...
Astronomers find exoplanet orbiting Barnard's star, fourth closest stellar neighbor

Astronomers find exoplanet orbiting Barnard's star, fourth closest stellar neighbor

Science
Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Scientists have found another nearby exoplanet. Astronomers found the so-called super Earth orbiting Barnard's star, the fourth closest star to the sun. Only the Alpha Centauri triple system is closer. The planet, Barnard's star b, and its host star are located six light-years from Earth. The alien world is likely a rocky planet, boasting a mass 3.2 times that of Earth. Barnard's star b completes an orbit around its sun every 233 days. The super Earth lies outside the habitable zone, positioned too far from its sun to host liquid water. Any water found on the exoplanet would be frozen. Scientists estimate the planet features a surface temperature of negative 170 degrees Celsius, though it's possible a substantial atmosphere allows for slightly milder -- but still really c...