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Why suitcases rock and fall over – puzzle solved

Why suitcases rock and fall over – puzzle solved

Science
It's a common experience when dashing for a train or plane while lugging a two-wheeled suitcase. The bag rocks alarmingly from side-to-side and threatens to overturn. Now, scientists have investigated this conundrum of everyday physics. Speeding up rather than slowing down can solve the problem, they say. Alternatively, you can pivot the handle of the suitcase as close to the ground as possible. French scientists studied a model suitcase on a treadmill to see what goes wrong when a suitcase rocks out of control at high speed. They developed equations to explain why two-wheeled trolleys have a tendency to rock from one wheel to the other. In cases of unstable bags - after having gone over a bump, for example - they found luggage rocks from side-to-side until it falls over, or it reach...
Europe selects grand gravity mission

Europe selects grand gravity mission

Science
It is set to be one of the major science projects of the 2030s. The European Space Agency has just given the green light to the LISA mission to detect gravitational waves. This will see lasers bounced between three identical satellites separated by 2.5 million km. By looking for tiny perturbations in these light beams, the trio hope to catch the warping of space-time that is generated by cataclysmic events such as the merger of gargantuan black holes. Ground-based laboratories in the US have recently begun detecting gravitational waves from coalescing objects that are 20-30 times the mass of our Sun. But by sending an observatory into space, scientists would expect to discover sources that are millions of times bigger still and to sense their activity all the way out to the edge of the ob...
How cats conquered the ancient world

How cats conquered the ancient world

Science
The domestic cat is descended from wild cats that were tamed twice - in the Near East and then Egypt, according to the largest study of its kind.Farmers in the Near East were probably the first people to successfully tame wild cats about 9,000 years ago.Then, a few thousand years later, cats spread out of ancient Egypt along maritime trade routes.Today, cats live on all continents except Antarctica. Scientists think wildcats began hanging around farms to prey on mice attracted to grain stores, starting the long relationship between humans and felines."There were two taming events - one in the Near East at the beginning and one in Egypt much later," said lead researcher Eva-Maria Geigl."And then the cat spread very efficiently all over the ancient world as a ship's cat. Both lineages are no...
Volcanoes 'triggered dawn of dinosaurs'

Volcanoes 'triggered dawn of dinosaurs'

Science
A million-year-long period of extreme volcanic activity most likely paved the way for the dawn of the dinosaurs, a study suggests.Scientists have analysed ancient rocks and have found traces of emissions from huge volcanic eruptions that happened about 200 million years ago.This would have led to one of the largest mass extinctions on record, enabling dinosaurs to become dominant. The study is published in the journal PNAS.Lead author Lawrence Percival, from the Earth sciences department at Oxford University, said: "The dinosaurs were able to exploit those ecological niches that were left vacant by the extinction." Mercury risingThe researchers looked at volcanic rocks from four continents that date to this turbulent time.A previous study assessed how levels of carbon fluctuated in the roc...
NASA scientists name Martian crater after Apollo 16 moonwalk mission

NASA scientists name Martian crater after Apollo 16 moonwalk mission

Science
June 16 (UPI) -- Earlier this spring, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover, also known as the Opportunity rover, discovered a small Martian crater. The discovery was made on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission, NASA's 10th moon landing.This week, NASA scientists announced the name of that newly discovered crater. They call it "Orion Crater" -- an homage to the lunar module that carried astronauts John Young and Charles Duke to the moon and back.The rover's Panoramic Camera snapped photos of Orion Crater on April 26. The depression measures 90 feet across. It's a relatively young crater, no older than 10 million years old."It turns out that Orion Crater is almost exactly the same size as Plum Crater on the moon, which John Young and Charles Duke explored on their first of three moonwalks...