SciTech Briefs

Telescopes capture black holes

Scientists have used a powerful radio telescope to capture an image of a black hole, located in the galaxy BL Lacertae, emitting a jet of supercharged particles.

For years, astronomers have known that black holes expel particles at the speed of light. However, the exact mechanism by which this is done was not known until recently. The image captured will enable researchers to study this mechanism further.

The team of researchers, led by Alan Marscher of Boston University, used a system of 10 telescopes to capture the image. Marscher said that this image presented the clearest picture yet of the innermost portion of the jet from where the particles are accelerated.

The black hole, known as “Blazer,” is around 950 million light-years from Earth.

Source: Reuters

Tests connect T. rex with modern birds

Following an analysis of proteins from dinosaur bones, scientists have confirmed that the closest living relatives of the Tyrannosaurus rex are modern day birds.

Previously, anatomical similarities had suggested this kinship, but recent results proved the theory at a molecular level. The research was published in Science magazine. The research shows that the genetic makeup of T. rex is more similar to that of ostriches and chickens than it is to modern reptiles like alligators.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School extracted the proteins from the bones of a 68 million-year-old T. rex excavated by John Horner of Montana State University in 2003. The proteins were then compared to similar proteins from modern birds and reptiles.

The similarities discovered show that T. Rex was probably more closely related to birds than reptiles.

Source: The New York Times

Microsoft keeps XP operating system

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer said that Microsoft might reconsider its decision to pull XP out of the market by June 30. This statement was made in response to protests by XP fans who claim that the operating system is superior to the newer Vista.

An online “Save XP” petition has 160,000 signatures from people who want Microsoft to continue selling XP until the release of the new version of Windows in 2010.
In spite of these protests, Ballmer claims that statistics show that people who buy PCs today buy them with Vista, not XP.

Source: ABC News

Humans faced extinction risks

According to recent genetic studies, human beings may have faced extinction 70,000 years ago.

The study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University, suggests that the human population in this period was limited to small segregated groups in Africa.
Researchers suggest that drought probably caused the population to shrink to around 2000 before it rose again in the Stone Age.

The research has revealed the power of genetics in helping scientists understand the ground realities of the human past.

Source: MSNBC