SciTech Briefs

Scientists discover the oldest galaxy yet observed

American and European scientists working on the Hubble Space Telescope discovered the oldest galaxy ever seen, which dates back about 13.7 billion years. This formation would have occurred 480 million years after the Big Bang created the universe, which explains the rapid rate of change observed in the galaxy.
Estimates of age are based on the red-shifted spectrum emitted by the galaxy, which, when compared to typical emission spectra, can reveal how quickly an astronomical object is moving away from Earth.

Source: Nature

Coffee has harmful effects on men under pressure

Psychologists at Bristol University in England have discovered that, although women’s responses to coffee and caffeine occur as expected, men receive an opposite effect when drinking coffee under stress. In a study conducted on 64 men and women, the researchers found that men become less confident and slower at completing tasks after they drank coffee. The scientists theorized that this discrepancy is due to men’s “fight or flight” behavior when under stress, which encourages dropping the task.

Source: The Telegraph

Computer virus infects Iranian nuclear complex

The Stuxnet software worm that has infected over 12,000 computers and primarily detected in Iran was designed to hack the system of Iranian uranium-enrichment complexes. The computer security firm Symantec analyzed the worm, discovering that it first appeared in five separate sites in Iran in attempts to attack industrial organizations. It is believed that the worm first infected a computer through manual transfer from a USB drive. The malware program temporarily disabled the centrifuge arrays at various research facilities.

Source: The Telegraph

Unexpected warm weather harms polar bears

Early warm weather in the eastern U.S. and western Europe has been depriving polar bears of their access to sea ice, a resource vital for the adults of the species in hunting and raising offspring. Scientists have especially observed that in western Hudson Bay in Canada, polar bears are being forced ashore much sooner, which in turn deprives them of precious feeding time. As such, the polar bear females are storing less fat, which prevents them from keeping their children warm and providing food for them.

Source: The New York Times

Models predict possibility of extraterrestrial life

Models of planet formation have begun predicting that many developing planets could contain the conditions necessary to support life.
Small planets are found to be regularly thrown out of their solar systems by gravitational slingshots created by neighboring gas giant planets. The small planets are set on paths of unstable orbits, which eject them into much colder space, causing an icy layer to form over possible liquid oceans. Without heat from a nearby star, it is still conceivable that life could survive on such a planet.

Source: Wired

Study shows women attracted by mysteriousness

Scientists at the University of Virginia have found that women are more attracted to men when unsure if their feelings will be reciprocated, rather than when both parties openly express feelings of attraction. The psychologists studied the responses of 47 female undergraduates to the viewing of fictional men’s Facebook profiles. The women were informed that they had been “rated” by these fictional men. Those men whom the women believed had rated them highly were less preferred than men whose feelings were uncertain.

Source: The Telegraph