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Gizmorama - July 6, 2016

Good Morning,


The hunt for alien life is on thanks to the world's largest radio telescope. What a big eye you have, China!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,
Erin


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*-- China finishes world's largest radio telescope to search for alien life --*

GUIYANG, China - China finished constructing the world's largest radio telescope to hunt for signs of alien life in deep space.

The Five-hundred-meter Single-Aperture Radio Telescope, or FAST, contains 4,450 reflector panels with a diameter of 500 yards and is 30 football fields, according to the Xinhua news agency.

About 300 people witnessed the installation Saturday of the last triangular-shaped panel to the reflector in Pingtang County of the southwestern province of Guizhou.

The project was first conceived in 1994 and installation began in March 2011 with a cost of $105 million. It finished two months ahead of schedule.

A total of 9,110 residents were relocated in 2009 to four settlements at the government's expense "to create a sound electromagnetic wave environment," Xinhua reported citing provincial officials. They were also were given $1,800 in compensation. Ethnic minority households facing housing difficulties were given another $1,500.

No residents will live within 3 miles of the telescope. Three hills around the depression formed an equilateral triangle.

The previous largest single aperture telescope in the world was at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory with a diameter of 328 yards.

"As the world's largest single aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences," said Nan Rendong, chief scientist with the FAST Project, told China.org

FAST will enable astronomers survey neutral hydrogen in distant galaxies and detect faint pulsars, which are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation, researchers said.

The project potentially can search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life, said Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Li Di, an NAO researcher, said in two or three years scientists may find amino acids, the foundation block of life.


*-- Chemists unveil cheaper, more efficient carbon capture technology --*

YORK, England - A team of scientists in England have found a better way to capture carbon from power plant emissions.

The key to their new and improved technique is patented carbon-derived biomass material called Starbons. Starbons, which was pioneered a decade ago by scientists at the University of York, is made using biomass waste like food peelings and seaweed. Its key attribute is its porosity. Lots of tiny holes allow Starbons to capture lots of CO2.

Current carbon capture technologies mostly rely on liquid solutions, which involve expensive and energy-intensive production processes. Initial testing suggests carbon capture filters made with Starbons traps 65 percent more CO2 than other methods. The material is also more selective -- better able to capture CO2 when it is mixed with gases like nitrogen.

Because it's relatively cheap and easy to produce, researchers at York hope Starbons filters will become widespread atop the smokestacks of power plants in Europe and elsewhere.

"This work is of fundamental importance in overturning established wisdom associated with gas capture by solids," Michael North, Professor of Green Chemistry at York, said in a news release. "It defies current accepted scientific understanding of the efficiency of carbon-capturing CO2."

The researcher detailed the new carbon capture technology in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

"The high CO2 adsorption, high selectivity, rapid kinetics and water tolerance, combined with the low cost and ease of large scale production from waste biomass, gives Starbons great potential," added James Clark, head of York's Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence. "We hope to offer the product as a commercial capture agent for separating CO2 from chemical or power station waste streams."

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