27 June 2017

Computer Model Recreates Realistic Touch Sensation

Neuroscientists from the University of Chicago have developed a computer model that can simulate the response of nerves in the hand to any pattern of touch stimulation on the skin. The tool reconstructs the response of more than 12,500 nerve fibers with millisecond precision, taking into account the mechanics of the skin as it presses up against and moves across objects.

The software will allow scientists to see how entire populations of nerve fibers respond when we interact with objects. This model will allow scientists to better understand how the nerve responds to touch, and can be used to build realistic sensations into bionic hands for amputees.

27 January 2016

Clean Dwarf Galaxy Help Chart Universe

The image above is of IC 1613, a dwarf galaxy that is found in the Cetus constellation.

IC 1613 is unique in that unlike other galaxies, this dwarf galaxy contains very little cosmic dust which allows a clearer exploration of what is inside it. Cosmic dust is made of various heavier elements, such as carbon and iron, as well as larger, grainier molecules. Not only does dust block out light, making dust-shrouded objects harder to see, it also preferentially scatters bluer light. As a result, cosmic dust makes objects appear redder when seen through telescopes than they are in reality. Astronomers can factor out this reddening when studying objects. Still, the less reddening, the more precise an observation is likely to be.

IC 1613 also contains two types of stars, Cepheid variables and RR Lyrae variables. These type of stars rhythmically pulsate, growing characteristically bigger and brighter at fixed intervals and are used to measure galactic distances.

Galaxies come in different sizes. Our galaxy, The Milky Way, is a regular sized galaxy which contains 200 to 400 billion stars. There are smaller galaxies like the dwarf galaxy which only has several billion stars inside it. Dwarf galaxies like IC 1613, are small and have been observed to be pulled toward and merge with nearby spiral galaxies.

The OmegaCam was used to capture the image above. The OmegaCAM is a 32-CCD, 256-million-pixel camera mounted on the 2.6-metre VLT Survey Telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile.