Good News Tuesday

Lots of neat stuff out there in space. For example, this:

An unexplained ‘void’ appears to be pushing the Milky Way through the Universe at 2 million km/h

You can’t feel it, but our planet is orbiting the Sun at speeds of roughly 100,000 km/h (62,000 mph), and something is making our Milky Way galaxy move through the Universe at more than 2 million km/h (1.2 million mph). That’s 630 km per second, and now scientists might have finally figured out why. …. In front of us, there’s a dense supercluster of galaxies some 650 million light-years away called the Shapley Concentration, and it’s pulling us towards it. Behind us, scientists have found evidence of a previously unknown region of space that’s almost entirely devoid of galaxies, and it’s pushing us away with incredible force.

Zoom! Isn’t that wonderful? If I included this in an SF novel, some really advanced alien civilization would be kindly shoving galaxies away from some terrible threat.

The whole post is worth reading. I mean, this is just very strange stuff:

Oddly enough, according to data from the Cosmic Microwave Background – the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang – these two forces appear to be pushing and pulling us with an equal amount of force, and they sit in front and behind the Milky Way on the same axis.

Astronomy keeps presenting us with inexplicable phenomena. I love it.

Also inexplicable:

Physicists have found a metal that conducts electricity but not heat

Like, how is that even possible? ???

The metal contradicts something called the Wiedemann-Franz Law, which basically states that good conductors of electricity will also be proportionally good conductors of heat, which is why things like motors and appliances get so hot when you use them regularly. … But a team in the US has shown that this isn’t the case for metallic vanadium dioxide (VO2) – a material that’s already well known for its strange ability to switch from a see-through insulator to a conductive metal at the temperature of 67 degrees Celsius (152 degrees Fahrenheit). … Not only does this unexpected property change what we know about conductors, it could also be incredibly useful – the metal could one day be used to convert wasted heat from engines and appliances back into electricity, or even create better window coverings that keep buildings cool.

Very peculiar and also snazzy.

This next one also seems rather peculiar:

Scientists have turned cooking oil into a material 200 times stronger than steel

Researchers have found a way to turn cheap, everyday cooking oil into the wonder material graphene – a technique that could greatly reduce the cost of making the much-touted nanomaterial. … Graphene is a single sheet of carbon atoms with incredible properties – it’s 200 times stronger than steel, harder than diamond, and incredibly flexible. Under certain conditions, it can even be turned into a superconductor that carries electricity with zero resistance.

And you can make this with … cooking oil? Are you sure we’re not in an SF novel? A kind of bad one with hand-wavey magic science?

Here’s an example of a new high-tech thing making a difference on an immediate, personal level:

Paralysed ‘robocop’ presented with Israeli suit allowing her to walk again

An ex-police officer paralysed from the chest down wants to visit Israel so she can meet the inventor of a device that has allowed her to walk once more.

The inventor of the device is a quadriplegic, it says. May he and all other severely paralyzed people be walking again — not someday, but soon.

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