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MeerKAT radio telescope shows the center of the Milky Way in fiery detail | Big Think
A new telescope shows the center of the Milky Way in dazzling, fiery detail July 16, 2018 at 05:19PM https://ift.tt/2LgmGf3

There is a new radio telescope up and running now, based in Karoo, South Africa. The MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope), as it’s named, operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, is already producing brilliant images of the super massive black hole that is at our galaxy’s center, 25,000 light years away.

Because that center is obscured from view by traditional methods of observation, since it’s behind the constellation Sagittarius, clouds of gas and dust make it invisible from Earth using traditional telescopes. However, radio wavelengths penetrate the obscuring dust and open a window into this distinctive region and its black hole.  

Taken by MeerKAT, this shot shows a 1,000 x 500 light-year area of the center of the Milky Way. The brighter the spot, the more intense the radio signal. Image by Square Kilometer Array, South Africa.

 
The “filaments” that you see in the image above are not yet fully understood, after being first discovered in the 1980s, but they only exist near that central black hole. The other objects are remnants of supernovae and star-forming regions, near dead center of the Milky Way.

“We wanted to show the science capabilities of this new instrument”, said Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), which built and operates MeerKAT in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape of South Africa. “The center of the galaxy was an obvious target: unique, visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena – but also notoriously hard to image using radio telescopes.”

"Although it’s early days with MeerKAT, and a lot remains to be optimized, we decided to go for it – and were stunned by the results,” Camilo continued.

All 64 dishes of the MeerKAT radio telescope array, up and running in South Africa. Astronomers "celebrated" completion by taking a snapshot of the center of the Milky Way. Image by Square Kilometer Array Africa

This is not the first image by MeerKAT; it captured an image 2 years ago of an area that scientists previously thought only held about 70 galaxies; MeerKAT captured over 1300.

MeerKAT "First Light" image by Square Kilometer Array, South Africa.

via Big Think https://bigthink.com/
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Study: Prison employees have PTSD levels of soldiers at war | Big Think
American prison employees show PTSD levels similar to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans July 15, 2018 at 05:29PM https://ift.tt/2uvVgrc

A recent study from Washington State University showed an alarming amount of prison employees—19%, or just under 1 in 5—suffered from diagnosable PTSD. This is a rate equal to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war, and a higher rate of PTSD than police officers. 

Prison employees routinely witness violence, suffering, and—one can imagine—existential crises such as wrongful imprisonment that we on the outside can only dimly imagine. The rate of PTSD amongst the general population is around 3.5%, meaning that prison employees were about 6 times more likely to develop it. About 15% of those surveyed experienced bad flashbacks or nightmares related to what they had seen. You can access the study here. 

The study took test results from 355 employees from the Washington State Department of Corrections, who were surveyed using the PTSD checklist from the DSM-5 (PCL-5), and the Critical Incident History Questionnaire. 

What can be done? Perhaps build less prisons. Between 1990 and 2005 in the U.S., a new prison was built roughly every 10 days or so. That number is dropping, yet prisons are becoming privatised to bring in more cash flow. America has only 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population. With 2.25 million people in prison in America, with an average cost to taxpayers of $31,000 per year per inmate, it's a sad state of affairs. 

If you want some more info (with some jokes), John Oliver did a whole segment on America's prison problem a few years ago. 

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New X-ray technology produces striking 3D images in full color | Big Think
New X-ray technology produces striking 3D images in full color July 13, 2018 at 04:06PM https://ift.tt/2uxLm8q

A new medical imaging device uses technology developed by particle physicists to produce full-color, 3D images of the human body.

Phil and Anthony Butler, a father and son team in New Zealand who teach physics and bioengineering, respectively, have been developing the technology for a decade through their company MARS Bioimaging. The scanner uses hybrid-pixel technology called Medipix3, which was initially developed for the Large Hadron Collider.

“The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open,” reads a statement from CERN “This enables high-resolution, high-contrast, very reliable images, making it unique for imaging applications in particular in the medical field.”

Credit: MARS Bioimaging

Traditional X-rays produce a black image when passing through soft tissue and a white image when absorbed by denser bone material. The Medipix3 detector, however, “is able to measure how specific energies of X-rays are being attenuated” and can differentiate between bone, muscle, metal, fats and liquid. This level of sensitivity enables the technology to produce a strikingly realistic representation of the internal body.

“This technology sets the machine apart diagnostically because its small pixels and accurate energy resolution mean that this new imaging tool is able to get images that no other imaging tool can achieve,” Phil Butler said in a CERN news release.

Butler said the scanner could help doctors provide better treatment.

“In all of these studies, promising early results suggest that when spectral imaging is routinely used in clinics it will enable more accurate diagnosis and personalization of treatment.”

The technology could also expand the scope of conditions that imaging procedures are able to diagnose, including cancer and joint health. For now, the father-son team plans to test their scanner in a trial focused on orthopedic and rheumatology patients in New Zealand, though it will likely be years before the technology is approved for widespread use.

via Big Think https://bigthink.com/
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