What's in deep space?

Attempts to find out what's beyond our galaxy. So, now we know that there are millions of other stars in various galaxies around us. What we don't know is whether the universe is limited or not. What lies beyond the marvelous nebula clouds, shiny stars, unexplored planets? NOTHING! Nothing is what it would seem to be at a glance. No galaxies, no stars, just blackness. No wonder some people are afraid of the dark -- you could say it's the ultimate end! But what I just said is only what's in the realm of our understanding. We found out that our Sun is not the only star in the galaxy, we found out that our galaxy is not the only one. Maybe now we'll found out that beyond the darkness, an another cluster of galaxies lies. Maybe an another big bang took place far far away. Come to think of it, maybe our big bang was a small part of a much bigger explosion, and planets the size of our solar system loom somewhere, behind the darkness. But now - onto the dark matter.

The image above shows dark matter(blue) that split from the luminous matter (red). This is the only way that dark matter can be seen, as it is not visible by any telescopes. Why is dark matter invisible? Because it's different from any other atomic matter, that we're used to seeing around us. Dark matter does not reflect light or emit heat. So how did it receive a color? Well, the observed galaxies were passing through one another at a speed of 10 million miles per hour. The luminous matter in both galaxies interacted with each other, and slowed down. The dark matter, on the other hand, did not react whatsoever, thus remaining at it's full speed. That's how the matters separated. Quite astonishing, as the chances of seeing this happen at one point are probably low.

Right then. One thing's clear: dark matter exists. But what is it exactly? It can't be nothing, can it? Scientists believe that the dark matter is a gas of extremely low density. Recently, an x-ray image of several galaxies was taken, in an attempt to find hot spots of dark matter. Only 5% of the known universe is made from matter we know (atoms with electrons and protons). The rest is taken by dark matter and dark energy. Despite the search field being potentially limitless, scientists managed to find a hot-spot of the dark matter. This was a groundbreaking discovery, as now we know what fills the huge empty voids between galaxies.

That's one more unknown thing crossed out of the list. As ancient people thought that lightning is the wrath of God, so we figured that the dark matter is nothing. Thanks to constant study and observation, now we're one step further in researching the universe. Who knows, maybe we'll find out that it has an end.

The International Polar Year comes to an end

The International Polar Year, despite being called a year, actually was set to last from march 2007 to march 2009. Today being 26th of February, the IPY is coming to an end. The major studies took two years, because of the need to cover both, the north and south poles. I recommend you read the press article at the IPY website and look around there in general if you're interested in the state of Earth's poles. But in short, it's pretty bad.

The global warming has taken it's toll from the arctic and antarctic regions. It has been reported that ice coverages have reached all-time lows in the recent years. The fresh water that enters the sea when ice melts will have an impact on wildlife and humans alike. Over the two years, 160 science projects have been performed using a total of 1.2 billion US dollars , assembled internationally. Here are the key discoveries:

- The melting ice from both Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is contributing greatly to sea level rise. In addition, the rate in which ice melts was found out to be higher that anyone expected and is still increasing.

- The arctic sheet has also suffered. Ice, that is around the arctic circle all year-round, has apparently reached a minimum over the 30 year period of observation. There was also a lot more drifting ice than researchers had previously thought. Global warming has changed the vegetation in the arctic too.

- With the melting of antarctic ice, and much more fresh water entering the Southern ocean, it's circulation could be affected, resulting in climate change.

- It has been known that the frozen land of Siberia has much carbon-based material in it. If the temperatures rise, which they do, millions of cubic meter of methane will be released into the atmosphere, strengthening the effects of global warming.

- The IPY studies have also uncovered interesting information about atmospheric issues. For instance, North Atlantic storms bring a lot of heat and moisture to the northern polar region.

Just under a 100 years ago, people have only reached the poles for the first time and now, we have to make sure they don't disappear off the map. Luckily there are large-scale projects like the IPY, which determine the problem, it's cause and most likely find a solution. But what i like most about this is cooperation. Each day we hear news about war, political unrest and various other forms of hostility and distrust. And now, when our planet is at stake, people put aside their differences and realize that we are all united by the piece of rock we're stuck on. And we have to protect it.

Dog - friend or foe?

Are dog bites dangerous to children? Yes, by all means. We are used to dog as friendly, playful creatures, that keep you company, perhaps guard your home. Many dogs are seen as fitting playmates for little children, and it is indeed so. These animals have feelings, much like our own, towards younglings. They do feel the need or maybe even the responsibility of taking care of those, who can not take care of themselves, be it dogs or human children. However, as every animal (including humans) dogs can be quite unpredictable, and something that might not seem particularly important could very well set off the animal within them.

There has been a study recently, and it's results should concern dog owners all over the world. Apparently, dogs are more prone to attack during warmer months. Therefore, that is the time period when most dog bite injuries occur. It is unknown whether the injury percentage is higher because of children going out to play with their dogs more frequently in summer, or if it's because our four-legged friends become more irritable in warmer temperatures. No wonder, though, as wolves, whom dogs are descended from, are known to inhabit colder zones.

Regrettably, there is no easy solution to decrease the amount of dog bite injuries. One of the possible ways is to keep track of them, their previous history of aggression and what family are they in. Yet in the end, it all depends on you - the owner.