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The End of the World

By Vibz Chitkara


M87, this might sound like the name of a gun to many but to a scientist this is the name of a neighboring galaxy with the biggest black hole weighing in about 6.6 billion solar masses according to As some people might know there is another black hole which is situated in the Milky Way Galaxy which is about 4 million solar masses. So readers you can probably guess how much bigger the newest black hole than the black hole in the Milky Way.


Astronomer Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas, Austin, presented the results of the team’s research on Wednesday, January 12.  He said that the black hole’s event horizon, which is 20 billion km across, is four times larger than Neptune’s orbit and three times larger than Pluto’s orbit. In other words, the black hole “could swallow our solar system whole.”  In order to calculate the black hole’s mass, the astronomers measured how fast surrounding stars orbit the black hole. They found that, on average, the stars orbit at speeds of nearly 500 km/s.

            Not bad for a galaxy that's a mere 50 million light-years away.

Black hole in the galaxy M87

More insight into the M87 is that astronomers think that the M87 black hole grew to its massive size by merging with several other black holes. M87 is the largest, most massive galaxy in the nearby universe, and according to Karl Gebhardt the m87 galaxy was formed by the merging of 100 or so smaller galaxies.


The M87 black hole might not be the biggest one for a very long time. One planned project involves connecting telescopes from around the world to observe the universe at wavelengths shorter than 1 millimeter. This set-up might enable the scientists to detect a silhouette of the M87 black hole’s event horizon. It might also enable them to calculate the size of another black hole with a roughly estimated mass of 18 billion solar masses, which is located in a galaxy about 3.5 billion light-years away researched by . Making such an observation would move us into a new era of black hole science.


Japanese Ship

to Reach the

Earth’s Mantle

By Andrej Petrovic

    We have been living on Earth for millions of years, yet we haven’t even gotten more than 12km below the surface. The Chikyū (chee-kyou) is a Japanese drilling ship, and it will pass through 7km of water before reaching a thin area of the Earth’s crust. The Chikyū is different because it’s avoiding a large section of the drilling by passing through water before reaching the crust. While the actual depth is not planned to be deeper than about 12km, plans are to have it reach the mantle, which is easier to reach with a drilling ship because under the ocean, the crust is thinner.

    Why is this so important? We don’t even know for sure what’s down there. The current theory is that it’s a vast layer of molten rocks and radioactive material, all with the consistency of sticky toffee. Reaching the mantle will give us more insight into how earthquakes and volcanoes work. Not only that, but drilling deep down might lead us to precious and valuable metals. Japan will also be at great benefit, as the ship is owned by them and any resources initially found will belong to Japan. It might also give us rare metals that are used often, such as platinum which is used in car exhaust pipes.

    A similar attempt to Chikyū was made in the 1960s, called Project Mohole. It was started as a US attempt to drill just beneath the crust, but not quite to the mantle. The drilling ship was situated off the coast of Guadalupe, Mexico, but never drilled more than 183 meters into the crust, and the project was abandoned because of cost overruns.

    Chikyū started drilling in late 2007, and the project should be completed by 2012. 

3D Everywhere

By Andrej Petrovic

You’ve seen it at the cinemas, in the stores, on TVs, 0and even in video games. Many people are sick of it, while others have bought into the fad. However, few of us follow the news and catch up to the newest 3D technology. When we hear “3D”, many of us still think of the red and blue glasses that were popular in the 80’s, but technology has moved on leaps and bounds from there. Avatar, released at the end of 2009, pioneered modern full-color 3D, and soon 3D movies could be the rule rather than the exception. However, looking at trends of the last few decades, 3D goes in and out of fashion, so it’s a matter of time until we go back to regular 2D. Or at least that’s how it should be. Other than the cost, what’s made 3D go out of style was the fact that the clarity or sharpness and the colour quality of the image were worse than with 2D movies. That’s not the case with today’s 3D, which simply delivers two 2D images with different polarisation, and glasses with lenses that only let light of certain polarisation through (Fun Fact: If you put the left lens of a pair of RealD 3D glasses over the right lens of another, no light will pass through and you’ll see black). In fact, the reason for 3D still going strong is that the technology is spreading to other media. 3D TV sets became popular about a year ago, and soon Blu-Ray technology was used to play 3D movies and 3D games on the PlayStation 3. While they’re not very widespread on home consoles, the release of the Nintendo 3DS has revolutionized 3D technology and handheld gaming in the past few months. Using parallax barriers to deliver one image to one eye and another image to the other eye, it has sold two million units in the month and a half it has been available for purchase (courtesy of It has been received extremely well, largely due to the ample amount of built-in software and wide variety of games targeted at all ages.

                The glasses-free technology of the Nintendo 3DS is now being implemented in household TV’s and prototype cell phones. In fact, there’s a glasses free 3D TV on the second floor of Usce shopping mall in New Belgrade, right in front of the cinema. These are still prototypes, however, and TV's might not be widespread until later this year, but when they do, their success will dictate the future of 3D television. 3D could flop completely, but it could also transcend past the realm of being a gimmick, and become the new standard. Well, until hologram TVs are invented.


Wolf man, a man living with wolves!

By Chincia

Shaun Ellis a man who studies wolves, has an interesting way of observing wolves. He lives and interacts with 13 captive wolves in Combe Martin Wildlife Park in North Devon, England. By living with them he can directly learn the wolves’ language and behavior, snarling, growling, howling, biting, and even eating as wolves do. He started studying wolves by recording different wolf howls, playing the sounds, and picking out different pack howls. He recently spent 18 months with three wolf pups, living with them and educating them, by doing this he tests himself on his knowledge to be able to successfully teach a pup its own wolf behavior, and now hopes they could one day live in the wild. Some of the lessons he may give a wolf pup is the howl, usually the first lesson they must learn. He howls with the wolf pup in his hands, repeatedly, until the wolf pup tries. As an alpha male in his wolf pack, it’s his job to teach the wolf pups how to howl.

Through all his studies he has learnt to communicate and behave like a wolf. But, since he was so devoted to rescue wolves in captivity, his family in England left him, and his marriage failed. Although now he has a new partner Helen Jeffs, who also interacts and works with the wolves just as he does. They are both very passionate about wolves and share a close relationship.

Shaun Ellis is the first human being that has ever successfully lived with wolves and been so close. Writer Yin Cai Shakya believes,Ellis is not a cockeyed optimist, and he isn't chasing a dream. His mission is to understand the wolf in such a way that will benefit both man and animal, and he pursues his mission with the zeal and the readiness to sacrifice that we more often see with clergy than with animal researchers”.

Dedication to wolves has helped today’s scientists and animal researchers understand wolves more than ever.

Google vs Windows


                Windows has dominated computers around the world for more than a decade, and many people don’t even know what an operating system even is. However, more and more are being developed and released for both home and business use. The two most famous are, without doubt, the ever-competing Windows and Mac. Both have a long history, have competed for years and years, and are unlikely to stop anytime soon. But alongside the expensive and shiny titans of operating systems (OS’s), there are free, open-source ones that are becoming increasingly more and more popular. Linux is perhaps the most well known of these. It is available in countless “packages” of the software, from the standard Ubuntu, to the less renowned Debian or Fedora packages.

                But Microsoft and Apple are still the only two major corporations that create their own operating systems. However, Google is soon to fall into this category. With the release of Chrome OS, it’s expected to monopolize portable computers, including laptops and tablet PCs. So how will the future look? Will we all be walking around with Google in our pockets? Or will a browser-only system flop completely?


Poo power - human waste used to heat homes in UK

    According to BBC News reporter Dhruti Shah, UK is in the process of developing a system of heating using human waste as a fuel.

    The town of Didcot became the first town in UK to use this kind of heating process to supply their homes with heat.

    More than 200 Oxfordshire will apply this heating system which means using their own sewage that was flushed away a couple weeks earlier, turned into biomethane that will heat their homes. It surely doesn’t sound appealing, but according to Martin Orrill, head of energy, technology and innovation at British Gas, the consumers will not notice any difference as the renewable energy has no odour, and the infrastructure for distributing the gas is already in place. According to an EU directive, by 2020 the UK must ensure 15% of the energy it produces comes from renewable sources. In this case, supplying this type of gas is a logical and clever step in the recycling effort. It may be unusual, but it is a very conventional way that

    The whole process should take about 23 days from flush to heat.

    The practice of using anaerobic digesters - carefully managed bacteria - to turn faeces into a means of generating electricity is already well established across the country.




Interesting facts:

The average person produces 30kg sewage (once dried) per year that could be used for producing gas.

The UK produces 1.73 million tons of sewage every year, which could be used to produce biogas.


Filip Caković



Natural Serbia

The European Green Toad and others can be examined on Mr. Kralovec's Nature Blog.
Check it out!

“Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.” - E.O. Wilson

By Bill Kralovec

The purpose of this blog is for me to share my photos and observations of the plants and animals I see here in Serbia and in other parts of Europe as I travel. I live and work in Belgrade, Serbia. My career as an educator in international schools has given me the opportunity to learn about creatures on many continents. I believe it is important to be able to identify and understand the plants and animals one sees. It makes my life richer and more interesting.

I have always had an interest in nature. I have a degree in biology from Adrian College (MI – USA) and have spent many summers working on environmental projects. I am an avid birder and tree lover! That is one of the nicest things about living abroad is that every few years, I get a whole new set of organisms to observe. I wish I had this blog on my last two posts in Australia and Venezuela. Perhaps some day I’ll upload all the photos and text to a blog.

I took the photo on the header of this blog on a hike in the Rajac region of central Serbia.

I hope you enjoy the blog!