Byte-Sized Science – 17 January 2013

Windows Live MessengerR.I.P Windows Live Messenger

Initially released as MSN Messenger in 1999, 15 March 2013 will see the end of messages being sent on Windows Live Messenger. The Software giant has taken the decision to withdraw the messaging service after its acquisition of Skype in October 2011 for $8.5bn (£5.3bn). Used by thousands worldwide throughout the noughties and reaching a peak of more than 100 million users in 2010, Microsoft are now urging users to upgrade to Skype chat services in order to keep in contact with friends. However, Messenger will continue to operate in China where it is run under licence.


Astronomers Find Giant Galaxy

The title for the largest known spiral galaxy has recently been awarded to the charismatically named NGC 6872. Although already known to science, a team of astronomers pouring through data collected by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (Galex) were surprised by the finding. At 522,000 light-years across, NGC 6872 is over five times the size of our own Milky Way. Found in the constellation of Pavo, it also contains the remnants of another galaxy, IC 4970, which ‘recently’ – in astronomical terms – crashed through its spiral. NASA announced the find at the American Astronomical Society meeting in the U.S.


Giant Squid Caught on Camera

After over 100 descents in a claustrophobic deep-sea submersible, Japanese scientist have at last managed to film a Giant Squid in its natural habitat 630 metres down off the coast of Japan.  Giant squid can grow up to 13 metres in length, just shy of their cousin the Colossal Squid at a monstrous 14 metres. The new celebrity of the Discovery Channel’s “Monster Squid: The Giant is Real” is the runt of the litter at only 3 metres long, although it has lost its two longest tentacles. Dead and dying giant squid are sometimes dredged up on trawlers but seeing one in its natural habitat prompted researcher Tsunemi Kubodera to say “[the squid] was so beautiful that it seemed to sparkle”.

PHOTO/Oscar J Baeza