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Using NASA, Japanese, and European X-ray satellites, a team of Japanese astronomers has discovered that our galaxy’s central black hole let loose a powerful flare three centuries ago.

The finding helps resolve a long-standing mystery: why is the Milky Way’s black hole so quiescent? The black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced "A-star"), is a certified monster, containing about 4 million times the mass of our Sun. Yet the energy radiated from its surroundings is billions of times weaker than the radiation emitted from central black holes in other galaxies.

"We have wondered why the Milky Way’s black hole appears to be a slumbering giant," says team leader Tatsuya Inui of Kyoto University in Japan. "But now we realize that the black hole was far more active in the past. Perhaps it’s just resting after a major outburst."

Matter and anti-matter are believed to have been created in equal amounts when the universe came in to existence during the Big Bang, yet in the universe today there is only matter.

The quest to understand more about the mysterious neutrino particle which is thought to be responsible for this phenomenon has taken a major step forward. The Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment (MICE) project, an accelerator research experiment for a major component of a future Neutrino Factory, has achieved an important milestone with the successful transport of a beam of muon particles along the MICE muon beam.

Observations of atmospheric and solar neutrinos have shown that they change state (oscillate), between three forms - electron, tau and muon - during their journey across the Earth or from the Sun to the Earth. This discovery is extremely significant since oscillations can only occur if neutrinos have mass and yet the Standard Model of particle physics, on which our current understanding of how our universe was created and is held together rests, assumes that neutrinos have no mass.

Public scandals, such as Enron, Societe Generale and Global Crossing, the sub-prime mortgage problem, and the ensuing global credit crunch have led to dwindling confidence in the business world. A study published in the International Journal of Business Excellence suggests that relearning the ancient notion of virtue could create better harmony between business and society.

Businesses that excel in the services and products they offer their customers are usually the ones that succeed and post a healthy profit for their shareholders, but Alistair Anderson of the Aberdeen Business School at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and Carter Crockett of the Department of Economics & Business at Westmont College in Santa Barbara suggest that conventional models of excellence are too narrow and too functional for today's global economy.

A new approach based on the ancient principle of virtue, dating back to Aristotle, could, they say, allow underachieving businesses to excel without moral compromise.

Half a century after the last earth-shattering atomic blast shook the Pacific atoll of Bikini, the corals are flourishing again. Some coral species, however, appear to be locally extinct.

These are the findings of a remarkable investigation by an international team of scientists from Australia, Germany, Italy, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. The expedition examined the diversity and abundance of marine life in the atoll.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the team dived into the vast Bravo Crater left in 1954 by the most powerful American atom bomb ever exploded (15 megatonnes - a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb). The Bravo bomb vapourised three islands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees, shook islands 200 kilometers away and left a crater 2km wide and 73m deep.

By studying in great detail the 'ringing' of a planet-harbouring star, a team of astronomers using ESO's 3.6-m telescope have shown that it must have drifted away from the metal-rich Hyades cluster. This discovery has implications for theories of star and planet formation, and for the dynamics of our Milky Way.

The yellow-orange star Iota Horologii, located 56 light-years away towards the southern Horologium ("The Clock") constellation, belongs to the so-called "Hyades stream", a large number of stars that move in the same direction.

Previously, astronomers using an ESO telescope had shown that the star harbours a planet, more than 2 times as large as Jupiter and orbiting in 320 days (ESO 12/99).

Researchers from the UAB Research Park have created the first nanomotor that is propelled by changes in temperature. A carbon nanotube is capable of transporting cargo and rotating like a conventional motor, but is a million times smaller than the head of a needle. This research opens the door to the creation of new nanometric devices designed to carry out mechanical tasks and which could be applied to the fields of biomedicine or new materials.

The "nanotransporter" consists of a carbon nanotube - a cylindrical molecule formed by carbon atoms - covered with a shorter concentric nanotube which can move back and forth or act as a rotor. A metal cargo can be added to the shorter mobile tube, which could then transport this cargo from one end to the other of the longer nanotube or rotate around its axis.