Sunday, October 19, 2014

All Eyes to the Skies

Summary: One really fascinating advantage of modern technology is that in a natural disaster, everyone takes out their cameras to document the event. Turns out scientists are not immune to this way of thinking. The Siding Spring Comet will be making a dramatic flyby of Mars and all cameras available will be watching.

This Oort Cloud object will be passing incredibly close to the planet; it will be just 139,000km above the surface. Okay, close in astronomer's terms. Because it will be so close, the rovers on the surface will be instructed to train their instruments upwards to study this comet. More importantly, the orbiters will also be watching. Only they must be extra careful. While not in danger of being smashed by the comet, the dust being shot off still poses a threat so they are going to be directed to the other side of the planet in order to avoid the tail.

I can't wait to see what new breakthroughs in comet research comes from this.

BBC News
SciShow Space
esa live Google hangout

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

India in Orbit

Summary: Congratulations to India for becoming the fourth nation to have a satellite orbiting Mars. The satellite, Mangalyaan, is orbiting with the mission goal of studying the atmosphere of the planet.
I'm so proud of the country for reaching another milestone in their space program. We are on our way to making the exploration of space a worldwide initiative. That's one step close to me enrolling in the Starfleet Academy.

BBC News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I'm Not the Only Crazy One

Summary: Brian Cox, cute and funny English physicist, has recently spoke on BBC radio about his belief in the multiverse theory. This is the fun theory that there are infinitely many worlds in existence. This would be such that there is a world in which Schrodinger's cat is alive, one in which he is dead, and a world for every other state of well being in between. This generally makes physicists happy because that means the wave form does not have to collapse. Sure, some outcomes are more likely to happen, but there is a world for each and every outcome.

Personally, I love this theory and am constantly trying to plan a short sci-fi novel around that idea.

BBC News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ig Noble awards once more

Summary: It's that time of year again. The Ig Noble awards are back. For those who do not know, these are mock Noble prizes given to silly science. Only, it's not just any silly science. There is always some deep studies going on in the research that initially seems very funny.

The award this article focuses on, demonstrates this well. The prize is for the studying the phenomenon of the slippery banana peel. And though this is an oft used comedy gag that will inevitably lead to much laughter, the research team did not set this as their main goal. The friction between the peel and other surfaces is analogous to the friction between the membranes at the joints in the human body. As a result of this study, the scientists will be able to help design better joint prosthesis. And the rest of us will learn the science behind the age old gag.
I would encourage you to follow the link to read more about this project and, all the way at the end, to see the rest of the Ig Noble awards.

BBC News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Peek at the Earliest Stars

Summary: At the beginning of our universe, stars were not made of the same elements that they are today. Everything in the early universe was composed of completely hydrogen and helium. It is the very first stars that created the heavier elements like carbon, oxygen, and iron. The supernovae from these stars are what spread these elements throughout the rest of our universe. But what about these first stars that were formed before these heavy elements were common? Scientists have just maybe found some hints of these that confirm this theory. A team of astronomers has found one of these low-metallicity stars.

Using spectroscopy to look at the elements in the star with the Japanese Subaru telescope, the scientists noticed that some colors, visual representations of elements, were missing. It had very low levels of heavy metals.

With the available telescopes on earth, we cannot get much more than the barest hints of these early stars. We wait, instead, for the future and the James Webb Space Telescope to look back far into the past and help cement our current observations and find stars from even earlier times.

BBC News
Science Mag

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rosetta updates

Summary: Rosetta is a esa spacecraft that is currently trailing behind a 10-ton comet. The spacecraft with later touchdown and begin studying the object in detail, but important parameters still need to be found out about the comet first. In order to determine a perfect landing spot, there are currently five remaining candidates, the exact center of mass needs to be determined. This means finding out information about the size and material makeup of the celestial body. So far most of the data has confirmed what the scientists already knew and hopefully should not delay the initial touchdown in November of this year.

BBC News

Friday, May 16, 2014

Holodeck in the making

Summary: This article is for all my fellow Trekkies. Star Trek has inspired many of the technologies we enjoy now, but it seeks that the show hasn't stopped inspiring. One scientist has created his own holodeck to enjoy. Using Kinects and a head mounted camera he created a virtual reality for himself.
There are still glitches in the program but he is proud to say it feels real. I am constantly amazed by what people have been able to create with these Kinects cameras and I look forward to traveling to Middle Earth on my personal holodeck.