by Maria Popova “Stars afire, the endless void recedes.” NASA may have given us decades of cosmic awe , but the agency’s future and thus the future of space exploration are hanging by a thread . Neil deGrasse Tyson has argued that the only way to get NASA back on track is to get those to whom the president is accountable — the electorate, “we the people” — excited about space exploration again, and Pursuit of Light , a beautiful short film from NASA with original music by Moby, seeks to do exactly that.
Inspired partly by science fiction, NASA scientists are seriously considering space elevators as a mass-transit system for the next century. Listen to this story (requires RealPlayer ) Sept. 7, 2000 -- "Yes, ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard NASA's Millennium-Two Space Elevator .
Space scientists have caught a delayed glimpse of a cosmic blast that dazzled observers when it was seen from Earth more than 150 years ago. Astronomers are trying to unravel the mystery of an event known as the Great Eruption, in which a super-massive star 7,500 light years away began spewing out unusually large amounts of light. It caused the star, called Eta Carinae, to appear as the second-brightest star in the sky for several years in the mid-1800s. Now, experts have been able to create new images of that violent blast, using a new technique that involves taking readings of delayed light that bounced off stellar dust and is only now reaching our solar system. Armin Rest, of America's Space Telescope Science Institute , which carried out the study published in the Nature journal, said the images could help them get to the bottom of what caused the Great Eruption.
<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-93734" title="bluemarble" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2012/01/bluemarble.jpg" alt="" width="660" height="495" /> NASA released this incredible new high-res image of the Earth, taken by the recently launched Earth-observing satellite, Suomi NPP . The image, which centers on North and Central America, has been nicknamed “Blue Marble 2012″ after the famous “ Blue Marble ” image (below) taken during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The original Blue Marble, featuring the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, is one of the most well recognized photographs of all time.
Hypothetical StarTram spaceport. The launch tube stretches into the distance to the East on the right (eventually curving up many kilometers away), next to the power plant which charges the SMES . RLVs return to land on the runway. StarTram is a proposal for a maglev space launch system. The initial Generation 1 facility would be cargo only, launching from a mountain peak at 3 to 7 kilometres (1.9 to 4.3 mi) altitude with an evacuated tube staying at local surface level; it has been claimed that about 150,000 tons could be lifted to orbit annually. More advanced technology would be required for the Generation 2 system for passengers, with a longer track instead gradually curving up at its end to the thinner air at 22 kilometres (14 mi) altitude, supported by magnetic levitation , reducing g-forces when each capsule transitions from the vacuum tube to the atmosphere .
by Maria Popova What 120,000 galaxies have to do with understanding our place in the universe. We’ve previously looked at different ways to grasp the scale of the universe , but how can we measure its growth?
Astronomers have discovered the largest and oldest mass of water ever detected in the universe — a gigantic, 12-billion-year-old cloud harboring 140 trillion times more water than all of Earth's oceans combined. The cloud of water vapor surrounds a supermassive black hole called a quasar located 12 billion light-years from Earth. The discovery shows that water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence, researchers said. "Because the light we are seeing left this quasar more than 12 billion years ago, we are seeing water that was present only some 1.6 billion years after the beginning of the universe," study co-author Alberto Bolatto of the University of Maryland said in a statement. "This discovery pushes the detection of water one billion years closer to the Big Bang than any previous find." Studying a distant quasar Quasars are the most luminous, most powerful and most energetic objects in the universe.
Four Planets Now Rising Together Before Sunrise | Planet Alignment Sky Maps & Skywatching Tips | Planets & Stars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus & MarsLast week, six planets and the crescent moon formed a line of glowing objects in the predawn sky. This week Mercury takes the spotlight as it reaches maximum elongation from the sun with Venus, Mars and Jupiter close by. This grouping of planets will look very different depending on the location from which you view them. They will be best seen from the Southern Hemisphere because at this time of year the ecliptic, the line in the sky along which the sun travels, is almost vertical, placing the dawn planets high above the horizon as shown in this sky map of Mercury and its companions . The same group of planets, viewed a few hours earlier from Boston, appears to lie much closer to the horizon, because in the Northern Hemisphere the spring morning ecliptic lies low and close to the horizon. This sky map of the four planets shows their low-lying configuration as viewed from Boston.
Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum says that the red dwarfs they have discovered are over 10 billion years old, which means they've had enough time for complex life to develop and evolve, summarizing about research recently conducted at Hawaii's Keck Observatory that discovered that the number of stars in the universe is triple what was previously thought. Red dwarfs are the most common stars in the Milky Way, accounting for three fourths of its stellar population. And like our Sun, red dwarfs generate energy by converting hydrogen into helium at their centers; however, the stars have less mass---between 8 and 60 percent of the solar value---so they are smaller, fainter, and cooler than the Sun. Until recently, red dwarf stars were not detectable in galaxies outside our own nearby cluster because they are relatively small and dim. Thus, researchers were not able to comprise a total number of red dwarfs present in the universe.
George Cantor first worked out the basic ideas about infinity in 1890. His theories were criticized at first, but now are accepted as one of the foundations of modern mathematics. Among other things, Cantor first showed that there are different types of infinity and that a given set has exactly as many positive numbers as there are positive even numbers (while conventional wisdom would suggest that there are twice as many positive numbers than positive even numbers). This brilliant mathematician battled depression throughout much of his life, and died in 1918 in an institution. His work was initially received with harsh criticism, before finding acceptance in the mathematical community.
George Cantor: Man who discovered Infinity. by Mar 14
Video: Falling into a black hole would be a one-off sightseeing trip, so this simulation, calculated by Andrew Hamilton and his team at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is a safer option Falling into a black hole might not be good for your health, but at least the view would be fine. A new simulation shows what you might see on your way towards the black hole's crushing central singularity. The research could help physicists understand the apparently paradoxical fate of matter and energy in a black hole. Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, built a computer code based on the equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes gravity as a distortion of space and time.
Guth, Borde, Vilenkin: Proof for beginning of Universe by Mar 14
Debunking the alien life on meteor that Fox news touted as real. by Mar 7
(Futurama TM and (c)2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.) It would appear that longstanding and tricky paradox of time travel , that one who travels backward in time could conceivably influence it to the point where the time travel couldn’t have happened is dead. All hail the longstanding and tricky paradox. This, the “grandfather paradox,” is so named because of the thought experiment used to illustrate it.
If you have not yet read the radiation primer , you are invited to do so. There is too much radiation in outer space for manned space travel. This general charge is usually made by people who don't understand very much at all about radiation. After witnessing the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the tragedy of Chernobyl it is not surprising that the idea of radiation should elicit an intuitively fearful reaction.
This video illustrates changes in the shape and intensity of the Van Allen belts. Van Allen radiation belts A Van Allen radiation belt is one of three [ 1 ] layers of energetic charged particles ( plasma ) around the planet Earth, held in place by its magnetic field .