Wired.co.uk Jack Parsons was a founding member of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Lab, with some crediting him as being one of the "fathers of rocketry" and others joking that JPL was actually Jack Parsons' Laboratory, but you won't find much about him on Nasa's websites. Parsons' legacy as an engineer and chemist has been somewhat overshadowed by his interest in the occult and, and has led to what some critics describe as a rewriting of the history books. "He's lived in the footnotes since his death. He's a forgotten figure," says biographer George Pendle, author of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parson (Jack's full name). Pendle did an "archeological dig" into Parsons' life after finding a mention of him in a science book. "The more I dug, the more bizarre and extreme the story seemed." Continue reading
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New scientist Humanity's dramatic race across the Old World after it left its African cradle has been told countless times. But for a true sense of the rapidity of events, look no further than the Y chromosome. The most comprehensive analysis of the Y yet shows that within 150 years, an evolutionary blink of an eye, the first migrants to make it into Eurasia split into three distinct groups that can still be identified today. Men inherit their Y chromosome from their fathers. But this tree was built using the information from a small samples of DNA on the Y chromosome, which revealed only around 100 sites of genetic variation that could help establish familial relations. 69 dudes David Poznik and Carlos Bustamante at Stanford University in California, together with their colleagues, analysed the entire Y chromosome of 69 men from Africa, Eurasia and Central America. For ideas on how he could use the new tree, Poznik talked to Peter Underhill, another researcher at Stanford. A mountain high enough
Researchers now able to stop, restart light By William J. Cromie Gazette Staff "Two years ago we slowed it down to 38 miles an hour; now we've been able to park it then bring it back up to full speed." Lene Hau isn't talking about a used motorbike, but about light – that ethereal, life-sustaining stuff that normally travels 93 million miles from the sun in about eight minutes. Less than five years ago, the speed of light was considered one of the universe's great constants. Albert Einstein theorized that light cannot travel faster than 186,282 miles per second. Hau, 41, a professor of physics at Harvard, admits that the famous genius would "probably be stunned" at the results of her experiments. "It's nifty to look into the chamber and see a clump of ultracold atoms floating there," Hau says. She and her team continued to tweak their system until they finally brought light to a complete stop. "We didn't have much contact," she notes, "just a few e-mails." Stopping cold Hau and her group then figured out a way to make it work.
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