This week’s edition of Science Friday brings you a new Cassini Watch: tracking the saturnian storm, space weather from Google Earth, plus lots of modern day Treknology from isolinear chips to a universal translator and yet another tricorder! All this plus, of course, your gadget of the week: The NCC-1701 bottle opener! Read more after the break!
Cassini Watch: Tracking the Raging Saturnian Storm
As a powerful electrical storm rages on Saturn with lightning bolts 10,000 times more powerful than lightning on Earth, the Cassini spacecraft continues its five-month watch over the dramatic events. The Cassini Imaging Team and the team responsible for the Radio and Plasma Wave (RPWS) experiment have announced that this is the longest-lived continuously monitored electrical storm ever observed on Saturn, a storm that resides in a band around Saturn’s southern hemisphere affectionately called `Storm Alley’ because of its preponderance of storm activity. See CICLOPS.org for more.
Saturn’s raging electrical storm is immense, as seen in this image
Get Space Weather Updates From Google
Earth’s ionosphere is the uppermost part of the atmosphere, at the edge of space itself, which is constantly ionized by solar radiation. Google has announced a NASA-funded project just released to the general public: a new “4D” live model of Earth’s ionosphere. Without leaving home, anyone can fly through this layer of ionized gas. All that’s required is a connection to the Internet. First, download Google Earth, then visit SpaceEnvironment.net and click on the ‘Total Electron Content’ link. Also, check out the demo video below which also explains a lot about why we care about the ionosphere.
Is Optical Data Storage the Future of Computing?
Light research is opening doors for optical storage and computing, the goal of which is to replace electrical components with optical in order to boost processing speeds and data storage densities by several orders of magnitude and take the information technology industry into a new era. Although the technology may not be as sophisticated as isolinear chips, today’s photonic (light-based) devices combine greatly improved performance with dramatically lower energy consumption, and could be the wave of the future as far as data storage and transport is concerned. See Science Daily for more.
Isolinear chips may truly be the future of computing
Universal Translator May Be Possible
The universal translator is a classic Star Trek plot device that makes encounters with alien civilizations much less awkward. “Alienese” goes in and American English comes out — at least on television in 1967. But, when a Professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics starts talking about it, that’s something worth taking a closer look at. Terrence Deacon of the University of California, Berkeley, posits that all language has a universal structure. Regardless of whether the aliens communicate with sounds, pictures or even odors, there must be a set of rules that govern the communication.
For sure a handy plot device
Real Tricorder Invented
New handheld medical scanners coupled with regular cell phones resemble “Star Trek” tricorders and could see what ails you with a push of a button. The invention, using off-the-shelf cell phone technology, would allow medical scanners could boldly go where none have gone before — to the aid of the roughly three-quarters of the world’s population currently without access to ultrasounds, X-rays and other imagers used for everything from detecting tumors to monitoring fetuses. See LiveScience.
Bones would be proud
Gadget of the Week: NCC-1701 Bottle Opener!
Okay, so this is a little less gadget/gizmo than usual, but how could we resist? Now you can transport your beer from your bottle to your belly in constitution-class style! What, your beers all have twist-off caps? Everyone knows if a beer’s worth drinking, you’ll need a “church key” to get that sucker open. This one’s well-suited to the job, transporting those bottle caps into the ether at warp speed. Get your piece of future history in June for $24. I’ve already pre-ordered mine! Engage!
Beer, the final frontier.
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Planes in flight: where are all these earthlings going?
- Artificial intelligence boosts science from Mars
- Congress passes anti-genetic discrimination bill
- Survival gear that’s just crazy enough to work