Welcome back to Science Friday! This week we bring you a new needle-free hypospray device, solar cell paint, how to make your own black hole (no red matter needed!), and 40 million-year-old iridescence. All this and more plus our gadget of the week: The flying chair trick! And, yes, that is a real picture of a CHAIR IN SPACE!
COLBERT Is Go For Launch Tonight
Space Shuttle Mission STS-128, which is carrying the COLBERT treadmill among its cargo, has recently been delayed for launch after problems with a valve. If the weather is good, the mission will launch tonight at 11:59PM EDT. You can watch the event live on NASA TV. The schedule of events for tonight is as follows:
So, enjoy the show tonight and hope for good weather! Also, check out Stephen Colbert’s send off below.
Needle-free Hypospray-like Device Takes Cues from Airbags
Needle-free injection systems resembling hyposprays seen on Star Trek are not a brand new invention, but the devices currently on the market have certain problems such as an inability to evenly distribute chemicals into the body. German-based medical firm Pervormanc claims the airbag as the inspiration for its new “Pyrofast” system. Dr. Thorsten Rudolph, who is working to commercialize the technology, describes it thusly:
“The pyrotechnical gas propulsion technology that is used doesn’t cause bleeding, so the transfer of diseases such as HIV will be eliminated. This is the same chemical gas technology being used in airbags to provide a fast and reliable pressure profile. Including it in an injection system means that it can easily be used by patients to self administer drugs through the skin.”
Read all about it at Yet2.com.
Is this new system Bones approved?
Paint Solar Cells on Your Rooftop with New Solar Cell Inks
Solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle “inks” that allow them to be printed like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight. The sun provides us with a nearly unlimited source of power, but their manufacturing process makes them prohibitively expensive. The light-absorbing nanomaterials, which are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair, allow for new physical properties that can help enable higher-efficiency devices.
Going solar may soon be cost effective
How to Make Your Own Black Hole (Without Red Matter!)
Okay, so, Red Matter is well and good for any average Joe (or average Nero) from the 24th century, but what about those of us stranded here in the 21st? How are we supposed to go about making black holes? Turns out, you just need SQUIDs. That’s right, superconducting quantum interference devices. Dartmouth researchers have proposed a new way of creating a reproduction black hole in the laboratory, only much tinier than their celestial counterparts. The new method to create a tiny quantum sized black hole would allow researchers to better understand what physicist Stephen Hawking proposed more than 35 years ago: black holes are not totally void of activity; they emit photons, which is now known as Hawking radiation. And, no, this experiment won’t doom the Earth. Don’t panic!
Iridescence In 40 Million-year-old Feather Fossil
Known for their wide variety of vibrant plumage, birds have evolved various chemical and physical mechanisms to produce these beautiful colors over millions of years. A team of paleontologists and ornithologists led by Yale University has now discovered evidence of vivid iridescent colors in feather fossils more than 40 million years old. The discovery could pave the way for determining color features of other ancient birds and even dinosaurs, the team said. “Of course, the ‘Holy Grail’ in this program is reconstructing the colors of the feathered dinosaurs,” said Yale graduate student and lead author Jakob Vinther. “We are working hard to determine if this will be possible.”
I personally believe in the bright orange brontosaurus
Gadget of the Week: The Flying Chair Trick
Does anyone know the terminal velocity of an office chair? Because a chair was launched (for ART, mind you!) to the edge of space with a meteorological balloon. What happens when balloons filled with gas ascend to altitudes of low pressure? They expand, and expand, and expand… until they pop. Yes, this chair, launched to the edge of space, fell from the sky at 9.8 m/s2 to the Earth. They’re not quite sure exactly where it landed. Is this legal?
If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…
- @AsteroidWatch: JPL’s Near Earth Object Office coordinates NASA’s efforts to detect, track & characterize potentially hazardous asteroids & comets that could approach Earth.
- @NASA: News and updates from NASA
- @NASAKennedy: Official PAO Tweets from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.
TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.