Science Saturday: Easter Egg Chemistry & Robots + Commercial Spaceships + Underground Telescope + Binary-Star Flora + Sunspot Evolution + more April 23, 2011by Kayla Iacovino , Filed under: Science/Technology , trackback
Welcome back to another exciting edition of Science Saturday. Celebrate the vernal equinox with the chemistry of Cadbury Creme Eggs, peer beyond the Big Bang with an underground telescope, imagine life on alien worlds, see the latest from SDO solar observatory, and check out four possible commercial manned spacecraft. All this and more plus an Easter Egg Gadget and our DIY gadget of the week: Phi wall art!
Happy Easter! A Look at the Chemistry of Cadbury Creme Eggs
The guys over at Periodic Table of Videos has just uploaded their latest, very timely video looking at the chemistry of Cadbury Creme Eggs, including various ways to destroy them with science. Check it out!
Underground Telescope Could See Black Holes, Peer Beyond the Big Bang
An ambitious new underground telescope is in the making – one that could use gravitational waves to learn about some of the universe’s most violent phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, and the Big Bang. The telescope, called the Einstein Telescope could also reveal for the first time whether there were universes in existence before our own by looking for the echoes of previous Big Bangs similar to the one that created our own universe 13.7 billion years ago. The project is comparable in size and scope to the Large Hadron Collider and is expected to cost somewhere between £500 million and £1 billion to build. (via The Telegraph)
Seeing beyond the Big Bang with gravitational waves
Planets in Binary Star Systems Could Grow Colorful Trees, Black Plants
A planet with two or more suns is a common theme in science fiction, but what would a planet in a binar star system really look like? In a new study, scientists have set out to determine what plant life would look like on planets with two suns or with red dwarf suns. Their conclusion? The look of plants could be radically different. For example, on a red dwarf planet where the light from the sun is dimmer, plants might be black instead of green in order to soak up as much photosynthetic energy as possible.
“Our simulations suggest that planets in multi-star systems may host exotic forms of the more familiar plants we see on Earth. Plants with dim red dwarf suns for example, may appear black to our eyes, absorbing across the entire visible wavelength range in order to use as much of the available light as possible. They may also be able to use infrared or ultraviolet radiation to drive photosynthesis. For planets orbiting two stars like our own, harmful radiation from intense stellar flares could lead to plants that develop their own UV-blocking sun-screens, or photosynthesizing microorganisms that can move in response to a sudden flare”
– PhD student Jack O’Malley-James from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
What might the plants on alien worlds really look like?
NASA Funds Four Possible Private Manned Spacecraft
With the Shuttle program winding down, NASA is now making good on its promise to foster private enterprise for the next spaceship to take humans to low Earth orbit. This week NASA awarded $269.3 million to four companies working on new spaceships: Blue Origin, the Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corp. and SpaceX. This is the second phase in NASA’s plan to choose a commercial partner to begin flying astronauts to low Earth orbit by 2015. Florida’s WESH reports on the four possible next manned spacecraft.
SDO Watches Evolution of Sun Spots
It’s only been one year since NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launched and began sending unprecedented images of our sun back to Earth, and in that short period we’ve seen some of the most amazing views of Sol ever captured. Below is the latest release: a video showing three images of a group of sun spots. The large image on the left is a combination of x-rays and visible light. The top right is only the x-rays, which allows you to see the magnetic field lines caused by the sun spots. And, the bottom right is visible light where you can see the sunspot group evolve (growing, twisting, and rotating). The recent surge of solar activity sure has made SDO’s first year in space an exciting one! Here’s to many more exciting years to come.
Sciencey DIY of the Week: Phi Wall Art
Phi. The golden ratio. 1.6180339887… The thing that defines the shape of a nautilus shell, proportions within the human body, and a thing of truly mathematical beauty. Now you can show your love of φ on the wall of your home or office! Instructables member kaptaink_cg takes you step-by-step through the quick and easy process of creating your very own Phi wall art!
Make your own Phi wall art at Instructables
Gadget of the Week: Egg-bot
In keeping with the Easter theme, Science Saturday presents the faboulous Egg-bot. The amazing gadget is an an open-source art robot that can draw on spherical or egg-shaped objects from the size of a ping pong ball to that of a small grapefruit. And it can be yours for only $195.
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.