This week in Science Saturday: travel faster than light (?) on the back of a neutrino, watch a satellite fall to its doom, record your dreams on video, and celebrate the Autumnal Equinox! Read on for your weekly sciencey fix!
Faster Than Light Travel Discovered at CERN?
Everyone is talking about the neutrino, the particle that can break the laws of physics. Or so is claimed by a group of scientists from CERN who clocked a neutrino arriving at their detector about 60 nanoseconds (or 0.00000006 seconds) before a proton, aka a particle of light, would have arrived. Einstein says that this is utterly impossible and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, c. The scientists have poured over their data and double checked their facts, but because of the profound implications of their findings, they’ve shared their data with the world before publishing conclusions. Most are skeptical, saying that even small errors in time and distance measurements could account for the difference.
UARS Satellite Falls (harmlessly) to Earth
Sometime around midnight EDT last night, NASA’s UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) fell back to Earth. Many were looking to the skies wondering if the hunk of metal would crush their houses, but NASA confirms that it penetrated the atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. NASA has been unsure (and still does not know precisely) where the craft would land, saying on their website,
“…UARS will land within a zone between 57 degrees north latitude and 57 degrees south latitude. It is impossible to pinpoint just where in that zone the debris will land, but NASA estimates the debris footprint will be about 500 miles long. If you find something you think may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it. Contact a local law enforcement official for assistance.”
UARS flying high
Brain Scanner Recreates Your Dreams on Video
Scientists at UC Berkeley have discovered how to convert brain signals into video and play it back to you. The way it works is an fMRI machine monitors electrical activity in a persons brain while they watch video clips presented to them, then correlates the patterns seen in the brain with the images on the screen. Scientists then used these data to create a complex computer algorithm that matches brain patterns with a huge database of random YouTube videos. And, it works surprisingly well! While we’re not seeing exactly what is pictured by the subject, the concepts they are imagining tend to come across with surprising clarity.
Happy Equinox, Everyone! A Year of Sunrises from Space
Celebrate the start of fall (or Spring for you southerners) by watching the very cause of the seasons from space. A geostationary satellite captured images at 6:00 am local time everyday for one year. Watch as the terminator (the line between night and day) shifts angle on the Earth’s surface due to the changing seasons. Very cool!
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.