Bored during your late-night duty shift in Cargo Bay 2? Take a break and read about this week’s science news! This week: Roddenbery’s new stem cell research center, the results of a skeptic-funded climate change study, witness a star being born (literally), and try out the new astronaut tractor beam! All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: the Holodesk!
Rod Roddenberry Inaugurates Roddenberry Stem Cell Research Center
For his first philanthropic initiative, Rod Roddenberry and the Roddenberry Foundation have announced the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone. Roddenberry says that the $5M donation to the center was made to honor the legacy of the Great Bird of the Galaxy, his father, Gene Roddenberry. “This gift is our largest to date, and with it, we hope to help accelerate advances in biomedical research,” said Roddenberry. “In addition, if our support can inspire one child to become a scientist, one organization to become more charitable, one person to simply invest himself or herself in improving the future of our world, then our foundation can be a catalyst in making the future envisioned through Star Trek a reality.”
Learn more about the stem cell research at Gladstone
Climate Change Skeptic-Funded Study Concludes Global Warming is Real
We’ve all heard the claims before: average global land temperatures on Earth have risen almost two degrees Fahrenheit since the 1950s. So, what’s different about this new study by the Berkeley Earth Project? It’s an independent, non-government sponsored, open source project funded by climate change skeptics. It uses more data than any previous study and directly addresses concerns that have made skeptics doubt studies in the past, including urban heat island effect and reliability of temperature monitoring station data. Their concensus? The same as those previous, government funded projects. The Earth is warming. So, will this convince the skeptics that called for the study? Probably not. Haters gonna hate.
How Berkeley Earth compares to previous studies
First Ever Images of a Star Being Born
The youngest ever planet, still in the process of forming, was imaged in the Taurus constellation by Adam Kraus of the University of Hawaii at the Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea. The planet, named LkCa 15 b (A horrible name. Can we call it Larry?) is about 6 times larger than our Jupiter, and rests 11 times farther from the sun than Earth (that’s 11 AU). Larry lies about 450 light years from us, and looks to be about 50,000-100,000 years old. Kraus and his colleague Michael Ireland have already submitted their findings for publication.
Larry, ready for his close-up
New Laser ‘Tractor Beams’ Could Save Drifting Astronauts
A new method, which some are calling “tractor beams”, has been devised to reel in astronauts that float a bit too far from their spacecraft. It’s not so much of a Trek-style tractor beam, as the astronaut is still propelled by conventional thrusters. What’s unconventional is that the thrusters can be activated by a remotely targeted laser beam. So, your buddy back on the spacecraft could shine a laser at your helpless, floating astro body and reel you back home. Current rescue methods involve spring-loaded or gas-driven tethers that have a maximum range of 100 meters or nitrogen thrusters affixed to the astronaut’s space suit. The new “tractor beams” will allow for the rescue of an astronaut, even if they are incapacitated.
Engage tractor beam!
Video of the Week: Our Future in Space
If you like science, and I know you like science, you won’t want to miss this video about our future in space, featuring none other than: Phil Plait, Pamela Gay, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, and Neil de Grasse Tyson.
Picture of the Week: One Day in One Photograph
One ambitous photographer set out to capture one full day in one photograph. To do it, he spent 30 hours taking photos and managed to capture one of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. He gives a full description of the method on his website.
Gadget of the Week: Microsoft’s Holodesk
No, no, not Holodeck (sorry). HoloDESK! Microsoft has been showing off a project that combines a Kinect sensor and a beam-splitter to create an interactive, virtual 3D “desk” that can be manipulated by the user. A webcam tracks the location of your head and eyes to keep the projection consistent, and can even work with other real objects placed onto the desk. Holodeck tech, here we come! Check out the demo video below!
Check out these science-related events happening soon:
Halley’s comet meteor shower
More at NASA Science News
Bay Area Science Festival
October 29th-November 6th
Unleash your inner scientist at the free Bay Area Science Festival in San Francisco
Launch of NPOESS Preparatory Project
The first step in the NPOESS, the next generation Earth-observing satellite system
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
- Learn what scientists found in a remote Southern Australia location buzzing with life
- New evidence for oldest oxygen-breathing life on land
- Archaeologists find fully intact Viking boat burial site on UK mainland