Science Saturday: Measure a Black Hole + Biological Wi-Fi + Daytime Comet + Mars Sample Return + More

Welcome back to an exciting edition of Science Saturday! This week, measure the radius (and more!) of a supermassive black hole; have wi-fi (or, rather, bi-fi) installed in your body; ready for a dazzling comet show in 2013; and bring rocks back from Mars. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: Wall-Ye, the French wine robot!

 

Astronomers Make First Measurement of the Radius of a Black Hole
Using a massive array of radio telescopes across Hawaii, California, and Arizona, an astronomy team from MIT have assembled the “Event Horizon Telescope” and measured for the first time the radius of the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy M87. The Event Horizon telescope array can see 2,000 times the detail of Hubble, allowing the scientists to get a fix on the size of a black hole 50 million light years away and 6 billion times more massive than our sun. More than just measuring its size, astronomers will now be able to better understand dynamics of black holes and help to confirm Einstein’s theories of gravitation.


Computer model showing gravitation distortion near the event horizon of M87’s supermassive black hole


Bioengineers create Bi-Fi, the Biological Internet
We all love having wi-fi on our smartphones, but what about inside our bodies? That’s precisely what bioengineers have created in a recent study published in The Journal of Biological Engineering. By altering a non-lethal, rather innocuous virus called M13, researchers have turned M13’s ability to broadcast genetic information into something useful for bioengineers in the future to create complex, multicellular networks that could work together to solve problems in the human body.

M13 is an breakthrough in cell communication, since any kind of message can be sent or received. “If your network connection is based on sugar then your messages are limited to ‘more sugar,’ ‘less sugar,’ or ‘no sugar'” explained Endy, second author of the study. With M13, those messages can become far more complex. Radhika Nagpal, professor of computer science explains, “The ability to communicate ‘arbitrary’ messages is a fundamental leap — from just a signal-and-response relationship to a true language of interaction.”


Are you bi-fi enabled?

Newly Discovered Comet Could Dazzle the Daytime Sky in 2013
A newly discovered comet, called Comet ISON, might just put on a beautiful sky show late next year. It may even be bright enough to be seen in the daytime sky. ISON was announced last Monday by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, who detected it in photographs taken three days earlier using a 15.7″ telescope. Upon its discovery, ISON was 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers) from Earth shining at the dim magnitude of 18.8. During its closest approach on Nov 28, 2013, the comet will come within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) of the sun’s surface.

More at Space.com.


Comet ISON

NASA to Bring Pieces of Mars Back Home to Earth
NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on the Red Planet without a hitch, and now NASA’s sights are set on sample return — that’s bringing a bit of Mars back to Earth. Over the course of the next few months, NASA will be mapping out its plans for the next several years, with Mars sample return in the spotlight. Once the White House releases its budget for fiscal year 2014, NASA will announce what method we will use to carry out the sample return mission.

Right now, they are looking at three options: multiple launches with three separate spacecraft — a rover to collect the rock, an ascent vehicle to bring that rock into Mars orbit, and an orbiter that would take that rock and send it back to Earth; a single launch where one complex spacecraft would perform all of these functions; or multiple rovers that would sample different sites on the planet, and then the ascent vehicle would rendezvous with the rover carrying the most interesting samples and send those home. NASA hopes to find rock samples that might contain traces or evidence of past life on Mars.

More at Space.com.


Artist rendition of a Mars Sample Return Vehicle

Gadget of the Week: Wall-Ye, the French Wine Robot
Meet Wall-Ye, who, just like his namesake, is a robot. But this robot doesn’t mess around watching Hello Dolly, no sir. Wall-Ye is always hard at work tending to grape vines in the vineyards of France. Wall-Ye has been designed with six cameras and vine pruning tools to tend to, prune, and eventually event harvest grapes for wine makers. The robot has been welcomed by small and large vineyards alike to take care of the boring, back-breaking labor associated with tending the fields.

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.

Follow me on Twitter: @kaylai.


Sort by:   newest | oldest
Old Geezer
September 29, 2012 6:18 am

First?? Although I am not sure it matters.

Mac
September 29, 2012 6:26 am

It’s about time! Yeah…Science Saturday!

CmdrR
September 29, 2012 6:31 am

Oh, Wine-bot, fetch me the Boones Farm! (cheap model)

Thanks, Kayla. I was having withdrawal.

(We really wish Anthony would post a notice on when the articles will start again. Vacations are nice, but this is just costing him his viewers.)

jamesingeneva
September 29, 2012 7:58 am

Thanks Kayla!

SoonerDave
September 29, 2012 8:32 am

Just as an aside, TrekWeb has posted excerpts from interviews with John Cho and Karl Urban about the Trek sequel. Overtures to its “epic” and McCoy’s “heroism” are made, as well as the “emotional” overtones of the new movie.

Cho interview from “Today”
http://trekweb.com/stories.php?aid=50605c1690686&topBrowse=all

Urban comments on Bones in sequel;
http://trekweb.com/stories.php?aid=505eb8673936c&topBrowse=all

I post these while musing to myself the question of why TrekMovie.com doesn’t post stuff like this anymore….

Thorny
September 29, 2012 8:37 am

I hope Comet ISON doesn’t fizzle-out next year like Comet Kohoutek did in 1973-74 (for those you not old enough to remember, Kohoutek was predicted to be spectacular but ended up being very modest.). If the predictions hold up, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime event (literally.) Even if it is only half as bright as predicted, it will still be dazzling at night. And… miracle of miracles, this comet is actually predicted to be visible from the Northern Hemisphere! (It seems like most of the really bright comets of the half-century have been visible only from the Southern Hemisphere.) The 18th and 19th Centuries seemed to have lots of bright comets, with “The Great Comet of 17xx” and “The Great Comet of 18xx” every decade or two, but there has been a long dry spell since then. Here’s hoping we get “The Great Comet of 2013” next year.

StevenPDX
September 29, 2012 8:40 am

Speaking of science, I heard a very interesting story on the radio about electronic devices that can be implanted in your body, then dissolve when they’re done. Made of non-harmful materials like silk, magnesium, and silicon, they can be used to monitor medical conditions, aid with healing, and so on. Pretty cool stuff.

Also been fascinated by the **incredible photos** from Curiosity. When I see the surface and the mountains in the distance, I keep thinking to myself, “Man! That’s another planet!” Makes me wonder what it would be like if Star Trek ever became reality…to step onto another class M planet…to breathe its air and see it’s landscape…and to realize you’re not on Earth. I can’t imagine how overpowering that would feel!

Thanks for a great science update, Kayla!

Son of Sarek
September 29, 2012 8:42 am

Visits to this site are down -31.34% in the past 3 months! Hopefully this will improve once SOMETHING of import about the movie is posted here.

Flake
September 29, 2012 9:05 am

Well all you have to do with check google news 3 times a day and then post links and snippets in the news, its so easy ! I would happily do it.

Flake
September 29, 2012 9:05 am

Well all you have to do with check google news 3 times a day and then post links and snippets in the news, its so easy ! I would happily do it.

Steve J.
September 29, 2012 9:06 am

A recent article of possible interest: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible…

http://news.yahoo.com/warp-drive-may-more-feasible-thought-scientists-161301109.html?_esi=1

Steve J.
September 29, 2012 9:06 am

A recent article of possible interest: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible…

http://news.yahoo.com/warp-drive-may-more-feasible-thought-scientists-161301109.html?_esi=1

Flake
September 29, 2012 9:06 am

Maybe its not so easy since I just double posted. Double news posts coming your way!

Bored, Bored, Bored with Star Trek.
September 29, 2012 9:36 am

At least this is a new post…

Perhaps they should change the name of this site to

‘UsedtobeaboutTrekMovie.com’

It would be more accurate that way.

CAPT KRUNCH
September 29, 2012 9:39 am

Finally…science is cool….is there no TREK news out there…what’s going on with the movie..2 entries in 3 weeks and no movie news..well J.J . must be happy …no leaks LOL

Thor
September 29, 2012 9:59 am

No Trek news? Take a look at TrekWeb.

CmdrR
September 29, 2012 10:14 am

6 – I remember going to the observatory in the 70’s and standing in a long line to take a :10 peek at Kahoutek. Alas, it had shot its celestial wad, partially breaking up into the Sun, and was barely a blur even in the most powerful telescope around.

Would love to see a really cool comet… assuming it’s not coming right at us.

CmdrR
September 29, 2012 10:17 am

Steve J — To paraphrase the immortal Homer Simpson, “Mmmm. Space donuts. Is there anything they can’t do???” **drools**

pick44
September 29, 2012 10:34 am

Hey did you guys miss the 25th anniversary of TNG or did you just not care?

tom
September 29, 2012 10:55 am

They missed it, and then decided rather than draw attention to that fact (by mentioning it late), they would just not mention it at all.

SoonerDave
September 29, 2012 11:08 am

Think the handwriting is on the wall for TrekMovie.com, for whatever reason…posting only straggling articles, perhaps other things are taking prioirty for Anthony, who knows. Playing out the string, it seems to me, until the hits just, well, stop. Hate to see it, but hey, its not my site. Didn’t realize that there really was some Trek news out there until I visited TrekWeb, saw some other stuff out there. Just the way it goes, I guess.

Balok
September 29, 2012 11:42 am

Geez, you guys are such a bunch of cry baby whiners. Here’s the deal: Sometimes this site is updated and sometimes it’s not. Unless you all purchased some type of subscription to this site, Anthony owes you nothing. Get over it. The interwebs is an amazing place. If you need more Star Trek news go to news.google.com and type Star Trek in the search box…voila’ more Star Trek news.

Craiger
September 29, 2012 11:57 am

Balok we are complaining because this site is not living up to its tagline – “The Source For Everything New In Trek.” That means everything not just sequel news but no matter how small of Trek news their is, something like when the Trek Caldendar’s are released or when the next releases of the TNG BluRay’s are released or what other Trek actors are up to. This site is not doing that anymore. If Anthony wants to make this a part-time Trek news site then that tagline should be taken down. If he doesn’t care about running this site anymore then he should tell us the status and say it will become part-time or taken down. Without us loyal viewers their wouldn’t be a TrekMovie.com.

Craiger
September 29, 2012 12:10 pm

Also if Anthony does has other obligations then that’s fine be he should say something like with other things going on with his life he can no longer run this site so Trekmovie will be closing it down in a few days, thanks to the loyal viewers who supported this site over the years. I think we would all be fine with something like that right? We would quit complaining and go elsewhere for Trek news but that might not be possible with Gustavo leaving Trekweb in late 2013 then only the official StarTrek site, TrekToday and Treknews.net will be the only sites for Trek news. Maybe people aren’t interested in Trek news anymore and that’s why their may be just a few Trek news sites left?

Craiger
September 29, 2012 12:10 pm

Also if Anthony does has other obligations then that’s fine be he should say something like with other things going on with his life he can no longer run this site so Trekmovie will be closing it down in a few days, thanks to the loyal viewers who supported this site over the years. I think we would all be fine with something like that right? We would quit complaining and go elsewhere for Trek news but that might not be possible with Gustavo leaving Trekweb in late 2013 then only the official StarTrek site, TrekToday and Treknews.net will be the only sites for Trek news. Maybe people aren’t interested in Trek news anymore and that’s why their may be just a few Trek news sites left?

Craiger
September 29, 2012 12:22 pm

Sorry for the double post.

Bored to tears
September 29, 2012 1:09 pm

Now the new postings on this site have been reduced to postings about the lack of news… I propose that we all vote and change the name of this site to the following;

http://www.usedtobeabouttrek.com -or-

www. nonewsabouttrek.com -or-

http://www.fanpostingsoftreknews.com

anybody game?… how about some freaking news, people!!!!

AJ
September 29, 2012 1:45 pm
Steve J.
September 29, 2012 2:40 pm

Star Trek and model railroading…Lots of Trek references in this product newsletter from Rapido Trains:

http://www.rapidotrains.com/rapidonewscurrent.html

“Dammit Jim! I’m a model railroader, not a doctor!”

CmdrR
September 29, 2012 2:48 pm

28 – Not bad. Much better than some of the other Trek music we’ve seen.

CmdrR
September 29, 2012 2:50 pm

And… for the 349587240985724509823756029837523048579243342987th time…
It’s Anthony’s candy store. I’d love to see more articles. But, it’s his choice.

Rose (as in Keachick)
September 29, 2012 3:17 pm

Frankly, it’s a wonder that any of the people on Trekmovie staff bother to post any articles at all. Kayla has just posted her Saturday Science article and all that most of you can do is YET AGAIN bitch and whine about what is not happening. What a bunch of ingrates!

Disgusting!

Jonboc
September 29, 2012 3:29 pm

#32. Agreed.

AJ
September 29, 2012 4:17 pm

32/Rose

C’mon.

There used to be more of that ‘community spirit’ here with Anthony as the gruff ‘community leader’ (ref. DS9, episode 1). We had Charles Trotter, John Tenuto, Kayla, Mark and Rosario all actively lurking around. Even a kid used to post articles about his perspectives on Trek. All back before ST09.

I am grateful that Kayla, who is busy getting her PhD in the UK, finds time to post a science article from time-to-time. But, we are not whinging ‘ingrates.’ While I do not subscribe to the abandonment theory, the site does seem to be listing a little bit.

Patrick Stewart on the “Daily Show” was in TIME’s top 5 comedy gags of the week, and the horrid tune I posted in 28 is now ‘trending’ on YouTube. Just post them w/o an article so we can talk about them is all.. TNG had its 25th anniversary this week. Big wow, right?

AJ
September 29, 2012 4:24 pm

Anyone else lose the yellow “Trekmovie” masthead up top?

September 29, 2012 4:30 pm

@ 36

Yes. Maybe a sign of things.

September 29, 2012 4:31 pm

I meant @35

Crewman Darnell
September 29, 2012 4:38 pm

@ 6. Thorny
I was in the 3rd grade when Comet Kohoutek made it’s so-called “Grand Entry.” What a major disappointment that was. Even with a telescope, it was just a blurry smudge in the sky. Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995 was pretty cool though. Even with the light pollution in the ‘burbs of Portland, Oregon, it was bright enough to view and tape on my old VHS camcorder.

Crewman Darnell
September 29, 2012 4:46 pm

I guess I should add, too bad about those “Heavens Gate” morons, though. :-/

Montreal_Paul
September 29, 2012 4:48 pm

35. AJ

Nope. It’s still there.

Red Dead Ryan
September 29, 2012 4:59 pm

You know, if it weren’t for us “whiners”, we wouldn’t have had ANY articles in the past month. If it weren’t for us “whiners”, fine people like Kayla wouldn’t bother putting up articles, because without us, the staff would assume no one cares about this site anymore.

We spoke up, and we got an article today. Just that simple.

Something for Keachick and Jonboc to think about.

TrekMadeMeWonder
September 29, 2012 5:00 pm

Good fun reading. Thanks!

Captain Ransom's back
September 29, 2012 5:10 pm

@41 Red Dead Ryan

Of course you got what you wanted… parents usually give into their whiny kids after a tantrum. ;) lol

Captain Ransom's back
September 29, 2012 5:14 pm

@41 Red Dead Ryan

And if I remember correctly, Kayla felt uncomfortable putting up that article. She felt pushed into it. Just something for you to think about as well.

Captain Ransom's back
September 29, 2012 5:20 pm

Not this article.. but one a few weeks back. Kayla has always posted Science Saturdays. Has nothing to do with your whining this time.

Red Dead Ryan
September 29, 2012 5:21 pm

#s 43 and 44.

Look, this is a Trek website. With the tagline “The Source For Everything New In Trek”. Therefore, with that tagline, fans do have a right to expect new articles once in while. Otherwise, its false advertisement.

As for Kayla, yes, she was uncomfortable putting up that Neil Armstrong article. But I think that stems from none of the other staff doing anything about it.

Captain Ransom's back
September 29, 2012 5:30 pm

@46 Red Dead Ryan

Whine, whine and whine some more. No, she felt it wasn’t her place to so the article and she felt uncomfortable from all the pressure you whiners were giving her.

There are a lot of other Star Trek websites out there. Some better than others. Take your pick, you will find your news anywhere else like I do. I come back and check here, find nothing so I look elsewhere. What will whining do other than annoy people. For God’s sake, if you are that annoyed with this site for lack of news, go find it elsewhere. It’s as simple as that. No need to bitch and moan about it.

Craiger
September 29, 2012 5:38 pm

#47 – In Trekmovie’s heyday no other Trek site beat this one for news. Now its a shell of its former glory. I also liked where Anthony gathered Trek news from other sites so you didn’t have to. We would all stop complaining if Anthony would just post a status update on Trekmovie right? He doesn’t have one min. to say I can’t run this site anymore due to other obligations so I’m closing it down. Thanks for all your support. Is that too much to ask? Then I am sure we would leave him alone and go elsewhere for news.

Their wouldn’t be a Trekmovie if it were not for us loyal viewers. The thing I liked about this site is that we had people involved with Trek’s past posting here and I liked chatting with them, and now they don’t even post here anymore. I think fans of this site will pretty soon get sick and tired of coming back to check for news and their isn’t any. Then one day Anthony will wonder where did everyone go?

Captain Ranson's back
September 29, 2012 5:49 pm

48. Craiger

It’s a sign of the times. There are at least 15 Star Trek sites that I can think of, not to mention other places like SFX that have Trek news too.

Who knows what happened to Anthony. Maybe he is frustrated with the day to day operation, maybe he moved on to bigger and better things, maybe he is ill, maybe he has family issues, maybe he just doesn’t care anymore or, what for it, there is no new news about the movie yet! Fact is that nobody knows. This is Anthony’s site and he can do what ever he wants with it.

Maybe just removing that tag line that everyone seems to like to quote – it’s just a tagline, not a promise folks.

Anyway, go back to your whining. I will continue to stop in here to see if there is any news, if not, I will check the other sites. No whining, simple as that. Carry on, folks.

Craiger
September 29, 2012 6:14 pm

#49 – I say that tagline is a promise.

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