What do Mercurian arachnids, a map of multi-dimensional subspace, Paul McCartney, and the Navy all have in common? They are all topics on this week’s edition of Science Friday! All that plus our newest gadget of the week. Read on!
“The Spider” on Mercury
In last week’s edition of Science Friday, we mentioned the MESSENGER mission’s arrival at the Solar System’s closest planet to the Sun, Mercury, and it’s relatively unremarkable surface features. With the arrival of newer images, scientists are getting some interesting information on the unexpectedly complex surface features of the planet, along with a very different magnetosphere than the one discovered and sampled more than 30 years ago. “The Spider” is a geologic formation consisting of a set of radiating troughs thought to have been caused by the breaking apart of the floor materials of the basin in which it is located. Also unlike the moon, MESSENGER showed that Mercury has huge cliffs with structures snaking up hundreds of miles across the planet’s face. These cliffs preserve a record of patterns of fault activity from early in the planet’s history. Read More.
Mercury’s Spider Geologic Formation
Particle Accelerator to Provide Glimpse Into Other Dimensions
With the launch of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, theoretical physicists may be able to use exotic new particles to reveal the shapes of extra dimensions. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Berkeley will be testing the hypothesis put forth by string theory that suggests the existence of six or even seven unseen spatial dimensions in addition to the four we normally see. The idea of string theory is that the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings and that, much as the shape of a musical instrument determines its sound, the shape of these dimensions determines the properties and behavior of our four-dimension universe. The accelerator smashes atomic nuclei head-on at near the speed of light causing new high-energy and highly unstable particles. The characteristics of these particles may lend scientists clues as to the nature of extra dimensions. Based on these results, Shiu says, “At least in principle, one may be able to use experimental data to test and constrain the geometry of our universe.” TrekMovie.com wants to know if when it peers into these other dimensions, does everyone have a goatee? Read More.
The particle accelerator ready to map multi-dimensional subspace!
Beatles’ “Across the Universe” Beamed, well… Across the Universe
For the first time ever, NASA beamed a song into deep space on February 4th at 7 p.m. EST. With the songwriters permission, the Beatles hit ‘Across the Universe’ will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the songs creation as well as the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding. NASA’s Deep Space Network aimed their sights at Polaris, the North Star, which is located 431 light years away from Earth. The song will travel across the universe at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney expressed excitement that the tune, which was principally written by fellow Beatle John Lennon, was being beamed into the cosmos. “Amazing! Well done, NASA!” McCartney said in a message to the space agency. “Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.” Feb. 4 has been declared “Across The Universe Day” by Beatles fans to commemorate the anniversaries. Read More.
Polaris shines in the midst of this time lapse image of the night sky demonstrating the Earth’s rotation
US Navy Creates “Sci-Fi” Electromagnetic Railgun
Recently, the Navy unveiled their newest advance in electromagnetic weaponry; taking that next step towards the eventual creation of SkyNet. The advantage to having an electromagnetic gun is that no explosives are required to fire the projectile. Instead, the technology utilizes high power EM energy. At full capability, the rail gun will be able to fire a projectile more than 200 nautical miles impacting its target at mach five. Compare that to the current model, the MK 45 five-inch gun, which has a range of merely 20 miles. One of the greatest potential advantages of the rail gun is the increased on board ship safety, as there is no need to store explosive rounds in the ship’s magazine. Read More.
Gadget of the Week: Dynamic Holographic Displays
One thing Trekkies can all agree on is that we want Holodecks and we want them now. Scientists have recently made a breakthrough in holographic imaging technologies that is a step in the right direction. Using a new type of photorefractive polymer film, researchers have been able to recreate images in minutes which last for several hours. This is leaps and bounds of older technology in which the image only lasts about as long as it took to create it. According to a report in Nature, the largest display created by the researchers thus far is 100 square centimeters, however, they claim “there is no technological limit to the achievable display size, because large thin-film devices can be fabricated and even tiled together.” Read the Nature article.