Science Friday: Spiders, Holograms, EM Cannons, Multiple Dimensions, and Galactic Music

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.” 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.

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Wow..first and my first posting to this board…What a great week where science meets science fiction

OK, you may have to talk slow for me, but if the rail gun doesn’t use explosives, what’s with the fire? Smart people, please to splain?

Re particle accelerator thingie

It’s been years since I’ve been in a science class. I thought the fourth dimension was the Twilight Zone.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

That rail gun makes my neck hair stand up. That round was huge!

On a related note, New Scientist has a current article ( describing an atom smasher, time travel, wormholes, and how 2008 could be “year zero.” Star Trek Zero, year zero, all very coincidental if you ask me…

Woohoo! Rail guns for everyone! Hey, can you fire a Beatles tune out of a rail gun? Or for that matter a Britney Spears song? Shoot one of HER abominations at a terrorist and he’ll simply vaporize!!

re: 3
I think the Twilight Zone is the 5th dimension

#2 -Yeah. Or is that compression-ignited-something in the target?

Using technology to fight & destroy your own species is stupid.

#2 – think of a meteorite.

**Meteor. Dang it.

#3 – The Vulcanista…

Time is actually the fourth dimension…I believe. And Stanky is correct…The Twilight Zone is the 5th dimension. I meet most of my dates there. ;-)

P.S. – Always enjoy your posts, Vulcanista.

Being a huge Beatles fan, I love the thought of all aliens now being able to listen to “Across the Universe”. :)

There is no “fire” The rail gun uses a technology very similar to mag lev trains. The projectile is made of a ferrous based metal – usually just plain old cheap iron. The projectile can carry or push anything that the rail is designed for – including warheads. The rail is a long track lined with electromagnets. The magnets alternately pull then push the projectile along the track. By the time the projectile leaves the track it has gained a lot of velocity and can travel quite far depending on its mass. Friction in the atmosphere, and gravity are the only things that slow the projectile down. A rail gun on the moon would not have this issue, and since the moons gravity is far less than the earths, a rail gun on the moon would make an ideal launch platform for launching construction supplies to various points within the solar system.


OK, I’m thinking of one. I guess you’re not talking slow enough for me. Are you trying to say that the projectile is going so fast that it ignites the oxygen in the air? Or that it’s speed is causing it’s casing to burn off? Because if it’s expected to travel up to 200 nautical miles to it’s target, there wouldn’t seem to be much left upon arrival.

On review:

#14- I do get the concept, but in the video, there is fire. From whence it came is my question. Given the projectile technology.

The fire is from the projectile hitting the target and exploding. There is no fire leaving the rail gun.

#7, 12

Thanks! Like I said, it’s been years.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

I see the glow you mean behind the projectile. Just the sonic pressure wave behind it due to its speed. Just like a jet that breaks the sound barrier – except much faster.

Ahh, now I see it. The video is only showing the projectile post impact. It happened so quickly that I thought I was looking at the projectile being fired AND THEN it’s impact. Thanks for the correction in the play-by-play, Krik.

And now, I will type the word “projectile” less.

My goldfish is called bubbles

#21, that is hella cool.

Give us a break! Saying that the Navy’s railgun is the next step towards a “SkyNet” is an asinine statement. Stop making stupid statements that are not based on fact. You make this site look stupid when you say silly things. SkyNet? Right.

I wonder what the aliens will think when Across the Universe comes blasting over their subspace channels…

Is Bubbles a “Spookyfish,” by any chance?

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

I know I’m dumber than dirt, but:

“unseen spatial dimensions in addition to the four we normally see.”

I only see three. Dammit! I feel so cheated. What is everyone else seeing?

24 – “I wonder what the aliens will think when Across the Universe comes blasting over their subspace channels… ”

They’ll say, “If Yoko splits up the Fab Four, we invade!’

#3 – The Fourth Dimension is what we percieve as linear time. Everything to us, as we move through the forth dimension goes in one direction.

In other news: The hologram thing is pretty cool. All we need now is a template of Robert Picardo, a surly attitude, and a catchprase…

how does “Please state the nature of the medical emergency” sound?

As stated above, Time is the forth dimension. Listening to Nimoy or Shatner sing I believe opens a rift to the 5th dimension.

let us all pray Pine and ZQ cannot sing… and know it.

Typos… jez

“Fourth” dimension

Nah…the Fifth Dimension recorded the cover of that song from ‘Hair’.

I’d like more holographic displays and less rail guns in this world. :)

These holograms someday may be the interface
for most machines including computers.

– Another dimension(s)…hmmmmm

yay for the Beatles!

huh so I’ll be able to meat EMH (robert) in 20 years.
Holograms rock.