Once we finished mourning Trek’s new release date (actually we just ran out of tissues), we were able to pull it together to bring you this week’s Science Friday! It’s a great one! We’re introducing our ongoing ‘Cassini Watch’ to see what’s happening with Dr. Carolyn Porco (Trek’s new science advisor). Also, a new galactic discovery, Steven Colbert’s opinions of other dimensions, and some pretty electrifying outerwear. Not to mention, our latest gadget of the week!
New Galaxy May be Farthest Ever Found
A natural “zoom lens” has provided Hubble with the ability to detect what is possibly the farthest galaxy ever discovered. A1689-zD1, as the galaxy is named, is so far away that Hubble’s visible light camera could not see it because its light is stretched to infrared wavelengths by the Universe’s expansion. It took Hubble’s NICMOS, Spitzer and a trick of nature called gravitational lensing to see the faraway galaxy. Because the galaxy is so far away, that tell us that the image of it that we are seeing is from a very, very long time ago. This is because it took a longer amount of time for the light from the galaxy to reach Earth. This gives scientists an unparalleled glimpse into the past. In fact, there is strong additional evidence that it was a young star-forming galaxy which helped to end the cosmic dark ages. Current theory holds that the dark ages began about 400,000 years after the Big Bang, as matter in the expanding Universe cooled and formed clouds of cold hydrogen. These cold clouds pervaded the Universe like a thick fog. At some point during this era, stars and galaxies started to form. Their collective light heated and cleared the fog of cold hydrogen, and ended the dark ages about a billion years after the Big Bang. This galaxy will provide new information about that mysterious time in the Universe’s history. Learn More.
An artist’s conception of what this embryotic galaxy may look like
Colbert Continues Last Science Friday’s Extra Dimensional Conversation
In an interview with Dr. Lisa Randall earlier this week on his show, Stephen Colbert did a nice follow up to one of the topics discussed in last week’s Science Friday, Particle Accelerator to Provide Glimpse Into Other Dimensions. There was a lot of discussion going on that particular topic, so I thought it would be nice to do some further explanation of the topic, and this interview is a great way to do it. Colbert even slipped a nice Star Trek mention in there, so check it out!
Power Shirts: Clothing of the future?
Solving the energy crisis is a walk in the park! At least that’s sort of the idea behind a new nanotechnology which uses textile fibers covered in zinc oxide to harness the energy that comes from body movement. The movement caused in your shirt when you’re taking a stroll — or just moving in general, for that matter — causes the fibers to rub together and generate real electrical current. Scientists have been able to generate up to 80 milliwatts of power from one square meter of fabric, enough to power small electronics devices for hikers, soldiers, and others. They could even power your GPS Gloves (see below). Now, that’s what I call a power shirt! Perhaps if the Federation had these shirts, Kirk would be more careful not to ruin so many uniforms. But, where’s the fun in that? Read More
The perfect accompaniment to the “power tie”
Newly Discovered Exoplanets Suggest Our Solar System is Not Unique
Scientists have discovered a new solar system nearly 5,000 light years away which contains scaled down versions of Saturn and Jupiter. This finding suggests that solar systems similar to our own may be common throughout the galaxy. The new solar system seems to be a scaled-down version of our own. One planet is 70 percent the size of Jupiter and another is 90 percent of Saturn’s size. The sun these stars orbit is about half the size of our Sun. “The fascinating part is that if we ‘scale’ everything to the mass and brightness of the parent star, the masses of these planets relative to their star, and the amount of sunlight they receive, [the planets] are close to our own Jupiter and Saturn,” said lead author Scott Gaudi, assistant professor of astronomy at Ohio State University. “So what we’ve found is a solar system analog, or a ‘scaled solar system.'” The technique used to discover this far away system is called gravitational lensing, the same natural phenomenon which helped scientists to discover A1689-zD1 (see story above). “This is the first case in which a Jupiter-mass planet was detected [where] we had significant sensitivity to additional planets,” Gaudi said. “You could call it luck, but I think it might just mean that these systems are common throughout our galaxy.” Learn More.
The new solar system which is a small analogue to our own
Keeping an Eye on Cassini
Earlier this week TrekMovie reported on the newest addition to the Abrams’ crew, Carolyn Porco, who will be joining the project as the science adivsor for Star Trek. Her job of helping the production team realistically show off the beauty of space will be greatly influenced by her work as director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS). In light of this, we have decided to bring you up to speed on what’s going on with Cassini these days. Launched Oct. 15, 1997, on a journey covering 3.5 billion kilometers (2.2 billion miles) and lasting nearly seven years, Cassini eventually made it’s way to Saturn where it has been and will continue taking pictures of the gas giant and its many moons. Next Friday, February 22nd, Cassini will be making its next fly-by of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Keep an eye out for next week’s Science Friday when we will bring you the scoop on that! Click here to check out Cassini’s website and learn more!
Imaging the Final Frontier
Gadget of the Week: Vie GPS Gloves
This week in gadgetry we bring you one step closer to bionic humans with these GPS enabled gloves. Not only are they super cool robot looking, they’re functional as well and serve as a GPS, personal trainer, and PDA all in one! Not to mention the glove part. The GPS aspect is apparent in the image. It serves not only to plan out your walking or jogging activities in advance and helps you to keep alternate walking plans ready but also sends out SOS messages when you need emergency help. It includes helpful feedback and other vibrating alerts that can be completely customized to serve as your personal trainer. For example, if you are running too slow or slower than a pre-determined pace, the Vie will vibrate to get you to kick it into gear. It is even windproof and waterproof and made of breath-easy fabric along with injection moulded EVA housing for superior glove comfort. Read More.
The only GPS that fits you like a glove!