Science Friday: Buzz A Moon, Make A Black Hole, Save NASA and more

This week’s Science Friday brings you another Cassini Watch in preparation for the March 12th Enceladus flyby. Also, a Martian avalanche, tabletop black holes, a possible close-by plnaet, a bit of science politics, and a very special “Gadget of the Week” which features a top ten list of the best Trek Tech ever to come into existence thanks to Star Trek The Original Series . Plus we have some new Science Quickies for even more science fun!

Cassini Watch: Flyby of Enceladus on March 12th
Cassini has its sensors set on Enceladus this week in preparation for the March 12th flyby. A mere 50km above the moon’s equatorial region, this will be the closest flyby ever done by the Saturn-orbiting spacecraft. Moving north to south, the craft will pass through the famous south solar plume (the water geysers we’ve been talking about.) Scientists hope to come away with a deeper understanding of the composition of the plume, as well as accurate measurements of ammonia and some simple organic compounds. See more about this upcoming adventure at CICLOPS, and check out this video released by the Cassini team:

Avalanche on Mars!
The High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE), a spacecraft orbiting Mars, took the first ever image of a Martial avalanche. The image released on March 3rd, shows dusty clouds billowing away from the foot of a towering slope, where ice and dust have just cascaded down. “It really surprised me,” said HiRISE mission scientist Ingrid Daubar Spitale. “It’s great to see something so dynamic on Mars. A lot of what we see there hasn’t changed for millions of years.”

Look out below!

Artificial Black Holes Created in a Laboratory
Black holes rank among the greatest mysteries of the universe. They have gravitational pulls so powerful that nothing, even light, can escape after falling past a border known as the event horizon. Direct experiments on real black holes would be difficult due lack of any near Earth, not to mention how difficult these warps in space-time would be to work with. Now, scientists can use intense, brief laser pulses inside an optical fiber to recreate singularities on a table top. We have seen artificial black holes (aka gravitational singularities) in Star Trek used to power Romulan ships as well as natural ones which cause those pesky space-time anomalies. See for more.

The singularity caused a rift in the space-time continuum throwing the Enterprise into a causality loop!

Earthlike planet at Alpha Centauri?
According to Star Trek Alpha Centauri, our nearest celestial neighbor, will be the home of a colony (and Zefram Cochrane) as well as possibly one of the founding members of the Federation. This would require a habitable planet and new research suggests there may actually be a spot for us to set up camp. According to new research there is a "good line of evidence" that a planet has formed in the ‘habitable’ zone around Alpha Centauri B. Astronomers also believe that extended observations would actually be able to detect an Earth-like planet around the star which is just over four light years away.

Alpha Centauri…our next giant leap?

Future NASA Missions at Stake Due to Budgetary Issues
If we are going to ever get to Alpha Centauri (and form the Federation), we might actually need a space program. NASA is taking its budget issues to congress in the upcoming March 13th congressional hearing. NASA administrator Alan Stern currently has a cap on NASA’s over all budget, which may cost us some future missions, specifically in the Mars exploration program. Congress will vote on what the FY09 NASA budget will look like, and this decision will greatly influence what future missions we get to see happen. If you have a minute, I urge you to take time out of you day to write to your congressman (or woman) and stress the importance of the further exploration of space.

Today NASA. Tomorrow the UFP!

Gadget of the Week: Star Trek Tech

This week, we bring you a special report by on Star Trek Tech featuring the top ten technology contributions from TOS. Here are the top ten items which they feel make the cut:

10. The Cell Phone “Enterprise to Captain Kirk”
9. Handy Medical Tools Hypospray, anyone?
8. Translators Helps cover obvious plot holes
7. Space Money That tribble’s gonna cost you 10 credits!
6. GPS Targeting Scanners?
5. Scanning Devices a la the Tricorder
4. Non-Invasive Surgical Techniques a la Bones
3. Transparent Aluminum (Save the whales!)
2. Phasers The kind that don’t “set for stun”
1. Life Detectors Life forms! You precious little life forms…

What about Spock’s mysterious blue light thingy?

Science Quickies
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.

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Cool and fascinating.

not first, and don’t care.

my dentist was just telling me how he just got a laser drill. he also has flat panel LCD monitors at every chair, much like the sickbay bed monitors.

Superb Work – –
I’ll do my part and look into contacting my Congressman to aid NASA.

Sad to hear about the NASA deal.

Hmmm…terrestrial planets in the Alpha Centauri system. Maybe Irwin Allen wasn’t so wacky after all.

#5. Yah, but we’d get lost on the on the journey there. : )

Great article Kayla.

Sorry about the “stutter” problem in # 6….“Oh the pain”!

See? Now’s the time to reboot Lost in Space! I was so sad the John Woo TV pilot went nowhere.

Kayla I seem to recall reading that both Alpha and Proxima though similar to our Sun are somewhat older stars on the order of a billion years older and further along to red giant phase then our sun is. If we do find an earthlike world orbiting the same distance, a presumably older world, it may not be habitable. The reason that I am bringing this up is that some scientists think that that In a billion years our sun will have heated up to the point where earth will be to hot to support life.

Star Quack —

Did you read about the lost Lost in Space pilot? It was so bad, even Fox refused to air it. Robot was supposed to be that crappy, plus missing characters and an edgy teen tilt. I’ll pass until they do a reasonable version.

Still… that’s no reason not to explore. We may find, although they are uninhabitable now, they once were and their people left for nearby stars.

Or not. Won’t know until we look, right? :-)

I’ve become very fond of this article each week. It revives my childhood fascination with science and astronomy. I plan on forwarding the Top Ten list to all my friends who like to tease me about my “trekkiness’. LOL Wonderfuil job, Kayla…I’ve become quite the fan of yours…keep it up.

All right! I just wrote my congressman!


No I didn’t hear that. It certainly is believable. After that awful movie (of which I liked the first half), it seems people just don’t understand what was (potentially) great about the concept. That’s too bad. At least we have season 1 (the great BW’s)!

I was reading an article once about creating a ‘mini blackhole’ in the “Large Hadron Supercollider” in Europe. The scientist quoted in that article said “…according to our calculations, the blackholes we create should evaporate in a few millionths of a second…”

…which made me wonder: what if their calculations are incorrect.

#10 Garovorkin —

Even if a given star is hotter or colder than our sun, there is still a “habitable zone” in which habitable planets can reside, but that zone would be at a different distance than it is for our sun…for example, a hot star may have a habitable planet that orbits four or five times further out than the Earth is from the Sun.

#10 and 17:
Some great discussion going here, that’s what I love to see! It is true that our sun will enter a red giant phase, but this will not happen for another about 4.5 billion years. After that, it will turn into a white dwarf and there it will end its life. As far as habitable zones around Alpha Centauri, it is a binary system (which adds to the complexity) but both stars are about our Sun’s size and luminosity. However, even with bigger stars as Jackson Roykirk points out, there is a “habitable zone” where liquid water would be stable on a planet, it just might be at a different spot than a zone around a Sun-like star.

I love this section of the site! The only depressing thing is the ability to think and dream about what is out there, but in real life or at least my life time so few of us well ever get out there. But as a kid I saw a UFO so maybe this maybe they will come back and give me a lift to the great beyond.;) I stand ready to beam up.

Star Quack —

Hey they took 70’s schtick and turned it into kick-arse sci-fi with BSG. We can hope someone with a brain adopts LIS and focuses on what was good: Family in space, exploration/survival, adventure. Hopefully, they’ll sidestep the camp this time.

I love these weekly articles, but as mentioned before its not likley most of us will ever make it into outerspace, except maybe making it into the earths orbit ala Virgin Atlantics ships and as of right now its a little out of my budget or maybe one of those Russian rockets, same $$ issues.

I remember in a high school presentation from NASA in 1978 that within 20 years or so anyone would be able to take a trip to space in the space shuttle. This was obviously before before any shuttles had even taken off and all the tragedies and accomplishment of the shuttle program.
But you never know, one of these commercial space craft will be built and affordabe for anyone who has a desire to take a venture. Leaving the earths atmosphere is one of the things I would like to do in reality and for me its worth the risk.

As far as a little show, LIS season 1, it should be tried again in the movies, ala batman, superman, bond and all the others that have a reboot. I met Billy Mumy a couple of months ago and he said he has heard little whispers about a new LIS movie or project (no not Woo’s pilot), its got a great concept, but it has to be done correctly, unfortunately the show does not have nearly the fan base of ST, SW etc,its to bad, new line had its chance and blew it. ( I personally didn’t think it was that bad, actually pretty good, but being a big LIS fan, I had rose colored glasses on.

Opps Sorry,I forgot to mention the obvious reboot Star Trek….but time will tell the sucess, not worried though, with all the good people at the helm, the cast, the hardest thing is the wait. But I was wondering if JJ or Mr Orci have mentioned anything about the extra time they now have been given before the new release date of ST 11 or will the movie pretty much be sitting on the shelf with a just a couple of minor changes collecting dust.

I like the thing about the artificial event horizon. Sometimes news messages like this make me think that everything that’s imaginable will (someday somehow) become reality. I know that’s a bit esoteric, but wasn’t there some “Science Friday” news flash just lately where a physicist said that it’s only a matter of time until the fundamentals of the warp drive are understood?

#19 Friends of mine said they saw a UFO… and believe me: they are no nutcases! It was during a vacation in South Africa… and a few days later the papers wrote about it! Other people had seen it too. I myself didn’t see it… I was having a few beers in a local bar in Cape Town watching football. (^_^) But I saw the Madonna once. Does that count?

I also love these weekly science things. I read about the Alpha Centauri thing earlier in the week, how cool would that be to find a planet around there?

Speaking of science stuff, I did see somewhere that Saturn’s moon Rhea may have a thin ring around it which would be a first for a moon that we’ve seen.

Too bad about NASA. Bush said a few years ago he wanted to go to Mars. Guess again, he’s gutting every program except military spending. I will write my congressmen to ask them to support NASA and the promise of exploring the cosmos.

Fascinating. Very fascinating.

I’m an other that really finds this regular topic an insightful round-up of the technologically fascinating, with some great links.

It sure will be interesting if we DO come across an ‘Earth-like Planet’ to see whether it’s colored like most of CBS Digital’s samey green and blue ones…

New L.E.D.’s Great!

#26 How you can compare Fantasy to Science Fiction is beyond me.

– A (not too lucky) trek insignia from NASA…

So romulan power cores make more Scientific sense than Federation warp cores!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who’da thunk it??????????

Romulan energy cores of course running off an artificial quantim singularity…….. I really need a girlfriend……. Or a dog……

That avalanche pic is awesome..

# 17 Jackson those are are some very good points. true enough at a greater distance it probably could be habitable. #18 Kayla Being a Binary Star i would image that the climate of said earth like world would be one of extremes as a result of the combined energy output and gravity of both suns.


Eres un pendejo, sip. Busca una wircha que te algo bueno.