This week in Science Friday we bring you news from the recent Enceladus flyby from the Cassini crew, a look at some baby stars, why the NASA chief refuses "to boldly go", whether or not the Grand Canyon is lying about its age, a new book outlining Trek possibilities, a gadget to solve all that talking when on the phone, and a tribute to an infinite day. Read on!
Porco: Enceladus Flyby "Unprecedented Triumph"!
Wednesday, we got a unique look at Cassini’s recent Enceladus flyby as it happened. Now, reports are coming in of Cassini’s "unprecedented triumph" in its mission. Valuable information about the south polar surface and the gaseous/particulate environment above was collected by Cassini’s particle analyzers, and Carolyn Porco and the team got some great images as well. “As always, it will take a bit of time for us to pull it all together and
take our results from a preliminary to a presentable state,” says Porco. We know the wait is excruciating, but in the mean time you can check out CICLOPS.org.
A raw, unprocessed image from the March 12th flyby
Organics and Water Found Around Baby Star
Scientists using the Spitzer space telescope (ahem…named for astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer) have discovered simple organic gases and water in a planet forming region surrounding an infant star, along with evidence that these molecules were created there. With new infrared spectrographic techniques created by the Naval Research Laboratory, scientists can point their sensors towards a star’s proto planetary disk — a stage in stellar evolution — and analyze the composition of the gasses there. These findings might give us a look at the beginnings of our Solar System, and new ways to detect life supporting planets abroad. See ScienceDaily for more.
Spitzer uses long range sensors to scan distant stars
NASA chief wanted Trek motto, balked at grammar
Apparently, "To boldly go where no man has gone before" was vetoed as a possible NASA motto due to the chief’s unwillingness to tolerate the slogan’s poor grammar. In a New Scientist blog, NASA administrator Mike Griffin revealed that bad grammar is one thing that really "pushes his buttons". He joked that Trek’s tag line would be great to use as NASA’s own mission statement, except that the split infinitive offends his inner pedant. As far as his run as NASA chief, Griffin commented, "I can’t grade my own paper," but gave it a go anyway saying that his greatest achievement has been putting space experts in top posts at NASA.
NASA administrator Mike Griffin
Parts of Grand Canyon May be 17 Million Years Old
Scientists have found new evidence by dating mineral formations in caves in the walls of the Grand Canyon that this giant chasm may in fact be three times older than previously thought. By measuring the uranium and lead isotope concentrations in the mineral layers, researchers can determine when they were deposited. Although some good data has been collected, many geologists are skeptical of the claims being made about the canyon’s age. “Data from the oldest of the cave formations might have been linked to the carving of canyons that predate the Grand Canyon,” notes Joel L. Pederson, a geomorphologist at Utah State University. See more at ScienceNews.
The Grand Canyon may or may not be older than previously thought
Is the impossible possible?
Noted theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku has a new book out called "Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel". New Scientist describes the book "The study of the impossible has opened up entirely new vistas for science…It is here that the book’s strength lies: the impossible is a gateway for discussing what we still do not quite understand, those grey areas that are surely the most fascinating part of physics." In the brief clip below, Kaku describes the book and how some of the things we see on Star Trek may be possible.
Is Trek tech doable?
Gadget of the Week: Audeo Neckband Allows Voiceless Phone Calls
You know what’s wrong with phone conversations? All that dang talking you have to do. Luckily for us, some scientists at Ambient Corporation are fixing that with their “Audeo” wireless neckband which taps into nerve signals being sent to vocal chords and vocalizes those “thoughts” for you. Users have to specifically think about voicing words so that the device may pick up on them. See a demonstration below.
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- New Discovery at Jupiter could help protect Earth-orbit satellites
- ESA’s First Resupply Ship begins its long journey to the ISS
- Ancient Skull Bears Mark of Brain Surgery
- Creatures Clone Selves in face of danger.
And lastly, Happy Pi Day from TrekMovie.com!
It is 3.14, and so today you can celebrate that wonderful number Pi.
Here are some links to help you PiDay celebration: ‘Official’ Pi Day site, Wiki Page, Songs, Limericks, Classroom activities, and Greeting Cards.
When you care enough to send the very nerdiest