Science Friday: Anti-matter, Lunar Cemetery, Enceledus Water, ElecTrek Car + more

This week in Science Friday, we bring you a new Cassini Watch with intriguing results from the March 12th Enceladus flyby, ask the question, "Where’s all the anti-matter?", consider taking a final trip to the Moon, debate AI ethics, and present a very special Gadget of the Week: The Aptera! Intrigued? Read on!

Cassini Watch: Results from March 12th Flyby of Enceladus
On March 12th, Cassini flew by Saturn’s moon Enceladus to collect some samples of the liquid water plumes shooting from cracks on the surface of this frozen moon. This week, the results are in, and it looks like Enceladus may be an even more happening place for life than we thought. The water is warmer than predicted, meaning it is more likely that a liquid water ocean lies beneath the moon’s icy surface. Also, organic materials heavier and more complex than methane were measured in the plumes, strengthening the possibility of life on this icy body. Currently, there are no plans to send a lander to investigate possible life on here due to contamination hazards. But more and more information is being collected remotely, and it just keeps getting more interesting.

An image showing organic matter found in the plumes

Where’s All the Anti-Matter?
Anti-matter particles, as many of you know, are particles with identical masses but opposite charge from that of regular matter. In fact, if matter and anti-matter come into contact they will instantly annihilate each other in a huge explosion. These matter-antimatter reactions are what power Federation starships. But, particle physicists have found that antimatter is extremely rare in the universe. The discovery of possible new particles may help to explain this discrepancy. Similar to the way quarks are tiny particles within protons and neutrons, there may be undiscovered particles within particles called B mesons. While this hypothesis supports evidence about antimatter, some physicists are taking the findings with a grain of salt saying that these interactions could be caused by "run of the mill particles".

"Captain, my visor is picking up B mesons! We should reverse the polarity of the antimatter reaction matrix!"

Regolith in peace
If you have always dreamed of going to the moon, you may have your chance…but don’t expect to be sending home any post cards. Celestis, Inc., the company that sent the remains of Gene Roddenberry and James Doohan into space, has announced plans to take the next ‘leap.’ Possibly as soon as late this year you will be able to send a portion of your loved ones ashes to the moon. 1 gram will cost you $9,995 and for $29,985 you can have a ‘joint plot’ of two with a whole 14 grams. According to Celesist the ashes will remain within a capsule on the surface or the moon and wil not be dispersed. []

Your lunar lander…unfortunately not photon torpedo shaped

Gadget of the Week: The Aptera! The real life car featured in Star Trek?
Ten days ago, TrekMovie reported some new spy photos of the possible Starfleet Academy set, and "some wacky car" seen in these shots. This wacky car happens to be a real life hybrid car capable of attaining an astounding 300MPG! The futuristic car know as The Aptera is a unique 3-wheel, multiple-passenger vehicle with a composite safety cage (like those in Formula 1 cars); the two wheels in the front, one in the back, design reduces roll-over. The car has traction control and the production models will be able to exceed 85 miles per hour. The price? About $26,000. Not bad, really. See for more, and check out this video:

Are We Giving Robots Too Much Power?
Again, we follow up on another TrekMovie story, this time from last week’s Science Friday and the gadget of the week, BigDog. The frighteningly accurate movements of the all-terrain ultra-robot make you swear this thing were alive. The bot is equipped with a sort of artificial intelligence which allow it to make decisions autonomously. AI is a technology under heavy development, and we are seeing improvements all the time. But, is this technology dangerous? Even in the 23rd century, AI has been known to cause some problems. For more on this, ONN, our favorite non-trek news source reports. takes no position regarding President Executron

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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there was a great video i had seen earlier in the week that was about yet another person who on his quest to cure cancer figured out how to burn salt water. it was pretty cool…if i had the link i would have included it, sorry.

Commodore Lurker

Decloaking . . .
Science Friday — WhooHoo !!!!!
I can use my brain again.!??!
Thanks Kayla.


I was geting worried there Kayla……whew….the article is up.

Oregon Trek Geek

I posted something a few days ago about the Aptera being used on the ST set, and it was promptly deleted.


Its funny there is more chance for life on Enceledus than anywhere else and NASA is completely ignoring it..I dont buy the “contamination” thing..they are scared to find life ANYWHERE for the implications are too great..but lets keep the charade goin eh

Commodore Lurker

Decloaking . . .
Kayla, Simple and Complex organic molecules in a warmer than expected H2O –Wow! That is a finding of massive implications.

Ensign Ro- (Short for Roland)

#4 – I saw your post concerning the vehicle in the spy photos

#5 – May I ask what you think the real reason might be for not exploring the possibilty first-hand? Do you think it’s just a typical “we as a government don’t fund such extravagent other-worldly projects”? Or maybe the implications scare a bible-thumping Republican administration? I’m not trying to insult anyone’s religious beliefs…I’m just curious.

And Kayla, once again…very interesting and thought-provoking articles which I thoroughly enjoy from week-to-week. Thank you.


OK, a question directed at any/all of you Cliff Clavin-esque purveyors of useless minutiae out there: what does a complete – breasts, wings, leg quarters, and giblets – creamated human carcass weigh in at? Maybe I won’t make it to the moon while I’m still alive, but the insurance company can make sure I do after I’m room temperature.


I am waiting to see how long it takes people to understand the Onion News Network video.

Rhett Coates

I suppose that white car has transparent aluminum for windows…………. otherswise, I’ll shop around for another. SAFETY FIRST, you know.

#8 ;-P


God love The Onion.

Commodore Lurker

THX — The Onion News IS REAL !!!! Please don’t shatter my faith in American journalism like that. After all, MSNBC even correctly identified Doctor Spock the other thread.

Commodore Lurker

You got me so upset I forgot to Decloak and Recloak!!!

Kirk's Revenge

Commodore Lurker, I disabled your cloaking device with a well placed shot from a torpedo carrying equipment for studying gaseous anomalies.
Ha Ha


So, to Kirk, the Aptera is like a Model-T, right?

The Vulcanista

OMG! Love the Onion piece!

“All hail to our robot masters.”

Great stuff, Kayla!

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


5. trekofficial – March 28, 2008
“Its funny there is more chance for life on Enceledus than anywhere else and NASA is completely ignoring it..I dont buy the “contamination” thing..they are scared to find life ANYWHERE for the implications are too great..but lets keep the charade goin eh”

You think there’s a conspiracy within NASA to NOT find life?

Oh please…

Hat Rick

President Executron “merely appealing to its ‘kill all humans’ base.” LOL! Bender Rodriguez from Futurama would be proud!


The Robot Overlords approve. Cloaking device has been restored to Commodore Lurker. We control the vertical. We control the horizontal.

Commodore Lurker

15 Kirk’s Revenge . . . how did you know I am a gaseous anomalie ???
You type in a familiar manner Kirk’s Revenge. Doth we knowest youst by Any Other Name ???
Damn cloaking device won’t work Captain. Ratz !!!


(dude, the Robot Overlords fixed it. look up. no, not above your head, look at the post above yours)


Kayla there are some who theorize that Antimatter may have been more plentiful in earliest history of or universe and I recall reading some theory that suggested that the big bang itself may have been started by a matter antimatter reaction. As for artificially producing antimatter everything I ve read suggest that Producing even tiny amounts of anti matter is a difficult tasks for us now. Which is a good thing because antimatter is potentially for more dangerous then anything nuclear.


I’m a Republican. I read the Bible. I’d love to find life on other planets. Why couldn’t God do elsewhere what he’s done here?


Gotta say I love the Aptera concept. Course, the problem with these plug in cars is they use electricity that’s generated by burning coal and oil. Still, it’s a cool think outside the box concept.

Kirk's Revenge

Commodore Lurker is back in action.
We will meet again…
(insert egomaniacal laugh)
go to warp

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The Onion piece was funny, but in all seriousness…

1. AI in the current sense should not be conflated with ‘real’ intelligence or sentience. No matter what the hard-AI camp wants to believe, and have us all believe, intelligence is not simply an extrapolation of the purely syntactical, algorithm shuffling of today’s AI software. If the hard-AI camp’s reasoning were sound, then the thermostat in your home is already intelligent and sentient.

2. On the other hand, the U.S. military is about to give certain robots the power to decide autonomously whether any individual in a prescribed combat zone is an enemy or not, and allow them to shoot to kill in those circumstances. This is just around the corner, folks, but no one seems to care….

Hey there. Thanks for the shout out about the B-physics. Its something my research group are working on…

Its not so much that we’re trying to find new particles inside B mesons but measure a phenomenon called ‘CP violation’. This violation is the breaking of a symmetry, which itself would inform us as to why matter and antimatter are not symmetric in the universe.

Irish Terran

Romulan power cores make more sense than Federation warp cores!!!!


Talking about alternative energy…anyone keeping tabs on zero point energy research? Google zero point energy. There appears to be interesting breakthroughs going on.

Go Spock!

that is one wicked car…!!!


#27 We should be okay as long as those robots don’t start building baseships and raiders, and start believing they are the children of humanity…lol ;)

So when do we start building battlestars?


5. “Its funny there is more chance for life on Enceledus than anywhere else and NASA is completely ignoring it..I dont buy the “contamination” thing..they are scared to find life ANYWHERE for the implications are too great..but lets keep the charade goin eh”

7. “…Or maybe the implications scare a bible-thumping Republican administration? I’m not trying to insult anyone’s religious beliefs…I’m just curious.”

I think the more likely explanation is the enormous cost involved in a follow-up mission. This isn’t to say that NASA or some other earth space agency won’t revisit Enceledus in the future but look at where we are currently in space exploration. The space shuttle (long overdue for replacement) is scheduled for retirement soon and NASA has nothing in production currently to replace it. That means NASA astronauts will have to hitch rides with the Russians for the next few years to the space station. We haven’t been back to the moon in decades because of costs. In fact, humans haven’t been out more than 100 miles or so beyond earth’s surface in all that time since. Truthfully, the American public is much more willing to spend billions on fixing the problems here on earth than spending billions on science.

To assume that the religious right is behind some conspiracy to roadbloak the search for life in space is giving those guys far more power than they have. If this were true it would be more likely that our conservative-minded and openly religious right-wing president would never have proposed a permanent moon base (which he did) and would’ve instead done something tantamount to shutting down NASA, JPL and SETI.

As to NASA “completely ignoring it”, this news just came out! It’s not like we’ve known for years of the potential for life on Enceledus. I think more money has been bet on life on Jupiter’s moon Europa until these new findings came back. And we still haven’t been back to Europa yet (though it is being discussed; again, the cost is considerable).

In the end, when life is found elsewhere in the galaxy in whatever form, there won’t be any denying or hiding of the fact. Just like cloning, it will become a huge debate with the right scrambling to stall further study, but give it a generation or two and that short-sighted, small-minded clique will have to accept reality. Then the few remaining disbelievers will be just like those rare wackos who claim we never landed on the moon in the first place!

Irish Terran

As soon as we’ve discovered our planets actually called Caprica or Virgon or some thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marian C.

I like this…really ‘ wacky car’ ..!!!


Kayla based on these findings I think they will find life on Enceledus. maybe simple micro organisms or who knows a complex ecosystem similar to vent ecosystems On Earth. Just the possibility alone is something to get excited about. It would be comforting to know for sure that life exists beyond our world.


The Enceladus findings are very exciting to date.Hopefully the issue regarding contamination hazards will be overcome in the not to distant future so that a lander mission may be considered.The cosmic explosion on march 19 last was truly remarkable particlarly when you consider that it occured 7.5 billion years ago half way across the universe and that it was visible to the naked eye for a short period of time.Thanks for the updates Kayla.

Commodore Lurker

Decloaking . . .
#27 “On the other hand, the U.S. military is about to give certain robots the power to decide autonomously whether any individual in a prescribed combat zone is an enemy or not, and allow them to shoot to kill in those circumstances. This is just around the corner, folks, but no one seems to care….”

Commodore Lurker is a former soldier who held a rifle in his hands in hostile territory. THX-1138 is a former US Marine combat vet. And Doug, who just posted from Kuwait on the “Calander” thread is on his way to Afghanistan.

I’m quite sure all three of us agree we’d much rather have the robots do all the warfighting.

If we go to war with Iran, you should be glad about the robots. Because, if you’re under 32 years of age YOU WILL BE DRAFTED!

Wake up kid, let the bots to the killing, you’ll be glad they did.

And that my friends is a . . .


Encel*a*dus. Not that it really matters… it’s an Ancient Greek name, and they’re dead.

Puhhhhhhhlease about NASA “ignoring” the potential for life on Enceladus. Nobody expected to find water vulcanism there. The Cassini mission team is doing its best to make the most of every pass of Enceladus with the instruments available. A followup mission to Saturn to focus on Titan and Enceladus is surely forthcoming and moving way up the list.

These missions aren’t built overnight, you know. Plus, we don’t have engines that instantly take us to Saturn like the old intro sequence to TNG. It just ain’t so.

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#32 — Me, I’d probably be naive enough to be seduced by a frakking toaster and give away the defense codes… though not by #6, ’cause she doesn’t do it for me, but #3, D’Anna, on the other hand…)