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. [SPACE.com]
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 Aptera.com 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.
TrekMovie.com takes no position regarding President Executron
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- CERN and the grand superconducting experiment
- Follow that up with an interesting take on the Large Hadron Collider
- World’s first movie of a black hole birth
- NASA’s Science Chief resigns unexpectedly