Science Friday: Enceladus Water, Solar Wind, Healthy Coffee and…um…Ancient Poop?

This week’s Science Friday is full of interesting science news, but, isn’t it always? We bring you a look into future Enceladus missions with the Cassini Watch, a lesson in ancient Bajoran inter-planetary travel thanks to a new discovery about our Sun, how coffee can keep you healthy, and the “poop” on 14,000 year old fossils, along with an exciting new gadget of the week: the Senisphere.

Cassini Watch: Future Enceladus Missions
Last week Science Friday brought reports from the findings on the recent super-close flyby of Eneladus, a moon of Saturn which is thought to be very likely to contain life. Recent spectral analyses of the water jets coming from cracks in the icy moon have strengthened this life-supporting hypothesis. The next major event for Enceladus won’t be until August with a mission designed to allow extremely high resolution images of the surface sources of the jets. Will we actually see open vents? Or clear signs of deposition on the surface? In 4.5 months, we’ll know. Visit CICLOPS for more.

The north polar region of Enceladus

Source of Solar Wind Discovered
The solar wind consists of electrically charged particles that flow out from the Sun in all directions. These particles are moving at very high velocities with large amounts of energy. They cause the northern and southern aurorae and can even interfere with satellites when in contact with Earth’s magnetosphere. Using the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), scientists have linked the movements of the Sun’s magnetic field to the hot gas which escapes from the sun as the solar wind. This could be useful for the implementation of real life Bajoran Lightships. Solar sails, however, do have their limits, and, with what is currently known of their physics, can be very inefficient. XKCD suggests a laser elevator in an article with some informative figures involving levitating a squirrel. For more, see Science Daily.

A Bajoran Lightship utilizing the power of the solar wind!

A Coffee a Day Keeps the EMH Away?
In a recent study, scientists have found that a daily dose of caffeine blocks the disruptive effects of high cholesterol linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Just one cup of coffee a day could protect the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which protects the central nervous system, from harmful colesterol. Caffeine appears to protect BBB breakdown by maintaining the expression levels of tight junction proteins. These proteins bind the cells of the BBB tightly to each other to stop unwanted molecules crossing into the central nervous system. Maybe that’s why Janeway is so sharp.

"Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised… I beat the Borg with it."

Archaeologists “Abuzz” Over 14,000 Year Old Poop
Yes, you read that headline correctly. Coprolites, or fossilized poop, are often a tool used by archaeologists and paleontologists to infer information about the dietary and ecological habits of the creatures that created them. Recently, scientists uncovered some human coprolites in an Oregon cave which have been described by their discoverers as, “remarkable for several reasons.” Their age suggests that the creators of said fossils were the earliest known Americans, strengthening the theory that humans travelled to the American continents via land bridge.

That’s some old crap!

Gadget of the Week: Senisphere Round Gesture Screen
For times when a simple 2D screen just won’t do, students from the University of Augsburg developed this spherically shaped touch-interactive display. The idea is similar to Microsoft Surface. And, while seemingly less functional for many practical applications, it takes the cake when it comes to digital globe simulation. Can we install one of these babies in astrometrics?

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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Man, coffee is awesome.

mmmmmmh, coffee, aaaaaaaaaaaarrgggghhhhh (drool)

I love coffee.

What about this news item about the time travel below?,2933,345234,00.html

The Vulcan Science Academy has determined that time travel while feasible is highly improbable.

As far as the poop, for the fossil to have survived 14,000 years it would have had to been a very large pile of it. IMO.

As Ian Malcolm would say, “That’s a large pile of s**t!”

Give me tea any day.

I agree… mmmmmmm…. coffee…. *drools*

Also, Jurassic Park is awesome. Though, we should never ever for the love of anything clone dinosaurs. It’s a bad idea.

Coffee… black. NOW.

Coffee, bleeh…

Give me Sweet Tea any day.

I guess I can look forward to contracting Alzheimer’s disease down the road.

I enjoy my Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

I really do.

Actually I believe solar sails are propelled not by solar wind but by photonic radiation pressure.

Aha found a source

(The Misunderstandings subsection)

Awesome finds as always though Kayla!

Tea also contains caffeine.
Now if caffeine manipulates gene expression, that should give us something to think about…

You could have included an article about the ESA ATV – it was pretty impressive. First unmanned auto docking cargo ship for the ISS. I think impressive enough to be included in this round-up at least!

They say that if you drink 5 cups of coffee a day for tweny years you will never get cancer, because the caffine from all the coffee will kill you long before you get old enough to get cancer.

Blech! Tea is disgusting. I’ll take some of that sweet, sweet coffee any day.

Ick, coffee. How can a drink that smells so wonderful taste THAT bad?

Still… chocolate has caffeine, right? And now that I’m armed with this new info, I can stick to my daily candy-bar and/or ice tea with an excuse. Thanks! :D

(And the bit about solar sails has my interest piqued big time… anyone ever see Treasure Planet? Total fantasy, but it still gets me excited to think there might be technology like that used someday.)

!!!Spoiler!!! from

“You get the birth, the childhood and beginning of the main characters before the five-year mission. That’s going to be great. You get a sense of where they came from and how they began. Plus anyone who is a lover of big action films is going to love this.” – Chris Pine

Captain Hackett — Fox stole that story from next week.

As for caffeine, does it have to be coffee? I’m from Atlanta. I like my caffeine cold, carbonated, and called Coke.

Happy FC Day, everyone!

If your coffee smells better than it tastes, it is probably cheap, crappy coffee. Or Starbucks- which is expensive, crappy coffee.

Great coffee is sweet and robust, not bitter and abrasive. But since most of us have never had great coffee…

Coffee, coffee is for weak humans!

Make mine Raktajino!

Note that the original klingon coffee is the ra’taj, which contains alcohol…


Mary Jane – April 4, 2008

Si — con leche!!!

*sipping a bottle of diet Pepsi here*

Good old-fashioned Eight O’Clock Coffee, french roast, “con leche.” We call it Crazy-8s coffee in my family.

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

he Vulcanista – April 4, 2008
Good old-fashioned Eight O’Clock Coffee, french roast, “con leche.” We call it Crazy-8s coffee in my family.

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

A: Can’t do that or I’m up all night.

Unless you meant in the AM

El Commodore is also a Tea Earl Gray Hot man meself, having one at the moment actually. (No, I don’t hold my pinky up.)

Cafe, even con mucho leche y azucar, makes the Denebian Slime Devil that I swollowed at the 1976 Boston Con do summersaults. Harlen Ellison told me it (the Denebian Slime Devil) would taste good. No one told me he was a bit of a prankster. I guess I should have read more of his work so that I would have understood the implications of: “It’ll Tick-Tock your Shatterday.”

Just drained the Earl, gotta make somemore before the tornados knock out the power.

Great work as usual Kayla! Damn cloaking device is on the fritz again . . . Yo! Mr. Scott . . . .

Hey, Mr. Orci, how about that post-wrap interview on ????

#27, 28: LOL! So you understand why we call it Crazy-8s coffee! You could launch payloads into space with that stuff. Absolutely not for consumption after 3:00 p.m.

But, damn, that’s some good coffee! I bet Juanita serves it down at The Diner.

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

Why are people talking about really old foeces?

#32 I dont know Irish Terran I thought this one about Bsg and other scif things, say did you see Battlestar? What an opening to the season that was.

#32 sorry Im in the wrong columne and did not realize it

Re: Time travel article,2933,345234,00.html

Read a little further and you will read that Mr. Kaku, the man behind this time travel story, was one of the first proponents of string theory. For those of you not too familiar with that theory, that severely limits his credibility. String theory, in my opinion, is NOT accepted enough or TESTED enough to be held as a theory and should not be considered so. Theory is a strong word in science, and string “theory” should be known as string “hypothesis” or string “idea” as it is completely untestable.

Just remember to take these things with a grain of salt ;-P

Sounds like it would be a fun read read. The thing about time travel assuming it is possible, that technology might not be beneficial to us, if you back in time and some how altered even the smallest thing in the past Poof, the end of us.however I am aware of the grandfather paradox comes into play then poof might not happen rather you change the past you create a diverging timeline.