Get ready for a very spacey edition of Science Friday this week, with news from Carolyn Porco’s cosmic perspective to planet finding, real Trek tech, and a look inside Mercury. All of this along with our gadget of the week: universal remote. Computer, commence “Science Friday”!
Cassini Watch: Cassini and Trek’s Porco to Provide Cosmic Perspective
When the worldwide film event known as Pangea Day launches this Saturday, May 10, Cassini imaging team leader and Star Trek’s science advisor, Carolyn Porco, will help to provide an inspiring perspective on humanity’s place in the cosmos. Pangea Day is a global event intended to bring the world together through film and will link locations around the world for powerful films, live music and visionary speakers. The entire four-hour program will be broadcast in seven languages to millions of people worldwide on television, on the internet and over mobile phones. For more information about the event and where to watch, see PangeaDay.org
Pangea Day May 10th — Trailer
Planets By the Dozen
A NASA-supported sky survey set to begin this fall could dramatically increase the number of known planets outside our solar system. Astronomers will start a massive search for new planets by observing about 11,000 nearby stars over 6 years. This number dwarfs the roughly 3,000 stars that astronomers have searched to date for the presence of planets. Scientists estimate that the NASA-funded project, called MARVELS (Multi-object Apache Point Observatory Radial Velocity Exoplanet Large-area Survey), will find at least 150 new planets—perhaps many more. via Science@NASA
Artist’s conception of exoplanets around their star
More Real Trek Tech: Space Station Tricorder
On the International Space Station, astronauts are carrying an experimental device that looks strikingly similar to a Trek tricorder to keep track of microscopic life forms aboard the ISS. LOCAD-PTS, short for Lab-On-a-Chip Application Development Portable Test System is the first step along the path to developing something akin to those used by our favorite CMO‘s. But while tricorders could do almost anything from checking vital signs to finding alien life, LOCAD is a little more specialized: “LOCAD is specifically designed to detect and identify microbes on space station surfaces.” via Science@NASA
Astronaut Suni Williams uses LOCAD-PTS aboard the ISS
Iron ‘Snow’ Helps Maintain Mercury’s Magnetic Field
New scientific evidence suggests that deep inside the planet Mercury, iron “snow” forms and falls toward the center of the planet, much like snowflakes form in Earth’s atmosphere and fall to the ground. The movement of this iron snow could be responsible for Mercury’s mysterious magnetic field, say researchers. Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system, is the only terrestrial planet other than Earth that possesses a global magnetic field. via ScienceDaily
NASA Needs Astronauts
So with all that space news are you ready to go to the final frontier yourself? With the impending retirement of the Shuttle fleet and a 5 year gap before the new Orion launch vehicle comes on line, NASA is losing too many astronauts. For the first time in its history, NASA is actually actively recruiting space cadets with a new media campaign. The deadline for applications for the 2009 Class is July 1st. If you think you have the right stuff, there is more info on joining the program at NASA.gov, where it notes the travel requirements thusly “Possible destinations may include, but are not limited to, Texas, Florida, California, Russia, Kazakhstan, the International Space Station and the moon.” How cool is that?
Gadget of the Week: Universal Remote Concept
What if you could control everything in your home with a little handheld gadget? That’s what this universal remote by David Chacon got us thinking about, with its roomy screen — a nerve center right in your pocket. Simply called the Universal Remote, the device would be flash capable. With a touchscreen, the remote would allow you to change your television’s volume to turning on the oven or dimming the lights — and companies could create custom graphic user interfaces for a product, too.
It’s no, "Computer, lights," but it’s a start. See DVICE’s Gallery for more images.
The all in one concept remote
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Chemists Measure Chili Sauce Hotness with nanotubes. No, not those kind of nanotubes
- Scientists test Lunar breathing system
- Saturn’s atmosphere does the wave
- What’s waiting on Mars?
- NASA has scheduled a press conference to “announce the discovery of an object in our Galaxy astronomers have been hunting for more than 50 years.”