This week on Science Friday, get updated on the latest antics of the Large Hadron Collider, a now void contract for NASA’s next-gen space suits, how Hubble is solving galactic mysteries, and an advance towards “micro-spacecraft”. All this plus our gadget of the week: The Ultimate Music Box, and our video of the week: Lightning in Slow-Mo!
Doomsday Debate Over Large Hadron Collider
Earlier this month, TrekMovie reported the upcoming launch of the world’s largest atom smasher (who’s launch date is now Sept. 10th). Since then, speculation that the LHC has the potential to “destroy the world” has been building, and has escalated to a civil lawsuit by former nuclear safety official Walter Wagner and science writer Luis Sancho, who say the officials in charge of the LHC at the CERN particle-physics center have not fully considered the possibility that the collider could create globe-gobbling black holes or other catastrophes of cosmic proportions. The defendants, including CERN and the U.S. Department of Energy, say the doomsday worries are pure science fiction – and have cited a series of safety reports concluding that the Large Hadron Collider poses no global threat. The hearing is scheduled to begin in Hawaii on Sept. 2, just a week before the atom smasher’s official debut.
A simulation shows the pattern of particles that could be produced by a microscopic black hole.
NASA Voids Contract For Next Generation Space Suits
In June, TrekMovie reported on the $745 million contract between NASA and Oceaneering, the company slated to design the next generation of NASA space suits to protect astronauts during Constellation Program voyages to the International Space Station and, by 2020, to the surface of the moon. Now, however, it appears that a complaint concerning NASA’s bidding process will bring the deal to a halt. No word yet on what NASA plans to do for future space wear.
No more awesome looking space suits from Oceaneering
Hubble Images Solve Galactic Filament Mystery
NGC 1275, 235 million light-years from Earth, has posed a puzzle: How have these filaments, made of gas much cooler than the surrounding intergalactic cloud, persisted for perhaps 100 million years? Why haven’t they warmed, dissipated or collapsed to form stars? Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, with 10 times the resolution of earlier photographs, reveal that the filaments, about 1,500 light-years wide and hundreds of thousands of light-years long, are themselves made of finer threads. The cold gas is pushed out by waves of radiation emanating from the super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Small is relative, of course. Each thread contains as much mass as one million Suns.
The HST image of galaxy NGC 1275
Sniffing for cancer
Over a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the US alone. It is already known that dogs are able to sniff out melanomas and now new research has identified the distinct organic chemicals that indicate cancer. According to WebMD, scientists are now hoping for a ‘Star Trek tricorder-like device’ that can detect (or electronically sniff out) the cancer. Such a device would negate the need for often-painful biopsies, which is the current method of diagnosis.
New beach pickup line: "I am just scanning for readings"
Key Advance Toward ‘Micro-spacecraft’
Fleets of inexpensive, pint-sized spacecraft are one giant leap closer to lift off. Researchers at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society describe a new, razor thin temperature-regulating film that brings this sci-fi vision of “micro-spacecraft” weighing barely 50 pounds and 10-pound “nano-spacecraft” closer to reality. “We don’t have the processes in space to remove excess heat or keep the spacecraft warm in excess cold,” says Prasanna Chandrasekhar, Ph.D. “It may sound very trivial, but controlling the temperature of a spacecraft is absolutely crucial.
New ‘Micro-spacecraft’ could be about the size of an average birthday cake
Gadget of the Week: The Ultimate Music Box – KDDI AU’s transforming concept phone
Always keeping one eye on the future, Japan’s KDDI AU Design Project has a fresh batch of concept devices on display in Tokyo. Perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch is a phone called the Box To Play. The sleek concept phone combines a cell phone (with all the normal calling and camera features you’d expect) along with a sort of music device which appears to include a tiny embedded turntable that allows you to scratch the music playing on the phone. Via AU Design Project.
The Japanese transforming music phone
Video of the Week: Lightning in Slow Motion
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Phoenix Mars Lander just keeps on diggin’!
- Great slideshow of Cassini images: Icy Moon, Mysterious Jets
- Intel demos a wireless power broadcasting system
- Man-sized grouper declared new species