Science Friday: Hadron a go, Invisibility a no? + Martian sky, Microsurgeons + more

Physicists are getting fidgety over next week’s launch of the Large Hadron Collider. In addition, new pseudo Trek Tech is in the works with an anti-invisibility cloak, and some micromachines are ready surgery. Plus, see the Phoenix Mars Lander’s latest theatrical masterpiece, find out why all of your silver wear is mysteriously sliding towards Florida, and more.

Large Hadron Collider Still Slated For Sept. 10th Launch
As you know from last week’s Science Friday, critics who say the world’s largest atom-smasher could destroy the world brought their claims to courtrooms in Europe and the United States. Although the claims are getting further consideration, neither court will hold up next week’s official startup of the Large Hadron Collider, still slated for Wednesday September 10th. The pre-ignition tests performed on the beam were successful, and it looks like all is going according to plan. Take a look at the video below which is becoming popular around the interwebs. It’s good for a laugh or two.

CERN Rap from Will Barras on Vimeo.

Anti-Invisibility Cloak In The Works
In 2006, the first reports of a real life invisibility cloak surfaced. Although it was commonly compared to Harry Potter’s cloak and Romulan cloaking devices, the real thing can only make something seem relatively “invisible” on a narrow band of microwaves. Researchers have hoped, however, that this could lead eventually to radar-evading ships, planes, or submarines. With that, the Chinese are now working on an anti-invisibility device to see through the cloak by coming into contact with the inner surface of the cloaking device’s refractive material. To some extent, it’s a matter of scientific one-upsmanship. See the video below of a report which came out after the first “cloak” made headlines.

Try to ignore the fact that they say “Romulans” but show Klingons. Can’t they tell the difference?

Phoenix Takes “Video” of Martian Sky
A series of still images taken by the Phoenix Mars Lander — who’s still sniffing soil samples by the way — of water-ice clouds sailing overhead on the Red Planet has been turned into a short animation by NASA mission scientists. “The images were taken as part of a campaign to see clouds and track wind.,” said Mark Lemmon, the lead scientist for the lander’s Surface Stereo Imager, which snapped the pictures of the clouds during a 10-minute period last Friday. Particles of water-ice make up these clouds, like ice-crystal cirrus louds on Earth. Ice hazes have been common at the Phoenix site in recent days.

Animation of the Martian sky taken by the Phoenix Lander

Microgrippers Could Perform Surgery With No Incisions Necessary
As Star Trek has shown us, future surgical procedures might be a lot less invasive thanks to some downright-amazing new medical technologies. New devices, called microgrippers, could be swallowed by a patient and then activated via chemicals and magnets to do surgery inside the body with no incisions necessary. Maybe one day they will be deployed by hypospray? The microgrippers require no electricity to run, and they’re powered by chemicals that are harmless to the human body. We’ll see how big an impact these have on future medical procedures, but it’s certainly an exciting development.

Click to see the Microgripper in action in this video!

World’s Most Powerful Magnet Under Construction In Florida
Multiply the magnetic field strength of a refrigerator magnet by 2 million and you’ll be in the ballpark of the strength of the magnet being created at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. When completed later this year, the pulsed electromagnet will reach 100 tesla: the holy grail of magnetic field strength (That’s about 67 times as high as a typical MRI!) The primary research will test the properties of high-temperature superconductors. A 100-T magnet would also let you conduct certain zero-gravity experiments without traveling into space and let you develop magnetic propulsion systems that could eventually replace those that burn rocket fuel.

The 100-T magnet set to be the world’s strongest

Gadget of the Week: Stimuli 3.0: The Very Cool, Very Sci-Fi Lamp That Adjusts To Its Environment
Here’s a design concept that shows some unusual thinking on the part of its creator, Chris Natt: What if you fitted a smart lamp with petals that open and close like a flower? The result is Stimuli 3.0, a shape-shifting device that measures ambient light and adjusts its illumination accordingly, using a three-axis gearbox. It also looks like some really sweet sci-fi prop. This is one oddball lamp, one that would go great in my spaceship.

The Stimuli 3.0


Science Quickies
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I hope that magnet doesn’t go breaking tech for miles around!

The LHC is like a really big phaser , set on destroy universe?
Hope not….
greetings from San Carlos de Bariloche ARG,

In the headline… should be Invisibility, not Invisability…

Of course the ability to be Invisible, could be punned as “Invis-ability”.

The LHC means we may not get to see the new Star Trek. Oh well, nice chattin’ with you folks.

#4: Maybe the LHC will only obliterate HALF the planet?

Romulans sure look like Klingons…

If I miss the new ST movie because the universe as we know it ends on Sept. 10th, I am going to be mighty pissed.

#7 If the universe ceases to exist because of the LHC, you most likely won’t even know it!!

Friends, I think you not have to worry too much about the LHC, if LHC did make a black hole, it would be very small, with and event horizon much smaller then a hydrogen atom. It would fall into the earth and oscillate for a few million years until finally coming to rest at the center. For all we know, there may be lots of microscopic black holes floating around inside the earth.

If hawking radiation exists, then it would radiate the people at the LHC with powerful gamma rays. But this could be a good thing, if it could be duplicated and the black hole could be contained, it would be a great power source. Don’t worry boys and girls, all will be fine.

Yea, wouldn’t like it if the LHC destoryed the Earth, I really want to see JJ new Trek movie. The finshed product.

#9.”if it could be duplicated and the black hole could be contained, it would be a great power source. ”

Just like Romulans. :D

11, true like the romulans. A black hole would be a better source of energy then anti-matter.

Just a dumb question here. Would it be possible to somehow attract larger black holes to our area of the galaxy by repeatedly making baby black holes? I mean black holes are not stationary, they roam around the galaxy. It has also been said that the smaller the black hole, the more powerful it is. Or I could be wrong… can someone explain.

13, smaller black holes emit more energy then larger black holes, though there gravitational attraction is less. As for attracting larger black holes with smaller black holes, I don’t see how this is possible. If Mount Everest was compacted into a black hole, it would have an event horizon about the size of an atom, if that. You probably hardly feel it tugging on you if you was a few feet away, though you would get fried by gamma radiation.


hahah LOL, maybe the Romulans where cloaked on the Klingon bridge

has anyone read the article @

in there it says “Professor Rössler claims that, in the worst case scenario, the earth could be sucked inside out within four years of a mini black hole forming. ”

Today’s Date is 9/5/08…

The end of the Mayan calendar falls on December 21, 2012.

‘Large Hadron Collider Still Slated For Sept. 10th Launch’

Well, if Switzerland is still there on September 11th, I guess we taxpayers won’t have to fund their silly-assed lawsuit, will we? On the other hand, if Geneva is a billion-ton cinder the size of a pinhead, I doubt a lawsuit will fix things.



The December 21, 2012 end date of the Mayan calendar is a misconception. There are dates marked going all the way to the year 4000.

And also, the LHC won’t be at full power until well into 2009. When it’s put into operation on Wednesday, it’ll be at the same power as the Tevatron.

Yo! The LHC is super duper fly!!

I want one of those oddball lamps. I’d put it on my desk at work. Talk about a conversation piece!

If the universe as we know it ends on Sept. 10th, then I think I’ll wait until the 11th to pay my credit card bill….

#14. Hey Wick, thank you for the reply. Sounds reasonable and I could see the benefit of the power that will be produced if successful. Still, I’d like the benefit of say having these experiments being done offworld. On the moon perhaps. Or in orbit, aboard the ISS maybe. Another thing, its about that giant magnet they are building. Any conspiracy theories about its location being so near to the Bermuda Triangle? LOL

@22 The LHC is contained in a 27 kilometer [17 mile] circumference tunnel located underground, so it might be hard to do it on the ISS :-P

As for the black hole inquiry earlier, remember: black holes only have as much gravitational pull as does the mass which it contains. If a mountain turned into a black hole, it would have the same gravitational pull as a mountain, it would just be teeny tiny. Conservation of mass/energy! The strength in black holes is in how concentrated their gravitational pull is. So, a black hole the size of a star or a billion stars (as black holes are) would, under non-black hole conditions, have enough mass to span a bazillion (getting into technical scientific terms here) times more area.

@ #20

me too!!!!

Q: Do you know how the universe ends?
A: One of our scientist has an experiment and when he presses the button all time and space ends…
Q: Why don’t you stop him?
A: He always has pressed the button we always let him press the button…

[with apologies to Kurt Vonnegut]

The Hadron Collide kind of makes global warming look like a milkshake….

…looks like I picked the wrong week to stop emitting chlorofluorocarbons…

Where can I get me one of those lamps??????

Any popular confusion between Romulans and Klingons is the fault of the Trek movie-makers who decided to call something a “Klingon Bird of Prey.”

Give the laymen a break. :-)

Scott B. out.

doesnt anyone find the fact that theyre gonna start that inane large hadron collider 1 day before 9/11/08 very creepy? and what about that huge magnet? is that gonna fry my cell phone or computer? true it might not be an emp generator but its bound to have some effect…and that hadron thing opens black holes…it might not destroy the world but perhaps it will unleash all the demon armies of hell uopn the world? btw i mean spirit demons, not demons like in buffy the vampire slayer, angel, and hellboy

Don’t worry, Shinzon. Magnetism’s power drops off very rapidly with distance. And the chances of the hadron collider having the horsepower to create a self-sustaining, stable black hole that swallows the Earth is remote indeed.

Now, demons … I fully believe the demon count will increase due to the collider activity. Slippery little buggers.

Scott B. out.

You know everyone, when they first decided to test the nuclear bombs, the scientist were concerned that the explosion would ignite the oxygen in the air and rip away the atmosphere. Yet, they went ahead and did it… MANY TIMES! Somehow, we are still here. More or less…

The LHC = Atom Bomb Testing. (I Hope.)

that was supposed to be ‘scientists’.

The rap was cute but at least 2 minutes too long. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the very brief appearance of obscure Marvel super-villain Graviton.