Science Friday: Low Budget Edition

In this economy, you got to look to ways to save money…so this Science Friday takes a look at some low budget science including going to space in a microcraft (if you don’t mind the claustrophobia), making buildings on the moon without water, outsourcing moon missions to India and getting your X-Rays with Scotch Tape. And with all that money you save, you can afford the gadget of the week: the walking robotic plant of the future!


Micro Spacecraft to Blast Stupid Brave Rider Into Space
If you are truly desperate to get into space, Copenhagen Suborbitals has a crazy plan to cram you into the nosecone of a minuscule missile, blasting you into space and returning you safely to Earth, all by your lonesome self. The entire tip of the nosecone is transparent, showing the rider a magnificent view of the rapidly approaching cosmos. If this interests you, be my guest, but being smashed into a tiny transparent coffin described as having “only limited arm movement” and shot into space at 3G forces isn’t really my cup of tea.

This is not the way I want to die

“Waterless” Concrete Seen As Building Block on Moon
A recently published article demonstrates a concept of creating concrete structures on the lunar surface without the use of water. Traditional concrete comprises a binder — cement and water — mixed with aggregates. While some parts of the Moon may have water, that resource may be more valuable for astronaut’s consumption rather than building structures. Research shows that those astronauts can turn to a new type of waterless concrete that uses lunar soil as the aggregate and sulfur as a binding agent. This is helping pave the way for future long-term lunar missions and the building of a lunar base.

New concrete for lunar buildings

India Launches First Mission to the Moon

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the Moon, was successfully launched the morning of October 22 in Sriharikota, India and was injected into a highly elongated orbit around the Earth. This marked the beginning of Chandrayaan-1’s journey to the Moon, which will culminate with a major maneuver– the lunar orbit insertion – in about two weeks. Two NASA instruments which will assess lunar minerals and ice deposits are onboard the craft and will help pave the way for future lunar missions. More info…

X-Rays From Scotch Tape
Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape. It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers. So is this a health hazard for unsuspecting tape-peelers? No X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation. Read the article in Nature.

A sticky new way to get X-ray particles

Gadget of the Week: Robotic Plant that Finds the Sun
If your poor, mistreated plant had legs, it would walk itself in front of the sun and out from the dank corner that it sits, slowly drying up and dying. Unfortunately for your plant, evolution hasn’t decided that legs are a priority for plants. Fortunately for it, however, we live in the age of robots, so you can just go ahead and finish the job that evolution started. Introducing the first robot plant that finds the sun and stays alive, despite your neglect.

The walking robotic plant of the FUTURE!

Video of the Week: 1,000mph Rocket Car
Get out of the way, everybody, because here comes Bloodhound, the world’s fastest car. The British-designed Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car) was unveiled in London today, with plans for a record-breaking supersonic run in 2011. The 42-foot land rocket will reach Mach 1.4 when it blasts across an as-yet undetermined desert, zipping along at a speed that’s literally faster than a speeding bullet.

Picture of the Week: NGC 7331
This striking image of the well-studied NGC 7331 galaxy was produced using data from the Calar Alto Observatory in southern Spain. Perhaps the deepest view of the region yet, the image data were processed to reveal sharp details of all sizes in both bright and faint areas. More info…

Science Link of the Week: Stargazing with the Mars Rovers
This website of Spirit Nighttime Observations displays some impressive imagery taken by the Mars Rover’s cameras pointed skyward. Check out the great photos of meteors, stars, and Mars’s moons. Thanks Leon for the tip!

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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The whole waterless concrete thing fascinates me and I’m not even clear on why :) Awesome.

Oh God, dare I say? ….. FIRST!!!

I really like the pic of NGC-7331. As a former Astronomy major in college, I think it’s beautiful. However, the thought of riding a rocket as wide as I am and only a glass dome between me and certain doom scares the living bejezus out of me!!!

By the way, is it May ’09 yet? :)

I forgot about the waterless concrete. Talk about b!tchin’!!!

By the way, anybody here ever hear of “pycrete”?

going just from history channel memory and not doing a wiki search, i remember pycrete (sp?) as a substance made out of sawdust that when frozen with water makes a kind of floating concrete you can make islands out of….there was some crazy British plan in WWII to make a giant air craft carrier out of it IFRC.

another great SF Kayla

its not even friday yet here in hawaii!!

I’m still waiting for galaxy NCC-1701 to be discovered…

“It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation.”

Duh! Talk about vacuum in my office :D Not so rare occurance ;) Should I start to fear good ol’ Scotch (I mean the tape not the Scotty’s favorite ;) )

The X-ray tape, that is simply ……ASTOUNDING. That’s the type of stuff that I love reading about.

Thank you, from all of us brown thumbs out here.

So that’s what that new restaurant is: Chandrayaan’s Curry in a Hurry

Great low-budget round-up, Kayla.

Does that sun-light seeking robot work on cats too? I know my cat would love to not have to get up every half hour to move into the patch of warm afternoon sunlight any longer. What a chore that is.

“If this interests you, be my guest, but being smashed into a tiny transparent coffin described as having “only limited arm movement” and shot into space at 3G forces isn’t really my cup of tea.”

Awww…where is your sense of adventure? ;-) I bet B’Elanna Torres would do it (with safety protocols disengaged).

Um, if you’re in a standing position with your head at the tip of the rocket, wouldn’t all of your blood get forced down to your feet, causing you to pass out, when the rocket launches?

GraniteTrek —
You’d be to busy vomitting from the motion sickness and then vomitting from the smell of your own vomit to notice the blood loss.

The rocket car:
That’s pretty cool but…
Perhaps that the reason, because it’s cool.
And they didn’t show how they plan to stop.

That tiny rocket — just the cure for my combination acro/claustrophobia!

RE: #12 – Granite: notice the stylish green leggings on that poor piece of Spam in the can up there? I’m guessing that’s a pressure system to keep the blood from squirting out of your toes and your brain from shriveling up like a raisin on launch.

I love robots … creepy, creepy sun-seeking robots….

Scott B. out.

Wow, micro-spacecraft! To boldly go where only sardines have gone before…

No, seriously, I’m certain there will be lots of enthusiasts who will buy this (if it is reasonably safe and tested). But count me out, I’m acro-claustrophobic, too.

Here’s a question:

Why did they have scotch tape in a vacuum to begin with? Did someone just get bored…. or did they actually have a hypothesis.

That should be “hypothesis?”

Also, I think I want to go into space in one of those microcapsules. Call me an idiot, but it sounds fun. Stupid, but fun.

They couldn’t even get poor Scotty’s ashes in space and back safely, and someone would trust them to put them into space inside a tylenol capsule?

Someone will be attention-hungry enough to try it, though. They’ll die.

The bullet against the car reminded me of “Rat Race”. Also, love the sun finding robot.

A one-man rocket? Uhhhh… I think CmdrR’s comment should be printed in tha’ recruitin’ brochure ta’ curb fears… One fluid distracts from another so no worries, brave barfy soul…

I don’t be needin’ me plants ta’ go aboot humpin’ tha’ furniture… Bad plant! Oh, no- it’s hooked up tha’ rocket car ta’ itself!


are you kidding!!!

sign me up for the one-man rocket missions please.

Soooo how is one supposed to get back down to earth (safely) in the rocket ride?

Oh, you want to come back DOWN, ensign joe?

Sheesh. Didn’t you read the title of this thread?

Enjoy your ride! :-)

Scott B. out.

uh uh.. no way.. I rather sit back and watch how it scrambles somebody else’s molecules.. the scotch tape that is.. I’m all about the roller coaster rides :P

Well, I hope they run the Bloodhound out at Black Rock Desert in Nevada where the Thrust and other propulsion-based vehicles have been run (the surface is generally too soft for high-speed wheel -driven vehicles).

I live close to this desert and have used it for photo and video shoots, camping and shenanigans. I missed the run of Thrust and would love to see a similar ‘event’.

The link in
Dr. Atomic puts science into song
actually links to the tape thing.

I dunno about anyone else…but I’d actually go for that tiny rocket thing.

@27 My bad! Here is a link to the Doctor Atomic website!

If you go for the rocket ride, are you allowed to bring scotch tape?

Do NOT, let me say it again, do NOT get in that Micro Spacecraft wearing a red shirt!

Hey, a little research…

Looks like this is being cooked up by the same crew who made Thrust and Thrust SSC… Too cool.

Mr Noble most certainly knows of the Black Rock Desert. It may not be long and smooth enough for this car! ( uh, you can see the curvature of the earth, it’s so big and flat, but hey distances go by fast at M1.4…)

Coming home to find that ‘Triffid-like’ thing scuttling about would freak me out….

Nice pic of the deep galaxies, you can never tire of those.

Go Bloodhound….go! Makes yer proud to be British….even if it is madness….though not as mad as that single spacerocket torpedo….

Another nice round-up of the sublime and the the ridiculous.

“but being smashed into a tiny transparent coffin described as having “only limited arm movement”

Hey, I’ve already flown Air Canada, so this seems a much more civilized way to travel .. zzzzing!

Nosecone?? I saw Gus Grissom’s Mercury Spacecraft a few years ago and a person of medium size could barely fit inside the cramped interior.
Think I’ll leave this ride to the daredevils!

Hey, #4… HMS Habbakuk. Winston Churchill was reportedly so impressed by the fact that this stuff wouldn’t melt in his tub, decided to build and aircraft carrier out of it, but the war ended before it could be completed.


You’d wear a G-suit. Squeezes blood from your legs back up to your vitals.

That micro-spacecraft looks like a hell of a ride. I’d do it if I didn’t hate the idea of somebody explaining my explosive death to my son.

Chris Pike:

There’s no NGC 1701 but NGC 1700 is the Epsilon Eridani system (you know, where Spock’s from). *lol*