Welcome to Science Friday! This week, learn about how Trek-like technology could protect astronauts, get the latest on Trek’s science advisor in our newest Cassini Watch, read Mars Phoenix’s favorite tombstone quotations, see spherical satellites working along side our astronauts in the ISS, and see TrekMovie’s favorite Trek and science Halloween costumes! All this plus our gadget of the week: the Fortis IQ Blackboard watch!
Trek-like Shield May Protect Future Astronauts
A powerful magnetic shield may be able to deflect dangerous solar radiation from spacecraft traveling to the moon and other planets, according to a new study. Magnets tested in a recent laboratory experiment could divert radiation safely, a discovery that’s “like Star Trek coming to life,” said Ruth Bamford, a plasma physicist. On Earth, us humans are protected from the Sun’s harmful radiation by the Earth’s magnetosphere. “With a journey to Mars, [radiation] is the most difficult problem,” said Bamford. “So the idea is, Why don’t we just bring a magnetosphere with us?” The idea of using magnetic fields as radiation shields was first proposed in the 1960s, but the concept languished until a resurgence of interest in manned expeditions to the moon and Mars. More info…
Shields up! The Enterprise demonstrates how a magnetic field can protect against harmful radiation
Cassini Watch: Latest Enceladus Flyby Results in Great New Images
Cassini’s last skeet shoot maneuver executed during its close flyby of Enceladus on October 31, 2008 resulted in another bounty of very high resolution views of the south polar terrain and its famed tiger stripes. “We don’t encounter Enceladus again, up close, for another year,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini Imaging Team Leader and Star Trek‘s science advisor. “At that time the sun will be slipping below the horizon as seen from the south pole. So, take your fill of these images now because you won’t see anything like them for a long while.” See CICLOPS.org for more!
Image “footprints” of latest Enceladus flyby
Mars Phoenix Lander Gets Twitter Epitaphs
With winter already threatening to coat the lander in carbon dioxide, an ill-timed dust storm sent Mars Phoenix into hibernation as the solar energy hitting the bot’s photovoltaic panels fell too far. The little lander that could is still in communication with Earth, but it looks like it may be done for good on the science front. To mark this exciting, crowd-pleasing, Tweeting trip to the Martian north pole, Wired Science thought it’d be fun to mark the occasion with a Mars Phoenix Twitter-style epitaph contest. That means that these particular virtual headstones had to be under 140 characters. See all contest entries here. Here are the winners from the contest:
Wired Science Picks
|1. Veni, vidi, fodi. (I came, I saw, I dug)
1. I dug my own grave. And analyzed it.
2. So long and thanks for all the ice.
2. Error 404: Lander Not Found!*
3. It is enough for me. But for you, I plead: go farther, still.
3. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop that isn’t already sublimating into the thin, frigid atmosphere.
TrekMovie.com’s favorite entry:
If Found, Please Return:
First Star on the Right…
Straight On Until Morning
— Matt Greenfield
You can still follow @MarsPhoenix on Twitter!
Spherical Satellites Aboard the ISS
Three free-flying SPHERES — or Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites — are currently zooming around inside the International Space Station. bowling-ball sized spherical satellites are part of an experiment devised by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to test autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers for future formation flying spacecraft. If successful, these mini-satellites, and their potentially larger versions, would be able to refuel/repair other satellites, establish positioning around space-based telescopes, and support space docking routines. But these have to be a lot of fun to play with during off hours on the space station: zero-g bowling or space volleyball, anyone?
SPHERES aboard the ISS
TrekMovie’s Favorite Trek and Science Halloween Costumes of 2008!
In last week’s special Halloween edition of Science Friday, I asked you to send me your 2008 Star Trek and science themed Halloween costumes. Here are some of our favorites! Haven’t sent in photos yet? I’d love to see ’em!
Borg and daughter borg go trick-or-treating
Maurie Giustini of Boone, North Carolina as a TOS era vulcan
Andrew Britton and yours truly as mad scientists
Gadget of the Week: Fortis IQ Blackboard Watch For Math Nerds With Money
Designer Rolf Sachs has teamed up with watchmaker Fortis to develop the limited-edition IQ blackboard-style watch. Math nerds will surely love it—especially the glow in the dark hands and markings. And you’ll look smart/annoy your friends by constantly giving them the time in square roots and equations. Unfortunately, the dreaded “art premium” is tacked on to the price of this watch, so it may be out of the reach of many professor’s salaries. Available for $1050.
Show off your uber-nerdiness with a watch that makes you think
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Minerals on Mars point to recent water
- NY Times interactive feature: The World Up Close
- Chief Technology Officer to be appointed to White House
- Japan makes first brain tissue from stem cells