This week Science Friday is back with more exciting science news! Learn about Captain Kirk’s magic physics-breaking fingers, H2O and CO2 on alien worlds, a 2000-year-old computer, science in San Francisco, and more. All this plus our Gadget Gift Guide for the priciest gifts of 2008!
How Kirk’s “Magic Fingers” Break the Laws of Physics
Either that, or our young heroine can be seen in the latest Star Trek trailer exerting almost 800 lbs. of force with those super strong digits to stop from falling of the edge of a precipice. POPSCI.com recently did a little back-of-the-envelope physics calculation to determine just how strong young Capt. Kirk would have to be, based on the scene in the trailer, to be so formidable as to dig his fingers into the sandy ground and pull himself to safety after him and his car promptly fly off a cliff. Apparently, children of the future are either Kryptonian or bionic. Thanks to Russ for the tip!
H2O and CO2 Found On Alien Planet
Recently, the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes found H2O and CO2 on the large, hot planet 63 lightyears from Earth. HD 189733b, classified as a hot Jupiter, has a molten core and heavily gaseous atmosphere. Although NASA is keen to stress the planet is far too hot to support life, it says the finding represents an important proof of concept, showing that it is possible to detect CO2 in the atmospheres of distant planets orbiting other stars, and that the same method could be used to look at planets which might support life.
Molecules in space!
2000-year-old Computer Recreated
The battered pieces of a 2000-year old computer designed by Archimedes were discovered in a shipwreck more than a century ago. Today, we have the first working model recreating how that computer worked. A hand crank would wind a complicated set of gears and display various pieces of information: which constellations would be in the sky at what time, when eclipses were expected to occur, even the dates of the olympic games. The video below shows how the device works and all of its main features. More at New Scientist.
Science in San Francisco
This week in San Francisco the American Geophysical Union conference was held where plenty of findings from the latest Earth and Space research was released to the public. Among the presenters were scientists from the Mars Phoenix Lander, Cassini, and Universities from around the world. Your humble science editor was there to catch lots of the action. But, seeing as I was hanging around with petrologists all week, I refer you to the Planetary Society blog which has a nice recap of many of the planetary science talks.
The AGU Fall Meeting held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco
Image of the Week: Jupiter’s Moon Plays Peek-a-Boo with Hubble
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has caught Jupiter’s moon Ganymede playing a game of “peekaboo.” The new image, released yesterday, shows Ganymede just before the seemingly tiny orb ducks behind its giant host. Images like this can reveal interesting information about Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.
Gadget of the Week: Best (Pricey) Tech Gifts of 2008
As long as you’re not on a budget, you might enjoy buying (or receiving) one of TrekMovie’s best pricey tech gifts for this year. If you are on a budget, like the rest of us, check out out gift guide for tech gifts under $30.
1. ‘Easy and Fun’ touch-screen kit for netbooks
From Fidohub.com, $95.00
Give the hard-core techie in your life a tactile jolt with the $95 “Easy and Fun TouchKit” from Hoda Technologies. This modification adds resistive touch-screen abilities to those ultracompact, ultracheap netbook computers that are all the rage right now. Though no soldering is required, installing the kit does involve some dismantling of the netbook (which most likely will void its warranty); Hoda provides full instructions on how to proceed.
2. Back to the Future Flux Capacitor
From TFAW, $220.00
Short of going back in time to lift the original flux capacitor off the set of Back to the Future, this lit-up replica is the closest you’ll get to the time machine. Just hope the UPS truck that delivers it goes slower than 88mph, or you might have to wait a few decades to receive it. Or maybe check your attic, because it may have been sitting there since before you were born.
3. Ultimate Ears UE 11 Pro Custom Monitors
From Ultimate Ears, $1,150.00
For a truly unique set of headphones, get thee gift recipient to an audiologist for an impression of his ear canal and have the thing sent to Ultimate Ears, which will use it to mold a quad armature speaker config — dual subs, dedicated mid-range, and tweeter in each ear — with three-way crossover in a hearing-aid-esque earpiece to pass on flawless sound so invasively as to tickle the brain lobes.
4. Ferrari Segway
From Ferrari Store, $10,330.00
There’s one and only one way to truly travel in geek style across your massive 500-acre estate, and that’s on a Segway. Normal Segways are for cops and other dweebs, and golf carts are the epitome of lame, so this Ferrari-branded red Segway is the only way to go. And at a mere $12,000 each, you could get one for each day of the week.
From Jetpack International, $250,000.00 (to qualified jetpack fliers only)
Sure, the Ferrari Segway is great for getting around your estate, but what about getting to the different levels of your skyscraper? A jetpack is the obvious answer. The technology behind the jetpack has yet to be perfected, but for $250,000 you, too, can own a jetpack capable of flying for three minutes. You may want to buy jetpack lessons first, though, as only those who have undergone extensive training can buy one of these beauties.
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- The incredible journey of the James Webb Telescope
- Sweet find in search for alien life
- Ultra-sensitive camera to measure sizes of planets orbiting distant star
- Mars Orbiter completes first phase of science mission