Brace yourself for this week’s super exciting edition of Science Friday! Learn how to prepare for impending volcanic eruptions, protect yourself from methane rain on Titan, harvest power out of thin air, take a look at MS Surface in action, pilot a triceracopter, and bring the moon home — literally. All this and more plus our gadget of the week: The Amazing Water Jet Pack!
Alaskans Prepare for Impending Volcanic Eruption
A volcano just 100 miles from Anchorage — Alaska’s largest city — could erupt any day now after being inactive for 20 years (only a tiny fraction of geologic time). The fresh wave of seismic activity at Mount Redoubt suggests that the eruption could occur within days or weeks, seismologists say. Redoubt’s recent tremors have sparked worry about potentially hazardous ash fall on Anchorage, where citizens are stocking up on extra food, water, and respiratory devices. Volcanologists are checking instrument readings and satellite images around the clock to watch for temperature changes. In addition, a webcam was installed about 7.5 miles from the summit.
Cassini Watch: It’s Rainin’ Methane!
First sighted in June 2005, one of Cassini’s most important discoveries about Saturn’s moon Titan has been the presence of hydrocarbon lakes in the polar regions. Now, the Cassini imaging team (led by Star Trek’s science advisor, Carolyn Porco) released a new paper detailing how the changing seasons on Titan affect the lakes. It turns out that methane rains fills these lakes seasonally. New maps and images of the moon have been released to show these methane lakes in action.
Titan’s polar region w/clouds and lakes of methane
Intel Harvests Power Out of Thin Air
One of the next best things in electronics is wireless power. The tech is improving more and more all the time. Now, Intel has found a way to extract power wirelessly from radio waves that are always in the air from radio and TV broadcasts. A Seattle TV station located about 4.1 km away was able to power the nifty LCD weather station in the picture below. Besides experimenting with wireless electric power, Intel is also working on ways to soak up energy from body heat, ambient light, waste heat from machinery, and a lot more.
Looks like wireless power is the next big thing
Super Bowl Security Using MS Surface for Coordination
This weekend is the big Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, FL, and Florida police along with general Super Bowl security officers are already utilizing Microsoft’s Surface technology that we’ve only so far seen as a demo. Surface is used in the way you’d think it would be used—to zoom in and out and scale things to people can view a map from the sky. There’s voice communication and real-time tracking as well as instant messaging. It’s a great advertisement for Microsoft, but also cool for us since we finally get to see this tech used to it’s fullest extent in a real world situation.
Picture of the Week: Triceracopter!
If only evolution had worked out a bit differently, we might have gotten this half triceratops, half helicopter TRICERACOPTER! Built as a sculpture in 1977 by artist Patricia Renick, it’s now available now for the discerning collector/dinopilot. Become a fan and see more pictures on the Triceracopter’s FaceBook page.
Video of the Week: Kim Jong Il to Bring Moon to North Korea
The Onion News Networks always high quality coverage of the events has topped itself once again by breaking this amazing story.
Gadget of the Week: Amazing Water Jet Pack
We’ve had jetpacks featured as our GOTW before, but never one quite like this. This water jetpack uses water as fuel to propel its wearer into the air. You’re tethered, but you can still go pretty high and far, and you can just drop into the water if anything goes wrong! It solves all the problems of conventional jetpacks! Someone please tell me where I can get one of these things. This sure beats the heck out of a lazy river.
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.