This week’s Science Friday will teleport your entangled molecules, crash the Earth into a big green comet, explore the depths of oceans and solar system in 3D, traverse dangerous Martian terrain, and school you with our gadget of the week: Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock tee! All this and more is waiting for you! All you’ve got to do is click “more”…
A Quantum Leap for Teleportation
Although the transporters of Trek may be a fantasy even in the far future, scientists are continually working on teleporting the identity of atoms through what is known as quantum entanglement. This process “entangles” two molecules into a single identity, and a change in one instantly changes the other even if it is far away. Researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland have taken a new approach to the science by using light to transfer quantum information between two atoms. This mechanism could form an important component in new types of communication and computing.
Green Comet Approaches Earth
Oh my gosh! We’re all gonna die! Ha ha, just kidding. There may be a comet headed for Earth, but at it’s closest point on February 24th, the bright green Comet Lulin will be 38 million miles away — utterly harmless. That’s still close enough, though, that it can be seen in all its fluorescent greenness with the naked eye. It will be about a magnitude 5 or 6, so dark country skies will probably be needed to view it. This is the first time Comet Lulin will be in the inner solar system, so it’s a first for all of us. It gets it’s bright green glow from gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Jets spewing from the comet’s nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.
A photo of Lulin taken through a 14-inch telescope on Feb. 1st
Google Earth Goes Underwater and to Mars
Google Earth is becoming a more and more useful utility all the time. But, the latest improvement Google has made to their most popular program is quite a doozy. Working with dozens of government, corporate and non-profit partners, Google Earth 5.0 combines 3D sea floor terrain topography with video clips and photos from ocean pros who have actually been there, like cool shipwreck clips from Shipwreck Central. Now you can dive to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean — the Mariana Trench — where, if you look closely, you might see the 3D model of the Trieste, the submarine first used to reach the bottom of the trench. In addition, you can take a trip to Mars which is actually quite astonishing. Zooming in on the location of one of the MER Rovers allows you to move into a 3D panorama of the site. Take the word of someone who’s seen quite a few Mars pictures, this thing really makes you feel like you’re standing on the Red Planet’s surface. It’s quite awesome.
Download the latest update for Google Earth here!
New Rover Could Explore Treacherous Martian Terrain
If you’ve seen high resolution pictures of Mars streaming in from sources like the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, you know Mars can be a rocky place. So complicated is the terrain that, in some cases, normal rovers — including the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) which is headed to the red planet soon — can’t traverse it. That’s where Axel comes in. Axel is a secondary rover which would attach to something like MSL by a tether and could boldly go where no other rovers have gone before. Check out the below video of Axel in action at JPL.
Gadget of the Week: Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock!
Okay, so this week’s GOTW isn’t so much a gadget as it is pure unadulterated awesome. For those of you that watch The Big Bang Theory on CBS (which should be all of you!) you’ll recognize the symbols on this T-Shirt. The game of Rock Paper Scissors is nothing compared to the ultimate challenge of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock. And it’s all laid out for you on this handy 100% cotton tee from ThinkGeek.com! Remember: Scissors cuts Paper covers Rock crushes Lizard poisons Spock smashes Scissors decapitates Lizard eats Paper disproves Spock vaporizes Rock crushes Scissors. Simple!
RPSLS now immortalized in 100% cotton!
Watch the clip from The Big Bang Theory
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Super Earth in sight: astronomers detect an extrasolar planet
- Mars technology helps create Inauguration mega-picture