Welcome back to another exciting week of Science Friday! Today, explore the galaxy from the world’s first spaceport, see the salty plumes of Enceladus, power up at the world’s largest solar array, and sing along to the 35,000-year-old flute. All this and more plus your gadget of the week: Samsung’s flexible OLED passport!
World’s First Galactic Spaceport Underway
Commercial space flight for the non-astronaut is becoming more and more common these days. Recently, Virgin Galactic announced that they have broken ground on the world’s first spaceport in New Mexico. SpacePort America will be the launching ground for SpaceShipTwo, the craft that will send you into space for a mere $200,000. Flights will last about 2.5 hours, and they include around 6 minutes of weightlessness. The company hopes to take flight in December, 2010, and more tan 250 people have already booked passage. See the video below for some visuals and check out the
Salty Plumes from Enceladus Suggest Life on Saturn’s Moon
It is not a knew theory that Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, may harbor a salty ocean beneath its icy surface. Recent data from NASA’s Cassini Mission (whose imaging team is lead by Star Trek science advisor Carolyn Porco) suggests that geysers from the moon may be fed by a salty ocean. The planet’s outer ring, or “E-ring,” is believed to be primarily supplied by giant geysers on Enceladus’s south polar region tossing out materials to a distance of three times the moon’s radius. Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer has examined the composition of the material and found salt within it. This furthers the theory that the moon may be capable of supporting marine life. Check out CICLOPS.org for more info!
Salty plumes of Enceladus
World’s Largest Solar Array Planned for Saharan Desert
20 German solar companies are looking into installing the world’s largest solar array in the Sahara Desert, a place that certainly gets a lot of sun. In fact, the Sahara gets so much sun, that if only 0.3% of its area were used for a solar plant, it would power all of Europe. The plan for the array would be to build several solar complexes in politically stable countries across northern Africa. The entire project would take years to build and would cost an estimated $555 billion.
The solar array planned for the Saharan Desert
35,000-year-old Flute Discovered
This flute is the first musical instrument in the history of humankind—one of the first examples of technology—which has surprised everyone demonstrating that music already existed 35,000 years ago. It was made from the bone of a giant vulture during the Upper Paleolithic and was found in Ach Valley, in southern Germany. According to one study, it was capable of producing a note range similar to those of modern flutes.
The first musical instrument ever known
Gadget of the Week: Samsung’s Flexible OLED Passport
Samsung is now showing off this prototype ID card with a built-in flexible OLED display. The display is 2 inches and 240×320, showing a rotating head in 260k colors with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. This product is a great way to show off what flexible OLED technology can do, and it is a neat look into what future travel may be like. Like something out of a science fiction movie, this thing doesn’t even need to be charged as it gets its power from an RF source wherever it is being scanned.
Video of the Week: Hybrid Heart
Scientists have created a “hybrid heart” using stem cell research, which would allow a stopped heart to start beating again. Hybrid hearts such as these could solve the transplant shortage and could lead to the growth of artificial organs in the future.
Image of the Week: Volcano seen from space
The International Space Station took a photo from space that shows a volcano in the earliest stage of its eruption. Taken as a huge plume of ash and steam billow skyward the image shows the impact of the shock wave spreading out in the atmosphere. Nasa says volcanologists are excited about the picture “because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption.”
Sarychev Peak on Matua Island
If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…
- @LRO_NASA: NASA’s first step back to the moon! The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently on its way to the moon. Follow along on its journey!
- @scifri: We make a science radio program heard on NPR and create science content for the web. Got ideas? Write us @scifri and tweet your questions during the show.
- @donttrythis: Adam Savage of Mythbusters. “Don’t try this at home!”
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.
- Buzz Aldrin says: Time to settle Mars
- Fake astronaut hit by solar flare
- Stoned wallabies make crop circles in poppy fields
TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.