Science Friday is back after a crazy week at the Las Vegas convention (and then one more week to recover)! Get ready for a jam packed edition full of SETI discoveries, movies in magazines, invading slimy creatures, touchable holography, and Carolyn Porco wanting in to the next Star Trek movie! All this and more plus our gadget of the week: The iPhone Dino Dock!
SETI Telescope Array Produces Scientific Results
The SETI, or search for extraterrestrial intelligence, telescope array, the only array in the world focused on the search for intelligent alien life, has produced its first scientific results — but still no word from ET. While scientists want to continue to expand the array for the search for life out there, in the meantime, they are also surveying intergalactic space for ‘missing’ star-forming gas. The project, called the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) was designed to scan large areas of the sky for alien civilizations. Astronomers are now finding it useful in producing real science. Astronomers don’t see enough gas for the amount of stars that are forming. Using the ATA, they have put out their first science paper, which answers some questions as well as asking some new ones. Check out their published findings at IEEE.
And, if you’re not already, you can help search for ET life in the universe by installing SETI@Home, a program that runs as your screen saver processing information gathered by the SETI project. Check it out at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/.
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
EW Adding Video Ads To Printed Magazine
Entertainment Weekly is adding full-motion video with audio next month to its printed page. Sound crazy? The cellphone-sized, wafer-thin screens activate when the reader gets to that page, and will feature characters from prime time television and ads for soft drinks. With displays and speakers getting thinner and lighter, applications like this are becoming more and more of a reality. Will we soon be reading newspapers like those in Harry Potter or Firefly? Let’s hope so! CBS won’t say how much it is paying for the spread, but the idea behind these new experiments is generally to charge a premium for advertising that has more potential to catch readers’ attention.
Just one example of flexible displays
What Are Those Things? Slimy Creatures Invade NJ Beaches
Earlier this month, beachgoers in New Jersey were feeling something slimy in between their toes and asking, “What are those things?” The little blobs are actually called salp, small free floating aquatic creatures that show up every now and then. Salps look like jellyfish but they are not and the good news for swimmers is even if they are kind of gross in the water, they don’t sting. They can stick together and form sticky, slimy sheets in the water. Here’s just another example of ‘alien’ creatures right here on Earth.
Although we can “see” holographic images as if they are really floating in front of us, we cannot “touch” them, because they are nothing but light. This project adds tactile feedback to the hovering image in 3D free space. Tactile sensation requires contact with objects, but including a stimulator in the work space dilutes the appearance of holographic images. The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display solves this problem by producing tactile sensation on a user’s hand without any direct contact and without diluting the quality of the holographic projection. For more, see the project’s website.
Scientist Spotlight: Petition to Get Carolyn Porco in the Next Star Trek Movie
If you have been following the evolution of the 2009 Star Trek (and now the upcoming 2011 movie), chances are you’ve heard the name Carolyn Porco bounced a round a bit. That’s because she is the science advisor that worked with JJ Abrams on the 2009 movie! (see TrekMovie interview) She is also the lead imaging scientist on the Cassini project, currently in orbit around Saturn. Some fans of Star Trek and Cassini spoke up on Cassini’s CICLOPS forums suggesting that Dr. Porco get a cameo in the next movie. She replied by saying that she would be honored to don a Federation uniform. Now, an official petition to get her in front of the camera this time around is circulating the internet and looking for signatures. Help get real scientists recognized in science fiction! SIGN THE PETITION!
Carolyn Porco with JJ Abrams
Video of the Week: Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D
We can’t travel to any of the other 100 billion galaxies in the universe yet, but their photons can travel to us. Capturing those photons over a ten-day period results in the most profound and humbling image ever created, the 2004 image known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Now it’s brought to life in 3D, letting you fly through 10,000 galaxies as they were 13 billion years ago.
Gadget of the Week: Dinosaur iPhone Dock (King of all iPhone Docks!)
Sure, it’s basically just a rubber dinosaur toy with an iPhone shaped hole cut in it and a cord strung up through the middle. But, you can’t look at this and tell me it’s not the most epic iPhone dock EVAR! This would look great on my desk!
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…
- @CarolynPorco: Planetary scientist, Cassini imaging director, and Star Trek science advisor!
- @DoWhatITellYou: This is an experiment in basic mass action. Do as the llama tells you. Good.
- @Feliciaday: Actress, New Media Geek, Gamer, Misanthrope. I like to keep my Tweets real and not waste people’s time.
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.
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