Welcome to Science Friday! This week, explore newly discovered plumes on Enceladus, do some science with the LHC, contemplate life in other universes, and glimpse the universe in a whole new light (infrared, to be exact). All this and more, plus an astonishing video of a sonic boom you can see and our gadget of the week, 3D Sun!
Cassini Watch: Latest Enceladus Flyby Reveals Plethora of Plumes, Hotspots
Newly released images from NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft of a very closest flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus have revealed a ton of new jets spewing out from the so-called “tiger stripe” features on the moon’s surface. The new images from the imaging science subsystem and the composite infrared spectrometer teams also include the best 3-D image ever obtained of a “tiger stripe,” a fissure that sprays icy particles, water vapor and organic compounds. There are also views of regions not well-mapped previously on Enceladus, including a southern area with crudely circular tectonic patterns. For Cassini’s visible-light cameras, the Nov. 21, 2009 flyby provided the last look at Enceladus’ south polar surface before that region of the moon goes into 15 years of darkness, and includes the most detailed look yet at the jets. Check out the image below, and see many more at CICLOPS.org.
Icy jets spew from Enceladan “tiger stripes”
First Physics from the LHC CMS Detector
Remember that thing that was supposed to suck us all into a tiny black hole? Yeah, the Large Hadron Collider? Yep, well, the good ol’ LHC has been colliding away, and scientists have published the first scientific results from the LHC’s CMS detector.
“Our findings provide the first information on the characteristics of charged particle production in this new energy range,” says Prof. Guido Tonelli, Spokesperson of the CMS experiment, “The results confirm previous measurements, and expectations for the new energy regime. They are important to help us modeling the experimental backgrounds for future measurements at even higher energies.”
CMS is one of two so-called general-purpose experiments which look into the unknown and search for new physics. It is designed to see a wide range of particles and phenomena produced in the LHC’s high-energy collisions and will help to answer questions such as: What is the Universe really made of and what forces act within it? And what gives everything substance?
The LHC’s CMS detector has published science results!
MIT Physicists Weigh in on Life in Other Universes
Whether life exists beyond Earth is something that has kept exploration going. But, for some physicists, an even more interesting question is whether or not there is life beyond our universe. Physicists at MIT have pondered this question, and they have determined that life in other universes, even those with laws of physics very different from our own, is very possible, even probable. In work recently featured on the cover of Scientific American, a group of MIT physicists demonstrate that universes quite different from ours still have elements similar to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and could therefore evolve life forms quite similar to us. Even when the masses of the elementary particles are dramatically altered, life may find a way. Who knows, maybe there is an alternate TrekMovie.com staff out there. I wonder how I’d look in a goatee…
Don’t dogs get goatees, too?
NASA Releases First Images from WISE Satellite
The public got new views of the universe last week when NASA released the first wave of images from its brand new Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). On Jan. 14, the WISE mission began its official survey of the sky in infrared light; NASA plans to eventually scan the entire sky. By observing space with infrared light, WISE is expected to reveal previously unseen objects. The first images from WISE include striking depictions of a comet blazing across the sky, a cloud of stardust, several images of Milky Way neighbor the Andromeda galaxy, and a nearby cluster of galaxies. See more images at Information Week.
NGC 3603, a nebula containing young and massive stars
Video of the Week: Atlas V Rocket Creates VISIBLE Sonic Boom!
An Atlas V rocket blasted the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) into space on February 11th. On launch, the rocket went supersonic as it passed a sundog (basically a glare halo from the sun). As it did, onlookers had their cameras going and caught some astonishing video where you can actually see the waves created in the atmosphere by the sonic boom. Check out the video below (and watch it in 720p high-def!). The rocket goes supersonic around 1:50.
Gadget of the Week: 3D Sun Brings Real-time Solar Images to Your iPhone
As the sun exits an anomalously quiescent period in its life cycle, NASA is watching and waiting for more and more sun spots, solar prominences, and solar flares to crop up on the sun’s fiery surface. To this end, NASA has sent a pair of spacecraft known as STEREO to monitor the suns day-to-day status. Now, you can keep up with the real-time status of the sun right on your iPhone! With 3D Sun, a free iPhone app from NASA, you can set your phone to alert you when a new solar flare erupts, watch video of a solar prominence or a comet heading into the sun. You can even manipulate an image of the sun in three-dimensions with your finger. STEREO covers 87% of the sun’s surface, including the side that we can’t see from Earth. That means that in the palm of your hand, you can see part of the sun that even the most powerful Earth telescopes can’t. Cool, right? You can download 3D Sun from iTunes.
Download the new3D Sun iPhone app!
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, science women!
- @thevolcanolady: Volcano Hunter,National Geographic Photographer/Explorer, Devoted Wife, If I was a drink I’d be a peppermint hot chocolate.
- @Polar_Gal: Research Assistant at International Arctic Research Center, worked on NABOS expedition in Arctic, love to share passion for poles with kids and the public
- @jennifurret: I’m a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in the Midwest
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.
- Buzz Aldrin weighs in on the future of space travel
- WIRED showcases results from their NASA’s last shuttle patch contest
- America’s first wave farm: coming to an ocean near you
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.