Science Saturday: Volcano Eruptions + Pickle Comet + Parallel Universes + Everest Cellphones + more

This week, on a late edition of Science Saturday, experience volcanic eruptions around the world, spot a pickle-shaped comet, make a call to Mount Everest, and discover parallel universes. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: epic iPhone costume!


Big Week for Volcanoes: Merapi, Klyuchevskoy, Shiveluch Erupt
This week, news outlets were overflowing with reports of volcanic activity around the world. First, Merapi Volcano in Indonesia erupted quite catastrophically sending huge pyroclastic flows down its slopes, killing at least 33 people in the process. The highly populated region on and around the volcano was evacuated, but not everyone could get out in time. Since the initial explosions, the eruptive nature of Merapi has changed. The volcano is now moving from explosive to effusive lava flow activity. This may mean that the danger is lessening, but the threat of more pyroclastic flows remains uncertain. Soon after word of Merapi’s eruption hit the news stands, word that two Russian volcanoes, Klyuchevskoy and Shiveluch, located on the Kamchatka peninsula, each produced huge ~30,000 foot ash plumes. Those two volcanoes are on “red alert” status.

Check out more at these great links:

Klyuchevskoy webcam

Shiveluch webcam

Live feed from Merapi

The aftermath of the initial Merapi eruption

Comet Hartley 2: Bowling Pin or Pickle?
Exactly one week before NASA’s EPOXI mission will get an unprecedented look at Comet Hartley 2 in it’s upcoming fly-by, observations from the Arecibo Planetary Radar in Puerto Rico have offered scientists a sneak peak view. “It kind of looks like a cross between a bowling pin and a pickle,” said EPOXI project manager. “Only it’s about 14-thousand-times larger and hurtling through space at 23 miles per second.” During the Nov. 4 flyby, the cameras aboard the EPOXI mission spacecraft will get within 700 kilometers (about 435 miles) of the comet. It will be the fifth time that a comet has been imaged close-up and the first time in history that two comets have been imaged with the same instruments and same spatial resolution. More at the EPOXI mission page.

New image of comet Hartley 2

New 3G Cell Network Installed on Mount Everest
Ever wanted to make a call, check your e-mail, or tweet from Mount Everest? No? Well, I’m sure somebody has. And, now that is a possibility thanks to the new 3G cell network installed on the world’s highest mountain. The network will help tourists, climbers, and trekkers stay in touch with their families and trip organizers, say officials, in addition to allowing them to check weather and safety reports while they are climbing. Hey, now I can be the Mayor of Mount Everest! Cool!

Can you hear me now?

CERN Scientists Eye Parallel Universe Breakthrough
Physicists probing the origins of the cosmos hope that next year they will turn up the first proofs of the existence of concepts long dear to science-fiction writers such as hidden worlds and extra dimensions. And as their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva moves into high gear, they are talking increasingly of the “New Physics” on the horizon that could totally change current views of the universe and how it works. “Parallel universes, unknown forms of matter, extra dimensions… These are not the stuff of cheap science fiction but very concrete physics theories that scientists are trying to confirm with the LHC and other experiments.” (via Reuters)

Hiding any extra universes in there?

Picture of the Week: The boiling, erupting sun
Wow, take a look at this. With SOHO, SDO, and tons of other telescopes pointed at it, it’s hard to get an impressive picture of the sun these days. But, the one shown below, taken by astrophotographer Alan Friedman with a relatively small (but, very, very nice) telescope, does just that. It was shot on October 20th, and it shows the sun in the light of Hydrogen, or H-alpha light. Never have I seen our home star look so… well… fuzzy?

Click on the pictures to see the full size versions

Gadget of the Week: Most epic iPhone costume ever!
It’s Halloween this weekend, so let’s celebrate with a costumey gadget of the week. Check out this incredible iPhone 4 costume created by John Savio that he can hook up to his actual iPhone which then displays on the costume! Wow!


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, techies, and trekkies to follow on Twitter. This week…

Science Quickies
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.


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.

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Hmmm. Kirk to Spock. Can you Hear me now. Good. Capt that is Illogicle. So 2 Russian Volcanoes are on Red Alert. Hmm. Should we raise the Shields. I think the Comet looks like a Cucumber. Lol. The Sun looks Cool. Or is that Hot.

To me, Hartley 2 looks like that wine bottle they tossed at the Enterprise-B in Generations. ;-)

That’s neither a bowling pin, a pickle, or a comet—it’s a bottle of champagne. Now we just need to build the Enterprise-B! :)


Ah, Hat Rick, you beat me to it!!!

I was going to be anti social for Halloween. Looks like I can do it with a costume too.

3, 4, great minds think alike. ;-)

Parallel universes might really exist?! Spock in a goatee? Vulcan destroyed? I’m rich and married to Jennifer Aniston? : )

Parallel universes might be a reality? Woah… mindboggling stuff! In which way do the scientists theorize about them? I mean, is it as in “Charlie Jade”: Alphaverse, Betaverse, Gammaverse? Many different Earths with alternate histories as in “Sliders”? Alternate versions of our universe or completely different universes? Are we talking different physics in each universe here?

A big “thank you” for the most beautiful picture of the sun I have ever seen!

Call me petty, but I hate that they threw in the word ‘cheap’ in “not the stuff of cheap science fiction”… as if the cheap variety of SciFi cared about integrating cosmological or physics concepts in its fare. To me, cheap SciFi is alien invasion movies with damsels in distress, etc.

Me in a gottee. hmm, that wouldn’t look to bad

I’m shocked that parallel universe might exist.

In order: Yes. Yes Yes. And Yes, but she looks like Bea Arthur.

@11 I was just thinking – this means that there’s a parallel universe in which you didn’t write the the creation of a paralle universe and the destruction of Vulcan, which means that in THAT paralle univers the original Prime Universe still exists, so that there there’s a parallel version of me saying that in another parallel universe you DID write about…

Oh no. I’ve gone cross-eyed.

*smiggles* Large Hardon Collider (if the balls touch, we die)

Anybody a fan of Sliders….best alternate universe show ever?


Yes! Sliders was a fun show! But when it comes to best alternate universes in a show… hmmm… I have to go with the Simpsons Halloween episodes.

Mr. Burns in the Shinning: “Huh, that’s funny. The blood usually gets off on the second floor.”

Happy Halloween! :0

I love the LHC looks like some crazy, advanced, beyond-our-understanding piece of machinery that some ppl from the future built using our crappy present-day low-tech components :D

“The conduit WILL hold……..(I hope!)”

Won’t it actually be funny when parallel universes are found to be more than a theory? Then what will the Trek09 critics have to complain about?
I know this is probably for a previous thread but I wonder how a member of the audience will take up an argument with an author, trying to tell the author where he went wrong, why something doesn’t work, and so forth, when he is not in the same position as the author. This only means that something didn’t work, or was a problem FOR THAT READER… not necessarily all readers, and certainly not for the author.

I do not believe you should try telling an author (particularly a sci-fi author) what he’s doing or supposed to do. Consider the works of some of the great sci-fi authors from the past. They were often writing about things that had no scientific basis, and there were plenty of readers then who didn’t buy what they were writing. How often did those writings become fact? So too, the writers of Trek09 were writing a story involving alternate reality on the basis of what is CURRENTLY in the realm of theory. As we see from the above article, those theories are about to be put to the test, and scientists’ hope is that the existence of parallel universes will be proven (who knows what will happen, really). Which means that sci-fi writers today will have a lot more info include in their stories. No doubt someone will be criticizing their work too!
It is my contention that such criticisms about Trek09’s science are unnecessary and pointless on the basis of what is theory today. It’s like arguing over UFOs, ETs, and other topics that have one foot in fiction and the other foot still waiting to come down.

Cro-Mags too? No planet of the apes

Wow, the ladies will be all over that i(diot)Phone costume.


#11 Remember Bob, in a parallel universe i”m your boss so don’t screw up the sequel or i’ll fire you.

Who knew the sun was really a giant orange? :-)

“The network will help tourists, climbers, and trekkers stay in touch …”


Nice to know that those telecom guys were thinking of us…

Right, what a nice beginning however i’ll have to check into that a bit more. Will let you know just what more i’ve found.