This week in Science Saturday: help support the search for ET life, get a brain memory extension, tell time for 10,000 years, and discover some missing moon dust. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: HD cameras streaming live from the ISS!
SETI Needs Your Help to Find ET
SETI, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, announced last month that it would shut down its campaign of scanning the skies for radio signals from other intelligent life in the universe. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. Just when NASA’s Kepler telescope is discovering hundreds of confirmed and candidate habitable alien worlds orbiting other stars, a lack of funding from the state of California and the National Science Foundation has forced SETI to shut down the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), the main searching tool used by SETI.
Now, SETI has launched a campaign to help raise money to keep the ATA operating for one year. Their goal is to raise $200,000, and they have 35 days left to do it. As of this writing they’ve raised over $30,000 from over 600 donors, and the numbers continue to grow. But, that’s only about 16% of their total goal. PLEASE consider making a (tax free!) donation to SETI. Even a little bit counts. And, tell your friends! Still not convinced? Watch this Segan Series video by YouTuber damewse.
Scientists Creat First Brain Extension
They day you can insert a memory card into your brain and know anything instantly may be here sooner than you’d think! Scientists have successfully built a prosthetic chip that can be implanted into the brains of rats. The chip stores neural signals, acting like a memory expansion for the brain. Dr. Berger from the University of South California’s Viterbi School of Engineering explains:
“Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget […] These integrated experimental modeling studies show for the first time that with sufficient information about the neural coding of memories, a neural prosthesis capable of real-time identification and manipulation of the encoding process can restore and even enhance cognitive mnemonic processes.”
I know jiu jitsu
Amazon CEO Building 10,000 Year Clock
A clock designed to run for 10,000 is being built in the Texas desert by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The clock is not just any timepeice, it’s a symbol for long-term thinking and will be built on a monumental scale inside of a mountain. “Over the lifetime of this clock, the United States won’t exist,” Bezos told WIRED. “Whole civilizations will rise and fall. New systems of government will be invented. You can’t imagine the world — no one can — that we’re trying to get this clock to pass through.” Bezos has even launched a website to promote the clock where people can sign up to visit. Although they’ll have to wait a while as it’s not scheduled to be finished for a few years. And, visiting the clock will take a commitment. The nearest airport is several hours away by car, and the foot trail to the Clock is rugged, rising almost 2,000 feet above the valley floor.
The 10,000 year clock
Missing Moon Dust From Apollo 11 Mission Found at St. Louis Auction House
Some 40 years after it was collected by Apollo 11 astronauts, some lunar dust that went missing was discovered for sale on the black market at a St. Louis auction house, and it was returned to the Johnson Space Center this week. It’s just a speck, “the size of a fingertip” but because the stuff is so rare, it’s worth a lot of money. NASA believes that the dust came from the film cartridge of a camera used by astronauts during the first moon landing. The dust was lifted from the cartridge using a small piece of clear tape. The auction house estimated its value at $1,000 to $1,500.
$1500 moon dust speck
Video of the Week: NASA Autonomous Lander Hovers in Mid-Air, Seen in Infrared
In a test earlier this month, a new autonomous NASA lander hovered 7 feet above the ground for 27 seconds, proving that it can execute its own commands. The hovering system might be used in missions where a lander needs to touch down on airless surfaces such as the moon, where a parachute would be useless. The infrared camera, shown in the below video, demonstrates the vortex that keeps the lander afloat. Very cool!
Gadget of the Week: Live HD Cameras Aboard the ISS
Yes, you read that right. UrtheCast is a company that is sending two high-definition cameras into space, with the help of the Russian Space Angency, to be attached to the outside of the International Space Station and pointed at Earth. They will stream LIVE high-def video (1 meter resolution!) of earth to all of us here on the ground. This unprecidented “combination of Google Earth and YouTube” is set to go live in Spring 2012.
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
- Five-fingered input delivers death blow to the traditional mouse
- Lab yeast makes evolutionary leap to multicellularity
- Saturn’s moon Enceladus could support life