Man-Made Star to Unlock Cosmic Secrets
Jonathan Fildes, BBC News: When the world’s most powerful laser facility flicks the switch on its first full-scale experiments later this month, a tiny star will be born on Earth.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California aims to demonstrate the feasibility of nuclear fusion, the reaction at the heart of the Sun and a potentially abundant, clean energy source for the planet.
Warp Speed is Not Impossible
The warp drive, one of Star Trek’s hallmark inventions, could someday become science instead of science fiction.
Some physicists say the faster-than-light travel technology may one day enable humans to jet between stars for weekend getaways. Clearly it won’t be an easy task. The science is complex, but not strictly impossible, according to some researchers studying how to make it happen.
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One reason this idea seems credible is that scientists think it may already have happened. Some models suggest that space-time expanded at a rate faster than light speed during a period of rapid inflation shortly after the Big Bang.
“If it could do it for the Big Bang, why not for our space drives?” Millis said.
Former Astronaut Nominated as Next Astronaut Chief
The White House has nominated Charles Bolden to be the next NASA Administrator.
A retired Marine Corps major general and former astronaut who piloted the space shuttle that carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990, Bolden has been considered a top candidate for the job since President Obama’s election.
Chernobyl Fallout Could Drive Evolution of Space Plants
Compared to the plants grown in normal soil, the Chernobyl soya produced significantly different amounts of several dozen proteins, the team found. Among those are proteins that contribute to the production of seeds, as well as proteins involved in defending cells from heavy metal and radiation damage. “One protein is known to actually protect human blood from radiation,” Hajduch says.
For this study, his team looked at just the first generation of soya grown in Chernobyl soil, but they plan to examine a second generation of seeds. After the 1986 meltdown, it took plants several generations to fully adapt to the new conditions, Hajduch says.
Determining how plants coped with life after Chernobyl could help scientists engineer radiation-resistant plants, Hajduch says. While few farmers are eager to cultivate radioactive plots on Earth, future interplanetary travellers may need to grow crops to withstand space radiation.
Building Life from the Stuff of Stars
How this star-stuff came together to form life is still a mystery, but scientists know that certain atomic combinations were necessary. Water – two hydrogen atoms linked to one oxygen atom -was vital to the development of life on Earth, and so NASA missions now search for water on other worlds in the hopes of finding life elsewhere. Organic molecules built mostly of carbon atoms are also thought to be important, since all life on Earth is carbon-based.
The most popular theories of the origin of life say the necessary chemistry occurred at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor or in some sunlit shallow pool. However, discoveries in the past few years have shown that many of the basic materials for life form in the cold depths of space, where life as we know it is not possible.
Astronomers Take Virtual Plunge into Black Hole
Dare to fall into a black hole and you would get vaporized in what is probably the most violent place in the universe. But the journey would yield some amazing sights, though you might need three eyes for the best view of what’s going on, new research suggests.
Sunspot Appearance Marks Beginning of New Solar Cycle
A small sunspot appeared on the sun’s northern hemisphere on Jan. 4, heralding the beginning of a new 11-year solar cycle, researchers say.
Here on Earth, it’s not obvious what that means to our everyday life. The sun will continue to rise and set as always, or – where I’m writing from – be mostly invisible behind winter clouds.
But the solar cycle, or solar magnetic activity cycle, is one of the core phenomena driving sunspots and solar weather. . .
Why is Moondust Sticky?
One of the biggest problems facing America’s space agency as it prepares to return to the moon is how to manage lunar dust. It gets into everything. Worse, it’s sticky, adhering to spacesuits and posing a potentially serious health hazard to future colonists.
Now, a scientist who has been studying the problem off and on over four decades thinks he may have untangled the mystery of why that dust is so sticky. Brian O’Brien, an Australian physicist who worked on the Apollo program in the 1960s, said the sun’s ultraviolet and X-ray radiation gives a positive charge to the dust, making it stick to surfaces such as spacesuits.
Black Hole Shoots Water Vapour
Astronomers have found the most distant evidence of water in the Universe, a major conference has been told.
The vapour is thought to be present in a jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy that is billions of light-years away.
Baby Stars Found in Galactic Core
The baby stars at the center of the galaxy had their first pictures taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting.
How stars could form at the center of the galaxy has been a mystery. Space is generally a pretty harsh environment, but the galaxy’s heart is particularly brutal. Fierce stellar winds, black holes and shock waves all make it a tough place to get your start on stellar life.
“It is amazing to me that we have found these stars,” said Solange Ramirez, head researcher at NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech. “The galactic center is a very interesting place. It has young stars, old stars, black holes, everything. We started mining a catalog of about 1 million sources and managed to find three young stars — stars that will help reveal the secrets at the core of the Milky Way.”
Teens Send Balloon into Space to Take Photos
Building the electronic sensor components from scratch, Gerard Marull Paretas, Sergi Saballs Vila, Marta Gasull Morcillo and Jaume Puigmiquel Casamort managed to send their heavy duty £43 latex balloon to the edge of space and take readings of its ascent.
Created by the four students under the guidance of teacher Jordi Fanals Oriol, the budding scientists, all aged 18-19, followed the progress of their balloon using high tech sensors communicating with Google Earth.
Team leader Gerard Marull, 18, said: “We were overwhelmed at our results, especially the photographs, to send our handmade craft to the edge of space is incredible.”