Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Although many of us have fantasized about becoming an astronaut when we “grow up”, making rocket ships out of cardboard refrigerator boxes, very few people actually went through with it. But lucky for us common folk, photographer Ben Cooper gives us all a chance to relive our space fantasies. Cooper brings us an insider look at the Flight Decks of the Endeavour, Discovery, and Atlantis space shuttles. The fact that there are people who actually know how to operate all of these switches is pretty phenomenal. With this set, I see many photoshop opportunities for all of the digital artists out there. Larger versions of each picture are available for viewing or for sale on launchphotography.com. A poster size print would be the perfect addition to that refrigerator box space shuttle your nephew is building.
Run Silent, Run Deep, a World War II naval drama starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, reportedly inspires Star Trek screenwriter Paul Schneider to mull a space-exploration equivalent to a submarine submerging underwater. What to do…
Dec. 15, 1966
Invisibility technology makes its Star Trek debut in episode 14, “Balance of Terror,” when a Romulan Bird of Prey equipped with a cloaking device attacks the Starship Enterprise.
Sept. 27, 1968
In episode 59, “The Enterprise Incident,” the technology finally gets a name: It’s called a “cloaking device.” The Trekkie trope inevitably becomes a sci-fi staple, appearing (and disappearing?) in everything from Dr. Who to Predator to Stargate.
June 26, 1997
A divorced mother of a young child quietly publishes a children’s book about a young orphan who receives an invisibility cloak as a Christmas present. Only 1,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are printed.
Physicists from Duke University unveil the world’s first-ever invisibility cloak. (Thanks, J.K. Rowling!) The elaborate set-up was created using metamaterials, which are capable of manipulating wavelengths — like light — in ways that aren’t found in nature. The catch? This “cloak” only works on microwaves and in two dimensions.
The British military tests something frightening: An invisible tank, which uses cameras and projectors to beam the surrounding landscape onto the vehicle’s hull. Says one soldier who was apparently at the test trials: “This technology is incredible. If I hadn’t been present I wouldn’t have believed it. I looked across the fields and just saw grass and trees — but in reality I was staring down the barrel of a tank gun.”
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, use metamaterials to change the natural direction of visible and near-infrared light in three dimensions. Developed by Xiang Zhang, a professor at Berkeley’s Nanoscope Science and Engineering Center, the light-bending concept is likened to viewing a distorted straw through a glass of water.
Cambridge University is to open a center for “Terminator studies” where top scientists will study threats posed to humanity by robots.
The Center for the Study of Existential Risk is being co-launched by astronomer royal Lord Rees, one of the world’s leading cosmologists. It will probe the “four greatest threats” to the human species, given as: artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic “Terminator” films famously showed a world where ultra-intelligent machines fight against humanity in the form of the genocidal Skynet system.
The Cambridge center is intended to bring together academics from various disciplines including philosophy, astronomy, biology, robotics, neuroscience and economics.
Lord Rees, who has warned that humanity could wipe itself out by 2100, is launching the center alongside Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.
People who have recurring symptoms of Lyme disease after taking a full course of antibiotics most likely have a new infection, according to research that undercuts the theory that the illness can relapse.
The Lyme Disease bacterium is spread by the tick bite that appears in the form of a “bull’s-eye rash,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If untreated, patients may develop fatigue, fever and muscle aches, palsy and eventually arthritis, nerve and heart disease.
A small number of patients have reported symptoms years after their initial treatment, raising concern that an incurable form of the disease exists, said Robert Nadelman, a researcher at New York Medical College in Valhalla. He analyzed bacteria from 17 people with consecutive episodes of the rash starting in 1991, and found the infections were caused by genetically distinct bacteria. There’s less than a one in five million chance that happened by chance, he said.
“Our data provide compelling evidence that courses of antibiotics that are recommended by Infectious Disease Society of America regularly cure early Lyme disease,” said Nadelman, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at New York Medical College in Valhalla, in a telephone interview. “When people have early Lyme disease again, it’s likely due to a new infection due to a new tick bite.”
Not to get all fractal on you, or all ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny on you (I know, I know: cliché lede) – but these photographs, winners of the 38th Nikon Small World competition (basically, the best microscope photos of the year, as seen here in Wired) at first remind one of distant galaxies; then maybe of magnificent underwater mysteries; and then, as one marvels more and more at the insane beauty and symmetry and intricacy of them, one can get a little melancholy, wondering why it is that so many of us spend so much of our days living at the scale where – to quote Steven Wright – one mile equals one mile, and not on some much more beautiful, much more fascinating, much more revelatory scale.
Last week I went to a lecture by the inventor and futurist author Ray Kurzweil, who was visiting Dartmouth College for a couple of days. Kurzweil became famous for his music synthesizers and his text-to-speech software, which are of great help to those who can’t read or are blind. Stevie Wonder was one of his first customers. His main take, that the exponential advance in information and computer technology will deeply transform society and the meaning of being human, resonates with many people and scares a bunch more.
This is probably one of the most awe inspiring interactive things I have seen in a while. Try it. Be awed.
Harry Potter fans, rejoice. A cloak of invisibility, like the one featured in the movies, is now a reality — on a much smaller scale at least.
Inventors have been working toward this for a while now, but researchers with Duke University discovered a new way to tweak existing technology, ExtremeTech.com reported. The theory is that invisibility can be achieved using metamaterials, man-made materials that bend electromagnetic waves, like visible light, around objects to create an illusion. But past methods reflect some light back, which ruins the effect. Duke’s new design uses those same metamaterials, but arranges them in a diamond pattern, which cuts back on the reflective glare.
Nasa’s Curiosity rover has only been on the surface of Mars seven weeks but it has already turned up evidence of past flowing water on the planet.
The robot has returned pictures of classic conglomerates – rocks that are made up of gravels and sand.
Scientists on the mission team say the size and rounded shape of the pebbles in the rock indicate they had been transported and eroded in water.
Researchers think the rover has found a network of ancient streams.
The rocks, which were described in a media briefing at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, were likely laid down “several billion years ago”. But the actual streams themselves may have persisted on the surface for long periods, said Curiosity science co-investigator Bill Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley.
“We would anticipate that it could easily be thousands to millions of years,” he told reporters.
Perhaps chalk it up to lack of caffeine, but I’ve spent a cool 30 minutes here trying to think of a good metaphor or statistic that might point to how insanely complex weather on Earth is — the near-infinitely vast number of variables and interactions that lead to the messy thing you might be about to experience from the sky. I’d say it’s a bit like trying to understand the interactions in the brain that make up consciousness, but that’s not quite it. The NOAA told me this morning that they collect “billions and billions of weather observations daily” — from satellites, weather stations, radar, etc — to generate their prediction models, so there’s that. (And that the NOAA sports supercomputers capable of 69.7 trillion calculations per second.) And there’s the famous butterfly effect, too — how slight changes to the initial conditions of a chaotic system might have large-scale effects — that might give some idea the super-dynamic insanity going on up there. Generally, however, we still recieve weather information in terms of smiley suns and frowny clouds from attractive faces on TV with humanties educations.