Posted: July 20, 2016 Filed under: History, Mediasphere, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Apollo program, Buzz Aldrin, Canadian Space Agency, Cydonia (region of Mars), John F. Kennedy, Kennedy Space Center, Mars, Moon, NASA, Space Shuttle program
A TV documentary set to premier today (July 20) will tell the incredible story of the first moon landing, which took place 47 years ago today.
The documentary, called “Go: The Great Race,” will air four times today on the Decades TV Network, as a special episode of the show “Through the Decades.” A trailer for the documentary leads off with footage from President John F. Kennedy delivering his famous 1961 speech that called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.
“He had no reason to believe that we could even come close to doing something like that,” says one of the documentary’s interviewees (supposedly someone who worked on the Apollo, referring to Kennedy’s challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 20, 2016 Filed under: History, Mediasphere, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Apollo 11, Apollo program, Buzz Aldrin, Canadian Space Agency, Cydonia (region of Mars), Mars, NASA, Neil Armstrong, Phobos (moon), Space Shuttle program
CBS INFO: On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off on a mission to put man on the moon. That dream came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Forty-five years after Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made history, CBS News is celebrating their achievement.
Each day through July 20, CBSNews.com will post videos showcasing archival footage of the coverage of the monumental mission and interviews with the astronauts and others reflecting on their great accomplishment.
Above, watch CBS News legend Walter Cronkite anchor coverage of Apollo 11’s dramatic blastoff from Cape Kennedy in Florida and the dramatic days that followed, culminating in the moon landing.
Buzz Aldrin launches social media campaign to mark moon landing anniversary
Cronkite marveled at how throngs of people stopped in their tracks to watch the liftoff.
“It seemed that the whole world stopped as man set out on the adventure to escape from his own planet and to set foot on a distant one,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 20, 2016 Filed under: History, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation, U.S. News | Tags: Boeing, Industrial Light & Magic, National Air and Space Museum, NPR, Paramount Pictures, Smithsonian Institution, Star Trek, Starship Enterprise, Television, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
Erin Blakemore reports Forty-seven years ago, mankind achieved what was once unthinkable when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. But getting him there involved more than strapping the astronaut to a rocket and pressing “go.” Armstrong and his colleagues headed to space in the most advanced spacecraft of their time: the Apollo 11 command module, Columbia. Now, you can explore the module without leaving your couch with the help of a newly-released 3D model that offers unprecedented access to one of history’s most important technological achievements—and the inside scoop on what it was really like to be an Apollo astronaut.
The model is the result of painstaking digitization efforts by the Smithsonian Institution, which houses Columbia at the National Air and Space Museum, and Autodesk, Inc. Given the complexity of the craft—and the fact that photographers weren’t allowed to actually touch it while capturing every nook and cranny—the 3D model is an impressive feat.
It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and offers glimpses unavailable to museum visitors, who are not allowed to explore the inside of the craft. The model can be viewed online, but also comes with publicly available data files for 3-D printing or viewing with virtual reality goggles.
Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins lived in Columbia during their time in space on the Apollo 11 mission, which launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969. Four days later, Aldrin and Armstrong headed to the moon’s surface on the “Eagle” lunar module.
Columbia itself is filled with clues as to life as an early astronaut. While photographing the inside of the module, curators discovered markings made by the astronauts on their mission, including information relayed by mission control and a hand-drawn calendar that documents the journey. The men even scribbled notes to one another on the walls, including a warning about “smelly waste!” that presumably cautioned intrepid explorers to keep away from a certain panel on the cramped craft. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 19, 2016 Filed under: Mediasphere, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: NASA, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Space Exploration, Sun
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was commanded to roll 360 degrees on one axis. The maneuver was performed in 7 hours and time-lapsed here. It’s done to take ‘precise measurements of the solar limb’ according to the SDO team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The sun appears to take a dizzying flip in a new video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft .
SDO did a full somersault on July 6 over the course of about 7 hours, taking pictures of the sun every 12 seconds all the while.
These photos, which SDO team members combined into a video, are pretty wild.
The video seems “to show the sun spinning, as if stuck on a pinwheel,” NASA officials wrote in an image description Friday (July 15).
Posted: July 16, 2016 Filed under: Entertainment, Guns and Gadgets, Science & Technology | Tags: 1950s, toys, vintage
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was a toy produced between 1950 and 1951. The toy allowed the user to conduct simple experiments with radioactive materials. Kit included;
- A Geiger counter
- An electroscope
- A Wilson cloud chamber
- A spinthariscope
- Four samples of uranium ore
- Pb-210 lead isotope
- various other accessories
After only a year of production, the toy was pulled from the market for obvious reasons.
Posted: July 16, 2016 Filed under: Education, Politics, Science & Technology, Think Tank | Tags: media, Pew Research Center, Reason.tv, Scientist, video
Reason TV talks with California progressives about what happens when science meets politics.
Zach Weissmueller, Justin Monticello & Joshua Swain report: It’s popular to portray the GOP as the anti-science party and Democrats as the sane, “party of science” alternative. And only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republicans, according to a 2009 Pew Research poll, which seems to be the most recent one on the topic. But the truth is that when science and politics meet, the result often isn’t pretty, regardless of partisan affiliation.
Reason TV asked locals in Venice, California about their thoughts on various scientific policy questions and compared their answers to public opinion poll data. We found that many people favored mandatory labeling of food that contains DNA, the stuff of life contained in just about every morsel of fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat humans consume. Yet a recent survey out of the University of Florida found that 80 percent of respondents favor mandatory DNA labeling, only slightly below the 85 percent that favor labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While Republicans are divided evenly on the GMO question, Democrats rate them unsafe by a 26-point margin, despite almost 2,000 studies spanning a decade saying otherwise.
Republicans are more skeptical of the theory of evolution, though by a surprisingly slim margin with 39 percent of them rejecting it as compared to 30 percent of Republicans. When it comes to other scientific matters, the waters are even muddier. For instance, Democrats and Republicans believe in the false link between vaccines and autism at roughly equal levels.
[Read the full story here, at Reason.com]
And it’s largely liberal Democratic politicians pushing anti-vaping laws, despite public health agencies estimating e-cigarettes to be around 95% safer than conventional tobacco cigarettes and early evidence they help smokers quit. And vaping products don’t contain any tobacco or its resultant tar, yet the FDA still wants to treat them as tobacco products. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 16, 2016 Filed under: Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: International Space Station, NASA, SpaceX
Cargo and supplies are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Monday, July 18 at 12:45 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft will liftoff from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Among the arriving cargo is the first of two international docking adapters, which will allow commercial spacecraft to dock to the station when transporting astronauts in the near future as part of our Commercial Crew Program.
This metallic ring, big enough for astronauts and cargo to fit through represents the first on-orbit element built to the docking measurements that are standardized for all the spacecraft builders across the world.
Its first users are expected to be the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragonspacecraft, which are both now in development.
What About the Science?!
Experiments launching to the station range from research into the effects of microgravity on the human body, to regulating temperature on spacecraft. Take a look at a few:
A Space-based DNA Sequencer
DNA testing aboard the space station typically requires collecting samples and sending them back to Earth to be analyzed. Our Biomolecule Sequencer Investigation will test a new device that will allow DNA sequencing in space for the first time! The samples in this first test will be DNA from a virus, a bacteria and a mouse.
How big is it? Picture your smartphone…then cut it in half. This miniature device has the potential to identify microbes, diagnose diseases and evaluate crew member health, and even help detect DNA-based life elsewhere in the solar system.
OsteoOmics is an experiment that will investigate the molecular mechanisms that dictate bone loss in microgravity. It does this by examining osteoblasts, which form bone; and osteoclasts, which dissolves bone. New ground-based studies are using magnetic levitation equipment to simulate gravity-related changes. This experiment hopes to validate whether this method accurately simulates the free-fall conditions of microgravity. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 16, 2016 Filed under: Global, History, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Apollo 11, Apollo program, Astronaut, Houston, Manned Mission, Margaret Hamilton, MIT, NASA, Space Exploration
The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.
Paul Smith writes: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—the mission that put human beings on the moon for the first time—was launched in 1969, the year after I was born. My early Christmas presents were giant kids’ books full of pictures of that giant Saturn V rocket launching into space, the command and lunar modules, and of guys in bulky space suits walking on the moon. The first intelligible answer I gave to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “Astronaut.”
I did not end up becoming an astronaut.
Computers also captured my attention at an early age, and now I work as a developer for Slate. But my fascination with space endures—so needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the source code for Apollo 11’s computer guidance systems was uploaded on July 8 to Github, a popular site used by programmers to share code and collaboratively build software. Anyone can now read the actual lines of programming code used to land men on the moon.
[Read the full story here, at slate.com]
The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.
“I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean ‘launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.’ And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?”
The code is pretty inscrutable to casual inspection: It’s not written in a programming language recognizable to modern coders. But Hamilton and her team wrote comments in their code (just like I do when I write code for Slate’s website) to help remind them what’s going on in a given spot in the program. Those parts are surprisingly readable. Here’s a block of code from a file called BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s (really, that’s what it’s called):
So, clearly, “don’t forget to clean out leftover DVTOTAL data when GROUP 4 RESTARTS and then BURN, BABY!” I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean “launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.” And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?
Altogether, with comments and some added copyright headers, the AGC code adds up to about 2 megabytes—a teeny tiny fraction of the amount of code packed into an Apple Watch. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 15, 2016 Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Robotics, Science & Technology | Tags: Australia, Cattle
SwagBot can herd cattle, pull heavy loads and traverse rough terrain. Soon it could be monitoring cattle in remote farms in the Australian outback. Read more
Posted: July 11, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, History, Religion, Science & Technology
An unprecedented find in southern Israel may finally reveal the origins of one of the Hebrew Bible’s greatest villains.
Kristin Romey reports: An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.
The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)
“According to the Hebrew Bible, the Philistines warred with their Israelite neighbors—even seizing the Ark of the Covenant for a time.”
While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.
Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.
Now, the discovery of a cemetery containing more than 211 individuals and dated from the 11th to 8th centuries B.C. will give archaeologists the opportunity to answer critical questions regarding the origin of the Philistines and how they eventually assimilated into the local culture.
Until this discovery, the absence of such cemeteries in major Philistine centers has made researchers’ understanding of their burial practices—and by turn, their origins—”about as accurate as the mythology about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree,” says Lawrence Stager, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Harvard University, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985.
“The search [for a cemetery] became so desperate that archaeologists who study the Philistines began to joke that they were buried at sea like the Vikings—that’s why you couldn’t find them,” explains Assaf Yasur-Landau, an archaeologist at Haifa University and co-director of the Tel Kabri project.
Biblical Villains and Pig-Eaters
The Philistines are among the most notorious villains of the Hebrew Bible. This “uncircumcised” group controlled the coastal region of modern-day southern Israel and the Gaza Strip and warred with their Israelite neighbors—even seizing the Ark of the Covenant for a time. Among their ranks were the devious Delilah, who robbed Samson of his strength by cutting his hair, and the giant Goliath, who made King Saul’s troops tremble in their tents until a young man named David took him down with a slingshot.
Many researchers also tie the Philistines to the Sea Peoples, a mysterious confederation of tribes that appears to have wreaked havoc across the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Late Bronze Age.
In the archaeological record, the Philistines first appear in the early 12th century B.C. Their arrival is signaled by artifacts that belong to what Stager calls “an extraordinarily different culture” from other local populations at the time. These include pottery with close parallels to the ancient Greek world, the use of an Aegean—instead of a Semitic—script, and the consumption of pork (as well as the occasional dog). Several passages in the Hebrew Bible describe the interlopers as coming from the “Land of Caphtor,” or modern-day Crete.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 11, 2016 Filed under: History, Science & Technology | Tags: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Bird, Brazilian capuchins, Cashew, Cockatoo, Current Biology, Indonesia, Israel, Macaque, Monkey, Primates, Primatology, Stone tool, University of Oxford
New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins and spread of tool use in New World monkeys and, controversially perhaps, prompts us to look at whether early human behaviour was influenced by their observations of monkeys using stones as tools. The research was led by Dr Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford, who in previous papers presents archaeological evidence showing that wild macaques in coastal Thailand used stone tools for decades at least to open shellfish and nuts.
Posted: July 7, 2016 Filed under: Economics, Mediasphere, Science & Technology, White House | Tags: American Civil Liberties Union, American Legislative Exchange Council, Barack Obama, Bill (law), Bureau of Land Management, Congressional Research Service, Fiscal year, Presidency of Barack Obama, Scott W. Skavdahl, United States, United States district court
WASHINGTON — In a recent stump speech for Hillary Clinton, President Obama once again took credit for increased domestic energy production and low gasoline prices:
“Remember when we were all concerned about our dependence on foreign oil? Well, let me tell you — we’ve cut the amount of oil we buy from other countries in half. Remember when the other team was promising they were going to get gas prices down in like 10 years? We did it…”
Today, the Institute for Energy Research released an updated analysis explaining how the increase in energy production has happened despite the president’s policies, not because of them. Using a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, IER’s analysis highlights the stark contrast between booming oil and natural gas production on private and state lands and the anemic production on federal lands. IER’s findings include:
- In fiscal year 2015, oil production on federal lands was 0.8 percent more than its high reached in fiscal year 2010, while production on private and state lands was 113 percent higher.
- Natural gas production on federal lands has not regained the high reached in fiscal year 2007. For example, it was 27 percent less in fiscal year 2015 than in fiscal year 2010, while production on private and state lands in 2015 was up by 55 percent since 2010.
- Under the Obama administration, it takes an average of 237 days for the BLM to process a federal drilling permit.
[Click here to read IER’s full analysis.]
- In contrast, some states approve permits within 10 business days.
- The average number of leases issued by Obama’s BLM is almost 60 percent less than the average issued by the Clinton Administration and over 45 percent less than those issued by the Bush 43 Administration.
In recent years, oil and natural gas production on private and state lands has skyrocketed, while production on federal lands is largely in decline and has been throughout most of President Obama’s time in office. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 6, 2016 Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere, Science & Technology | Tags: Angular frequency, Auto racing, Automobile pedal, Automotive industry, Greenwich Mean Time, Internal combustion engine, International finance, London, Microsoft, TechCrunch
Rhett Allain reports: Bob Riggle is 80 years old and he has a car. This car has a 2,500 horsepower engine mounted in the rear. But what happens when you have this much power? Yes, you can see in the video that there are two events. First, the car does a “wheelie” and second the car rolls over.
Fortunately no one was injured, but at least this is a great opportunity for a physics lesson.
Center of Mass and Wheelies
There are some forces acting on this car so let’s start with a diagram.
There are essentially three forces on the car in this case.
- The gravitational force pulls down. We can model this force as though it was only pulling down at one point. We call this point the center of mass (technically, it would be the center of gravity—but on the surface of the Earth these two points are at the same place).
- There is the force that the ground pushes up on the car. Since the car is not accelerating in the vertical direction, this ground force must be equal to the gravitational force.
- The friction force pushes on the tire at the point of contact with the ground. This force pushes the car in the direction that it is accelerating.
But how does this car stay tilted up like that? Shouldn’t the gravitational force make it fall back down? Clearly, it doesn’t. Perhaps the best way to understand this wheelie is to consider fake forces. We normally consider forces as interactions between objects (between the ground and the car or between the Earth and the car). However, it’s sometimes useful to create other forces that are due to accelerations. Now, these are fake forces in that they are not a real interaction. But as viewed in an accelerating reference frame (like inside the car), it is as though there is this real acceleration force.
Since the car accelerates to the left (in the above diagram), the fake force is to the right and keeps the car in wheelie up position.
But what about torque? If you want to rotate an object, you need torque. One expression for torque would be (this is just the scalar form—for simplicity):
In this expression, F is the force, r is the distance from the point of rotation to the point where the force is applied and θ is the angle between these two things. For the total torque about the wheel, it’s really just the torque due to the gravitational force and the torque due to the fake force.
If you put the engine in the front of the car (where it usually is) then the center of mass moves closer to the front. This means the gravitational torque will be much larger (since r is larger). If you get the center of mass closer to the back wheel, the torque from the fake force doesn’t need to be as high to get a wheelie. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 4, 2016 Filed under: Mediasphere, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Cape Canaveral, Coordinated Universal Time, Gas giant, Independence Day (United States), Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Juno (spacecraft), JunoCam, Jupiter, NASA, Solar System
Loren Grush reports: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, bringing it closer to the planet than any probe has come so far. The vehicle reached the gas giant’s north pole this evening, and NASA received confirmation that the vehicle had turned on its main engine at 11:18PM ET. The engine burned for 35 minutes, helping to slow the spacecraft down enough so that it was captured by Jupiter’s gravitational pull. NASA confirmed that the burn was successful at around 11:53PM ET and that Juno was in its intended 53-day orbit.
The orbit insertion was a bit of a nail biter for NASA, as the spacecraft had to travel through regions of powerful radiation and rings of debris surrounding Jupiter. As an added precaution, the probe’s instruments were turned off for the maneuver so that nothing would interfere with the engine burn. But everything seemed to work flawlessly, and NASA received confirmation of the burn’s success almost exactly as expected. The timing only differed by 1 second from pre-burn predictions.
That confirmation came 48 minutes after the event actually occurred, though. That’s because it currently takes 48 minutes to send a signal from Jupiter to Earth. Juno started its burn at around 10:30PM ET and finished at 11:05PM ET, but NASA didn’t confirm all of this until just before midnight. If something had gone wrong and stopped the burn too early, the space agency wouldn’t have been in a position to fix the problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 4, 2016 Filed under: Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Atlas V, California Institute of Technology, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Earth, Eastern Time Zone, Galileo Galilei, Gas giant, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Juno (spacecraft), JunoCam, Jupiter, NASA, Solar System
Jennifer Ouellette reports: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been spinning through space on its way to Jupiter for five years and 445 million miles, and now it’s less than 10 hours away from entering the gas giant’s orbit—the equivalent of a single rotation of Jupiter. If all goes well, scientists will finally be able to learn what lies beneath Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, examine its impressive magnetosphere, and possibly determine the composition of its core.
“If Juno gets hit even by a small piece of dust, it can do a great bit of damage,” he said. “We believe probability is incredibly low that Juno will hit dust or debris, but it’s not zero. Even a 10 micron particle could do some damage moving at the speed we’re moving.”
— Juno project manager Scott Bolton
But first, it’s going to have to execute a tricky 35-minute engine burn under the harshest conditions any NASA spacecraft has yet faced. And that has Juno mission scientists on edge today. They’ve modeled every scenario they can think of, and planned for every contingency. But as Juno project manager Scott Bolton said in this morning’s briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, “This is the highest risk phase.”
“We’ve done everything humanly possible to make this mission a success, but it’s still a cliffhanger,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.
Artist’s concept of Juno sweeping through Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Thus far, the mission has gone off without a hitch, but plenty could still go wrong. For instance, what if the main engine doesn’t fire on cue to start the burn, so far from the sun? “We’ve fired the main engine twice successfully and the third time should be a charm,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager. “But this is the first time we’ve ever fired the main engine at Jupiter. It’s make or break for us.”
Then there’s the intense radiation from Jupiter’s enormous magnetosphere. According to Heidi Becker, lead investigator for Juno’s radiation monitoring, this translates into millions of high energy electrons moving near the speed of light. “They will go right though the spacecraft,” she said. “It’s the equivalent of 100 million x-rays in less than a year for a human being if we had no protection.”
Juno’s polar orbit will avoid the worst of the radiation belts at the planet’s equator, but other high-intensity regions are unavoidable. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 28, 2016 Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Mediasphere, Robotics, Science & Technology, Self Defense, War Room
In the military world, fighter pilots have long been described as the best of the best. As Tom Wolfe famously wrote, only those with the “right stuff” can handle the job. Now, it seems, the right stuff may no longer be the sole purview of human pilots.
A pilot A.I. developed by a doctoral graduate from the University of Cincinnati has shown that it can not only beat other A.I.s, but also a professional fighter pilot with decades of experience. In a series of flight combat simulations, the A.I. successfully evaded retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene “Geno” Lee, and shot him down every time. In a statement, Lee called it “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible A.I. I’ve seen to date.”
And “Geno” is no slouch. He’s a former Air Force Battle Manager and adversary tactics instructor. He’s controlled or flown in thousands of air-to-air intercepts as mission commander or pilot. In short, the guy knows what he’s doing. Plus he’s been fighting A.I. opponents in flight simulators for decades.
[read the full story here, at Popular Science]
But he says this one is different. “I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed.” Read the rest of this entry »