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Possible Habitable Planet Discovered July 23, 2015

Posted by Al Philipson in Science and Science Fiction news, Uncategorized.
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The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone—a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.

The size of Kepler-186f is known to be less than ten percent larger than Earth, but its mass, composition and density are not known. Previous research suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130 days and receives one-third the energy that Earth does from the sun, placing it near the outer edge of the habitable zone. If you could stand on the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon would appear as bright as our sun is about an hour before sunset on Earth.

Image credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Full story on Kepler-186F

New Planet beyond Pluto July 23, 2015

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NewPlanetTransPlutoNew Planet Discovered Beyond Pluto

This artist’s concept shows the planet cataloged as 2003UB313 at the lonely outer fringes of our solar system. Our Sun can be seen in the distance. The new planet, which is yet to be formally named, is at least as big as Pluto and about three times farther away from the Sun than Pluto.

Courtesy of NASA. Full story.

NASA Designing New Space Telescope November 20, 2014

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JamesWebbSpaceTelescopeThe new telescope will be 100 times more powerful than the Hubble. It will orbit the sun at the same angular velocity as Earth, but about a million miles beyond Earth’s orbit.

By comparison, Hubble orbits the Earth which means it has some problems with emanations from our planet. However, Hubble can be serviced via space shuttle. The Webb will be on its own.

Designers hope to be able to see “to the edge of the universe” and thus see the energy from the original Big Bang. It should also be able to better see and evaluate planets around other stars (suns).

“Webb will have a 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror, which would give it a significant larger collecting area than the mirrors available on the current generation of space telescopes. Hubble’s mirror is a much smaller 2.4 meters in diameter and its corresponding collecting area is 4.5 m2, giving Webb around 7 times more collecting area! Webb will have significantly larger field of view than the NICMOS camera on Hubble (covering more than ~15 times the area) and significantly better spatial resolution than is available with the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope.”

The complete story.

NASA investigates hibernation for deep space missions October 29, 2014

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NASA investigates hibernation for deep space missions

Science fiction is again becoming science fact.In preparation for a possible manned mission to Mars, NASA is researching ways to utilize human hibernation to circumvent problems associated with prolonged deep space exploration. Working in tandem with Atlanta based aerospace company, SpaceWorks, NASA’s preliminary plan was revealed at the 2014 International Astronomical Congress in Toronto. “Sending astronauts that far into space would be too challenging, costly and grueling without it,” said SpaceWorks engineer John Bradford.

The technology isn’t ready for use yet. No long-term experiments have been conducted. Since 2003, the base technology has been used in hospitals when needed.The full article is here.

New Sources of Compact Power October 16, 2014

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Concept of what an E-Cat would look like if manufactured

Cold fusion reactor verified by third-party researchers, seems to have 1 million times the energy density of gasoline

“Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, green energy – has been verified by third-party researchers, according to a new 54-page report. The researchers observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, or ‘far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume’.”

The researchers couched their announcement and analysis with a lot of “weasel words”, probably bearing in mind the debunking of a previous “cold fusion” claim a few years ago.

However, at least one outfit involved is dumping all their petroleum holdings.

Click for full articleLockheed says it’ll make a truck-sized fusion reactor within 10 years

“Lockheed Martin, the US government’s largest contractor, says it has made a technological breakthrough in nuclear fusion power. The breakthrough will apparently allow Lockheed to build a 100-megawatt “compact fusion reactor” (CFR) that can fit on the back of a truck within 10 years. The reduced size — just 10 feet by 7 feet — will allow Lockheed to “design, build, and test the CFR in less than a year.” Clean, limitless power –  from a compact generator, no less! – could give us airplanes that can stay in the air forever, reliable power for developing nations, fresh water through cheap desalination, and much, much more. If Lockheed really has cracked fusion power generation, then almost every aspect of modern life could be in for a revolution.”

Details are sketchy from the Lockheed “Skunk Works”. There is a feeling that the announcement was hurried because of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat announcement (above). Lockheed never comes out and says this device is a certainty, just that they have “promising” breakthroughs.

If either announcement bears fruit, the future of the energy world could be both chaotic and promising.

Growing Crops in Martian or Lunar Soil September 18, 2014

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Mars_GreenhouseCrops Grow On Fake Moon And Mars Soil


That means future space colonizers may be able to farm their own food using local dirt. No hydroponics necessary.

If humans ever set up permanent bases on the Moon or Mars, we’ll need to be able to grow our own food there. To find out whether that’s actually possible, a team of scientists in the Netherlands planted 14 plant species in soils that simulate the Martian and lunar regolith. It turned out that the Martian soil simulant was better than some Earth soils for growing plant life, which is good news for astronauts and colonists.

Real Moon and Mars soils appear to contain the essential ingredients that plants need, except for reactive nitrogen (and an abundant water supply). Though the simulant soils closely match the composition and grain size of the real stuff, they also contain trace amounts of the nitrates and ammonium—the nitrogen-based compounds that plants love. So the simulant soil isn’t a perfect model.

The complete article. Sarah Fecht

MIT & Harvard Scientists Create Light Sabers September 16, 2014

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LightSabersUsing an effect called a Rydberg blockade to create the first “photonic molecule” — a sort of quantum bromance (what a pun).

“The team made no mention of the potential for weaponizing the new molecules to take on any Sith lords, but I suppose DARPA or any number of Jedi masters who follow Crave could come calling at any moment.”

… This new bond between photons could also have practical applications for contemporary chipmakers working to convert light into electric signals.

Most mind-blowing of all, … the breakthrough could one day lead to technologies that allow for the creation of complex 3D structures, like crystals, made out of light.

For the complete article by Eric Mack, go here.

Brain-to-brain communication is finally possible September 9, 2014

Posted by Al Philipson in Science and Science Fiction news.
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BrainToBrainOkay, it’s very clunky and a long way from mind reading. A stage “mind reader” could probably do better.

But it’s interesting just the same.

“This is likely the closest that people have ever gotten to telepathy — although, admittedly, it’s still not very close. The researchers, in their PLOS ONE paper, called it the “realization of the first human brain-to-brain interface.”

Here’s how they did it.

Deserting Earth for a Chance in Space August 19, 2014

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For most, space exploration has been a fascination since adolescence; series like Star War and Star Trek, romanticizing the concept of far off planets and uninhabitable lands, filled with vast expanses of the darkness of space. Letting dreams take you beyond the clouds, aspirations of a career as an astronaut seem closer than before, but what about those who cannot make it through the rigorous process of entering NASA’s elite profession? Turns out you can buy your way off this planet; but there is still catch-you can’t come back.

mars-oneAs news of NASA’s plan to construct a permanent greenhouse on our local neighboring red planet Mars, other news comes from the red planet’s private sector-the newly funded “Mars One”. The independently crowd-funded Dutch company, Mars One is estimating that they can colonize Mars for human pilgrims as soon as 2023. And people are flooding in for a chance to explore the red planet. (more…)

NASA: New “impossible” engine works, could change space travel forever August 1, 2014

Posted by Al Philipson in Science and Science Fiction news.
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Until recently, every physicist was laughing at this engine and its inventor, Roger Shawyer. It’s called the EmDrive and everyone said it was impossible because it goes against classical mechanics. But the fact is that the quantum vacuum plasma thruster works and scientists can’t explain why.

NASA: New "impossible" engine works, could change space travel foreverShawyer’s engine is extremely light and simple. It provides a thrust by “bouncing microwaves around in a closed container.” The microwaves are generated using electricity that can be provided by solar energy. No propellant is necessary, which means that this thrusters can work forever unless a hardware failure occurs. If real, this would be a major breakthrough in space propulsion technology.

The entire idea that we have found something that seems to go against the the principle of conservation of momentum just seems crazy …. But the fact that it has worked for two independent parties can’t be denied.

For the complete story, go here.