Modern Research Borne on a Relic
Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere
by Joshua A. Krisch
Airships are dusty relics of aviation history. Lighter-than-air vehicles conjure images of the Hindenburg, in its glory and destruction, and the Goodyear Blimp, a floating billboard that barely resembles its powerful predecessors.
But now engineers are designing sleek new airships that could streak past layers of cloud and chart a course through the thin, icy air of the stratosphere, 65,000 feet above the ground — twice the usual altitude of a jetliner. Steered by scientists below, these aerodynamic balloons might be equipped with onboard telescopes that peer into distant galaxies or gather oceanic data along a coastline…
(read more: NY Times)
image by Keck Institute for Space Studies/Eagre Institute

Modern Research Borne on a Relic

Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere

by Joshua A. Krisch

Airships are dusty relics of aviation history. Lighter-than-air vehicles conjure images of the Hindenburg, in its glory and destruction, and the Goodyear Blimp, a floating billboard that barely resembles its powerful predecessors.

But now engineers are designing sleek new airships that could streak past layers of cloud and chart a course through the thin, icy air of the stratosphere, 65,000 feet above the ground — twice the usual altitude of a jetliner. Steered by scientists below, these aerodynamic balloons might be equipped with onboard telescopes that peer into distant galaxies or gather oceanic data along a coastline…

(read more: NY Times)

image by Keck Institute for Space Studies/Eagre Institute

An underground neutrino detector has found particles produced by the fusion of two protons in the sun’s core

Deep inside the sun pairs of protons fuse to form heavier atoms, releasing mysterious particles called neutrinos in the process. These reactions are thought to be the first step in the chain responsible for 99 percent of the energy the sun radiates, but scientists have never found proof until now. For the first time, physicists have captured the elusive neutrinos produced by the sun’s basic proton fusion reactions…

amnhnyc
amnhnyc:

HEY NEWYORKERS!
The Frontiers Lecture Series kicks off September 8 
with Caleb Scharf and the Copernicus Complex. 
Though the concept of “the universe” suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. Renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating.
As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true—we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances. To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos.
Scharf will sign copies of The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities after the lecture.
Get tickets today. 

amnhnyc:

HEY NEWYORKERS!

The Frontiers Lecture Series kicks off September 8

with Caleb Scharf and the Copernicus Complex

Though the concept of “the universe” suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. Renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating.

As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true—we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances. To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos.

Scharf will sign copies of The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities after the lecture.

Get tickets today. 

n-a-s-a
pennyfornasa:

New Horizons Flies By Neptune Exactly 25 Years After Voyager 2 In what NASA is calling a “cosmic coincidence” the New Horizons probe makes its flyby of Neptune on the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s Neptune encounter. On August 25, 1989, Voyager 2 made its closest flyby of Neptune, making it the first spacecraft to study the planet. During Voyager 2’s flyby, it discovered a massive anticyclonic storm system called the Great Dark Spot, similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Today, NASA’s New Horizons probe is embarking on an equally exciting journey to another world never before visited by a spacecraft. When the spacecraft arrives on July 14, 2015, it will provide the first detailed images of Pluto. The dwarf planet is so distant from us that even images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope appear blurry. Read more about the New Horizons mission and Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune here: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/august/nasa-s-new-horizons-spacecraft-crosses-neptune-orbit-en-route-to-historic-pluto/index.htm

pennyfornasa:

New Horizons Flies By Neptune Exactly 25 Years After Voyager 2

In what NASA is calling a “cosmic coincidence” the New Horizons probe makes its flyby of Neptune on the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s Neptune encounter. On August 25, 1989, Voyager 2 made its closest flyby of Neptune, making it the first spacecraft to study the planet. During Voyager 2’s flyby, it discovered a massive anticyclonic storm system called the Great Dark Spot, similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Today, NASA’s New Horizons probe is embarking on an equally exciting journey to another world never before visited by a spacecraft. When the spacecraft arrives on July 14, 2015, it will provide the first detailed images of Pluto. The dwarf planet is so distant from us that even images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope appear blurry.

Read more about the New Horizons mission and Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune here: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/august/nasa-s-new-horizons-spacecraft-crosses-neptune-orbit-en-route-to-historic-pluto/index.htm

On August 24, 2014, the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:16 a.m. EDT.

Here are some captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

This flare is classified as an M5 flare. M-class flares are ten times less powerful than the most intense flares, called X-class flares.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO

More here: NASA Little Solar Dynamics Observatory

Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light Years From Earth
by Ken Crosswell
Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.
Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can’t sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it’s colder than Earth’s mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
illustration: Rob Gizis, CUNY BMCC

Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light Years From Earth

by Ken Crosswell

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.

Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can’t sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it’s colder than Earth’s mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

illustration: Rob Gizis, CUNY BMCC

Will Science Burst the Multiverse’s Bubble?
by Ian O’Neill
Physicists aren’t afraid of thinking big, but what happens when you think too big?

This philosophical question overlaps with real physics when hypothesizing what lies beyond the boundary of our observable universe. The problem with trying to apply science to something that may or may not exist beyond our physical realm is that it gets a little foggy as to how we could scientifically test it.

A leading hypothesis to come from cosmic inflation theory and advanced theoretical studies — centering around the superstring hypothesis — is that of the multiverse, an idea that scientists have had a hard time in testing.

In its most basic sense, the multiverse is a collection of universes popping in and out of existence, bustling around in a foamy mess, embedded in a vacuum of non-zero energy. Through quantum fluctuations, universes are born while others die — each universe taking on different forms and different kinds of physics.

But, if the multiverse hypothesis has any shred of reality behind it, how can scientists prove (or at least gather some observational evidence) that we exist inside one of an infinite ocean of universes? …
(read more: Discovery News)

Will Science Burst the Multiverse’s Bubble?

by Ian O’Neill

Physicists aren’t afraid of thinking big, but what happens when you think too big?

This philosophical question overlaps with real physics when hypothesizing what lies beyond the boundary of our observable universe. The problem with trying to apply science to something that may or may not exist beyond our physical realm is that it gets a little foggy as to how we could scientifically test it.

A leading hypothesis to come from cosmic inflation theory and advanced theoretical studies — centering around the superstring hypothesis — is that of the multiverse, an idea that scientists have had a hard time in testing.

In its most basic sense, the multiverse is a collection of universes popping in and out of existence, bustling around in a foamy mess, embedded in a vacuum of non-zero energy. Through quantum fluctuations, universes are born while others die — each universe taking on different forms and different kinds of physics.

But, if the multiverse hypothesis has any shred of reality behind it, how can scientists prove (or at least gather some observational evidence) that we exist inside one of an infinite ocean of universes? …

(read more: Discovery News)

Meg Crofoot is taking wildlife investigations out of this world.

Meg crofoot (above), a biologist at the university of California-Davis, is no stranger to animal tracking. She’s studied the social lives of monkeys for 10 years, employing techniques ranging from old-fashioned foot pursuit to radio and GPS collars.

Soon Crofoot will take more tracking studies out of this world. In 2015 the ICARUS Initiative, an ambitious international project she’s co-leading, will launch a remote sensing device into space, where astronauts will attach it to the International Space Station. The receiver will give researchers a greater ability than ever before to follow animals bearing tiny GPS tags around the world for months at a time, producing unprecedented pictures of migrations and movements from orbit…

The Cosmic Web:
Observations and simulations of the intergalactic medium reveal the largest structures in the universe
by Robert Simcoe

There is no such thing as empty space. The idea of absolute emptiness realizes its closest approximation in the barren expanses between the stars and the galaxies, but even the most remote corners of the universe are suffused with very low density gas—which becomes increasingly rarefied as one ventures farther away from the places where galaxies consort.
Consider this fact: In the air we breathe, each cubic centimeter contains roughly 5 X 1019 atoms. In contrast, the intergalactic medium has a density of only 10–6 particles per cubic centimeter—each atom inhabits a private box a meter on each side.
This would seem to suggest that there is not much matter in the intergalactic medium. But, given the enormous volume between the galaxies, it quickly adds up: The combined atomic mass of intergalactic gas exceeds the combined atomic mass of all the stars and galaxies in the universe—possibly by as much as 50 percent! There is indeed something in empty space.
As cosmologists construct new narratives of the universe’s evolution from its beginning—the Big Bang—to the present day, it is becoming clear that we must understand the physics of intergalactic matter if we are to write the history of how the galaxies, stars and planets formed. In the past decade, rapid advances in both the design of telescopes and computing power have allowed us to study the remote corners of intergalactic space in unprecedented detail. These new results deepen our understanding of how the grandest structures in the universe formed and evolved…
(read more: American Scientist)
Images courtesy of Renyue Cen, Princeton University

The Cosmic Web:

Observations and simulations of the intergalactic medium reveal the largest structures in the universe

by Robert Simcoe

There is no such thing as empty space. The idea of absolute emptiness realizes its closest approximation in the barren expanses between the stars and the galaxies, but even the most remote corners of the universe are suffused with very low density gas—which becomes increasingly rarefied as one ventures farther away from the places where galaxies consort.

Consider this fact: In the air we breathe, each cubic centimeter contains roughly 5 X 1019 atoms. In contrast, the intergalactic medium has a density of only 10–6 particles per cubic centimeter—each atom inhabits a private box a meter on each side.

This would seem to suggest that there is not much matter in the intergalactic medium. But, given the enormous volume between the galaxies, it quickly adds up: The combined atomic mass of intergalactic gas exceeds the combined atomic mass of all the stars and galaxies in the universe—possibly by as much as 50 percent! There is indeed something in empty space.

As cosmologists construct new narratives of the universe’s evolution from its beginning—the Big Bang—to the present day, it is becoming clear that we must understand the physics of intergalactic matter if we are to write the history of how the galaxies, stars and planets formed. In the past decade, rapid advances in both the design of telescopes and computing power have allowed us to study the remote corners of intergalactic space in unprecedented detail. These new results deepen our understanding of how the grandest structures in the universe formed and evolved…

(read more: American Scientist)

Images courtesy of Renyue Cen, Princeton University

A giant, 100-foot-diameter (30 meters) telescope has been green-lighted for construction on the island of Hawaii.

When it begins operations, TMT will enable astronomers to explore objects inside the solar system, stars throughout the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the farthest edge of the observable universe…

Cassiopeia A - A Star Explodes and Turns Inside Out
A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process. Using very long observations of Cassiopeia A (or Cas A), a team of scientists has mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in unprecedented detail. This information shows where the different layers of the pre-supernova star are located three hundred years after the explosion, and provides insight into the nature of the supernova…
(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)
image: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang & J.Laming

Cassiopeia A - A Star Explodes and Turns Inside Out

A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process. Using very long observations of Cassiopeia A (or Cas A), a team of scientists has mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in unprecedented detail. This information shows where the different layers of the pre-supernova star are located three hundred years after the explosion, and provides insight into the nature of the supernova…

(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

image: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang & J.Laming