Science-inspired lamps: Large Hadron Collider and James Webb Space Telescope


Designer Art Donovan writes, "I'm always looking for new and unique inspiration for my lighting commissions and the latest, cutting edge scientific devices offer a boatload of great design inspiration. From the cool, new 'James Webb Space Telescope' to the myriad of complex details in the L.H.P.C. at Cern- it's a cornucopia of rich imagery." Read the rest

Space botanists are beneficiaries of Canada's legal weed boom


It's hard to fund space exploration research -- the commercial applications are speculative and far-off -- but there's never been a better time to study super-efficient, closed-loop botany of the sort that will someday accompany human interplanetary missions, thanks to the need to develop better grow-ops for the burgeoning legal weed market in Canada. Read the rest

Astronomers discover youngest fully formed exoplanet ever known

Illustration: K2-33b is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission, as well as the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, have discovered the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever detected. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

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World's largest telescope in jeopardy

Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory is the world's largest radio telescope. Arecibo is an icon of science. It's where scientists proved the existence of neutron stars was proven, discovered the first binary pulsar, made the first direct image of an asteroid, made the first discovery of extrasolar planets, and of course transmitted the Arecibo Message, an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. And right now, the Arecibo Observatory is facing demolition due to budget cuts. Nadia Drake attended meetings this month in Puerto Rico to where scientists, staff, students, and the National Science Foundation discussed the telescope's fate and why it needs to be saved. From Natalie's wondrous "No Place Like Home" blog at National Geographic:

Science isn’t the only concern at Arecibo. In fact, the majority of people at the meetings discussed the role the observatory plays in inspiring and training Puerto Rican students, some 20,000 of whom visit the site every year.

Though it’s hard to quantify, the value of inspiration and education is not insignificant, especially considering how underrepresented Hispanic students are in the sciences.

As evidence, several students involved in the Arecibo Observatory Space Academy spoke about how important their time at the observatory was, and how this pre-college program gave them hands-on research experience that continues to affect their lives.

“I can say that AOSA has had a great impact on my life,” said Adriana Lopez, a 14-year-old space academy alum. “Always, in my life, I’ve been fascinated with space, and it has led me to join several camps, but none of them have affected me like AOSA.

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SpaceX launched 2 satellites into orbit, but its Falcon 9 rocket crashed

As seen from VAB roof at NASA Kennedy, Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 10:29 a.m. EDT with Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS 2A comms satellites. Photo: SpaceFlightNow.
SpaceX successfully deployed two satellites on Wednesday, but the Falcon 9 rocket that carried them into orbit then crashed into its drone ship while touching down in the Atlantic Ocean.

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'Jupiter: Into the Unknown', a NASA Juno Mission Trailer

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“Get some popcorn. This July 4, we're going to Jupiter.”

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This small asteroid is Earth's constant cosmic companion

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA announced today that a small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around our Sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. And it'll stay that way for centuries to come.

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere


“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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The closest I'll get to Jupiter is this JPL clean room


Hey Jupiter, I hope you're ready for your close-up.

Recently, I was granted the rare privilege of stepping inside one of the largest cleanrooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I was there to learn about this year's blockbuster space mission, Juno, and chat with some super smart science and engineering people who worked on the project.

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Elon Musk Says Humans Will Go To Mars by 2024

Elon Musk (Reuters / Stephen Lam)

In my weekly segment on KCRW's “Press Play” news program with host Madeleine Brand, we listen to Elon Musk wax poetic about artificial intelligence and whether life might be a dream--and his plans to send humans to Mars by 2025.

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King Tut's dagger was forged from meteorite


New analysis of the dagger buried with King Tut confirms that the weapon was made from an iron meteorite. They used X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to study the dagger, found on Tut's mummified body by Howard Carter in 1925. Daniela Comelli of Milan Polytechnic's department of physics and her colleagues have even identified the most likely meteorite used to forge the dagger.

"We took into consideration all meteorites found within an area of 2,000 km in radius centered in the Red Sea, and we ended up with 20 iron meteorites," Comelli told "Only one, named Kharga, turned out to have nickel and cobalt contents which are possibly consistent with the composition of the blade."


The study shows the ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of precious objects, possibly perceiving those chunks of iron falling from the sky as a divine message.

The most ancient Egyptian iron artifacts, nine small beads excavated from a cemetery along the west bank of the Nile tomb in Gerzeh and dated about 3200 BC, are also made from meteoritic iron hammered into thin sheets.

"It would be very interesting to analyze more pre-Iron Age artifacts, such as other iron objects found in King Tut's tomb. We could gain precious insights into metal working technologies in ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean," Comelli said.

"King Tut's Blade Made of Meteorite" Read the rest

NASA telescopes spot clues for how Giant Black Holes formed so quickly

NASA Illustration of evidence that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early Universe.
NASA today announced that astronomers studying data from NASA’s Great Observatories have found the best evidence yet for “cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.”

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NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

This artist's concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA's Kepler space telescope. NASA/W. Stenzel

NASA announced today that the Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets -- the single largest finding of planets to date.

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Canada's Fort McMurray wildfire is so massive, you can see it from space

On May 8, 2016, the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite captured this image of Ft. McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada.
[NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team]

The massive wildfire that continues to burn in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada has been captured from space by NASA imaging satellites.

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Look up in the sky! Eta Aquarids meteor shower expected to peak through May 6

An Eta Aquarid meteor streaks over northern Georgia on 29 April 2012. (NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke)

For amateur astronomers, tonight is an exciting night.

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Amazing GoPro video of rocket launched into near space

UP Aerospace Inc. launched a 20-foot tall rocket nearly 400,000 feet into the upper atmosphere to test the re-entry of the capsule. Eventually, such a capsule could bring biological samples back to Earth from space.

More details on the capsule at NASA.

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IMAX's "A Beautiful Planet" is a 3D visit to the International Space Station


I'm ashamed to admit that I never learned much about the International Space Station. But after seeing the IMAX 3D documentary A Beautiful Planet, I feel like I spent 45 minutes in it, and it was emotional and thrilling. I'm normally not a big fan of 3D movies, but the quality was so high that it didn't bother me and instead made the experience of learning about life inside the ISS that much better.

I was enthralled the entire time I watched the movie. I felt like I was floating in the ISS, observing the astronauts right in front of me as they ate, cut their hair, made espresso, helped each other get into their spacesuits, and played the bagpipes. I remember reading somewhere that one of the requirements of being an astronaut is that you can't be arrogant or have a big ego because those aren't good traits to have when you live in close quarters for months on end with other people. The astronauts on the ISS all seemed very smart, good natured, and kind. I wanted to hug them all.

The movie, which is narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, is called A Beautiful Planet because the main star of the show is our planet as filmed by crew of the ISS. We've all seen images of the Earth from space, but to see them in 3D on giant screen in crystal clarity is another experience altogether. My 13-year-old daughter was shocked by the nighttime footage of South and North Korea. Read the rest

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