I don't know about you, but back when I was working a nine-to-five gig that forced me to wear pants and show up on time, I had days at work where I wanted nothing more than to knock everything off my desk and set the office on fire. I'm betting it's a feeling that former U.S. Army Sergeant John T. Skipper can relate to.
During a training exercise back in 2016, Sgt. Skipper, now a former member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, decided that he'd totally be into finding out what happens to a Humvee when its parachute straps are tampered with during a tactical airdrop from a C-130 Hercules.
The answer: As this YouTube video captured by spectators on the ground illustrates, nothing good. However, the premise that a vehicle that reaches terminal velocity during a fall will be destroyed on impact with the ground can't be taken as gospel. An experiment has to be repeated, with the same result, for it to become a fact that you can rely on. So, apparently in the name of Science, Skipper cut the straps on not one, but three Humvees during the course of the exercise.
This past week, Sgt. Skipper was court-martialled for his dabblings with gravity. As a result, he was convicted of three counts of destroying military property with a value of more than $500 and providing a false official statement. "More than $500" is an understatement. While you can buy a well-loved Humvee at auction for a few grand, these days, the ones still in service, or bought new, have an estimated worth of starting at around $70,000. Read the rest
Filipino student Hillary Diane Andales won a $250,000 scholarship from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for this entertaining and easy-to-understand explainer on relativity and the equivalence of reference frames. Read the rest
The microgravity of space would really put a damper on your dice games. You roll them and they don't land. The 3D Printing Professor has a fun solution. Space Dice (via Adafruit)
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A few months ago I was introduced to a magical, magnetic toy called the Feel Flux and the folks who invented it just sent their newest invention – the Feel Flux Skill Set.
It’s the same toy as before except now, there are two tubes to play with – and since it’s a bit like juggling, the gravity-defying effect can be virtually endless.
Each time you drop the metal ball through the tube you’d expect it to zip out the other end but instead, it lazily creeps from one end to the other and dribbles out into your waiting hand.
I can’t wait for the inevitable three-tube version to hit the market!
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This extremely informative video describes in detail how scientists discovered a huge gravity anomaly under the Antarctic ice. Even better, they slowly draw viewers in to their theory that the likely impact basin is part of a larger UFO conspiracy. Read the rest
Gravitational waves are real, and scientists have detected them. In the video above, PBS Space Time explains the discovery by researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). From the New York Times:
A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.
More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.
Below, NASA's animated simulation of the black holes merging and releasing the gravitational radiation (background here):
above image credits: R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL Read the rest
Depending on whether your sound is on or off, this fellow is either painfully enduring or tremendously enjoying high G-force training. (YouTube)
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Gravity isn't uniform. Denser planets and objects in space — that is, things with more mass to them — experience a stronger pull of gravity. But even if you zoom in to the level of a single planet (or, in this case, our Moon), gravity isn't uniform all the way around. That's because the mass of the Moon isn't uniform, either. It varies, along with the topography. In some places, the Moon's crust is thicker. Those places have more mass, and thus, more gravitational pull.
This map, showing changes in density and gravity across the surface of the Moon, was made from data collected by Ebb and Flow — a matched set of NASA probes that mapped the Moon's gravitational field before being intentionally crashed on its surface last December. By measuring the gravitational field, these probes told us a lot about how the density of the Moon varies which, in turn, tells us a lot about topography.
You can read more about the probes (and see some videos they took of the lunar surface) at the NASA Visualization Explorer. Read the rest