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Category: Technology

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ted Simons interviews a shining star in the universe of astrophysics, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The author and host of PBS NOVA ScienceNOW talks about what sparked his interest in the cosmos. Ted also asks what Tyson has against Pluto, the celestial body that was discovered at Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson
(Video hosted on Youtube.)

eil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia. Tyson’s professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. Tyson obtains his data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

In 2001, Tyson was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.

In 2004, Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” commission. This group navigated a path by which the new space vision can become a successful part of the American agenda. And in 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which will help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.

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Cern’s Big Bang test

Another Big Bang experiment took place inside the world’s biggest, most expensive and most powerful particle accelerator on the Swiss French border. It is seen as a beginning of understanding the origins of the universe. But what are the tangible benefits of such an experiment? Is it worth it?

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Inside Story – Cern’s Big Bang test
(Video hosted on Youtube.)

he Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Two beams of subatomic particles called ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC. There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what’s for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.

Inside Area 51

Area 51 (Currently known as Air Force Flight Test Center, Detachment 3 and also known as Dreamland, Watertown Strip, Paradise Ranch, The Box, Groom Lake) is a remote tract of land in southern Nevada, owned by the United States Air Force, containing an airfield whose primary purpose is the secret development and testing of new military aircraft. It is famed as the subject of many UFO conspiracy theories. Its secretive nature and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a centerpiece of modern UFO and conspiracy theory.

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Inside Area 51

(Video hosted on Youtube.)

ome of the unconventional activities claimed to be underway at Area 51 include: The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology. Meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials. The development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control. Activities related to a supposed shadowy world government. Many of the theories concern underground facilities at Groom or at nearby Papoose Lake, and include claims of a transcontinental underground railroad system, a disappearing airstrip (nicknamed the “Cheshire Airstrip”, after Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat) which briefly appearAliens when water is sprayed onto its camouflaged asphalt , and engineering based on alien technology.

Area 51

Area 51

In 1989, Bob Lazar claimed that he had worked at a facility at Papoose Lake (which he called S-4) on such a U.S. Government flying saucer. One major theory is that Area 51 is a place which simulates the environment of the moon. In 2000-2001, Fox Television broadcast a show about Apollo moon landing hoax accusations, in which it was suggested that the whole moon landing in 1969 was a hoax and was filmed in parts of Area 51. Others, however, claim that during the mid 1990s, the most secret work previously done at Groom was quietly moved to other facilities, including Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and that the continued secrecy around Groom is largely a successful attempt at misdirection.In July 1996, a man named Victor came forward and said on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM radio show that he had a videotape of an alien interrogation. He said that he copied the tape and smuggled the copy out of Area 51. The video showed the head of an alien in a dark room, possibly using telepathy to communicate with military personnel and scientists. azar says that he met Edward Teller while employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and that Teller recommended him for an employment interview with EG&G after Lazar had moved to Las Vegas. They passed him over for the job, but not soon after, shuttled him to Area 51 to work on classified projects. As Gene Huff writes, “At area 51, Bob had to sign a secrecy agreement and an agreement to waive his constitutional rights, which is illegal but was made possible by an executive order with Ronald Reagan’s signature on it. He also had to sign an agreement which allowed them to monitor his phone line. Bob already had ‘Q’ clearance, which is top secret civilian clearance, at Los Alamos but he had never gone through anything like this. The clearance he was now attaining would require perpetual monitoring of his activities and would never simply be attained and forgotten about until the next review date. After some abrupt suggestions that he honor his secrecy agreement and watch his general conduct, he and Mariani boarded a bus with blacked out windows and took a 20 to 30 minute ride down a bumpy dirt/gravel road. They arrived at a base near Papoose dry lake bed known as S4.”After some allergy tests (due, Lazar said, to the potentially hazardous substances he might be required to use) Lazar was informed that he would be “on call” as needed. He continued working at a photography shop, while making jaunts to S4 about once a week. Eventually, Lazar says he was asked to examine the propulsion system of a disc-shaped aircraft (he insists he saw nine flying saucers in various states of disrepair, but was allowed to closely examine only one of them). Lazar claims that when he first saw disc-shaped craft at the base, he concluded they were secret ? but decidedly terrestrial ? aircraft, and that sightings of test flights were responsible for UFO reports. Only on closer examination of the craft did Lazar conclude it was designed by and for extraterrestrials.

Hubble 20 Years of Space Discoveries

The Hubble telescope marks two decades in space this month, where it has captured stunning images that have had a profound effect on our understanding of the universe. And to celebrate, NASA has released a recent image that shows a star factory in action. NASA’s tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope on its 20th anniversary in space. This beautiful video surveys the incredible accomplishments of this revolutionary instrument: everybody’s favorite telescope.

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(Video hosted on Youtube
Hubble 20 Years of Space Discoveries

ASA’s best-recognized, longest-lived, and most prolific space observatory zooms past a threshold of 20 years of operation this month. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle and crew of STS-31 were launched to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into a low Earth orbit. What followed was one of the most remarkable sagas of the space age. Hubble’s unprecedented capabilities made it one of the most powerful science instruments ever conceived by humans, and certainly the one most embraced by the public. Hubble discoveries revolutionized nearly all areas of current astronomical research, from planetary science to cosmology. And, its pictures were unmistakably out of this world.

Carina nebula

Carina nebula

In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers is releasing one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble’s cameras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth – and death – is taking place. Hubble’s view of the nebula shows star birth in a new level of detail. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the process, these stars are shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born.

The immense nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars that are roughly estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun. The most unique and opulent inhabitant is the star Eta Carinae, at far left. Eta Carinae is in the final stages of its brief and eruptive lifespan, as evidenced by two billowing lobes of gas and dust that presage its upcoming explosion as a titanic supernova.

The fireworks in the Carina region started three million years ago when the nebula’s first generation of newborn stars condensed and ignited in the middle of a huge cloud of cold molecular hydrogen. Radiation from these stars carved out an expanding bubble of hot gas. The island-like clumps of dark clouds scattered across the nebula are nodules of dust and gas that are resisting being eaten away by photoionization.

This brand new Hubble photo is of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble’s classic “Pillars of Creation” photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are celebrating Hubble’s journey of exploration with this stunning new picture, online educational activities, an opportunity for people to explore galaxies as armchair scientists, and an opportunity for astronomy enthusiasts to send in their own personal greetings to Hubble for posterity.

Hubble, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, a location that affords it an unobstructed view of the universe. The telescope is about 13 metres long and does not travel to any of the celestial objects it captures images of. It orbits the Earth at a height of about 570 kilometres.

Hubble will eventually be replaced by its successor, the larger James Webb space telescope. The Webb has a planned 2014 launch date. The Webb has a much larger mirror than that in the Hubble space telescope, and means that the Webb will be able to look farther into space.

(From : Nasa)

The Search For Earth-Like Planets

The search for Earth-like planets is reaching a fever-pitch. Does the evidence so far help shed light on the ancient question: Is the galaxy filled with life, or is Earth just a beautiful, lonely aberration? If things dont work out on this planet Or if our itch to explore becomes unbearable at some point in the future Astronomers have recently found out what kind of galactic real estate might be available to us. Well have to develop advanced transport to land there, 20 light years away. The question right now: is it worth the trip?

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(Video hosted on Youtube)
The Search For Earth-Like Planets

re we alone? For centuries, human beings have pondered this question. Medieval scholars speculated that other worlds must exist and that some would harbor other forms of life. In our time, advances in science and technology have brought us to the threshold of finding an answer to this timeless question. The recent discovery of numerous planets around stars other than the sun confirms that our solar system is not unique. Indeed, these “exoplanets” appear to be common in our galactic neighborhood. The exoplanets we have discovered so far are giants, like Jupiter and Saturn. They are unlikely to support life as we know it. But some of these planetary systems might also contain smaller, terrestrial planets like Mars and Earth.

Over the next 15 years, NASA is embarking on a bold series of missions to find and characterize new worlds. These will be the most sensitive instruments ever built, capable of reaching beyond the bounds of our own solar system. The Keck Interferometer combines the light of the world’s largest optical telescopes, extending our vision to new distances. Using a technique known as interferometry, the Keck will study dust clouds around stars where Earthlike planets may be forming. NASA’s Kepler Mission, scheduled to launch in 2009, will survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets. It will tell us whether planets like Earth are common or rare in our galaxy. SIM PlanetQuest, to follow Kepler, will measure the distances and positions of stars with unprecedented accuracy. SIM’s precision will allow us to locate planets in the habitable zones around nearby stars. Finally, the Terrestrial Planet Finder will build upon the legacy of all that have gone before it. With an imaging power 100 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope, the Terrestrial Planet Finder observatories will provide the first photographs of nearby planetary systems. We will analyze the atmospheres of these distant worlds, looking for carbon dioxide, water and ozone. The substantial presence of all three gasses would suggest that life is present. Such a discovery would at last provide convincing evidence that we are not alone.

We will have found another Earth.

(From: JPL / NASA)

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