Archive for April, 2009

Is invisibility in your future?

Posted in Technology with tags on 2009/04/30 by iyokobat


from the BBC news:

Scientists in the US say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people invisible.

Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley have developed a material that can bend light around 3D objects making them “disappear”.

The materials do not occur naturally but have been created on a nano scale, measured in billionths of a metre.

The team says the principles could one day be scaled up to make invisibility cloaks large enough to hide people.

Invisibility cloak ‘step closer’

The Lost Cosmonauts

Posted in Space Exploration with tags , on 2009/04/26 by iyokobat


I found an article that has it all: Space exploration, cold war, black ops, accidental cryogenics, and morse code. Here are some excerpts:

“There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going.”

“What really happened to Russia’s missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space.”

The Fortean Times is not always the most reliable source of information, but they have a knack for writing thought provoking (if not always believable) articles about allegedly strange phenomenon. I wonder if this story deserves merit. What do you think?

Read the whole article here

Looking for Earth II

Posted in Astronomy with tags , , on 2009/04/22 by iyokobat


Searching for planets outside of our solar system is a challenging task, partly because planets do not shine like stars and are harder to see. Their presence can be inferred if they occult a star, causing the star to dim slightly. Measuring the gravitational wobbling of a star can be an indication of another nearby body, possibly a planet.

Thus far, most of the exosolar planets discovered are thought to be large to very large gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. Astronomers have announced the discovery of two planets that are considered earth-like. They are much closer to size of Earth, are probably rocky (not gas giants), and one of them is thought to have liquid water.

Read more about Closing in on the Next Earth

You are here

Posted in Astronomy with tags , , on 2009/04/22 by iyokobat


Have you ever stopped to think about where you are in relation to the rest of the world? Which direction is St. Louis from here? London? Zimbabwe? Or have taken it a step further and asked: How far is it to the nearest planet?

The nearest planet to Earth is Venus, whose average distance from Earth is about 45 million kilometers or 28 million miles. The closest star to Earth is the sun which is 1 astronomical unit (AU) or almost 150,000,000 kilometers. The second closest star to Earth is Alpha Centauri, which is about 4.37 light years, or 41.34 TRILLION kilometers!

Most of the stars that we can see in the sky are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is a group of billions of stars. As far as galaxies go, we live in a fairly large one that is about 90,000 light years across.

Okay, now let’s zoom out much wider and find out how far to our nearest galactic neighbors:

The Galaxies of the Local Group

Technology Assessment from the Jetsons Perspective

Posted in Technology, The Future with tags , , on 2009/04/20 by iyokobat


Occasionally I recognize how pop-culture has influenced my expectations of the future. As a young boy I was a fan of most of the sci-fi shows on television: Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, etc. These shows seem quaint when compared to today’s special effects and production, but they often had interesting stories and ideas about technology, society, and humanity.

Nicole Radziwill has an intriguing post about technology and some of its social implications, filtered through the perspective of one futuristic pioneer, George Jetson.

Technology Assessment from the Jetsons Perspective

Cosmos series available on Hulu

Posted in Astronomy, Physics, The Future with tags , , , , on 2009/04/19 by iyokobat


This may be old news to the highly wired community, but I wanted to mention that the great PBS series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, is now available for free streaming on Hulu. From episode 1, “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean”, through Episode 13, “Who Speaks for Earth?”, the entire series may be watched on your own desktop.  Unlike the original airing on PBS, note that Hulu does inject a few commercials, but don’t let this stop you from seeing these classic episodes of science.  According to the Science channel, it is still the most widely watched PBS series in the world.

“In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.”

Cosmos on Hulu

Medical Micro-robots Made As Small As Bacteria

Posted in Technology with tags , , on 2009/04/19 by iyokobat

Ever see the 60’s sci-fi movie “Fantastic Voyage”?  A team of humans are shrunk down to the size of microbes in order to do delicate surgery on some really important person’s brain.

Well some sharp researchers at ETH Zurich have made what are called “Artificial Bacterial Flagella” or ABFs to mimic E. Coli bacteria. “They were invented, manufactured and enabled to swim in a controllable way by researchers in the group led by Bradley Nelson, Professor at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich.”

Pretty cool idea.   Read more here.