Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, T. Do and A. Ghez (UCLA), and V. Bajaj (STScI)
Lot's of exciting science and technology news,
This is a successful solar sail from the Japanese. Launched in 2010, Ikaros sailed to Venus. It's been at Venus recently sending images. Some other nice scientific accomplishments is Ikaros measuring gamma ray polarization and setting stricter limits on CPT violation - a symmetry of the standard model of physics.
I'm a little surprised we haven't seen more solar sails deployed; but, rest assured, we will in the future. Solar Sails can dramatically reduce the cost of sending space probes all over the solar system. With lasers, they can go outside of the solar system, and perhaps visit more pluto objects like Eros and Sedna, which are pointing the way to another planet lost way outside of the Solar system . . .
A little while ago, Mike Brown did some statistical analyses to show that the distribution of trans-Neptune objects like Sedna, and there orbits are like less than .01 or something like that. Well, he's found another object out there, and redid the analyses, the statistics are now --> the article, More evidence for Planet Nine as odd celestial alignment emerges says .007 was the previous calculation, now it's even better to like .0001. I remember seeing elsewhere.
So, solar system science is still exciting, Human space colonization is getting just as exciting!
Here, SpaceX lands there first stage rocket on a barge. One of the hardest landings they wanted to accomplish. This will allow them to make more missions possible.
This wasn't the first, but it's one of the hardest, and on this mission, they sent a Bigalow inflatable space habitat to the International Space Station. Bigalow inflatable space habitats can make human space stations far less expensive - in orbit around worlds, on worlds like the Moon, Mars, Ceres . . . Speaking of Ceres, not sure If I've shown this before,
Ceres bright spots pretty much, finally resolved,
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI/LP
- Back here on Earth, and probably used in space colonies of the future as well, is Synthetic biology making a computer program that compiles what you want into a dna code, entered into a cell, and the cell does what you want it to. Meaning, you speack your human language into a typewriter, it compiles it into dna code, and you make the cell's do what you want. -- > article here, A programming language for living cells They've been pretty close to this for a year now. They've made great progress. And now, progress can only accelerate. Imagine using A.I to make even better high level computer languages for synthetic biology!
- I should show Jeff Bezos "Blue Origins" reusable space rocketry efforts as well! This is just as exciting as SpaceX imo!
- Some Anthropology ideas, How Human Sacrifice Propped Up the Social Order <-- article here, This article is arguing human sacrifice creates social class structure. I'd argue the other way around, agriculturalism created social class structure like never before(there probably was some division of labor in hunter gatherers before, but in a pinch, I'm sure a woman can pick up a spear and stick it in an animal), between those who farmed, those, who did military duty, those who were the ruling class, and those who wrote the official records and so on. But, soon the ruling class found it convenient to make up religions, like human sacrifice to keep the lower/ruled classes believing in what they do - in this case by scaring them.
Human sacrifice is one affect of the ruling elite. But, Sir James Frazer shows in his "Golden Bough", in the 1800s that some societies made a 'king for a day' culture, where a person becomes king; the King promises them food and crops for the next year; but, if it doesn't happen, the society kills the King and puts some other puppet King till the crops do come!
- The CERN/LHC has of course made the most exciting particle physics discovery since the early 1980s electro-weak w/z exchange particles - the Higgs particle that has something to do with mass(I don't think they totally know how that works). But, here --> Physicists build ultra-powerful accelerator magnet , physicists show they can upgrade their LHC machine to even higher heights. Already this year, they've made upgrades which seems likely they'll make new discoveries. Some physicists are pretty excited with what they might be discovering already this year - dark matter? Some particle that the Standard model can't predict? Anyways . . .
The current superconducting magnets were an accomplishment from what came before, they were made of niobium titanium. They reached 10 teslas(the Earth's magnetic field has a strength of .4 teslas). This new superconducting magnet reached 20 Teslas. It's made out of another substance - niobium-three. They had to bake and shape this new material at over 600 degrees celcius; which would translate into a very high Fahrenheit temperature. They have to make something very large out of something very brittle, and then somehow they're going to operate this in a superconductor with 20 teslas without breaking it. As I recall, the LHC can already melt tons of copper a second if they wanted to; that's how much current flows through the LHC a second when it's turned on. I guess we'll see!
- Another great technology is the James Webb space telescope. They're beginning assembly/testing and launch in like 2017. They'll put it much further out in in Earth's orbit than the Hubble space telescope - the Lagrange points; gravitational stable points between the Earth and Moon. Here, --> Lockheed Martin Readies One of the Most Sensitive IR Instruments Ever Made for NASA Telescope , they talk about an I.R. detector that works in concert with the segmented main mirror. They tested the I.R. detector that it works to nanometer precision of infrared wavelength, as the segmented mirrors move according to what's desired to focus on(that's almost as remarkable as the gravitational wave detectors and their squeezed quantum states!).
The Science/Technology is exciting, and with the SpaceX/Bigalow space launch, assuming no world war 3, mankind is almost secured in the universe. With Humans in more than one world, a single asteroid blast can't blast us back to the stone age. A nuclear war on one planet can't take out the other(you'd like to think such political situations wouldn't occur on two or more worlds at the same time!) Out in space, mankind will be so concentrated on getting the science/technology right, they won't have time for superstitions/fears that mankind grew up with. We can detach ourselves from that. It will take the Earth's inhabitants millions, if not billions of years to finally admit to the wrong thinking the priest/kings of the past used to control the lower classes.