Categories
inspirational physics

NASA: How We’re Going to the Moon (Again)

Before the holidays, NASA put out an announcement for plans to go back to the moon. The plan is pretty extensive:

With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by 2028. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars.

Instead of the way previous missions were completed, with one rocket taking up a single lander, NASA plans to setup infrastructure in the form of a small space station orbiting the Moon which can dock with incoming ships and guide them a gentle landing just about anywhere on the surface. This will make travelling to the moon much cheaper and sets the stage for how it will be done if (when?) mankind starts going to Mars. More details about the Artemis Mission on NASA’s website.

Categories
physics technology

Flyboarding Frenchman crosses English Channel on a Jet Powered Flyboard

French inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard. The 40-year-old is the first person in history to complete the flight following a failed attempt last week. He landed 35 km away on the White Cliffs of Dover after just 23 minutes of flight following takeoff at Sangatte, France.

Categories
friends physics Science

Herschel Launch

An Ariane 5 rocket launched two scientific space observatories, Herschel and Planck, at 13:12 GMT this morning that will help scientists better understand the formation of the universe.

The launch took the better part of 30 minutes from ignition to spin-up and separation of the Planck and Herschel.

The launch:


[Herschel and Planck Launch – YouTube]

My physicist friend Richard Querel works with the group that built SPIRE, an infrared imaging camera and low-resolution spectrometer that was aboard the Herschel. He tells me the instruments will be sensitive down to picojoules, which is the equivalent to the energy emitted by one living cell, or to a dim star, very far away.

It’ll take 3 months for them to get to their orbit, but they’ll likely start collecting science validation data immediately.

Herschel has the largest mirror of any space telescope now in orbit. Its 3.5 metre diameter primary mirror is one-and-a-half-times the size of the Hubble Telescope’s main reflector.

From the Herschel Space Observatory entry on Wikipedia:

The mission, formerly titled the Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope (FIRST), will be the first space observatory to cover the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband. At 3.5 meters wide, its telescope will incorporate the largest mirror ever deployed in space. The light will be focused onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures below 2 K. The instruments will be cooled with liquid helium, boiling away in a near vacuum at a temperature of approximately 1.4 K. The 2,000 litres of helium on board the satellite will limit its operational lifetime. The satellite is expected to be operational for at least 3 years.

Categories
physics

Thirty Meter Telescope

Last night I went to hear Dr. Luc Simard speak about the new Thirty Meter Telescope that is in development. This telescope will have a 30-metre diameter primary mirror and will provide nine times the collecting area of today’s largest optical telescopes. It will enable scientists to observe objects nine-times fainter than existing 10 metre telescopes in an equal amount of time.

The Thirty Meter Telescope will give astronomers the clearest and deepest picture of the Universe ever. This telescope will push the frontier of technology, fully integrating the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere. When combined with the unprecedented light-collecting area of the primary mirror, TMT will be the most capable and sophisticated telescope ever constructed.

Relative to the Hubble Space Telescope, TMT will have 156 times the collecting area and more than a factor of 10 better spatial resolution at near-infrared and longer wavelengths.

The University of Lethbridge is contributing to the project, and my friend, Richard Querel, does some pretty interesting research as part of the team headed by Dr. David Naylor. They have developed a very powerful laser device which calculates atmospheric conditions and can be used to calibrate the telescope to compensate for things like humidity and smog.

Thirty Meter Telescope

See a video fly through of the proposed TMT facility which will be built in either Chile or Hawaii and should be operational by 2018.

Categories
physics

MagLev Toy Train

A crash course on the amazing properties of super-conductors, the following video demonstrates what may be the future of transportation.

[MagLev Toy Train – Liveleak]

Popular Science published an article five years ago on the possibility of a trans-Atlantic maglev train that would travel in an airless underwater tunnel at 4,000 MPH and make the trip from New York to London in an hour.

A 4,000-mph magnetically levitated train could allow you to have lunch in Manhattan and still get to London in time for the theater, despite the 5-hour time difference. It’s not impossible: Norway has studied neutrally buoyant tunnels (concluding that they’re feasible, though expensive), and Shanghai is running maglev trains to its airport. But supersonic speeds require another critical step: eliminating the air — and therefore air friction — from the train’s path. A vacuum would also save the tunnel from the destructive effects of a sonic boom, which, unchecked, could potentially rip the tunnel apart.

(via)

Categories
games physics

Fantastic Contraption

Warning: The following link leads to an extremely addicting flash game. Luckily there are only 20 levels and then you can go to sleep. At least, that’s what I did.

Fantastic Contraption.

Categories
physics

Astro-09 High Altitude Photos

Balloon and payloads just after launchThe following photos are from a set taken with a Pentax k10d from a high-altitude sounding balloon during an experiment conducted by Oklahoma State University while testing a new cosmic radiation detector.

According to the original poster, the k10d performed flawlessly in the harsh vacuum of space at temperatures below -60F.

Balloon and payloads just after launchPentax k10d in impact protection box prior to flight104,000 feet above earth

“The payloads are attached to a sounding balloon which climbs to over 100,000 ft. The balloon is tracked with GPS telemetry systems. When the balloon is launched, it is about 12 ft. in diameter. At peak altitude it is between 40-50 ft. in diameter before burst (or commanded cut-down).”

(via)

Categories
physics

What will the LHC find?

Check out Cosmic Variance’s list of possible discoveries and the probability of each discovery being made in the next five years at the Large Hadron Collider.

Also, be sure to check out The Big Picture photos of the LHC.

Categories
physics

Airplane on a Conveyor Belt

So here’s the question of the day:

“A plane is standing on a runway that can move (some sort of band conveyor). The plane moves in one direction, while the conveyor moves in the opposite direction. This conveyor has a control system that tracks the plane speed and tunes the speed of the conveyor to be exactly the same (but in the opposite direction). Can the plane take off?”

Personally, my first thought was that the plane would not take off because it wouldn’t have enough lift without moving up to speed relative to the ground. But after thinking about what it is that actually causes a plane to lift off, the wind going around the wings, I wasn’t so sure.

The wheels in planes aren’t generally what cause the plane to move forward, it’s the suction of wind through the propeller or engines. Presumably the plane would pull the same amount of wind whether or not it was riding the conveyor belt, therefore, I think it would take off.

While you’re taking a moment to think about this problem, let me tell you that tonight the Mythbuster’s are putting this question to rest once and for all. Will a plane on a conveyor belt take-off? (We’ll see tonight, but I think yes).

Update: here is the clip:


[Mythbusters – Plane on a Conveyor Belt – YouTube]

Categories
physics

The Large Hadron Collider

The latest iteration of the world’s biggest physics experiment, the Large Hadron Collider, will be switched on in May 2008 (though the BBC documentary below says November, the time line has been updated).

It’s big, REALLY big, and expensive—costing over 6 billion dollars and crossing between the borders of France and Switzerland at four points. The LHC is being funded and built in collaboration with over two thousand physicists from thirty-four countries, universities and laboratories.

As a side note, CERN has had some impressive byproducts, including the web itself.

The BBC created a great documentary about it called The Six Billion Dollar Experiment, the full running time is 49 minutes, but you can enjoy the BBC’s preview:


[The Six Billion Dollar Experiment – YouTube]