Category Archives: Points of Information

Space Makes Polymers Hard

The harsh environment of space, normally hostile to most materials, acts beneficially to cure certain epoxy resins. Key quote:

“You don’t have to take it up there in the shape that you eventually want,” said University of Sydney physicist Marcela Bilek, a co-author of the new study. “You can take something in a packaged form, all folded up, and then inflate it in space and have it cure into a mechanically solid structure.”

Read the research paper here.

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Scientists predict when the first Earthlike planet will be discovered

Don’t bet the bank on this: In a preprint paper posted tonight on the astro-ph website, scientists predict the discovery of the first Earthlike extrasolar planet — using statistical analysis alone! Fun quote:

Using a bootstrap analysis of currently discovered exoplanets, we predict the discovery of the first Earth-like planet to be announced in the first half of 2011, with the likeliest date being early May 2011.

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The pain of spacesuit gloves

The number one injury reported by astronauts appears to be fingernail and hand injuries resulting from the use of spacesuit gloves. Key quote:

A previous study of astronaut injuries sustained during spacewalks had found that about 47 percent of 352 reported symptoms between 2002 and 2004 were hand related. More than half of these hand injuries were due to fingertips and nails making contact with the hard “thimbles” inside the glove fingertips. In several cases, sustained pressure on the fingertips during EVAs caused intense pain and led to the astronauts’ nails detaching from their nailbeds, a condition called fingernail delamination.

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ISS’s life expectancy

Engineers are reviewing the life expectancy of the International Space Station, in light of the desire of politicians to keep it operating through the 2020s. Intriguing quote:

Airlines and airplane contractors commonly inspect aircraft for such fractures, but with the space station out of reach more than 200 miles up, engineers rely on complex models to predict their growth in orbit.

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The variability of stars according to Kepler

More data from Kepler! In a paper [pdf] published today on the astro-ph website, scientists outline Kepler’s census of the variability of stars. Key quote from the abstract:

We have separated the sample in 129,000 dwarfs and 17,000 giants, and further sub-divided, the luminosity classes into temperature bins corresponding approximately to the spectral classes A, F, G, K, and M. G-dwarfs are found to be the most stable with < 20% being variable. The variability fraction increases to 30% for the K dwarfs, 40% for the M and F dwarfs, and 70% for the A-dwarfs. At the precision of Kepler, > 95% of K and G giants are variable.

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Amateur detection of Jupiter impact

The detection in June by two different amateur astronomers of an impact on Jupiter bodes well for asteroid/comet research. You can read the actual paper here. [pdf] Key quote from the abstract:

A systematic study of the impact rate and size of these bolides can enable an empirical determination of the flux of meteoroids in Jupiter with implications for the populations of small bodies in the outer Solar System and may allow a better quantification of the threat of impacting bodies to Earth. The serendipitous recording of this optical flash opens a new window in the observation of Jupiter with small telescopes.

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John Wilcox dies

Updated and bumped: John’s obituary can now be read here.

John Wilcox, the man most responsible for finding the connection between Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave and the Flint Ridge Cave system and thereby producing the world’s longest cave system, died today after a three week long illness. To quote Roger Brucker, co-author of The Longest Cave, Wilcox “was known for his systematic approach to exploration and laser-like focus on detailed mapping.” R.I.P.

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Campus administrator shuts down conservative group

Freedom of speech alert: Despite having gotten permission to be there, campus officials ejected students and members of the Young American’s for Freedom from the Palm Beach State College campus during club rush, apparantly because the officials disagreed with the students’ literature. Key quote:

On the day of club rush, officials approached the group and after seeing information about the organization and its ideals criticizing Barack Obama’s economic policy, Ms. Ford-Morris was visibly disturbed by the material presented, published by the Heritage Foundation, criticizing President Obama’s administration. College officials then called the campus police to assure the group left campus. Ms. Ford-Morris denied having ever talked to Ms. Beattie about giving permission to the organization to be a part of PBSC club rush.

Update: The name for Young American’s for Freedom has been corrected. Thank you, readers!

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