Video 7 Feb

Pulses of accretion onto a pair of newborn stars set off a “strobe light” effect. The pulse of radiation races through the nebula of dust and gas surrounding the stars every 25 days, according to the NASA press release. The video loops through a sequence of near-infrared images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Video 16 May

Changing times…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Apollo missions lately for work (I love my job), and I came across a few pictures of mission control. From left to right: Gemini mission control, Apollo 13 mission control (before things started going wrong), and modern mission control.

Things I’ve learned: Apparently black is the new white. And check out the ginormous computers (if that’s what they are) from the Gemini days. 

I’m only a little sad that the glory days of mission control are essentially over, at least when it comes to manned spaceflight. Only a little, though…there’s promise for the future: private space exploration. Not to mention space tourism.

Video 25 Apr

Blow your mind a little…

Incredible footage of the gas giants in all their glory. Saturn’s rings are thin - 30 feet, sometimes as much as 300 feet - compared to Saturn’s diameter, 400 million feet (75,000 miles).

How Saturn’s rings formed is still a matter of debate, but Cassini helped us see why they stick around: they’re fed by Saturn’s moons. Cassini watched Enceledus, one of Saturn’s moons, shoot salty water-ice into space, likely from a reservoir locked beneath Enceladus’s surface. The salt and ice make their way to the E ring, Saturn’s outermost ring.

Text 21 Mar Jupiter and Venus, Sitting in a Tree

For folks who want to know (you know who you are :)),

If you’re curious about those planets in the sky this past week or so, check out this week’s Sky and Telescope’s Sky at a Glance. They just passed each other by, but at 5 degrees apart, Venus and Jupiter still make a beautiful pair at sunset.

By the way, even though Jupiter is 11 times bigger (in diameter) than Venus, Venus shines brighter. Why? Mainly because Venus is so much closer to Earth - 160 million miles is the furthest it ever gets, while the closest Jupiter can approach Earth is 390 million miles. When Jupiter and Venus are close together in the sky, that means Jupiter is even further away, at 580 million miles. It helps that Venus is closer to the sun, reflecting more light per unit area.

Text 7 Mar These Changing Times

My blog has been a little slow lately, and here’s why: I’ve just started an editorial internship at Sky & Telescope!  Now I finally get to do for a living what I’ve been doing for fun for the past few years, which is pretty darn awesome.  But combine a new job with a four-month old adorable baby boy, and there won’t be much blogging going on here for a little while.

What I will do, though, is post my newest S&T stories.  My first news story covered the idea that free-floating, Pluto-sized planets might outnumber stars in the Milky Way. That idea inspired some lively comments, so feel free to join in on the fun :).

Video 18 Feb

A New Hope (for plasma caught in a black hole’s gravity well)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away*….

It is a period of civil war. Plasma, through a trick of magnetic fields, has won its first victory against the supermassive black hole lurking in the center of galaxy M87.

During the battle, plasma managed to pull away from the black hole, a singularity with enough gravitational power to destroy an entire planet (and its host star). 

Pursued by the black hole’s gravity, the plasma races outward aboard magnetic field lines, custodian of the mysterious physics that can explain how jets form and restore freedom to gravitationally bound plasma….

* 52 million light years, to be exact


Video 15 Feb 635 notes



Apollo 17 astronauts singing on the moon.

This is real.

This is why we beat zee Soviets.

(via Boing Boing)

Link 14 Feb Check it out - a new ScienceInMyFiction post about our awakening sun»
Video 4 Feb 1 note

I Think, Therefore I Am?

Researchers didn’t peek into anyone’s brain to capture these fiery flashes between neurons. What they actually did is even weirder.  

To make the video, neuroscientists like Ph.D. students Michelle Kuykendal and Gareth Guvanasen grew neuron cultures in petri dishes lined with electrodes. In the flat dishes, the neurons’ activity can more easily be captured by a microscope and camera. The electrodes allow the scientists to interact with the neuron cultures, giving the neurons information, even teaching them to perform complicated tasks.

Kuykendal and Guvanasen are students in Georgia Tech’s Neurolab, a crew of biomedical, electrical, and computer engineers, and their research is the stuff of science fiction. Steve Potter, Neurolab’s director, envisions a future world where humans regularly interface with machines. To accomplish this, Potter has spent his career growing cultures of neurons in multi-electrode arrays. One of Potter’s projects, MEART, is a ”semi-living artist”: a collection of rat neurons grown in Potter’s Neurolab (the “brain”) that controls a robotic arm in Australia (the “body”). Inspired by images of a person’s face, if neurons in a dish can said to be inspired, the brain directs the body to draw complex drawings with felt markers

Video 28 Jan 5 notes

Climbing Beans

In the quiet white of winter, the sight of green leaves unfurling soothes the soul. In the video, climbing beans sprout under the watchful eye of a camera that snaps a picture every 9-12 minutes. We watch the bean sprout into a plant, shrinking as it provides nourishment to the growing root. Until the root is ready to take up water, baby leaves, called cotyledons, absorbs moisture from the ground. Meanwhile, the bean continues to feed a burgeoning shoot that struggles its way upwards through the soil and into the light.  (Notice how the shoot bends, forming a hook, so that the tip is not damaged as it pushes through the soil.)

Climbing beans start their growth with “epigeal germination”, meaning that the baby leaves grow with the shoot, emerging into the sunlight and nourishing the plant until the true leaves emerge.  Once they’re no longer needed, the baby leaves shrivel and fall off.

On a side note of personal interest, or for anyone planning on starting a vegetable garden from seed this spring, epigeal germinating plants (like beans or tomatoes) signal when they’re ready to transplant: while the baby leaves will emerge first, showing you which plants have germinated successfully, the plants will not be ready for transplant until the true leaves emerge.

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