Long Duration Love Affair

That cylindrical object you see pictured above is a roughly school-bus sized structure which was deployed into space in 1984. It orbited the Earth for five and a half years with nothing expected of it other than to float there, getting battered about by whatever the great black yonder saw fit to throw at it. You see, every inch of its outside surface was covered with Science. 57 separate experiments, mounted in 86 trays, involving the participation of “more than 200 principal investigators from 33 private companies, 21 universities, seven NASA centers, nine Department of Defense laboratories and eight foreign countries.” Its purpose was to study the effects of space on a multitude of materials. Its name is the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) and I am deeply in love with it.

01.20. filed under: design. science. space. 13


Or: praise of futures past

A few weeks ago I picked up a book in the bargain bin at Strand titled Mechanismo. When the guy ringing me up at the checkout counter came upon it in my stack, he stopped, flipped through it quickly and somewhat sheepishly, and alerted a buddy standing a few registers down. They admired it together. I remember thinking, “Well, guess that one is Nonist worthy.” The book, published in 1978, is essentially a collection of essays by the venerable Harry Harrison on all things science-fictional. What makes the book standout, however, is the bounty of 70’s era sci-fi illustrations contained within, and it’s some of these that I’d like to share with you.

01.12. filed under: art. books. science. space. 13

B-flat In The Dark Heart Of Perseus

Quote: “In the dark heart of the Perseus galaxy cluster, 300 million light-years from Earth, a supermassive black hole has been singing the same note for 2.5 billion years. Its tone registers 57 octaves below middle C and, according to scientists at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Center, is a resounding B-flat. Yet, how is this possible in the vacuum of space? When relativistic jets, which contain material moving at close to the speed of light, slam into the hot gas that pervades giant elliptical galaxies and clusters of galaxies, they beat a ‘galactic drum,’ as it were. The jet acts as the stick, whereas the surface of the gas is the drum.”

There is currently a vote before the Galactic Senate to rename the entire area “The Ringo Quadrant.” Check out this Scientific American article for more. The image was adapted from here.

10.29. filed under: science. space. 1

Cockroaches that spent 12 days aboard the Russian orbital laboratory Photon-3 - Noah’s Arc, returned to Earth last week. Two of these cockroaches were pregnant, evidently becoming the first Earth creatures to have conceived in space and becoming the first members of the 100,000 mile high club. Russian scientists are expecting these two female cockroach cosmonauts to give birth to “the world’s first offspring conceived in microgravity.” That’s interesting, certainly, but do we really need to help these indestructible little buggers adapt their genes to space as well? Silkworms I’m not too worried about, but roaches?! If we keep this up, when we finally come across a monolith somewhere, there’ll already be cockroaches there, scuttling under it when we shine our flashlights.

In other science-factual news of a fascinating but highly questionable nature- Craig Venter has announced he’s built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals, in effect creating the first new artificial life form on Earth. Pants-crappingly good news ay?

10.08. filed under: headlines. science. space.

Scorched rock floating through empty space beholden to cold dispassionate forces for near eternity.

Observations of the star “V 391 Pegasi b” have revealed that a planet circling close to its star, like say, Earth, is not necessarily doomed to being swallowed whole when its star expands and goes “red-giant” in old age.

Quote: “Stars such as our own expand into red giants in their old age, engulfing nearby planets. Now a planet has been sighted circling close to V 391 Pegasi, a star that has gone through the red-giant phase to become what is known as a hot B-type subdwarf. The planet, it seems, survived this process.”

09.18. filed under: humanity. observations. space. 1

page 1 |