Tag Archives: instrument

Mars rover Curiosity test fires the laser – pulverizes a rock just for fun (and science)

Johnny Five, aka the Mars rover Curiosity, continues its scientific journey. The nuclear-powered laboratory in-a-box pulled out it’s laser to blast a rock that got in its way. From NASA:

The mission’s ChemCam instrument hit a fist-sized rock named “Coronation” with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.

The energy from the laser creates a puff of ionized, glowing plasma. ChemCam catches the light with a telescope and analyzes it with three spectrometers for information about what elements are in the rock.

 

NASA said the main function of this was target practice to calibrate the ChemCam.

You gotta love the sense of play NASA is bringing to this mission. Not only are they releasing these stories about test-firing lasers, but they are all over social medial, including fan art on Facebook, a first-person Twitter account, sharing stories on Google Plus, and posting articles on their much more user-friendly website.

A great idea for the much beleaguered space agency, that I assume is a bid to get them back into America’s good graces…and taxpayer dollars.

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History of the Steel Pan – musical instrument from industrial waste – beloved in Trinidad

BBC wrote an interesting piece on the history of the steel pan:

Amid the electronica of 20th Century music one new instrument stands out for its simplicity. The steel pan, possibly the only instrument made out of industrial waste, has become an icon of Trinidadian culture.

“There is something about the steel pan and Caribbean music in general that resonates with the rest of the world,” says Professor Tim Wall.

The music has been keenly adopted by the pop world. The Hollies used the sound of the steel pan in their song Carrie Anne, Prince used it in his song New Position.

 

Go ahead and read the full story, but make sure to compare these two steel pans. They will get you in the right frame of mind.

Here is one you can buy new for $150:

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