It’s not often you read a profile of a man fit for comic books. One whose life so closely resembles a superhero’s that a movie was made about him. In that movie genius billionaire Tony Stark builds a powerful metal suit that can fly, produce unlimited energy, and battle gods. Which nearly describes Elon Musk.
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but Musk is flying people into space, building electric cars, running a billion-dollar solar company, and – his latest venture – trying to create a super train that’s “at least twice as fast as a plane, solar powered and leaves right when you arrive.”
Those are some achievements fit for a superhero – and you have to wonder, how can one man do all that? It’s hard to put in words but more comparisons help – from Business Week:
Friends and colleagues describe him as Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, and Howard Hughes rolled into one. “He’s a throwback to when people were doing less incrementalist things,” says Peter Thiel, the tech investor who co-founded PayPal with Musk. “The companies he’s started are executing against a vision measured not in years but in decades.”
Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of Hubble photographs taken of a patch of sky. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full moon…and contains about 5,500 galaxies. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.
The moon orbits around the earth every 29.5 days and since our months typically have 30-31 days that leaves some leftover time (0.5-1.5 days). Eventually that adds up and we get an extra cycle in one month, and that means an extra full moon. Typically, months only get one full moon and so having two is pretty rare, happening every 2.7 years.
Hence, the phrase, “once in a blue moon,” which is a lot like saying “once in about 3 years”.
I love this stuff (orbits, planets, stars) and have been a star-gazer since I was a kid. If you are too, then you can enjoy the “blue moon” this Friday, August 31, 2012.
Yep, it’s been around three years since the last one (2.67 years to be exact, the last blue moon was on New Year’s Eve – Dec 31, 2009). I also think you should try, at whatever the cost, to say “once in a blue moon” about something. Think of something you know you won’t do or won’t happen until July 2015 (the next blue moon).
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.
A newly discovered cluster of galaxies, more than 5 billion light years from Earth…is among the most massive clusters of galaxies in the universe, and produces X-rays at a rate faster than any other known cluster.
It also creates new stars at an “unmatched” pace of more than 700 per year, said Michael McDonald. “This extreme rate of star formation was unexpected,” he said during a NASA news conference Wednesday, noting that the Milky Way forms just one or two stars a year.
In addition to being massive, unique, and the biggest star-nursery in the universe, this area, called Phoenix, also helps theorists with something, the galactic cooling problem.
For years scientists have been coming up with explanations for how stars are formed. The earliest being a mass of molecules would collapse in on themselves as fusion begins. The mass would then accumulate until its gravity becomes strong enough to spin, turn into a sphere, and pull on everything around it, collecting planets, asteroids, and other debris into its solar system.
But, this doesn’t take into account thermodynamics, specifically why doesn’t the star expand as it heats up. Indeed, several half-stars were observed in the universe stuck in this state of expansion unable to contract into the ultra-compact ball of a star.
That’s where a new theory comes in, the galactic “cooling flow”.
**There appears to be no name for the theory, all references are to a general theory theory of star formation.
This says the creation of stars is a lot like an explosion, with an initial burst of heat which then dissipates bringing cool air back into the explosion zone. In this case, thermonuclear fusion ignites much of the galaxy and begins sucking into the center lots of mass, including the surrounding galaxies.
As the (star) forms, this plasma initially heats up due to the gravitational energy released from the infall of smaller galaxies.
As the gas cools, it should condense and sink inward, a process known as a “cooling flow.” In the cluster’s center, this cooling flow can lead to very dense cores of gas, termed “cool cores,” which should fuel bursts of star formation in all clusters that go through this process. Most of these predictions had been confirmed with observations – the X-ray glow, the lower temperatures at the cluster centers – but starbursts accompanying this cooling remain rare. – TG Daily
A step forward in our knowledge of star formation, but something tells me we are not there yet.
Another epic journey for the retirement of a space shuttle. This one is Endeavour and it is destined for Los Angeles. It will arrive at the airport, LAX, on September 20, where it will be moved through heart of the city to the California Science Center.
This will be the first time a spacecraft has been moved through a city and it should be quite a spectacle.
Moving the shuttle — which measures 57 feet tall at the tip of the tail and has a wingspan of 78 feet — will be no easy task. Trees will be pruned back or taken out. Power lines will be raised. Traffic signals will be removed.
At its top speed, the transporters carrying the shuttle will travel about 2 mph along the city streets.
We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm “1U” CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth’s equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world’s inhabited regions.
SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube’s balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You’ll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube’s balloon isn’t just for visibility. It will – within 3 weeks – bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery “grand finale” that avoids any buildup of space debris.
$1 - Sponsors 10 seconds of the mission. You can broadcast one (1) 120-character message from the satellite.
$6 - Sponsors 1 minute of the mission. You can broadcast six (6) 120-character messages from space, and request one (1) image from the satellite.
$100 - Sponsors 15 minutes of the mission. An ideal family pack – we’ll send you two (2) SkyCube mission T-shirts! And you can broadcast one hundred (100) 120-character messages from the satellite, and request twenty (20) images from the satellite at any time during the mission.
$1,000 – Sponsors 2 hours of the mission – a great high school or university classroom sponsorship package. We’ll send you a radio receiver which you can use to detect transmissions from SkyCube and other satellites already in orbit! You’ll also get a flying SpaceX Falcon 9 model rocket, and twenty (20) SkyCube mission T-shirts. You can broadcast one thousand (1000) 120-character messages from space, and request up to two hundred (200) images from the satellite.