...23456...10...


Is Virgin Galactic And Its Version Of Space Travel Finally For Real? – Forbes

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic, poses for photographs ... [+] before ringing a ceremonial bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to promote the first day of trading of Virgin Galactic Holdings shares on October 28, 2019 in New York City. Virgin Galactic Holdings became the first space-tourism company to go public as it began trading on Monday with a market value of about $1 billion. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic (SPCE:NYSE) blasted off on Valentines Day 2020, rising more than 21% to a 52-week high despite a falling stock market. The company was founded in 2004 by Sir Richard Branson (#478 on the Forbes billionaire list with, $4 billion) and has yet to earn a profit.

Why did the stock rocket upward? The company made a three-hour positioning flight. It flew its passenger spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, from Mojave Airport in California to its commercial headquarters at Spaceport Americas Gateway to Space building in New Mexico.

But the simple flight was, as the company puts it with its typical hype, another vital step on its path to commercial service.

The transfer of the spacecraft to its long-promised Spaceport America base is indeed big step in the companys 15-year journey to credibility. Typical of the companys history of hype is its exciting website. It opens with a little aircraft flying over the desert and suddenly belching rocket fire, along with video of an astronaut at the controls of a vibrating spaceship.

The product has been pre-sold to more than 600 would-be space tourists in 60 countries who have put down deposits on future flights.

Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson demonstrates a spacewear system, designed for Virgin ... [+] Galactic astronauts, at an event October 16, 2019 in Yonkers, New York. - At the event Virgin Galactic and Under Armour unveiled the worlds first exclusive spacewear system for private astronauts. (Photo by Don Emmert / AFP) (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

But before Virgin Galactic reached orbit in the stock market in October of 2019 through a reverse-merger maneuver, it suffered a well-publicized series of reverses and controversies that might have derailed another company.

The opportunity to build the Spaceport, for example, was won by New Mexico in a bidding war with California. But with more than $250 million in New Mexico taxpayer money spent, the spaceport was largely unused for years. As the Atlantic put in in 2018, Although the spaceport has been flight-worthy since 2010, the first launch by its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, still hasnt taken off.

Of course, the biggest setback was the tragic 2014 crash of the original SpaceShipTwo on a test flight, which killed one pilot and injured another. The spacecraft was destroyed. But with more than a billion in capital raised from the likes of Abu Dhabi and Boeing, among others, Virgin Galactic soldiered on, with this weeks transfer of the space craft a major milestone for the company.

On the flight, the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve (named for founder Sir Richard Bransons mother) ferried SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity out of Mojave, where Virgin Galactics manufacturing and test facilities are base. (Virgin says the building of two additional spacecraft is well underway in Mojave.) The pair landed at 15:49MT, where Virgin says it was greeted by an enthusiastic group of teammates who will operate the spaceship in New Mexico.

This captive carry flight also let Virgin engineers evaluate VSS Unity for over three hours at high altitude and cold temperatures, which the company says are difficult to replicate at ground level. The flight was also an opportunity for Italian Air Force test pilot Nicola Stick Pecile to become the fifth pilot to complete a flight in VSS Unity.

As part of the getting ready for space process, Virgin Galactic has moved 100 team members to New Mexico, hired 70 local people, and now has transferred the space craft and carrier ship.

With the arrival of SpaceShipTwo in the New Mexico desert, Virgin Galactic says it will launch captive carry and glide flights from the New Mexico base so the spaceflight team can coordinate with Virgins airspace and ground control. After the glide tests, the team will carry out rocket-powered test flights from Spaceport America to continue to evaluate the spacecrafts performance, including final spaceship cabin and customer experience evaluations in preparation for the start of commercial spaceflight operations.

WhiteKnightTwo, carrying SpaceShipTwo, takes flight over Spaceport America, northeast of Truth Or ... [+] Consequences, on October 17, 2011 in New Mexico. Sir Richard Branson was on hand to host the Keys To A New Dawn event, for the dedication of Virgin Galactic's new home at Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport in southern New Mexico, where the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility will serve as the operating hubfor Virgin Galactic and is expected to house two WhiteKnightTwos and five SpaceShipTwos, in addition to all of Virgin's astronaut preparation facilities and mission control. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The irrepressible Sir Richard Branson, a founder of the company, has vowed to be among the first customers, as a sort of human proof of concept. As the Virgin Galctic website trumpets, Together we open space to change the world for good.

Branson will turn 70 in July. But as his improbable career shows, the British billionaire might just pull it off.

Read the original here:

Is Virgin Galactic And Its Version Of Space Travel Finally For Real? - Forbes

NASA, Langston University partner to keep astronauts healthy for future long-term space travel – KFOR Oklahoma City

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

LANGSTON, Okla. (KFOR) - A local university has teamed up with NASA to study the effects of micro-gravity on astronauts.

"Today is a big day. We're going to sign a document that establishes a relationship between NASA and Langston University," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced a new partnership with the university to study the effects of micro-gravity on astronauts-- something that is key when considering long-term space travel.

"The research that will be done at Langston University is going to give us the counter measures that are necessary so humans are healthy all the way to Mars and all the way home," Bridenstine.

Students are also focused on ways to boost astronauts' immune systems. One strange fact about space travel is that dormant viruses-- like chickenpox--can activate during space-flight.

"We're trying to see what happens if we use plant extracts or natural countermeasures and seeing how that will affect the immune system to increase it, Myshal Morris said.

They will send a payload of biological experiments to the international space station in August-- all aimed at supporting an astronaut's health in no gravity.

"Maybe you're flying all the way to Mars at that point, and there's no way for you to get healthy so we have to make sure we mitigate against that," Bridenstine said.

Read more here:

NASA, Langston University partner to keep astronauts healthy for future long-term space travel - KFOR Oklahoma City

Op-Ed: Rust shield vs space radiation Debunking the space travel BS – Digital Journal

The finding by Lockheed Martin and North Carolina State University effectively sinks one of the big issues in missions to Mars and beyond. A simple, easily-applied layer of powder can be an effective defense against radiation. This procedure would be marginally more difficult than any other type of assembly on any type of vehicle, like putting duco on a car. This, it turns out, is a baseline solution for one of anti-space rhetorics more banal objections. Consider for a moment a large number of people obviously dedicated to raising objections but never finding solutions. The theoretical objections to space exploration are almost unbelievably tedious in their dogma. Lockheed Martin and North Carolina State University had the insight and acumen to simply find the compound, evaluate it, and pin down a highly productive use for the material. The everythings impossible BS has to goConsider also the knowledge base required to make a finding like this. Now consider the lack of knowledge required for the everythings impossible approach to space travel and other future aspirations. Interesting contrast, isnt it? Now consider this Cheap, effective radiation shielding has a lot of practical uses. Satellites, for example, or systems vulnerable to solar flares, spring to mind. Why would such an important subject be so utterly neglected, never mind denigrated, by people so passionate about proving the impossibility of critical future needs? Sometimes this BS is qualified by the use of phrases like existing technology cant, but weve just had 200 years of massive technological advances, based entirely on solving problems like that. Case in point Artificial gravityA classic case of everythings impossible in the same context as radiation shielding is the spaceflight zero gravity issue. Long times in zero gravity lead to a range of physical risks for space travelers. Not least of these are muscle degeneration and leaky astronaut circulation issues. These are real problems, and proposals have been stymied for years by the everythings impossible argument. There are pages and pages of discussion on artificial gravity, and even more pages of actual designs, some dating back decades. Some of these designs are, to put it mildly gutsy, ambitious and deserve lots of credit for getting out of the pedantic box and staying there. The only thing holding back proper experimentation and research is the everythings impossible argument. The artificial gravity issue is critical to future space exploration. It doesn't matter whether anyone thinks it's possible or impossible; it must be done. One of the classic early cases of destroying these totally negative everythings impossible arguments was in 1903. An academic wrote to his friend that everything had already been discovered, and that science would inevitably follow the ideas of the 19th century. Six months later, the Wright Brothers took off. A bit later, mass production, electronics, genetics, space flight, and the 20th century obliterated that sort of thinking forever. Total obliteration is where everythings impossible needs to go, right now. Its a useless view of anything. Lockheed Martin and North Carolina State University have delivered a massive hit to this baseless idiocy with their research. Keep hitting these do-nothing dogmas until theres nothing left to hit. When you hit light speed, hit the accelerator. If the universe doesnt like it, it can get out of the bloody way.

This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com

See the rest here:

Op-Ed: Rust shield vs space radiation Debunking the space travel BS - Digital Journal

Could a USB-C Charger’s Chip Get You to the Moon? This Guy Did the Math so You Don’t Have To – Singularity Hub

Comparing todays computers to their famous ancestors is a popular pastime.

As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing last year, the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) became a particularly juicy target. The analysis, of course, showed just how much more powerful the chips used in common smartphones are than the computers that got us to the moon. Not too shocking, but amazing nonetheless.

For fun, Forrest Heller, a software engineer at Apple who previously worked on Occipitals Structure 3D scanner, thought hed cast around for a different comparison. How would far more basic chips, say, the ones in USB-C chargers, compare to the AGC?

Heller took a deep and detailed look and came to a fairly startling conclusioneven these modest chips can easily go toe-to-toe with the computer that got us to the moon.

Lets start with the caveats.

No USB-C charger on the market was designed to survive space travel. Goes without saying, but hey. Also, Heller says he didnt dive into how many external devices the AGC supported, and hed have to do more digging to find out if his chosen chargers chip would satisfy Apollos needs (not to mention 1960s-era voltages might be too high for it). Finally, as is often the case in space-rated devices where the price of failure is high, the AGC had a lot of redundancy built in (it ran calculations three times). Heller decided to leave this redundancy out of his final conclusions (though he may return to it).

So, how do the two stack up?

Heller looked at three USB-C chargers and chips and ultimately chose the most powerful, the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 and its Cypress CYPD4225 chip, for his thought experiment. Given the decades separating one from the other, the comparison is not at all straightforward. Much of Hellers work is in making the conversion. (For the technically inclined and curious, be sure to read his post for a detailed blow-by-blow.)

Here are the highlights: Heller found the CPU in the Anker charger is 563 times faster than the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer. Which is impressive, but speed isnt all, Heller notes. NASA scientists opted for memory over speed. A small delay was worth the ability to load a bigger, more useful program. That is, the computers capability trumps speed.

And here, Heller found the two are a bit more comparable.

The Anker PowerPort Atom PD2 has a little over twice the RAM and can store up to 1.78 times more instructions than the AGC. That means that while no charger bought stock on Amazon is ever going to send astronauts to the moon, in theory, you could load an equivalent software package to perform the tasks required by the Apollo spacecraft.

All those caveats in mind, Heller concludes youd only need the computing power of four of these Anker USB-C chargersone for each of the three computers on the command and lunar modules and one for the computer riding the Saturn V boosterto get to the moon.

Now, this isnt to slander the Apollo Guidance Computer. Not at all. The AGC was amazing.

It was one of the first and most significant computers to use silicon integrated circuit chipsthe same basic technology behind the chips we use todayand was about the size of a few shoe boxes when computers were rooms packed with vacuum tubes. Without the AGC, no human pilot could have kept the Apollo spacecraft on course to the moon and back. Probably most incredible was how much it did with how little. You might say a USB-C charger is the opposite: Notable for how little it does with how much.

And thats really the point, isnt it?

Computers were rare and lovingly handcrafted back then; now theyre a commodity. Which is why you can put the equivalent of NASAs moonshot computer in a wall charger and sell it for $54.99. Its why 7 of the worlds top 10 public companies by market capitalization make a living navigating and adding to an ocean of computation, and Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet alone are worth almost $5 trillion on the open market.

So, due respect to the original. And with so much more power at our fingertips, lets remember the AGC and make the most of all that potential to do awe-inspiring work.

Image Credit: NASA

See original here:

Could a USB-C Charger's Chip Get You to the Moon? This Guy Did the Math so You Don't Have To - Singularity Hub

How to Optimize Your Headspace on a Mission to Mars – Singularity Hub

Imagine being confined to a metal cell with a couple of other people and few amenities for months or even years. Maybe after that, youll be moved to a new compound, but you still have no privacy and extremely limited communication with your family and anyone else in the outside world. You feel both crowded and lonely at the same time, and yet no one comes to treat your emerging mental-health problems.

While this might sound like life in prison, it could just as easily be life as a deep-space explorer, in a sardine can of a rocket hurtling to Mars or a more distant world. Despite years of research by NASA and others, scientists have little insight into the psychological, neurological and sociological problems that will inevitably afflict space travelers battling depression, loneliness, anxiety, stress and personality clashes many millions of miles away from home. Sure, a growing body of research now documents the impact of microgravity on ones brain and body, along with the exercises and medical attention needed to mitigate the effects. But social isolation, limited privacy, interpersonal issues, along with vast separation from loved ones, remain relatively unexplored.

Even massive Star Trek spaceshipswith plenty of space per personcome with counselors on board, but what if the crew member with counseling training gets injured or falls ill during a critical moment? If morale plummets and rapport among the team disappears, an emergency situation could spell the end of both the astronauts and the mission.

Space confronts us with many fascinating worlds and phenomena. But we have to traverse the void to reach them, and almost any trip will be long and boring before we arrive. Peeking out the little window offers the same view you saw yesterday and the day before. While a jaunt to the Moon takes just a few days, its a slow, eight-month journey or longer to Mars. A trip to the more intriguing asteroids or moons of Jupiter and Saturn such as Europa and Titan would take years. (And, just for scale, an attempt to send a crew to Proxima Centauri, our nearest star, would likely take millennia.) Then, when you arrive, new challenges and more isolation await you.

Research on people in prison and solitary confinement offers lessons that deep-space astronauts could learn from. People in prison develop symptoms similar to ones reported by those stationed for long periods on the International Space Station: hallucinations, stress, depression, irritability and insomnia, all of it exacerbated when physical activity is difficult to achieve. You dont have the freedom to go outside for a peaceful stroll to clear your mind or to visit and get cheered up by old friends. In solitary confinement, the social isolation, the loneliness and monotony affect your mental state and your brain activity after only a couple of weeks, and some people never totally recover from the ordeal.

To make matters worse, communication with Earth suffers more and more delay the further one travels from home. Deep-space astronauts would benefit from messages and video calls with loved onesor better yet, virtual-reality interactions with thembut as they fly further away, it becomes less and less feasible to have those conversations. Even a highly trained team of professional, resilient people would struggle when theres an increasingly tenuous connection to everyone they know on Earth.

Its hard to imagine what these situations will be like, but NASA is trying. The agencys psychological experiments with the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) involve sequestering a six-member crew in a cramped dome for four months to a year on a remote, otherworldly spot on Mauna Loa, a rocky volcano. Over that time, participants pretend theyre living on another planet, such as Mars. Theres a 20-minute delay in written communications with mission control (which means 40 minutes between a message and its reply). The dome is equipped with extremely limited amenities (such as composting toilets and freeze-dried food). And residents can leave the habitat only for short time periods in simulation spacesuits.

As part of these experiments, participants wear devices and answer weekly questionnaires that track their heart rates, sleep quality, fatigue and changes in mood. Researchers hope to learn which individual and group qualities help to solve problems and resolve the interpersonal conflicts that inevitably arise when people are cooped up in a tiny space.

Researchers have already accumulated plenty of data, though not from the most recent mock mission. That one didnt fare as well as hopedit had to be aborted after only four days. After fixing an issue with the habitats power source, a crew member appeared to have suffered from an electric shock and needed an ambulance. After that individual was taken away, a disagreement about safety concerns resulted in another person withdrawing from the simulation, which then had to be called off.

An earlier simulation of six men squeezed into a spacecraft-like module in Moscow also produced surprising results. Those crew members developed increasing trouble sleeping and sometimes slept more than usual, becoming more lethargic and less active. One members sleep rhythm shifted to a 25-hour cycle (which is actually the length of a Martian day), making him out of sync with everyone else. Follow-up research showed that the two crew members experiencing the most stress and exhaustion were involved in 85 per cent of the perceived conflicts.

In a real mission to Mars, people will get hurt, and someone might even get killed. When heated arguments develop, cooler heads will have to prevail. Real space travel probably will have more boredom and more infighting than anything on Star Trek or Star Wars. (Theres a reason why science fiction relies on ludicrously fast speeds: it makes such trips short enough for a story.)

To minimize conflicts among the astronauts or the pain of someone suffering from a mental breakdown, experts will need to spot the signs of their flagging mental state beforehand. These future space explorers will probably undergo a battery of physical and psychological tests every day, week and month, and their data could be sent to scientists at home for analysis. Anything raising a flag of concern could then be addressed.

If theres one thing the limited research shows, its that its hard to predict who will cope best and work well together as the weeks and months, maybe even years, wear on. Many factors can boost the chances of success, however, especially if crew members give each other precisely the kind of support and encouragement that people in prison are deprived of.

A well-performing team needs talented leaders and a closely knit group of people. They need to build trust between each other while theyre training, long before the rocket blasts off. Diverse, international crews could help to overcome some challenges that might come up, but that diversity also sometimes results in cultural and interpersonal problems. A larger crew would likely perform better than a smaller one, but the teams size will always be limited by how much weight and fuel can be launched.

Once theyre in space, people need to keep busy, and they need to think they have something worthwhile to do, even if its actually of limited value. They also need a tiny bit of privacy and entertainment at times, which might include something they brought from home or a simulation of the family and friends they left behind. While at work, the crew members need clear goals and procedures to follow in a wide range of situations. Only people shown to be resilient under pressure for long periods and who have strong teamwork skills even in stressful, sleep-deprived conditions should be part of the crew.

But this is just a start. Two out of 135 space shuttle missions ended in disaster, both for unforeseen engineering problems, but none of them really faced the psychological tests that more perilous, more distant missions will have.

Humans love to explore. Its in our blood. But setting foot on the Red Planet in 20 or 30 years is a more daunting task than anything else ever attempted. To make sure our quest to explore Mars and more distant worlds continues, we have to keep examining not just the engineering challenges but the challenges of our own minds.

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Image Credit: NASA

Visit link:

How to Optimize Your Headspace on a Mission to Mars - Singularity Hub

Why Fire Is the Greatest Tool of All Time – Popular Mechanics

Whether were staring into the depths of a campfire or watching a Space Shuttle burn 500,000 gallons of fuel as it rises off the launchpad, mankinds obsession with fire is so innate we almost take it for granted. Yet fire has catalyzed the human races most significant innovations; its helped us survive and flourish.

At the same time, the path that took us from hunching around a lightning-struck tree for warmth to carrying lighters in our pockets has many reminders of fires volatilityfrom the epic scope of The Great Chicago Fire to the explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Fire comes with a big fat warning sticker, but nonetheless, its mans most essential tool.

Almost every primitive culture has a story about how man came to harness fire, and many of these stories involvecuriouslypetty theft. From the famed Greek myth of Prometheus snatching fire from Zeus and handing it to man (thanks for that, bud, and sorry about the whole bird-eating-your-liver thing), to the Native American story of Rabbit stealing fire from the bloodthirsty Weasels, to the Polynesian legend of Maui taking fire from the birds during a fishing trip for his mother, our desire to control the element has always run up against our better instincts.

Without fireand later, without combustionthere would be no skyscrapers, air travel, International Space Station, bourbon, or medium-rare steaks.

The themes of thievery make sense. In the days of early man, fire was our most valuable possession. Sculptor Paul Manship summed up this sentiment in his art. Behind his famous statue of Prometheus in New York Citys Rockefeller Center, he paraphrased the Greek dramatist Aeschylus, noting that fire proved to mortals a means to mighty ends.

Without fireand later, without combustionthere would be no skyscrapers, air travel, International Space Station, bourbon, or medium-rare steaks. The element has unlocked and enabled some of the greatest industrial and technological achievements in human history.

Heritage ImagesGetty Images

Its impossible to know when the first fire was made, but we can speculate at its earliest major use: cooking, says Alan Rocke, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of the history of science and technology at Case Western Reserve University.

Cooking with heat broadened early mans palate by killing off potentially dangerous microbes in formerly unsafe foods. Fish and beef are at their juiciest and free of illness-causing bacteria at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Rabbit is safe at 160F; chicken at 165F. Fire tenderizes meat (pulled pork falls apart at 205F), but at 330F it also triggers the Maillard reaction (browning) to give steak a mouth-watering sear.

Find Your Fuel

Keep seasoned woodmeaning it's been air or kiln driednear the fireplace (a couple of days indoors should dry out most pieces). Wood with rough surfaces will catch easier than smooth wood. For tinder, gather two handfuls of twigs and break them so they resemble a No. 2 pencil in length and diameter. Half a section of newspaper or a grocery store mailer will work as kindling.

Shape Your Kindling

After making sure your chimney's damper is open, tear the newspaper into two-inch-wide lengths and rub the strips between your fingers so they separate into ribbons. Put the ribbons in the fireplace in a mound the size of a tennis ball. Rest some of your tinder on top of the mound and lean more tinder on those twigs to create a little hut around the paper.

Prime Your Chimney Fuel

In wintertime, cold air coming down your chimney can suppress a fire and push smoke into your house. "Priming the flue" reverses the draft. To do this, roll up a spare piece of newspaper, light one end like a torch, and stick it up your chimney for a few moments. The rising hot air will push the cold air out of the chimney, allowing smoke to escape.

Light It Up

Light the paper. As it ignites, lean larger pieces of tinder against the hut. After those catch, add a fuel log on top of the hut, being careful not to smother the flames. To help the wood catch, blow air across the bottom of the fire where the newspaper meets the surface of the fireplace. Don't have a fireplace tool set? Use sturdy metal kitchen tongs to move the wood around.

Harvard professor and primatologist Richard Wrangham, Ph.D., suggests that the invention of cooking fed evolution itself by unlocking energy-giving nutrients for our ancestors evolving brains and bodies.

In fact, Wrangham suggests that our digestive tracts evolved as a result of discovering cooking. Human guts are 56 percent small intestine and 17 percent colon, while those respective numbers for chimps are almost the opposite: 23 and 52 percent. Translation: Chimp guts are better at breaking down plant fibers and meat collagen than human ones. We need blenders, food processors, and sweet, sweet heat to help our bodies absorb food in a way our guts can handle, says Rocke.

Around 10,000 BCE, our cavemen ancestors began to ditch hunting and gathering in favor of the farming life, and our usage of fire diversified. We started baking, defending our land from predators (the flashpoint of a sabertooth-warding wooden torch is 572F), and firing pottery (clay particles fuse at 1,650F). You can do some things with bowls made from reeds, says Rocke, but to make containers useful for cooking, you need fire.

Hulton DeutschGetty Images

When wood reaches its flashpoint, the heat exorcises impurities like water vapor, sulfur compounds, and nitrogen compounds, leaving essentially pure carbon behindcharcoal. This substance burns hotter than normal wood, and throughout history, more heat has led to better tech.

The Hittites were some of the most prolific iron producers of the Bronze Age (33001200 BCE), and evidence suggests they were among the first ancient empires to discover that they could prevent their tools and weapons from rusting by forging steel from iron and charcoal. When charcoal fuses with iron ore, it acts as a reducing agent, attracting oxygen away from the metal. It also lowers irons melting point.

This lower heat threshold allowed the Hittites to produce more durable iron weapons on a mass scale. It also helped them gain trade leveragein the 13th century BCE, a Hittite king sent another ruler an iron dagger as appeasementand gave them a tactical edge over their bronze-bound opponents, including the mighty ancient Egyptians.

The invention of charcoal was a great asset to society because it enabled all these high-temperature processes, Rocke says. You can do some metallurgy without charcoal, but you cant make iron or steel, both of which require a blast furnace.

It isnt certain how the Hittites mass-produced malleable iron and steel, but archaeologists are confident that blast furnaces operated in China as early as the 5th century BCE. Blast furnaces liquefy metals at 3,000F. In ancient China, this meant the introduction of cast iron, the ultra-malleable, ultra-rust-resistant material the Western world has used in cannons, bridges, and, yup, the cast iron skillet in your kitchen that can withstand 2,000F.

BettmannGetty Images

No image captures the intersection of fire and modern industry better than a burning oil derricks column of flame. After Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859, people began to refine that oil over a fire and distill it into some of the tentpole resources of modern life: kerosene, diesel, and gasoline, the last of which could be boiled off and condensed between 104401F.

Early on, Americans used these resources mostly to illuminate our cities and homes, but in the mid-to-late 19th century, gasoline became fuel for a more adrenal, exciting purpose: helping us go far and go fast. The liquid-fuel internal-combustion engine burns a mixture of gasoline and air to create a combustion that expands gases inside the engine to push the pistons and rotate the crankshaft.

This simple fire-powered design became the basis of modern transport, from the Wright brothers plane at Kitty Hawk, to the refurbished Challenger 2, which topped 448 miles per hour and broke the land speed record in 2018, to the 2,300-ton diesel engines that power container ships through the Panama Canal today.

Gasoline had great advantages over electricity or gaseous fuels: energy density, weight, volume, Rocke says. You needed those differences if you were going to put your power plant [your fuel source] on a moving object.

In 1900, just 22 percent of American automobiles were powered by gas; but thanks to Henry Fords mass-production methods, the invention of the self-starting ignition in 1912, and our newfound need for speed, the internal-combustion engine gained supremacy among autos. Fire was powering us toward modern life.

This modernization put fire and combustion at the crossroads of practicality and danger once again. The early 1900s were fraught with fatal conflagrations. Chicagos Iroquois Theater fire in 1903 killed more than 600 people, and in 1910, the Big Blowup wildfire in Idaho, Washington, and Montana killed at least 85 people as it reduced 3 million acresan area about the size of Connecticutto ashes.

These fires prompted changes: The Iroquois fire led to the invention of the emergency exit panic bar for doors, and the Big Blowup led to the development of some prescribed-burn containment techniques. But they also served as reminders of the risks that come with implementing combustion in our everyday lives.

Harness the Power of Fire

Today, Rocke suggests the advances wrought by fire have ironically taken us past it. Many energy and power advances of the 20th century dont involve combustion: Nuclear energy relies on a physical reaction rather than a chemical one, and renewable energies like solar, wind, and water power skirt combustions literal explosiveness. We understand now there are costs of powering the world with fire, from deforestation to pollution to climate change. Going forward, we have to reconcile these downsides with fires awesome potential.

Because it is awesome. Fire sparks the reaction between aluminum and ammonium perchlorate that turns solid rocket fuel into the driving force of space travel (NASAs rocket boosters reach 5,000F during launch). When fire is used to distill alcohol (which evaporates at 173F), were treated to things like Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon and Blantons Original.

Every time you strike a match, the stroke of friction between the match head and the box turns the boxs red phosphorus to white, and it takes just 86F for white phosphorus to combust. Then you have fire at your fingertips.

Its hard not to stare at that little flame. Simple combustion still inspires us at a basic, primal level, whether were throwing another log on the fireplace or sitting around a backyard bonfire. As Rocke affirms: Fire is so elemental, it will never go away.

Read more here:

Why Fire Is the Greatest Tool of All Time - Popular Mechanics

Give us more room, airlines! Forget permission to recline our seats – msnNOW

Editors note: The opinions in this article are the authors, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of Microsoft News or Microsoft. MSN Travel Voices features first-person essays and stories from diverse points of view. Click hereto see more Voices content from MSN Lifestyle, Health and Travel.

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastianpoured fuel on an alreadyfiery, ragingdebate this past week when he suggested passengers should first ask and receive permission from the person behind them beforeleaning backtheir seat.

The proper thing to do is if youre going to recline i somebody that you ask if its OK first, he said.

Earlier in the week, a videowent viralof an agitated American Airlines passengerpunching the seat andchewing out a fellow traveler for failing to do so.

Like chronic territorial feuds between warring tribes, the greatairlineseat space battles are not a recent phenomenon, though the intensity and frequency of them seem to be escalating.In fact, back in 2003, Ira Goldman, a former Senate aide, invented and began selling the Knee Defender a small device that hooks onto the back of the tray table and prevents the person in front of y

As its popularity began rising and tempers along with it, airlines took notice andprohibitedits use. So, like fireworks, its one of those rare items thats not illegal to buy but which youre technically not allowedto use.

Goldman has long defended the product, suggesting its use could result in something of a dtente in the skies.

It gives you the chance to be human beings, he said. Do you want the conversation to start before the laptop screen is cracked or after its cracked?

The Knee Defenderis adjustable andallows for seats to recline in degrees. Its not an all or nothing proposition.

Reaction to Bastians recommendationthis weekto negotiate space has run the gamut from hearty agreement to outraged defiance.

Civility and courtesy are always a good thing, especially when youre flying 40,000 feet up in the air, butthe suggestion ofDeltas chief and even Goldmans ingenious entrepreneurial fix areignoring the root of the problem.

In a desperate attempt to maximize revenue, airlines havefor decadesbeen shrinking both the width and pitch of seats. In the 1950s and 60s long considered the golden age of jet travel, the distance between seatswasas much as36 inches. Today, someare as close as 28 inches apart and as narrow as 17, down from 20 a few decades ago.

Industry executives justify thegreat shrinkage by pointing to the economic realitiesof the business, a claim thatsbuttressedby howfew of the airlines of my childhood still exist today. I have great memories ofwelcoming my dad homeat JFKscircularPan Am terminal or being mesmerized by the magical, futuristic red-carpeted building that once housed TWA. As a young man, I flew Eastern, America Westand Northwest Airlines.

Theyre all gone, and withthemtheir nice, comfortable seats not to mention the once standard meals even in coach. My boys didnt believe me when I told them I was served steak and eggs on my first cross country flight between New York and San Francisco back in 1984.

But how much profit is enough and how long before the companyfinally acknowledges that theyre treatingthe customer as cattle?It seems Deltas suggestion is a subtle way of admitting what we all know that the space between seats is now bordering on the ridiculous.

At 6-foot-4, Ive grown accustomed to being jammed into my seat. I try and rationalize the discomfort by just being grateful to fly at all. I think about the pioneers who labored across the rugged and ragged plains in wooden wagons, many of them dying along the way. What kind of wimp or privileged person am I to complain about my tight space when what took my forefathers five months still only takes me fivehours?

Yet, there is still something unsavory and troublesome about the great airplaneseatsqueeze, especially for those with a disability orsomeone whose sizealready makes traveling a challenge.

I think of a friend who has arthritis, a painful and debilitating condition thats exacerbated when hes confined to tight spaces.Its just not fair and its certainly not considerate.In an age of increasing accommodation, shouldnt industries be compelled to create products that benefit not burden the consumer?

Of course, thegreatseat debate is big business. Now, with most airlines, you dont just buy a ticket you have to also buy your seat and if you want more room, well, youre going to pay for it. Im a capitalist and I get it. Its just irritating and leaves me feeling increasingly fleeced.

Newtons third law is that for every action, theres a reaction and the foolishness of airlines to try and fit more people in the same space is literally and figuratively squeezing the customer to a breaking point.

This is going to sound self-righteous, butI gave up reclining my seatyears ago, a decision borne out of the old biblical adage to, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.Im also a bit like George McFly from Back to the Future, who famously said, I'mafraidI'm just notverygood at confrontations.

Wed all be a lot better off if the airline executives responsible for positioning the seats on airplanes would likewise follow suit.

See the original post:

Give us more room, airlines! Forget permission to recline our seats - msnNOW

3 Stocks That Will Only Break Your Heart – Motley Fool

It's Valentine's Day, but you've probably had enough of Cupid by now. Love is great and all, but sometimes you just need a box of matches more than a matchmaker. Not every stock that sweeps you off your feet will be a winner, and I have three investments that I think will be heartbreakers.

Himax Technologies (NASDAQ:HIMX),Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), and Virgin Galactic(NYSE:SPCE) are three stocks that are flying high this year, but susceptible to selling off in the near future. Let's go over why these three market darlings may ultimately break your heart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Among the more unlikely stocks hitting new 52-week highs on Thursday is Himax Technologies, a designer of display drivers and other semiconductor products. The stock has nearly doubled this year, up 83% in 2020 after announcingbetter-than-expected preliminary financial resultslast month. The stock is making hearts go aflutter this week by actually posting those fourth-quarter results and issuing encouraging guidance.

Revenue for the fourth quarter clocked in at $174.9 million, declining 8% from a year earlier. A small gain in its small and medium display drivers segment was more than offset by a 22% plunge in large display drivers. Its non-display business also staged a year-over-year retreat. The excitement here is that business is actually growing sequentially, a big deal for a cyclical business like the semiconductor industry.

Guidance for the current quarter is even better. It sees an 8% to 18% year-over-year increase in the first quarter. It has historically posted a sequential top-line decline in the first quarter, but it's eyeing a 1% to 10% advance this time around during the seasonally sluggish period. The headwinds that it was warning about a few months ago are now tailwinds, with Himax eyeing positive momentum across its smartphone, tablet, and automotive display lines.

This all sounds like good news, but Himax has a habit of disappointing investors. The stock has only moved higher in one of the past six years. The only year in that time that it did move higher -- nearly doubling in 2017 the way it is right now -- it would go on to fall precipitously in each of the two following years.

This will probably be the most controversial of the three names on my heartbreaker list, but it's hard to justify the electric-car maker's stock more than tripling over the past six months. Revenue rose 2% inits latest quarter, and while it did see a 23% increase in the number of cars it delivered during the period it was basically consumers shifting to the cheaper Model 3 at the expense of the older and pricier S and X models.

The bullish narrative here is that Tesla should be valued more as a tech stock than a conventional automaker. Well, on that front, we're seeing ASPs (average selling prices) move lower given the product mix shift for a business that is low margin by tech standards.

I'm not bearish on Tesla. Analysts see revenue more than tripling within the next three years and I don't disagree with that. Wall Street pros see profits exploding skyward at this point, and I'm applauding. However, Tesla stock is a volatile beast. The effervescent bullishness for a company behind big-ticket products in an economy that can't be buoyant forever is a problem. Even bulls wouldn't be surprised if Tesla stock closes out the year below Thursday's $804 close. The median analyst price target is $506. The company is a long-term winner, but the same can't be said about the near-term prospects for the stock with its $153 billion enterprise value.

All three of these stocks are taking off this year, but Virgin Galactic is the only one that has more than doubled in 2020. Space tourism for the masses, for now, is just a billionaire's dream. True to its Virgin moniker, this is Sir Richard Branson's dream for space travel. He competes against other moneyed market icons Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Tesla's Elon Musk (SpaceX).

These are three pretty smart billionaires piloting these three pet projects, and since Virgin Galactic is the one venture that is now publicly traded, it's easy to see why space buffs with stars in their eyes are flocking to the stock. Branson hopes to start taking folks willing to shell out $250,000 on their first trip to the edge of space as soon as later this year.

Virgin Galactic dreams of a future of Earth-orbiting hotels, science labs, and transcontinental service, but folks are paying up just for the experience of going up to the edge of space -- joining the 50-mile high club to be technically considered an astronaut -- in a reusable vehicle. Hundreds of wealthy consumers have already booked with Virgin Galactic, but we're still decades, if not longer, away where this becomes anything other than a novelty. As the lone public play with a thin float, this is going to have more ups and downs than Avenue 5. Space travel is a gamble at this point, and it's why Virgin Galactic is a risky wager after soaring 105% so far this young year.Investing in IPOscan be risky, but this particular newbie is out of this world in more ways than one.

See more here:

3 Stocks That Will Only Break Your Heart - Motley Fool

The British children’s show creators worthy of the biopic treatment – British GQ

Teletubbies creator Anne Wood

The real story

Wood grew up in a colliery village near County Durham during the Second World War. Despite not having much access to literature as a child, she self-published her own magazine, Books For Children, and founded the Federation Of Children's Books Groups, which caught the attention of TV producers.

A stint at Yorkshire Television and TV-AM saw her create her first show Rub-A-Dub-Tub before a change of management saw her set up her own production company, where she created the likes of Rosie And Jim.

Teletubbies came about when, during a trip stateside to try to break America, Wood and Tots TV puppeteer Andrew Davenport visited Washington's National Air And Space Museum and noticed that astronauts walking on the moon resembled giant babies. The idea was cemented when Wood's mother, who suffered from MS and was in a wheelchair, commented that there were so many domestic devices beeping while Wood had popped out to the shops and so realised, Thats the atmosphere that little kids are growing up in. The Teletubbies became "technological babies, living in a technological environment.

Since then, Wood has worked on other hit shows In The Night Garden and Twirlywoos, and is still developing ideas today at the age of 82.

The Hollywood pitch

The year is 1996 and technology is everywhere: picture commuters rushing around listening to Walkmans, the BBC launching one of its first websites to document the Olympic Games and school children playing with Tamagotchis under their desks. Meanwhile, after 20 years working in childrens TV, Anne Wood is juggling looking after her ill mother with managing her own production company and fighting the influx of American shows on British childrens TV. Space travel, tech and transatlantic media collide as Wood adapts to a changing world, but will it be enough to save the UK's children's programming from an American takeover?

Tagline

Time for Tubby bye-bye? She's only just getting started

Who would play Anne Wood?

"It would have to be someone with a bit of acerbic-ness about them. Meryl Streep, lets say," says Wood.

The real story

Over the course of his career, Keith Chapman has dreamed up two of the biggest children's TV shows of all time, Bob The Builder and Paw Patrol, the former making 5 billion since it was created and the latter doubling that figure in the past six years alone.

Describing his life as one big cartoon, Chapman was always drawing as a child and his first cartoons got published in a local newspaper when he was just 12 years old. He went on to study graphic illustration at art college, after which he went to work in advertising, before moving to work for the Muppets' creator, Jim Henson.

Every night, he'd go home and work on his own ideas, testing them out on his three young boys. The character they'd always want to hear more of was, of course, Bob, who Chapman dreamed up after he saw a JCB outside his flat in Wimbledon Village. He pitched the idea to HIT Entertainment, who optioned the show and turned it into the stop-frame classic we're all now familiar with. From beating Westlife to a Christmas No1 with Can We Fix It?" to shows at the O2, the success of Bob The Builder was unprecedented and gave Chapman the opportunity to start his own company, Chapman Entertainment, which created shows such as Rory The Racing Car and Fifi And The Flowertots.

Unfortunately, the company was one of many to be hit by the Great Recession and eventually had to close down, with the bank selling the rights to their properties to Dreamworks. Paw Patrol came about a few years later when Chapman was approached by toy company Spin Master to create a show based on emergency vehicles and since then it's become a worldwide success. The work doesn't stop there, though. Currently Chapman has about 15 projects in the works, ranging from adult cartoons to feature-length films.

The Hollywood pitch

Christmas No1s, sold-out shows at the O2, billions of pounds' worth of merchandise sales: Keith Chapman is at the top of his game, riding high on the success of his hit show Bob The Builder and his growing production company. But nothing lasts for ever. Can he pick up the pieces after he's hit by hard times during the recession? A tale of resilience and creativity, there's only one thing that save him: his imagination.

Tagline

Life is one big cartoon. How you draw it is up to you.

Who would play Keith Chapman?

Sometimes people say that look like Alec Baldwin," says Chapman. "I cant see it myself, but a few people have so maybe him. Of course, he wouldnt get the accent, so it would have to be a British actor: Gary Oldman, hes a brilliant actor. Hes got London roots so hell probably get the accent.

Born in Leeds but raised in Liverpool, Brenton's childhood was spent playing outside and watching shows such as Danger Mouse, Grange Hill, Crackerjack and Play Away. Like Chapman, he also went to art college, but followed that up with a stint at drama college, where he and a friend set up a theatre company to pay the bills, often staging shows for children.

Eventually, Brenton landed a gig presenting on Playbus, where he copresented with Iain Lauchlan, who would later become his business partner. This is also where he learnt to write and direct and the pair began to write and perform in pantomimes in Coventry.

Their Bafta-winning show Tweenies was born when the duo got wind that the BBC had invited companies to pitch ideas for a follow-up from Teletubbies for a slightly older audience. While waiting in the wings at a production of Cinderella, ready to take the stage as an ugly step sister, he took his chance and asked the then director of BBC Children's, Roy Thompson, if he and Lauchlan could pitch an idea. The pair had already been creating a series of videos called Fun Song Factory, so this was the natural next step. Thompson sent them a brief and the pair got to work creating ideas until they won the slot. It was the Tweenies' first live tour that made the success of the show really sink in for Brenton. That year we sold more tickets than Robbie Williams and Britney Spears put together. It was huge.

The Hollywood pitch

Life as an aspiring young actor can be tough, but if you come at the industry from all directions, it might just let you in. Will Brenton becomes a multi-hyphenate long before millennials made it the norm, in a story that shows that determination and ingenuity can go a long way. Going from Coventry pantomimes to tours that sold more tickets than Robbie Williams and Britney Spears combined, Brenton's journey is far from conventional, but aren't those always the best kind of rides?

Tagline

Are you ready to play?

Who would play Will Brenton?

I asked my wife this and she said David Thewlis," says Brenton. "When I was still acting I was offered a part in a Yorkshire TV series called A Bit Of A Do, but I couldnt do it because I was doing a theatre show. The actor who ended up doing it was David Thewlis. It was his first TV part and it kicked everything off for him. He played it better than I would have done, but we were laughing about that, saying how it would be ironic if he would then one day play me in a movie.

Daniel Kaluuya: 'Everyone that grew up on my estate, theyre not there any more'

Why hasnt Curb Your Enthusiasm faced a woke backlash yet?

Is Narcos: Mexico too real for its own good?

All products featured on the website are independently selected by our Editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Read this article:

The British children's show creators worthy of the biopic treatment - British GQ

New Solar Orbiter Will Get the First Glimpse of the Sun’s Poles – HowStuffWorks

Advertisement

A newly launched spacecraft promises to broaden our understanding of the sun. Called the "Solar Orbiter" or the "SolO" for short it left the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in central Florida Sunday, Feb. 9, at 11:03 p.m.

The new probe is part of an international collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Both parties contributed to its arsenal of scientific instruments. Some of these gadgets will remotely image the sun, its atmosphere and the materials it spews forth. Others are built to keep tabs on the spacecraft's immediate surroundings.

During the wee hours of Feb. 10, 2020, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany got a signal confirming that orbiter's onboard solar panels were functioning correctly. So begins a seven-year planned mission. To paraphrase Robert Frost, the orbiter is supposed to take the route less traveled.

All the planets in our solar system revolve around the sun on the same general plane (give or take a few degrees). Called the "ecliptic plane," it's like a giant invisible disc one that very nearly lines up with the sun's equator.

Most of our spacefaring devices are gravitationally confined to this plane. But the SolO is meant to escape it.

By exploiting the gravity of Earth and Venus, the probe will orbit the sun on a unique and tilted pathway. This unique trajectory will give the SolO 22 close approaches to the sun (as close as 26 million miles or 35.4 million kilometers to the sun), as well as bring it within the orbit of Mercury to study the sun's influence on space. It will also give SolO the chance to do something no craft has ever done before: Take pictures of the solar poles.

Just like Earth, the sun has a north and south pole. In 2018, the ESA used data from the Proba-2 satellite to try and determine what the northern pole looks like. But Proba-2 couldn't photograph this region directly. If all goes according to plan, SolO will do just that. Its first close pass by the sun will be in 2022 at about a third the distance from the sun to Earth.

"Up until Solar Orbiter, all solar imaging instruments have been within the ecliptic plane or very close to it," NASA scientist Russell Howard noted in a press statement. "Now, we'll be able to look down on the sun from above."

And that's just the beginning.

Another mission objective involves SolO partnering up with the Parker Solar Probe. Launched in 2018, this spacecraft is able to fly much closer to the sun than the new Solar Orbiter ever will.

Comparing the feedback from both probes ought to tell us a great deal about the mysterious phenomenon called solar wind. Any polar pictures the SolO gives us should provide relevant insights, too. The sun's polar regions probably have a big effect on its atmosphere as a whole along with the charged particle streams (i.e., "winds") it unleashes.

SolO's unique travel plans will put it in contact with intense heat and extreme coldness. The new probe is going to revolve around the sun in a very long, very narrow oval-shaped orbit. As it nears the star, things will get rather toasty.

That's why designers fitted the Solar Orbiter with a reflective heat shield coated in titanium foil. According to NASA, this shield can withstand temperatures as high as 970 degrees Fahrenheit (521 degrees Celsius). It's also got radiators designed to ventilate excess heat produced within the craft itself.

Engineers can't be too careful about these things, you know. Certainly not when space travel is involved.

Excerpt from:

New Solar Orbiter Will Get the First Glimpse of the Sun's Poles - HowStuffWorks

For a sight test that is out of this world? You should be going to Specsavers Coleraine – Coleraine Times

Out of this world optical diagnostic technology that was - until a few years ago - only widely available in hospital eye departments will be available in Specsavers Coleraine.

Called OCT (optical coherence tomography), this eye health check is set to transform the industrys evaluation of a customers overall eye health on our high streets and is being rolled out across all Specsavers stores this month.

The innovation of OCT is pretty impressive, and testament to its credentials is the fact that NASA uses OCT technology on its International Space Station to measure the effect of space travel on the eye.

The OCT uses light to take more than 1,000 images of the back of the eye including the retina and optic nerve. A layered image is then created to allow the optometrist to view the deeper structures of the eye in more detail than ever before. From here, its future-gazing potential can then help detect preventable, sight-threating conditions up to four years earlier than a standard eye test.

These images are then stored, allowing the Specsavers team of optometrists to refer back to a customers results from their prior appointment and detect any subtle changes that can then be addressed.

Some of the conditions that can be picked up earlier and monitored with an OCT test include diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma. In some rarer cases, concerns relating to wider health issues like a brain tumour have been picked up thanks to the detailed scan.

Store director Judith Ball said: This is big news and we are proud to be part of a first nationwide roll out for the optical industry.

Our nationwide roll out of this innovation is one big step for mankind when it comes to accessing fantastic innovation and helping to preserve the nations eye health. To be able to bring this technology to our customers in Coleraine in the decade of 2020 feels extra poignant too.

To highlight the innovative new equipment revolutionising the high street, Specsavers has also launched a TV ad which sees an OCT machine floating alongside the Hubble Telescope in outer space.

To find out more about OCT or to book an appointment, visit the Diamond Coleraine, http://www.specsavers.co.uk or call 0287 032 6346

Read the rest here:

For a sight test that is out of this world? You should be going to Specsavers Coleraine - Coleraine Times

Block Universe Theory: Is the Passing of Time an Illusion? – Interesting Engineering

Is time travel possible? Is time just an illusion that our brains merely believe to be moving forward in a linear fashion? According to proponents of the box universe theory, the answer to both of these questions is, simply, yes.

The box universe theory describes 'now' as an arbitrary place in time, and states that the past, future, and present all exist simultaneously.

RELATED: 5 ALTERNATIVES TO THE BIG BANG THEORY

Much in the same way that your current location doesn't exclude the existence of other locations, the box universe theory claims that being in the present doesn't mean the past and future aren't currently taking place.

We take a look at different versions of the theory and how this static traversable perception of spacetime means that space travel, in theory, is possible.

The block universe theory, as explained by Dr. Kristie Miller last year,positsthat our universe might be a giant four-dimensional block of spacetime, containing all the things that ever happened and will happen in our traditional perception of time.

Dr. Kristie Miller, who is the joint director for theCentre for Timeat the University of Sydney, explained the theory in a piece published by ABC Science.Miller describedhowall moments that exist are relative to each other within three spatial dimensions and a single time dimension.

The block universe theory is also known in some scientific circles as Eternalism, in which the past, present, and future all co-exist 'now'. This is opposed to Presentism, which states that the past doesn't exist anymore and is constantly disappearing thanks to that pesky notion of 'present' time.

According to Miller, hypothetically speaking, yes, it is possible. But there is one big caveat. We would have to figure out how to travel at a speed close to the speed of light, allowing us to use a wormhole as a shortcut to travel into another "location" in spacetime. This would be possible due to a phenomenon known as time dilation.

However, if we were to be able to create the technology to allow us to travel in time, we would not be able to affect our present by changing the past, Miller says. That's because the present exists at the same time as the past and is, therefore, inextricably linked. No need to worry about killing an insect in the past leading to a snowballing chain of events that would set off another world war then.

"If I travel to the past, I am part of the past. Importantly, I was always part of the past," Miller says. In other words, going to the past would simply mean that we are simply fulfilling pre-ordained actions that are already written out in the block that is spacetime.

The box universe does, of course, have its detractors, as Big Think points out.PhysicistLee Smolin, for example,wrotethat"The future is not now real and there can be no definite facts of the matter about the future."He alsoaddedat a 2017 conference that what is real is just "the process by which future events are generated out of present events."

The idea, if true, would also lend weight to the philosophical idea of Predeterminism, which states that everything is preordained and therefore an individual has no agency over the outcome of their life and may as well just let it run its course. Not a very 21st Century idea.

A counter to the association with Predeterminism is another theory, growing block-ism ridiculous name, I know which posits that the block of spacetime is actually a growing entity that can be changed. The past and the present always exist, but the future would be more of a changing entity.

So, could a preordained life be closely linked to our ability to be able to time travel? The truth is that we are nowhere near knowing this for sure. The box universe theory for the moment is just that, a theory. We'd need the very tall order of a time machine to test the hypothesis.

Knowing whether all of history is happening at the same time is something that may never, you guessed it, happen. On the other hand, it might be happening right now.

Go here to read the rest:

Block Universe Theory: Is the Passing of Time an Illusion? - Interesting Engineering

Virgin Group reaches out to Nitin Gadkari for hyperloop – Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Richard Branson-owned Virgin Group has reached out to transport minister Nitin Gadkari with a proposal to establish a hyperloop transportation system between New Delhi and Mumbai, after the Maharashtra government decided to shelve the companys proposed project in the state last month.

A source in the know told ET that Virgin Group has approached Gadkariwho is known for his openness to adopting new technologiesto develop a 1,300-km line between the national capital and Mumbai. Executives of the group are in India for the next two days and are meeting various stakeholders for the technology, the person said.

Hyperloop use magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the pods can shuttle people and freight at speeds of up to 1,200 km per hour.

Senior executives from the Virgin Group have met the transport minister to discuss this, the person cited earlier told ET. The talks are at a very preliminary stage and they may submit a formal proposal to Gadkari.

ET could not contact the Virgin Group immediately for an official comment.

Speaking at a public event here on Thursday, Gadkari also mentioned that he had met investors earlier in the day and discussed a bullet train-like project.

Virgin Hyperloop Ones proposed Pune-Mumbai link project was okayed by the BJP government in the state last year. The first phase of the plan entailed an 11.8 km-long track. The project would have needed up to $10 billion in investment and up in 2.5 years to be completed. Last month, the Uddhav Thackarey-led state government decided against implementing it amid doubts about its capsule technology, which is not yet operational anywhere in the world.

We do not have the capacity to experiment with hyperloop. We will concentrate on other modes of transport and, in the meantime, if that technology develops more with successful trials abroad, we can think about it, Maharashtras deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had said in a recent statement.

An official ET spoke with said it may be visibly impossible to develop a 1,300 km-long line at this point when not even 1 km is operational anywhere in the world. The official did not wish to be identified.

Billionaire entrepreneur Bransons diversified conglomerate Virgin Group has interests in aviation, hospitality, music, telecom and space travel.

Commenting on the development, Virgin Hyperloop One spokesperson said Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) is committed to India and the State of Maharashtra. We are actively engaging with the Maharashtra Government as per the standard due process for the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop project. When we came to India we had a vision to connect all Tier One cities in under 2 hours. Delhi-Mumbai is a part of that national vision, but our focus remains on moving forward with the Mumbai-Pune project to the satisfaction of all concerned stakeholders.

Follow this link:

Virgin Group reaches out to Nitin Gadkari for hyperloop - Economic Times

Vacation on Mars? NASA astronaut talks space travel at Bloomsburg University – NorthcentralPa.com

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania will present a lecture about the challenges of human travel to Mars by Jim Pawelczyk, Ph.D. titled What Price a Martian? Human Limits to Exploring the Red Planet on Wednesday, February 19, at 6 p.m. in McCormick Center, room 2303. The special lecture is free and open to the public.

Pawelczyk, associate professor of physiology, kinesiology, and medicine at Penn State University and a former NASA astronaut, will explain current plans for human planetary exploration and highlight knowledge gaps and opportunities for human biologists to help reach the most audacious destination that humankind has ever contemplated, a trip to Mars.

A human trip to Martian orbit is expected to be possible in the late 2020s, followed by landing operations between 2030 and 2040. The 30-month mission would expose humans to reduced loading; heavy, high-energy, ionizing radiation; confinement; and environmental conditions far outside the Earths.

Pawelczyks current research focuses on blood pressure regulation and how disuse atrophy affects regulation. Problems with moment-to-moment regulation of blood pressure lead to orthostatic intolerance, an inability to maintain adequate blood flow to the brain that affects as many as 500,000 Americans. The condition is routinely observed following spaceflight, which Pawelczyk has studied as a NASA-funded investigator for the past six years.

In 1995, he was selected as a payload specialist for the Neurolab space shuttle mission and flew aboard STS-90 on the space shuttle Columbia in April and May of 1998. He logged 16 days and 6.4 million miles in space, circling the earth 256 times and conducting neuroscience.

Pawelczyk earned bachelors degrees in biology and psychology from the University of Rochester in 1982, a masters degree in physiology from Penn State University in 1985, and a doctoral degree in biology from the University of North Texas in 1989. In 1995, he joined the faculty at Penn State.

Pawelczyk assists the formation of U.S. space life sciences strategy. He has testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space and is an active member of the NASA Advisory Councils Research Subcommittee for Human Exploration, the National Research Councils Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, and the Institute of Medicines Committee on Aerospace Medicine and Extreme Environments.

Planning for the event is being done by the Department of Exercise Science and the lecture is sponsored by the Dean of the College of Science and Technology.

See the rest here:

Vacation on Mars? NASA astronaut talks space travel at Bloomsburg University - NorthcentralPa.com

Houston, we have a bake-off! We finally know what happens when you bake cookies in space – Space.com

It turns out that, even in space, freshly baked chocolate-chip cookiessmell incredible.

Recently, a batch of chocolate chip cookies the first food ever baked in space returned to Earth aboard aSpaceX Dragon capsule (three of the five cookies, which were baked one at a time, were returned to Earth). The cookies started out from the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel chain as Earth-made dough, which launched to the International Space Station along with the Zero G oven (the first oven designed to work in space) on Nov. 2, 2019.

Now, following the cookies' return, we have the final results from this delicious experiment.

Related:Space Food Evolution: How Astronaut Chow Has Changed (Photos)

So, first things first, the astronauts aboard the space station were able to smell the second, third, fourth and fifth cookies they baked, a press representative said in an email statement (the first cookie turned out underbaked and didn't cook long enough to emit an aroma). In space, even without gravity, smells travel via individual aroma molecules. In the microgravity environment aboard the space station, these molecules travel in whatever direction they are moved. (On Earth, the aroma molecules move in all directions due to random collisions with air molecules.)

Now, smelling the chocolate-chip cookies on the space station, where astronauts can eat only "space foods," you might assume that the spacefliers wouldn't be able to resist sneaking a bite of a freshly baked cookie. However, "while the brand's chocolate chip cookies were likely fit for consumption after they were baked on the ISS, additional testing is required before any food can be considered officially 'edible,'" the representative told Space.com in an email.

"But don't worry," the representative added, "astronauts aboard the ISS enjoyed special pre-baked DoubleTree chocolate-chip cookies that were sent up on Nov. 2, 2019!"

Related:DoubleTree Offers Limited Edition 'Cookies in Space' Tin

Before the cookie dough headed to the space station, there was speculation about how the dough would bake in microgravity. Would it puff up and bake into a sphere? Would it look like a regular cookie? Would the cookie take longer to bake? Would it take less time?

On Earth, the average cookie made with this DoubleTree chocolate-chip cookie dough took 16-18 minutes to bake in a convection oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius). The astronauts, who baked the first four cookies at 300 F and the fifth cookie at 325 F (165 C), were instructed to figure out exactly how long it would take to properly bake a cookie in space.

In baking the first cookie, they found that after 25 minutes it was underbaked. The second cookie only started to fill the station with its delicious aroma after a whopping 75 minutes in the oven.

The cookies that seemed to bake the best were the fourth and fifth cookies, which baked for 120 and 130 minutes, respectively, and were then left to cool outside the oven for 25 and 10 minutes, respectively.

So, were they spherical? Weird looking? Apparently not. The cookies looked just like cookies baked on Earth, according to a DoubleTree statement.

"Perfecting the baking process for our DoubleTree cookies took time, even on Earth, so we were excited to learn that our cookies appear to look and smell the same on the ISS as they do in our hotels," Shawn McAteer, the senior vice president and global head of DoubleTree by Hilton, said in the statement. "The innovation displayed throughout this experiment and emphasis on making long-duration space travel more hospitable underscores our ongoing commitment to ensuring guests always have a comfortable stay, wherever they may travel."

Want to see the cookies for yourself? First, the cookies will undergo more testing, informing our understanding of how food bakes in microgravity so that future crewed missions might be more comfortable, according to the statement.

Then, after testing, the cookies are to be preserved and put on display. One of the cookies has also been offered as a donation to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where it is being considered for display in the collection.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Here is the original post:

Houston, we have a bake-off! We finally know what happens when you bake cookies in space - Space.com

Voyager 2 just missed a spin in interstellar space. But it should be fine, NASA says. – Space.com

NASA's venerable Voyager 2 spacecraft is recovering from a glitch, but engineers are confident that the probe will be back to normal science operations soon, the agency said.

The issue began on Saturday (Jan. 25), when, mission scientists believe, the spacecraft failed to take a quick spin that it needed to make to calibrate an instrument. That meant that two power-hungry systems stayed on longer than usual. To cope with the sudden power shortage, the spacecraft automatically turned its science instruments off, according to a NASA statement.

NASA engineers are troubleshooting the problem, but it's slow going given Voyager 2's distance from Earth. With the probe 11.5 billion miles (18.5 billion kilometers) away, signals take 17 hours to travel one way and mission personnel must wait a total of 34 hours to see whether a command worked.

Related: Voyager 2 Went Interstellar the Same Day a Probe Touched the Sun

However, Voyager 2's engineers think they've coaxed the spacecraft into shutting down one of the power-sucking systems and rebooting its science instruments, although the probe is not yet gathering data again.

As the mission continues, power issues become ever-more serious for both Voyager probes, which launched in 1977. Each spacecraft carries a radioisotope thermoelectric generator as a power supply. But at more than 40 years old, those generators are steadily losing their oomph, leaving each spacecraft with a little less power.

In response to power reduction over the years, engineers on the Voyager team have turned off instruments and heaters that are less relevant to the mission's science goals, saving the spacecraft's resources for where they really count.

Both spacecraft are focused on studying the region just outside the heliopause, a sheath created by the solar wind of charged particles that constantly streams off the sun. Voyager 2 crossed that boundary in November 2018, joining its twin, which had done so in 2012.

NASA isn't sure how much longer the Voyager probes will be able to keep running, but scientists on the mission estimated in November 2019 that the spacecraft could lose power within about five years.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

View post:

Voyager 2 just missed a spin in interstellar space. But it should be fine, NASA says. - Space.com

From Cordless Vacuums to In-flight WiFi, These Innovations From NASA Changed Life on Earth – Travel+Leisure

Thanks to NASAs quest to explore Mars, your car has better radials. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company worked with NASA to develop a special fibrous material which was used on parachute shrouds to soft-land Viking space probes on the surface of Mars. The fibre contains a chain-like molecular structure which makes it five times stronger than steel without added weight. Goodyear realized that the increased strength and durability of this material would have useful applications on the road, and, in 1976, developed a new radial which lasted 10,000 miles longer than others. Viking was not the only collaboration between Goodyear and NASA.

In 2009, a dedicated team of Goodyear engineers and NASA researchers at the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center collaborated on the development of a new airless Spring Tire which uses 800 load bearing springs which provides improved traction on rocky surfaces and can bear weight in extreme temperatures without deflating, as pneumatic tires might. While originally developed to fit the needs of NASAs Lunar Electric rover, Goodyear also saw applications for off-road vehicles here on Earth.

The rest is here:

From Cordless Vacuums to In-flight WiFi, These Innovations From NASA Changed Life on Earth - Travel+Leisure

Soon women will also be from Mars: why space missions should address gender imbalance quickly – The National

In the next 50 years, up to one million people could be living on Mars, Elon Musk claimed last month. Mr Musk is a technology entrepreneur who founded SpaceX in 2002 to revoluntionise space technology so that people can one day live on other planets. But he is not alone in suggesting that human beings will be able to form societies in space within our lifetimes. Takeshi Hakamada, the chief executive of Japanese firm iSpace a company that develops lunar robotic modules with the goal of mining the moon believes that by 2040, there will be a community of at least 1,000 people living and working on the moon.

Those kinds of numbers make you sit up and pay attention, especially when you realise that only 564 people have been to space thus far. And even more startling is the fact that only 65 of them have been women, a paltry 11.5 per cent. This gender imbalance is common wherever space is involved. For example, the majority of Nasa's employees are male 66 per cent and among those, women only hold 14 per cent of senior positions.

There are exceptions, of course. The UAE space programme is overseen by a woman Sarah Al Amiri, who is the Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and involves many notable women.

More countries should take note of the UAE's lead because, if we are going to have a realistic chance of creating societies on other planets, we need to bring more gender balance. And this needs to happen urgently.

This is not about ticking diversity check-boxes. Although we do need to get beyond the notion that it is all about giant leaps for mankind, this is a far more existential issue about how we structure healthy communities in the future.

It will not happen by accident. Human beings are not suddenly going to play fair in space. Sexism will not evaporate as we pass through the earths outer orbit. And the effects of patriarchy have every chance of survival in zero gravity. If anything, we are set to take all the mistakes we have made on earth with us. And in the rarefied, controlled circumstances of space they will be magnified.

The problem is, we have already started to inject sexism into our quest for multi-planetary living without even realising it.

So far, male bodies are the norm by which our planning for space has been conducted and female bodies the ab-norm, from spacesuit sizing, to the width between ladder rungs, to the size of hand drills and much more.

Take the case of the cooling system that helps reduce sweat inside a space suit. Men and women have different physiological patterns when it comes to perspiring. But the system is designed only for the way mens bodies work. Toilets, too, are designed for mens use. Womens bodies respond differently to space radiation but we have little data about its impact on fertility, hormonal cycles and reproduction.

Without womens involvement, these design errors dating as far back as the 1950s will only spread to other aspects of space travel planning.

Aside from hardware design, have we thought about the values and ideas we will need to ensure that we build healthy societies? In many ways, that is far more important for long-term survival. Yet it is treated as an after-thought if thought of at all.

Take the case of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees, a group of American women who trained to go to space in 1959 but whose missions were terminated before they got off the ground. The programme organiser, Dr William Randolph Lovelace, wanted women in space not for reasons of gender equality but because he felt male astronauts would need nurses and secretaries jobs traditionally held by women. This was despite the acknowledgement that sending typically smaller-bodied female astronauts made more sense because they would be a lighter load and consume less food. But they sent the men anyway.

There are also examples of of sexism at the workplace. Consider Judith Lapierre, a Canadian astronaut candidate who arrived at a simulation of the International Space Station in Moscow to enact a mission to Mars and see the effects of close proximity. There were four men and Ms Lapierre. In less than a month since the programme got under way, she was sexually assaulted by the captain. It was only 10 days later that leaders of the study took her safety seriously and agreed to install locks. Worse, she had been told not to complain about the assault as this would be considered taboo by the host country.

The fact is women are already facing the same problems in space missions as on earth, whether it is in stereotypes, inappropriate technology, or fundamental disregard of safety, well-being, physical and mental health. Unless we act urgently, it is all coming with us as we journey through the galaxy.

The book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, written by John Gray and published in 1992, captured people's imagination for, among other things, its title. The idea is that men and women are so different in many ways that, metaphorically speaking, they live on different planets. But we seem to have taken this title too literally by building our aspiration for space travel and extra-terrestrial human existence around male bodies, attitudes and privilege.

Very soon, however, women will also be from Mars. And if we do not address the biases that seem to have been injected into our space plans, it will not be just the women who suffer. It will lead to a failure of the project for multi-planetary living.

So as we cross the final frontier, let us ensure we take the opportunity to leave behind some of humankind's problematic attitudes, one of them being misogyny.

Shelina Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World

Updated: January 30, 2020 06:53 PM

Read more from the original source:

Soon women will also be from Mars: why space missions should address gender imbalance quickly - The National

Space tourism To Become A Reality In Spain’s Andalusia From 2021 – Euro Weekly News

Space explorers: we have lift-off!

Ever since Californian businessman Dennis Tito paid Russia $20m to blast into orbit in 2001, wealthy thrillseekers have dreamt of hitching a ride to the great beyond. The wait may be getting shorter. And recreational human space travel from Spains Andalusia is on the horizon with space travel to be offered as of next year thanks to Zero 2 Infinity.

From Andalusia to Space, a Spanish company has launched its own Space tourism enterprise and will launch its stratosphere travel program in 2021.

Zero 2 Infinity proposes simplifying Access to Space as the company promotes on their website:

We are building a brighter future in which access to Space is frequent, affordable, secure and reliable for everyone.

From the public to the gurus of aerospace, most people still think that Space will remain the realm of a few superpowers, large defence contractors and the odd billionaire

but we wont settle for that. At Zero 2 Infinity we chose to carry the burden of proof that there is indeed a better way, one that allows you to realize your dreams in Space.

This kind of space travel will be made possible by three projected launch bases across the globe. One will be in Neom in Saudi Arabia, another in Baja California in Mexico and the third in Jan, Spain.

The Spanish base, in Jan, makes it clear that it intends to offer a more modest experience that will simultaneously be more environmentally friendly. Rather than a rocket, passengers will travel in a pressurised cabin or pod, propelled by a balloon fuelled by helium gas, and it will remain in Near Space which is higher than planes fly but below the altitude of satellites. The advantage of Zero 2 Infinitys excursions is that there is no carbon footprint.

The other advantage of these flights is that no preparation or astronaut gear is necessary.

The technology for Zero 2 Infinitys tourist space program has been developed by the companys founder and CEO, Jos Mariano Lpez-Urdiales, an aerospace engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

At present, trips can only be booked directly with the company, though it is expected that soon bookings will be made available through travel agencies specializing in adventure tourism.

Cost aside, a space trip is not to everyones taste, while Zero 2 Infinitys excursions sound milder and safer than other space flights. The dangers are real, as are the discomforts.

Some of the space flights offered by other companies will take passengers into suborbital space: high enough to cross the lower boundary of space and get an experience of weightlessness. But as costs fall, the industry will get off the ground and its expected that by 2030 space tourism could be worth as much as $3bn a year.

Read the original:

Space tourism To Become A Reality In Spain's Andalusia From 2021 - Euro Weekly News

The Hayden Planetarium’s Worlds Beyond Earth is dazzling – Fast Company

We were sailing past the rings of Saturn, the disc of rocks, ice, and moonlets that circle our second-largest neighborso naturally my whole body was rattling. It was only after the lights came up that I noticed the actual reason: metal boxes beneath each seat, designed to vibrate our butts in sync with the universe.

I was atWorlds Beyond Earth, the new show at the Hayden Planetariums Giant Sphere theater at New Yorks American Museum of Natural History. And the simulated sensation of spaceflight goes way beyond seat shakers. The museum now boasts what its president, Ellen J Futter, said last year is not only the most advanced planetarium on the planet but the most advanced planetarium ever attempted.

Earth is surrounded by a strong magnetic fieldpowered by its hot, churning outer coreforming a shield that deflects solar wind and protects our atmosphere. [Photo: AMNH]Since 1935, the planetarium near Central Park has been a special sort of cosmic cathedral. When it reopened in 2000 as a giant illuminated orb, designed by Polshek Partnership, it appeared to float within a six-story glass case. The planetarium also upgraded its famous Zeiss star projector, which has dazzled generations of starry-eyed kids with its detailed, glimmering replica of the night sky and its tilting-and-whirling mechanism. The current model is the worlds first Zeiss Mark IX.

The legendary Zeiss, however, is being eclipsed. Since the turn of the century, the Hayden, like many planetariums, has increasingly also relied on so-called fulldome projectors that can cover the entire inside of the dome, immersing the audience in sophisticated imagery. Rather than just letting viewers gaze at the night sky, it lets the planetarium fly audiences to any time and place within it. The current system, built by a company called Christie Digital and installed over the summer, is made up of six custom synchronized projectors that bathe the dome in 8K-resolution laser light at 60 frames per second, with the widest available color range and contrast. (The dome also features 23 speakers and two subwoofers, along with those seat shakers.)

Those features mean that the systems ability to reproduce the universes most vivid colors is unrivaled, says Carter Emmart, the museums astro-visualization director. And then there are its blacks: blacker than any blacks hes seen in a fulldome show, the black of space. That kind of blackness, he says, this is the holy grail.

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyongo is the narrator of Worlds Beyond Earth. [Photo: D. Finnin/ AMNH]But the projectors arent even the biggest stars of the show. Worlds Beyond Earth is the first new film at the Hayden in six years. The last one, Dark Universenarrated by Hayden director and Pluto-demoter Neil de Grasse Tysonwas about the phenomena that help to explain the formation of the universe. Worlds, written by geologist Natalie Starkey, is more literal and local: in half an hour, we learn how our solar system came to be, what makes for such unwelcoming conditions on other planets, and in turn what makes Earth so habitable. The larger subtle point is underlined near the end by the narrator, the actress Lupita Nyongo: the Earths climate is just right for nurturing life, which means its also easy to mess up.

Look at our next-door neighbor Venus. We could almost call it Earths twin, says Nyongo as we swoop below its thick clouds. Thanks to the Magellan spacecraft, we know that Venus is covered with volcanoes that can feed the atmosphere with water vapor and other gases. Except Venus has no magnetic field, which left it exposed to harsh solar winds that stole its water, allowing carbon dioxide to build up in its atmosphere. That resulted in a global greenhouse effect so intense that the planets surface is hot enough to melt lead. Understanding how that happened has taught us about the runaway effects that come with adding more carbon dioxide to our own atmosphere. (The film doesnt mention it, but our own CO2 levels are now the highest theyve been in 14 million years.)

I think its really interesting that we did not set out to make a show about Earth, says Vivian Trakinski, the Haydens director of science visualization, who produced the film. The idea was to focus on the surprising attributes of other planets, but as we developed the script, that inevitably led us to the conclusion that it really was about our own understanding and appreciation of the Earth.

The shows curator, Denton Ebel, a geologist who runs the museums department of Earth and planetary sciences, said he wanted to showcase the worldly phenomena that tie our planets together but also set them apart. We have all these processes that are similarwe have magnetic fields, we have volcanoes, we have atmospheres, we have gravity, he says. And yet these processes lead to this huge diversity of outcomes.

Jupiters moon, Io (right), is the most volcanically active object in the solar system despite being covered by ice. [Photo: AMNH]The film begins at the birth of the solar system, before taking us on a time-traveling tour of our moon, Saturn and its moon Titan, Jupiter and Io, Venus, and Mars. Theres a ride-along with a comet, which is like a small world onto itself, carrying not only dust and ice but also amino acids, the basic ingredients for life. Astronomers have found that comets may have ferried vital chemicals like phosphorus to Earth, giving rise to life here four billion years ago.

Comet 67P is a frozen object traveling between the inner and outer solar system that the European Space Agencys Rosetta spacecraft chased for 10 years. [Photo: AMNH]One reason we know this about comets is that, rather than just study them through telescopes, now we can actually land on them. The profusion of new data from an array of spacecraft and robots means that untangling the solar systems mysteries increasingly involves not only astronomers but geologists like Ebel (hes the first one to curate a Hayden show). These up-close-and-personal encounters with the solar system are also what make many of the sequences in Worlds Beyond Earth so realistic. For much of the film, these arent garden-variety simulations were looking at, but elaborate data visualizations.

The ability to give Hayden audiences such a precise view of space is something new. We actually use the termwhich is interestingwe say reconstruction, based on all the imagery, Emmart told me. In the case of images from Saturn with Cassini, we can reconstruct exactly the view from the spacecraft.

The idea was not just to show the world we know but give a sense of how we know it.

The idea was not just to show the world we know but give a sense of how we know it, Trakinski said. Its not animation. Its really an exploration of the science itself.

Worlds Beyond Earth visualizes authentic data from NASA, ESA, and Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) missions, telescopes, supercomputer simulations, and research conducted at institutions around the globe. [Photo: D. Finnin/ AMNH]There are still simulated sections and cinematic flourishes, like stunning visualizations of Earths and Jupiters magnetic fields, and a body-shaking moon landing, with the Apollo 15 lunar module. For the latter sequence, the Hayden tapped a few experts: John Knoll, the chief creative officer of Industrial Light and Magic, cocreator of Adobe Photoshop, and amateur Apollo historian; and Dave Scott and Charlie Duke, who piloted the Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 lunar modules respectively.

To craft the landing sequences sounds and visuals, Emmart wanted to know what the astronauts recalled as they deftly guided their crafts to the moons dusty surface. [Scott] said, I was trying to land this thing, so I had to be totally in the zone!' But both reported feeling the kick of the engine and the thrusters, says Emmart.

[Duke] didnt say it kicked like a mule, but he definitely felt it. So I said, lets put that into the seat players!

Modern science revolves around continuously updated models of the universe, and planetariums have followed suit. In 1923, just as Einsteins theory of relativity was making waves, the prototype for the first modern planetarium, known as the Star Theater, opened on the roof of the Zeiss Works in Jena, Germany, with a pioneering multi-lens projector situated in the center of a new type of domed building. About a decade later, banker Charles Haydeninspired by Chicagos groundbreaking Adler Planetariumpledged to build an even bigger planetarium for New York City, donating $150,000 in the depths of the Great Depression. The goal, he explained, was to give the public a more lively and sincere appreciation of the magnitude of the universe . . . and for the wonderful things which are daily occurring in the universe. When it opened in October 1935, lines stretched down the block.

Emmart remembers being stunned by the Haydens first laser projector system, the Lazarium, in 1974. With its simple but spectacular vector drawings set to music, the system was a sensation, and helped launch another planetarium tradition: laser Pink Floyd shows. The Hayden stopped doing those in 1997; fulldome projection made its debut the following year.

Laser light, which can offer a brighter, sharper image than LCD or LED and other technologies, led the Hayden and other planetariums to upgrade their systems again in the early 2000s. Six years ago, museum officials began discussions with Christie, a leading digital projector maker, about a more radical upgrade to the Giant Sphere. The result, the Eclipse, is built around six digital micromirror devices, or DMDs, allowing for the widest display of colors possible in any projector. Christie says it can encompass nearly all of what cinema nerds call the Rec. 2020 color gamut, a spectrum of hues that are easy for, say, a vivid supernova to generate, but heretofore impossible to re-create.

The new projectors are capable of an unprecedented 20 million-to-1 contrast ratio, and can display images in the expansive Rec. 2100 color palette [Photo: C. Chesek/ AMNH]This range also makes for remarkable contrast levels, the difference between the brightest and darkest image: the new system boosts the planetariums existing contrast ratio from 7,000-to-1 to 1,000,000-to-1. (Most movie theater projectors have a ratio of only 2,000 to 1.) That solves a central problem of laser projectors: displaying bright objects like suns or quasars can disrupt the darkness of the night sky in other parts of the image. That means the Hayden comes closer than anything else on Earth to mimicking not only the vibrant colors of the universe but the actual darkness of the night sky. For anyone used to New Yorks bleached night skies, this is quite black.

It brings out the black of space and allows us to visualize these things as theyre really there, Emmart said.

(The quest to emulate the night sky has also led to the worlds blackest paint. The pigment known as Vantablack was designed by NASA scientists with a coating of carbon nanotubes, and meant to be applied to satellites so they wont reflect light and thus disrupt ground-based astronomy. When the artist Anish Kapoor exclusively licensed the pigment in 2016, he sparked an art-world battle over the blackest black.)

The hyperrealism of the Haydens simulacraspace black, 8K resolution, shaking seats, the renderings, the data itselfmay invite ruminations about just how real simulations can get, about where models end and reality begins, and about how to teach science.

What we can show you of the universe can take you back.

As we sailed around Saturn, I got a glimpse of that future, when planetariums wont just show us models of the solar system but send us out into ever realistic models of it. This idea excites Emmart. The planetarium could democratize what he says will be the elite sport of civilian space travel as envisioned by companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.

My joke is, Honey, sell the house, Ive got to go to space for 15 minutes,' he says. There are lots of people for whom the price of a house is nothing, I guess, so theyre the ones that are going to go. For the rest of us, experiences such as the Haydens new show will be the next best thing, and theyll keep getting better.

What were doing is honing this ability to provide authentic travel through the known universe, adds Emmart. Call it data, call it knowledge, call it what you will, based on imagery and sensors and all of this. But this all comes together as an authentic experience.

Under the dome, he can immerse people in things and places long gone, stuff no one ever saw, billions of years old. Its like the museums famous ancient dioramas.

Visualizations based on 13 years of data from NASAs Cassini spacecraft shows Saturns rings bubbling with moonletshouse-size baby moonsthat form through a process that scientists think may parallel planet formation in the solar system. [Photo: D. Finnin/ AMNH]I revere our dioramas because they are a suspension in another place, says Emmart. You come to this museum and youre suddenly standing on the Plains in Wyoming looking at buffalo, and youre not only standing looking at buffalo, because the buffalo and these millions of herds, theyre no longer thereyoure seeing something from the past. Maybe it doesnt hit you quite as much as dinosaur bones, but youre seeing something that just doesnt exist anymore. So even the dioramas are like a time machine. And in large measure, what we can show you of the universe can take you back.

Getting to go back is an eye-opening treat. Near the start of the new show, we sail toward a simulation of our young sun, some 4.5 billion years ago, as the solar system was just starting to take shape. Our neighborhood likely began as whats known as an accretion disc, a cloud of matter swirling around the sun much in the way those rocky rings circle Saturn today. Within this disc of debris, materials glommed together like chunks of chocolate in a violent mix of cookie dough, eventually gathering themselves into their own orbits, and then into the giant orbs we call Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, along with the rest of the mysterious stuff floating around the solar system. Over time, all kinds of accidents happened. You realize how Earth could have turned out like these other places, but didnt, at least not yet. Which is good, because, among other things, now we can go to the planetarium.

This story has been updated to clarify that while fulldome projection debuted in 1998, laser fulldome projectors arrived the following the decade; and to correct the attribution of a quote by Apollo astronaut Dave Scott, which had previously been attributed to his colleague Charlie Duke. We regret the errors.

More here:

The Hayden Planetarium's Worlds Beyond Earth is dazzling - Fast Company


...23456...10...