Month: January 2005

  • Scientists Discuss Results from Titan Landing

    Imagine a frigid world where complex hydrocarbon particles clump together in the thick smog-like atmosphere and fall like black snow onto a light water ice surface. Occasional methane rains and methane springs that emerge from the side of hills wash some of the particles off higher ground and concentrate them in river channels. These rivers […]

  • “Do You Like Movies About Gladiators?”

    New Scientist reports this week on the work of archaeologist Steve Tuck of the University of Miami who suggests that the combat of gladiators in ancient Rome might have been all show, perhaps more WWE than a bloody fight to the death. Dr. Tuck examined the many examples of art from the period that depicted […]

  • Mars Meteorite in Color

    Opportunity continues to study the first meteor discovered on another planet. NASA released a color image of the metallic body sitting in martian sands. The pitted meteorite is composed of iron and nickel, just like metallic meteorites that land on the Earth. Yet to be determined is how rare the object is, whether or not […]

  • Opportunity Examines Its Own Litter

    The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recently got a look at the discarded hardware from its initial descent to the surface of the Red Planet. It drove up to and examined the heat shield and other debris. Engineers are eager to study the data to learn more about the descent and landing.

  • Meteorite on Mars

    It should not be too surprising that meteorites are not just rocks that have fallen from space to a final resting place on the surface of the Earth. Meteoroids fall on bodies throughout our solar system. Opportunity, the rover currently at work on Mars, recently came across a metallic-looking rock lying in the desert sands […]

  • Apple Aggressively Attacks

    Hoping to increase Apple’s market share and bring their products to the masses, Steve Jobs announced several new products last week, including a computer beginning at US$499 and a flash memory-based iPod beginning at US$99. While Apple’s iPod has been a big seller over the past few years, few purchasers have made the transition from […]

  • Open-Source Titan

    One of the early promises of the Information Age was contained in the adage “information wants to be free.” The massive transfer of data to digital formats and the Internet, the rapid explosion in memory capacity and communication bandwidth, and the falling price of technology are related trends reshaping humankind’s relationship with knowledge. The latest […]

  • The Shores of Titan

    A new composite image from Titan appears to show a shoreline where river channels or canyons empty into a black sea. Huygens took the image as it was drifting down toward the surface. Scientists have not yet been able to confirm whether or not the black sea-like region and apparent river channels are full of […]

  • Titan’s Surface in Color

    Dr. Lyn Doose, Co-Investigator of the Descent Imager-Spectral Radiometer (DISR) instrument on the Huygens probe, presented to a packed crowd tonight at the University of Arizona’s Kuiper Space Sciences Building the first scientific results from Friday’s successful landing on Titan. Highlights of his speech included the display of the first images from the surface of […]

  • Rivers and Seas on Titan?

    Elated scientists are now examining the data sent from the surface of Titan by the Huygens probe. The first image was displayed in special video coverage from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The image appears to show a drainage system emptying into a dark body, though this has not yet been […]

  • Extrasolar Planet Candidate Imaged

    Astronomers believe they have captured the first-ever image of a planet outside our own solar system. This extrasolar planet orbits a brown dwarf called 2MASSWJ 1207334-393254 (or 2M1207 for short.) The image was captured by the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) on the Hubble Space Telescope. The first extrasolar planet was discovered in […]

  • SMART-1 Begins Exploration of the Moon

    It might seem to be old news, but our own Moon has got a lot left to tell us. The European Space Agency’s probe SMART-1 successfully used its experimental ion drive engine to loop out to the Moon and is now beginning to snap new pictures. One of the mission objectives is to determine whether […]

  • 2005 – Year in Preview

    Let us jump right into a preview of 2005 with a mix of logic, forecasting, educated guessing, assumptions, and flights of fancy. I prognosticate, you decide. We will observe and then I will come back at the end of the year and review. The Cell Processor In 2005 we will finally learn details about the […]

  • Iapetus in Near-True Color

    The dark material on Iapetus would look dark brown to the human eye, according to this near-true color image of the Saturnian moon. Why the moon is stained this color closer to a mysterious equatorial ridge and less so at higher latitudes remains a mystery.

  • Iapetus in 3D

    Okay, get those 3D glasses out. Iapetus, the strangely-shaped and strangely-colored moon with strange landforms that defy current scientific explanation, gets the stereo treatment, with never before seen basins and craters.

  • Iapetus Surprises

    Planetary science is never boring and often very surprising. Take for instance the new images sent back by the Cassini space probe of Saturn’s moon Iapetus. The moon has always been mysterious since the first Voyager images revealed a light hemisphere and a dark hemisphere. The contrast cannot be overemphasized: the dark side only reflects […]

  • Robots Rolling

    Most robots at work today look nothing like humans (although much work is going into a new generation of bipedal robots.) For example, Rotundus AB in Sweden has developed spherical robots that move around by rolling using the physics of mass and rotation. While the technology developed by Rotundus focuses on the mobility of the […]

  • CES 2005 – Televisions

    Someday I will get there myself. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opened this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, bringing to one place a plethora of technology, electronics, and content companies. One of the show’s highlights is new television technology. Consumers have fallen in love with flat screen television over the past year, helping these sleek […]

  • Iapetus Raw

    Images taken by various space probes are made available to the public soon after they are uploaded to Earth, but because of the sheer number received, most images remain in raw form until they can be calibrated and corrected. These raw images are full of artifacts from data loss, cosmic rays, and dust on the […]

  • Fighting Xenophobia Using Skills from The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

    Book cover of The Demon-Haunted World Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

    To discern true scientific breakthroughs from the fantasies of pseudoscientific wishful thinking and to avoid rampant xenophobia when faced with our intelligent creations, we will need “skeptical thinking and an aptitude for wonder,” two skills Carl Sagan repeatedly highlights in his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.