Volume 33 – May 29, 2011
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Black Holes Revisited
We have all read about the inescapable swallowing power of black holes. We have seen it happen in the movies and always took the fact for granted. However, following a new study by Aaron P. VanDevender from Halcyon Molecular in Redwood City, and J. Pace VanDevender from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, the rules seem to be changing.
Based on their calculations it seems that mini black holes may be passing through the Earth on a daily basis. Their study suggests that small black holes do not absorb large amounts of matter very quickly, therefore their surrounding matter would orbit them without collapsing inward. According to their proposal, the time it would take for a mini black hole to draw in the Earth would be much longer than the age of the Universe itself. Thus, for smaller black holes like those that might be formed at the LHC, the time it would take to draw the Earth in would be even longer.
To learn more, please visit:
Technological Advances of Our Time
In today's world, staying up-to-date with all the technological advances is quite a daunting task. Every day, there are new innovations, concepts and gadgets as well as the desire and demand to use and apply them. There are foldable mobile devices, zero touch computer interfaces, bitcoin currencies, among many others. Here we have chosen three new technologies that may not be as commonly used as the rest, nevertheless, each very important in their own field.
- Guide Vests: For more than a year a group of University of Southern California Engineering researchers have been developing and improving an effective system for the visually impaired. Using a camera and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) software, the system first identifies the obstacles and builds safe paths through the environment. Then this information is conveyed to the individual user through a guide vest containing four vibrating micro motors located on the user's shoulders and waist. The system has been tested on subjects at the Braille Institute. The users liked the new technology and the increased ease of movement. To learn more and see a demo, please visit: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-vests-robotic-aids-visually.html
- Monitoring Nightshirt: If you have ever wondered about the sleep studies and how the subjects can relax enough to have a normal sleep while attached to a complex collection of sensors monitoring their brain, muscle, eye, heart and breathing activities, you are not alone. No matter how easy or how difficult the task, Nyx Devices have made the process easier by developing a nightshirt embedded with fabric electronics to monitor the wearer's breathing patterns. While Nyx might have designed and created their product as a consumer product, Matt Bianchi, a sleep neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a co-inventor of the shirt, would like to use the shirt as a diagnostic tool for his patients in his clinical practice to measure and improve their quality of sleep. To learn more, please visit: http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/37606/?p1=A3
- Space Archeology: Satellites have been used in a wide array of disciplines and endeavours and their data has been helping many researchers for years now. A recent and most impressive discovery has been in the field of archeology or to be more precise, space archeology. Using their infra-red technology to probe beneath the desert sands from 450 miles above the Earth, satellites have located 17 pyramids, 3000 ancient settlements and more than 1000 burial sites in Egypt. Excavations in Egypt have been confirming the results, and the space archeologists are very excited by how the satellite images match precisely the outlines on the grounds. To see the images and read more, please visit:
After the Shuttles; Skylon Maybe
You might have already heard of Skylon space plane, after all it has been in the works for the last 3 decades. Designed by the UK-based Reaction Engines Ltd, Skylon would work on a hydrogen fuel-powered rocket engine called SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine). The special design would allow the space plane to take off and land in the same manner as a conventional aircraft, without using expensive disposable rocket boosters, external fuel tanks or huge launch facilities, as has been the norm with NASA's shuttles and the (ESA) European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket.
After 30 years of development, the UK and ESA have decided to work to make the self contained, single stage, all-in-one, reusable space vehicle a reality. With the retirement of NASA's shuttle program, Skylon could deliver satellites, equipment and people into orbits at a much lower cost.
To learn more and see photos, please visit: http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/skylon.html
What If Competition Announcement
What If Competition is launching a summer competition this year. If you like space and science and are ready for a challenge, starting on June 15th, you can register your team at our brand new website. The registration will be open for 30 days and the competition is open to all middle-school students living in US & Canada.
To see last year's website, competition and winners please visit: http://www.whatifprize.org .
My Dream of Stars
My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.
In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream. To learn more about the book, please visit: http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/
To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.
To obtain a copy please visit: