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Weird, cool SCIENCE!! stuff

Discussion in 'The Earth and Our World' started by Mendalla, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    I have been recently following the saga of the EM Drive, a possible new propulsion system for spacecraft. It is not powerful, but has one big advantage over many current systems: no need for a fuel tank so the spacecraft being propelled can have a much lower mass, which helps make up for the drive's lack of thrust relative to traditional rockets.

    However, what makes it unique also makes it controversial. A normal spacecraft engines like the familiar rocket, as well as less familiar ones like ion and plasma drives, all require some kind of exhaust. Under Newton's third law of motion, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction", the exhaust shooting out of the engine one way (the action) produces a counter force that pushes the spacecraft in the opposite direction (the reaction). Which ends up looking something like this:



    EM Drive doesn't do this. It consists of microwaves bouncing around in a closed, conical chamber. Under normal physics, this should simply not work. However, in test after test, including a paper by a NASA that recently passed peer-review, it has been shown to generate a small amount of thrust. Nowhere near as powerful as a rocket or even an ion drive, but enough to be potentially useful if you pump enough power into it. Since no fuel is burned to produce exhaust, no huge fuel tank is needed, just a power source like a nuclear reactor or solar panels, which most spacecraft have to carry anyhow to power computers, sensors, cameras, and so on. Why it works remains unclear, but there are some possibilities in the weird world of quantum physics.

    This means that there is no blast of fire, no loud roar, no wild crazy ride, just a nice, steady push. It cannnot, as currently understood, generate enough thrust to use for launches from Earth (i.e. it is not powerful enough to overcome our planet's gravity), but potentially enough to use in deep space, e.g. for going to Mars and beyond. And it produces more thrust than other "reactionless" options like solar sails, which are also currently undergoing testing so might push those aside for some applications.

    So where does EM Drive go from here? Well, many in the science community remain skeptical, pointing out possible causes of the "thrust" other than the drive itself, basically saying that the positive results so far are errors. The root problem is that it seems to violate conservation of energy in bypassing Newton's third law.

    Next step is going to be to launch one into space and try it in freefall with no air, removing some possible sources of error which also serves as a proof of concept of whether it really can be used to propel spacecraft.

    I'll try to pop in here from time to time with updates and more cool SCIENCE! and others are welcome to add their cool SCIENCE! stuff.

    For more information:

    http://www.sciencealert.com/it-s-of...wed-em-drive-paper-has-finally-been-published

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RF_resonant_cavity_thruster
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  2. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Oh ... my ... God ...

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/...tail-amber-theropod-myanmar-burma-cretaceous/

    An intact dinosaur tail with soft tissue and ... get ready for it ... FEATHERS!

    The bone structure confirms it was a dino and not a bird. If we needed any further proof that dinosaurs had feathers, at least some of them, here it is.

    One thing they don't mention in this article is whether there is any likelihood of finding intact DNA. Not for Jurassic Park style cloning, but to sequence and compare to the genomes of modern birds to try to establish once for all how closely related birds are to dinos.

    I love science. Finding new knowledge like this is part of what excites me about being alive.
     
  3. BetteTheRed

    BetteTheRed Resident Heretic

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    Will the temptation to clone be repressed forever?
     
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  4. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Odds are, the DNA wouldn't be intact enough. Even preserved in amber, it would be highly degraded after 99 million years. Now, if the young Earthers are correct...:D
     
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  5. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    As of this moment, there are only two functioning manned spacecraft in operation: the Russian Soyuz and the Chinese Shenzhou, which is a Chinese design based on Soyuz. The amazing thing is that Soyuz is now 50 years old and has outlived two generations of American manned spacecraft: Apollo and the space shuttle. It also has not had a fatal accident since 1971, a safety record better than most airliners. And Soyuz shows no signs of slowing down, which is good since it's our only way of doing crew swaps on the ISS right now. The USSR, and now the Russians, have clearly nailed it with this simple, fairly barebones spacecraft. Kudos to them and a toast to Soyuz on 50 years in operation.

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/dec/11/soyuz-space-fifty-years-old

    That said, their unique status may change soon. Space X's Dragon, Boeing's Starliner, and Blue Origin (owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos) are all getting close to launching the first private manned spacecraft. NASA also has it's Ares under development but that's not designed for orbital missions, but rather to get to Mars, a mission that's a bit further out still. While some of us are questioning the costs and risks of manned travel to the planets, humanity has shown a unique knack for overcoming barriers like these and for wanting to get to the next great "final frontier" so I imagine that, skepticism notwithstanding, Soyuz won't be alone up there for long.
     
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  6. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    One of the major issues in current cosmology is dark matter. There is definitely some source of gravity that we have not (and maybe cannot) detected that affects how galaxies and galactic clusters form. We know something is there, but still have not pinned down what.

    One of the key researchers on dark matter passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 88. The obit below is by noted physicist Lawrence Krauss, who entered the field just when her work on dark matter was being accepted.

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/vera-rubin-1928-2016/

    Sad note: Rubin did her grad studies at Cornell and Georgetown because Princeton didn't start accepting women into graduate astronomy until 1975. I'm sure there are some Princeton folks face-palming at this particular footnote to her story.
     
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  7. gisten

    gisten New Member

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    Thanks for sharing, that was really interesting.
     
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  8. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Does dark matter drive things the other way ... or is that just gravitas versus delight? Word(s) can really drive people into chaos ... some saints found the pain of learning strange words painfully lifting ... like images carved on a totem needing a hole for rest ...aboriginal conception?

    Thus it stuck ...
     
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  9. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    SCIENCE! strikes again as astronomers uncover a new solar system. And it's a beauty. While the star itself is tiny, a small red dwarf, it sports seven rocky planets, ie. planets similar to Earth and mars. That's the most planets we've found in a single system outside our own (which has 8, maybe 9 if some current research pans out) and the most rocky planets in any system, with ours having 4. And, as the media has been hyping, three are in the "Goldilocks zone" meaning temperature conditions should be right for liquid water.

    https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/...h-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around

    Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope next year to be able to more thoroughly test some of the hypotheses about this system. That will include looking for evidence of atmospheres on the planets.

    A nice little piece on the discovery by Physics Girl (Dianna Cowern) who interviewed two of the researchers:



    So, is there life in the Trappist-1 system? We have no idea and won't until we get that more detailed look using Webb. Even then, we'll probably only be able to hypothesize based on what we find. Seven Earth-like planets with three in the Goldilocks zone is promising, almost more promising than ours. OTOH, they are packed into an area smaller than the orbit of Mercury and are likely tide-locked, meaning that the same face always points towards the star (like our moon, which always has the same face pointing towards Earth). If there is life, it would be adapted to some very different conditions than we are used to here.

    Life or not, finding a system like this adds to our understanding of solar systems and how they form and function, so it is a major discovery either way.
     
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  10. BetteTheRed

    BetteTheRed Resident Heretic

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    We are not alone.
     
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  11. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Only grossly dissociated by human efforts towards isolationism of maheinaim, a misnomer to many for m'n in simple form ... the psyche is more complex and scattered by mortal effects ... un grasped by hoards!
     
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  12. dreamerman

    dreamerman Well-Known Member

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    Satan is a tricky old fella now he is using feathers to deceive. He probably has some himself.:eek:
     
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  13. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Accounts for the Volant nature ... and all the taking off syndrome ...
     
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  14. Ritafee

    Ritafee Every Choice Has A Consequence

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    Think, Internet of Everything!

    https://www.technocracy.news/index....-transform-world-technocracy-within-10-years/

    Three technologies were prominently featured at the prestigious 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain from February 27 - March 2.

    Taken as a package, these three technologies – 5G, AI and Graphene – are fully expected to bring about the new one-world scientific order. A global brain. A hive mind. Symbiotic command and control.

    It’s all about connectivity and control. It’s Scientific Dictatorship. In one word, it’s Technocracy.
     
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  15. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Mire mortality is more inclined to support m'n as a dark isolated sol ... leaving a few of us with abstract escape from their absolutes ... laws missing something in the loss (of the concept of greater good, or indistinct Pragmatism)?
     
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  16. Hyla

    Hyla Member

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    Unlikely. The TRAPPIST-1 system is relatively young and is likely going through the last gasps of accretion. What we lovingly named the Early and Late Heavy Bombardments in our solar system. Your weather for today is: Rocks fall, everybody dies.
     
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  17. Hyla

    Hyla Member

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    News from NASA today about the solar system's oceans.

    The Cassini probe flew through a plume venting from Saturn's moon Enceladus and detected water with traces of methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The hydrogen is an important finding because bacteria here on Earth can use it as a food source, reacting it with carbon dioxide to produce methane, water and energy. They haven't found life, but the have found very favorable conditions.



    In other news, researchers using Hubble have observed similar plumes rising from Jupiter's moon Europa. We don't know what the composition of these plumes is but they're 50 to 100 km high and originate from warm spots on Europa's surface. These plumes could make it easier to detect life on either moon because a probe can sample the material being vented in the plume without the need to land and burrow through a few km of ice.

     
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  18. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Europa and Enceladus have turned out to be two of the most fascinating bodies in our own system. Even without life, they are far different from what we expected back in my youth pre-Voyager. If we eventually find clear signs of life there, though, that puts them into another whole class again.

    And now for something a little bit different.

    As mentioned in other threads, I work for a home oxygen company. One of the ways we deliver the oxygen is as a liquid in a thermos-like tank. So I was delighted to see PhysicsGirl demo'ing some cool science using the stuff recently. She and the demo technician explain it all in the video so enjoy.

     
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  19. Hyla

    Hyla Member

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    This one comes to you courtesy of my wife.

    Researchers at Berkley and MIT have designed a prototpe water condenser that extracts water from the air using nothing more than solar power. The heart of this technology is a fascinating little molecule called a metal-organic framework or MOF. The MOF absorbs water vapour from the air and the heat of the sunlight drives it toward a condensor plate where it drips into a collector. The prototype used ~1 kg of MOF and operated at 20-30% humidity. It was able to produce 2.8 liters of water in 12 hours.

    No moving parts, no electronics. If this can be scaled up and the prodction costs are relatively low it could be a major breakthrough for parts of the world where clean water is not readily available.
     
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  20. Waterfall

    Waterfall Well-Known Member

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    Can't you just cover a plant with a plastic bag ?:D
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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