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Scientists considering inflatable space tower

Inflatable tower could climb to the edge of space - space - 08 June 2009 - New Scientist

A GIANT inflatable tower could carry people to the edge of space without the need for a rocket, and could be completed much sooner than a cable-based space elevator, its proponents claim.

Inflatable pneumatic modules already used in some spacecraft could be assembled into a 15-kilometre-high tower, say Brendan Quine, Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto, Canada, writing in Acta Astronautica (DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.02.018). If built from a suitable mountain top it could reach an altitude of around 20 kilometres, where it could be used for atmospheric research, tourism, telecoms or launching spacecraft.

The team envisages assembling the structure from a series of modules constructed from Kevlar-polyethylene composite tubes made rigid by inflating them with a lightweight gas such as helium. To test the idea, they built a 7-metre scale model made up of six modules (see image). Each module was built out of three laminated polyethylene tubes 8 centimetres in diameter, mounted around circular spacers and inflated with air.

Am I wrong, or are they proposing a giant inflatable space penis?

June 05, 2009

The Flag of Earth

Warren Ellis -- The Flag Of Earth

The Flag of Earth symbolizes the Earth (the center blue disk), the Sun (the yellow disk on the left), and the Moon (the white disk on the right). The Earth and its most important celestial neighbors - the Sun and Moon - are overlaid on a backdrop of the darkness of space.

The Flag of Earth website is administered by NAAPO - the North American Astrophysical Observatory. NAAPO is a not-for-profit organization formed to run the Big Ear Radio Observatory in Delaware, Ohio, and which now runs the Ohio Argus Array.

The Boom Cloud

grinding.be -- Boom Cloud

Rings like this can form as an aircraft traveling low over the water nears the speed of sound. Pressure created by sound waves squeezes moisture from the air, creating the “artificial cloud.”

June 04, 2009

Honeybee is super slow motion

5000FPS Bee

June 03, 2009

Using stem-cell contacts to restore sight

Stem-cell contacts restore eyesight | Blog | Futurismic

The idea stemmed from the observation that stem cells from the cornea (the thin, transparent barrier at the front of the eye) stick to contact lenses. Employing three patients who were blind in one eye, the researchers obtained stem cells from their healthy eyes and cultured them in extended wear contact lenses for ten days. The surfaces of the patients’ corneas were cleaned and the contact lenses inserted. Within 10 to 14 days the stem cells began to recolonize and repair the cornea.

“The procedure is totally simple and cheap,” said lead author of the study, UNSW’s Dr Nick Di Girolamo. “Unlike other techniques, it requires no foreign human or animal products, only the patient’s own serum, and is completely non-invasive.

Of the three patients, two were legally blind but can now read the big letters on an eye chart, while the third, who could previously read the top few rows of the chart, is now able to pass the vision test for a driver’s license. The research team isn’t getting over excited, still remaining unsure as to whether the correction will remain stable, but the fact that the three test patients have been enjoying restored sight for the last 18 months is definitely encouraging. The simplicity and low cost of the technique also means that it could be carried out in poorer countries.

June 02, 2009

Photo Gallery: The doomed quest for the North-West Passage

Gallery - The doomed quest for the North-West Passage - Image 4 - New Scientist

John Franklin became famous after the disastrous Coppermine Expedition of 1819-22, during which he and his men were forced to eat lichens and leather to stave off starvation.

Franklin's second overland expedition in 1825 was more successful and he charted almost 2000 kilometres of Canada's north coast.

In 1845 he set off on a third trip in search of the North-West Passage, this time with two ships, Erebus and Terror, 129 men and supplies for three years.

Franklin, his men and the ships vanished, and their fate remained a mystery for years.

June 01, 2009

Why is the Earth moving away from the Sun?

Why is the Earth moving away from the sun? - space - 01 June 2009 - New Scientist

Having such a precise yardstick allowed Russian dynamicists Gregoriy A. Krasinsky and Victor A. Brumberg to calculate, in 2004, that the sun and Earth are gradually moving apart. It's not much – just 15 cm per year – but since that's 100 times greater than the measurement error, something must really be pushing Earth outward. But what?

. . .

But Takaho Miura of Hirosaki University in Japan and three colleagues think they have the answer. In an article submitted to the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, they argue that the sun and Earth are literally pushing each other away due to their tidal interaction.

It's the same process that's gradually driving the moon's orbit outward: Tides raised by the moon in our oceans are gradually transferring Earth's rotational energy to lunar motion. As a consequence, each year the moon's orbit expands by about 4 cm and Earth's rotation slows by 0.000017 second.