Espresso in Space

tdyjfjfkPerhaps the greatest problem astronauts face has been solved – Lavazza has designed an espresso machine which the Italian Space Agency intends to send up to the International Space Station!  Astronauts can now enjoy a shot of espresso in the mornings, though due to the microgravity environment, they’ll be forced to sip it from a plastic bag rather than a ceramic cup.  But hey, small price to pay for the ability to drink espresso while enjoying one of the most magnificent views in the solar system!

If Bigelow Aerospace manages to build their space hotel, I wonder how long it’ll be before Starbucks opens up their first orbital coffee shop?


The Fermi Paradox

zoom-planet-and-moonThe Fermi Paradox is a fascinating argument…it basically says, if the probability of life is so high in this universe, as it appears to be, where are all the other civilizations?  Why is there no evidence of their existence?  It’s a puzzle for sure, especially as more and more planets are found orbiting other stars.  We’ve already discovered 861, and scientists estimate there are about 100-400 billion planets in this galaxy, of which at least 17 billion are Earth-sized (not all of those habitable).  Well, there’s a great article on IO9 (click here) that details eleven possible answers to the Fermi Paradox.  My favorite – though it’s also the scariest – is that we’re living inside a sort of computer simulation, one that just wasn’t created to have the same level of detail in the entire universe.

Possible fossils from space?

algae-fossil-meteorite-640x165Scientists have found what appear to be fossils resembling plankton inside of a meteorite that landed in Sri Lanka in 2012.  It’s certainly not conclusive, as there’s even the possibility this meteorite was ejected from this planet in some larger impact long ago and just now fell back…but it’s an intriguing possibility.  I think we’ll need many, many more examples of this before it starts to gain scientific credibility.

(via Extremetech)

What our cities would look like at night without light pollution

1671812-inline-darkened-skies-006Artist/photographer Thierry Cohen has created some really cool images which show what several major cities worldwide would look like if there was no artificial lights (nor moonlight) masking the starry skies.  The result is really cool and can be viewed at his website.  He did this by shooting images of the night sky in places with similar latitude but no city lights, then overlaid them onto darkened photos of the cities themselves.  Very cool.

A quick video primer on Dark Energy

If you’re curious about dark energy, check out this short video giving a high-level overview of what dark energy is (well, at least what we know about it, that is…we don’t really KNOW what it is), and how scientists are working to learn more about it.  There’s also a great FAQ on the subject at Discover Magazine’s website…it’s really long, but then, dark energy is a complicated subject!

Hubble’s Latest Masterpiece

Hubble stunned us in 2009 with its incredible Deep Field Image. In a 48-hour exposure image covering about 1/15th the width of the moon, the Hubble Space Telescope captured thousands of galaxies. To put the scale in perspective, if the entire sky were photographed at this image size, it would result in approximately 30 million pictures. That’s a lot of galaxies!

Anyway, in the time since the original picture, the telescope has been pointed at the same area of the sky again and again and the images combined, for a total image exposure time of around 23 days (two million seconds)! There are around 5500 galaxies visible in this image; you can view the full image by clicking on the thumbnail above.

Read more in Discover Magazine.

Mining Asteroids

So, it comes to this.  Natural resources are becoming scarce enough that people can have serious conversations about mining ASTEROIDS and be taken seriously.  Not that it can’t be done, but wow…we are so far from living in balance with this planet that we need to exploit other areas of the solar system to sustain our lifestyle?!  Although, it may not be as bad as it first sounds.  Rather than bringing those resources back to this planet, it’s far most cost effective to use them to supply spaceships and colonies on the moon or Mars and that seems to be the main intent of Planetary Resources Inc.  Which makes so much more sense considering we struggle to get enough public support for a mere six person orbiting space station.  Maybe capitalism will succeed where every world government has failed…

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