Tomorrow American high-energy physics centre Fermilab will power down their Tevatron particle collider for the final time, marking the end of an era. But for some, that era is so over anyhow. Hadrons, like last season's handbag, have had their time in the spotlight. The next hot trend in physics is muons, and all the cool kids know it. That's why Fermilab physicists are already taking a hard look at muon colliding technologies as a possible next move in the game of international physics research.
Atom interferometers are neat little devices that exploit the wave characters of atoms to make highly precise measurements of things like distance or the force of gravity. But because they are fickle by nature--even the smallest vibrations distort their results--atom interferometers have been mostly limited to highly controlled experiments that take place in either underground labs or in free-falling zero-g experiments. But a team of French researchers has announced today the first use of an atom interferometer to measure the acceleration of an airplane.
At 9:16 p.m. local time--that was at 9:16 a.m. eastern time here in the U.S.--China successfully lofted its first inhabitable space station module into orbit on the back of a Long March 2F launch vehicle, marking a milestone for both the People's space program and for the Party's geopolitical ambitions. China--the third nation (behind the U.S.A. and Russia) to independently launch manned missions into space aboard homegrown technology--now joins the old Cold War powers as the third nation to put a space station into orbit.
Within the confines of the PopSci universe, the Da Vinci surgical robot requires no introduction. But while we've seen Da Vinci do some amazing things--most notably, perform prostate surgery, though lacing the football and making paper planes were pretty cool too--we're always thrilled to see the dexterous machine do something else. And so we bring you this footage of Da Vinci, peeling a grape like peeling grapes is easy.
Deep in the depths of the Dead Sea, new life has been discovered. Thanks to newly found freshwater springs, certain forms of bacteria thrive, bacteria that, unlike other known freshwater and saltwater bacteria, can cope with rapidly changing salinity. It's the intriguing results of the first study of the Dead Sea in years, a rare undertaking partly because "accidentally swallowing Dead Sea salt water would cause the larynx to inflate, resulting in immediate choking and suffocation."
For all the amazing technology developed by and for American defense and intelligence agencies, the government's spooks are apparently lagging way behind in one key area: Smartphones. That means no mobile email or Angry Birds for the US spy corps. One NSA agent is trying to change that.
It's not enough for the US military to be able to monitor you from afar. The US Army wants its drones to know you through and through, reports Danger Room, and it is imbuing them with the ability to recognise you in a crowd and even to know what you are thinking and feeling. Like a best friend that at any moment might vaporise you with a hellfire missile.
One of the fun things about astronomy is that we can only know so much through empirical observation, yet we can "know" so much more through enlightened, mathematical guesswork. Such is the nature of the most interesting new science paper I've come across on the Internet today. In it, Wesley Traub of CalTech crunches some Kepler data and makes a tantalising mathematical prediction: one-third of sun-like stars have at least one earth-like terrestrial planet orbiting in their habitable zones.
NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has finally returned home after two decades in orbit, and it couldn't have crash-landed in a better place: a 800-km-wide swath of the South Pacific. The falling 5.4-tonne satellite - which had been expected to re-enter the atmosphere for a couple of weeks, causing some degree of worry - plunged into a part of the world that is virtually uninhabited, mere minutes after reports said it might come crashing down in North America, NASA officials said yesterday.
Today at an event in New York City, Amazon announced its new family of Kindles, and it's probably the biggest, or at least most visible, update in the line's history. The three new "traditional" Kindles continue Amazon's trend of "cheaper and smaller," including two touch-based Kindles (one Wi-Fi-only and one 3G-enabled) and one ridiculously cheap non-touch version. But the big news: Amazon's first tablet, a 7-inch model called the Kindle Fire that's priced low enough in the tablet marketplace to ride alongside the iTunes cards and chewy in the impulse buys section.