200 posts tagged with Space and science.
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How big is space? Interactive views of the universe in varying scales

We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 4, 2014 - 30 comments

If we're not in pain, we're not alive

You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 25, 2014 - 84 comments

But can it core a apple?

On Thursday, NASA released the names and designs of three vehicles that could replace the space shuttle as means of sending our astronauts into space. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Aug 23, 2014 - 70 comments

Springtime on Saturn

Storm Chasing on Saturn with Cassini [viz. cf.] - "The sun is slowly rising over Saturn's north pole, exposing an immense six-sided hurricane. The storm, big enough to swallow four Earths, was first spotted by the Voyager missions in the early 1980s. [Cassini] will be passing directly over the north pole with its cameras pointing down later this month." (previously 1,2)
posted by kliuless on Aug 10, 2014 - 9 comments

Prodigal probe

Back in February (mefi), things looked grim for the ISEE-3/ICE probe. A lot can change in 3 1/2 months. [more inside]
posted by dendrochronologizer on May 29, 2014 - 20 comments

Lovely retro future.

How Soviet artists imagined Communist life in space.
posted by Mistress on Apr 5, 2014 - 28 comments

That thing the sun does that makes it so hot

GLaDOS teaches fusion and fission for NASA. Ellen McLain lends her autotuned voice to IRrelevant Astronomy, a video series produced as part of the education & public outreach mandate of the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. [via]
posted by figurant on Feb 27, 2014 - 6 comments

...and then "some clown invented the printed circuit."

During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 24, 2013 - 40 comments

Red Planet Blues

The trouble with terraforming Mars...
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2013 - 73 comments

Paul van Hoeydonck's Fallen Astronaut

The Sculpture on the Moon. "Scandals and conflicts obscured one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Space Age."
posted by homunculus on Dec 16, 2013 - 25 comments

Nanotubes are for wusses.

Theoretically sound model for metallic carbon found. Researchers from Peking University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics employed state-of-the-art theoretical methods to show that it is possible to manipulate carbon to form a three-dimensional metallic phase with interlocking hexagons. “Unlike high-pressure techniques that require three terapascals of pressure to make carbon metallic, the studied structures are stable at ambient conditions and may be synthesized using benzene or polyacenes molecules." The new metallic carbon structures may have important applications in lightweight metals for space applications, catalysis and in devices showing negative differential resistance or superconductivity. The research is supported by grants from China and the US Department of Energy.
posted by markkraft on Nov 7, 2013 - 25 comments

Playing Space Invaders on a mountain

Here's three minutes of giant telescopes shooting lasers into space. (Also on Youtube). [more inside]
posted by echo target on Oct 10, 2013 - 38 comments

My God, it's full of stars

Chandra Sky Map - Joe DePasquale runs through the process of creating the map and some helpful tips for using the interactive tool.
posted by unliteral on Oct 2, 2013 - 8 comments

RETROREPORT - The truth now about the big stories then

How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 10, 2013 - 15 comments

Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3-D Fly-Through

What would it look like to fly through the distant universe?
posted by curious nu on Aug 26, 2013 - 40 comments

conservation of information

A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox - "A paradox around matter leaking from black holes puts into question various scientific axioms: Either information can be lost; Einstein's principle of equivalence is wrong; or quantum field theory needs fixing." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Aug 18, 2013 - 36 comments

Curiosity's First Anniversary

Twelve Months in Two Minutes; Curiosity's First Year on Mars. Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity! [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Aug 6, 2013 - 25 comments

Sky Doom - the Return?

Remember the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia earlier this year, injuring hundreds and giving us dozens of spectacular dashcam videos? It may have friends.
posted by Artw on Aug 6, 2013 - 52 comments

The Heliotail

Our Solar System Has a Tail Shaped Like a Four-Leaf Clover: New Findings from IBEX.
posted by homunculus on Jul 11, 2013 - 10 comments

Wait, why does the airlock smell like burnt steak and gunpowder?

CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield discusses how senses change aboard the International Space Station: Sound, Sight, Taste, Smell, and Touch. [previously]
posted by quin on Jun 5, 2013 - 10 comments

Space Shack

Skylab, NASA's budget space station, launched 40 years ago today. Designed as an orbiting optical laboratory, she served as a cold war weapon, underwent an historic salvage job, and was the site of America's first space mutiny before landing hard in Australia while waiting for the Space Shuttle to be invented.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 14, 2013 - 37 comments

"Ring it Out"

Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 18, 2013 - 63 comments

belters expanse trajectory: working up the Epstein Drive

How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2013 - 34 comments

Mars Eats Probes

Russian amateurs may have found the lost Mars 3 Lander.
posted by Artw on Apr 12, 2013 - 13 comments

A brilliant plan.

There is no way this could possibly go wrong.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch on Apr 6, 2013 - 135 comments

To Boldly Design....

Artist/designer Shepard Fairey was commissioned the Center For The Advancement Of Science In Space to design a brand new patch for the International Space Station's ARK 1 (Advancing Researching Knowledge) mission. CASIS's Pat O'Neill unveiling the patch and the ARK 1 proposal.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 3, 2013 - 16 comments

The Final Frontier

Astronomers Conduct First Remote Reconnaissance of Another Planetary System
posted by Artw on Mar 12, 2013 - 37 comments

Asteroid Discovery - 1980-2012

Using data provided by the Lowell Observatory and Minor Planet Center, this fascinating video provides a view of our knowledge of nearby asteroids and how closely their paths intersect with Earth's. The voiceover explains the count of objects, and what the colorations mean. [slyt]
posted by quin on Mar 1, 2013 - 17 comments

How Many Bars do you Get Up There?

Surrey Satellite Technology's STRaND 1 demonstrates a new generation of satellites built around smartphones. Tossed into orbit on an Indian PSLV, the toaster-sized microsatellite is based on an Android-powered Nexus One that will control the satellite, run apps, take snapshots, and phone home. While the U.K. leads the smartphone space race, NASA is testing its own PhoneSat series of nanosatellite prototypes. The University of Surrey explains how it works in this video.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Feb 28, 2013 - 10 comments

Portals to the universe

"A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all". (Audio link of interview at top left corner of page, other relevant links at bottom of page)
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 17, 2013 - 10 comments

There and Back Again Kitty

Lauren Rojas, a 12 year old from California, sent Hello Kitty on a return trip to the stratosphere (over 28 kilometres above the Earth) and recorded the results.
posted by rollick on Feb 5, 2013 - 41 comments

Landing on Titan, now in full color!

It's been just over eight years since the Hugyens space probe separated from the Cassini spacecraft and drifted down to the surface Saturn's moon Titan. Along the way it provided video and sounds of its descent.

Now a 3D visualization of its landing, based on data from the spacecraft itself, has been created.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 15, 2013 - 14 comments

Scuds on Steroids

Unha-3, Pyongyang's first successful orbital launch vehicle, dropped her first stage into the Yellow Sea after December 12's launch. Analysis of debris salvaged by the South Korean Navy suggests the scud-derived, crudely assembled rocket is actually an ICBM with enough range to theoretically reach the U.S. (should North Korea somehow manage to miniaturize their nuclear weapon technology and develop re-entry ability).
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Dec 27, 2012 - 55 comments

There is always a last time for everything

Is Science Fiction promoting pseuodoscience? Is it not really better than fantasy? Is it exhausted and dying, per Paul Kincaid (part 1, part 2), a sort of genre-writing version of completing a list of The Nine Billion Names of God? Does physics-bothering unrepentant space case Alistair Reynolds have a compass pointing the way forwards?
posted by Artw on Dec 19, 2012 - 84 comments

Not because it was easy, but because it was hard

Apollo 40 years on: how the moon missions changed the world for ever
posted by Artw on Dec 17, 2012 - 28 comments

Looking for Some Waist Heat

A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 12, 2012 - 16 comments

Our Robot/Meatbag Space Future

Almost Being There: Why the Future of Space Exploration Is Not What You Think
posted by Artw on Nov 13, 2012 - 33 comments

The smartest rubber Gallus domesticus you have ever met!

Camilla the rubber chicken is the child of a chicken and an extra-terrestrial visitor (whose name is being concealed for legal and safety issues)." After a sad childhood in the circus, Camilla joined the Heliophysics team at NASA and befriended Little SDO, the satellite component of the the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In her capacity as SDO mascot and astrochick, Camilla flew into space with Little SDO, flew into a solar radiation storm, continues to monitor space weather, and is training for a trip to the International Space Station alongside astronaut Lt. Commaner Wiseman. Camilla also participates in science outreach and education programs, and she's currently in Australia, preparing to run the solar eclipe marathon! [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 5, 2012 - 8 comments

"This is the best time. The next 2 or 3 thousand years will be fantastic!"

In 2005, the Discovery Channel aired Alien Worlds, a fictional documentary based on Wayne Douglas Barlowe's graphic novel, Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV." Depicting mankind's first robotic mission to an extrasolar planet that could support life, the show drew from NASA's Origins Program, the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest Mission, and ESA's Darwin Project. It was primarily presented through CGI, but included interviews from a variety of NASA scientists and other experts, including Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, John Craig Venter and Jack Horner. Oh, and George Lucas, too. Official site. Previously on MeFi. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 21, 2012 - 12 comments

How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps

How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 7, 2012 - 80 comments

"Because I'm in space, and I can, I get to name these yo-yo tricks."

NASA Astronaut Don Pettit uses his off-duty time to practice his microgravity yo-yo skills.
posted by OverlappingElvis on Aug 11, 2012 - 39 comments

Curiouser and curiouser

NASA commentary on Curiosity landing has just started, landing itself is expected two hours later, at 5:31 am UTC/10:31 pm PDT. [more inside]
posted by egor83 on Aug 5, 2012 - 1193 comments

Oh man look at those cavemen go

Coming soon to a red planet near you, it's the Mars Science Laboratory! On Monday, August 6 at 05:31 UTC (other times around the world), NASA's Curiosity rover is expected to land on Mars in search of conditions suited to past or present Martian life. Live coverage begins on NASA TV at 03:30 UTC. But this mission has been years in the making, so if you have a little catching up to do... [more inside]
posted by ddbeck on Aug 4, 2012 - 139 comments

Is It Moist On Mars?

New report suggests Mars may be full of liquid water - Smithsonianmag.com
posted by The Whelk on Jun 26, 2012 - 77 comments

This post is just in time for the annual spaghetti harvest.

In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 20, 2012 - 22 comments

Physics Demos that are Out of this World

Science off the Sphere is a video series by Don Pettit aboard the ISS showing off the neat things you can do in zero-gravity. [more inside]
posted by quin on May 31, 2012 - 13 comments

For once, clouds are a good thing

One of the neater aspects of astronomy is that amateurs often make significant contributions to the field. A few nights ago Wayne Jaeschke found a strange cloud feature in his Mars images. He posted his findings to the site Cloudy Nights. It created a bit of a buzz there, as well as the wider media, (even MSNBC!). It has also piqued the interest of the pros. Researchers working with the Mars Thermal Emission Imaging System onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Mars Color Imager onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Observer are looking over their data to try to figure out exactly what it is they're seeing.
posted by dirigibleman on Mar 24, 2012 - 18 comments

Looking for life in all the wrong places

Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 8, 2012 - 50 comments

"Any nation, at any time, has the capacity to create a hero."

Neil deGrasse Tyson gives testimony on March 7, 2012 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (Majority member page) (Minority member page) Eight minutes of speech followed by questioning and response. [more inside]
posted by lazaruslong on Mar 8, 2012 - 80 comments

Taller than a HiRISE

Just a photo of a half-mile tall Martian dust devil, snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Mar 7, 2012 - 13 comments

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