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15 gift ideas for space fans and future astronauts
From anti-gravity pens to cool model kits, these space-themed gifts will make any star gazer very happy.
- Since the dawn of time humans have been fascinated with the stars and with space.
- This gift guide will help you shop for the NASA fan on your list.
- From socks to laser projectors, there is something for space fans of all ages.
Long before we had the technology to go, humans have been dreaming of space and everything beyond our sky. Gazing at the stars, watching astronauts travel to the moon, and seeing machines launched to distant rocks and planets has inspired many to want to learn more about astronomy and to pursue careers in science. Those space fans deserve something special, and we have just the things for them.
This gift guide is specifically for space fans and those who hope to one day enter orbit. From the original space pen to a levitating moon lamp, the items chosen for this list are well-reviewed and available to purchase online. Some are designed to be educational, while others are just cool objects meant to show off how much you love space.
Everyone needs socks, but only the coolest people deserve these space themed novelty socks. This four-pack features rockets, a diagram of the solar system, a fun math design, and an astronaut posing on the moon. If you have to keep your feet on the ground, you might as well do it in style.
Switch things up from the classic blue NASA logo and gift someone a new tee with a throwback feel. The graphic on this officially licensed Popfunk tee looks to be inspired by the 1980s, the decade that saw the Space Shuttle Discovery launched into orbit for the first time.
You don't have to go to space to write like a real astronaut. In the mid-1960s, the Fisher Pen Company reportedly spent $1 million developing anti gravity pens with pressurized cartridges inside that meant they were capable of writing upside down, in hot and cold temperatures, and underwater. They offered the pens to NASA and after some testing the space agency ordered hundreds for its Apollo astronauts.
Magnetic levitation always looks cool, but the LEVILUNA lamp is able to blend aesthetics with the practicality of a small light source. The small orb is made using 3D printing. The result is a highly detailed replica of Earth's moon that floats between 8-12mm above its wooden base. It can also illuminate a desk or nightstand with a soft glow.
See physics and magnets at work while you stare at this colorful and wonderfully nerdy toy. It requires one 9V battery (not included) and some assembly, but once it gets going it doesn't stop.
BlissLight's Sky Lite fills any space with a bright blue nebula cloud pattern and drifting stars. The pattern can be changed to just the cloud, just the stars, a combination of the two, or constant stars with a pulsing cloud effect. There is also a built-in timer that can turn the device off automatically after 6 hours. It's the perfect night light for someone who is obsessed with all things cosmic.
Written by a planetary scientist, this best-selling book demonstrates various ways to view the stars and other space objects with or without special equipment. It is also filled with fun facts, explainers, and clear illustrations of planets and constellations.
This 837-piece LEGO kit allows builders to be rocket engineers as well as the mission control crew for a miniature launch without ever leaving the comfort of his/her home. There are six minifigures in the set, including astronauts, scientists, a Launch Director, and a ground crew technician, each with a very important job to do. Kids ages 7 and up will be inspired to learn more about what it takes to put a heavy rocket into orbit and about the men and women who make it happen.
Advertised as being for entry level astronomers, this portable telescope expands the user's connection with and access to the cosmos. It comes with bonus educational software that star gazers can use to discover more about when and where space objects can be seen in the sky.
National Geographic's Solar Space Explorers kit comes with sheets of wood that have been laser-cut into small parts. Together the pieces and included gear components form two solar-powered vehicles: the Mars Rover and a Moon Buggy. Whether they're being made to race down the driveway or sitting statically on a shelf, these vehicles are fun to construct and cool to look at. It's basic engineering and moon exploration rolled into one package.
Using official photos from the NASA archives, this adult coloring book is not your average stay-in-the-lines kind of activity book. It includes 35 NASA-captured images of planets and solar flares for reference and/or inspiration. Space fans can choose to color the images true to life, or they can let their imaginations run free across the pages.
These mugs use a heat-changing technique that hides constellations among the stars until a hot liquid is poured inside. There are 11 constellations in total, including Andromeda, Scorpius, and Hercules. When you want the figures to go away, just chill the mug and everything but the stars will fade away.
There's life before PopSockets and there's life after PopSockets. Wrapping a finger around this accessory while holding a mobile device provides a more secure grip while texting, watching movies, or reading BigThink.com. The variety of designs lets anyone add their own personal flare, and the top portions are swappable so the owner is allowed to change their mind.
The meteorites at the Campo Del Cielo crater field in Argentina are believed to have impacted over 4000 years ago. Actual pieces of the space rock have been modified with a metal loop and a wax cord so that they can be work as a necklace. Each quarter-sized meteorite pendant is unique and only weighs around 7 grams so it is barely noticeable. The necklaces come with certificates of authenticity and tiny chests for storing or displaying when they are not being worn.
This hefty book is 468 pages of NASA history told through essays and over 400 stunning high resolution images from the agency's archives. Even the biggest NASA nerds will learn something new from this impressive tome as they flip through its pages over and over again.
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Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to light recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Scientists do not know what is causing the overabundance of the gas.
- A new study looked to understand the source of methane on Saturn's moon Enceladus.
- The scientists used computer models with data from the Cassini spacecraft.
- The explanation could lie in alien organisms or non-biological processes.
Something is producing an overabundance of methane in the ocean hidden under the ice of Saturn's moon Enceladus. A new study analyzed if the source could be an alien life form or some other explanation.
The study, published in Nature Astronomy, was carried out by scientists at the University of Arizona and Paris Sciences & Lettres University, who looked at composition data from the water plumes erupting on Enceladus.
The particular chemistry, discovered by the Cassini spacecraft which flew through the plumes, suggested a high concentration of molecules that have been linked to hydrothermal vents on the bottom of Earth's oceans. Such vents are potential cradles of life on Earth, according to previous studies. The data from Cassini, which has been studying Saturn after entering its orbit in 2004, revealed the presence of molecular hydrogen (dihydrogen), methane, and carbon dioxide, with the amount of methane presenting a particular interest to the scientists."We wanted to know: Could Earthlike microbes that 'eat' the dihydrogen and produce methane explain the surprisingly large amount of methane detected by Cassini?" shared one of the study's lead authors Régis Ferrière, an associate professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.
Earth's hydrothermal vents feature microorganisms that use dihydrogen for energy, creating methane from carbon dioxide via the process of methanogenesis.
Searching for such microorganisms known as methanogens on the seafloor of Enceladus is not yet feasible. Likely, it would require very sophisticated deep diving operations that will be the objective of future missions.
So, Ferrière's team took a more available approach to pinpointing the origins of the methane, creating mathematical models that attempted to explain the Cassini data. They wanted to calculate the likelihood that particular processes were responsible for producing the amount of methane observed. For example, is the methane more likely the result of biological or non-biological processes?
They found that the data from Cassini was consistent with either microbial activity at hydrothermal vents or processes that have nothing to do with life but could be quite different from what happens on Earth. Intriguingly, models that didn't involve biological entities didn't seem to produce enough of the gas.
"Obviously, we are not concluding that life exists in Enceladus' ocean," Ferrière stated. "Rather, we wanted to understand how likely it would be that Enceladus' hydrothermal vents could be habitable to Earthlike microorganisms. Very likely, the Cassini data tell us, according to our models."
Still, the scientists think future missions are necessary to either prove or discard the "life hypothesis." One explanation for the methane that does not involve biological organisms is that the gas is the result of a chemical breakdown of primordial organic matter within Enceladus' core. This matter could have become a part of Saturn's moon from comets rich in organic materials.
It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.
This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.
For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.
The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.
The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.
One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.
Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.
Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).
Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.
A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.
We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.
"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.
What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.
The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.
A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.
This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.
If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.
Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.
"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."