N.A.S.A. Researching 'Tractor Beams'
A $100,000 award has been given to a N.A.S.A. agency to examine three laser-based approaches to do what, until now, has only been the stuff of science fiction.
What's the Latest Development?
Tractor beams have always been the stuff of science fiction, particularly Star Trek. But now a team of N.A.S.A. scientists says we have the technology to make tractor beams useful during space missions. The typical method of using lasers to pull objects has required trapping the object in the focus of two beams, but this process requires an atmosphere to function properly. Solenoid and Bessel beams, however, are specially shaped lasers that could be used to pull objects toward them without an atmosphere.
What's the Big Idea?
While the lasers' pulling power would be small, it could, in some cases, outperform current methods of collecting samples used during space missions. Dr. Paul Stysley of N.A.S.A.'s Goddard Space Flight Center says, "An optical-trapping system could grab desired molecules from the upper atmosphere on an orbiting spacecraft or trap them from the ground or lower atmosphere from a lander." Lasers' ability to remotely and continually gather particles over a long period of time would enhance science's goals and reduce mission risk, he says.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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