Human Ashes, Pay Pal and Space Travel
An Phung is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. She has contributed to NYTimes.com, Patch.com and City Limits. She also spent time reporting in Indonesia where she covered stories about the country's growing illicit drug trade. An graduated from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a concentration in international reporting.
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Private company Space X successfully launched its unmanned Falcon 9 rocket into space early Tuesday morning from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Worldcrunch provided some fun facts we should know about this historic event.
1. SpaceX is the first private company to successfully launch a vessel to the International Space Station (ISS). Only governments had previously been able to achieve such a feat, but the White House welcomed Falcon 9's launch as an opportunity for government-run NASA. John P. Holdren, Assistant to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology said in a statement this will help free up more of NASA's resources to take on other technological challenges in space.
2. This wasn't the first attempt to launch a private vessel into space. SpaceX had already successfully launched and retrived a spacecraft in orbit in December 2010. Falcon 9's take-off was delayed three times since February, and had to be cancelled at the last minute last Saturday because of a faulty engine valve. The video below shows today's launch.
3. SpaceX was created by the co-founder of PayPal. Elon Musk is a South African-born 40-year-old multi-millionaire who co-founded PayPal in 2000 and founded SpaceX in 2002.
4. Falcon 9 is unmaned and carries a capsule called Dragon. Dragon contains 1,000 pounds of provisions for the ISS and was released into orbit nine minutes into the rocket's flight. The capsule is expected to dock with the ISS on Thursday. Dragon's sensors and flight systems are subjected to tests that will determine if the vehicle is ready to dock on the space station.
5. Falcon 9 contains the ashes of 306 deceased people. Space services company Celestis sends ashes of deceased family members into orbit, for a fee. Prices run from $1000 (suborbital flight) to $13,000 (deep space). The ashes of "Star Trek" actor James Doohan, aka "Scotty," astronaut Gordon Cooper and skydiver Brady Watson Kane were among the celebrity remains launched this morning.
Check out Elon Musk's interview with Big Think:
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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