science space universe expansion cosmology carl_sagan astrophysics big_bang telescope relativity
You Cannot Ignore Dust: First Evidence Of Universe’s Early Expansion In Doubt


by Ben P. Stein, Inside Science

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." This phrase, popularized by the late Carl Sagan, kept going through my head on March 17, the day that researchers involved with BICEP2, a telescope in Antarctica, made a big announcement at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The researchers reported that BICEP2 detected gravitational waves from the first moments after the big bang, a feat, which if confirmed, would open up a new field of study and would surely be recognized in a future Nobel Prize. [Ed. note: Txchnologist reported on this news when it broke here.]

Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time. They’re created when any object with mass accelerates. However, they’re extremely weak, making them very hard to detect directly. Even for the most massive and cataclysmic events, such as the collision of two black holes, their effects, observed from Earth, are very hard to detect.

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Wearable Robot Skin Could See Missions In Space Or On People

Purdue University engineers are working on what they call robotic fabrics that can change shape to perform different functions. 

The material is a cotton fabric with flexible polymer sensors and actuators made of shape-memory alloy that bends and contracts when electric current is applied. The system can constrict around an object if the actuators are aligned in one direction or bend the object if aligned another way.

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Next-Generation Satellite Dissects Storms From Top To Bottom

Meteorologists are getting a whole new view of the weather systems that bring rain, snow and ice thanks to an instrument launched into orbit earlier this year. The next-generation Global Precipitation Measurement satellite and a constellation of other observatories and relays scan the entire globe every three hours to send back an avalanche of data.

Read more and see the video below.

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science space exploration agriculture mars life_and_nature food astronauts plants
Astronauts May Grow Better Salads On Mars Than On The Moon

by Patricia Waldron, Inside Science

Any explorers visiting Mars and the moon will have to boldly grow where no man has grown before.

Setting up lunar or Martian colonies will require that explorers raise their own food. New research finds that simulated Martian soil supported plant life better than both simulated moon soil and low-quality soil from Earth. But many problems must be solved before astronauts can pick their first extraterrestrial eggplant. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Research like this is needed to fine-tune future plans for growing plants on Mars, which I think is going to be a very useful thing if we want to have colonization or even a shorter-term stay on Mars," said John Kiss, a plant biologist at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, who did not participate in the research. "It’s hard to carry all the food with you."

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