In other Big Science News: the Earth goes around the Sun, when water gets really cold it becomes ice, and there’s gravity.
The first non-test flight of a reusable commercial spacecraft was a complete success as the SpaceX Dragon capsule launched, docked with the International Space Station and delivered cargo, and then returned to Earth.
A major new era in space exploration and human civilization has begun.
The world’s most respected scientist, Bill Nye The Science Guy, appears in a video called ”Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children“. In the video Nye says ”Your world just becomes fantastically complicated if you don’t believe in evolution”, and claims the United States is the main country where people deny the fact of evolution.
In a break with established tradition NASA didn’t screw up Sunday night and safely landed the new $2.5 billion Curiosity rover on Mars. In a picture-perfect operation the complex landing procedure that everyone said was sure to fail didn’t, and didn’t fail spectacularly. The rover sent its first images back Earth within minutes of touching down.
A massive solar flare will strike the Earth tonight, and either cause some disruption to communications, or kill all life on the planet. We’ll let you know which tomorrow.
Congratulations to SpaceX and NASA on making history today as the first private spacecraft docked with the International Space Station.
Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN institute in Switzerland have announced the discovery of a new particle, though not the much sought-after Higgs boson – the fundamental particle that imparts mass.
“It’s even better” the team said. “The neutral Xi_b^star baryon is even more useful than the Higgs. The Higgs would merely lead to the ability to manipulate gravity, but this new particle is thought to be responsible for hair loss and male impotence! The benefits to mankind in controlling this particle are almost unlimited! It totally justifies the enormous cost of building the collider!
NASA scientists have revealed they have detected signals from a small blue planet around a distant star. The inhabitants of the planet call it Kolob, and call themselves Mormos. Other than this the signals have as yet been undecipherable.
The space shuttle Atlantis touched-down on a runway in Florida at 2:59 am Pacific time this morning – the last time one of the shuttle fleet will do so. The fleet flew for 30 years: the first launch of a shuttle into orbit took place April 12, 1981.
The U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to reach Earth orbit, on October 4, 1957, and it burned-up on re-entry on January 4, 1958. The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, was launched on January 31, 1958. The word “aerospace” was supposedly coined on February 2. The U.S. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 29, and NASA launched its first satellite, Pioneer 1, on October 11.
I was born on the last day of 1958. So, the U.S. space program and myself are about the same age. I was one of those kids that read science fiction stories about space travel. I followed the space program the way other kids followed baseball. I watched the first Apollo Moon landing on TV on July 20, 1969 (along with about 500 million other people). I watched the first shuttle launch on TV in a college classroom in ’81. And a few minutes ago I watched the last shuttle landing on TV – satellite TV.
Now I wonder – will I see U.S. astronauts go back into space in my lifetime?
A Great White shark leaped into a research team’s boat off the coast of South Africa. The six-member team was collecting data approximately 241 miles west of Cape Town when the shark breached, leaped into the air, and landed in the stern of their research craft.
The shark was eventually released back into the sea, but not until after it was taken to shore, lifted out of the boat by a crane, and then beached itself in a harbor. To help it deal with stress a veterinarian prescribed two human-shaped Xanax.
A study of the effect of penis size on gay men’s sex lives and health that was funded in part by the Federal Government is being cited as an example of tax dollar waste by the Traditional Values Coalition.
“This country is broke and we cannot spend money on this kind of stuff,” said Andrea Lafferty, president of the Coalition. “This is just another example of the liberal gay agenda that is taking our country toward socialism. Why wasn’t a study done on the effect of penis size on heterosexual sex? Now there’s something we should be spending money on! But to save money we should engage volunteers to collect information. I’d volunteer.”
“The data were not collected using taxpayer funds,” Jeffrey Parsons, a professor with Hunter College, said in an email. “National Institutes of Health funds were not used to measure anyone’s penis size. I spent my own money on that. And it cost a lot in spotting guys drinks and on motel rooms, let me tell you.”
A similar study on the effect of “butt-cheek tension” was also cited by the TVC as an example of “institutional waste”.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is downplaying disaster threats to U.S. nuclear plants in Nebraska and New Mexico. They claim there is no similarity to the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
“In Japan there was an earthquake followed by a flood of seawater. In Nebraska there was no earthquake and the plant is being flooded with fresh water – totally different thing. Unless the water gets higher than say two feet and two inches inches. Then it will pour into the containment vessels and you’ll see massive explosions and melt-downs that will sterilize the entire state. But there is absolutely no chance the water will exceed the safe depth.”
Nebraska disaster response officials say the water surrounding the plant is at two feet, with more rain on the way.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, another nuclear plant at Los Alamos is surrounded by raging wildfires. Again an NRC spokesman says there is nothing to worry about. “This isn’t anything like Japan, where they had an earthquake, a flood, and then major fires at the Fukushima plant. There were no earthquakes or floods here. Earthquakes and flooding are the real problems – I mean the fire would have to completely consume that plant, and to do that there would have to be high temperatures combined with high wind – and what are the chances of that?”
The New Mexico weather service has predicted high temperatures combined with wind will sweep the state for the next several days.