Thursday, July 10, 2014

Prototype Robot With Smartphone to Test 3-D Mapping, Navigation Inside Space Station | NASA

 Image Credit: NASA/Ames
Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus spacecraft will carry 3,293 pounds (1,493.8 kg) of cargo on its upcoming commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, including crew supplies, nanosatellites, student research and this prototype free-flying space robot equipped with a smartphone, known as Smart SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites).

NASA has been testing SPHERES on the space station since 2011. This summer, astronauts will upgrade these existing space robots to use Google’s "Project Tango" smartphone, which features a custom 3-D sensor and multiple cameras. NASA will then use the Smart SPHERES to test free-flying 3-D mapping and navigation inside the space station. NASA is developing the Smart SPHERES to perform work on the space station that requires mobile sensing, such as environmental surveys to monitor levels of radiation, lighting and air quality. They also will be used to monitor inventory and conduct experiments. The development and testing of Smart SPHERES is funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Prototype Robot With Smartphone to Test 3-D Mapping, Navigation Inside Space Station | NASA


Alvar Saenz Otero, Ph.D., associate director and SPHERES lead scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Space Systems Laboratory, presents an overview of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) used for multiple robotics research investigations aboard the International Space Station. The SPHERES help researchers learn how to control bowling-ball sized satellites in a microgravity environment. Specifically, the research team is looking at how to control multiple satellites so that they work together. Planned uses for SPHERES include in space robotic assembly and refurbishing and repairing existing satellites in orbit. SEE:
The ISS SPHERES Facility

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

What's a Color?

 What is color? It seems like a simple question at first, but when you think about it, the reality of what we're seeing is a pretty complex situation. Our human eyes sift through a small piece of the vast electromagnetic spectrum and translate it into every color of the rainbow. But there are other animals that see these same wavelengths in different ways, or even see colors beyond what we can perceive! And not all color is dependent on wavelengths of light: the brains of certain people, called synesthetes, work in ways that let them see colors tied to music, words, or other stimuli. Watch as host Alan Alda takes you on a surreal, scientific tour of the spectrum with the help of vision researcher Jay Neitz, along with neuroscientists David Eagleman, Kaitlyn Hova, and Bevil Conway.

See Also: “What Is Color?”

First Full 3D Model of Eta Carinae Nebula Created by Nasa Scientists

An international team of astronomers has developed a 3D model of a giant cloud ejected by the massive binary system Eta Carinae during its 19th century outburst. Eta Carinae lies about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina and is one of the most massive binary systems astronomers can study in detail. The smaller star is about 30 times the mass of the sun and may be as much as a million times more luminous. The primary star contains about 90 solar masses and emits 5 million times the sun's energy output. Both stars are fated to end their lives in spectacular supernova explosions.
A new shape model of the Homunculus Nebula reveals protrusions, trenches, holes and irregularities in its molecular hydrogen emission. The protrusions appear near a dust skirt seen at the nebula's center in visible light (inset) but not found in this study, so they constitute different structures.
Image Credit: 
NASA Goddard (inset: NASA, ESA, Hubble SM4 ERO Team)
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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Algebraic Topology

A first course in Algebraic Topology, with emphasis on visualization, geometric intuition and simplified computations. Given by Assoc Prof N J Wildberger at UNSW. The really important aspect of a course in Algebraic Topology is that it introduces us to a wide range of novel objects: the sphere, torus, projective plane, knots, Klein bottle, the circle, polytopes, curves in a way that disregards many of the unessential features, and only retains the essence of the shapes of spaces. What does this exactly mean? That is a key question... The course has some novel features, including Conway's ZIP proof of the classification of surfaces, a rational form of turn angles and curvature, an emphasis on the importance of the rational line as the model of the continuum, and a healthy desire to keep things simple and physical. We try to use pictures and models to guide our understanding.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Proofing BICEP2

Inflation—the hypothesis that the Universe underwent a phase of superluminal expansion in a brief period following the big bang—has the potential of explaining, from first principles, why the Universe has the structure we see today. It could also solve outstanding puzzles of standard big-bang cosmology, such as why the Universe is, to a very good approximation, flat and isotropic (i.e., it looks the same in all directions). Yet we do not yet have a compelling model, based on fundamental particle physics principles, that explains inflation. And despite its explanatory power and a great deal of suggestive evidence, we still lack an unambiguous and direct probe of inflation. Theorists have developed different models for inflation, which all share a common, robust prediction: Inflation would have created a background of gravitational waves that could have an observable effect. These waves would cause subtle, characteristic distortions of the cosmic microwave background (CMB)—the oldest light in the Universe, released when photons decoupled from matter and the Universe became transparent to radiation. Viewpoint: Peering Back to the Beginning of Time


First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory.


 LSC Congratulates BICEP2 Colleagues


18 March 2014 - The BICEP2 Collaboration result, if confirmed, is a landmark discovery in cosmology, allowing us for the first time to peer back almost to the moment of the Big Bang through the observation of the imprint of primordial gravitational waves on the cosmic microwave background. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration congratulates our BICEP colleagues on their accomplishment and will further follow discoveries and implications of these observations with great interest. - See more at:

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Puffing in Large Scale Interactions

This combination of three wavelengths of light from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows one of the multiple jets that led to a series of slow coronal puffs on Jan. 17, 2013. The light has been colorized in red, green and blue.
Image Credit: Alzate/SDO
A suite of NASA's sun-gazing spacecraft have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast puffs forced the slow ejection of a massive burst of solar material from the sun's atmosphere. The eruptions took place over a period of three days, starting on Jan. 17, 2013. Nathalia Alzate, a solar scientist at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, presented findings on what caused the puffs at the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth, England. See: Puffing Sun Gives Birth To Reluctant Eruption

Saturday, June 28, 2014

From the Mathematics of Supersymmetry to the Music of Arnold Schoenberg

Published on Jun 28, 2014

The concept of supersymmetry, though never observed in nature, has driven a great deal of research in theoretical physics over the past several decades. Much has been learned through this research, but many unresolved questions remain. This presentation will describe how these questions can lead one down a surprising path: toward the dodecaphony of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg.

S. James Gates Jr.
Perimeter Institute Public Lecture Series


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On Superposition

Published on Jun 18, 2014
MIT 8.04 Quantum Physics I, Spring 2013
View the complete course:
Instructor: Allan Adams

In this lecture, Prof. Adams discusses a series of thought experiments involving "box apparatus" to illustrate the concepts of uncertainty and superposition, which are central to quantum mechanics. The first ten minutes are devoted to course information.

License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
More information at
More courses at

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LHC Sound

Sonification is the process of creating sounds that carry information. Musical compositions carry information in the sense that they often describe a place, a time or a feeling; the associations we make between sonic properties such as pitch and physical properties such as speed or size, come to us without effort. The grand aim of the LHCsound project is to ‘dorkify’ the process of encoding information in sound. Our attempts to capture the behaviour of the recently discovered Higgs boson in sounds are presented for your wonder and bafflement. SEE: Lily Asquith