United Launch Alliance's next-generation Vulcan rocket – and Blue Origin's next-generation BE-4 rocket engine – have been chosen to send Astrobotic's Peregrine moon lander as well as Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser mini-shuttle to the final frontier in 2021. Neither of the past week's announcements is all that surprising, because Astrobotic and SNC both had previous agreements to use ULA's current-generation Atlas 5 rocket. But both announcements underscore the importance of holding to the current schedule for rolling out the BE-4 as well as the Vulcan, which is designed to use two BE-4 engines on its first-stage booster. Blue Origin,… Read More
Shouldn't we have space colonies and a universal cure for cancer by now? Instead there are signs that the pace of technological progress is slowing — even as researchers pump out papers at a prolific and increasing rate. With slowing progress in computing power, medicine and agriculture, my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Noah Smith warns that the stakes could not be higher. Surely some of the fault lies with technology itself. Our connected world has allowed researchers to become so tightly networked that they're falling into the trap of groupthink. That might explain why some researchers seeking cures for Alzheimer's disease, for example, have conceded that they've been throwing years of work and
Pre-register your student for a unique “Real World” science experience Twice a year, Science Heads Inc. launches High Altitude Balloons (HABs) carrying student designed experiments to the edge of space. This program is designed to give students an opportunity work in teams and apply what they have learned in school about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Teams will meet after school one day a week over an 8-week period Experienced HAB scientists/engineers help and guide the students through the entire process - from experiment concept, proposal writing, engineering, and building - culminating in a NASA-like launch that is open to the public. A $ 25 per student fee,
I will start this piece by assuring you that it is not an argument for a flat earth. Ok, now that I have that out of the way, let's proceed. As I walked into the Geography-Geology building at the University of Georgia earlier this week, the iconic globe in the lobby caught my attention. I snapped the photo while ascending white Georgia marble staircase. On my commute home later that evening, I thought about that globe and virtually every other one that I have seen in classrooms over the years. In two ways, they are "sort of" lying to us. Here's why. When you see most globes, they are usually presented on a fixed axis at an angle of 23.5 degrees. It is tempting to assume that Earth is always
Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Anthropomorphic. About Barbara King's TED Talk In 2018, an orca made headlines when she carried her dead calf on her back for weeks. Barbara King says this was a display of animal grief and explains how this changes our relationship with animals. About Barbara King Barbara King is an emerita professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary and a freelance writer. She is a biological anthropologist and her primary focus is how the science of animal thinking and feeling can be used to understand and advocate for wild, companion, and farmed animals. She is the author of several books including How Animals Grieve and Personalities On The Plate: The
Around the world thousands of people are on organ donor waiting lists. While some of those people will receive the organ transplants they need in time, the sad reality is that many will die waiting. But controversial new research may provide a way to address this crisis.Japan has recently overturned its ban on the creation of human-animal hybrids, or “chimeras”, and approved a request by researchers from the University of Tokyo to create a human-mouse hybrid.Scientists will attempt to grow a human pancreas inside a mouse, using a certain kind of stem cell known as “induced pluripotent stem cells”. These are cells that can grow into almost any kind of cell. The stem cells will be injected into a mouse embryo, which has been genetically modified to be incapable of producing a pancreas using its own cells. This hybrid embryo is then implanted in a mouse surrogate and allowed to grow. The goal is to eventually grow a human pancreas in a larger animal – such as a pig – which can be transplanted into a human.Human-animal hybrids have been created in both the US and UK, but regulations require the embryo to be destroyed usually by 14 days. The new Japanese regulations allow for the embryo to be implanted in a surrogate uterus, and eventually, to be born as a mouse with a “human” pancreas. The mice will then be monitored for up to two years, to see where the human cells travel and how the mice develop.Ethical issuesThe idea of human-animal hybrids can raise a lot of questions and it’s easy to feel they are “unnatural” because they violate the boundaries between species. But the boundary between species is often fluid, and we don’t seem to have the same reaction to animal hybrids like mules, or the many kinds of plant hybrids humans have produced.Philosophers believe that negative reactions to human-animal hybrids might be based on our need to have a clear boundary between things that are “human” and things that are not. This distinction grounds many of our social practices involving animals, and so threatening this boundary could create moral confusion. Some might feel that human-animal hybrids are a threat to human dignity. But it’s difficult to specify what this claim really amounts to. A stronger objection is the idea that a human-animal hybrid may acquire human characteristics, and as a result, be entitled to human level moral consideration. If, for example, the injected human stem cells travel to the mouse’s brain, it could develop enhanced cognitive capacities compared to a normal mouse. And on that basis, it may be entitled to a much higher moral status than a mouse would normally be granted – and possibly make it unethical for use in scientific experimentation.Moral statusMoral status tells us whose interests count, from a moral point of view. Most people would say human beings have full moral status, as do babies, fetuses and the severely disabled, which means we must consider their interests. More controversially, some people also believe that non-human animals – such as chimpanzees or human embryos – possess a degree of moral status approaching that of human beings. But pinning down what characteristics confer moral status can be tricky. Various criteria have been suggested, including the ability to reason, have self-awareness, the ability to form relationships with others, the capacity for suffering, or simply being a part of the human species. But each of these criteria ends up including some groups who don’t have moral status, or excluding some who do.The idea that non-human animals might have sufficient moral status for it to be morally wrong to kill them for food, or use for medical research, has gained significant traction in the philosophical community. Similarly, veganism has grown massively worldwide. There’s been a 600 per cent increase in people identifying as vegan in the US in just the last three years. While in the UK the number of vegans has risen from 150,000 in 2014 to 600,000 in 2018, which suggests people are increasingly willing to take the interests of animals seriously.From a philosophical perspective using non-human animals for food or medical research is unethical because it significantly harms the animal, while providing only a small or insignificant benefit to us. But even those who believe that non-human animals have moral status would likely support sacrificing the life of a non-human animal to save the life of a human – as would be the case in human-animal organ donation. This is because a human can value its life in complex ways that a non-human animal cannot. But if human-animal hybrids become more like us than non-human animals, it could then be argued that it’s unethical to produce a hybrid simply for the purposes of extracting its organs. That is, harvesting the organs of a non-consenting human-animal hybrid could be morally equivalent to harvesting the organs of a non-consenting human. Of course, for this argument to work, there would need to be strong reasons for thinking not only that a human-animal hybrid has moral status, but that its life has equal moral value to that of a human. And even if a mouse-human hybrid did have a “human-like” brain, it is exceedingly unlikely that it would be human enough to merit equal moral consideration. So given that this process has the potential to successfully resolve the perpetual lack of organs for transplant, it’s reasonable to think that the use of human-animal hybrids is the right thing to do to help save human lives – even if it does require some level of animal suffering.Mackenzie Graham is a research fellow of philosophy at the University of Oxford. This article first appeared on The Conversation.
Astronomers at MIT, Harvard University, and elsewhere have searched a rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet for signs of an atmosphere — and found none. Atmospheres have previously been detected on planets much larger than our own, including several hot-Jupiters and sub-Neptunes, all of which are primarily made of ice and gas. But this is the first time scientists have been able to nail down whether an Earth-sized, terrestrial planet outside our solar system has an atmosphere. The planet in question, LHS 3844b, was discovered in 2018 by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, and was measured to be about 1.3 times larger than Earth. The planet zips around its star in just 11 hours, making
If you want to know what climate change will look like, you need to know what Earth's climate looked like in the past — what air temperatures were like, for example, and what ocean currents and sea levels were doing. You need to know what polar ice caps and glaciers were up to and, crucially, how hot the oceans were. "Most of the Earth is water," explains Peter Huybers, a climate scientist at Harvard University. "If you want to understand what global temperatures have been doing, you better understand, in detail, the rates that different parts of the ocean are warming." Easier said than done. This is like if someone left you all their receipts that they had ever spent during their lives, and
To guard against such ills, engineers often insert glass, plastic or even layers of air as insulation to prevent heat-generating components like microprocessors from causing damage or discomforting users. Now, Stanford researchers have shown that a few layers of atomically thin materials, stacked like sheets of paper atop hot spots, can provide the same insulation as a sheet of glass 100 times thicker. In the near term, thinner heat shields will enable engineers to make electronic devices even more compact than those we have today, said Eric Pop, professor of electrical engineering and senior author of a paper published Aug. 16 in Science Advances. "We're looking at the heat in electronic devices in an entirely new way," Pop said.
NASA is working on a plan to return to the moon by 2024 at a cost that’s expected to exceed $50 billion. But according to Politico’s Bryan Bender, former House Speaker and noted lunar enthusiast Newt Gingrich is pitching a proposal to get the job done faster and at lower cost with a “reality-show style” competition among private developers.“The proposal, whose other proponents range from an Air Force lieutenant general to the former publicist for pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince, includes a $2 billion sweepstakes pitting billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers against each other to see who can establish and run the first lunar base,” Bender says.No word on whether President Trump, who is well-versed in the dynamics of reality-show competitions, has been pitched yet, though he has reportedly expressed interest in hearing about alternative plans for the moon project.There are several private groups currently working on space travel who could play a role in the potential competition, Bender says, including Bezos' Blue Origin, Musk's SpaceX, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin called United Launch Alliance, Bob Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace, and the European Space Agency.Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.
“Last year we had more than 850,000 visitors to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. We've been growing over many years, next year will be our 50th birthday. But this year, for the first time in history, the Space and Rocket center will have over one million visitors. No other attraction in the state of Alabama has ever had a million visitor year, so we're very proud of that,” said Barnhart.
Small satellites can be used for anything from collecting images and videos of Earth to exploring the Solar System, and as the technology improves, more and more uses will become possible. NASA has been searching for ideas to push ahead the capabilities of the hardware, and the agency has just announced two new projects to demonstrate the potential of small satellites. The projects could help to predict space weather events, NASA says, as part of the agency's heliophysics program, which “seeks to better understand the nature of space throughout the solar system and how it changes in response to the constant outpouring of energy and particles from the Sun and how it interacts with planetary atmospheres.”
Newswise — It was a three-hour nighttime road trip that capped off a journey begun seven years ago. From about 12:30-3 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, the first major superconducting section of a particle accelerator that will power the biggest neutrino experiment in the world made its way along a series of Chicagoland roadways at a deliberate 10 miles per hour. Hauled on a special carrier created just for its 25-mile journey, at 3:07 a.m. the nine-ton structure pulled into its permanent home at the Department of Energy's Fermilab. It arrived from nearby Argonne National Laboratory, also a DOE national laboratory. The high-tech component is the first completed cryomodule for the PIP-II particle accelerator,
Newswise — Every proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider is different, but only a few are special. The special collisions generate particles in unusual patterns — possible manifestations of new, rule-breaking physics — or help fill in our incomplete picture of the universe. Finding these collisions is harder than the proverbial search for the needle in the haystack. But game-changing help is on the way. Fermilab scientists and other collaborators successfully tested a prototype machine-learning technology that speeds up processing by 30 to 175 times compared to traditional methods. Confronting 40 million collisions every second, scientists at the LHC use powerful, nimble computers to pluck