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Archive for the 'Science' Category

A Golden Message to the Extraterrestrials

Thirty years ago, in 1977, two space probes — the Voyager 1 and 2 — were launched to explore the outer planets of our solar system. And after sending some of the most spectacular images and information of those bodies beyond Mars, including snapshots full of beauty and meaning like the “Family Portrait that contained the “Pale Blue Dot” upon which we all live, the Voyagers kept going “where no man has gone before”.

Today, along with the Pioneer probes launched shortly before, they are the farthest human artifacts from Earth. And they are still traveling, like bottles released on the sea of the cosmos, because they contain a message addressed to the improbable, but just possible event that an intelligent alien being may find them.

On the Voyagers, those messages are encoded on a golden plated record, like the old vinyl records. Correctly decoded, with the instruments attached and following the instructions engraved on its face, the disc will reveal several sounds and even images about the civilization of naked apes that built the gadget.

Clicking on the image above you can check a nice multimedia website with most of those sound and images, going from salutations in Chinese to rock and roll: it includes “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry. A small touch by late astronomer Carl Sagan, who motivated and coordinated the creation of this message.

And speaking of rock, you may also watch a videoclip by the Strokes for “You Only Live Once“, which mix Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and the Voyager golden disc:

 

At the beginning of the videoclip there’s a nuclear Armageddon. And by seeing the images and sound launched in 1977, we cannot help but to feel one of the main concerns behind it. It was actually a message to ourselves.

This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours“, then president Carter addressed the extraterrestrials, expressing the real fear that the message may long outlive our own civilization.

The last part of Carter’s message, “so we may live into yours“, is implicitly, though certainly unintentionally, threatening, which would be used in a nice science fiction story. The fictional Voyager 6 would also be the main character of the first Star Trek movie, which just emphasizes that though the chances the golden disc may be retrieved and decoded by intelligent alien beings is remote, it surely can and must be decoded by intelligent terrestrial beings.

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Tesla Turbine with CDs

The genius who created the base for the modern system of energy generation and transmission also invented a bladeless turbine, properly called “Tesla Turbine“.

In an age where the design of propellers did not had the help of computer simulations, Nikola Tesla simply got rid of them by using a completely different phenomenon to propel his turbine. Composed of several plain discs, the torque is produced by the viscosity of the fluid flowing along the surface of the discs. They not only rotate, but end up rotating at a speed far superior to most conventional propellers.

Unfortunately, the turbine also has its drawbacks, as the revolutions are so great that no material at his time would stand the stresses of sheer centrifugal force. Even today, its application is very limited, and is mainly used as a pump.

But you may try some of the genius of the underdog inventor by making a Tesla turbine with CDs… check the video above. It’s actually of no practical use, but it does spin so fast that it may even disintegrate. Do that properly protected and then give your mad scientist laugh.

Of course, you could simply flick a light switch to pay homage to Tesla and his legacy, but this is much cooler.

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Morning Glory Cloud video in Rio

Nice video of a Morning Glory Cloud, taken on this November 7, on Bacia de Campos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The cloud could be seen for around three and a half hours, and it’s a rare atmospheric phenomenon indeed. Check more images of it around the world, via Google. On Youtube, there’s also a nice Australian one.

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The South Atlantic Anomaly

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The map above does not represent the most common destination for fleeing Hollywood villains. It’s in fact the South Atlantic Anomaly, a region where the Earth’s inner van Allen radiation belt makes its closest approach to the planet’s surface. The result is that, for a given altitude, the radiation intensity is higher over this region than elsewhere. Brazilians are blessed indeed.

anomaliasulaltura42hj The Anomaly in the radiation belt results from the fact that the planet’s magnetic field is not perfectly aligned with its geographic center and poles. Which means the magnetic field is slightly stronger in the North, and moves around the geographic poles, leaving the area around Brazil and the South Atlantic closer to the radiation belts.

Fortunately, the effects of it over humans on the surface of the planet are not significant. Unfortunately, it’s very relevant to orbiting satellites — the Hubble Space telescope does not take observations while passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly, for instance. Satellite failures are much more common in this stronger radiation zone.

It also affects satellites with humans inside, like the International Space Station. Light Flashes, thought to be produced by radiation directly stimulating the retina of astronauts, are reportedly more common when they are flying through the zone.

As the Anomaly is due to the Earth’s magnetic field, and since it’s always moving — including several complete reversals — it probably danced around the planet for the past billion years. It’s curious indeed that such a “special area” would even exist. And right now, it’s Brazilian.

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Mind under matter

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The biggest illusion is not ‘Matrix’, a virtual world of experiences that only happen inside your mind. No, the biggest illusion is your own mind, specifically your consciousness and something called free will. You have lived this illusion your whole life, even now, as you read these lines.

After discovering it, there’s no going back. You take the red pill by knowing how science has been uncovering this illusion for decades, but the ‘Matrix’ do not seems to want you to discover the truth. And it’s accessible to anyone, really.

Click on the red pill to continue reading.

pillred

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