Temperature Conditions of a Supernova Recreated

May 30, 2008

Scientists are one step closer to attaining the ultimate goal: producing temperatures high enough to sustain fusion, the reaction that powers our Sun and the possible future for global energy production. Researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, UK, have attained temperatures higher than the surface of the Sun, 10 million Kelvin (or Celsius), by using a powerful one petawatt laser called Vulcan. This experiment goes beyond the quest for fusion power; generating these high temperatures recreates the conditions of cosmological events such as supernova explosions.

This is some awesome research. An international collaboration of researchers from the UK, Europe, Japan and the US have succeeded in harnessing an equivalent of 100 times the world energy production into a tiny spot, measuring a fraction of the width of a human hair. That’s a whopping one petawatt of energy (one thousand million million watts, or enough to power ten trillion 100W light bulbs) focused on a volume measuring about 0.000009 metres (9µm) across. Vulcan blasted its target with the one petawatt laser beam for a mere 1 picosecond (one millionth of a millionth of a second). This may seem miniscule, but this microscopic period of time allowed the target material to be heated to the 10 million degrees Kelvin.

Site – http://www.universetoday.com

Doughnut (Torus)-shaped Universe bites back

May 27, 2008

Reminiscent of how humans used to think the earth was a myriad of shapes and sizes before discovering that it was actually a sphere about 12,742 km in diameter, we are now beginning to have revelations about our universe which may give it a distinct shape and size.

The idea that the universe is finite and relatively small, rather than infinitely large, first became popular in 2003, when cosmologists noticed unexpected patterns in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the relic radiation left behind by the Big Bang.The CMB is made up of hot and cold spots that represent ripples in the density of the infant Universe, like waves in the sea. An infinite Universe should contain waves of all sizes, but cosmologists were surprised to find that longer wavelengths were missing from measurements of the CMB made by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

One explanation for the missing waves was that the universe is finite. “You can think of the Universe as a musical instrument – it cannot sustain vibrations that have a wavelength that is bigger than the length of the instrument itself,” explains Frank Steiner, a physicist at Ulm University in Germany.

Virgin Galactic

May 7, 2008

Space Flight?

Virgin Galactic is the world’s first spaceline. Giving you the groundbreaking opportunity to become one of the first ever non-professional astronauts. Virgin Galactic’s mission is to fly passengers to an altitude slightly over the defined boundary of space 100 kilometers (62 mi) and allow them to experience weightlessness for up to 6 minutes. The first flight is planned for sometime in 2009.

Virgin Galactic has said to already have $30 million in bookings for flights. Although the initial deposit is set to be $200,000 for the first 100 to fly, all passengers after that will pay a deposit of only $20,000 each.

Site – http://www.virgingalactic.com

Space Elevator

May 3, 2008

As early as 1895, a Russian scientist named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky suggested a fanciful “Celestial Castle” in geosynchronous (always stays over the same point of the Earth) orbit attached to a tower on the ground. The concept finally came to the attention of the space flight engineering community through a technical paper written in 1975 by Jerome Pearson of the Air Force Research Laboratory. This paper was the inspiration for Clarke’s novel ( The Fountain of Paradise ).

Current technology is not capable of manufacturing materials that are sufficiently strong and light enough to build an Earth based space elevator. Recent proposals for a space elevator plan to use carbon nanotube-based materials as the tensile element in the tether design, since the theoretical strength of carbon nanotubes show great promise.

Talk about Jack and the Beanstalk.

Site – http://en.wikipedia.org