Two stars collided — On August 17th, astronomers bore witness to the titanic collision of two neutron stars, the densest things in the universe besides black holes. In the collision’s wake, astronomers answered multiple major questions that have dominated their field for a generation. And there was more, and there is much more yet to come from this discovery… but now what?
~ Do scientists even have the right instrumentation to follow these discoveries up?
Europa’s icy plate tectonics — According to new research published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Europa has what it takes to support plate tectonics. Using computer models, a team lead by Brown University planetary scientist Brandon Johnson was able to demonstrate the physical feasibility of icy plates driving deep into the icy interior in a processes similar to what’s seen on Earth. This same process could be delivering important minerals to the ocean below, heightening the moon’s status a potentially habitable world.
~ Jupiter’s moon Europa features a ‘warm’ subterranean ocean covered in ice, leading to decades of speculation it might harbour life.
Voyager 1 just fired up its backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years — Voyager 1, the probe which became the first man-made object to leave the solar system in 2012, has been away from home for a long, long time – approximately 40 years. It’s still been beaming back reams of data. (It’s so lonely.) Now it’s nearly 21 billion kilometeres from Earth. Last week, NASA said it had successfully dusted off the spacecraft’s long-dormant backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years.
~ And, in its off time, 1 has been sending extremely ill-advised texts to possible distant alien civilisations.
Spacesuit’s Take Me Home button — Imagine, unlike in the film Gravity, a struggling astronaut presses an emergency button which automatically takes her back to the International Space Station or another space-based habitat. Such a system is currently under development at Draper Labs, and it could soon become a standard feature on spacesuits.
~ There goes my Space Life Preserver plan.
Type 2 diabetes might be reversible — For those suffering from type 2 diabetes, there is good news. Nearly half of the participants in a watershed trial of a new diabetes treatment were able to reverse their affliction. The method is quite simple: an all liquid diet that causes participants to lose a lot of weight, followed by a carefully controlled diet of real solid foods. Four times a day, a sachet of powder is stirred in water to make a soup or shake. They contain about 200 calories, but also the right balance of nutrients. If the patient can keep away from other foods long enough, there is a chance of reversing type 2 diabetes completely.
~ Jenny Craig must be sharpening her pencil.
Personal urban retreat — A transparent capsule on a roof high above the city may offer a temporary escape in urban environments, while also allowing us to reconnect with our environment. The capsule nestles in the density of the city, but escapes it due to its high position. The shape embraces the buildings since it lies partly on the roof and the facade. Like a mountain retreat, it offers a quiet space to breathe with a new viewpoint.
~ I reckon people would just fill them up with junk as extra storage.
Artificial spider silk beanie — Best Made Company’s Cap of Courage is a US$198 striped beanie that’s made by combining Bolt’s Microsilk and Rambouillet wool. The run of 100 caps is a proof of concept to show that the elusive science behind crafting synthetic spider’s silk is no longer elusive. It’s partly a product of proteins that mimic spider silk grown in yeast.
~ At least it’s not brewed from dead flies, so the courage part comes from paying that much for a hat, presumably.
Almost all Bronze Age iron artefacts were made from meteorite iron — According to a new study, it’s possible that all iron-based weapons and tools of the Bronze Age were forged using metal salvaged from meteorites. The finding has given experts a better insight into how these tools were created before humans worked out how to produce iron from its ore.
~ The surprise for me is that iron was smelted at all in the Bronze Age, before the beginning of the official Iron Age.