October 2009

GRB Burst Tests Special Relativity

October 30, 2009

Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) are much in the news. GRB 090423 turns out to be the most distant explosion ever observed, an event that occurred a scant 630 million years after the Big Bang. We’re detecting the explosion of a star that occurred when the first galaxies were beginning to form. Current thinking is that […]

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Advancing Action at NASA (and Beyond)

October 29, 2009

Back in 2003, I went to Glenn Research Center in Cleveland for a meeting with Marc Millis. The Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project that Millis headed had recently been shut down, but I had the sense that this might be temporary and was eager to talk to him about what BPP had thus far accomplished. My […]

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NIAC Redux: A Visionary Future

October 28, 2009

The decision to close NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) in 2007 was a blow to the research community, especially given the fact that the agency’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project had been shelved some years previously. These twin haymakers to the study of futuristic technologies emphasized the lack of support for spending money on anything […]

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Habitable Moons and Kepler

October 27, 2009

While we’ve looked several times in these pages at David Kipping’s work on exomoons, the investigation of moons much closer to home reminds us that finding a habitable satellite of another planet may not be out of our reach. After all, we’re gaining insights into possible habitats for at least microbial life on (or in) […]

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Refining the Deuterium Starship

October 26, 2009

by Adam Crowl Adam Crowl has been following Friedwardt Winterberg’s fusion concepts for some time, and now weighs in with a look at Winterberg’s latest thinking on the use of deuterium reactions in advanced propulsion designs. If fusion is our best bet for interstellar missions, we need to get past the limitations of deuterium/tritium, which […]

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Notes & Queries 10/23/09

October 23, 2009

On Perfect Mornings Stan Getz’ version of ‘Early Autumn’ is to me the definitive take on this standard, though so many fine musicians have attempted it that I’m sure to draw an argument from jazz buffs. But every year when the leaves have just begun to turn, the Getz interpretation runs through my mind on […]

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Updating the Dinosaur Killer

October 22, 2009

Sankar Chatterjee (Texas Tech) and a team of researchers have been looking at something known as the Shiva basin, that area west of India that is heavily laden with oil and gas resources. Chatterjee believes the Shiva basin is in fact a huge, multi-ringed impact crater, one caused by a bolide perhaps as much as […]

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HD 209458b: Comparing Exoplanet Atmospheres

October 21, 2009

We’re making progress at detecting the signatures of organic chemicals on other planets. Mark Swain (JPL) and team have already made a name for themselves in this arena by their detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the ‘hot Jupiter’ HD 189733b, which followed earlier Hubble and Spitzer observations that revealed water vapor and […]

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Beyond Darwin: The Future of Exoplanet Imaging

October 20, 2009

After we’ve found an Earth-like planet with a potential for life, what further things can we do to investigate it? A team led by Jean Schneider (Paris Observatory) asks this question in a new paper, speculating that there are things a technological society does that leave a sure trace. Given the right instruments (no small […]

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HARPS Bags 32 New Exoplanets

October 19, 2009

More than 75 exoplanets in thirty different planetary systems is an impressive score, and that’s what HARPS has compiled since its installation in 2003. The High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher is the spectrograph for the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla (Chile). Built by a consortium led by Michel Mayor (Geneva Observatory), […]

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