Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Relativity has a bold plan to take on SpaceX, and investors are buying it

June 8th, 2021
A rendering of the Terran R rocket in flight.

Enlarge / A rendering of the Terran R rocket in flight. (credit: Relativity Space)

Relativity Space announced Tuesday morning that it has raised an additional $650 million in private capital and that this money will fuel an ambitious agenda of 3D printing large, reusable rockets.

The new funding will accelerate development of the “Terran-R” launch vehicle, Relativity Chief Executive Tim Ellis said in an interview. This large orbital rocket will be about the same size as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. However, Ellis said, the entire vehicle will be reusable—the first and second stages, as well as the payload fairing. And it will have the capacity to lift 20 tons to low Earth orbit in reusable mode, about 20 percent more than a Falcon 9 booster that lands on a drone ship.

With the Terran-R vehicle, therefore, Ellis said Relativity Space aspires to not just match the remarkably capable Falcon 9 rocket but to exceed its performance.

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Posted in relativity space, science, spacex, Terran R | Comments (0)

Could Brain Training Help Address Police Brutality?

June 8th, 2021

New neuroscience-based technologies aim to improve decisionmaking under pressure. But solving systemic problems will take a lot more than that.

Posted in Psychology, science, Science / Psychology and Neuroscience | Comments (0)

Your Clothes Spew Microfibers Before They’re Even Clothes

June 8th, 2021

The clothing supply chain releases some 265 million pounds of microfibers that wash into the environment each year.

Posted in Planet Plastic, science, Science / Environment | Comments (0)

These forged 17th-century music books went undetected for a century

June 8th, 2021
Considered as a set, the three books Penn State musicologist Marica Tacconi found to be forgeries nonetheless preserve 61 genuine compositions by 26 Italian composers, all written during the period from 1600 to 1678.

Enlarge / Considered as a set, the three books Penn State musicologist Marica Tacconi found to be forgeries nonetheless preserve 61 genuine compositions by 26 Italian composers, all written during the period from 1600 to 1678. (credit: Michel Garrett, Penn State)

Penn State musicologist Marica Tacconi wasn’t planning on discovering forged music books when she started her sabbatical research at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice in 2018. But when she encountered an embellished, leather-bound music book ostensibly from the 17th century, something about it struck her as off. Subsequent analysis showed that her instincts had been right: the book was an early 20th-century forgery, as were two other music books, supposedly from the same period, that she examined in the collection. Tacconi gives a full account of her investigations in a recent paper published in the Journal of Seventeenth Century Music.

The Marciana Library acquired the music books—catalogued as MSS 740, 742, and 743—in 1916 and 1917 from a musician and book dealer named Giovanni Concina. But before Tacconi undertook her analysis, the books had neither received much scholarly attention nor been studied as a set.

At first glance, the books appear genuine enough. Per Tacconi, the worn leather and the paper look and feel authentic, as does the music calligraphy. They exhibit the mild deterioration and occasional wormhole one would expect with 17th-century tomes. MS 740 bears the coat of arms of the influential Contarini family in the bottom margin and again at the end of the manuscript. MS 742 is a bit smaller, with richly decorated pages, including illuminated initial capital letters for each composition. There is a bookplate on the first flyleaf for Caterina Dolfin, a prominent late-18th-century figure in Venice who hosted salons and intellectual soirees. MS 743’s binding and ornate style are nearly identical to MS 742, and the first page also features the Contarini coat of arms.

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Posted in Baroque, Gaming & Culture, History, illuminated manuscripts, music, music history, musicology, science | Comments (0)

US may miss July 4 vaccination target as number of daily doses plummets

June 7th, 2021
A mostly deserted convention center.

Enlarge / A deserted walk-in COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Convention Center in downtown Washington, DC, on June 1, 2021. (credit: Getty | ANITA BEATTIE )

The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in the US has now slowed to a crawl after weeks of decline in the number of doses given out each day. The continued trend threatens to further drag out the devastating pandemic. It also now imperils a goal set just last month by President Joe Biden to have 70 percent of American adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.

On Monday, the country’s seven-day average of doses administered per day was again below 1 million, where it has been now for several days. The average hasn’t been this low since January 22. In mid-April, the average peaked at nearly 3.4 million doses a day, following a record of over 4.6 million doses administered in a single day.

With less than a month to go until Independence Day, there’s a real possibility that the US will fall shy of Biden’s 70-percent goal. Currently, about 63.7 percent of adults in the country have received at least one dose. But a chunk of daily doses are now going to adolescents ages 12 to 17, who became eligible for vaccination last month. And total vaccination numbers are still on a significant decline. If current trends hold, the US may only have about 67 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by the Fourth of July, according to one analysis conducted by USA Today.

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Posted in Biden, coronavirus, COVID-19, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Jeff Bezos says he will fly into space next month

June 7th, 2021
Jeff Bezos speaking at the unveiling of the Blue Origin New Shepard system during the Space Symposium on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Enlarge / Jeff Bezos speaking at the unveiling of the Blue Origin New Shepard system during the Space Symposium on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (credit: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has revealed on Instagram that he plans to fly on Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight next month.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos, the richest person in the world, said in a post published Monday morning. “It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”

Bezos said he invited his younger brother, Mark, whom he described as his best friend, to go along. The two will join the winner of an auction for a third seat on the flight, which is set to take place on July 20 of this year. Bidding for this seat is already at $2.8 million but is likely to go higher during a live auction on June 12. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future.

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Posted in blue origin, Jeff Bezos, science | Comments (0)

A New Way to Shape Metal Nanoparticles—With a Magnetic Field

June 7th, 2021

Making the tiny nanoparticles used in everything from electronics to paint isn’t easy. But a new experiment creates order out of chaos.

Posted in Hot Stuff, science, Science / Physics and Math | Comments (0)

Woman in Motion tells story of how Star Trek’s Uhura changed NASA forever

June 6th, 2021

Actress Nichelle Nichols’ role as a NASA ambassador to bring diversity to the space program is the subject of the documentary Woman in Motion, now streaming on Paramount+.

Actress Nichelle Nichols will forever be remembered for playing Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series—one of the first Black women to play a prominent role on television—as well as engaging in the first interracial kiss on scripted television in the US. Less known is her equally seminal role as an ambassador for NASA  in the 1970s, working tirelessly to bring more diversity to the agency’s recruitment efforts. That work is highlighted in Woman in Motion, a new documentary directed by Todd Thompson that is now streaming on Paramount+.

Thompson himself was not a hardcore Star Trek fan growing up, although he had seen most of the movies and was certainly familiar with Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura. His producing partners were fans, however, and when they told him about Nichol’s contributions to NASA, he decided it was a story that had to be told. Over the course of production, he interviewed dozens of people about how Nichols inspired them, and also spent a considerable amount of time with the actress herself, now 88.

“She’s the definition of Hollywood royalty for me,” Thompson told Ars. “How she carries herself, how she treats others, how she engages with you—she’s so incredibly magnetic. What she did was so paramount to giving us a blueprint of where we need to go, how we need to be, if we’re going to make any sort of progress here on Earth and beyond the stars. I was very humbled by the responsibility to tell her story and tell it the right way.”

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Posted in documentary, film, Gaming & Culture, NASA, Nichelle Nichols, paramount plus, science, space, Star Trek TOS, uhura | Comments (0)

When the bison come back, will the ecosystem follow?

June 6th, 2021
When the bison come back, will the ecosystem follow?

Enlarge (credit: Scott Kublin)

On a blustery October afternoon at the Wolfcrow Bison Ranch in southern Alberta, Canada, Dan Fox and his ranch hand, Man Blackplume, tried to wrestle fence panels into place despite a 60 mph wind. The next day was weaning day—and the fence needed to be rock solid so the bison calves could be separated from their mothers.

The two members of the Kainai First Nation, also known as the Blood Tribe, braced their bodies against the 12-foot-high fence panels so they could nail them to the posts, but the panels flapped in the wind like giant wooden flags. Across the pasture, 30 bison stood huddled together in the corner, unfazed by the commotion. They were part of the first bison herd to grace the Blood Reserve in 150 years, Fox says. The Kainai First Nation is one of four tribal groups within the Blackfoot Confederacy, which includes the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana.

Fox, 63, believes the animals may have helped extend his life. He experienced a cancer scare more than 20 years ago, and at the suggestion of a Blackfoot healer and naturopath, he changed his diet, replacing processed food with bison meat and other ancestral foods. His health improved, and today he says he feels better than ever. He is convinced that his family and his community will benefit, as he did, by having the buffalo back on the land and in their lives. (Bison bison is the scientific name for the animal, but buffalo is the word that most Indigenous people use.)

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Posted in bison, science | Comments (0)

Will a Volcanic Eruption Be a Burp or a Blast?

June 6th, 2021

Scientists have begun to decipher the seismic signals that reveal how explosive a volcanic eruption is going to be.

Posted in Forecasting, science, Science / Physics and Math | Comments (0)