Yann Arthus-Bertrand's Earth From Space book is pretty amazing - who doesn’t love to see pictures of our little blue planet in ways we’ve not seen before? There are a few of the familiar shots that even many people who aren’t obsessed with this kind of imagery may recognize, like deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, the wild growth of urban Las Vegas and the creeping shrink of glaciers. But there are so many more of places you’re probably never seen: mangroves in the Gulf of Bengal, pre-and-post disaster Chernobyl, shrimp farms in Vietnam, an extinct volcano in Algeria, among others.
The author, an environmental activist who also published the book Earth from Above, arranged the scenes into themes including pollution, desertification, urban sprawl, farming and natural disasters. Often, trying to support themes with imagery requires including images that may be relevant and descriptive but aren’t also beautiful. Not so here.
If you have read this far, it’s time for you to stop and check out a few of the amazing images in this book. You won’t be disappointed.
The hunt for dark matter just keeps getting more confusing. Today scientists released findings from the first three months of the Large Underground Xenon experiment, which looks directly for the invisible particles thought to make up dark matter.
Many physicists hoped that the highly anticipated results would clear up the situation surrounding dark matter experiments, which have so far led to contradictory conclusions about the nature of the mysterious substance. Some thought that LUX might show them which way to go, narrowing the types of particles they might pursue. Instead, the experiment turned up empty.
“Basically, we saw nothing. But we saw nothing better than anyone else so far,” said particle physicist Daniel McKinsey of Yale, a member of the LUX collaboration.
It might appear strange to the rest of us, but a null finding is actually encouraging for physicists, who will use the results to set stringent limits on what kind of dark matter they might expect to find in the future. It also seems to rule out the results of several previous experiments, which had seen hints of what might be dark matter.
“Something that they had thought was in play is being kicked off the field,” said physicist Richard Gaitskell of Brown University, who also works on LUX.
But other scientists are not convinced that LUX has excluded their findings, and it’s likely the debate will continue.
There’s no denying that two of the greatest things humankind has done is go to space and invent Legos. Therefore, combining these two passions can only yield something amazing.
And that’s exactly what has come from two brick-based artists named Peter Reid and Tim Goddard in a book called LEGO Space: Building the Future. In it, they beautifully render important scenes from the last half-century of spaceflight. Their Lego recreations show the launch of Sputnik, Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the moon, and incredible robotic missions such as Voyager and Curiosity.
[MORE PHOTOS: Space Exploration Looks Even More Awesome in Lego]
The latest analysis of the bollide that burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February suggests that the risk from such airbursts — which occur when friction in our atmosphere heats up a meteor — may be greater than previously thought.
Meteorite collisions are often compared in size to nuclear explosions, but because they are speeding toward Earth they have momentum that makes them far more destructive. And to make matters worse, they may occur more often than currently estimated.
By definition, UFOs should not be built.
In order to have an “unidentified flying object,” the origins of said object must be unknown. And yet, technically, we know how to identify UFOs – or at least as pop culture has imagined them. They are flying saucers covered with lights that float through the air like spinning plates. Or something. Some people spend their lives looking for one, others fear what would happen if they were abducted by one.
Yet, artist Peter Coffin has built one.
“The question I get excited about is ‘Well, why did you make the UFO in the first place? Isn’t a UFO something that people don’t make? Isn’t it supposed to be an alien thing?’” Coffin told WIRED. “Does it make it more real or less real at that point because it’s man-made?”
It’s a lavish book of eye-popping images from the telescope camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), called HiRISE. All the images are in black and white and consistently cover areas of the planet that are just over three miles across, with no enlarged segments included.
“This camera equals a naked-eye view of the planet at a flight level of approximately one kilometer,” says astrophysicist Francis Rocard. “All of the images in the book retain their original range, an editorial decision having been made to not present images that have been artificially zoomed.” Even so, the variety of surfaces represented can be overwhelming.
In 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft left Earth on a five-year mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Thirty-six years later, the car-size probe is still exploring, still sending its findings home. It has now put more than 19 billion kilometers between itself and the sun. Last week NASA announced that Voyager 1 had become the first man-made object to reach interstellar space.
The distance this craft has covered is almost incomprehensible. It’s so far away that it takes more than 17 hours for its signals to reach Earth. Along the way, Voyager 1 gave scientists their first close-up looks at Saturn, took the first images of Jupiter’s rings, discovered many of the moons circling those planets and revealed that Jupiter’s moon Io has active volcanoes. Now the spacecraft is discovering what the edge of the solar system is like, piercing the heliosheath where the last vestiges of the sun’s influence are felt and traversing the heliopause where cosmic currents overcome the solar wind. Voyager 1 is expected to keep working until 2025 when it will finally run out of power.
None of this would be possible without the spacecraft’s three batteries filled with plutonium-238. In fact, Most of what humanity knows about the outer planets came back to Earth on plutonium power. Cassini’s ongoing exploration of Saturn, Galileo’s trip to Jupiter, Curiosity’s exploration of the surface of Mars, and the 2015 flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft are all fueled by the stuff. The characteristics of this metal’s radioactive decay make it a super-fuel. More importantly, there is no other viable option. Solar power is too weak, chemical batteries don’t last, nuclear fission systems are too heavy. So, we depend on plutonium-238, a fuel largely acquired as by-product of making nuclear weapons.
But there’s a problem: We’ve almost run out.
Northern flank of Diophantus crater. LROC NAC M124797072L, 0.56 m/pixel, image width is about 678 meters. Illumination is from the bottom of the image, downslope direction is from top to bottom of the image. This image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) reveals the upper slopes of Diophantus crater, located on the western edge of Mare Imbrium. The upper dark area of this image corresponds to the flat mare surface, outside of the crater. The most striking feature here is the dark material that flowed down the crater wall. The reflectance of surface materials is controlled by various factors such as sunlight direction, grain sizes and surface textures, and composition. In this picture, the dark materials are most likely a different composition (relatively bright materials also flowed down-slope next to the dark flows).
Hey, moon, your mascara’s runnin’.