Southern Californians may be living on borrowed time. At least two sections of the notorious San Andreas Fault, a hotbed of tectonic tension, are apparently overdue for a huge earthquake that could devastate Los Angeles County or San Francisco. Though they can neither prevent nor pinpoint it, scientists would like to get as much information as they can as to where and when the next "Big One" could happen. Increasingly, they're turning to air and space to learn what's happening 10 miles underground.
A new radar plane developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the first American system designed to map earthquake hot zones.
Movie courtesy of David Lentink
With the help of a two-foot-wide robotic fly, a vat of oil, and some tricks with smoke and lasers, an aerospace engineer has learned that Mother Nature figured out long ago the most efficient way to fly. Well, at least if you're really small.
When humans eventually live on the moon and Mars, the discomforts of eating freeze-dried food and drinking our own urine will hardly be our only space nuisances. Apparently, our feet will tingle, we'll get headaches and toothaches, our eyes will be runny, and we'll have chronically stuffy noses.
Scientists have a pretty good notion of what will happen to your body when you're walking on the moon or traveling gravity-free for two years en route to Mars -- thanks to a cadre of bed-ridden test subjects.
Jim Paulsen and his team of rocket scientists didn't breathe for about 8 minutes the afternoon of May 11. Paulsen and scores of others were focused on watching the space shuttle Atlantis blast toward the heavens, carrying 7 astronauts and one of the most complicated and celebrated payloads in NASA history. As is the case with every launch, Paulsen doesn't sigh with relief until the shuttle's main engines, his baby for 25 years, shut down.
Science geeks, Trekkers, and action-movie fans have now had a few days to digest the newest incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. PopSci set out to answer some of the movie's most puzzling questions (aside from what Winona Ryder was doing on Vulcan): Can we time-travel through black holes? Can we seed said black holes using something called "red matter"? How about teleportation -- will someone named Scotty (or Chekov) ever beam someone up?
Ouch, Harry Potter. Your new movie doesn't premiere for two months, yet real scientists are already one-upping you
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cornell University both said last week they've designed invisibility cloaks that work in the visible-light spectrum. OK, so they're not big enough to cover a budding young wizard sneaking around at night, but hey, it's a step.
When astronauts pay a final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope next week, one upgrade in particular will illuminate the darkness like never before -- and it involves taking out the corrective lenses that let Hubble see clearly for the past decade and a half.
As NASA prepares for the launch of the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission next week, astronomers are already anticipating the construction and 2013 launch of the beloved observatory's successor.
In the coming weeks, engineers will wrap up testing the segments of the primary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's newest space-bound observatory. Like astronomer Allan Sandage, it will pick up where Hubble left off -- by studying the redshifted galaxies speeding away from us, in an attempt to understand the nature of the accelerating universe and its origins.
Like painted kites, those days and nights
went flyin' byThe world was new, beneath a blue
umbrella skyThen softer than a piper man,
one day it called to youAnd I lost you, I lost you to
the summer wind...
NASA engineers are hoping those words, famously crooned by Frank Sinatra, don't come true this summer for the unflappable Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Summer is approaching on Mars, and with it comes the onset of huge wind storms that kick dust around the twin Mars Exploration Rovers and their life-giving solar panels.
Humans have been looking to the heavens for as long as we have had stories to tell about them. But the way we look up has come quite far in the past 400 years, since Galileo Galilei first pointed a spyglass to the sky.
In honor of the 400th anniversary of the telescope, Popular Science looks back on the top 10 observatories on Earth and beyond.