Deep in an underground bunker near the German-Czech border, through a 65-foot tunnel and locked behind five cold storage doors, German scientists are building a laser so advanced, so precise, that there isn’t another laser in the world that can challenge it. But despite the sinister-sounding backdrop, there’s nothing nefarious going on here. Researchers there have built the world’s most stable ring laser, and they’re using it to make unprecedentedly accurate measurements of the Earth’s rotation.
Scientists measuring the subatomic particles flowing from Earth’s interior have taken the most precise measurement ever gathered of the home planet’s radioactivity. It turns out nearly half of the Earth’s total heat output comes form decaying radioactive elements like thorium and uranium in the Earth’s crust. But that’s an answer that begets more questions.
Back in 2001, NASA launched a mission named Genesis toward the sun to collect solar particles streaming from our star and return them to Earth. Genesis arrived back on Earth right on time in 2004, but all didn’t go according to plan. When Genesis’s parachute failed, the spacecraft crash landed in Utah, spilling it’s contents across the ground.
If you want to see what Earth looks like from space, become an astronaut (or, barring that, a space tourist). For the next best view, pay a visit to Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation where a massive, nearly 20-foot spherical OLED orb--the world’s first large scale spherical OLED--offers a satellite’s-eye view of the planet in super high resolution.
Add gumshoe detective to NASA's resume. Last year, scientists from the space agency working with the US Geological Survey and the Menlo Park District Attorney's office solved an 18-year-old murder case using technology developed for autonomous Earth science missions, NASA has announced.
What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning? We don't have any reason to think it will in the next few million millennia, but Witold Fraczek, an employee of geographic imaging software company ESRI, was curious. He used ArcGIS, the company's flagship software, to build a virtual model of the planet in the absence of centrifugal force.
Why does the planet act like a giant magnet? One scientist is building his own Earth to find out
By Christopher Maag
Posted 09.12.2008 at 10:57 am 9 Comments
Dan Lathrop needs a bigger Earth. His old one is two feet across and 500 pounds, about 20 millionths the size of the real thing. And after four years of tests, it failed to generate a magnetic field similar to the real Earth’s, which shields us from the sun’s radiation and guides some navigation systems by pointing compasses north.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.