Armed with better batteries and stronger materials, new submersibles aim to go deeper than ever before and open up the whole of the unexplored ocean to human eyes
By Abe StreepPosted 08.05.2009 at 12:46 pm 4 Comments
The Deep Flight II sub uses stubby wings that propel it down like an airplane goes up.
By liberal estimates, we've explored about 5 percent of the seas, and nearly all of that in the first 1,000 feet. That's the familiar blue part, penetrated by sunlight, home to the colorful reefs and just about every fish you've ever seen. Beyond that is the deep—a pitch-black region that stretches down to roughly 35,800 feet, the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Nearly all the major oceanographic finds made in that region—hydrothermal vents and the rare life-forms that thrive in the extreme temperatures there, sponges that can treat tumors, thousands of new species, the Titanic—have occurred above 15,000 feet, the lower limit of the world's handful of manned submersibles for most of the past 50 years.
Now engineers want to unlock the rest of the sea with a new fleet of manned submersibles. And they don't have to go to the very bottom to do it. In fact, only about 2 percent of the seafloor lies below 20,000 feet, in deep, muddy trenches. If we extend our current reach just 5,000 feet—another mile—it will open about 98 percent of the world's oceans to scientific eyes.
On October 4, 1957, this insectoid aluminum ball became the first man-made object to enter Earth orbit, thus igniting a quest for space exploration that hasn't let up since
By John MahoneyPosted 10.04.2007 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
When Sputnik 1 was launched 50 years ago today, no one truly anticipated the resounding impact it would have on science, technology and the balance of political power around the world. Not least the Soviets, who were hesitant to divert precious resources from their fledgling ballistic-missile program for what many in the government regarded as one man's fanciful hobby.
By Gregory MonePosted 07.12.2007 at 6:28 pm 5 Comments
All top-secret government labs are either buried underground or hidden deep in a mountain. Everyone knows that, which is what makes the National Science Foundations recent announcement that it plans to convert the Homestake Mine, the deepest of its kind in the U.S., into a research facility, so surprising. How can it possibly be top secret if theyre telling everyone? The only answer, of course, is that they really are going to conduct legitimate research in astrophysics, biology and geology. The Homestake Mine, located in Lead, South Dakota, extends 8,000 feet down into the Earth and has over 375 miles of tunnels. It already has a rich scientific history: In 1965, physicist Raymond Davis led a team that set up the worlds first underground solar neutrino detector in a cavern deep in the mine, and eventually earned the Nobel Prize for his work. Scientists at the new lab will also pursue astrophysics research, along with work on carbon sequestration, organisms living in extreme conditions and geophysics. Over the next 30 years, two laboratories will be constructed. One will extend down to 4,800 feet, and the other will lie all the way down at 7,400 feet. Were guessing thats where theyll hide the aliens.—Gregory Mone
For every scientist, engineer, experimenter, and hacker, June 12, 2007 marked the passing of an era with the death of Don Herbert, or, as he was more professionally and affectionately known, Mr. Wizard. Herbert was 89.
During the early years of television, Herbert sparked the intellect of youngsters around the country with his science show, Watch Mr. Wizard. Typically, aided by an enthusiastic neighborhood kid, Herbert would distill a complex scientific concept into a readily comprehendible experiment within the confines of his weekly 30-minute show.
Most mothers probably dreaded each weekly installment. I know mine did. Each week, armed with a newfound knowledge base, I would seek to discover science—the Mr. Wizard way.
Accompanied by my trusted partner in crime, Tom, I would attempt to replicate the same experiment that had just peaked our overactive imaginations. Unfortunately, for my mother, most of these attempts at scientific inquiry went awry and left the house filled with a malodorous cloud of smoke.
But the act of discovery was fun and helped to catapult me into a profession where I actually get paid to fill my own house with clouds of smoke.
Airing between 1951-1965, Watch Mr. Wizard earned professional acknowledgement from the National Science Foundation, General Motors Corporation, and the American Chemical Society. Herbert, himself, won a Peabody Award and several Thomas Alva Edison National Mass Media Awards for his work.
A revival of the show was attempted in 1983. Titled, Mr. Wizards World, this newer incarnation aired until 1990 on Nickelodeon. This series was later re-aired on The Science Channel in 2005.
In a 1984 interview with Discover magazine Herbert stated that, "I just restrict myself to fun that has scientific content." Thank you, Mr. Wizard, that was fun! —Dave Prochnow
PopSci's annual "Worst Jobs in Science" issue hits stands this week, and let us tell you, it's a lulu (whale-feces collector, anyone?). But a new study reveals two guys who just might have the best job in science: Northeastern University computer science professor Gene Coopman and grad student Dan Kunkleput put grant money to good use during a study published last week that proves any Rubiks cube configuration can be solved in 26 moves, beating the previously held record of 27 moves set in 1997.
Ninety years ago, in a bid to have his equations describe an unchanging universe, Einstein introduced the concept of dark energy, an omnipresent antigravitational force pushing the universe apart. Ten years later, when astronomer Edwin Hubble (later of telescope fame) showed that the universe wasnt static at all, Einstein tried to take it back. But over time, it turned out that dark energy wasnt such a bad idea at all—in 1998, scientists uncovered the first hard evidence that it exists. The only hitch? No one has the slightest idea what causes it.
Hoping to change that, a team of scientists stationed in Antarctica has run a successful test of the South Pole Telescope, a 10-meter-wide behemoth that just might solve the mystery of dark energy. Nine institutions came together to develop the telescope, with the $19.2-million bill picked up primarily by the National Science Foundation. Assembly required pilots from the New York Air National Guard, aircraft from Operation Deep Freeze (the U.S. militarys ongoing mission in Antarctica), and round-the-clock construction since November in the unrelenting cold of one of Earths most hostile climates. Finally, on February 16, the group collected whats known as first light. They aimed the telescope skyward and saw . . . light—and dark, and Jupiter.
When testing is completed, the telescope will be used to detect ripples in the cosmic microwave background that reflect the history of dark energy—how long it has been around, how its strength has changed since the universe began, and so on—all in the name of settling the theoretical cage match that has surrounded one of astrophysics most mind-boggling concepts. Einstein! Hubble! Round one: fight! —Abby Seiff
These films arent quite silent, but theyre about as close as you can get for videos of snowmobiles. They star the competitors from the 2006 Clean Snowmobile Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers in the snowy plains of Michigan. Teams from 15 colleges tricked out stock snowmobiles to cut back on noise and emissions. The resulting sleds got the green light from the National Science Foundation, which will drive the winner on a research trip to the sensitive ecosystem of Greenlands polar ice cap. But speaking as someone who recently got snowed in at the Detroit airport, Id rather keep one of these on hand in Michigan. —Lauren Aaronson
By Michael StrophPosted 05.20.2005 at 1:00 am 1 Comment
Steve Austin had that enviable telescopic squint. Star Trek chief engineer Geordi La Forge saw darkness as daylight with his 24th-century ocular implants. And now it looks like a generation of very real people who have lost their sight are next in line for such seemingly sci-fi vision. “I’m hesitant to use the word ’superpower,’ ” says Armand R. Tanguay, Jr., an electrical-engineering professor at the University of Southern California who is building the world’s first implantable camera for the blind.
We weighed dozens of variables, from the number of homes with wireless internet to the number of robotic surgeries performed at local hospitals, to rank U.S. cities by tech quotient. And the winners are ...
What makes a place high-tech? When Popular Science set out to determine America´s top cities for technology, that was naturally the first question we had to answer. We surveyed experts-academics, scientists, government officials, think-tank intelligentsia, market researchers-to determine the key indicators of
a tech-embracing metropolis. We polled our own staff, pondering what we value most about the ways in which technology and innovation affect our daily lives. Then we gathered information from such sources as the Census Bureau,