As the Large Hadron Collider readies to be fired up in Geneva, Physicist Brian Cox explains what it might reveal about the workings of the Universe—and why the grandest scientific
instrument ever built is well worth the $6 billion investment
Today’s most ambitious scientific instruments are modern-day cathedrals in their size and complexity, if not in their purpose—these are, after all, structures built to shatter worldviews, not to reinforce them. And the grandest of all, pictured on these pages and fired into action today, will take us on a journey to one of the least-accessible places imaginable: the realm of quantum particles, less than a billionth the size of a single atom.
These detailed views of the red planet were transmitted to Earth by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). After a 72-million-mile trek through space, the craft reached Mars in March 2006, delivering some of the most advanced technology ever sent to another world.
Between massive swarms and habitat invasions, jellyfish are changing ecosystems, stinging beachgoers, and causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage. Using high-tech underwater gadgets, scientists are racing to understand one of the most common, mysterious—and destructive—sea creatures
By Science Illustrated StaffPosted 06.04.2008 at 5:12 pm 19 Comments
Increasing numbers of fishermen's nets are filling with jellyfish, which slime, poison, and crush the intended catch.
For most of us, jellyfish are nothing more than a nuisance. They drift toward beach shores and into our consciousness each summer near the end of their life cycle, making a refreshing dip in the water a bit less carefree for a few weeks. But that may be changing.
Last November, a 10-mile-wide and 42-foot-thick swarm of baby mauve stingers (Pelagia noctiluca) decimated Northern Ireland's farmed-salmon population. Overnight,120,000 fish were reduced to a floating mass of carcasses by billions of the small jellies native to warmer waters thousands of miles to the south. The salmon, which were killed by stings and oxygen deprivation, had a market value of $2 million.
It’s a tremendously deadly weapon, refined over the course of more than 100 million years. It kills tens of thousands of people every year.
And thanks to new research, it may soon be the basis for cures that save the lives of many more.
As predators, snakes are missing a few key attributes. They have no legs to chase down their prey, no paws to knock down quarry, and no claws to hold their victims. But none of these deficiencies matters much, because evolution has handed snakes the ultimate weapon: venom. With it, the several hundred types of venomous snakes can kill or debilitate before their victims escape.
Enormous supernova explosions, gamma-ray bursts from distant galaxies, the violent birth of stars, and the incredible consequences of collisions between galaxies or black holes: These are some of the most extreme and mysterious events in the universe, yet our largest telescopes and satellites glimpse only their dim afterglow.
Thats why astronomers use the worlds largest supercomputers to transform theories and formulas into animated 3-D simulations of explosions, collapses and collisions.