The perils of space flight number in the hundreds, from radiation exposure to the impact of micro-asteroids. But for astronauts who spend an extended amount of time floating weightlessly in the near-endless void of space, muscle atrophy remains the most common health problem. Thankfully, a shipment of RNA-treated worms may help scientists on the International Space Station solve that issue.
In 2009, science got a hefty shot in the arm from the federal government's stimulus spending. Now U.S. citizens can see exactly how their taxpayer dollars go toward funding video games that test autism responses, or discovering lakes hidden beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
Server farms are undeniably awesome in that they store huge pools of data, enable such modern phenomena as cloud computing and Web-hosted email, and most importantly, make the Internet as it stands today possible. The downside: data centers get very, very hot. Cooling huge banks of servers doesn't just cost a lot, it eats up a lot of energy, and that generally means fossil fuels.
Thanks to a surface covered in liquid water, Jupiter's moon Europa serves as the prime suspect for bodies in our solar system harboring extraterrestrial life. For the most part though, speculation has assumed the life on Europa would be microscopic, similar to the chemical and rock-eating microbes found atop undersea volcanic vents on Earth. However, a new study estimates the level of oxygen in Europa's seas may be high enough to support fish-sized life. Hello, alien sushi.
Algae get a lot of airtime as a possible future source of biofuels to wean us from dirty fossil fuels, but even biofuels don't go so far as to eliminate hydrocarbons (and their constituent carbon emissions) from our energy diet. But a different use for algae could prove a better solution to the future of fuel.
A new process that produces clean, sustainable hydrogen from photosynthesis in algae could change all that. The means of manufacturing clean, usable hydrogen has heretofore required a high-energy process that drastically dilutes the upside.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is off to deliver a fresh crew, as well as about 30,000 pounds of equipment, to the International Space Station today as part of an 11-day mission that will also involve three space-walks. The mission will warehouse equipment too big for Russian, Japanese or European crafts to carry in what will be last launch of the year, with six slated for 2010 before the Shuttle is officially scrapped. Catch a live feed of the launch below.
Fluid dynamics generally lends itself to the study of fluids themselves, but by revisiting the theories of an 18th-century scientist, researchers have found that studying invisible barriers that form between moving fluids may be far more enlightening than studying the actual fluids. Governing the movements of everything from the oceans to the air flow over a wing, so-called Lagrangian coherent structures are the "skeletons of the sea and air," and are changing the way scientists understand and apply fluid dynamics, according to a report in the Economist.
We're all about the future here at PopSci; we put the pieces together and deliver the news and nuggets you need to know to stay on top of where this world (and universe, and beyond) is headed. This week, the future's looking like quite the wild party--water from space, libidinous rats, and transforming UAVs. What's not to love?
(Get the details, and win the t-shirt, after the jump).