Capturing Shockwaves

This image, from NASA, taken using a 150-year old photography technique called schlieren imagery, captures a supersonic jet as it passes across the sun. The streaks are shockwaves coming off the jet. Shockwaves happen when an object is moving through a medium faster than the speed of sound in that medium. The photography technique picks up on changes in air density which allows the streaks to be displayed.

The New Poster Of The Commercial Space Age

The image above, of the International Space Station this past Sunday, shows an historic moment for the space age as it’s the first time that two private spacecraft have been attached to the space station at the same time. SpaceX’s Dragon is seen on the left and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus is on the right. Hopefully this won’t be the last.

The Power Of Pork

To better send and receive data from implanted medical devices, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign figured out a way to send a wireless signal through a slab of meat fast enough to transmit high-definition video, like a show on Netflix. Instead of using radio signals, which is the standard for most of these devices, the team used ultrasound. They hope that they can translate this idea into creating better signaling for implanted devices.

Restoring Paralysis

Giving hope to the millions of Americans who live with paralysis, researchers at Ohio State University developed a technique that allowed a paralyzed man to successfully move his hand, wrist, and fingers. The technique involves implanting a device into the brain which then sends the proper signals to move the hand and fingers by bypassing the damaged nerve pathways. It worked pretty successfully, and even allowing him to play Guitar Hero.

The New Longer-Lasting E-Reader

Amazon unveiled its newest Kindle this week, called the Oasis. The e-reader features a longer battery life, with a case that also contains a second battery. It also has a tapered design, in which one side of the device is longer than the other to make it easier to hold. (It’s left-hander friendly as well; it switches sides if you flip it upside down.)

The Little Satellites That Could

On Tuesday, Russian-billionaire and Breakthrough-Prize co-founder Yuri Milner announced his plan, in partnership with physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to potentially send thousands of tiny satellites via a laser beam to Alpha Centauri, our nearest neighboring star-system. The satellites, pictured above, weigh only about 1-2 grams and were originally funded on Kickstarter. While Milner’s plan seems cool, it could take 20 to 30 years to develop a laser that’s big enough.

How Icebergs Form

The Sentinel-1A, an imaging satellite launched by ESA in 2014, captured radar images of the Nansen Ice Sheet along the coast of Antarctica on April 2nd and 9th, which was before and after a calving event–in which chunks of ice break off from the edge of a glacier. This event created two large icebergs which are about 10 km and 20 km long and both 5 km wide.

Is That Smell Binturong Urine Or Popcorn?

The binturong, or bearcat, a member of the civet family that lives in Southeast Asia doesn’t usually get much press. But the binturong has a unique trait that confused scientists: Their urine smells exactly like buttered popcorn. Researchers at Duke University wanted to know why so they analyzed the chemical compounds in the animal’s pee and found that both the pee and popcorn contain the same compound, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, or 2-AP. But what’s the advantage or aromatic urine? Apparently, it helps bearcats communicate with one another.

Faster, Stronger, Better Than Graphene

What is more powerful than graphene? A material called carbyne, which is a long one-dimensional chain of carbon atoms. While its potential is vast, it has proved hard to produce. But this week a group of researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria report in Nature Materials that they have successfully created a stable form by synthesizing the carbyne inside two sheets of graphene, which act as a protective shield which allows the material to remain stable.