MAGNIFICENT ERUPTION: On Sept. 29th, a long filament of magnetism in the
sun's northern hemisphere erupted, producing a magnificent CME and
several must-see movies from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Although the CME was not aimed at Earth, our planet might receive a
glancing blow from the cloud on Oct. 2-3. Check http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates.
Let there be light! Well, it’s easy to do: just flip a switch. But
it took more than the invention of the light bulb to make that possible.
It required new technology for the distribution of electricity. And
that came, not so much from Thomas Edison, but from a Serbian genius
named Nikola Tesla.
Hear his story plus ideas on what might be the breakthrough energy
innovations of the future. Perhaps hydrogen-fueled cars, nuclear fusion
electrical generators or even orbiting solar cells?
Plus, a reminder of cutting-edge technology back in Napoleon’s day: lighthouses.
OHIO FIREBALL: Last night, just before midnight
on Sept. 27-28, sky watchers in more than a dozen US states witnessed a
bright flash of light. NASA all-sky cameras recorded a brilliant
fireball, which analysts believe was a meter-class space rock exploding
almost directly above Columbus, Ohio. Images and more information about
this event may be found on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com.
COMET ISON APPROACHES MARS: Comet ISON is about to have a close
encounter with Mars, giving Red Planet rovers and satellites a close-up
view of the sungrazing comet. Amateur astronomers can watch the
encounter as it plays out in the predawn sky between now and October 2nd. Check http://spaceweather.com for sky maps and observing tips.
Comet ISON is now close enough for amateur astronomers to photograph
through backyard telescopes. The comet is not as bright as forecasters
expected, but experts say it is still on track to become an impressive
sungrazing comet later this year.
You can’t see it, but it’s there, whether an atom, a gravity wave, or
the bottom of the ocean … but we have technology that allows us to
detect what eludes our sight. When we do, whole worlds open up.
Without telescopes, asteroids become visible only three seconds
before they slam into the Earth. Find out how we track them long before
that happens. Also, could pulsars help us detect the gravity waves that
Einstein’s theory predicts?
Plus, why string theory and parallel universes may remain just
interesting ideas … the story of the woman who mapped the ocean floor …
and why the disappearance of honeybees may change what you eat.
David Morrison – NASA space scientist and Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute
Imagine: Your pint-sized pup is descended from a line of predatory
wolves. We have purposefully bred a new species – dogs – to live in
harmony with us. But interactions between species, known as
co-evolution, happen all the time, even without deliberate intervention.
And it’s frequently a boon to survival: Without the symbiotic
relationship we have with bugs in our gut, one that’s evolved with time,
we wouldn’t exist.
Discover the Bogart-and-Bacall-like relationships between bacteria
and humans, and what we learn by seeing genes mutate in the lab, real
time. Also, the dog-eat-dog debate about when canines were first
domesticated, and how agriculture, hip-hop music, and technology can
alter our DNA (eventually).
Plus, why some of the fastest humans in history have hailed from one
small area of a small Caribbean island. Is there a gene for that?
Greger Larsen – Evolutionary biologist, department of archaeology, Durham University
QUIET SUN: Right in the middle of Solar Max, the sun has entered one of
its deepest quiet spells in years. Flare activity has subsided and the
sun's x-ray output has flatlined. This event highlights the
unpredictability of the solar cycle. Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and commentary.
AURORAS ANYWAY: Even during a period of low solar activity, geomagnetic
storms and auroras are possible as solar wind streams buffet Earth's
magnetic field. Earth is inside such a stream right now. Geomagnetic
storm alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and http://spaceweatherphone.com (voice).
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft captured these sounds of interstellar space.
Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the vibrations of dense
interstellar plasma, or ionized gas, from October to November 2012 and
April to May 2013.
The graphic shows the frequency of the waves,
which indicate the density of the plasma. Colors indicate the intensity
of the waves, or how "loud" they are. Red indicates the loudest waves
and blue indicates the weakest.
The soundtrack reproduces the
amplitude and frequency of the plasma waves as "heard" by Voyager 1. The
waves detected by the instrument antennas can be simply amplified and
played through a speaker. These frequencies are within the range heard
by human ears.
Scientists noticed that each occurrence involved a
rising tone. The dashed line indicates that the rising tones follow the
same slope. This means a continuously increasing density.
scientists extrapolated this line even further back in time (not shown),
they deduced that Voyager 1 first encountered interstellar plasma in
The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be
operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif.
Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The Voyager missions are a part of NASA's
Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division
of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
METEOR NEWS: Earth is passing through a stream of debris from an unknown
comet or asteroid. It happens every year around this time and produces
a minor shower known as the "September epsilon Perseids." This year,
Earth ran into an unusually dense patch of meteoroids, which produced an
outburst of meteors over Europe near midnight on Sept. 9-10. The event is highlighted on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com.
CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 45%-50% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Sept. 12-13
in response to an incoming solar wind stream. This is not a major
event, but it could produce bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.
Geomagnetic storm alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and http://spaceweatherphone.com (voice).
Sometimes, Earth mimics a supernova, producing a Terrestrial Gamma-ray
Flash from the tops of thunderstorms. A new lightning sensor on the
International Space Station could solve the mystery of these energetic
ENCORE:The Day After. 2001. Prometheus.
There are sci-fi films a’plenty … but how much science is in the
fiction? We take the fact checkers to Hollywood to investigate the
science behind everything from space travel to human cloning.
Plus, guess what sci-fi film is the most scientifically accurate
(hint: we’ve already mentioned it). Also, why messing with medical
facts on film can be dangerous … and the inside scoop from a writer of
one of television’s most successful sci-fi franchises.
And, a robot who surpasses even Tinseltown’s lively imagination: a humanoid that may become a surrogate you.
Researchers have uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly
industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in
the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as
the end of the Little Ice Age.
A NASA spacecraft slated for launch on Sept. 6
will fly to the Moon to investigate the tenuous lunar atmosphere.
Researchers hope "LADEE" will solve a mystery that has been puzzling
them since the days of Apollo.
ENCORE: Let there be light. Otherwise we
couldn’t watch a sunset or YouTube. Yet what your eye sees is but a
narrow band in the electromagnetic spectrum. Shorten those light waves
and you get invisible gamma radiation. Lengthen them and tune into a
Discover what’s revealed about our universe as you travel along the
electromagnetic spectrum. There’s the long of it: an ambitious goal to
construct the world’s largest radio telescope array … and the short: a
telescope that images high-energy gamma rays from black holes.
Also, the structure of the universe as seen through X-ray eyes and a physicist sings the praises of infrared light. Literally.
And, while gravity waves are not in the electromagnetic club, these
ripples in spacetime could explain some of the biggest mysteries of the
cosmos. But first, we have to catch them!