A clear, detailed image of the Messier 33 galaxy has been captured by the V.L.T. Survey Telescope in Chile. Messier 33, the second-closest large galaxy to the Milky Way, is packed with bright star clusters and clouds of gas and dust.
The Saturn system reveals tantalizing vistas. NASA’s robotic spacecraft named Cassini carries with it 12 instruments designed to take precise measurements of Saturn and its surroundings, including Titan, other icy moons, and the rings, as well as the magnetic environment.
For many of us, however, the images are what put us there, at Saturn, almost a billion miles away from home. Some of those images unveil overwhelming beauty. Others show tricks of light and seemingly magical oddities. Some reveal events from the distant past that have been preserved for eons, while other views depict processes that are changing now, like live news.
In faded photographs from the 1960s, organic-chemistry laboratories look like an alchemist’s paradise. Bottles of reagents line the shelves; glassware blooms from racks of wooden pegs; and scientists stoop over the bench as they busily build molecules.
Fast-forward 50 years, and the scene has changed substantially. A lab in 2014 boasts a battery of fume cupboards and analytical instruments — and no one is smoking a pipe. But the essence of what researchers are doing is the same. Organic chemists typically plan their work on paper, sketching hexagons and carbon chains on page after page as they think through the sequence of reactions they will need to make a given molecule. Then they try to follow that sequence by hand — painstakingly mixing, filtering and distilling, stitching together molecules as if they were embroidering quilts.
But a growing band of chemists is now trying to free the field from its artisanal roots by creating a device with the ability to fabricate any organic molecule automatically. “I would consider it entirely feasible to build a synthesis machine which could make any one of a billion defined small molecules on demand,” declares Richard Whitby, a chemist at the University of Southampton, UK.
(…) is a work that was published by Archimedes in two volumes c. 225 BC. It most notably details how to find the surface area of a sphere and the volume of the contained ball and the analogous values for a cylinder, and was the first to do so.
Ever since NASA established its history program in 1959, the agency has periodically compiled the world’s aeronautics advances into a single report. Assembled mostly from press releases and news stories, the documents recount coverage of budget negotiations alongside milestones like the shuttle program and the moon landing. Data illustrators at the Office for Creative Research distilled the trove of reports from 11,000 pages and 4.9 million words into just over 4,000 discrete phrases. Their illustration charts the frequency of some of the most important terms, colored by topic and arranged by time, and presents a new view of how NASA took humanity to the stars.
In one way or another, we’ve all heard of the path of least resistance, or path of desire. In physics, this means that an object will travel from one point to another in the most efficient way possible. But for quantum particles, the laws of classical physics go out the window. After decades of fine-tuning the right tools and conditions, physicists at Washington University in St. Louis have finally been able to chart a quantum particle’s ideal path of desire.
Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht has taken fashion to a shocking new level: She recently donned a custom-built metallic dress and zapped herself with nearly half a million volts of electricity. The stunt came about when she met ArcAttack, a band that makes music with giant Tesla coils. Together they decided to craft a shockproof costume for an upcoming show. Wipprecht built a spiked helmet and plate-metal dress and secured them over a head-to-toe suit of chain mail. For extra flair, she hacked toy plasma balls into shoulder ornaments. “Normally I work with fashion models,” Wipprecht says. “But this time, nobody else wanted to wear it.” When she walked between Arc-Attack’s Tesla coils at Maker Faire this May, Wipprecht remained unscathed. Her garment safely conducted the coils’ electrical bursts around her body and into the ground while lighting up her shoulders with tendrils of purple plasma.