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the importance of returning to the moon

Recommended reading.

The moon is a scientific laboratory of extraordinary facility, richness and benefit. The history of our corner of the solar system for the past 4 billion years is preserved and readable in the ancient dust of the lunar surface. This record is lost on the dynamic and ever-changing surface of Earth. Other planets do not record the same events affecting Earth and the moon, including impacts, space particles and the detailed history of our sun. The recovery of this record will let us better understand the impact hazard in the Earth-moon system as well as unravel the processes and evolution of our sun, the major driver of climate and life on Earth.

“The moon is a stable platform to observe the universe. Its far side is the only known place in the solar system permanently shielded from Earth's radio noise. That allows observation of the sky at radio wavelengths never before seen. Every time we open a new spectral window on the universe, we find unexpected and astounding phenomena; there is no reason to expect anything different from the opening of new windows on the universe from the surface of the moon.”

“ Although of fairly ordinary composition, the moon contains the resources of material and energy that we need to survive and operate in space. With its resources and proximity to Earth, the moon is a natural logistics and supply base, an offshore island of useful commodities for use there, in space and ultimately back on Earth.”

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why conifers survive

Electron microscope images of conifer and angiosperm tree cross-sections. Image credit: Utah University
Electron microscope images of conifer and angiosperm tree cross-sections
(click on image to go to hi-res version). Image credit:
University of Utah

“Conifers, including Christmas trees, dominate many of the world's ecosystems and include the tallest plants, sequoias, (Sequoia sempervirens) and the oldest living organisms, the bristlecone pine. (Pinus longaeva).

“Yet these trees suffer a severe handicap: the "pipes," or conduits, that carry water up from the roots through the trunks are 10 times shorter than in angiosperms, or flowering trees.

“The trees make up for the handicap with unique, specialized, highly-efficient valves placed in "end walls" at both ends of the water conduits,[...] ”

“Conifers, which arose more than 280 million years ago, have primitive conduits that are short and inefficient and evolved in some of the oldest plants some 400 million years ago. The highly efficient, torus-margo valves evolved in conifers and their relatives no later than 220 million years ago, Sperry says.

“Flowering plants evolved at least 146 million years ago and retained inefficient valves that first appeared some 400 million years ago in ferns, cycads and other primitive plants. But flowering plants evolved longer conduits to get around the problem.

“ “The evolution of the specialized valve and the specialized conduit are both ways of achieving more efficient water transport within a tree,” for conifers and flowering trees, respectively[...] ”

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quiet flights

Combined academic and industrial projects are underway to reduce noise from commercial aircraft.

“While Stanford and its partners will address aircraft noise and emissions, the other five centers will focus on computational modeling of aircraft structures, airport pavement technology, operations research, airworthiness assurance and general aviation.” [Quoted from]

M.I.T.aeronautics researchers have developed a
“new procedure, called a continuous descent approach or CDA, [that] keeps aircraft at cruise altitude until they are relatively close to an airport. At this point, the aircraft make an even, continuous descent to the runway. The result is an average noise reduction of four to six decibels. A three-decibel difference is appreciably noticeable to the human ear while a 10-decibel reduction equates to 50 percent less noise. Side benefits include reduced fuel burn and emissions, and slightly shorter flights, as aircraft operate at lower power settings, stay at higher altitudes, maintain higher speeds, and take more direct--and thus shorter--paths to the runway.” [Quoted from]

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“The [Florida State University] tunnel is one of only a handful in the country and currently the largest at a university designed specifically to reduce noise from planes passing overhead and landing.”

“[...] engineers have reduced jet engine noise to an extent that it now makes sense to focus attention on the noise from other aircraft components.

“ “With airframe noise, as little as 10 years ago, very few people cared,” Cattafesta said. “But today’s engines have gotten so quiet during landing, airframe noise is what you hear.” ” [Quoted from]

marker at

Ten projects are being conducted by eight core universities:
MIT, Boise State University, Florida International University, the Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Stanford University, University of Central Florida and University of Missouri-Rolla,
and helped by 18 industry partners including
Boeing, Delta Air Lines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, Pratt & Whitney and United Parcel Service.
The projects are part of the FAA’s Center of Excellence for Aircraft Noise and Aviation Emissions Mitigation.
“The Center of Excellence is a world-class partnership of academia, industry and government created to identify solutions for existing and anticipated aircraft noise and emissions-related problems.”

the web address for the article above is

‘spinning’ webs in space

space net deployed by robot satellites (artist's impression). Image credit: Vienna University of Technology
space net deployed by robot satellites (artist's impression). Image credit: Vienna University of Technology

“Once in space, the mother satellite will deploy three 'daughters'. These will pull out a woven net into a triangle, leaving the mother satellite at the centre. Once the net is deployed, two palm-sized robots will 'crawl' along the net into prearranged positions.

“Because the test is only taking place on a sounding rocket, the satellites will not actually go into orbit around the Earth. Instead they will be placed on a suborbital trajectory that will loop up into space before falling back and burning up in Earth's atmosphere. The experiment will experience around 10 minutes of weightlessness.”

“A solar power satellite would need very large structures for its solar panels and antenna. Small experiments like this can help us mature the technology needed to build them, [...] ”

One of the robot satellites. Image credit:
Roby Space III (Junior), one of the robot satellites. (artist's impression). Image credit: Vienna University of Technology

related material
all images relating to spider robots project
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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digital light projection and some other gadgetry

Nine pages of the latest toys - a neat review:

“The MovieTime DV10 Projector, which falls in the $1,300 to $1,500 price range, is the only home projector that features an integrated DVD player and speakers. It also has stereo and even optical audio out for a true cinematic Surround Sound experience. This makes it perfect for movie enthusiasts who covet the big-screen experience but have been shy of abandoning their TVs.”

“If you've never witnessed a DLP projector in action, be warned: Once you experience the rich colors and impressive scale of viewing your favorite movies on a 12-foot screen, you won't want to go back.”

Optoma DV10 DLP Projector
Optoma DV10 DLP Projector
Note that for best viewing a projection screen is necessary.

From a useful site for tech definitions and related details, with illustrations.

Digital light projection A data projection technology from TI that produces clear, readable images on screens in lit rooms. DLP is used in all ends of the projection spectrum, from data projectors that weigh only a few pounds to large rear-projection TVs to electronic cinema projectors for movie theaters.

“The technology uses a spatial light modulator known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). The DMD is a memory chip covered with hinged, microscopic electromechanical mirrors, one for each pixel on the screen. For example, a 1280x1024 resolution uses more than a million "micromirrors," which tilt 10 degrees forward or backward, acting as light switches. Each mirror is 16 micrometers square, and all of them fit on a CMOS chip the size of a postage stamp.”

Note: Be aware that the projection lights on this technology have a limited life and can be very expensive to replace.

the web address for the article above is

six light-years wide - new image of the crab nebula

“The colors indicate some of the elements that make up the formation: blue represents oxygen, green is sulfur, and red is ionized (electrically charged) oxygen.”

The crab nebula. Image credit: NASA/ESA/Jeff Hester
The crab nebula. Image credit: NASA/ESA/Jeff Hester


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improving and developing lenses by studying animal eyes page 1 page 2

“Whales, for example, have an internal hydraulic system adapted to their air-breathing ocean existence.

“A chamber behind the eye's lens alternately fills with fluid to move the lens closer to the retina and empties to move it farther away. This changes focal length in a way that allows the whales to enjoy clear sight above and below the water's surface”

“ Compound eyes, common in insects such as dragonflies, may utilize up to 29,000 lenslets per eye.

“These individual lens systems, or ommatidia, function separately from each other. Each captures its own tiny piece of the overall picture.

“All these tiny images are processed simultaneously in the eye, which enables insects to have outstanding fast-motion detection.”

the web address for the article above is
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