Hey, all -

Below you'll find a ton of recent information regarding Orion, Philae, and other science news, as well as some ways you might be able to entertain yourself over break. Speaking of: don't forget to join us this Wednesday at 4pm to watch Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in Hale! Bring your towel and a snack to share.

Thanks to Ms. Kjonaas for compiling all the science news!

See you soon -


Events and Information

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Perhaps you saw Orion, NASA’s next version of the manned spacecraft, take a successful test flight on December 5. This is an exciting first step toward getting humans to Mars. In fact, the first human to travel to Mars is probably a teenager right now. Will it be you?

Orion is pictured above.

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What has Philae been up to? Well, it found organic compounds and has strengthened the theory that Earth’s water came from asteroids as cometary water has a different ratio of hydrogen isotopes. Unfortunately it landed in a shaded area, so it may be another year before Philae has sufficient sun exposure on its solar panels to awaken and collect more data. In the meantime scientists are still learning more and more about comets as they process the data that was sent before Philae’s batteries ran out.

See above a composite color image of Comet 67P. Even in a color image, it’s still gray.

World Science U Master Classes

Looking to learn some cosmology over Winter Break? Try the World Science U free online Master Classes. They can be completed in a matter of hours and involve watching short videos and doing some relatively easy reading. They are meant for all sorts of people, accessible to anyone and easy to complete, and are taught by leading scientists. The three Master Classes available right now are: Inflationary Cosmology, by Alan Guth (MIT); History and Mysteries of the Universe, by Max Tegmark (MIT); and The Past and Future of Unification, by Robbert Dijkgraaf (Princeton). Get started here.

Other News

The Theory of Everything, the movie about Stephen Hawking, is finally playing nearby at Showcase Cinemas Warwick!

Physics World recently announced the Breakthrough of the Year for 2014. Not surprisingly the winner is Philae landing on Comet 67P. Runners up include energy gain in laser-ignited fusion (greater energy output than input), imaging part of the cosmic web of galactic superclusters, quantum data compression, acoustic tractor beams (yep, like “beam me up” in Star Trek!), and other fascinating science. Read more here.

Now that many of us have seen Interstellar and we are all struggling to understand the time travel in the movie, here is a Minute Physics video that explains ways to travel through time. (below)

3 Simple Ways to Time Travel (& 3 Complicated Ones)