In the first of a new TED-Ed series designed to catalyze curiosity, TED Curator Chris Anderson shares his boyhood obsession with quirky questions that seem to have no answers.
Archive for March, 2012
Scientists have produced a colossal picture of our Milky Way Galaxy, to reveal the detail of a billion stars.
It is built from thousands of individual images acquired by two UK-developed telescopes operating in Hawaii and in Chile.
Archived data from the project, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will be mined by astronomers to make new discoveries about the local cosmos.
But more simply, it represents a fabulous portrait of the night sky.
“There are about one billion stars in there – this is more than has been in any other image produced by surveys,” said Dr Nick Cross from the University of Edinburgh.
“When it was first produced, I played with it for hours; it’s just stunning,” he told BBC News.
Wonders, is astounding. Most of the screen is taken up with a zoomable 3-D universe, bright dots of activity on a velvet-black background. There’s a navigation bar up at the top that takes you to sections that include “Sub Atomic,” “Atomic,” “Solar System,” “Stars,” “Milky Way,” “Galaxies,” and “Universe.” Tap those and you’ll be zoomed off to the start of the chapter.
Admit it, you read that headline in the voice of Crocodile Dundee, everyone does, except for those 20 year-olds who all just said “who?”…Back to the matter at hand, this isn’t a caterpillar, it’s actually a bunch of birds who apparently have no sense of personal space. The European Bee Eaters here resemble a crawly little butterfly larvae so much that the photographer, José Luis Rodríguez, decided to name the image Oruga de Plumas, or “caterpillar of feathers.”
Art by: Dunno. You know? Lemme know!
Don’t look back!
You’re not going that way!
Art by: Dunno. You know? Lemme know!
Warfighters have plenty of eyes in the sky, with a massive drone fleet and a satellite network that can spot their locations on the ground. But satellites are only helpful when they’re overhead, and battlefield situations can’t wait for orbital physics. To solve this problem, DARPA wants a swarm of cheap satellites nestled between the big ones up above and the aerial drones down below. The satellite swarm would be positioned in tactical orbits and able to send a space-based image back to any individual who wants a picture.
The SeeMe program (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) would use a smartphone or tablet to send a command, according to DARPA. A soldier or marine would press “see me” on a handheld device, and a satellite above would find the person and send back an image within an hour and a half. DARPA is seeking proposals for these satellites from the mobile phone, optics and racecar industries, which could have some ideas about low-cost manufacturing, imaging and propulsion.
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
Photo by: Larry Landolfi
The Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains, or cars and faster than jets.
How it would work: put a superconducting maglev train in evacuated tubes, then accelerate using linear electric motors until the design velocity is attained. Passive superconductors allow the capsules to float in the tube, while eddy currents induced in conducting materials drive the capsules. Efficiency of such a system would be high, as the electric energy required to accelerate a capsule could largely be recaptured as it slows.
The maglev tubes are permanently maintained at near vacuum conditions, and the capsules are inserted into and removed from the tubes through airlocks at stations along the route. After the capsules are accelerated to the design velocity (some 4,000 mph or 6,500 km/h), they coast for the remainder of the trip.
While tubes could be networked like freeways, with capsules automatically routed along their trip, local and long-distance trips would require separate maglev tubes to avoid unreasonable scheduling delays.
Members of the ET3 consortium have worked with parties in China, where they say more than a dozen licenses for the company have been sold.
You simply are everything arising moment to moment. You do not see the sky, you are the sky. You do not touch the earth, you are the earth. You do not hear the rain, you are the rain. You and the universe are what the mystics call “One Taste.” This is not poetry. This is a direct realization, as direct as a glass of cold water in the face.
Art by: Andy Kalin
Now scientists at the Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation in Livermore, California, are developing a 13-foot-long particle accelerator that costs about $30 million. Most accelerators use large magnets to generate the electromagnetic field that pushes charged particles. The magnets require 10-foot-thick concrete shielding and bulky hardware. CPAC’s prototype creates the electromagnetic field with electric lines, which don’t require massive shielding or large additional equipment. The new accelerator could be commercially available as soon as 2015.
“There is no future. There is no past. Do you see? Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet.”
Art by: Cameron Gray
Scientists say they’ve been able to control specific memories in mice in research that they hope could help treat diseases such as schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder.
It’s long been known that stimulating various regions of the brain can trigger behaviors and even memories – but understanding how these brain functions develop and occur normally has been much harder.
“The question we’re ultimately interested in is: How does the activity of the brain represent the world?” says Scripps Research neuroscientist Mark Mayford.
“Understanding all this will help us understand what goes wrong in situations where you have inappropriate perceptions. It can also tell us where the brain changes with learning.”
The team set out to manipulate specific memories by inserting two genes into mice.