After Thursday's aborted launch, the Orion Spaceship finally Blasted Off at Dawn on Friday morning. You can watch the official NASA video here. And here are 17 HQ Photos from the Launch. A few hours later, the Orion Capsule Finished its ‘By-the-Book’ Test flight with a clean landing in the Pacific Ocean. Related: How a Spacecraft Like Orion Survives the Harsh Radiation of Orbit. Also: Orion's 'Picture Perfect' Splashdown Marks New Era in Spaceflight. And the Guardian took a look at what's coming up in 2015, After Rosetta and Orion: a Mars mission, an exploration of Pluto and the first celebrities in space.
Planck sheds light on dark matter and closes the gap with WMAP. European probe shoots down cosmic ray dark-matter claims (AMS, Fermi, PAMELA). Planck's four-year study of relic radiation also resolves other cosmological riddles. And as the New York Times pointed out, the difficulty of doing this research can be gauged by the number of missed deadlines. Planck 2014: The Results That Weren't. The Moment of Truth for BICEP2: Sometime over the next few weeks, Planck will release more new results. What will that mean for gravitational waves from inflation?
My Great-Great-Aunt Discovered Francium. And It Killed Her. Beautifully written, powerful account by Veronique Greenwood of her ancestor, Marguerite Perey. "By the time Perey made her discovery, she was already heavily contaminated. She spent the last 15 years of her life in treatment for a gruesome bone cancer that spread throughout her body, claiming her eyesight, pieces of her hand and most of the years in which she had planned to study francium."
Insect Swarms Go Supercritical. "The Rome researchers, led by physicist Alessandro Attanasi, sought to extend this behavior to swarms of insects, building upon the promising theory—and growing body of experimental results—that suggests natural systems of all sorts behave supercritically and experience scale-free correlations. Influencing one bird or bug influences the entire swarm or flock."
Physicists Invent the Most Annoying Shape of Pasta to Demonstrate New State of Matter. Your fork and spoon twirl technique is no match for physics.
A Common Logic to Seeing Cats and Cosmos: deep learning relies on renormalization, physicists find. There may be a universal logic to how physicists, computers and brains tease out important features from among other irrelevant bits of data.
Dürer's polyhedron: 5 theories that explain Melencolia's crazy cube. "The distinctive three-dimensional shape in Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 engraving Melencolia I has been the subject of innumerous analyses and still no one is sure what it is or what it means. On the occasion of its 500th birthday, mathematician Günter M Ziegler looks again at art history’s most infamous truncated triangular trapezohedron."
An end to bubble puzzle trouble? Nanobubbles can persist for weeks at a time. Now there might be a solution. Also: The physics of bubble cavitation in fizzy drinks like soda and champagne makes for visually striking image.
Bonus: Winter is a terrific time to blow bubbles in the cold and take pictures of them. Just ask James Duffin, a Washington state dentist with a passion for photography, who took advantage of a recent 22 F day to snap a few photographs. [Full disclosure: He's married to one of my closest friends since college, so I've known him for years.] He used standard children's bubble-making liquid, noting that they started to freeze very quickly, and lasted for up to 20 minutes. Adding glycerin to the mix can help the bubbles last a bit longer. For more, check out Duffin's Flickr page. Also check out the frozen-bubble work of his fellow Washington based photographer, Angela Kelly.
How To Wrap A Present With Mathematical Precision (and Waste Less Paper).
New Chiral Twist Found in the Story of Life’s Start: or, Why RNA is Right-Handed. All life on Earth is made of molecules that twist in the same direction. New research reveals that this may not always have been so.
Searching for a dark light: A new experiment at Jefferson Lab is on the hunt for dark photons, hypothetical messengers of an invisible universe.
How Buildings Could Keep Cool without Electricity: A new material that requires no electricity uses the universe as a heat sink—even when the sun is shining.
The Mind-Bending Mathematics Needed To Figure Out The Universe.
You Can Help Physicists Make the Next Higgs Boson Discovery with new citizen-science project, Higgs Hunters. "People who become Higgs Hunters will look at images and identify and count tracks that emanate from an off-center point. The data will be a mix of real data from the LHC and those produced by computer simulations. By classifying the data by eye, the Hunters will also help the physicists’ computers improve their own algorithms for identifying off-center tracks."
Trigger Failure and Repair, at the LHC. How to keep from discarding interesting events by improving the "filter."
The 29 best retro photographs from CERN's vaults provide "a fascinating window into how fundamental science was done during the groovy '60s and funkadelic '70s." Related: Vacuuming the ATLAS detector. One hundred scientists and engineers recently gave the ATLAS detector a deep cleaning in preparation for the LHC restart.
Something for the physics buff on your Christmas List: new puzzle/video game, Schrodinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. "While the particles are typically locked up safely within the zoo, someone or something has allowed all of the particles out of their enclosures. Now, gluons, leptons and bosons are running amok. As the protagonist, Schrodinger's Cat, you are tasked with rounding up the rowdy particles with the help of some friendlier particles: the top, bottom, up and down quarks."
Everything is Awesome: The LEGO Particle Accelerator "can accelerate a LEGO soccer ball to nearly 8 miles per hour."
How unique properties of electrons may help reduce noise in quantum computers by PhD Comics/Jorge Cham:
How to Build the World’s Simplest Electric Train with the help of a few magnets, a battery, and a copper coil.
Apparently CERN uses a dishwasher to keep the Large Hadron Collider's circuits clean.
Muon versus the volcano: Particles produced by cosmic rays enter volcanoes and live to tell the tale.
The Fastest Camera Ever Created Will Be Used to Study Invisibility Cloaks.
Philae May Have Grazed a Crater and Tumbled Over Comet.
Global Quantum Communications - No Longer The Stuff Of Science Fiction?
Sound (shock) waves --eg from a trumpet -- often interact with many objects before we hear them.
Physicists have used a ‘time cloak’ to conceal to conceal a message in laser light.
Haptics And Ultrasound Come Together For 3d Shapes You Can Actually Feel.
Stephen Hawking's New Speech System With SwiftKey Delivers His Brilliance Twice as Fast. Hawking has little experience with consumer tech. That made revamping his speech system more difficult. Also: Hawking Admitted that He Would Like to Be a Bond Villain, Thank You Very Much. Oh, and he also took the time to warn BBC News that artificial intelligence could end mankind.
Remembering Theodore Maiman's Laser: his seminal paper, "Optical maser action in ruby," was published in Nature in 1960.
Physicist Paul Steinhardt Slams Inflation, Cosmic Theory He Helped Conceive.
The Cat Went Over Radioactive Mountain: "Inside Yucca Mountain, incomprehensibly long time scales clash with human ones."
The Industrializtion of Space: This week, NASA marked a milestone: the first object manufactured outside of Earth.
Why does SpaceX want a farmer? Mika McKinnon thinks it's really fun coming up with improbable reasons.
Erik Wernquist's short film, Wanderers, takes a realistic look at the future of space exploration.
Designing Magnetometers for Space Missions Is Really Hard.
The Physics of Phantom Traffic Jams. "If people anticipate higher traffic densities ahead, and take their feet off the gas earlier and leave more room in front of them — instead of waiting until they have to brake — that can prevent traffic jams from arising," Bonus: You can create your own phantom traffic jam here.
Why Does Your Microwave Oven Mess With The Wi-Fi Connection?
How Google "Translates" Pictures Into Words Using Vector Space Mathematics.
Beware of Cheap Data: "Not everything that can be labeled as 'Big Data' is automatically great."
Hackers begone: Measurement-device-independent Quantum Key Distribution increases clock rate and transmission distance while reducing failure.
Taming the Boltzmann equation with new algorithm for systems of self-propelled particles.
45-year physics mystery shows a path to quantum transistors. Physicists at the University of Michigan have discovered or confirmed several properties of the compound samarium hexaboride that raise hopes for finding the silicon of the quantum era.
The Saddest Thing About Integers: "The integers are a unique factorization domain, so we can’t tune pianos."
Visual Calculus: Check out this awesome "proof without words" for the area under a cycloid. "As a circle rolls along a line, a point on its circumference traces an arch called a cycloid. The arch encloses an area three times that of the circle, a result commonly proven using calculus. Now Armenian mathematician Mamikon Mnatsakanian has devised a “sweeping-tangent theorem” that accomplishes the same proof using intuition."
How Charles Dickens Fueled A World Of Spontaneous Combustion Truthers in Bleak House. "The first thing they noticed was the smell..."
Royalty, Espionage, and Erotica: Secrets of the World’s Tiniest Photographs (Stanhope lenses).
Why interference generates blue in some bird feathers and beetles but never red or yellow.
Three Totally Mindbending Implications of Our Multidimensional Universe.
The Motions of Kayaking and Canoeing Recorded through Light Painting on Canadian Waterways. "Ontario-based photographer Stephen Orlando is fascinated with human movement and uses programmable LED light sticks attached to kayak paddles, people, racquets, and other objects to translate that movement into photographic light paintings."
The Sixth Sense for Multiplication. "Multiplication is making arrays."
Curved and Straight: on making a giant hyperboloid you can walk through.
Math that Pursues, Spins and Swarms: A Robot Exhibit at MoMath Aims to Bring Math to Life.
Last week, Phil Frost opened his exhibit, "Intuitive Mathematics", a solo showing at Galeria Javier Lopez in Madrid.
Neutrinos on Ice: How to Keep Cool in Thin Air.
Everything Albert Einstein ever wrote is going online. Einstein was a compelling writer: sweep, majesty, and charm. The archive reveals the genius, doubts and loves of scientist. Early note shows delight at birth of his daughter while later letters show fame was beginning to be a trial.
Quantifying miracles: what are the odds, really?
The Art of Making Blade Runner: See the Original Sketchbook, Storyboards, On-Set Polaroids & More.
Leonardo Da Vinci's To Do List (circa 1490) Is Much Cooler Than Yours. "Calculate the measurement of Milan and suburbs"
What’s an Artist Doing at Fermi Lab? New artist-in-residency program features artist Lindsay Olson.
Ripples in Space-Time Could Reveal 'Strange Stars.'
Kiss kiss, bye bye: Professor Bender’s Kissing Goodbye Algorithm.
Cocktail Calculus Chart: The Inner Workings Of Recipes: Understanding the interplay of acid, sugar and alcohol gives essential insight into how a cocktail is structured.
Everyone was hyperventilating over the first trailer for upcoming latest addition to the Star Wars saga. From land speeders to light sabers: here are Six Star Wars Technologies That May Not Be So Far, Far Away. Related: Why the Skywalker twins aren't the same age anymore: relativistic time dilation. Everyone loved the rolling R2D2-style robot, but dissed the lightsaber design -- prompting Stephen Colbert's Spirited and Delightfully Nerdy Defense Of The New Lightsaber on The Colbert Report.
Finally, here is a Scientifically Accurate Love Song by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of AsapSCIENCE. "Just like the movies, I’d steal your heart. But then you’d die, so I won’t do that."