Jupiter Ascending: The Historic Arrival of the Juno Spacecraft at Jupiter

Jupiter Ascending: The Historic Arrival of the Juno Spacecraft at Jupiter

On July 4th, at 10:30 pm (EST), the spacecraft Juno will arrive at Jupiter after a five year and nearly two billion mile journey. It will circle the planet 37 times, collecting a variety of data, before falling into the atmosphere and destroying itself. Funded by NASA, built by Lockheed Martin in Denver, and operated by JPL in Pasadena, the Juno spacecraft will observe Jupiter like never before, flying closer and orbiting longer than any orbiter in NASA history.

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A Primer on Time Travel (And Why You'll Never Get to Do It)

A Primer on Time Travel (And Why You'll Never Get to Do It)

The Planet of the Apes scenario is a dramatized version of the so-called “Twin Paradox.” The Twin Paradox is a well-known problem posed to students of physics and relativity. Imagine two twins decide to join NASA. One twin is sent on a mission into space, while the other stays home. The traveling twin goes 10 light years (~60 trillion miles) away, turns around, and comes back. Upon his arrival, the traveling twin is several years younger than the twin that stayed on Earth. How did this happen? This article explains the Twin Paradox, and how space travel can be used to travel to the future! 

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History or Herstory? The Women of the Manhattan Project

History or Herstory? The Women of the Manhattan Project

Set in the 1940s, in the middle of World War II, Manhattan tells the story of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, and gives insight into the lives of the families along for the ride. US scientists were in a race with German scientists to develop an atomic bomb that could bring an end to the war. One of the most interesting features of Manhattan is that it highlights the experiences of female scientists who were part of the project, as well as the wives and mothers of the male scientists.

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The Discovery of Gravitational Radiation and Why It Matters

Gravitational wave signal detected by LIGO.
Image credit: LIGO, NSF, Aurore Simonnet (Sonoma State U.)

This Wednesday, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced the second detection of gravitational radiation emanating from a merger of two black holes. This follows the initial discovery of gravitational radiation in February [1]. But why should any of that matter to you? We can't feel our bodies being squeezed by gravitational waves. The discovery of gravitational waves is important because it confirms that the laws of physics work the way we always thought they did. We've been talking about gravitational waves since the early 20th century, when Einstein first posited that the force of gravity might interact directly with space and time [2]. This concept of space and time interwoven as a “fabric” began with his theory of general relativity, and wasn't confirmed until February of 2016 (and again on Wednesday). The detection of gravitational waves doesn't just confirm Einstein's theory on space-time; it also confirms the existence of black hole mergers - extraordinarily energetic events in which two dead stars, each much larger than our Sun, enter a “death spiral” and eventually collide with one another. We're seeing the universe not only in electromagnetic radiation that propagates through space (light), but in gravitational radiation that propagates through the very fabric of space-time itself. It's like discovering a new color, or a new frequency of sound. This amazing technology ushers in a new era of astronomy, where we can now see the universe in an entirely different way.

Laura Haney (@LauraVican)
Signal to Noise Co-founder and COO
PhD, Physics and Astronomy

References:
[1] P. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration), Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 061102 (2016).

[2] Einstein, A.: Über Gravitationswellen. In: Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Berlin (1918), 154–167. [English translation]
 


 

Across the Bench with Amanda Freise

Across the Bench with Amanda Freise

In the Wu Lab (part of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging at UCLA), researchers are working to find new ways to diagnose immune diseases by studying the way that disease develops in healthy tissues. The goal is to find painless, non-invasive ways to identify diseased cells in patients. I sat down with Amanda Freise, a graduate student researcher in the Wu Lab, to understand just how that works.

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