Archive for February, 2012

Terraforming – Making the climate of a distant planet like Earth

Terraforming is a science fiction fantasy wherein the climate and environment of a distant planet is manipulated by human beings to become more like their home planet Earth. If the latest science project that NASA has undertaken is anything to set store by, this science fiction fantasy may too become a reality.

NASA is creating an extreme environment test chamber. Here it hopes to replicate the surface conditions of Venus. The high temperatures, pressure and excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are all to be reproduced. they main reason they are doing it is to help build more durable inter space vehicles and crafts.

The last spacecraft that was sent to Venus did not survive beyond two hours in the extreme hostile environment. The chamber is also to be used to conduct climate modifying experiments. These may answer worrying questions about our own globally changing climate.

It may not have the answer to global warming, but it may point us in a direction where we can do something to fix the weather. It is best that first we learn to deal with the climate of our own planet before we set out on as ambitious a science project as terraforming.

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Can a bloodtest determine when you will die?

It may sound like a science fiction project, but the technology already exists. The simple blood test can actually tell you your biological age within a decade. What is more based on life expectancy factors it can even predict just how long you have to live.

It seems that our DNA has something called telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes. It has been established by scientists that these telomeres tend to shorten as we age. So they believe that by measuring the length of these telomeres it may be possible to not only tell what the person’s age is but also when the person will die.

This can be a bit complicated because biological age is not always the same as chronological age. Two people may be 35 years old and that is their chronological age. However one may lead and active and healthy life while the other may smoke too much, drink a lot and eat unhealthy junk food regularly.

In this case the healthier person is likely to have a much lower biological age and thus live longer. Critics say that the blood test will not be accurately able to tell the biological age of a person as different factors involved in aging a person are involved. It would make an interesting albeit morbid science project to see just how accurately the test can foretell lifespans.

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Planets play Ping Pong too

Astronomy projects may not be the most exciting but they can occasionally throw up some surprisingly fun facts. In a two star system planets can end up being tossed from one star to the otherĀ  a number of times before they finally get ejected out of the system.

This interplanetary game of ping pong can result in very disruptive orbits that interfere with other planet orbits as well. Such two star systems are thus usually not too stable an environment for life to be sustained in them.

After all the existence of life depends on evolution and with the temperature, gravity and atmospheric pressure changing as often as they do on such planets it is hardly a wonder that life as we know it would not exist in such conditions.

That should not lead to disappointment for those of you hoping to meet ET in your lifetime. There are still a number of viable planets in the universe where carbon life forms similar to ours could have evolved. The question now is how and when are we going to establish contact.

Hunting for the alien life forms is an ongoing science project with professionals and amateurs just as easily involved in the act. Who knows the next big spaceship from outer space could be spotted by a kid out in the yard doing an astronomy project!

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Will Robotic Teams take over all Sports?

In a number of science fairs the projects involve a robot trying to perform sports stunts like shooting a hoop, kicking a goal and even playing chess. Given that the computer brain of a robot allows them to make faster decisions than a human being, eventually robots will be better than human beings at sports.

That may be the logical conclusion to follow. Of course this means that professional athletes may soon be replaced by robots who perform better, have less margin for error and throw no tantrums! Perhaps in the not so distant future we may see a couple of robot players on all sports teams.

Who knows what the future could hold? Athletic ability in human beings may be soon restricted just how well he can control a robot player in the field. And with Artificial Intelligence improving the robot’s decision making it may be just a matter of time before the robots are completely autonomous.

Scary thought that the new heroes of basket ball may not be men like Lebron but some nameless robot which can shoot baskets with far more accuracy than a human player. Will robotic teams take over all sports? Lets hope not! Still a science fair project where two robotic teams play football and in a rather disastrous manner leads me to hope that the days of professional robot players are still some years away.

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This bullet can change directions after its shot

In a bid to make it the most target effective bullet the Sandia National Laboratories have come up with a bullet that can twist and turn to hit the target. The science project is interesting enough but when you add the tiny guided missile to the mix it really livens things up.

Building the navigation system for this little projectile was no mean feat. Imagine trying to load a processor and chip on something as tiny as the size of a gun bullet. It would take more than miniaturization to make this work, it would take innovation.

That is just what the researchers on the project did. They have added an optical sensor that follows a laser beam on to the target. The bullet that they have come up with is 4 inches long, half an inch wide and can make up to 30 corrections in direction per second.

Basically if the laser is aimed at you , you can bet that the bullet has your name on it. Think of a heat guided missile but this one is smaller and quite accurate for a target located even a mile away. This is quite an achievement as an unguided bullet is likely to miss a target that is located even half a mile away. It would be interesting to see how this particular science project develops.

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