Archive for February, 2018

Constructing a Satellite in Space

Currently a satellite is expensive to construct on Earth and send out to space. Most often the components required to construct a satellite are launched to outer space and assembled in orbit around the Earth. This is a monolithic construction which can not be updated and changed to meet new requirements.

The outdated satellites are decommissioned and left to float around the Earth. Contributing to the rubbish in space. What if the satellites could be constructed organically in space? Scientists are considering the possibility of growing a platform on which interlinking pieces could be fitted to meet new requirements.

The satellite platform would be able to change as upgrades needed to be made. It would be possible to create antenna farms or solar power stations on such platforms that could be reassembled rather like a large jigsaw puzzle. Imagine the freedom to create structures in space this would give scientists.

While this idea is still just a thought, it is one which could make a lot of logistic problems easier to solve should it actually materialize. Eventually there will come a science project which will make it a reality. Then it will be much easier to imagine human beings living in space for much longer duration of time.

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Can a Tree Grow in Space?

Human being have been out to space and so have an assortment of animal life, however getting plant life out into space has not quite been a priority till now. Scientists are now wanting to study the effect of zero gravity on the growth of plants, especially larger plants like trees. On the International Space Station they have tried to grow young spruce trees in micro gravity.

The results show that tree seedlings of the spruce grew faster on the ISS than they would have on Earth. However the pine needles did not point downwards. This leads to the hypothesis that it is the presence of gravity that makes the pine needles point downwards on Earth. An analysis of the DNA showed that many plant genes were more active in space.

Experiments on plant life are at a very nascent stage in outer space. It will be a while before scientists are able to pin point the exact effects on larger plants grown for a long term period in micro gravity. Currently we know that in the absence of gravity roots and shoots have trouble orienting themselves in outer space. Many more science projects will need to be conducted to get a proper idea of what happens to plants in space.

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Is Sea Breeze More Restful?

A visit to the sea side is said to be good for the health. A walk by the coast would result in a good night’s sleep and not just because of the exercise and fresh air. People believe that specific ions in the air by the sea help human beings absorb oxygen better. This makes being by the sea a very restful experience that is often recommended to people who are recovering from health issues.

Being by the sea has a tendency for people to head out to the beach. This means that they get out in the sunlight and spend time doing activities outside. The body get’s a chance to develop vitamin D which is essential for maintaining good health. Enough dosage of vitamin D can help avoid muscle pain, weak bones that can easily fracture, fatigue, lowered immunity, depression, mood swings and sleep irregularities.

Sea Water is also said to be good for skin conditions. The natural salt and potassium chloride which is present in the sea water is said to speed up healing of damaged skin. It has a strong antihistamine effect and is a good decongestant to boot. Living by the sea to improve health issues may be a good science project to take on.

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How Far Can a Message in a Bottle Go?

In movies and fiction we often find the protagonist sending a message in a glass bottle out to sea. The bottle usually makes it to a person who then connects with the protagonist and takes the story forward. The chance of the message being delivered and that too to an appropriate person, causes all kinds of romanticism.

In the real world, do things like that occur? If you put a message in a bottle and sent it out to sea, what are the chances of it being lost? What are the chances of it traveling across the world and reaching another human being? It is the mystery of the matter that keeps the message in a bottle an interesting action and symbol of hope.

In the recorded history of messages traveling in a bottle the longest known single journey was taken by a Doctor Who postcard. The bottle with the postcard was thrown in the sea at Tyne and Wear in the United Kingdom in 2011. About 17 months late the bottle was found in Perth, Western Australia. This made a record distance of 14,500 km for the bottle’s journey. It may make an interesting science project to predict how a bottle would travel in various ocean currents around the world.

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What’s at the Core of a Gas Giant Planet?

A Gas Giant Planet is one which doesn’t have a solid surface like Earth, and it is a whole lot larger than our home planet. A good example from our Solar System would be the planet Jupiter. As far as size is concerned Jupiter is nearly 300 times as big as Earth. However the planet has no firm ground as far as the scientists can tell.

As there are so many gases swirling around in the upper regions of the atmosphere, it is nearly impossible for the scientists to see through to the core to determine what exists at the center of the planet. There have been theories put forth that due to the high pressure that must exist at the center of the gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, the core must be a rocky one.

However there are others who argue that the center of a gas giant is likely to have a core of molten metal. The metallic core would have been required for the planet to form initially and now that the gases have been collected, the sore would have become molten due to the pressure. All viable science theories, but there is no true validated answer to this mystery as yet.

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Reducing Phantom Traffic Jams

A phantom traffic jam occurs when vehicles tend to pile up in a grid lock type of situation despite there being no actual problem. The flow of traffic is an often studied aspect and a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CSAIL have revealed that there is one single thing that all drivers can do to ensure that such a phantom traffic jam does not occur.

Guess what that is? Avoid tailgating the driver in front of you! What’s tailgating? Driving very close to the vehicles ahead of you, sort of riding their tail. The MIT professor involved in the study, Berthold Horn, recommends something he calls “bilateral control”. This entails maintaining an equal distance from the vehicle in front of you as well as from the vehicle behind you.

As per Horn, by simply maintaining this distance constantly drivers are likely to reach their destinations twice as fast. It will not only save time, but also reduce fuel costs for those driving as breaking and accelerating constantly tend to consume more fuel than going at a steady speed for the same period of time.

The findings of this scientific study may not make sense to human beings who want to rush in without looking first, but it is something to think about the next time you tailgate the car before you.

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