The TR-3B is Code named Astra. The tactical reconnaissance TR-3B first operational flight was in the early 90s. The triangular-shaped nuclear-powered aerospace platform was developed under the Top Secret, Aurora Program with SDI and black budget monies. At least 3 of the billion-dollar-plus TR-3Bs were flying by 1994. Aurora is the most classified aerospace development program in existence. The TR-3B is the most exotic vehicle created by the Aurora Program. It is funded and operationally tasked by the National Reconnaissance Office, the NSA, and the CIA. The TR-3B flying triangle is not fiction and was built with technology available in the mid-80s. Not every UFO spotted is one of theirs.
The TR-3B vehicles outer coating is reactive to electrical Radar stimulation and can change reflectiveness, radar absorptiveness, and color. This polymer skin, when used in conjunction with the TR-3Bs Electronic Counter Measures and, ECCM, can make the vehicle look like a small aircraft or a flying cylinder–or even trick radar receivers into falsely detecting a variety of aircraft, no aircraft, or several aircraft at various locations. A circular, plasma filled accelerator ring called the Magnetic Field Disrupter, surrounds the rotatable crew compartment and is far ahead of any imaginable technology.
Sandia and Livermore’s laboratories developed the reverse engineered MFD technology. The government will go to any lengths to protect this technology. The plasma, mercury based, is pressurized at 250,000 atmospheres at a temperature of 150 degrees Kelvin and accelerated to 50,000 rpm to create a super-conductive plasma with the resulting gravity disruption. The MFD generates a magnetic vortex field, which disrupts or neutralizes the effects of gravity on mass within proximity, by 89 percent. Do not misunderstand. This is not antigravity. Anti-gravity provides a repulsive force that can be used for propulsion. The MFD creates a disruption of the Earth’s gravitational field upon the mass within the circular accelerator. The mass of the circular accelerator and all mass within the accelerator, such as the crew capsule, avionics, MFD systems, fuels, crew environmental systems, and the nuclear reactor, are reduced by 89%. This causes the effect of making the vehicle extremely light and able to outperform and outmaneuver any craft yet constructed–except, of course, those UFOs we did not build.
The TR-3B is a high altitude, stealth, reconnaissance platform with an indefinite loiter time. Once you get it up there at speed, it doesn’t take much propulsion to maintain altitude. At Groom Lake, there have been whispered rumors of a new element that acts as a catalyst to the plasma. With the vehicle mass reduced by 89%, the craft can travel at Mach 9, vertically or horizontally. My sources say the performance is limited only the stresses that the human pilots can endure. This is a lot, really, considering along with the 89% reduction in mass, the G forces are also reduced by 89%.
The TR-3Bs propulsion is provided by 3 multimode thrusters mounted at each bottom corner of the triangular platform. The TR-3 is a sub-Mach 9 vehicle until it reaches altitudes above l20,000 feet–then God knows how fast it can go! The 3 multimode rocket engines mounted under each corner of the craft use hydrogen or methane and oxygen as a propellant. In a liquid oxygen/hydrogen rocket system, 85% of the propellant mass is oxygen. The nuclear thermal rocket engine uses a hydrogen propellent, augmented with oxygen for additional thrust. The reactor heats the liquid hydrogen and injects liquid oxygen in the supersonic nozzle so that the hydrogen burns concurrently in the liquid oxygen afterburner. The multimode propulsion system can; operate in the atmosphere, with thrust provided by the nuclear reactor, in the upper atmosphere, with hydrogen propulsion, and in orbit, with the combined hydrogen\ oxygen propulsion.
What you have to remember is, that the 3 rocket engines only have to propel 11 percent of the mass of the Top Secret TR-3B. The engines are reportedly built by Rockwell. Many sightings of triangular UFOs are not alien vehicles but the top-secret TR-3B. The NSA, NRO, CIA, and USAF have been playing a shell game with aircraft nomenclature – creating the TR-3, modified to the TR-3A, the TR-3B, and the Teir 2, 3, and 4, with suffixes like Plus or Minus, added on to confuse further the fact that each of these designators is a different aircraft and not the same aerospace vehicle. A TR-3B is as different from a TR-3A as a banana is from a grape. Some of these vehicles are manned and others are unmanned.
It all becomes apparent in Belgium where, after frequent sightings of flying lights and a mid-air near-miss by UFO, at one point Belgian Air Force, anxious to identify the origin of the phenomena, authorized F16 scrambles under the condition that the visual observations on the ground were confirmed by the local police and detection on the radar.
One of the consequences of such a decision was that on 31 March 1990 at 00:05 hr, two F16 were scrambled from Beauvechain airbase and guided towards the radar contacts.
A total of 9 interception attempts have been made that night. On six occasions the pilots established a lock-on with their air interception radar. Lock-on distances varied between 5 and 8 NM. On all occasions targets varied speed and altitude very quickly and break-locks occurred after 10 to 60 seconds. Speeds varied between 150 and 1010 knots. On three occasions both F16 registered simultaneous lock-ons with the same parameters. The two F16 were flying approximately 2 NM apart. Owing to the night conditions, no visual contact could be established by either of the F16 pilots.
Team of more than 300 researchers produced first-ever image of a black hole in April of 2019
Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino explains what can be learned from the groundbreaking discovery.
Scientists from the international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration announced Wednesday that they had been able to map the magnetic fields around a black hole using polarized light waves for the first time, releasing a stunning image of the supermassive object at the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy.
The team of more than 300 researchers had produced the first-ever image of a black hole – from 55 million light-years away – in April of 2019.
The researchers published their most recent observations in two separate papers in The Astrophysical Journal, which they say are key to understanding how the M87 galaxy is able to “launch energetic jets from its core.”
From data first collected in 2017, the scientists discovered that a significant fraction of the light at the black hole’s near-horizon region was polarized.
Light becomes polarized when passing through certain filters or when it is emitted in hot regions of space that are magnetized.
For the first time, EHT scientists have mapped the magnetic fields around a black hole using polarized light waves. With this breakthrough, we have taken a crucial step in solving one of astronomy’s greatest mysteries. (EHT Collaboration)
Astronomers were given a sharper look around the black hole, and the ability to map the magnetic field lines in the surrounding area, by examining how the light around it was polarized.
“These 1.3 mm wavelength observations revealed a compact asymmetric ring-like source morphology. This structure originates from synchrotron emission produced by relativistic plasma located in the immediate vicinity of the black hole,” the group stated in its observational publication. “Here we present the corresponding linear-polarimetric EHT images of the center of M87. We find that only a part of the ring is significantly polarized. The resolved fractional linear polarization has a maximum located in the southwest part of the ring, where it rises to the level of ~15%.”
The group also noted that the polarization position angles are arranged in an almost “azimuthal pattern.”
The azimuth is the angle between a fixed point like true North, measured clockwise around the observer’s horizon, and a celestial body.
The team wrote that it had performed “quantitative measurements of relevant polarimetric properties of the compact emission” and found “evidence for the temporal evolution of the polarized source structure” over the course of a week.
The data was then carried out by using multiple independent imaging and modeling techniques.
In an accompanying release, the collaboration explained that the energy jets emerging from M87’s core extend at least 5,000 light-years from its center.
While most matter near the edge of a black hole falls into it, some of the surrounding particles are blown out in the opposite direction in jets.
Astronomers still don’t fully understand this process, nor how matter falls into the black hole, but the new EHT image provides information about the structure of the magnetic fields just outside the black hole.
Only theoretical models with strongly magnetized gas could explain the event, the release says.
“All astronomical objects from the Earth to the Sun to galaxies have magnetic fields. In the case of black holes, these magnetic fields can control how rapidly they consume the matter falling onto them and how they eject some of that matter into narrow beams traveling at close to the speed of light,” Geoffrey C. Bower, EHT project scientist at the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Hawaii, told Fox News via email on Thursday. “We showed that the fields are indeed strong enough to play an important role in how this black hole eats its lunch.”Video
In order to observe the M87 galaxy, the collaboration linked eight telescopes to create the EHT: a “virtual Earth-sized telescope” with resolution “equivalent to that needed to measure the length of a credit card on the surface of the Moon.”
“This setup allowed the team to directly observe the black hole shadow and the ring of light around it, with the new [polarized-light] image clearly showing that the ring is magnetized,” the release said.
“No one has ever made this kind of image before,” Bower said. “Remarkably, the data forming this image is the same that was used to make the iconic first image of a black hole released two years ago. We took two years to analyze the data in a new way that allows us to separate the polarizations of light, a process like putting polarized sunglasses on our telescope.”
A former top national intelligence official hinted that an upcoming government report on UFOs will include information that cannot easily be explained.
“There are instances where we don’t have good explanations for some of the things that we’ve seen, and when that information becomes declassified, I’ll be able to talk a little bit more about that,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox New’s Maria Bartiromo on Friday.
Ratfcliffe said some UFO sightings have been declassified in the past, but a report to be released by the Pentagon and other federal agencies will present more information to the American people.
“There have been sightings all over the world,” Ratcliffe said. “And when we talk about sightings, the other thing I will tell you, it’s not just a pilot or just a satellite or some intelligence collection. Usually, we have multiple sensors that are picking up these things.”
Ratcliffe said elements that are hard to explain in the unreleased sightings include movements that are hard to replicate or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without creating a sonic boom.
The report is expected to be released on June 1, Bartiromo said later in the program.
After appearing for decades in science fiction, then moving into an actual theory, a new patent for an updated warp drive was published last year to no fanfare. Like many other false starts in cutting-edge research, the patent may represent the next step in the expanding theory, or it could mean the practical, real-world design of a functioning warp drive is on the horizon.
BACKGROUND: HOW TO BEND SPACE-TIME WITH A WARP DRIVE
After first publishing his groundbreaking 1994 warp drive concept in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, Mexican Mathematician and Physicist Miguel Alcubierre received significant positive and negative feedback. Most applauded his solution, which did indeed appear to create a working theory on how a warp drive might allow faster than light travel without violating the laws of physics. In contrast, others zeroed in on the incredible amount of energy needed to propel his theoretical spacecraft.
The warp drive was further refined in 2007 by engineer H. David Froning Jr., who, among other things, previously worked for the U.S. Air Force, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas. He published those refinements in 2008 and later released a 2019 book on his research.
Both theories took a giant leap forward in 2011 when a paper published by NASA scientist Harold G. “Sonny” White further improved upon Alcubierre’s designs, dramatically reducing the amount of exotic matter needed to fuel the hypothetical drive from a Jupiter sized amount to something akin to the size of the NASA Voyager 1 probe. While this is still a significant volume and well beyond our current ability to manufacture, this dramatic reduction in fuel requirements seems to indicate that a real-world warp drive may one day be feasible.
One practical attempt to build a drive is being made by Nebraska University Adjunct Professor David Pares and his company, Space Warp Dynamics. He posted a recent series of tests to YouTube; however, his company’s Indiegogo campaign to build such a device has only reached 3% of the target goal. Their website and Facebook pages show only incremental advancements since. Interestingly, the company’s website notes that Pares was “Inspired by his own craft sighting, at the age of 16,” although no other details of this sighting are provided. Apart from that, little is known about this project.
ANALYSIS: THE NEW 2020 WARP DRIVE PATENT
In April of 2020, two engineers from Chicago, Jessica Gallanis and Eytan Halm Suchard published a patent application for a drive using the updated Harold White designs. A device aptly named the Alcubierre-White Warp Drive. Barely a month into the COVID 19 shutdown, the patent’s publication seemed to sneak under the radar, with a lone report by Read Multiplex in December of 2020 (one that sits behind a paywall).
In the summary portion of the patent, Gallanis and Suchard explain how “the invention uses two Alcubierre gravitational walls to achieve a warp drive effect as means of propulsion while surrounding or enclosing a cavity or space where passengers can travel.”
This design is consistent with Alcubierre, who’s solution they point out “suggested a method for changing the metric of space-time and creating a space-time warp bubble such that while from outside the bubble, the bubble can advance in superluminal speed, from within the bubble the speed is much lower than the speed of light.”
The patent also notes the work of Froning, who they say observed how, “if sufficient warping is achieved, ship speed is slower than light speed within the region that surrounds it-even if it is moving faster-than-light with respect to Earth.”
“I had never personally heard of the Alcubierre drive until 2013,” Suchard admitted on a two-hour telephone interview with The Debrief to discuss his device, how the design came about, and how realistic building his patented Warp Drive was.
A software engineer by trade, Suchard was working on handwriting and signature recognition software when he had a revelation that would lead to his patented design.
“It occurred to me that we should be able to describe all physical phenomena as geometry. And that space-time was merely an emergent property, which is diametrically opposed to [Albert] Einstein’s approach.”
The Israeli-born engineer said this revelation launched him into a more in-depth study of things like dark matter, loop theory, quantum gravity, and ultimately, to the idea of a warp drive.
“I first stumbled across Alcubierre in 2013,” Suchard explained, a discovery that led to him spending the next three years trying to rectify his new take on classical physics with Dr. White’s theory. “I knew from my own calculations that energy itself must create gravity, and by extension anti-gravity,” he said. “And that this had to be the solution to Alcubierre.”
By 2017, Suchard’s wife and fellow engineer Jessica Gallanis told him that his theoretical work was sound, and it was time to try to file a patent. Unfortunately, the first try was unsuccessful. “They wouldn’t take it,” he said of the response by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “I think they didn’t understand the physics.”
Suchard said he spent the next two years going back and forth with the USPTO until, in 2020, they finally made a concession. “By then, they did not refute the fact that the patent is based upon a valid working theory, but still said I would need a physical device to prove the physics.” As a result of this concession, they accepted the application, leading to the 2020 publication.
OUTLOOK: HAS HISTORY BEEN MADE?
When asked where his patent will go from here, Suchard was particularly critical in his response. “I don’t trust anyone else to do the experiments,” he said, “because too many do them in the wrong way.” To do those experiments, Suchard also admits that his expertise is not enough. “I would need other physicists involved. An RF engineer, a materials scientist, and many others with expertise in [areas like] heat dissipation, x-rays, and other related fields.”
Suchard also noted the significant amount of funding needed for this research and that such funding is not presently on the horizon.
The Debrief reached out to Dr. Jason Cassibry, a professor at the Propulsion Research Center at the University of Alabama Huntsville. He, and one of his students, Joseph Agnew, a researcher at the Propulsion Research Center, explained that there were problems with Suchard’s theory.
Cassibry and Agnew told The Debrief in an email that the use of highly concentrated magnetic fields to create gravity wells is a common aspect of warp drive theory.
“I’ve seen a number of people try to relate high-frequency electrical oscillations to warp drive. Based on some of the papers I’ve looked at, there is indeed a relation between highly concentrated magnetic field energy, like in a huge solenoid, and a positive gravity well. But the amount of energy required to be detectable is quite large, and, although doable, that experiment has not been run yet,” Agnew explained.
Agnew explained that the biggest problem is the “‘negative energy or ‘anti-gravity well’” part of the system that makes it an Alcubierre drive and not just a gravity well. Both Agnew and Cassibry concurred that aspects of the patent did jive with previous warp drive models; however, since there was no experimental data, it would be impossible to determine if the drive would work.
“I’m skeptical,” Agnew stated, “since it cites as-yet-unobserved phenomena as its basis for operation.”
Dr. Cassibry echoed Agnew’s sentiment, adding, “I hope that someday, someone discloses an invention or a technology along with a demonstration of a real system, such as a video of a working propulsion system lifting itself off the ground, no strings attached. Short of that, experimental measurements, even on a subscale test, are highly valuable and encouraged. Short of experimental evidence, I will remain skeptical of any and all papers and patents.”
The Debrief reached out to the NASA Ames Research Center for comment from Dr. White on this potentially groundbreaking patent and any work he may still be doing in this field. Their representative told The Debrief that White retired from the organization last year. They also indicated that the warp mechanics program he ran at Ames is no longer in operation as it was shuttered at the same time he left.
The Debrief tried to contact Dr. Whte at his new venture, the Limitless Space Institute, which appears to be continuing his Warp Drive research. They did not respond to requests for comment.
The patent by Suchard and Gallanis is still awaiting approval, and it is an approval Suchard is not expecting any time soon. Still, he says, the theory is sound, and if he were able to put together the team of experts he envisions, he thinks building a warp drive may be possible. Like most potential breakthrough propulsion theories, Suchard’s take on energy and gravity is unique. Still, unlike Alcubierre and White, he has taken that theory to the next step with an actual patent application. Time will tell if it ever leads to the real thing, but the work by other researchers in the field and the improvements to Alcubierre’s original theory made along the way may mean that warp speed may be closer than we think.
Discovered in an interstellar cloud, the compounds are more abundant than predicted
Complex carbon-bearing molecules that could help explain how life got started have been identified in space for the first time.
These molecules, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, consist of several linked hexagonal rings of carbon with hydrogen atoms at the edges. Astronomers have suspected for decades that these molecules are abundant in space, but none had been directly spotted before.
Simpler molecules with a single ring of carbon have been seen before. But “we’re now excited to see that we’re able to detect these larger PAHs for the first time in space,” says astrochemist Brett McGuire of MIT, whose team reports the discovery in the March 19 Science.
Studying these molecules and others like them could help scientists understand how the chemical precursors to life might get started in space. “Carbon is such a fundamental part of chemical reactions, especially reactions leading to life’s essential molecules,” McGuire says. “This is our window into a huge reservoir of them.”
Since the 1980s, astronomers have seen a mysterious infrared glow coming from spots within our galaxy and others. Many suspected that the glow comes from PAHs, but could not identify a specific source. The signals from several different PAHs overlap too much to tease any one of them apart, like a choir blending so well, the ear can’t pick out individual voices.
Instead of searching the infrared signals for a single voice, McGuire and colleagues turned to radio waves, where different PAHs sing different songs. The team trained the powerful Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia on TMC-1, a dark cloud about 430 light-years from Earth near the constellation Taurus.
Previously, McGuire had discovered that the cloud contains benzonitrile, a molecule made of a single carbon ring (SN: 10/2/19). So he thought it was a good place to look for more complicated molecules.
The team detected 1- and 2-cyanonaphthalene, two-ringed molecules with 10 carbons, eight hydrogens and a nitrogen atom. The concentration is fairly diffuse, McGuire says: “If you filled the inside of your average compact car with [gas from] TMC-1, you’d have less than 10 molecules of each PAH we detected.”
But it was a lot more than the team expected. The cloud contains between 100,000 and one million times more PAHs than theoretical models predict it should. “It’s insane, that’s way too much,” McGuire says.
There are two ways that PAHs are thought to form in space: out of the ashes of dead stars or by direct chemical reactions in interstellar space. Since TMC-1 is just beginning to form stars, McGuire expected that any PAHs it contains ought to have been built by direct chemical reactions in space. But that scenario can’t account for all the PAH molecules the team found. There’s too much to be explained easily by stellar ash, too. That means something is probably missing from astrochemists’ theories of how PAHs can form in space.
“We’re working in uncharted territory here,” he says, “which is exciting.”
Identifying PAHs in space is “a big thing,” says astrochemist Alessandra Ricca of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who was not involved in the new study. The work “is the first one that has shown that these PAH molecules actually do exist in space,” she says. “Before, it was just a hypothesis.”
Ricca’s group is working on a database of infrared PAH signals that the James Webb Space Telescope, slated to launch in October, can look for. “All this is going to be very helpful for JWST and the research on carbon in the universe,” she says.
Where would a major tsunami strike? Malibu, Venice and Long Beach, get ready
When state geologists went looking for the hypothetical origin of the worst tsunami that could strike Southern California in 1,000 years, they found it in the Aleutian Trench off the Alaskan coastline.
A magnitude 9.3 underwater earthquake there could generate a wave that would hit Southern California several hours later and inundate portions of Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, Long Beach and the two busiest ports in the nation.MalibuNew zonesCurrent zonesSanta MonicaVenice and Marina Del Rey
That was the worst-case scenario, but there were plenty of other possibilities for catastrophe. Earthquakes along undersea faults near Catalina and Anacapa islands — as well as submarine landslides off of the Palos Verdes Peninsula — could generate tsunamis capable of flooding those same areas in just minutes.
To help local emergency officials prepare, the California Geological Survey has released new maps that show the extent of flooding the worst tsunamis could produce in Los Angeles County.
The maps are being released during Tsunami Preparedness Week, when coastal residents are reminded to get ready for disasters that may or may not occur in their lifetimes.
In some ways, that 1,000-year quake in Alaska would be the easy one to respond to: there would be hours to evacuate after an official warning was issued.
But there would be little to no time between an official warning and massive flooding in the smaller offshore quakes, said engineering geologist Nick Graehl, who helps local agencies plan evacuation strategies.
“You’re going to feel that strong ground shaking,” Graehl said of the closer quakes. “You don’t wait for that official warning. You feel that earthquake, you go. And you go to a safe area, and you stay there until there’s an official all-clear.”
In the case of tsunamis, the recommended mode of evacuation is by foot, not automobile, according to senior engineering geologist Rick Wilson.
“We’ve done some studies with U.S. Geological Survey and found if people get in their cars and try to drive out of areas like Marina del Rey and Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, they’ll be stuck in traffic, and they won’t get out in time,” Wilson said. “So the recommendation is for people to evacuate on foot. If they do that, almost everybody can get out of the zone in this critical worst-case scenario that we’re looking at.”
The best preparation would be for people to check the map, find an evacuation route, and practice it, Graehl said.
“We’re encouraging people to maybe take a tsunami selfie at higher ground,” Graehl said.
The new maps are revisions of earlier work that predicted the flooding from a 500-year flood.
The Tohoku earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami in Japan a decade ago provided the basis for the update, said state geologist Steve Boylen.
“Japan had sea walls that they had built for a 500-year event,” Boylen said. “The 1,000-year event topped over that.”
In Southern California, the two standards did not produce dramatically different results.
The new maps, built on a probability analysis, “reinforce where we believe the line was back in 2009, but we have added an additional buffer to be extra cautious with the errors and uncertainties in the modeling,” Wilson said.New zonesCurrent zones
A Times analysis of the changes since 2009 shows that Long Beach has the largest additions. Much of the Belmont Shore neighborhood and locations north of Colorado Lagoon and Los Cerritos Channel, as well as west of the Los Angeles River, are included in the 2021 evacuation zone areas.
Also, roughly two dozen blocks along Beach Drive, an upscale area in Hermosa Beach, have been added.
The updated plans include a handful of upscale townhome complexes in Santa Monica as well as a few blocks in Marina Del Rey, which include single-family homes as well as a number of apartments and hotels.
While not extending too far inland in Malibu, the new maps include a number of retail locations and restaurants, as well as a local museum.
The maps are designed to support city and county evacuation plans, which can vary widely due to local conditions.
In the Naples area of Long Beach, for example, there is an elderly population that requires extra attention from the city’s emergency management teams, Graehl said.
With its pier and beachfront, Santa Monica has a large daytime population of tourists and beachgoers who would need to be notified.
Santa Monica visitors as well as residents can sign up for emergency alerts on the city’s website or by text, said Chief Resiliency Officer Lindsay B. Call.
“These maps are incredibly important tools to enable emergency managers to provide the best education to our local residents,” Call said.
The new maps incorporate a philosophical shift in how the agency hopes to support local emergency planning. Some of the squiggly topography lines on previous maps have been pushed out to the nearest major street, so that evacuation zones could be more easily described to the public.
The Los Angeles County maps are part of a phased release of statewide maps, which is expected to be completed by early 2022.
Updates for Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties are currently online, and California Geological Survey plans to release new maps for Monterey, San Mateo, and Alameda counties on March 23.
The last time a volcano erupted on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula was almost 800 years ago. So consider this a 1-in-800-year shot: “On March 24th, I photographed the Geldingadalur volcano with auroras dancing overhead,” reports Christopher Mathews.
Breaking 8 centuries of quiet, the volcano erupted last week on March 19th. Lava oozing through the ground was bright enough to see from Earth orbit as incandescent fountains illuminated the dark landscape.
Mathews immediately began planning his photo shoot. “The night the Geldingadalur volcano erupted, I began scouting locations for this shot,” he says. “There were good auroras over the weekend, but cloud cover blocked them–a huge disappointment. Last night an unexpected snow squall appeared, blotting out the sky and even the eruption itself–another heart-breaker. But then, around midnight, the skies cleared and auroras promptly lit off over the volcano.”
We won’t have to wait 800 years for the next shot. Historical accounts and ancient lava flows show that whenever Geldingadalur has experienced a significant uptick in seismic activity, intermittent eruptions follow for 100 years or so. This eruption could signal a re-awakening.
“It was a magical sight,” says Mathews, “one I took especially to heart because it happened to be my birthday!” Talk about birthday candles…
Asteroids 2021 FO1, 2021 FH and 2021 FP2 had close approaches to Earth on March 23, 2021 (UTC). 2021 FO1 is ~14 feet wide (~4 meters) and will fly about 200,000 miles away (321,869 km) from Earth. 2021 FH is ~52 feet wide (~16 meters) and will fly about 146,000 miles away (~234,964 km). 2021 FP2 is 8.2-19 feet wide (2.5-5.7 meters) and will fly about 201,000 miles away. *Update: Data on Asteroid 2021 FP2 was released after we posted the video on asteroids 2021 FO1 & 2021 FH.
Three asteroids are making close approaches to our planet today (March 23), but don’t worry; the small rocks pose no threat as they drift by Earth, passing closer than the average distance between our planet and the moon.
The largest of the three space rocks, a house-size asteroid called 2021 FH, passed by Earth today at approximately 12:52 p.m. EDT (1652 GMT) at a distance of roughly 145,940 miles (234,870 kilometers), or 0.61 times the average Earth-moon distance. NASA estimates the asteroid’s diameter is between 39 feet and 89 feet (12 meters to 27 meters), or about the length of a semi-truck.
Details about its orbit have been published online by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Small-Body Database Browser, a database of all known small worlds in our solar system. The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center also sent a circular to the community with observations from various astronomers around the world, including updated orbital elements.
Small asteroids and comets pass by Earth on the regular, and in fact, this isn’t the only small world that went by our planet this week. The newly discovered 2021 FO1, now cataloged by JPL, zoomed by Earth quite safely on Monday, March 22 at 11:05 p.m. EDT (Tuesday, March 23 at 0305 GMT).
The newfound world was quite a bit smaller – roughly 11 feet to 25 feet (3.4 to 7.6 meters) in width. At its closest approach, 2021 FO1 was about 199,850 miles (321,640 kilometers), or 0.84 times the average Earth-moon distance. (For comparison, the moon’s distance from our planet averages roughly 239,000 miles, or 384,000 km.)
And tonight at 6:35 p.m. EDT (2235 GMT), another asteroid called 2021 FP2 is expected to make a close flyby of Earth, passing within 200,780 miles (323,120 km) of our planet — just a little bit farther than 2021 FO1. NASA’s Minor Planet Center lists about a dozen more near-Earth asteroids that will fly by our planet this week, but none will be closer than the moon.
Whether you lead an experienced enterprise or run a growing start-up, Ohio is good for business.SEE MORE
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and a suite of partners around the world keep track of small asteroids through telescopic observations, and over several decades of observations by scientists, no imminent problems have been found yet. Earlier this month, the infamous Apophis asteroid made a flyby of our planet; scientists have ruled out any threat to our world from Apophis in 2029.
Upcoming Pentagon report will detail ‘difficult to explain’ UFO sightings
A forthcoming government report will reveal evidence of UFOs breaking the sound barrier without a sonic boom and other “difficult to explain” phenomena, the former Director of National Intelligence said.
John Ratcliffe, the top intelligence official under President Donald Trump, was asked about incidents involving unidentified flying objects on Fox News Friday.
“There are a lot more sightings than have been made public,” he told host Maria Bartiromo. “Some of those have been declassified.”
“And when we talk about sightings,” Ratcliffe continued, “we are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain.”
“Movements that are hard to replicate that we don’t have the technology for. Or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”
A new Pentagon report will also detail any threats posed by the aerial phenomena and whether foreign adversaries are suspected of controlling them.
“Weather can cause disturbances, visual disturbances,” Ratcliffe said.
“Sometimes we wonder whether or not our adversaries have technologies that are a bit further down the road than we thought or than we realized. But these are instances where we don’t have good explanations for some of the things that we have seen.”
Ratcliffe said he had hoped to release the information before the administration’s departure from the White House in January, but “we weren’t able to get it down into an unclassified format that we could talk about quickly enough.”
About 4.5 billion kilometers away from our blue home planet is the giant planet Neptune. For many years it was simply not possible for humans to observe the bluish shimmering celestial body at close range. This was to change in 1989. At that time, NASA sent the space probe Voyager 2 into space, which provided mankind with the first real images of our galactic neighbor. In our contribution today, we would like to take a closer look at Neptune together with you. In doing so, we will also take a look at some breathtaking photos of the celestial body, which will leave you in pure astonishment.
Despite a lack of evidence, many have been captivated by the electrical whiz’s most mysterious project.
U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency concept illustration of a Soviet anti-satellite laser, 1986. Wikimedia Commons
By the 1930s Nikola Tesla was in dire straits.
The onetime savant who had revolutionized the world with his electrical inventions was now a decrepit old man shuffling between hotels in Manhattan, hoarding newspapers and birdseed. When the unpaid bills at one hotel grew too large, he’d simply move on to another, his waning fame his only currency.
From the height of his celebrity, Tesla’s decline had been slow but steady. After his innovative work on electrical power in the late 1800s (specifically on alternating current), the young Serbian immigrant had branched out into radio and wireless power transmission in the early 1900s. Newspapers worldwide reported on his every undertaking, even the most eccentric, such as a 20-story tower in Colorado that built up huge electric charges and shot lightning bolts 135 feet long. The thunder generated was audible 15 miles away.
Nikola Tesla, age 76, October 1933.
So later, when Tesla started talking about even wilder projects—including a powerful new weapon he was working on—folks paid attention. “Tesla’s New Device Like Bolts of Thor,” thundered the New York Times in 1915. In fact, this new device would come to dominate the last decades of Tesla’s life.
Instead of lightning, Tesla said his new weapon would harness a beam of metal ions hurtling along at 270,000 miles per hour. As for how this beam was possible, Tesla was always coy, citing new laws of physics that “no one has ever dreamed about.” He nevertheless bragged about his work to any reporter who would listen: the “all-penetrating” beam would pack 100 billion watts into just one one-hundred-millionth of a square centimeter.
Tesla teased his “teleforce” weapon for decades, saying it could shoot down airplanes from 250 miles away. The press landed on a different name for the invention: death ray. Despite claims to the contrary, Tesla never provided much proof that the death ray worked. But no one could quite dismiss the idea, either. After all, this was Tesla.
Hype about the weapon really took off in the run-up to World War II as Nazi Germany assembled a fearsome air force. The ability to shoot down airplanes from 250 miles away seemed like a godsend, and people in Tesla’s homeland, then called Yugoslavia, begged him to return home and install the rays to protect them from the Nazi menace.
Photograph showing Nikola Tesla seated in his Colorado Springs lab while his high-voltage generator emits bolts of electricity. The image was created using double exposure, December 1899.
By the time the war began in 1939, Tesla’s health had deteriorated. He was deathly skinny and prone to fainting. By early 1943 he was living in a room on the 33rd floor of the New Yorker Hotel near Penn Station, a do not disturb sign permanently fixed to his door. On January 8 a maid ignored the sign, walked into the room, and found the old man dead—reportedly naked except for his socks. He was 86 years old. And with the fate of his death ray unclear, a massive scramble began.
Again, no one knew whether the death ray was real, but it might be the breakthrough the Allies needed to win the war. At the very least, American officials were terrified of Nazi Germany getting the weapon first, so they decided to seize Tesla’s papers. But someone beat them to the punch.
The Yugoslavian ambassador to the United States was actually Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanović, who had ridden his uncle’s coattails to his current post. Kosanović happened to be stationed in New York in 1943, and when he heard of his uncle’s passing he rushed over to the hotel.
While hotel managers looked on, Kosanović instructed a locksmith to crack open a safe in Tesla’s room. Inside, he found some honorary degrees, a gold medal, and a memorial book from Tesla’s 75th birthday. Kosanović took the memorial book, changed the safe combination, and left. All in all, it was a fairly innocent act—Tesla’s rightful heir inspecting his uncle’s things. But to paranoid types in the U.S. government, the visit didn’t seem innocent at all. They feared Kosanović was a spy. The FBI even considered arresting Kosanović for burglary.
Two days later another government agency, the Office of Alien Property, seized all of Tesla’s belongings and impounded them in a storage unit in Midtown Manhattan. (Tesla was a naturalized U.S. citizen, not an alien, so the agency probably didn’t have jurisdiction, but they weren’t about to let legal niceties interfere with national security.) The government then summoned an expert on high-voltage physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to go through Tesla’s papers and see whether the old inventor had actually harnessed the bolt of Thor.
The physicist arrived in New York on January 26 and spent two days going through the papers. He was not impressed. He said the ray work was mainly “speculative, philosophical, and promotional” in nature and included no “sound, workable principles or methods.” In short, a half-baked fantasy.
Tesla proposed a number of frightening weapons during the latter half of his life. This illustration, from the February 1922 issue of Science and Invention, depicts his vision of future wars—waged by crewless ships and aircrafts, which would be controlled and powered by radio waves.
But then came word from another hotel a few blocks away, where Tesla had lived before. He had left a mysterious package in the vault there—a supposed prototype of his death ray.
While the physicist and a few others looked on, the hotel manager opened the vault, bracing for an explosion. Inside stood a small cabinet covered in brown parcel paper. It was the physicist’s job to open it and determine what was inside.
But before he could, the hotel manager handed him a note penned by Tesla. It claimed the prototype inside was worth $10,000. More ominously, it said the box would detonate if opened incorrectly.
At this point the hotel staff scampered away—no doubt feeling lucky to escape with their lives. This left the physicist to face Tesla’s box. Despite himself, he was scared. What if Tesla really had come up with something? Or what if he’d booby-trapped the box, out of sheer paranoia?
After collecting his thoughts, the physicist steeled himself and began tearing off the brown paper. He must have laughed at what he saw underneath: a Wheatstone bridge, a tool for measuring electrical resistance. It was a common, mundane device—some old junk, really. It was certainly not a death ray, not even close.
French poster for the Italian spy movie Il Raggio infernale (The Infernal Ray), 1967. While beam weapons have been a bust scientifically, they have had great success in popular culture.
So did Tesla really believe he could create death rays? Perhaps. Plenty of geniuses have gone off the rails and become delusional in old age.
Or perhaps the whole thing was a swindle, a ploy to scare up funds for research on real science. (The Soviet government did, in fact, pay him $25,000 to investigate beam weapons in 1939.) Equally likely, the device in the vault, supposedly worth $10,000, might have been bogus collateral for hotel bills he couldn’t afford to pay.
Regardless, the physicist had seen enough. “I am willing to stake my professional reputation,” he said, that the death ray was bunk. Most government officials believed him—but not everyone.
After World War II ended, the Cold War ramped up quickly. American military leaders were desperate for an edge against the Communist Soviet Union, and some of them—dazzled by the name of Nikola Tesla—talked themselves into believing that death rays were real. They even started a top-secret military operation to build one, Project Nick.
Apparently nothing ever came of Project Nick—the military never released any details about the work. A frightening new development, however, quickly renewed American interest in beam weapons.
In 1952 Tesla’s nephew convinced a court to release his uncle’s papers. The U.S. government owned classified copies of the important ones, but the nephew sent the originals to a museum in Belgrade, in Communist Yugoslavia. Soviet scientists suddenly had access.
U.S. Air Force artist’s concept of a ground-and-space–based anti-satellite weapons system, 1984.
Ominously, between the 1950s and 1970s, the Soviets made several cryptic announcements. Premier Nikita Khrushchev, for instance, once bragged that “a new and fantastic weapon was in the hatching stage.” In another case, a long exposé in Aviation Week & Space Technology included some leaked diagrams of a weapon that looked alarmingly similar to some then-unpublished work of Tesla’s. American officials were left trembling: were the Soviets on the brink of a superweapon?
The Americans ultimately responded with a new beam-weapon program under Ronald Reagan called the Strategic Defense Initiative—popularly known as Star Wars. It consisted of an array of orbiting satellites that would shoot down incoming missiles with lasers or particle beams. Star Wars was billed as a purely defensive measure, but, of course, any beam that powerful would make a heck of a weapon, too.
Naval Research Lab technicians working on the Low-Power Atmospheric Compensation Experiment satellite, part of President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program, October 1990.
Michael Savell/Wikimedia Commons
Star Wars, however, turned into a boondoggle. All told, the U.S. government spent billions on it—the program’s 1988 budget of $5.7 billion exceeded that of both NASA ($4.7 billion) and the National Science Foundation ($1.7 billion)—and to this day we have nothing to show for it. It simply didn’t work.
Nevertheless, the idea has continued to fire the imaginations of American hawks. Just last year Donald Trump proposed pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into another space-based defense program that would shoot down rogue nuclear missiles with particle beams.
That proposal seems ridiculous enough—wasting more money on a bum technology. But the idea is even more ludicrous coming from Donald Trump. Why? Because the MIT physicist who exposed the death ray as fake news was none other than Trump’s paternal uncle, John.
John Trump assembled a brilliant scientific résumé over his career. During World War II he served as a director at the famed MIT Radiation Lab, which played a crucial role in developing radar. John also worked directly with General Eisenhower’s team and rode into liberated Paris with Eisenhower in 1944. Scientifically, he spent decades teaching and doing research at MIT—one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. More importantly, he figured out ways to harness high-voltage physics for humanitarian projects, such as shrinking tumors with targeted radiation and zapping pathogens in sewer sludge.
When the military went looking for scientists to build Star Wars, John Trump refused to help.
“John, over a period of three decades, would be approached by people of all sorts because he could make megavolt beams of ions and electrons—death rays,” remarked his MIT colleague James Melcher in a 1988 article in Science for the People. “What did he do with [this knowledge]? Cancer research, sterilizing sludge . . . all sorts of wondrous things. He didn’t touch the weapons stuff.”
His career culminated with the National Medal of Science in 1983.
Physicist John Trump (left) and MIT colleague Robert Van de Graaff inspect an electrostatic generator, ca. 1960s.
Nikola Tesla secretly discovered an extraterrestrial language that he didn’t understand, Tesla’s biographer revealed..
I n 1899, Nikola Tesla was testing a transmitter he built to track storms 1,000 km away, when suddenly, he believed he had received a kind of transmission from an unknown source. He thought it was an extraterrestrial signal originating somewhere within our solar system, possibly coming from Mars. Tesla’s transmitter was ultrasensitive enough to receive radio waves from far beyond Earth. Nikola Tesla firmly believed that it was absurd to think that we are the only intelligent beings in the universe. He also believed that intelligent beings would naturally look for ways to communicate with other intelligent beings.
Tim R. Swartz, a well-known biographer of Nikola Tesla, also says there may have been a connection between the futuristic inventor and intelligent aliens, according to his semiautobiographical book “The Lost Papers of Nikola Tesla”. This hypothesis does nothing more than accentuate the mystery surrounding Tesla, whose personal documents and notes, for the most part, were confiscated by the US government. Many people think that his inventions could be potentially dangerous to the interests of the industry.
As explained by Swartz, during the test of one of his many inventions, Tesla detected radio transmissions that adjudged to extraterrestrial communications. After this event, the inventor would have become obsessed with building better and more powerful radio receivers.
While testing the device, Swartz claimed in an interview, Nikola Tesla overheard radio transmissions he believed were actually attributed to extraterrestrial communications: “H e wondered at the time if he wasn’t listening to ‘one planet greeting another,’ as he put it. From that point on, it became somewhat of an obsession of his, to build better and better radio receivers to try to see if he could repeat what he heard. He got to the point where he claimed that he was actually receiving voice transmissions. He said it sounded just like people talking back and forth to each other. He made notes saying that he was actually hearing an intelligence. At the time, it was surmised by prominent scientists that Mars would be a likely haven for intelligent life in our solar system, and Tesla at first thought these signals may be originating from our red planet. Beings from another planet talking to each other, although he didn’t know what language they were speaking. But he still felt he understood them.”
While Tesla’s most prominent records and personal notes are in the hands of the United States Army, Swartz claims to have acquired a number of private records at a 1976 auction. The author claims that all this information was missing from the face of the Earth after the visit of the alleged “Men in Black”. As noted by National Geographic, most of Tesla’s were taken by the government but most of his belongings were later released to his family, and many ended up in the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, which opened in the 1950s. But some of Tesla’s papers are still classified by the U.S. government.
When interviewed in February 1901 by Colliers Weekly (American magazine, founded in 1888 by Peter Collier), Tesla gave this account and recorded his belief in extraterrestrials. Here, in his own words, he described, “W hile I was improving my machines for the production of intense electrical currents, I was also perfecting the means to observe the small effects. One of the most interesting results and also of great practical importance, was the development of certain devices to indicate an approaching storm from a distance of many hundreds of kilometres, its direction, speed and distance covered.
It was by doing this work that, for the first time, I discovered these mysterious effects that aroused such unusual interest. I had perfected the device so much, that from my laboratory in the mountains of Colorado I could observe all the electrical changes that occurred within a radius of more than 1,000 km away I will never forget the first sensations I experienced when I realized that I had seen something of incalculable consequences for humanity. I felt as if I was present at the birth of new knowledge or in the revelation of a great truth. My first observations positively terrified me, because there was something mysterious, if not supernatural, about them, and I was alone in my laboratory at night but at that time the idea that these disturbances were intelligently controlled signals had not yet presented itself to me The changes I noticed were occurring periodically and with such clear precision, in terms of number and order, that they were not traceable to any cause known to me. I was familiar, of course, with the types of electrical disturbances produced by the Sun, Northern Lights and terrestrial currents, and I was absolutely certain that these variations were not due to any of these causes.
The nature of my experiments prevented the possibility of the changes being produced by atmospheric disturbances, as has been wrongly stated by some. It was sometime later when the thought came to my mind that the disturbances I had observed could be due to intelligent control. The crucial point was that, although Nikola Tesla could not decipher the meaning of the messages he received, he believed that aliens were interested in Earth and being more technologically advanced left their marks on our planet. He was absolutely convinced that somewhere in the universe there were intelligent life forms and that they were trying to communicate with us. Although I was unable, at the time, to decipher their meaning, it was impossible to think of them as having been entirely accidental. The feeling that I was the first to hear a greeting from one planet to another has been growing steadily in me. A purpose was behind these electrical signals.”
Just as Earth has spectacular auroras, so too do other Solar System planets have their own versions of the atmospheric light show.
Jupiter, in fact, has the most powerful auroras in the Solar System – invisible to our eyes, but glowing brilliantly in ultraviolet wavelengths.
Because Jupiter is so wildly different from Earth, scientists are deeply invested in learning what drives these incredible atmospheric phenomena – and they just got a new clue. Thanks to the Juno orbiter, we’ve now observed for the first time the onset of Jupiter’s mysterious auroral dawn storm.
Jupiter’s auroras are produced by a constant rain of high-energy electrons mostly stripped from Io’s atmosphere. These are accelerated along magnetic field lines to Jupiter’s poles, where they fall into the upper atmosphere and interact with the gases to produce a glow.
This is unlike Earth’s auroras, which are produced by particles from the solar wind. Also unlike Earth’s auroras, Jupiter’s auroras are permanent, and can behave quite differently.
One of these behaviors is the dawn storm – an intense brightening and broadening of the aurora at dawn, first observed in 1994. However, these dawn storms start on the night side of the pole, and we’d never been able to see them forming until NASA’s Juno probe arrived on the scene.
“Observing Jupiter’s aurora from Earth does not allow you to see beyond the limb, into the night side of Jupiter’s poles,” explained astronomer Bertrand Bonfond of the University of Liège in Belgium.
“Explorations by other spacecraft – Voyager, Galileo, Cassini – happened from relatively large distances and did not fly over the poles, so they could not see the complete picture. That’s why the Juno data is a real game-changer, allowing us a better understanding of what is happening on the night side, where the dawn storms are born.”
The emergence of a dawn storm. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/UVS/ULiège/Bonfond)
Dawn storms are really something. They start on the night side of the planet, rotating into view as dawn breaks, transforming Jupiter’s aurora into a blazing ultraviolet beacon, giving off hundreds to thousands of gigawatts of light – at least 10 times more energy than the usual Jovian aurora. They persist for a few hours before subsiding into more normal energy levels.
Because the two planets have such differences between their auroras, the process that generates the dawn storm was expected to be unlike any processes seen in Earth’s auroras. Surprisingly, however, the data from Juno’s ultraviolet spectrograph looked oddly familiar.
“When we looked at the whole dawn storm sequence, we couldn’t help but notice that the dawn storm auroras at Jupiter are very similar to a type of terrestrial auroras called substorms,” said astronomer Zhonghua Yao of the University of Liège.
Earth’s auroral substorms are amazing to see. They occur when Earth’s magnetosphere is disturbed by electric currents, resulting in an explosive release of energy into the ionosphere. There, the energy is dissipated as a complex, dancing aurora that can last several hours.
Substorms are strongly influenced by the solar wind and the orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field. But Earth’s magnetosphere is dominated by interactions with the solar wind; Jupiter’s is filled with plasma stripped from Io, which is controlled by the planet’s location.
According to the team’s analysis, Jupiter’s auroral dawn storms are influenced by an over-spill of plasma from Io, rather than the solar wind; but the result is the same, a disturbance of the magnetosphere resulting in an explosive release of energy.
This can only increase our understanding of the auroral processes on both planets, and could help us better understand aurora on other bodies in the future – including brown dwarfs, which have strong enough auroras to detect across interstellar space, even when they are nowhere near a star.
“Although the ‘engine’ of the auroras on Earth and Jupiter is very different, showing for the first time the links between the two systems allows us to identify universal phenomena and to distinguish them from the particularities relative to each planet,” Yao said.
“The magnetospheres of the Earth and Jupiter store energy through very different mechanisms, but when this accumulation reaches a breaking point, the two systems release this energy explosively in a surprisingly similar way.”
The menagerie of bacterial and fungal species living among us is ever growing – and this is no exception in low-gravity environments, such as the International Space Station (ISS).
Researchers from the United States and India working with NASA have now discovered four strains of bacteria living in different places in the ISS – three of which were, until now, completely unknown to science.
Three of the four strains were isolated back in 2015 and 2016 – one was found on an overhead panel of the ISS research stations, the second was found in the Cupola, the third was found on the surface of the dining table; the fourth was found in an old HEPA filter returned to Earth in 2011.
All four of the strains belong to a family of bacteria found in soil and freshwater; they are involved in nitrogen fixation, plant growth, and can help stop plant pathogens. Basically, good bacteria to have around if you’re growing things.
You might wonder what such soil bacteria were doing all the way up on the ISS, but the astronauts living on the space station have been growing small amounts of food for years, so it’s unsurprising that we’ve found plant-related microbes aboard.
One of the strains – the HEPA-filter find – was identified as a known species called Methylorubrum rhodesianum. The other three were sequenced and found to all belong to the same, previously unidentified species, and the strains were named IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5.
The team, lead by University of Southern California geneticist Swati Bijlani, has proposed calling the new species Methylobacterium ajmalii after Ajmal Khan, a renowned Indian biodiversity scientist. This new find is also closely related to an already known species called M. indicum.
“To grow plants in extreme places where resources are minimal, isolation of novel microbes that help to promote plant growth under stressful conditions is essential,” two of the team, Kasthuri Venkateswaran and Nitin Kumar Singh from NASA’s JPL, explained in a press statement.
Considering we already know that these microbes can survive the harsh conditions of the ISS, the team put the four strains through genetic analysis to look for genes that could be used to help promote plant growth.
“The whole genome sequence assembly of these three ISS strains reported here will enable the comparative genomic characterization of ISS isolates with Earth counterparts in future studies,” the team writes in their study.
“This will further aid in the identification of genetic determinants that might potentially be responsible for promoting plant growth under microgravity conditions and contribute to the development of self-sustainable plant crops for long-term space missions in future.”
The researchers found that one of the ISS strains – IF7SW-B2T – had promising genes involved in plant growth, including a gene for an enzyme essential for cytokinin, which promotes cell division in roots and shoots.
There’s much more research to be done here – the researchers acknowledge that they’ve barely scratched the surface of microbial diversity on the space station. Around 1,000 samples have already been collected on the ISS, but are still awaiting a trip back to Earth.
Just imagine the exciting space-faring microbes we are yet to discover!
If we haven’t heard from extraterrestrials, maybe it’s because we’re not using the right technology—yet
The Fermi Paradox is one of the major unanswered questions in astrobiology. It started with physicist Enrico Fermi, who in 1950 asked his co-workers over lunch: “Where are they?” What he meant was intelligent extraterrestrials. If there are billions and billions of stars and probably even more planets, why have we not already been in contact with extraterrestrial (ET) civilizations?
This is even more puzzling since our Sun and Earth are relatively young, meaning that life could have originated on other worlds long before it did here, and intelligent beings on those planets could easily be millions of years ahead of us.
There are two principle answers to the paradox: The alien civilizations are (1) present but for some reason we can’t detect them, or (2) they simply are not there, or at least not in our vicinity. In regard to the first option, Star Trek’s prime directive comes to mind, or perhaps a scientific variation of the Zoo hypothesis (aliens don’t interfere with us because we are an unstable emerging civilization).
There are in fact so many possible solutions to the Fermi Paradox that whole books are written about it. Nevertheless, assuming aliens are around us, shouldn’t there be some evidence? Well, not necessarily. Carl Sagan pointed out that if an ET civilization is far ahead of us, their actions would appear to us as magic. Just imagine us flying a spy drone over our Stone Age ancestors!
What about the so-called UFO sightings that we astrobiologists are sometimes asked about (see, for example, the top UFO cases of 2012 as judged by the Mutual UFO Network). On one hand, I believe that we scientists are sometimes too dismissive of eyewitness reports, and too quick to rationalize them away as natural phenomena or hallucinations. On the other hand, we rely on the scientific method, and reported sightings are not reproducible events that we can test in the laboratory.
What about the second answer—that aliens simply do not exist? The Drake equation, which is usually used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the universe, includes a term for the probability of life originating on a planet. If this term is near zero, the number of expected ET civilizations is near zero. Usually we assume that life on Earth was not a singular event, and that it would have happened elsewhere under similar conditions, but we don’t know for sure. We still don’t know how life occurred on Earth, and what ingredients were needed. It’s possible that the rise of intelligent civilizations is such a rare event that the next civilization with our kind of technology is thousands or even millions of light years away.
Or perhaps there’s another possibility, which I raised once at a SETI meeting when we were examining the question of why we haven’t had a positive detection yet. Imagine using a walkie-talkie in modern New York, and wondering why no one responds on your frequency. It’s because everyone is on Facebook or Twitter! So it might be with ET, who may be using technology well advanced of our own.
Could CIRCULAR runways take off? Aerospace tests show circle designs would increase capacity, allow for simultaneous landings and take-offs and remove the risk of crosswinds
The runway would be built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal
Aircraft can avoid risky crosswinds by landing in any direction, says scientist
It would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously
Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist.
Built as a 2.2mile-wide circle nearly seven miles in circumference around an airport, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously.
The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). Circular runways +3
Circular runways could revolutionise commercial aviation while increasing the capacity of airports by 2050, according to a leading Dutch scientist
Built as a 2.2 mile wide circle around an airport terminal, the runway would allow for a high volume of traffic as several takeoffs and landings could take place simultaneously
Without crosswind holding up flights and causing delays, planes would be able to land and take off more frequently, increasing airport capacity.
Being able to land from any direction also means planes are not required to fly over residential areas as often, lowering noise pollution.
Even when airports are in heavily-populated areas, the flights can be spread out over a greater number of flight paths so homes around the airfield would ‘share’ the noise between them rather than the same households having to put up with all of the noise.
The endless runway design has a slight incline and curve as it surrounds the entire airport, similar to high-speed car test tracks.
‘We need to rethink the way we are dealing with airports, with capacity, with the environment,’ Hesselink told Mashable.
‘We are looking for a solution where aircraft can take off and land under any weather conditions.’
A singular circular runway could handle the traffic of four conventional runways and takes up less space, according to Hesselink.
The design is safer than conventional airports because aircraft can avoid dangerous crosswinds by landing in any direction, according to Henk Hesselink, an engineer at Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)
The landing aircraft can also be routed away from residential areas to reduce noise pollution because they are not dependent on a standard approach path
There have already been some trials on a circular track with fighter pilots who have landed there.
‘These pilots reported in the beginning it was a bit strange but after two or three trials they reported it is very well possible,’ Hesselink added.
The radical circular runway is part of an effort to increase capacity at airports amid increasing levels of traffic. Scientists believe mobility will be stressed in the coming decades and new technology will be necessary.
‘We can keep on optimizing the system, but at a certain moment, small steps don’t work any more and we really need a new idea to cope with the anticipated traffic,’ said Hesselink.
The circular design is part of ‘The Endless Runway‘ project, led by a team of Dutch scientists from the NLR.
The work has been carried with partners in The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Poland.
Theoretically, how can I travel to a parallel universe?
You’re doing it every time you make a decision.
Let me explain, before going all reality based on me.
While only hypothetical, there is a possibility that there are an infinite number of universes out there. I know, I know… universe technically means “everything”. But there is at least one prevailing theory with some compelling evidence… We exist.
There are an infinite number of possibilities for physical laws. A universe may have any number of gravitational strengths, energy may behave differently, matter might be non existent. The fact that we are in this “Goldilocks” universe, not too hot or too cold, suggests there may be an infinite number out there. In fact, if the strength of gravity was changed just a very minute amount (I’m talking by trillionths of a fraction), our universe would be very different than it is now, without stars, or crushed back to a singularity before it could inflate for more than a few years.
This is called the Many Worlds Interpretation, or MWI, originally formulated by Hugh Everett in 1957.
In MWI, there is a view that every action that has the possibility of one outcome or another, will actually produce two, each diverging into a new, and alternate universe.
Take the Schrodinger’s Cat mind experiment. A cat is placed in a box that is sound proof and completely enclosing, preventing any indication of what is happening inside the box from reaching an outside observer. Inside this box is a device that will release a deadly poison that can kill that cat. The release of this poison is dependent upon a very small amount of a radioactive substance in which the chance of one atom decaying in one hour is 50/50. If the atom decays, the poison is released and the cat is killed.
Erwin Schrodinger posited that while the cat was in the box, it was neither alive or dead, but in a state somewhere in between. It wasn’t until the box was opened and the fate of the cat observed that the actual state coalesced into one of either dead or alive. In other words, the observation actually dictated an outcome.
MWI says that upon observation, the cat is both alive and dead, but in a divergent universe. If we observe the cat as alive, a parallel universe is created at that moment in which our dopplegangers are observing a dead cat.
These are all mind experiments, admittedly, but seriously considered in some circles.
If this is the case, we are travelling into parallel universes all the time, but we just don’t know it, since it appears to be continuous from the previous moments we have experienced.
2001 FO32 won’t come any closer than 1.25 million miles
The largest asteroid predicted to pass by Earth this year will reach its closest point on March 21.
The space rock, which formed at the dawn of the solar system and was discovered in March 2001, is called 2001 FO32.
According to a Thursday NASA release, the asteroid won’t come any closer than 1.25 million miles — five and a quarter times the distance from the Earth to the moon — and will fly by at 77,000 miles per hour.
Researchers believe the asteroid’s diameter is likely less than 1 kilometer.
There is no present threat of a collision with Earth, nor will there be for centuries to come.
That said, 2001 FO32’s path will present astronomers with a rare opportunity to closely observe the planetoid because 1.25 million miles is still relatively close in astronomical terms.
NASA explained that this technicality is the reason why the asteroid has been designated “potentially hazardous” and the agency assured that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) works to “help precisely characterize every NEO’s orbit to improve long-term hazard assessments.”
“We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately, since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since,” CNEOS Director Paul Chodas said. “There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
In addition, the asteroid’s speedy approach is due to its steeply inclined and elongated orbit around the sun.
After its March 21 fly-by, 2001 FO32 won’t come close to the Earth again until 2052. The asteroid will be visible with a moderate-sized telescope with apertures of at least 8 inches in the nights leading up to the closest approach.
The last notably large asteroid close to the Earth was 1998 OR2 in April of last year.
More than 95% of near-Earth asteroids the size of 2001 FO32 have been discovered and tracked and none of the large asteroids has any chance of impacting Earth over the next century, according to the agency.
It reported on Thursday that scientists had cataloged 2,958 previously unknown near-Earth asteroids despite the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 107 of which had passed Earth at a distance less than that of the Moon.
WASHINGTON (WJZ) — If you dig deeper into the big pandemic bill and spending package passed in December 2020, you’ll see an unusual demand. U.S. intelligence agencies have less than six months to tell Congress what they know about “unidentified aerial phenomena” or what’s better known as UFOs.
Marc Gershuny remembers his first sighting like it was yesterday.
“I looked up at the sun and right under the sun was a black UFO,” Gershuny said. “It was the standard saucer shape with a little dome on the top.”
It happened while he was with his son.
“He couldn’t see it but I could see it as clearly as the nose on your face,” he said.
Since then he’s had multiple sightings.
“I’ve seen UFOs right here on the corner by my house — a ball of molten metal glowing white plasma ball that just you know gently floated overhead and then past over the trees,” Gershuny said. “My wife and I both saw that.”
Gershuny is now the president of Maryland’s chapter of the UFO Network, also known as MUFON. They investigate sightings in the state.
Maryland has seen eleven cases already this year.
And soon his belief in UFOs could be corroborated. As a part of the COVID-19 relief and spending bill, intelligence agencies have less than six months to tell Congress what they know about UFOs.
“If it’s something from outside this planet that might actually be better than the fact that we’ve seen some technological leap on behalf of the Chinese or the Russians or some other adversary,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
But for Gershuny, he hopes this report will shed light on what may loom in our universe.
“I think it’s good though for the country and I think it’s good for civilization as we evolve to understand what’s really going on out there,” he said.