5 Science Things SCIENCE – ASTRONOMY – HUMAN ENDEAVOUR – PHYSICS – TECHNOLOGY
1. Space Station Air Leak after micrometeorite hit
The International Space Station (ISS) sprung a leak yesterday, a problem, which on Earth, would require an emergency call to your local plumber. That strategy is obviously not going to work in space. The air leak was caused by a micrometeorite. How big is a micrometeorite? They are measured up to 2mm at their largest size. How can something so small punch a hole in a spacecraft? The average velocity of this space dust relative to the space station is 36,000 kph (22,500 mph). The size of the dust usually just sandblasts the space station or any spacecraft, but on this occasion, one seemed to have got through and caused the air leak.
The leak was in one of the Soyuz spacecraft and the crew was able to scramble a repair mission and successfully sealed the hole. In addition, the damage to the Soyuz was in such a location as not to compromise its use when it ferries crew members back to Earth. It’s worth adding that even in space duct tape can come in handy for a quick fix before more serious repair work was carried out.
2. The Galileo GPS system for Britain or…?
The UK’s Brexit may bring about a couple of problems not foreseen when the decision was made by voters and the government to pull out of the EEC. Britain might not be given access to the encrypted military parts of the Galileo GPS System launched by the EU.
Who can live without GPS these days? GPS is in almost every phone and in many newer vehicles. It allows us to navigate everything from giant freighters on the ocean to walking around a strange city with a simple tap of a screen or a voice command. We rely on it for driving, flying, surveying, land management, agriculture, stock-taking, deliveries, traffic monitoring, mobile phones, and even keeping track of the family dog. It has become so much a part of our lives that the loss of it wouldn’t just be inconvenient, it would soon grow to be catastrophic.
Everybody used to rely on the US system of global positioning and if America wanted to remove any part of it or downgrade the system and stop the information falling into the wrong hands, it could do so. So many smaller countries have developed their own systems or at least a back-up. Should the UK be denied use they will have to develop their own system.
The UK military is heavily dependent on satellite navigation, and the present European stance would deny the British access to the military parts of the system or even expel Britain from the program. Since the prolonged loss of satnav is estimated to cost the country £1 billion ($1.29 billion) per day, an alternative is needed.
3. The Largest Near-Earth Object NASA has ever seen
There are asteroids buzzing past our planet on a regular basis, but most of the time they are only a few metres wide. However, during September, Earth is in for an encounter with a monster asteroid that measures 4.4 km (2.7 mls) across. This is the largest NSAS has tracked since study of Near Earth Objects (NEO) began 30 years ago. Over the 20 years since 1998, they have tracked 16,000 NEO’s with none, of course, being on a collision course. Don’t forget the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 was only 20 metres wide!
The call by scientists say that anything over 1 km wide would trigger planet-wide and life-extinguishing chaos. The name of this 4th rock from the Sun is Florence and it’s only one of 880 of these rock mountains zipping about our neighbourhood. The good news is that Florence will not harm Earth and next month it will make its closest pass to our planet. It was at its closest point at time of writing on September 1st at 7 million km. Its next pass will be in about 500 years.
4. Quasars and Quantum Entanglement
What is quantum entanglement and why did it even bother Einstein about the possibility that it can even exist? Quantum entanglement is the theory that two particles can remain intrinsically linked across vast distances. In the world of physics, the idea is to prove theories and this is one that seems to be able to be scientifically demonstrated repeatedly.
MIT researchers carried out experiments that provided very strong evidence of quantum entanglement that goes back 12 billion years. If you were to study a pair of particles that were quantum entangled, measuring the physical properties of one particle instantaneously affects that same property of its partner, no matter how much space separates the two. Classical physics says that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light – but quantum entanglement breaks the rules by apparently allowing those particles to communicate more than 10,000 times faster.
When the phenomenon was first noticed by Einstein, who famously called it “spooky action at a distance,” it was considered evidence that our understanding of quantum theory was incomplete.
There was a loophole of “freedom-of-choice” in what to measure and then using the outcome to prove a point when in fact the decision was a human one. One way to close that loophole is to remove the human decision from the experiment. In earlier tests, scientists used random number generators to make a split-second choice about what property was going to be measured between pairs of photons. But even this was thought to leave a gap.
Cosmic Toss of the Coin
So the MIT researchers decided on the ultimate test: What if the “decision” has already been made, billions of years before the experiment was ever conceived? Let’s say you’re studying two rubber balls to see if they’re the same. You can either check if they’re the same colour or the same size, and to make that decision you flip a coin to randomize it. That’s essentially what the MIT researchers were doing in the latest experiment – but the coin was flipped 8 billion years ago. Hidden variables are going to have a hard time interfering with that.
The researchers beamed pairs of entangled photons in opposite directions down a tunnel, towards detectors at either end. Before the photons struck the detectors, a “cosmic coin flip” changed the angle of those detectors in order to measure a different property of the photons.
In this case, the “coin” was light from two distant quasars. The researchers used two large telescopes in the Canary Islands to monitor these incredibly bright celestial objects and make the decision. If the light of a single photon from the quasar was red, it would tilt the detector to one angle. If it was blue, it would tilt a different way.
The kicker is that one of these quasars is 7.8 billion light-years away, and the other is 12.2 billion light-years, meaning the light from them took that long to arrive here. The decision about how to measure the entangled photons was up to 12.2 billion years in the making.
The researchers ran this same experiment twice for 15 minutes each time, using two different pairs of quasars. Overall, they measured more than 30,000 pairs of entangled particles. The team then calculated that the chance of hidden classical variables messing with the results would be about one in a hundred billion billion.
The researchers admit that there’s still an extremely tiny chance that the results came through a loophole. In the future, the team plans to run a similar test using some of the oldest light in the universe – microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang itself.
5. Better Hearing with AI
It seems like every day, the tech industry is promising us a better life. But is it really? Well, for those of you who are currently wearing hearing aids, or might need to at some point, you might have a better experience with this new artificial intelligence (AI) hearing aid.
Starkey Hearing Technologies is offering an AI hearing aid that’s hopefully better than any other hearing aid on the market today. It’s not only better, but it also might even have the ability to raise your hearing beyond what’s considered normal.
The company is reinventing the hearing aid for a generation that’s obsessed with the next great tech device. The Livio hearing aid enhances your ability to hear things. It can also automatically translate foreign languages and track physical and mental well-being.
This Device Is More Than a Hearing Aid
The hearing aid will be able to translate between 27 languages when synced up with a companion app, called Thrive. The translation will appear in the selected language on the mobile device.
This will serve as an easy way to communicate with a person who doesn’t speak your native language. All you’ll have to do is show them the translation. And if a person says something in a language that’s unfamiliar to you, the words will be translated into spoken English through the earpiece.
But the hearing aid’s amazing features don’t stop there. It can also count your steps, determine your “brain score” based on active listening and social engagement, stream music, and respond to smart gestures. For example, a person wearing the hearing aid would be able to control the volume from a TV by double tapping their ear instead of having to search for the remote.
The hearing aid manages and separates layers of sound to replicate “normal” hearing. This would be ideal in loud places and also when trying to hone in and pay attention to someone talking to you. With this device, you’ll be able to hear clearly.
Hearing loss affects your everyday life. So, being able to hear at all would make you happy. But with Livio AI, you’ll be able to not only hear but also have a variety of features to assist in maintaining and enhancing your physical and mental well-being.
AI continues to pave the way for ground breaking and innovative technologies.
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