Fifty years ago, on Dec. 14, 1962, reporters gathered for a press briefing at NASA headquarters and heard an unearthly sound: radio signals being beamed back by a spacecraft flying within 22,000 miles of Venus.
The Mariner 2 mission to Venus was the first time any spacecraft had ever gone to another planet.
These days, vivid photographs showing scenes from all around the solar system are so ubiquitous that people might easily forget how mysterious our planetary neighbors used to be.
Did you know plants use quantum mechanics every day? That quantum computers can hack the encryption used in online commerce? Or that a 'quantum internet' could someday teleport your emails? MIT's Seth Lloyd discusses those and other quantum mysteries in this episode of "Ask a quantum mechanic."
Could you handle a world that looked upside down? Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of The Annals of Improbable Research, shares a case study in which the subject was made to wear vision-flipping goggles. Ten days later, the man was riding a bicycle and playing catch in the park--his only impairment the strange headgear itself.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:50 pm
Credit Jazz Aldrich / Great Basin Brewing Company
The world isn't going to end next Friday, but Dec. 21, 2012, has come to be known as the Mayan apocalypse because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. As scientists have told us repeatedly, the end of the calendar year was actually a time for celebration and renewal — the equivalent of an ancient New Year's Eve. So breweries around the country have decided to celebrate with — what else? — beer.
Nothing beats the smell of a live Christmas tree in your home, but how can you keep the needles on your tree and off your carpet? Rick Bates, professor of horticulture at Penn State University, offers tips for how to properly care for your Christmas tree this holiday season.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Of course we'll be following any updates in the school shooting in Connecticut that has left dozens of people dead, including children and the gunman. Any updates that are necessary, we'll break in and let you know.
Imagine one day, just one day, where the world you saw was upside-down: water poured up; smoke drifted down; balloons acted more like lead weights. It might be enough to drive you crazy. Could you handle two days? Three? How about 10 days with your vision turned completely on its head?
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:03 pm
Alan Alda founded The Flame Challenge last year to promote better science communication, and he started by asking scientists to come up with a kid-friendly explanation for a flame. Now, Alda is back with round two of the popular contest, and kids want to know: What is time?
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:02 pm
Though we hear about them every holiday season in that famous song, chestnuts – whether roasting on an open fire or otherwise – have been noticeably absent from many American tables for decades, thanks to a deadly fungus that decimated the species near half a century ago. But a small army of determined growers have been on a seemingly quixotic quest to put chestnuts back on the American table, and they're just starting to see results.