An artist's concept of the completed Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)
Credit Giant Magellan Telescope
Technicians on Saturday are set to cast 20 tons of glass for the third of seven ultra-precise primary mirrors that will make up the 72-foot Giant Magellan Telescope, scheduled for completion in northern Chile's arid Atacama Desert in 2020.
The parabolic mirror will be cast at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. The molten borosilicate, made by the Ohara Corporation, will be spun cast at 2140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. East Coast seabirds have had a tough year. They've been battered by storms and disruptions in the food chain. Among them, the sturdy little Atlantic puffin. Now, here in the United States, their numbers dwindle to just a single nesting pair by 1901. Since then, thanks to the Audubon Society's Project Puffin, they've made a comeback. But as WBUR's Fred Bever reports, the puffins are now facing some new threats.
Draft report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change was leaked to the media this week. The scientists will report to the U.N. that it is nearly certain that human activity has caused most of the earth's climate change over the last 50 years. Now, this leak is certain to rekindle debates about how best to contend with events like increasing temperatures and rising sea levels, and it might make some people take a new look at what's called geoengineering.
Next month, a scientific committee sponsored by the United Nations will put out its latest assessment of climate change. The report is expected to underscore yet again that climate change is a serious problem and human beings are largely responsible.
When you last visited your local science museum, what did you see? Those cavernous dark halls, the dinosaurs, a bone frozen into place. The dioramas of stuffed big-horn sheep in a painted habitat. We all know of those. At least that might be how you remember it. But museum directors today are reimagining that Victorian-era museum, reimagining it for the 21st century. They envision using everything from smartphone apps to walk-through labs and meet and greet with actual scientists.
Musical performances may not be a completely auditory experience, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Study author Chia-Jung Tsay discusses how visual cues can influence our judgments about music and other social settings.
Imagine a robotic lab that can sample ocean organisms on its own and perform DNA analysis of what it finds. William Ussler, of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, describes how a prototypical robotic explorer is helping study the life around undersea thermal vents.
The ailing Kepler planet-hunting telescope cannot be fixed, the victim of failed reaction wheels required to aim the instrument. However, researchers still have reams of data to sift through. William Borucki of NASA and Joshua Winn of MIT discuss the search for distant planets.
Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers write of a possible link between copper in drinking water and Alzheimer's disease in mice. Lead author Rashid Deane discusses the potential mechanism.