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SpaceX launches second Falcon 1

A Falcon 1 rocket lifted off late Tuesday on a test flight that the rocket’s developer, SpaceX, declared a success even though the rocket failed to reach orbit. The Falcon 1 lifted off from Omelek Island, part of Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, at 9:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday carrying a test payload. The launch initially went well, but telemetry from the rocket was lost about five minutes into flight. Company officials said that the rocket experienced a roll control anomaly during the second stage burn which apparently kept the rocket from achieving orbit, although it did fly to an altitude of approximately 300 kilometers. While the root cause of the problem isn’t known, SpaceX believes it can be fixed relatively easily and that the flight overall retired 90 percent of the risk associated with the vehicle, including operation of the first stage, stage separation, and payload fairing separation. Tuesday’s launch took place about an hour after a previous launch attempt was aborted at T-0 seconds when sensors detected a low chamber pressure in the main engine, caused by colder-than-normal kerosene fuel. SpaceX, which developed the small launch vehicle privately, is not planning to perform another test flight before its first operational mission, the launch of the TacSat 1 experimental satellite for the Defense Department, later this year.

SpaceX’s Second Falcon 1 Rocket Fails to Reach Orbit

SpaceX Media Gallery

Researchers Successfully Control Wireless Device Inside Artery

Some 40 years after the release of the classic science fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage”, researchers in the NanoRobotics Laboratory of École Polytechnique de Montréal’s Department of Computer Engineering and Institute of Biomedical Engineering have achieved a major technological breakthrough in the field of medical robotics. They have succeeded for the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.
Article @ École Polytechnique de Montréal

Beautiful Details in the Crab Nebula

A new image of the Crab Nebula supernova remnant taken using the Prime Focus Camera on the Subaru telescope highlights the beauty of stellar debris expanding away from the site of this ancient blast. The high-resolution image captures details of an elongated tendril of gas rushing out at roughly 1.500 kilometers per second. While the nebula has been observed many times using both ground- and space-based telescopes, the new image is giving astronomers another opportunity to study the mechanics of the expanding gas in much greater detail.
http://www.subarutelescope.org/Pressrelease/2007/03/12/index.html

Modified ink-jet printer prints artificial bone

A modified ink-jet printer can be used to directly print layer upon layer of artificial bone for quick-fix grafts used in reconstructive surgery.
Jake Barralet of the Faculty of Dentistry at the McGill University in Montréal, Québec, and Uwe Gbureck of the Department for Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Würzburg, Bavaria, and their team describe a method for “printing” artificial bone from the same chemical components as living bone and including biomolecules that trigger blood vessel growth to bring the bone to life after it is implanted in the body. The McGill-Würzburg team uses the minerals brushite and hydroxyapatite instead of conventional “ink” in their printer. By printing one layer on top of another they can build up a highly porous 3D bioceramic material resembling bone at room temperature.
Printing better bones

World's thinnest material

Physicists from the University of Manchester and the Max-Planck Institute in Germany have created a new kind of membrane that is only one atom thick. It’s believed that this super-small structure can be used to sieve gases, make ultra-fast electronic switches and image individual molecules with unprecedented accuracy.
Wissenschaftler stellen hauchdünne Membranen her

Transistors made from organic materials

A flat screen that can be rolled up and put into a jacket pocket – organic transistors with low energy consumption could make this possible. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart and at the Universities of Stuttgart and Erlangen have constructed complementary circuits from organic transistors characterised by low supply voltages and low consumption values. These energy-saving electronic components consist of two different transistor types.
Scientists construct complementary circuits from organic materials

Physicist Hawking will experience flight in zero gravity

Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who authored the best-selling book “A Brief History of Time”, soon will experience a brief history with weightlessness. Hawking, who uses a wheelchair and is almost completely paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, plans to go on a weightless flight on April 26, 2007, officials at the Zero Gravity Corporation at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Thursday. Hawking will be flying aboard a specially configured Boeing 727 aircraft that travels a curving parabolic path.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6409597.stm

Alien worlds have dry atmospheres

Scientists taking their first “sniffs of air” from planets outside our solar system are a bit baffled by what they did not find: water. One of the more basic assumptions of astronomy is that the two distant, hot gaseous planets they examined must contain water in their atmospheres. The two suns the planets orbit closely have hydrogen and oxygen, the stable building blocks of water. These planets’ atmospheres – examined for the first time using light spectra to determine the air’s chemical composition – are supposed to be made up of the same thing: good old H2O. But when two different teams of astronomers used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope for this new type of extrasolar planet research, they both came up dry, according to their studies published in Thursday’s edition of “Nature” and the online version of the “Astrophysical Journal Letters”. The study of one planet found hints of fine silicate-particle clouds. Research on the other planet found no chemical fingerprints for any of the molecules scientists were seeking.
So far, scientists have found 213 planets outside our solar system, but only 14 have orbits that make it possible for this type of study; only eight or nine of those are close enough to see. One team studied the closest, which goes by the catchy name HD 189733b. It is about 360 trillion miles from Earth in the constellation Vulpecula. The other planet, HD 209458b, studied by the other team, is about 900 trillion miles away in the constellation Pegasus and it is the one with the strange silicate clouds.
NASA’s Spitzer First To Crack Open Light of Faraway Worlds

Powerful Solar Winds Colliding Head On

Off to one corner of NGC 346, a star cluster in the Small Magellanic Cloud, there’s an amazing collision between two stars. Well, not the stars themselves, but the powerful winds they are ejecting. The two stars are collectively known as HD 5980. They are a binary system of stars separated by only 90 million kilometres; this is roughly half the distance from the Earth to the Sun. One star has 50 times the mass of the Sun, while the other weighs in at 30 times the mass of the Sun. And both are radiating more than a million times the energy of the Sun. Both stars are producing terrifyingly strong solar winds, each dumping the mass of the Earth into space every month, and then accelerating this mass away with the pressure from all the photons they’re emitting. Since the stars are so close to each other, their solar winds interact. ESA’s XMM-Newton Observatory measured the X-ray output from this collision zone, and found that the energy from only X-rays is 10 times the amount of energy output by our own Sun.
First X-ray detection of a colliding-wind binary beyond the Milky Way

Sight and sound are parallel

More than three centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton reflected on the similarities between the sense of hearing and the sense of sight. Newton’s speculations were impossible to test scientifically – until now. A novel Brandeis University study confirms the Newtonian idea that sight and sound are indeed parallel – at least when it comes to encoding and retrieving short-term memories from the two senses.
K. Visscher, E. Kaplan, M.J. Kahana & R. Sekuler: Auditory short-term memory behaves like visual short-term memory (PDF, 975 KB)