Monthly Archives: August 2007

hologram for you, sir!

3D image projected in mid-airSo you take a laser and you shoot it into the air, creating a true 3-D image that anyone can view from any angle. Can’t be done, you say? Science fiction, you say?

Well, the Japanese Institute for Doing The Impossible[1] has proven you wrong again by creating just such a device. Take that! It’s no trick, either. The device uses a high-powered laser to ignite the atmosphere[2], tracing its trail of destruction into pleasing shapes for us. Better yet, while I wasn’t looking they improved the contraption, making the image brighter and apparently giving it the ability to display Japanese. In Japan, no less!

Will wonders never cease?

[Thanks, Nick!]

[1] a loose translation
[2] tiny parts of it, admittedly

Green Roofs: An Introduction with Pretty Pictures

green roofMake that drool-inducing gorgeous photos of places I’d love to see in person. EcoGeek (now added to my regular feeds) has a fun piece on green roofs. Not just solar tiles or recycled materials, though; these roofs are actually green, with grass and other plants.

It’s not just for hobbits anymore. The logic of green roofs is becoming more apparent. We can minimize our bills while maximizing the beauty of the urban landscape. And every day it’s becoming a little easier to live in a house that just happens to have plants growing on it.

Maybe for you, my friend. Maybe for you. The rest of us will just watch and dream.

Researchers create gravity in lab experiment

Funny, I was just talking to Nate about this the other day. “The real problem,” I said, “is that so far it hasn’t been possible to create any sort of artificial gravitational field. Without that it would be like developing a theory of electromagnetism if all we had was natural lodestones.” You can imagine my excitement at hearing that researchers measured a gravitational field created by movement, not just by ordinary mass. Better yet, it’s much bigger than predicted by relativity:

Small acceleration sensors placed at different locations close to the spinning superconductor, which has to be accelerated for the effect to be noticeable, recorded an acceleration field outside the superconductor that appears to be produced by gravitomagnetism.

Although just 100 millionths of the acceleration due to the Earth’s gravitational field, the measured field is a surprising one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein’s General Relativity predicts.

Initially, the researchers were reluctant to believe their own results.  “We ran more than 250 experiments, improved the facility over 3 years and discussed the validity of the results for 8 months before making this announcement. Now we are confident about the measurement,” says Tajmar, who performed the experiments and hopes that other physicists will conduct their own versions of the experiment in order to verify the findings and rule out a facility induced effect.

If this turns out to be repeatable, it’s likely to be a big step toward figuring out the relationship between those things we can control (electric and magnetic fields) and those we wish we could (gravitational fields). Exciting stuff!

your choice of space hotels

Galactic Suite designLooks like Bigelow Aerospace has some new competition. A company called Galactic Suite has plans to build an orbiting hotel by 2012. Details are a bit sparse, but they already have $3 billion in funding to make it happen:

Galactic Suite began as a hobby for former aerospace engineer Claramunt, until a space enthusiast decided to make the science fiction fantasy a reality by fronting most of the $3 billion needed to build the hotel.

An American company intent on colonizing Mars, which sees Galaxy Suite as a first step, has since come on board, and private investors from Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates are in talks.

The company’s blog has a few early design ideas, but no details on how they’re actually hoping to get to orbit.

overcoming shyness… with SCIENCE!

Now why didn’t I think of that? An article in LiveScience talks about the roots of shyness and possible treatments.

Carducci says that despite beliefs to the contrary, shyness is not completely hardwired. This is because shyness requires a sense of self—which develops only after about 18 months of age. It involves feelings of excessive self-consciousness, negative self-evaluation and negative self-preoccupation, he explained.

“Shy people operate as if thy have a mirror in front of them all the time,” he told LiveScience.

[...]People might try imagining themselves in different social situations while taking slow, deep breaths to keep calm. They can also work to slowly expand their comfort zone, Carducci said. He suggested volunteering as a good way to do this. “When you volunteer, [people] don’t really care your level of skill; they’re just after your time, so there’s no critical self-evaluation,” he explained.

Okay, so it’s not exactly a specific regimen to follow, but there are still some great tips for sky people in there. I plan to try some of them out myself…