Categories
Science and nature

Spectacular BECO cutoff during Starliner launch

NASA and Boeing launched the Starliner Commercial Crew space craft yesterday. One of the stages is BECO cutoff where the main booster detaches from the rocket, prior to the Centaur engine starting up, and pushing Starliner into orbit.

There’s an awesome view of the rocket from the ground that shows this spectacular effect at BECO cutoff:

You can see this in the NASA video around now:

Categories
People Photography Science and nature Travel and places

The mountains won’t remember you

I really enjoyed Peter McKinnon‘s video titled “The Mountains Won’t Remember Me” for a few reasons. To begin with, his photography is awe inspiring. The video was created from a shoot in Banff, Canada. It’s probably one of the most beautiful regions I’ve every seen, albeit through McKinnon’s video.

The mountains, the hills, and the rivers in this video are idyllic. If I could live anywhere in the world, I’m pretty sure I’d want to spend most of my time there.

I also appreciated the central premise of the video – the enduring nature of these mountains, and their utter indifference to our day to day struggle to stand out, and be noticed.

Featured image by Will Tarpey
Categories
Policy issues Science and nature

Join #TeamTrees, and plant more trees

We watched Mark Rober’s video promoting the #TeamTrees initiative to plant 20 million trees by the end of 2019, this morning:

I was fascinated to learn how trees capture carbon to build mass. I knew that trees absorbed carbon from the atmosphere, but didn’t quite realise how. He explained this as part of his pitch to contribute to the #TeamTrees initiative that a YouTube personality, MrBeast, started with this video:

A growing number of YouTube personalities have joined the call to contribute to the cause that, in turn, donates the money to the Arbor Day Foundation. Each dollar donated will result in a tree being planted.

This initiative won’t fix climate change, but it’s a positive step in the right direction, and sends a signal that this is important. We made a contribution this morning through the site. You can donate either through the #TeamTrees site, or on YouTube where you see donation buttons like this:

Closer to home for us is the Jewish National Fund that receives donations to plant trees in Israel, like these trees in the Ben Shemen forest just outside our city:

So, if you’d like to donate to initiatives that plant more trees, here are two options to start with:

More about this

If you’re interested in reading more about the challenges facing initiatives like this, The Verge has a pretty good article that you may want to read: “Planting trees to take on climate change isn’t as easy as YouTubers might think“. While there are certainly important considerations to bear in mind, this is still a worthy project to back.

Tackling climate change is a multi-faceted, long-term process. This is one step, and a way to make a contribution to our shared future on this planet.

Cover image by Daiga Ellaby
Categories
Events and Life Science and nature

Generational differences in our Space Age

First All Women Spacewalk At The ISS

NASA streamed a milestone in Human spaceflight yesterday: an all women spacewalk at the International Space Station. Although it wasn’t exactly a thrilling ride (I’m pretty sure that when it comes to working in Earth orbit, “thrilling” isn’t what you want), it was still momentous in that both astronauts doing the spacewalk were women.

Upcoming spacewalking duo Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, courtesy of NASA on Flickr

Generational gap

Watching the stream on TV left me with the sense that how we and our kids view these events is very much a generational thing:

Parents who grew up with rare televised Space stuff: “Hey kids, check out these astronauts working in space, right now! Wow! And this time they’re all women, wow!”

Kids who grew up with on demand streams of constant Space stuff: “Oh, ok … <back to their gaming device>

Parents:


About the spacewalk

If you’re interested in the mission (and likely older than 20-something), take a look at the NASA blog post about the mission:

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:38 a.m. EDT. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are venturing out into the vacuum of space to replace a failed power controller, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU). The BCDU regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab’s systems.

Female Duo Ventures Outside Station for Historic Spacewalk – Space Station

The video stream ran to almost eight hours, but it’s definitely watching, at least in part (this is the sort of video you may just have on in the background):

Categories
Devices Science and nature

A quantum computer did something a classical computer just can’t do

Quantum computing still seems to be at a pretty early stage. At the same time, it looks like it has the potential to do truly remarkable things. In at least one case, it did something a classical computer just can’t feasibly do:

But that seriously understates what’s going on here. Every calculation that’s done on a quantum computer will end up being a measurement of a quantum system. And in this case, there is simply no way to get that probability distribution using a classical computer. With this system, we can get it in under 10 minutes, and most of that time is spent in processing that doesn’t involve the qubits. As the researchers put it, “To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor.”

Ars Technica

For more, read the full article “Paper leaks showing a quantum computer doing something a supercomputer can’t | Ars Technica“.

Image credit: DWave 128 chip by DWave, licensed CC BY 3.0

Categories
Science and nature Travel and places

Penguins on ice

We’re at the tail end of our Australian visit. I have a pretty large collection of photos from our trip which I’ll probably share soonish.

In the meantime, here’s a fun photo of penguins at the Sea Life Aquarium in Melbourne.

Categories
Science and nature Travel and places

Storm rolling over the Hong Kong airport

I’m travelling to Australia with our soon for a family event. We’re travelling through Hong Kong, and this storm had rolled over the airport. It’s pretty spectacular!

Categories
Events and Life Science and nature Travel and places

We’re heading to the Moon in a new beginning with SpaceIL

Israel’s first, private lunar lander is on its way to the Moon after a successful launch onboard the SpaceX Nusantara Satu mission. If our lander makes it to the lunar surface, Israel will be the fourth nation to land on the Moon, and the first country to land SpaceIL‘s privately built spacecraft.

#israeltotheMoon

Building the lander

SpaceIL has a great time-lapse video showing the lander’s construction:

The launch

The launch itself was pretty exciting (as most SpaceX launches are). We watched the recording of the launch this morning before our kids left for school:

Reaching the Moon

The lander itself is pretty small, and it will use a series of gravitational maneuvers to reach the Moon in early April. Here’s what we can expect to happen:

This is really exciting. It will take some time for the lander to arrive at the Moon so, in the meantime, read Ars Technica’s “The first private mission to the Moon may launch Thursday night“, and follow along on Twitter for updates:

Featured image: “Nusantara Satu Mission” by SpaceX, released to the Public Domain