MrSeb writes "Felix Baumgartner has successfully completed his stratospheric skydive from 128,000 feet (39km), breaking a record that was set 52 years ago by Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger — that much we know. From the balloon, to the capsule, to the gear that Baumgartner wore during his 730 mph (1174 kph) free fall, the technology behind the scenes is impressive, and in some cases bleeding edge. ExtremeTech takes a deep dive into the tech that kept Baumgartner alive during the three-hour ascent and (much shorter) descent — and the tech that allowed us to watch every moment of the Red Bull Stratos mission live, as captured by no less than 15 digital cameras and numerous other scientific instruments."
The final mission of the Endeavour has been completed. The shuttle has arrived at its final home, the California Science Center. From the article: "After a dramatic three-day parade through city streets, Endeavour arrived at its new home at the California Science Center shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday amid cheers from thousands gathered to witness a piece of history. 'Mission 26 — Mission Accomplished,' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference at Exposition Park, the shuttle rising behind him as a backdrop. The mayor was referencing the shuttle’s 25 space missions and its journey across the city. The 85-ton orbiter pulled up next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and ground to a halt so that the mayor and others could officially mark its arrival at the park near the USC campus. 'Today everyone in the city of Los Angeles is an astronaut,' said L.A. Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings at the news conference."
Hugh Pickens writes "NASA currently controls its deep space missions through a network of 13 giant antennas in California, Spain and Australia known as the Deep Space Network (DSN) but the network is obsolete and just not up to the job of transmitting the growing workload of extra-terrestrial data from deep space missions. That's why Ouliang Chang has proposed building a massive supercomputer in a deep dark crater on the side of the moon facing away from Earth and all of its electromagnetic chatter. Nuclear-powered, it would accept signals from space, store them, process them if needed and then relay the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth allows. The supercomputer would run in frigid regions near one of the moon's poles where cold temperatures would make cooling the supercomputer easier, and would communicate with spaceships and earth using a system of inflatable, steerable antennas that would hang suspended over moon craters, giving the Deep Space Network a second focal point away from earth. As well as boosting humanity's space-borne communication abilities, Chang's presentation at a space conference (PDF) in Pasadena, California also suggests that the moon-based dishes could work in unison with those on Earth to perform very-long-baseline interferometry, which allows multiple telescopes to be combined to emulate one huge telescope. Best of all the project has the potential to excite the imagination of future spacegoers and get men back on the moon."
another random user writes "Just as electronic circuits are made from resistors, capacitors and transistors, biological circuits can be made from genes and regulatory proteins. Engineer Tae Seok Moon's dream is to design modular 'genetic parts' that can be used to build logic controllers inside microbes that will program them to make fuel, clean up pollutants, or kill infectious bacteria or cancerous cells. The circuit Moon eventually built consisted of four sensors for four different molecules that fed into three two-input AND gates. If all four molecules were present, all three AND gates turned on and the last one produced a reporter protein that fluoresced red, so that the operation of the circuit could be easily monitored."
First time accepted submitter madcarrots writes "The Red Bull Stratos space jump is about to take place. The balloon is filling up and launch is expected around 10 AM MDT. Check out the live feed of the inflation process... it's beautiful!" After some delays it looks like the jump is finally going to happen. UPDATE: The jump was a success. Baumgartner is on the ground and apparently fine.
dsinc writes "Using a continent-spanning telescope, an international team of astronomers has peered to the edge of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy. For the first time, they have measured the black hole's 'point of no return' — the closest distance that matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole. According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, a black hole's mass and spin determine how close material can orbit before becoming unstable and falling in toward the event horizon. The team was able to measure this innermost stable orbit and found that it's only 5.5 times the size of the black hole's event horizon. This size suggests that the accretion disk is spinning in the same direction as the black hole. The observations were made by linking together radio telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, and California to create a virtual telescope called the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT. The EHT is capable of seeing details 2,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope."
another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "The third and fourth spacecraft in Europe's satellite navigation system have gone into orbit. The pair were launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana. It is an important milestone for the multi-billion-euro project to create a European version of the U.S. Global Positioning System. With four satellites now in orbit — the first and second spacecraft were launched in 2011 — it becomes possible to test Galileo end-to-end. That is because a minimum of four satellites are required in the sky for a smartphone or vehicle to use their signals to calculate a positional fix."
MarkWhittington writes "Bill Nye, once known as 'The Science Guy' for his 1990s PBS educational television show, has cut a YouTube video in his current capacity of CEO of the Planetary Society urging people to write to President Obama to restore cuts to planetary science. The budget cuts were enacted by the president last February, causing consternation in the scientific community. Nye writes, 'If that proposal continues the steep decline in funding to NASA's planetary program it will gravely endanger the unique capabilities and outstanding people that have delivered U.S. leadership in space. We will lose a capability that took decades to develop and may never be replaced.'"
olsmeister writes "Ever wonder if the universe is really a simulation? Well, physicists do too. Recently, a group of physicists have devised a way that could conceivably figure out one way or the other whether that is the case. There is a paper describing their work on arXiv. Some other physicists propose that the universe is actually a giant hologram with all the action actually occurring on a two-dimensional boundary region."
theodp writes "In Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nurse Ratched maintained order in the mental institution by dispensing antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs to the patients. Fifty years later, the NY Times reports that some physicians are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money, not to treat ADHD, necessarily, but to boost their academic performance. 'We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families,' said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, an expert in prescription drug use among low-income children. 'We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications.'"
daveschroeder writes "After over 296 days in space, nearly 123 million miles traveled, Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) is making its final journey — on the streets of Los Angeles. The last Space Shuttle to be built, the contract for Endeavour was awarded on July 31, 1987. Endeavour first launched on May 7, 1992 (video), launched for the last time on May 16, 2011 (video), and landed for the final time on June 1, 2011 (video). Endeavour then took to the skies aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), completing the final ferry flight and the final flight of any kind in the Space Shuttle Program era with an aerial grand tour of southern California escorted by two NASA Dryden Flight Research Center F/A-18 aircraft on September 21, 2012 (video). This morning around 1:30AM Pacific Time, Endeavour began another journey, this one on the ground. All Space Shuttles have traveled via road from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA, to Edwards Air Force Base, but this time a Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angeles for the journey from Los Angeles International Airport to its final home at the California Science Center. Getting the shuttle through LA surface streets is a mammoth logistical challenge as it lumbers along at 2 mph to the cheers of onlookers. Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!" Slashdot's Principal Software Engineer Kaushik Acharya was on hand, with camera, and took some great pictures of the event.
scibri writes "In a study of more than 80,000 bioscience papers, researchers have illuminated the usually hidden flows of papers from journal to journal before publication. Surprisingly, they found that papers published after having first been rejected elsewhere receive significantly more citations on average than ones accepted on first submission. There were a few other surprises as well...Nature and Science publish more papers that were initially rejected elsewhere than lower-impact journals do. So there is apparently some reason to be patient with your paper's critics — they will do you good in the end."
RocketAcademy writes "New regulations by the Federal government define asteroidal material to be an antiquity, like arrowheads and pottery, rather than a mineral — and, therefore, not subject to U.S. mining law or eligible for mining claims. At the moment, these regulations only apply to asteroidal materials that have fallen to Earth as meteorites. However, they create a precedent that could adversely affect the plans of companies such as Planetary Resources, who intend to mine asteroids in space."
Horto Domi (hortodomi.com), an agricultural project they describe as "beyond organic." They're working with small prefab greenhouses, adding sensors and Arduino-actuated controls, and even including an earthworm breeding area in most domes, because earthworms are good for the soil and can increase plant production. If you're the kind of person whose plants always seem to shrivel up and die, this may be a great way to garden. With watering and other functions automated, it looks like all you have to do is set your controls, plant what you want to grow, and wait for the "time to harvest" alarm to go off. Okay, it might not be that simple, but Sam and Will say their gardening method saves a lot of energy and time. It also looks like fun, besides being an easy way to grow your own 100% organic fruits and vegetables.
coondoggie writes "NASA said today it has helped develop a 57-lb robotic exoskeleton that a person could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. The X1 was derived from the NASA and General Motors Robonaut 2 project and the could find applications as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement more importantly as a way to help some individuals walk for the first time."
If you are a seafood lover and wish that you could eat more fish raised on pig feces, your dreams are coming true. Due to fierce competition in the Chinese tilapia industry, farmers are increasingly switching to feces instead of commercial feed. From the article: "At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. 'The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,' says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China."
another random user writes "Scientists in the Arctic have launched an urgent investigation into how solar storms can disrupt sat-nav. Studies have revealed how space weather can cut the accuracy of GPS by tens of metres. Flares from the Sun interact with the upper atmosphere and can distort the signals from global positioning satellites. The project is under way at a remote observatory on a windswept mountainside in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic. The site was chosen for its isolation from electronic pollution and for its position in relation to the Earth's magnetic field which flows from space down towards the far North."
sciencehabit writes "Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Hakeem Oluseyi, an astronomer at the Florida Institute of Technology and president of the African Astronomical Society, says his goal is to put one research telescope in every country, starting with African and Southern Hemisphere nations because there is now an amazing opportunity for small telescopes to discover and characterize new planetary systems, as well as measure the structure of the Milky Way. 'Astronomers are no longer looking at high-definition pictures but at HD movies, scanning for objects that change and for transient ones,' says Oluseyi. 'A 4-inch telescope was used to discover the first exoplanet by the transit method, where you watch the brightness vary.' Small telescopes capable to doing real science are a lot cheaper than people think. A 1-meter telescope costs $300,000 but reduce the size by 60 percent, and it falls to just $30,000. For example the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) uses hardware costing less than $75,000 to look at millions of very bright stars at once, over broad sections of sky, and at low resolution to see if the starlight dims just a little — an indication that a planet has crossed in front of the star. The KELT team has already discovered the existence of a very unusual faraway planet — KELT-1b, a super hot, super dense ball of metallic hydrogen so massive that it may better be described as a 'failed star' and located so close to its star that it whips through an entire 'yearly' orbit in a little over a day."
coondoggie writes "It's not a totally new concept, but the Air Force is testing the idea of flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft inline allowing the trailing aircraft to utilize the cyclonic energy coming off the lead plane — a concept known as vortex surfing — over long distances to save large amounts of fuel. According to an Air force release, a series of recent test flights involving two aircraft at a time, let the trailing aircraft surf the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel."