Monday, March 30, 2015

Nuclear fusion rockets to propel us into the future

Rockets that harness the power of nuclear fusion may provide the next big leap in humanity's quest to explore the final frontier, NASA's science chief says.

Lockheed's Skunk works facility has made many breakthroughs of late

Nuclear fusion rockets could slash travel times through deep space dramatically, potentially opening up vast swathes of the solar system to human exploration, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

"It's transformative," Grunsfeld said last month after his presentation at Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo, Calif., a two-day celebration of DIY science, technology and engineering. "You could get to Saturn in a couple of months. How fantastic would that be?"

For a little perspective: NASA's robotic Cassini spacecraft blasted off in October 1997 and didn't enter Saturn orbit until July 2004.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Project Orion: the good, the bad and the ugly

Project Orion was a study of a spacecraft intended to be directly propelled by a series of explosions of atomic bombs behind the craft (nuclear pulse propulsion). Early versions of this vehicle were proposed to take off from the ground with significant associated nuclear fallout; later versions were presented for use only in space.

Key components of the Orion drive

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Solar sails to take us to the nearest stars

While rocket fuel has provided the energy for most space travel so far, solar energy may provide the boost for spaceships in the future. Just like cloth sails harness the wind, giant reflective sheets called solar sails can harness the sun's energy . These sheets could save fuel and provide maneuverability, but cannot function deep in space.

Artist concept of a solar sail in space
Solar sails work by capturing the energy from light particles as they bounce off a reflective surface, according to the Department of Energy. Each light particle has momentum, and when it strikes a reflective surface, it imparts that momentum to the reflective sheet, just like a collision of two billiard balls.

As billions of light particles hit the sheet, they push the sail strongly enough to move a spacecraft. Over time, the solar particles could keep pushing a spaceship faster and faster, allowing it to attain very high speeds, according to scientists at Argonne National Laboratory.

Achieving invisibility using science

Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter fantasy series.

Cloaking is the process by which an object becomes hidden from view, while everything else around the cloaked object appears undisturbed.

"A lot of people have worked on a lot of different aspects of optical cloaking for years," John Howell, a professor of physics at the upstate New York school, said on Friday.

A laser shows the paths that light rays travel through the system, showing regions that can be used for cloaking an object. Photo: University of Rochester

Monday, March 9, 2015

The most commonly reported shapes of UFOs

A mother ship resembling a giant football, a whirling coin-shaped disk that flashes across the sky, a diamond-shaped craft with a brilliant, mirror-like surface…
These are among the most common UFO shapes, according to veteran UFO researcher Brad Steiger, author of Mysteries of Time and Space.
Here are detailed descriptions based on Steiger’s analysis of several thousand sightings over the past 40 years:

8. BLINDING LIGHT. Typically spotted at night, this UFO doesn’t have a definite shape – it’s simply a dazzling orange light. “But it moves methodically, as if guided by some form of alien intelligence.”  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

UFOs - Impossible maneuvers, defying physics and time

Kenneth Arnold, first UFO sighting in history
You have only to read or hear a few flying saucer reports to realize that aerodynamically something very interesting is involved. In both speed and maneuverability the UFO is remarkable. If it is a machine - and I think it is - it is surely a terrific one. It represents a level of scientific development far beyond anything dreamed by terrestrial science.

This can best be demonstrated by quoting a few instances. When, for example, UFOs first came to public attention in the late 1940s, their superior performance was immediately apparent. The report of Kenneth Arnold, the Washington state businessman who saw, if not the first flying saucer in history, certainly the first one in which the world took an interest, illustrates the point.