Tag Archives: astronaut

Time-Warp: The Unfolding Story of 4-D Printing

Image of printing press with legs holding a quill
It’s probably something like this.

4-D printing remains in its early stages, It’s certainly too early to tell if  it’s anything more than a buzzword, let alone if its promise will translate into practicality. But the sorts of people who bet on these kinds of things are betting on it.

And why not? Suppose a structure could unfold itself, like origami. Imagine if walls could flex or stiffen in response to shifting loads, or if a buried pipe could change shape to accommodate varying water flows — or to pump water via peristalsis, like your digestive system. Through 4-D printing, nothing is set in stone unless you want it to be.

How 4-D Printing Works

Who Names NASA’s Space Probes?

Early artist's conception of New Horizons, courtesy of NASA.
Early artist’s conception of New Horizons, courtesy of NASA.

The latest NASA space probes to make the news have zoomed to the farthest reaches of the solar system, and their names – Pluto’s New Horizons, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s Rosetta and Philae – reflect the ambition and spirit of discovery behind them.

But who gets to pick those evocative names, and is there any pattern that ties them together? Read on …

What’s Way Cooler Than Naming a Kid? Naming a NASA Spacecraft

10 History-making Hispanic Researchers

Photo of Luis Alvarez with balloons.
When not doing Nobel prize-winning research, Luis Alvarez built President Eisenhower an indoor golf-training machine, analyzed the Zapruder film and tried to locate an Egyptian pyramid’s treasure chamber using cosmic rays. Photo courtesy Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Far too many scientists who made major contributions to knowledge and human health go unremarked, forgotten save for the occasional postage stamp or Google doodle. So when I was offered the chance to write about a few of the many outstanding scientists who came from Spanish-speaking lands, cultures and ancestors, I was understandably excited…and a little nervous. On the one hand, combining such a varied assemblage of people under one term – especially the political term Hispanic – wasn’t ideal. On the other hand, it gave me the chance to explore, and raise awareness of, a remarkably diverse array of persons, backgrounds and accomplishments. I hope you’ll find their stories as inspiring as I did.

10 Hispanic Scientists You Should Know

The Other Grand Tour: 10 Stunning Space Stopovers

Fomalhaut b
Image courtesy NASA/ESA.

Cosmos is back, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is tooling around the universe in Carl Sagan’s Ship of the Imagination. But suppose someone handed you the proverbial keys? Where in space and/or time would you go?

If you don’t have a ready answer, never fear. I’ve put together an itinerary that can’t fail, whether your tastes run to science or sightseeing. Sure, we might have to break a few physical laws and grow a few extra senses along the way but, hey, it’s not called the Ship of Literal Reality, is it? So hang your fuzzy planets from the rearview and strap in for a star-spanning tour, a jaunt from the local neighborhood to the unreachably distant (and disproportionately dangerous) corners of the universe, en route to…

10 Space Landmarks We’d Like to Visit

Hypersonic: Don’t believe the hype

Falcon program’s Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle
The DARPA Falcon Project’s Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle

Imagine a Mach-20 aircraft capable of flying coast to coast in less time than it takes a passenger to clear security; now imagine the jet lag to follow. If the idea still sounds appealing, bear in mind that the most recent attempt at such a plane flew right out of its own skin before ditching into the Pacific.

Welcome to the world of hypersonic flight.

Of course, that was a military weapons platform; contrary to what some aircraft manufacturers’ flacks would have us believe, passenger planes are likely to remain subsonic or supersonic for the foreseeable future – and for good reason.

Could You Commute From New York to Los Angeles in 12 Minutes?