Illustration of the neutron star collision that created the signal GW170817 NASA/CXC/Trinity University/D. Pooley et al. Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss When two neutron stars collide and merge, what do you get? A beefier neutron star or a tiny black hole? A May 2018 paper looking into last year's historic neutron star collision suggests the latter. On Aug. 17, 2017, the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Italian Virgo gravitational wave observatory detected what is arguably the most significant astronomical event in modern times: a neutron star smashup. That smashup created a gravitational wave signal named GW170817. Unlike the handful of gravitational wave signals that came before it, GW170817 wasn't generated by a merging black hole. Three gravitational wave observatories (the two LIGO stations in Washington and Louisiana, plus the single Virgo detector) detected the signal in concert, so scientists were able to triangulate the approximate … [Read more...] about What Do You Get When Two Neutron Stars Collide?
Hong Kong man makes his own female robot Reuters In the 2013 film "Her," director Spike Jonze imagines a not-so-distant future in which a lonely fella shacks up with a sentient computer operating system named Samantha. The lonely guy was portrayed by actor Joaquin Phoenix, the AI voiced by actor Scarlett Johansson. For one Hong Kong tech geek, it appears the future is now: He's created at home a life-sized robot that can talk and move. It also just so happens to look at lot like a certain sultry-voiced movie star. Ricky Ma won't say who he modeled his Mark 1 robot on, but one look at the prototype is sorta like running into a wax replica of Johansson at Madame Tussaud's. There's the dirty blonde hair, the hazel green eyes, and even a perfectly placed mole on the robot's cheek. Mark 1 is programmed to make simple movements when prompted by voice command, and responds to a predetermined set of questions. Tell the robot how beautiful it is and it — she? — will even … [Read more...] about This Man Built His Own Life-size Robot Version of a Hollywood Star
Is your organic lettuce really organic? Thinkstock Buying eco-certified products is one key way to lower your environmental impact – but the world of certification labels isn’t always so easy to navigate. What’s really the difference between organic and certified organic? What do LEED, Greenguard, and Energy Star certifications tell you? Do you really need to buy FSC-certified wood? We're here to help your efforts to help the environment: We’ve detailed five of the most common certifications to guide you on your path to a greener life. … [Read more...] about Energy Star, Organic, and More: Understanding Eco-Friendly Certifications
Queen guitarist Brian May also has a doctorate in astrophysics. Don Arnold/WireImage/Rastan/iStock If you're an aficionado of 1970s rock, you've probably got the soaring guitar licks on Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody” still etched deeply into your gray matter. But Brian May, the British virtuoso who played those notes, is enough of a science rock star that NASA recently invited him to meetings with researchers working on the agency's New Horizons space probe. While many stadium rockers used to fancy themselves as cosmic, May actually has a legitimate claim to that distinction. He received a doctorate in astrophysics from London's Imperial College in 2008, where he now is a visiting researcher. New Horizons captured the first close-up images of the dwarf planet Pluto. May helped out by assembling two of the images captured by the satellite to create the first high-quality stereo image of the distant orb. (Note: To get the 3-D effect, you'll need to buy or make your own … [Read more...] about Rock Star Astrophysicist? Yes, and a For-Real Rock Star, Too
Double Star, a pair of closely-spaced stars that to the unaided eye usually appear as a single star. The pair is called an optical double if the two stars seem to be close together only because of their alignment as seen from earth. A true double star is called a binary star, or binary system. It consists of two stars that lie relatively close together in space and revolve around one another because of the gravitational attraction each exerts on the other. More than half of all known stars belong to binary systems or to multiple-star systems containing binary stars. Astronomers can determine the masses of stars in a binary system whose distance from the earth is known by calculating the orbits of the stars around each other. When both stars of a binary system can be seen individually in a telescope, the pair is called a visual binary. Often the presence of a second star is discovered by other means. In an astrometric binary, regular variations in the position of a visible star reveal … [Read more...] about Double Star