Among the new solar systems discovered by the Kepler spacecraft are planets that share orbits, one with resonances that keep the planets from scattering away or falling into the parent star, and one with worlds so tightly packed that one orbits its star in a single day.

Today, the X PRIZE Foundation announced the official roster of 29 registered teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, an unprecedented competition to send a robot to the Moon that travels at least 500 meters and transmit video, images, and data back to the Earth. This group of teams signifies this new era of exploration’s diverse and participatory nature as it includes a huge variety of groups ranging from non-profits to university consortia to billion dollar businesses representing 17 nations on four continents. The global competition, the largest in history, was announced in September 2007, with a winner projected by 2015.

This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program -- each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors.

Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way!

This scientific visualization creates a three-dimensional virtual tour of several dark pillars of cool gas in the Carina Nebula. The stars and nebula layers from Hubble's two-dimensional image have been separated using both scientific knowledge and artistic license to create the depth in the movie. Of note, the relative distances between stars and the nebula have been greatly compressed. The result is an intriguing journey through a virtual cosmic landscape.

This version of the movie is presented in anaglyph stereo 3D and is viewable with glasses that have a red lens over the left eye and a cyan (a.k.a. blue-green) lens over the right eye. Such glasses are often made of cardboard and have been distributed in numerous 3-D promotions. An internet search for "red cyan anaglyph glasses" will provide many options for obtaining such glasses.

So Horava did the unthinkable and amended Einstein's equations in a way that removed Lorentz symmetry. To his delight, this led to a set of equations that describe gravity in the same quantum framework as the other fundamental forces of nature: gravity emerges as the attractive force due to quantum particles called gravitons, in much the same way that the electromagnetic force is carried by photons. He also made another serious change to general relativity. Einstein's theory does not have a preferred direction for time, from the past to the future. But the universe as we observe it seems to evolve that way. So Horava gave time a preferred direction [...].

With these modifications in place, he found that quantum field theories could now describe gravity at microscopic scales without producing the nonsensical results that plagued earlier attempts. "All of a sudden, you have new ingredients for modifying the behaviour of gravity at very short distances," Horava says.

“We view the speed of light as simply a conversion factor between time and space in spacetime,” Shu writes. “It is simply one of the properties of the spacetime geometry. Since the universe is expanding, we speculate that the conversion factor somehow varies in accordance with the evolution of the universe, hence the speed of light varies with cosmic time.”

The US Air Force developed a top-secret plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon as a display of military might at the height of the Cold War.

In an exclusive interview with The Observer, Dr Leonard Reiffel, 73, the physicist who fronted the project in the late Fifties at the US military-backed Armour Research Foundation, revealed America's extraordinary lunar plan.

'It was clear the main aim of the proposed detonation was a PR exercise and a show of one-upmanship. The Air Force wanted a mushroom cloud so large it would be visible on earth,' he said yesterday. 'The US was lagging behind in the space race.'

Today these radiation belts are called Van Allen belts. Now comes the surprise: While looking through the Van Allen papers at the University of Iowa to prepare a Van Allen biography, Fleming discovered "that [the] very same day after the press conference, [Van Allen] agreed with the military to get involved with a project to set off atomic bombs in the magnetosphere to see if they could disrupt it."


The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.

Looking largely to inspire dreams of space among the Japanese, a manufacturing cooperative named Astro-Technology SOHLA announced on April 27th that they are planning to create and send a two-legged humanoid robot to the moon, have it draw the Japanese flag on the surface, and then hopefully get it back to the Earth, all by the year 2015.

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