Make Real Lava

There’s no better way to learn about volcanoes than by creating real lava. That’s exactly what scientists at the University of Buffalo did. By cooking up 10-gallon batches of molten rock and injecting them with water, they are shedding light on the basic physics of lava-water interactions, which are quite common in nature, but poorly understood. What did they discover? Lava-water encounters can sometimes generate spontaneous explosions when there is at least about a foot of molten rock above the mixing point. Read more for another video and additional information.

NASA Voyager 2 Interstellar Space

A human-made object has reached the space between the stars for the second time only in history. NASA’s Voyager 2 has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 has a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space, which means its slightly more than 11 billion miles from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but the information it transmits – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel back to Earth – light traveling from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach our planet. Read more for another video and additional information.

NASA Mars Audio Sounds

NASA has just released a new audio file, captured by the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport InSight lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, of the first ever “sounds” of Martian winds on the Red Planet. The lander’s sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, which were estimated to being between 10 to 15 mph on December 1st, from northwest to southeast, consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area. Read more for another video and additional information.

Moth Mimic Leaf

Photo credit: Enyagene | Szymon Stebnicki
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks, the Uropyia meticulodina is bizarre, yet incredible, moth that can perfectly mimic a fallen, dead curled up leaf to perfection. Despite its strange mimicry, the curled up-looking wings are fully functional, and actually as straight as those of any regular moth species. This effect is created by minute scales on its wings that replicate the shading of a curled up dead leaf. Read more for another video and additional information.

NASA Curiosity Rover Shiny Rock Mars

Photo credit: DM
NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered a mysterious shiny rock, officially named “Little Colonsay,” which could be gold, or more than likely, just a meteorite. The team will use its MastCam system to get better images, since it provides multiple spectra and true-color imaging with two cameras. The cameras can take true-color images at 1600×1200 pixels and up to 10 frames per second hardware-compressed video at 720p (1280×720). “One of the samples that we try to get a better look at is ‘Little Colonsay’. The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny. But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry. Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again,” said NASA. Read more for the full-photo and a bonus video.

AI Restore Damaged Art

Photo credit: Daily Mail
Researchers at MIT’s CSAIL have unveiled “RePaint,” a system that can reproduce damaged artwork using an artificial intelligence-guided 3D printer. This means color-accurate reproductions, even in less than optimal conditions, such as low-light. “If you just reproduce the color of a painting as it looks in the gallery, it might look different in your home. “Our system works under any lighting condition, which shows a far greater color reproduction capability than almost any other previous work,” said Changil Kim, one of the MIT researchers that published a paper on the system. Unlike other systems, RePaint works by stacking ten different transparent inks in thin layers, and then the AI predicts the ideal stack needed to generate the desired colors. Read more for additional examples and information.

NASA InSight Lander Lands

NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), a mechanical three-legged, one-armed mining spacecraft, successfully landed on Mars Monday afternoon, finishing one journey It will be the first mission to drill deeper into Mars as well as investigate if there are “Marsquakes.” The lander will open its solar panels after it waits for dust to literally clear approximately 4-hours after touching down. Read more for a live stream and additional information.

Chinese Scientist Genetically Edited Babies CRISPR

Photo credit: Daily Mail
Scientists have discovered a relatively easy way to edit genes in recent years using a tool called CRISPR-cas9, which makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply a needed gene or disable one that’s causing problems. Chinese scientist He Jiankui of Shenzhen claims to have the altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far, resulting in twin girls who now have an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus. Read more for another video on gene editing and additional information.

Explorer Full Body Scanner

The EXPLORER Total Body PET scan, developed by UC Davis scientists Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi, is currently the world’s first full-body medical imaging scanner. It’s capable of capturing a 3D image scan of the entire human body in just one 20-30 second pass, thus eliminating the need for body specific machines, while also reducing the patient’s exposure to radiation from multiple tests. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.

MIT Ion Powered Plane
MIT researchers have successfully flown a wind-powered aircraft that does not have any moving parts. This 16-foot wide, ion-powered machine stays in the air using charged 40,000V wires that strip negatively-charged electrons from air molecules, which are attracted to negative electrodes at the back of the aircraft, and then using the collisions to create the thrust needed to keep afloat. Read on for a video of it in-action and additional information.