Cosmic Neighborhood Watch, Keeping Us Safe From Extinction Events

NASA Launches Comet-Hunting Space Camera

NASA on Monday successfully launched a space telescope designed to create a highly detailed map of the heavens and spot comets and asteroids that could pose a threat to life on Earth.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a Delta II rocket at 6:09 a.m. PST.

“”WISE thundered overhead, lighting up the pre-dawn skies,” said William Irace, mission project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif.

“All systems are looking good, and we are on our way to seeing the entire infrared sky better than ever before,” said Irace.

WISE will use an infrared camera to map the cosmos. The mission calls for the unmanned spacecraft to cover the entire sky one-and-a-half times, until its frozen coolant runs out. NASA hopes it will capture everything from near-Earth asteroids to distant galaxies teeming with stars.

“The last time we mapped the whole sky at these particular infrared wavelengths was 26 years ago,” noted UCLA’s Edward Wright, who is principal mission manager.

“Infrared technology has come a long way since then. The old all-sky infrared pictures were like impressionist paintings—now we’ll have images that look like actual photographs,” said Wright.

WISE is designed to provide information about the size, composition, and texture of near-Earth objects such as comets and asteroids.

“We can help protect our Earth by learning more about the diversity of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets,” said Amy Mainzer, deputy project scientist for the mission at JPL.

WISE will also attempt to document the cycle of life in the Universe, as it will capture faraway images of star-hatching galaxies and ravenous, planet-eating black holes.

See also:
WISE Spacecraft Seeks Near Earth Objects, New Stars Using Infrared Wavelengths
NASA launches new mapping spacecraft
Utah-made telescope blasts into space
Infrared Space Telescope Launched From California
NASA launches spacecraft that will map stars, galaxies, asteroids
NASA Craft To Photograph Entire Universe
Nasa sky survey probe blasts off
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer launched
NASA’s WISE (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) telescope launched
NASA – Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
Delta II Overview
Delta II

/WISE is not only good science, but a good idea for protecting the Earth, well done NASA and JPL

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Watch Out For Black Holes!

Large Hadron Collider in process of restarting

Scientists are in the process of restarting a giant particle collider built to reproduce the conditions of the big bang, Europe’s CERN physics research center said Friday.

After a year’s delay, the scientists hope to have beams of protons circulating all the way through the Large Hadron Collider’s 17-mile-wide (27-kilometer-wide) underground ring in both directions by early Saturday, and then accelerate them this weekend, CERN spokesman James Gillies said.

“At the moment they’re putting beams down in the Large Hadron Collider, and as the night goes on they’ll take the beams through and start circulating them,” he told Reuters. CERN reported that beams were fully circulating in the clockwise direction, and that preparations were being made to send beams counterclockwise as well.

The experiment will not be properly under way until January when the LHC is operating at a higher level, Gillies said.

Technical problems forced CERN to shut down the $10 billion collider just nine days after it was started for the first time in September 2008.

The problem was a faulty splice in the super-conducting cable connecting two cooling magnets in the underground ring, which smashes particles at a temperature of just above absolute zero to re-create conditions believed to exist at the start of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

As the particles smash into each other at nearly the speed of light — once the collider is operating at full throttle, which will take several weeks — they will explode in a burst of energy which scientists will monitor for new or previously unseen particles which they predict could help explain the nature of mass and the origins of the universe.

CERN said last year’s accident never posed any danger. The Geneva-based institution has had to rebuff suggestions that the experiment would create millions of black holes that would suck in the Earth.

See also:
Large Hadron Collider fully armed and operational
Large Hadron Collider fires up after $40M repairs
Proton Beams Are on Track at Collider
Large Hadron Collider restarts after 14 months of repairs
Beam sent around Large Hadron Collider
In pictures: Cern Large Hadron Collider restarts
Large Hadron Collider ready to restart
Science: Large Hadron Collider ready to restart
The Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider
Higgs boson
Saw This In a Movie Once, Pretty Sure It’ll Work

Okay, so the object of this exercise is to produce a particle collision with enough energy to produce previously theoretical sub-particles, most notably the infamous Higgs boson. Now, my question is, if these sub-particles are, by definition, smaller than anything currently known to man, capable of moving through mass unimpeded, what’s going to contain them as they fly off at the speed of light?

/pardon me if I don’t volunteer to stand next to this thing while it’s operating

Saw This In a Movie Once, Pretty Sure It’ll Work*

*Steven Wright

Scientists Not So Sure ‘Doomsday Machine’ Won’t Destroy World

Scare headline aside . . .

Three physicists have reexamined the math surrounding the creation of microscopic black holes in the Switzerland-based LHC, the world’s largest particle collider, and determined that they won’t simply evaporate in a millisecond as had previously been predicted.

Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes could exist for much longer — perhaps even more than a second, a relative eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.

Under such long-lived conditions, it becomes a race between how fast a black hole can decay — and how fast it can gobble up matter to grow bigger and prevent itself from decaying.

Casadio, Fabi and Harms think the black hole would lose out, and pass through the Earth or out of the atmosphere before it got to be a problem.

“We conclude that … the growth of black holes to catastrophic size does not seem possible. Nonetheless, it remains true that the expected decay times are much longer (and possibly >> 1 second) than is typically predicted by other models,” the three state in a brief paper posted at the scientific discussion Web site ArXiv.org.

See also:
On the Possibility of Catastrophic Black Hole Growth in the Warped Brane-World Scenario at the LHC

Probing Question: Could the Large Hadron Collider swallow the Earth?

Large Hadron Collider homepage

So, the alternatives are, we could all die or we could find the evidence that proves there are really 11 dimensions, give or take a few. A.K.A. M-theory, it would be a a game changer, we’d have to change all the science textbooks.

See also:
M-theory, the theory formerly known as Strings

Status of Superstring and M-Theory

As soon as they get the LHC fixed, I say fire it up!

/you pays your money, you takes your chances