With all of the Star Wars parodies out there in the world, you wouldn’t think that Lucasfilm would balk at a beer paying respects to the most successful film franchise on the planet. Yet, they’re currently bringing a lawsuit against New York-based Empire Brewing for their product Strikes Bock, and Empire is being a “trooper” about the whole thing, as you can see in the video below.
Astronauts have the job with the highest highs and the lowest lows. They’re hailed as heroes, they get to look upon Earth, that pale blue dot, see the sun “rise” or “set” every 45 minutes, and bounce around in zero gravity. But, as we saw in Gravity, pretty much anything and everything they do is dangerous enough to kill them. Even if a mission is entirely successful, their bodies suffer simply from being in space—their immune systems become weaker, their bone density decreases, their muscles begin to atrophy, and their cells age more quickly, primarily due to lack of gravity. Scientists are beginning to study effects of radiation exposure as well, using twins, but suffice it to say, that probably doesn’t help astronauts either. Now NASA is afraid that being in space may reduce an astronaut’s fertility, and has even begun offering to freeze astronauts’ sperm and eggs before they head into the cosmos.
Russia sent up some geckos to see how microgravity affects their sexual activity, but alas, they died before they could have any fun. But the fruit flies made it (and had sex), and there are mice on the ISS right now, so scientists should be able to conduct more in-depth studies on the effects of microgravity, as well as radiation, on both male and female reproductive organs. But scientists are worried that the results might pose a major problem for future Mars colonies.
If movies and TV are to be believed—and why wouldn’t they tell us the truth, they’ve never steered us wrong, right?—one of the biggest threats to the continued existence of humanity is artificial intelligence gone wild. From HAL 9000 to Skynet to Cylons and even this year’s Transcendence, tales of human creations that overflow their bounds and evolve beyond our control fill the annals of science fiction. Hell, that’s exactly what happened to Tony Stark in that Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, his creation took on a life of its own and starts wrecking up the joint. Creating technology we can’t control may be a problem, and billionaire Elon Musk is concerned.
The subject came up when the founder and CEO of SpaceX and electric sports car manufacturer Tesla spoke at MIT recently. That’s where he unveiled that he thinks the most significant threat to humanity is AI. He said, “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So, we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence.”
It might be the biggest mystery of ever faced by humankind—other than how Twinkies can last so long. What happens after we die? The answers range from terse (ie, nothing) to miraculous—there’s a light, angels, heavenly gates. Some believe in reincarnation, although that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of what happens between death and rebirth. Scientists at Southampton University set about trying to answer this huge question their study suggests a surprising answer: people can retain awareness after they are clinically dead.
Certainly there are a lot of near-death stories, accounts in which people’s hearts have stopped or they’re otherwise technically dead for a short amount of time, but then they are revived. There are some general similarities in many of those stories—kind of like people who claim to be abducted by aliens tend to describe similar-looking extraterrestrials. Despite the skepticism that surrounds some of those stories, the Southampton scientists wanted to pursue the NDE and life after death claims, so they spent four years on a study that involved examining 2,060 patients in 15 hospitals in the U.S., U.K., and Austria, all of whom suffered cardiac arrest.
I’m sure everyone remembers Felix Baumgartner’s epic October 2012 space jump — a bunch of videos of the record-breaking leap were released. When I went skydiving (one of the most insanely awesome things I’ve ever done), I started at about 10,000 feet in the air. Baumgartner was 128,000 feet when he left the platform, which allowed him enough falling time to actually break the sound barrier. As impressive as that feat was, the high-altitude jump record was broken on Friday — by a senior vice president at Google.
For a while I thought Chris Hadfield had a monopoly on space sounds—at least, the interesting and melodious ones. But just because no one can hear you scream in space doesn’t mean there’s no sound out there. Earlier this year a Harvard professor turned supernovae sounds into songs, and Voyager I and II have both captured some creepy noises in their journey towards interstellar space. Now, NASA has released some electromagnetic recordings of the solar system captured by probes such as Voyager, INJUN 1, ISEE 1, and HAWKEYE. The songs are eerie and awesome, especially when you can associate the sound with the planet or area from which it came.
The various space probes recorded charged electromagnetic particles and radiation fluctuations from the solar wind, ionosphere, and planetary magnetosphere using plasma wave antenna. They picked up everything the human ear can hear, which makes one wonder what other sounds exist out there that we can’t hear. The frequencies were captured from Saturn’s rings, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter, Io, Uranus, and other places throughout the solar system.