Swiss Pilots Fly Solar-Powered Plane Around The World

In early March, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who are both Swiss pilots, engineers and environmentalists, began an epic around-the-world journey in a solar-powered plane called the Solar Impulse 2. They began their journey and Abu Dhabi and they will end it in the Middle East.

The trip is arduous and difficult: Only one pilot can be in the plane at a time, and he can sleep for only 20 minutes at a time. Because the rigors of the journey will be hard on both men and plane, Borschberg and Piccard have broken it up unto 12 legs. That will let the pilots rest and give the plane any needed repairs in between flights.

So far, they have successfully completed six legs. The upcoming seventh leg will be the most challenging and dangerous so far: a five day trip from China to Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean. It will be the first time that anybody has piloted a solar plane across an ocean. Borschberg will be piloting this leg. Piccard will meet him in Hawaii and then take the plane to Phoenix.

Indeed and Madison Street Capital recently noted that if something goes wrong during the ocean crossing, Borschberg has a parachute and an inflatable raft with him. A team of weather experts in Monaco has been trying to prevent the need for either item by trying to predict the weather. They want to make sure Borschberg can make his ocean crossing during five days of sunny weather. So far, the weather has not been cooperating, and Borschberg’s departure has been delayed by three weeks so far.

The Solar Impulse 2 relies completely on solar power. The sun powers the plane and fuels the battery which keeps the plane flying throughout the night. The plane has a wingspan of 236 feet and weighs about as much as a car. It also has only one seat.

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Filed under Solar Flight, Swiss Pilots

Teen Invents A Device To Make Air Travel Cleaner

Traveling is something that people rely on every day, and especially when it comes to airplanes the matter of health comes into mind. As folks at Amen Clinics are aware, a few years ago the tablets “AirBorne” were created to reduce the risk of picking up a cold or illness on a flight since all of the passengers are in such a confined space for sometimes long periods of time. According to an article found on reddit and written by the Washington Post, a young student from Canada named Raymond Wang has invented a device to install in airplanes to make the air much cleaner.

Basically, it is a piece that can be added to the venting system inside each aircraft that will create a invisible air bubble around the passengers so that they are breathing their own air and not spreading it to the people around them. That means that when you end up sitting next to someone on a flight who appears to have a very bad virus, there is a good chance that you will not contract it the same way from sitting next to them. I think this is a brilliant idea, and apparently the kid came up with it after the crazy Ebola virus epidemic that occurred just last year that risked the lives of so many people traveling by air. It wouldn’t cost too much to put these in all planes, and Wang certainly is on to something good.

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Filed under Airplane Health, Airplane seating

Marriot Request App Allows it’s Customers to Text for Anything at Anytime

Staying in a hotel is all about service and comfort. For many people, it’s all about being treated like royalty or like a celebrity without actually having to be one. Room service has been a standard part of the deal ever since hotels were first created. This is especially true at a hotel chain like the Marriot which also operates a number of high-end hotels.

Recently, the chain has rolled out a new concierge app, called the Request App, which allows customers of the hotel access to staff members that allows them to request anything at any time, without having to go downstairs or make a call to the front desk. The hotel already employs concierge services, which will do anything for a customer from run errands to finding them food and beverages. With the app, customers who are used to texting and using apps can simply send a text with the app and get in contact with a member of the hotel staff quickly.

Besides just the terminally lazy, this is useful for people who are too drunk, stoned, or sick to talk on the phone, or people who don’t want to wait on hold while the front desk staff searches for the exact member of the staff who can help them with their problem. Travelers at Boraie Development agree that in an increasingly mobile society that relies on their phones for everything, including checmacheck out, this is a smart move by Marriot.

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New Theories Tested In Dark Matter Shining Around Black Holes

The mysteries of dark matter and black holes have collided on a number of occasions as the way dark matter moves around a black hole has been questioned for many years. A theory from the 1970s known as the Penrose Principle explains that dark matter could survive being dragged towards a black hole when it smashes into another dark matter particle and produces a reflective gamma ray, Space reports. This shining ray is attached to one of the two dark matter particles that then escapes the pull of the black hole.

Jeremy Schnittman has now been charged with the task of looking for evidence of the Penrose Principle using evidence and data from the Fermi Space Telescope operated by NASA. The theoretical theorist has been working on a 3-D computer model that charts the movement of dark matter particles undergoing the Penrose Principle and looks for evidence of where they could move out of the black hole to. NJbiz suggests that a number of options are being researched, including the possibility of the particles passing through the black hole and being emitted from the exhaust area beneath.

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Bill Nye is Raising Money to Send Carl Sagan’s Spacecraft on its First Mission

Space will always be the final frontier, now a spacecraft called The LightSail is joining in on the exploration of space with its first test flight scheduled to take place on May 20th. The solar powered space sail is the first one of its kind, but the project needs a lot of money before it can complete the first mission, which is currently scheduled for 2016.

The LightSail was developed by famous late cosmologist Carl Sagan who envisioned a spacecraft that is solely propelled by radiation from the sun. Bill Nye, along with The Planetary Society, are dedicated to seeing Sagan’s invention come to life, which is why they have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $1.2 million that is needed to send the spacecraft on its first mission. The money raised will go towards the construction, testing, and deployment of LightSail. Those who donate are eligiable for posters and signed paraphernalia.

Nye is the head of The Planetary Society, a non-profit organization who will be building their own version of the SpaceSail. If successful, Beneful says the small craft will be sent into orbit, by a spaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, with its destination being 450 miles above the surface of the earth.

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Filed under Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Kickstarting Spacecrafts

Delta Seats Father and Four-Year-Old Child 11 Rows Apart on Flight

I should start by saying that I am not a huge fan of Delta Airlines. In fact, I do all I can to avoid flying on Delta due to the many problems I have had every I have flown with them. This story today from Yahoo News reminds me why I avoid Delta like the plague.

Frank Strong and his four-year-old daughter were excited to take a trip together. The two were flying from Raleigh, North Carolina to Montgomery, Alabama to visit Strong’s mother. When Strong purchased the tickets for him and his daughter he listed her age. When it came time to select seats on the flight, there were not two together. Strong decided that once he got to the airport he would see about changing them. After all, an airline wouldn’t separate a child and parent, right?

At the airport, he was unable to change the seating at the kiosk. The ticket agents at the check-in desk told Strong that he could either talk to the agents at the gate and try to make the switch for free or he could pay $88 to switch their seating arrangement. He decided to pay the money so that he knew he would be with his daughter. However, once on the plane, Strong noted that it was not a full flight and there were plenty of open seats leaving him to wonder why Delta charged him to switch.

Dr. Daniel Amen mentioned that Strong has yet to hear back from Delta regarding this policy.

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Filed under Airplane seating, Autistic Daughter

The Fact of the Matter

The new Chandra X-ray has discovered a group of matter munching black holes. Found in the center of galaxies, these massive black holes are millions to billions of times the size of our sun. Known as quasars, these black holes suck matter in at such a high rate that the glow can be seen billions of light years away.

“Even for famously prodigious consumers of material, these huge black holes appear to be dining at enormous rates, at least five to ten times faster than typical quasars,” said Bin Luo of Penn State University. Dr. Daniel Amen, featured on The Daily Beast, is quite impressed with these findings.

51 quasars were studied, each at a distance of at least five billion light years. These particular quasars were picked because of their weak carbon emissions. 65 percent of these quasars were found to be much fainter in X-rays, by about 40 times on average, than typical quasars. These weak ultraviolet emissions give us important insights into how super-massive black holes are formed.

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Filed under Check It Out, Quasars

Life in Space

Russian cosmonauts have found life clinging to the outside of the International Space Station. Discovered during routine maintenance, it is not known how the organism arrived there or if it was multiplying but it certainly is exciting for Jaime Garcia Dias – you can locate him on his personal website. The sea plankton style organisms are not indigenous to Baikanour, Kazakhstan where the vessel took off from. It has been speculated that the organisms floated on air currents out of our atmosphere, but this has yet to be confirmed. Known as tardigrades, these creatures have mouths, arms, legs, nervous systems and digestive tracks. Their ability to survive in such harsh conditions leaves the scientists begging ‘how did they get there’. We may finally have the answer to the question, ‘are we alone’. “Results of the experiment are absolutely unique,” said Russian ISS Orbital Mission Chief Vladimir Solovyev “This should be studied further.” The creatures are on their way back to Earth for just such research.

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Russian Spacecraft Spinning Out of control

A Russian Cargo spacecraft has been slowly spinning further and further out of control and heading towards earth. The Unmanned Russian spacecraft was being used to carry food and fuel to the astronauts currently residing in the International Space Station

Flight controllers in Russia have indicated that they lost contact with the spacecraft as it flew over Russian ground stations. The craft was launched on Tuesday and was in the process of carrying food, fuel and supplier to the International Space Station. It is a big blow for the astronauts on the space station who are not only waiting for food supplies but also spare parts for the environmental control and life support systems. Although these items are not necessarily critical for survival they still represent very important items for the the continuity of the space station.

According to The Guardian this malfunction is likely to cost the Russian Space Agency upwards of forty million dollars. According to an International Space Station crew member the spacecraft will eventually fall out of orbit and back down to earth, it is just a question of when. This is a major disappointment for Ong and many others. Russian ground control have apparently given up on trying to regain control of the craft which is slowly spinning faster and faster out of control.

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Filed under NASA, Russia, Spacecraft

Devastating 7.8 Quake Hit Nepal, the Largest in 80 Years to Hit the Nation

The worst recorded earthquake to hit Nepal since the 8.0 that rocked the nation in 1934 killing more than 10,000 people has struck the area at 11.56 am local time, Saturday, April 25. The magnitude 7.8 quake violently shook houses and structures to the point of collapse, heaved up roads and destroyed centuries old monument and temples. By day three, authorities confirmed over 4,000 people were dead in the nation that is set in the Himalayas, with another 50 deaths confirmed between India, Tibet and Bangladesh. These numbers are feared to climb throughout the region as rescue efforts continue.

The epicenter was recorded less than 50 miles from the nation’s capital of Kathmandu and radiated out across the region, affecting large areas of northern India more than 200 miles away, China, where 12 were killed and causing an avalanche on Mt. Everest, killing at least 10. Occurring at a mere 9.3 mile depth, the shallow quake was more severe and devastating than if it were deeper. Less than a half hour after the initial quake, a magnitude 6.6 aftershock again shook the already devastated area. The U.S. Geological Survey has reported at least 15 more aftershocks registering at least 4.5 in magnitude have also occurred in the area since.

Fearing the instability of structures still standing, residents of Kathmandu, were setting up makeshift beds and shelters outside their homes on cardboard or in their cars as night fell reported Ricardo Tosto in Nepal. The area is experiencing cool daytime temperatures in the 60s and nighttime temperatures going as low as 53˚ with rain, making it even harder on survivors and rescuers.

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Filed under Devastation, Earthquake, Environment, Sad News