If you happen to be a LEGO aficionado or just consider yourself a space geek, you’re in luck! LEGO has now released its model of NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, to the public. The set is now available for purchase at LEGO’s website for $29.99 USD.
The idea to create a LEGO set to model Curiosity came from the mind of mechanical engineer and NASA employee Stephen Pakbaz, who worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission at JPL. To make his idea a reality, Stephen drew up a some plans and pitched them on LEGO’s “Cuusoo” site which allows fans to vote for their favorite user-created designs. In June of 2013, after gaining nearly 10,000 votes on the site, Pakbaz’s idea was conditionally approved by LEGO to begin production later in the year.
Along with the Curiosity Rover, a number of other space-related projects have popped up on Cuusoo and already have substantial support. The Apollo 11 lander, NASA’s Crawler Transporter, the Hubble Space Telescope, and New Horizons spacecraft have all been proposed on the community website and are now awaiting further support and approval.
Public recognition of space technology is one of the most important steps to furthering the cause of space exploration. While these LEGO sets may simply be seen as “toys” by many, their importance in inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers cannot be overstated.
Show your support of NASA here: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/
Learn more about NASA-based LEGO sets, where you can find them, and how to support them: http://goo.gl/yF7bI1
Images Courtesy of LEGO
There are three main parts to this issue
1. The misconception that boys are naturally better at math. This has been proven time and time again to be false. This mindset discourages girls from pursuing STEM related degrees. Simply telling girls that there is no difference in abilities can impact test scores. As does encouraging women to see math prowess not as an inherent trait, but as a skill that can be practiced and mastered.
2. The culture in college STEM fields is a deterrent to women. The stereotype that STEM majors are obsessive reclusive men, is false. Active recruiting of women, planned social meetings, and women to women mentoring programs solve some of this issue.
3. STEM careers are heavily male-dominated and not family friendly. Lack of insurance for post docs and lack of time off for maternal leave deters new trainees. Because of the lack of women in these fields there are less connections that new women can gain. Improving family leave, creating new networks for women, and changing the image of scientists can all help to change this trend.
YES. Yes yesyesyesyesyessssss. Required watching for anyone who gives a damn about the future of science.
This captures so many levels of the STEM gender bias issue, from elementary school to faculty hiring. There’s lots of problems to solve, and it takes more than just telling young girls that they can do it. They need real, involved mentorship and practical role models. Julia captures the important first step here:
"We have to actively challenge the stereotypes we’ve grown up with.”
While not exactly straight engineering, this is an interesting technology to use the light from a star into sound.
Scientists have turned light signals from distant stars into sound. By analysing the amount of hiss in the sound, they can work out the star’s surface gravity and what stage it’s at in its evolution from dwarf to red giant.
Baking soda volcanoes just aren’t cutting it anymore. American public school students in science classes of the near-future should be taught that human activity is leading to global warming by the end of eighth grade, that DNA supports the theory of evolution by the end of high school, and that human beings can engineer cleaner energy sources and more abundant food and water supplies, according to a new national education plan for kindergarten through high school, due to be released by the end of March.
The plan, called Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), is being finalized right now by a crack team of 41 experts from around the country, made up of science teachers, school officials and even a researcher at the DuPont chemical company. It’s completely voluntary and up to each state’s of board of education to adopt the final plan, and 26 states have been helping craft it over the past two years.
Science programming. I mean “science” programming.
|—||Albert Einstein (via ikenbot)|
High-frequency acoustic signals interfere to create a standing wave, allowing liquids to “levitate” at the nodes, where the two acoustic forces cancel out each other and gravity.
In other words, whoa.
Last night, I watched a live feed from a command center in Pasadena, California, piped through the Internet 1800 miles to me in St. Louis, Missouri. I heard telemetry and ‘heart-beat’ confirmation tones from a 2.5 billion dollar Mini Cooper sized science lab (the largest ever for a mission) launched 253 days ago, from 353 million miles away, above the surface of another planet. That science lab hit the Martian atmosphere at 13,200 miles per hour. It burned through the atmosphere, and expended a 15 foot diameter heat shield (the largest ever for a mission) that had withstood temperatures of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to melt every metal you can think of). It rode down on a 51 foot diameter parachute (the largest ever for a mission) designed to withstand speeds of 1450 miles per hour (there was no backup chute). Then the chute was abandoned, and the craft went into free fall for a few seconds. A rocket pack was activated to allow the car sized object to hover over the surface, while a skycrane lowered the entire thing gently to the rocky soil. It landed within a 12 mile by 4 mile ellipse, or around 38 square miles (the size of Barcelona, Spain*), within planetary spitting distance of a 3.5 mile high mountain.
All with zero command input from any human being watching, running on less computing power than the phone in your pocket.
*So take a sheet of paper, fold it in half longways. Now walk about 5,600 miles away. Now hit it with a bullet the width of a strand of DNA (~4 nanometers). That’s what it’s like to land the rover in such a small area from such a long distance.
I know this is a little late to the game but this is the best description of the Curiosity Rover success that I have read.
If you’re an engineer, you usually try to design things that don’t collapse. But when it comes to some structures (like car crumple zones), designing instability can be very important. They are studying math, folding, origami and complex geometry. Read above about the engineers who are trying to design the artfully unstable.
Very cool stuff!
(via Nature News)
The Future is ours
Filmmaker Michael Marantz has just released The Future is Ours, a rousing two-minute tribute to the people and companies pushing humanity forward. Full screen, HD, headphones if you’ve got ‘em. Fair warning: this will, at a minimum, give you chills — but don’t be surprised if you feel your eyes start to well up.
Its only 2 minutes long but this video will make you want to change the world.
This morning, Europe’s first Vega rocket lifted off from the European Space Agency launch center in Kourou, French Guiana. Traveling with nine scientific satellites on board, this launch serves as an inaugural flight aimed at giving Europe a vehicle for scientific satellite missions. (Read More)
Designed to carry up to nine objects totaling less than 2.5 metric tons (“tonnes,” for those in the know) into orbit, the four-stage vehicle stands 30 meters tall and weighs in at just under 140 metric tons when fully loaded. The rocket aims to solve a key — if slightly humdrum — problem: at present, European researchers send their instrumentation into space on retrofitted Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
Video: Curiosity to make unusual landing on Mars.
Previous Mars Rover missions have landed on the Martian surface using a bubble of balloons to cushion their touchdown. With Curiosity being much heavier and more sensitive, a new technique had to be found to safely land the rover.
Don’t Get Neil deGrasse Tyson Started About the Un-Science-y Politicians Who Are Killing America’s Dreams
As we’ve learned time and time again, when you need to hear someone kvetch hard about the state of science in this country, point your radio telescopes at Hayden Planetarium head Neil deGrasse. In the midst of the debt debacle, he responds to Bill Maher’s question about Washington’s possible assassination of the James Webb Space Telescope with a ranty explanation of how Congress is mortgaging the futuristic dreams Americans used to have. He ends with a good question: How far can science go in Washington when so few Congressmen are scientists?
*crying internet tears*
Sad truth: Most mad scientists are just mad engineers.