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  NASA gravity wave hunt; meteorite doorstopOct 23, 2012 6:08 AM PDT | url | discuss | + share
Added 1 new A* page:If I recall correctly, there have been some attempts to detect "gravity waves"--waves of gravitational force emitted by pulsars, black holes, colliding galaxies, or other massive bodies--but apparently they haven't been too successful, supposedly because the gravitational waves are too weak for their influence to be detected by traditional means. NASA is working on a scheme for a new kind of detector, one that would take advantage of one of those wacky quirks of quantum mechanics, according to this article:

The U.S. space agency has funded the possible solution, called atom interferometry, so that it might someday enable a mission consisting of three identical spacecraft flying in a triangle formation between 310 miles (500 kilometers) and 3,107 miles (5,000 kilometers). If a gravitational wave swept through the area, the spacecraft interferometers would sense the tiny disturbances.
[...] Researchers would first fire a laser to slow and cool the atoms down to a frigid temperature near absolute zero (minus 273.15 degrees Celsius), so that the atoms behave like waves rather than particles. Then they would fire more laser pulses that put the atoms into a "superposition of states," which allows them to exist in multiple states simultaneously.
The superposition means a single atom can split into different states that exist independently and go flying off on different trajectories like separate particles, before they recombine at a detector. If an atom's path is altered even a bit by a passing gravitational wave, the atom interferometer can detect the difference.

Aside from being able to detect stuff like black holes, which of course is cool but not immediately practical, perhaps, there's the potential for such technology to make super-sensitive sensors usable in airplanes or submarines.
A Tennessee family's generations-old doorstop--a funny rock found by the current mother's grandfather in a cow pasture near Tazwell, Tenn.--turned out to be a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite--just about as old as the Earth itself! They were tipped off that there was something particularly special about the primordial stone when it set of a metal detector something fierce. It's thought to be part of a group of meteorites first found near Tazwell in 1853; this one is 33 pounds, which makes it the second largest of the bunch found--the largest weighing in at 100 pounds. So there you go, a surviving chunk of the early solar system could be sitting right there on your doorstep.
As part of my ongoing quest to show you webcomics that are much nicer-looking than mine, there's Space Mullet, a sci-fi adventure with aliens, trippy dream sequences, some pretty gory fight scenes, and a very nice black and white brushy art style, digitally shaded with a tasteful blue. Some nice dry brush technique in there, too.
Oh and pencils for today's page--a bit different this time around as I wanted to make sure I got Selenis' disembodied leg in about the right place, so I put a second piece of paper below the actual page, and continued the layout sketch there so I could get a rough idea of where her leg should go relative to her torso:
And then inking her face went way different than I'd planned, but eh probably came out more interesting for all that.
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