Science Fiction Fans! What’s up?!
Episode 23 of the Spaced Out podcast continues our chat with Scott A. Combs! We talk about Scott's books (he currently has five), his audiobook (now available!), and an e-Book signing software he's developing! Rad!!
In This Spacespiracy Moment, Justin Park and I chat about science news from Apr 10-16th. Here are links to the articles we talked about. Enjoy!
Welcome to Your New Home on Enceladus!
This news is so big, all three of the major science news outlets I follow covered the story last week: Enceladus, one of Saturn’s 62 confirmed moons, may be suitable for life! We’ve known for a while that the icy moon hosts a massive, global ocean, but NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected chemicals associated with hypothermal vents we have here on Earth. (Hypothermal vents are openings in the sea floor that allow for hot, mineral-rich water to flow outward.) “The Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer on the craft made the observation of molecular hydrogen in the ejecta from these geysers. According to principal investigator Hunter Waite of the Southwest Research Institute and his co-investigators, the source almost certainly has to be hydrothermal vents at Enceladus’ sea floor. This means there’s plenty of geological activity, increasing the chances for life.”
Jupiter Has A New Spot!
That’s right, folks. Jupiter, host of the solar system’s notorious Great Red Spot, now can add another visual marker to its repertoire: the Great Cold Spot. The new spot is about the same size as the old one (twice the size of Earth), but is about 73 degrees Celsius colder than the gas surrounding it. Looking back, scientists have determined that the spot has been there for at least 15 years. It’s located in the planet’s northern hemisphere, very close to the planet’s northern aurora. Astronomers aren’t sure how the spot formed, but theorize that the aurora may have something to do with it.
My Birthday Asteroid!
On April 19th (my birthday) the largest asteroid since 2004 will get really close to Earth - about 1.1 million miles (1.8 kilometers). It’s listed as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, but scientists say there’s no chance the celestial body will hit us. So NO NEED TO FREAK. Apparently, it won’t even get close enough to see with the naked eye, so dust off those telescopes boys and girls!! Don’t have one? No worries! The internet has solved that problem for you! It’s called the Virtual Telescope and you can access the site here.
Using a Virus to Save the Oranges
Besides Disney World and Sean Zimmerman, what is Florida known for? If you guessed oranges, you’re right...for now. Since 2005, 90% of citrus groves have fallen victim to citrus greening (a deadly bacterial disease that consumes sugar). The farming industry is no stranger to crop-killing pests, but producing disease-immune trees, a typical solution, just isn’t feasible for citrus. There isn’t a naturally immune tree currently in existence and, according to bio-engineers, even with the use of CRISPR, it will take 10-20 years to”engineer and approve an artificially resistant tree.” Before you starting panicking about living without mimosas for a decade or two, the Florida Gators are on it. They have genetically modified a virus that will deliver “bacteria-killing spinach proteins” to eradicate the virus. And the wait time? If all goes well, the virus will be approved for use in about two years.
Scientists Have Invented a Machine that Makes Water from Air. Seriously.
Scientists at UC Berkeley may have just solved the world’s water crisis. They have developed a device that produces potable water from desert air. And the best part? The gizmo uses sunlight to get the job done. The device, roughly the size of a coffee mug, can produce about 12 ounces of water every hour. Once scaled up, there’s no telling how much water it could provide.
Check Out CA's Super Bloom...From Space!
Can Plants Really Hear Themselves Being Eaten?
Nuclear Fallout Survival Info: Because We All Really Should Know What to Do
Sources: Science News, Wired, Astronomy Magazine, (other sources inline)