Archive for May, 2009

Seven icons of science at the Smithsonian

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 22, 2009   View Article

In “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” Ben Stiller returns to the movie screen as security guard Larry Daley for another adventure among animated artifacts and historical figures. The museum and research complex houses more than 136 million objects, works of art and specimens. Check out seven iconic items from the museum’s science collections, including a few that come to life under Daley’s watch.

Big science projects on the edge of doability

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 21, 2009   View Article

The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990, forever changed how humanity views the cosmos. Along the way, the observatory has opened eyes to the expansion of the universe, the evolution of stars and the beginning of time. As Hubble’s expiration date nears, what’s next in the realm of big science? Check out seven projects that a consortia of scientists, government agencies, and private corporations are working on hard to get off the ground. Technological and budgetary hurdles may prove insurmountable for some.

Mercury Pollution’s Oldest Traces Found in Peru

Publication: National Geographic magazine   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

Demand for the mercury compound vermilion was strong enough to support a large-scale mercury mining industry in the Andes as far back as 1400 B.C., according to a new study.

A bright red pigment, vermilion was used in ancient Andean rituals and is frequently found adorning gold and silver ceremonial objects in ancient burials of kings and nobles in South America.

Ancient Gem Studded Teeth Show Skill of Ancient Dentist

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

The glittering “grills” of some hip-hop stars aren’t exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a new study says.

Maya and other ancient peoples of southern North America went to “dentists”—among the earliest known—to beautify their chompers with notches, grooves, and semi-precious stones, according to a recent analysis of thousands of teeth examined from collections in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

“Hobbits” Not Good Runners; Proof of New Human Species?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 8, 2009   View Article

Ancient “hobbit” feet contain clues that the diminutive fossil creatures, found on the Indonesian island of Flores, had a very different style of walking than that of modern humans, according to a new analysis.

“In several ways, their feet are what we call in the business ‘primitive,'” said study co-author William Harcourt-Smith, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The finding, he added, is further evidence that the 18,000-year-old fossils represent a unique species, Homo floresiensis.

Reality check for ‘Star Trek’ tech

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 6, 2009   View Article

The latest reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise follows the story of a young James Kirk on his way to becoming captain of the Starship Enterprise. The movie gives Trekkies a fresh dose of fictional high-tech wizardry. But is any of this possible in the real world? See how 10 pieces of Trek tech, from teleportation to warp drive, are faring here on Earth.

10 inventions with ties to NASA

Publication: MSN Tech & Gadgets   Date: May 1, 2009   View Article

NASA, the U.S. space agency, has put people on the moon and robots on Mars, and has sent a probe rocketing towards Pluto and beyond, but contrary to popular belief it did not invent the powdery drink mix Tang. In fact, General Foods began to test-market the orange-flavored concoction in 1957, a year before NASA was born. However, the space agency did help launch Tang on the road to fame when astronaut John Glenn, in 1962, selected the mix for eating experiments in orbit. Tang flew on all Gemini and Apollo missions, a fact that General Foods used to its advertising advantage. Check out nine more technologies tied up with NASA’s history.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach