Shields Up! Students devise concept for Star Wars-style deflector shields

Technology for protecting spaceships from laser fire is feasible today, University of Leicester students discovered. The only drawback, so far, is that you won’t be able to see a thing outside.In anticipation of Star Wars Day on 4 May, three fourth-year Physics students at the University have proven that shields, such as those seen protecting spaceships in the Star Wars film series, would not only be scientifically feasible, they have also shown that the science behind the principle is already used here on Earth.In the Star Wars movies, the latest of which began filming in April, spaceships are protected by a shield defence system that deflects enemy laser fire. In order to recreate this type of shield, the students assumed that a surrounding field of super-hot plasma would be used, …

Colonizing Mars necessary to save human species from destruction, says NASA chief

Humans must colonize Mars to ensure our survival as a species, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the opening of the Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University.Bolden was speaking in support of the space agency’s plans to develop a new Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, continue research at the International Space Station, land a human crew on an asteroid in the mid-2020s and land humans on Mars by the mid-2030s. NASA’s plan to land humans on Mars consists of several steps, including “lassoing” an asteroid into the Moon’s orbit by 2015, learning to grow plants in space, and adapting 3D printers to produce repair parts for space shuttles.Bolden is calling on the U.S. Congress to increase funding for these programs, including …

Drought Taking a Toll

During the four-week period ending on April 29, 2014, contiguous U.S. drought coverage remained virtually unchanged (up 0.06 percentage point) at 38.43%. Nevertheless, drought coverage is at its highest point since October 8, 2013, and up 7.48 percentage points from the beginning of the year. In April, devastatingly dry, dusty, windy conditions on the southern Great Plains fueled concerns of a “New Dust Bowl.” The “Terrible Teens” drought, which for many parts of the southern Great Plains began in the fall of 2010 and has lasted for more than 3

Strong and extremely dangerous earthquake M6.0 struck Thailand

A strong and shallow earthquake M6.0 (USGS) struck Thailand on May 5, 2014 at 11:08 UTC (18:08 local time). USGS is reporting very shallow depth of 7.4 km (4.6 miles).Epicenter was located 9 km (6 miles) S of Mae Lao and 27 km (17 miles) SW of Chiang Rai, Thailand. There are 2 387 170 people living within 100 km radius.USGS issued green alert level for shaking-related fatalities – there is a low likelihood of casualties. Yellow alert level has been issued for economic losses. Some damage is possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Thailand. Past events with this alert level have required a local or regional level response.Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnera…