Thursday, November 30, 2006

Large Hadron Collider Nears Completion

The Large Hadron Collider of CERN is nearing completion with the delivery of the last superconducting main magnet to the facility last November 27. The LHC will be the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world when it is completed and becomes operational in November 2007.

The facility hopes to study dark matter and other physical and cosmological phenomena, as well as create new particles, including the so-called God particle.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lunokhod and the Dead Russian Spy

There's a big brouhaha right now in Great Britain regarding the mysterious death of a former Russian spy, who was discovered to have been poisoned with polonium-210. Interestingly, polonium-210, which is highly radioactive, was used by the Russian space program in the 1970s - primarily to power the Lunokhod rover that went to the moon. According to this article, a half-gram of polonium can generate 140 watts of energy by just decaying.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Arecibo Gone in 2011?

The New York Times has reported that the Arecibo radio telescope may be closed down in 2011 due to financial issues unless other sources of funding be obtained by the National Science Foundation. The Big Ear, as the radio telescope is known, is the most powerful radio telescope in the world, and is used by, among others, the SETI@Home project. Current astronomy projects being done in the facility may also be curtailed as Arecibo's budget may also be cut by 25% in the next three years.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Leonids Meteor Shower, Nov. 18-19

Astronomers are expecting a strong shower for this year's Leonids, which will be on November 18-19. At peak, 150 meteors and hour (ZHR) are expected to light up the sky and provide excitement to the meteor hunters around the world. The meteor shower will last for about 2 hours.

The NASA site for Leonids can be found here.

(Picture: 1996 Leonids)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MGS Phone Home

The Mars Global Surveyor is still out of contact. The spacecraft, launched 10 years ago to map the Martian surface using high-resolution cameras, has been out of touch from its controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory more a week now, and NASA engineers and scientists are trying to re-establish contact with it. The MGS is currently in "safe mode" after it encountered a problem with its solar cell array.

The Mars Global Surveyor website can be found here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BOINC Status

I checked my BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) status today, and I was pleased with the number of work units crunched by my PC. These are my contributions to the grid computing project so far:

SETI@Home --- 3044.87 work units
Rosetta@Home --- 3367.61 work units
Einstein@Home --- 5652.76 work units

Total --- 12,272.21 work units

My accumulated work units are good enough to rank me #205,653 in the world and #95 in the Philippines

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mercury Transits on Nov. 8

Mercury will transit the Sun on Wednesday, November 8, 2006, starting at 8:51 UT in the Philippines. The planet last transited in 2003 and the astronomical event will happen again in 2016. Mercury transits the Sun around 13 times a century.

Time zone listings of the transit can be found here.

(image: 2003 transit of Mercury)