archive: SETI June Scientific American astronomy/space articles

SETI June Scientific American astronomy/space articles

Larry Klaes ( lklaes@bbn.com )
Thu, 13 May 1999 16:38:39 -0400

Mapping the Universe

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699landy.html

Using techniques drawn from the analysis of music,
astronomers have been studying how galaxies form into
progressively larger groupings

by Stephen D. Landy

Also an article on Lunar Prospector:

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699scicit2.html

To quote in part:

A crash landing, however, is the craft's ultimate fate.
On July 31, 1999, the mission runs out of funding, and
eventually the orbiter will run out of fuel.

But even the smashup may yield a scientific return: Investigators
hope to maneuver Lunar Prospector for an impact in one of the
Moon's permanently shadowed polar regions.

Some scientists are still skeptical about the presence of ice
in these areas; to strengthen the evidence, Binder and his
colleagues would like to analyze the plume of material that
would be ejected by the spacecraft's swan dive. Observatories
in Earth orbit, including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST),
might be able to see traces of water vapor in the plume.

"That would be an absolute confirmation of water," Binder says.

Officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) have not yet approved the impact experiment.

The Real Star Wars

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699techbus3.html

Politicians haggle over giving the Pentagon the ability to
destroy commercial satellites in the name of "space control"

In Brief

News briefs on a small fusion reactor, the star Wolf Rayet
104, the exoplanets circling Upsilon Andromedae, investigating sprites, and
more emphasis on science in schools:

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699inbrief.html

To quote:

Scientific Discipline

All undergraduates should be required to study some science,
mathematics, engineering and technology, states a March report
by a committee of the National Research Council (NRC). Recent
studies have shown that U.S. students have a poor understanding
of basic scientific principles and their relation to everyday
life.

Currently science and technology courses account for less than
6 percent of the course load for the vast majority of students
graduating from prestigious universities.

The classes recommended by the NRC would emphasize basic concepts
and the interconnection of science and technology with other
disciplines.

The Editors Recommend: Brief Book Reviews:

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699reviews2.html

Letters to the Editors

http://www.sciam.com/1999/0699issue/0699letters.html

TRAPPING ANTIPROTONS

In her box entitled "Reaching for the Stars" ["The Way to Go
in Space," February], Stephanie D. Leifer states that the
first steps toward determining the feasibility of antimatter propulsion are
being taken "under NASA sponsorship," citing
the design and construction of a "device in which antiprotons
could be trapped and transported" by researchers at Pennsylvania
State University.

In truth, cold antiprotons were first trapped in 1986 by
researchers at Harvard University, the University of Washington
and the University of Mainz. We stored the antiprotons using electrical and
magnetic fields in a device called a Penning
trap, which was intrinsically portable.

Over the past decade, nearly a million antiprotons have been
stored in our apparatus and used to compare precisely the
charge and mass of the antiproton and proton.

Without debating the merits of antiproton propulsion, it
seems inappropriate to pretend that the research program
mentioned by Leifer is doing anything more than playing
catch-up. We've been there and done that long ago.

GERALD GABRIELSE
Harvard University

Editors' note:

Leifer's original manuscript referred to an article Gabrielse
wrote for Scientific American ["Extremely Cold Antiprotons,"
December 1992] on this research, but space limitations did not
permit us to include that reference in her short piece.