This is really neat, via Slashdot, some Spanish students have sent a camera on a balloon up into the stratosphere, with excellent results:
Taking atmospheric readings and photographs 20 miles above the ground, the Meteotek team of IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia completed their incredible experiment at the end of February this year.
Building the electronic sensor components from scratch, Gerard Marull Paretas, Sergi Saballs Vila, Marta Gasull Morcillo and Jaume Puigmiquel Casamort managed to send their heavy duty £43 latex balloon to the edge of space and take readings of its ascent.
Read and see more here.
[from the Telegraph, via Slashdot]
While the Western world waits to see what President-Elect Obama does with the US space program, the Russians are getting busy with a Mars mission of their own. Due for launch in October, the charmingly-named Phobos-Grunt mission will be robot-manned, of course, but there will be earth lifeforms aboard, albeit very tiny ones:
LIFE [Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment] is intended to help better understand the nature of life, its robustness, and its ability – or not – to move between planets. The journey will be a test of one facet of the “transpermia” hypothesis. That is, the possibility that life can voyage from planet to planet inside rocks blasted off one planetary surface by impact, to land on another planetary surface.
Don’t worry, though; they’re not going to break the 1967 Outer Space Treaty by infecting Mars with Earth biology. Or at least they’re not going to do it deliberately – but that’s not stopping a few NASA types getting a bit hot under the collar about the whole business:
… I am uncomfortable with sending native tundra samples so close to Mars, because this is a location on Earth that could possibly contain organisms capable of adapting to Martian conditions,” and to do so “seems ill-advised,” Conley told SPACE.com.
Well, we surely don’t want to corrupt Mars with Earth microbes if we can avoid it. But how much of that discomfort is rooted in the Planetary Society using a Russian mission arther than a NASA one, I wonder? [superb montage image by Bluedharma]
About 50 years ago Stanley Milgram conducted controversial experiments showing that seemingly normal people, when ordered by an authority figure, were willing to administer what they thought were painful electric shocks. Now the flagship journal of the American Psychology Association carries a paper claiming that Milgram’s results have been replicated.
Jerry M. Burger, PhD [at Santa Clara U.] … found that compliance rates in the replication were only slightly lower than those found by Milgram. And, like Milgram, he found no difference in the rates of obedience between men and women.
…”People learning about Milgram’s work often wonder whether results would be any different today,” said Burger, a professor at Santa Clara University. “Many point to the lessons of the Holocaust and argue that there is greater societal awareness of the dangers of blind obedience. But what I found is the same situational factors that affected obedience in Milgram’s experiments still operate today.”
Burger’s participants were 29 men and 41 women. His experiment was done in 2007 but the results have just been officially published. Milgram’s experiments showed that 79% of participants would administer “shocks” even after their “victims” protested; Burger found an obedience rate of 70%.
[Image from Abu Ghraib: Wikimedia Commons]