It’s a question with the deceptive simplicity of a zen koan: How does a hummingbird keep dry? It’s not by staying out of the rain. Instead, as shown in a series of high-speed videos that reveal what’s hidden to the naked eye by time, hummingbirds shake themselves like dogs.
If you don’t succeed the first 18 times, try, try again. That might be the motto of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which is preparing to launch its first new probe to Mars after a long string of failures and a 15-year hiatus on planetary science exploration.
Last night, in response to a worldwide surge in interest, the OPERA experiment released a paper that describes the experiments that appear to show neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. And today, CERN broadcast a live seminar in which one of the work’s authors described the content of the paper. Both of those emphasized the point of our initial coverage: figuring out whether anything is traveling beyond the speed of light requires incredibly accurate measurements of time and distance, and the OPERA team has made an extensive effort to make its work as accurate as possible.
If it’s true, it will mark the biggest discovery in physics in the past half-century: Elusive, nearly massive subatomic particles called neutrinos appear to travel just faster than light, a team of physicists in Europe reports. If so, the observation would wreck Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which demands that nothing can travel faster than light.
NASA officials and leading astronomers say the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, should still fly despite mounting criticism, cost increases, and disagreements within the astronomy community.
NASA wants you and your smartphone to help it address global problems. On Sept. 20, the agency announced the International Space Apps Competition asking scientists, engineers, and ordinary citizens to develop apps that use publicly released scientific data to study things like weather-related hazards and other pressing issues.