Tag Archives: star wars

Earthlike ‘Star Wars’ Tatooines may be common

Simulations dispute dogma: rocky planets may orbit many double stars

Luke Skywalker’s home in “Star Wars” is the desert planet Tatooine, with twin sunsets because it orbits two stars. So far, only uninhabitable gas-giant planets have been identified circling such binary stars, and many researchers believe rocky planets cannot form there. Now, mathematical simulations show that Earthlike, solid planets such as Tatooine likely exist and may be widespread. (more…)

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Facebook memes can evolve like genes

ANN ARBOR — What started as a politically liberal Facebook meme in support of health care reform morphed as it spread across the social network into hundreds of thousands of variations—some just a few words from the original, but others centered on taxes, beer, or Star Wars’ villain Jabba the Hutt.

The twists on the original text over time in many ways mirrored the evolution of biological genes, researchers from the University of Michigan and Facebook have found. (more…)

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Brick by brick

Professor, author Robertson discusses innovation evolution at Lego

When you hear Lego, if all you think about are shiny, plastic bricks and toys, think again. From a toy concept brought to life by a carpenter to tales of failed innovation truths that mirrored a Greek tragedy, the Lego story is about innovation and evolution, David Robertson told attendees at last week’s Chaplin Tyler Executive Leadership series lecture.

Robertson, professor of practice at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, presented “Rebuilding Lego” to 80 students, faculty, staff and community members on the University of Delaware’s Newark campus. (more…)

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Good Vibrations

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Researchers Record First Direct Observations of Quantum Effects in an Optomechanical System

A long-time staple of science fiction is the tractor beam, a technology in which light is used to move massive objects – recall the tractor beam in the movie Star Wars that captured the Millennium Falcon and pulled it into the Death Star. While tractor beams of this sort remain science fiction, beams of light today are being used to mechanically manipulate atoms or tiny glass beads, with rapid progress being made to control increasingly larger objects. Those who see major roles for optomechanical systems in a host of future technologies will take heart in the latest results from a first-of-its-kind experiment.

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, using a unique optical trapping system that provides ensembles of ultracold atoms, have recorded the first direct observations of distinctly quantum optical effects – amplification and squeezing – in an optomechanical system. Their findings point the way toward low-power quantum optical devices and enhanced detection of gravitational waves among other possibilities. (more…)

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Taking a Robotic Geologist to Mars

As Mars rover Curiosity makes its final approach to the Red Planet, two UA geoscientists are getting ready to help solve some of the mysteries of its geologic past.

On Aug. 5, at about 10:30 p.m., an already busy summer will kick into overdrive for University of Arizona geosciences professor Bob Downs and one of his graduate students, Shaunna Morrison. At that time – provided everything goes as planned – Curiosity, the most sophisticated exploration vehicle ever sent to another planet, will parachute toward the Martian surface faster than the speed of sound after a nine-month journey through space. And as soon as it sinks its six wheels into the red dust, the two scientists specializing in mineralogy will have not one, but two planets to deal with.

As “primary data downlink leaders” designated by NASA, Downs and Morrison are part of a team of scientists tasked with the identification of rocks that Curiosity will encounter during its two-year expedition across the floor of Gale Crater near the Martian equator. (more…)

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‘Kinect Star Wars:’ A Tour de Force by Fans, for Fans

*Meet the Force-sensitive fans who helped bring the Star Wars universe to life in “Kinect Star Wars,” the ultimate Jedi experience for Padawans of all ages.*

REDMOND, Wash. – Abby Lee walked into a Seattle toy store recently and purchased two LEGO Darth Vader alarm clocks, a Star Wars pop-up book, and a few LEGO speeder bikes. The bemused checkout clerk asked if she was going to a birthday party.

“No,” Lee replied. “I’m going to work.” (more…)

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UChicago Launches Search for Distant Worlds

Since 1995, scientists have discovered approximately 600 planets around other stars, including 50 planets last month alone, and one that orbits two stars, like Tatooine in Star Wars. Detection of the first Earthlike planet remains elusive, however, and now the University of Chicago joins the search with the addition of Jacob Bean and Daniel Fabrycky to the faculty.

“I can’t imagine a more profound impact on humanity than the discovery that there are other Earthlike worlds or that we are not alone,” said Rocky Kolb, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and department chairman. (more…)

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NASA’s Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

PASADENA, Calif. — The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA’s Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet — a planet orbiting two stars — 200 light-years from Earth.

Unlike Star Wars’ Tatooine, the planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it. (more…)

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