I write for a lot of different publications, but here’s a quick sampling of some of my most recent articles.
Quantum PlayStation. Foundational Questions Institute Community Website. July 18, 2010.
Supercomputers are too expensive for many researchers to get time on, but many worthwhile research projects need the heavy duty processing power of one of these monster megaprocessors. What’s a researcher to do?
For Gaurav Khanna, a physics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, the answer was simple: buy 16 PlayStation 3.
The gaming console is also a very high powered processor, much more than your desktop computer. By hooking up over a dozen of them in sequence he is able to do his detailed calculations of how black holes work and the future of the universe.
This story also got picked up by the BBC show Digital Planet. You can see their coverage here.
Surprise: Solar System “Force Field” Shrinks Fast. National Geographic News. September 30, 2010.
Studying the edge of the solar system is tough since it is so far away. Only the two Voyager spacecraft have ever blasted through the edge of the solar system, giving us limited data on a very small area.
However, NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) is able to map the protective bubble that surrounds our solar system created by the sun. And, what it has found was totally unexpected.
Most surprising was the speed at which the bubble can shrink. They found in a six month period a significant size change because the sun is going through a minimum of solar activity.
This shouldn’t cause major concern, since the protective bubble is still huge. But, a little bit of extra interstellar radiation could be bad news for astronauts, so NASA is going to have to keep better track of this for long-term missions such as going to Mars.