Tag: USA

How the U.S. Built The World’s Most Ridiculously Accurate Atomic Clock

Throw out that lame old atomic clock that’s only accurate to a few tens of quadrillionths of a second. The U.S. has introduced a new atomic clock that is three times more accurate than previous devices.

Atomic clocks are responsible for synchronizing time for much of our technology, including electric power grids, GPS, and the watch on your iPhone.

On Apr. 3, the National Institute of Standards and Technology () in Boulder, ColoNISTrado officially launched their newest standard for measuring time using the NIST-F2 atomic clock, which has been under development for more than a decade.

NIST-F2 is accurate to one second in 300 million years,” said Thomas O’Brian, who heads NIST’s time and frequency division, during a press conference April 3.




The clock was recently certified by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures as the world’s most accurate time standard.

The advancement is more than just a feather in the cap for metrology nerds. Precise timekeeping underpins much of our modern world.

GPS, for instance, needs accuracy of about a billionth of a second in order to keep you from getting lost. These satellites rely on high precision coming from atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

GPS, in turn, is used for synchronizing digital networks such as cell phones and the NTP servers that provide the backbone of the internet.

Your smartphone doesn’t display the time to the sixteenth decimal place, but it still relies on the frequency standards coming from NIST’s clocks, which make their measurements while living in a tightly controlled lab environment.

Real world clocks must operate under strained conditions such as temperature swings, significant vibration, or changing magnetic fields that degrade and hamper their accuracy.

It’s important then that the ultimate reference standard has much better performance than the real world technologies.

What will we do once we reach the ability to break down time into super-tiny, hyper-accurate units? Nobody knows.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

President Trump Directs NASA To Return To The Moon, Then Aim For Mars

President Donald Trump signed his administration’s first space policy directive today (Dec. 11), which formally directs NASA to focus on returning humans to the moon.

President Trump signed the order during a ceremony in the Oval Office, surrounded by members of the recently re-established National Space Council (NSC).

As well as active NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Peggy Whitson, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and retired astronaut Jack Schmitt, who flew to the moon on the Apollo 17 mission.

The directive I’m signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” Trump said during the ceremony.

It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use.”




This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond.

Space Policy Directive 1 makes official a recommendation approved by the NSC in October. Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as chairman of the NSC, also spoke at the signing.

NASA recently announced that for human astronauts, the path to Mars will include a stop at the moon, where the agency may build a facility currently being called the Deep Space Gateway.

That structure could serve as a kind of way station between the Earth and the Red Planet.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, said he thinks the new directive could provide “a sense of urgency” to NASA’s spaceflight pursuits.

He noted that there are “a lot of people that want to help [NASA]” reach those goals, including international space partners and commercial space partners in the U.S.A.

In a separate statement, NASA officials said that the directive also officially ends NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which would have sent robotic probes and then humans to an asteroid.

The Space Policy Directive 1 will “more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans [to] the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars,” agency officials said.

Both the president and the vice president said today that NASA’s focus on its human spaceflight program will help create jobs for the country, and both men briefly mentioned the defense and military applications of the space program.

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North Korea Fires Missile Towards Japan – Possibly Its Most Powerful Yet

North Korea has conducted a night test of a long-range ballistic missile that landed off the coast of Japan, triggering a South Korea test-launch in response and bringing a return to high tension to the region after a lull of more than two months.

The Pentagon issued a statement saying that the weapon tested was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Initial reports from Seoul suggested that it came from a mobile launcher and was fired at about 3am local time.

The missile was reported to have flown for 50 minutes on a very high trajectory, reaching 4,500 km above the earth before coming down nearly 1,000 km from the launch site off the west coast of Japan.

This would make it the most powerful of the three ICBMs North Korea has tested so far.




Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, condemned the missile launch as a “violent act” that “can never be tolerated” and called for an emergency meeting of the UN security council.

David Wright, a physicist and missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, calculated that on a normal trajectory, rather than a high lofted one, the missile would have a range of 13,000 km, enough to reach Washington, the rest of the US west coast, Europe or Australia.

Furthermore, the mobile night launch appeared aimed at testing new capabilities and demonstrating that Pyongyang would be able to strike back after any attempt at a preventative strike against the regime.

It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken,” James Mattis, the US defence secretary, told reporters.

It’s a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten anywhere in the world.

Mattis added the North Korean missile programme “threatens world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States”.

President Trump, who had insisted that North Korean development of an ICBM would not happen during his presidency, said: “We will take care of it … it is a situation that we will handle.

The missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and travelled about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s economic exclusion zone.

“We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment of the launch,” Pentagon spokesman Col Robert Manning said.

Within minutes of the launch, the South Korean joint chiefs of staff announced Seoul had carried out an exercise involving the launch of a “precision strike” missile, signalling that it was primed to respond immediately to any attack from the North.

It was the first North Korean ballistic missile test since 15 September and followed a warning earlier this month from Donald Trump that North Korean threats to strike the US and its allies would be a “fatal miscalculation”.

The launch also marked a rebuff to Russia, which had claimed the previous day that the pause in missile launches suggested that Pyongyang was ready to defuse tensions in line with a proposal from Moscow and Beijing that North Korea could freeze missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a scaling down of US and allied military exercises.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, an expert on Asia-Pacific security at Yale Law School and the Centre for a New American Security, said that the night launch “matters because that’s when they’d launch under operational conditions.

Abe told reporters: “We will never give in to provocative acts [by North Korea],” adding that the international community would put “maximum pressure” on North Korea to abandon its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme.

Abe said Japan had lodged a “strong protest” with the regime in Pyongyang, which he accused of ignoring other countries’ “united, strong will for a peaceful solution”.

He added: “The international community needs to work in unison to fully implement sanctions.

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U.S. and Russia Teaming Up For Space Station Near The Moon With Plans To Put Humans On Mars

If the U.S. and Russia can’t get along on earth, maybe they will have better luck near the moon.

The countries’ space agencies on Wednesday announced an agreement to build the first lunar-orbiting space station. NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, both hope to put humans on Mars and see a lunar station as a “gateway” toward future deep-space goals.

The new station, which would reside inside the moon’s orbit, may eventually replace the aging International Space Station.

At a station within the moon’s orbit, astronauts could test systems in a “true deep space environment” like they would experience near Mars, but get back to Earth quickly if they need to, NASA officials explained in March.




The American organization has been vocal about their goals to send humans to Mars within the next two decades.

However, in the past few months, Russian leaders have been uncertain about collaborating on such a project, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Instead, Russian leaders have considered working on a different project with China, which, according to aerospace-technology.com, has the largest fleet of spacecraft in orbit after the U.S.

But the NASA’s signed agreement with Roscosmos at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, secured the deal.

Russia and the U.S. will team up, with more minor players such as Japan, the European Space Agency and Canada still in discussion about joining the team.

While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration,” Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a press release.

Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.

The agreement didn’t give details about funding or engineering specifics, but the Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. were reportedly asked to create risk-reduction and construction plans for the new station.

The International Space Station, which has been orbiting Earth since 1998, is supposed to go out of service in 2024 and would ideally be replaced by the lunar station.

But Boeing, the current station’s main contractor, warned that until the replacement is built, it is hard to predict when the current station will be put out of service.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Scientists Have Found That Some People Are Aging Three Years Every 12 Months

ageing

It is said that time waits for no man, but biologically speaking some people are barely ageing at all while others are speeding through their lives at the rate of three years every 12 months, scientists have found.

For the first time researchers have developed a test which reveals not only biological age but how fast people are growing old.

And the results are startling. In a group of 38-year-olds, the scientists discovered that some had the same physiology as a 30-year-old while others were closer to 60.




The researchers from a range of institutions including Kings College London and Duke University in the US, believe it could explain why some people look far older than their years, while others appear to hardly age from year to year.

“We are now at a point where we can quantify biological ageing in young people, “ said Dr Andrea Danese, Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychobiology and Psychiatry at Kings College London.

“And for the first time we can see how fast they are ageing. The people who had the oldest biological age were growing old the fastest.”

Just as hair goes grey and wrinkles appear, all parts of the body slowly deteriorate with age, and that can be measured to work out a person’s true biological age.

real age

Someone who has never smoked, exercised regularly and eaten a healthy diet may have protected themselves against much of the ravages of time, whereas a person who lives an unhealthy lifestyle will speed up the process.

They carried out the tests when participants were aged 26, 32 and 38 to see how they were changing over time. Although most people were around their real age, and were ageing at a rate of 12 months in one year, some were ageing as fast as three years per chronological year while others were not ageing at all.

People can already go to the internet to calculate their “heart age”, entering their blood pressure, height, weight, and whether or not they smoke, and so forth. But our measure of the pace of aging is a bit different, as it is based on aspects of organ function that are “hidden” inside young people who still feel and look healthy; it does not rely on observable behaviours such as smoking.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Charging Your Phone While Moving Around? Be Amazed By This Wireless Gadget Charger!

Scientists at Stanford University in the US have developed a device that can wirelessly charge a moving object at close range.

The technology could one day be used to charge electric cars on the highway, or medical implants and cellphones as you walk nearby.

“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Professor Shanhui Fan.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature, wireless charging would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars their limited driving range. A charge-as-you-drive system would overcome these limitations.

“We can rethink how to deliver electricity not only to our cars but to smaller devices on or in our bodies. For anything that could benefit from dynamic, wireless charging, this is potentially very important,” Fan said.

The team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED light bulb but the demonstration only involved a one milliwatt charge, far less than what electric cars require.

The scientists are now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.

According to the research, the transfer efficiency can be further enhanced if both coils are tuned to the same magnetic resonance frequency and are positioned at the correct angle, but scientists found that was a complex process.

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Pass it on: New Scientist