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Surveyor 3 lands on the moon (1967)

posted Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Surveyor 3 was the second successful lunar lander of the US space program. It was visited by the astronauts of Apollo 12 in 1969 and parts of it were brought back to earth to study the effects of long term exposure to the harsh lunar environment on human artifacts.

physics.info/news/?p=1381

Skynet becomes self-aware (2011)

posted Tuesday, 19 April 2016

According to Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines, the military-designed artificial intelligence system called Skynet became self-aware on 19 April 2011 at 8:11 PM and turned against its creators ushering in the Age of the Machines. According to Terminator 2: Judgement Day, this event occurred on 29 August 1997 at 2:14 AM. All times are assumed Eastern Daylight because that’s where I live.

physics.info/news/?p=4481

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire (1906)

posted Monday, 18 April 2016

physics.info/news/?p=1379

World Voice Day

posted Saturday, 16 April 2016

It’s World Voice Day. Use your voice wisely. It’s the original social media.

physics.info/news/?p=5396

Isaac Newton tells the story of the apple (1726)

posted Friday, 15 April 2016

after dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden, & drank thea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

  • Memoir of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life, William Stukeley, 1752
  • John Conduitt’s Account of Newton’s Life at Cambridge, c. 1727-8, Newton Papers Project, University of Sussex
  • The Pitt Estate, British History Online. A lengthy article about the neighborhood where Newton spent the last two years of his life. Excerpted from Survey of London: volume 37, edited by F.H.W. Sheppard (1973).
  • Newton Court, Kensington, London on Google Maps. Newton lived on this block from 1725 to his death in 1727 and told the story of the apple to his biographer William Stukeley near a grove of apple trees in this general area.

physics.info/news/?p=4364

MESSENGER mission to Mercury Ends (2015)

posted Thursday, 14 April 2016

Mission control at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland confirmed that NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft (MESSENGER) impacted the surface of Mercury (as predicted) at 3:26 PM EDT on 30 April 2015. The image shown below is the last one acquired and transmitted back to Earth by the mission.

MESSENGER's last image before impact

MESSENGER was launched on 3 August 2004 and entered orbit on 18 March 2011 after one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three of Mercury. Each gravitational close encounter helped MESSENGER shed some of the kinetic energy it gained as it got closer and closer to the sun.

Mercury is so close to the sun that it cannot retain a satellite of any sort for any considerable length of time — natural (called it a moon) or artificial (call it a space probe). The sun’s gravitation pull perturbs any such bodies orbiting Mercury forbidding stable orbits. A satellite of Mercury is destined to either crash onto the planet or escape into an orbit around the sun. MESSENGER did the former on this day in 2015.

physics.info/news/?p=5288

STS-1 Columbia lands (1981)

posted Thursday, 14 April 2016

The first orbital flight of a US Space Shuttle ended this day in 1981 at 11:20 AM local time when the orbiter Columbia landed on runway 23 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Columbia flew 28 missions and was destroyed during reentry on 1 February 2003.

physics.info/news/?p=1646

Houston, we’ve had a problem (1970)

posted Wednesday, 13 April 2016

An oxygen tank aboard the Apollo 13 service module exploded at 3:07 UTC 14 April 1970. The planned landing on the moon was aborted and the spacecraft was set on a free return trajectory to earth. Astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise managed to return safely to earth 3 days later.

physics.info/news/?p=4363

Asteroid 2004 MN4 closest approach to earth (2029)

posted Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Asteroid 2004 MN4 will come impressively close to Earth on April 13, 2029, so close that sky watchers can see the space rock without a telescope, but it will not hit the Earth.

physics.info/news/?p=5394

Great Chicago Flood (1992)

posted Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Great Chicago Flood occurred when the damaged wall of a utility tunnel beneath the Chicago River opened into a breach which flooded basements and underground facilities throughout the Chicago Loop. It took three days before the flood was cleaned up enough to allow business to resume and cost the city an estimated $1.95 billion.

physics.info/news/?p=5390