Plasma, the 4th State of Matter 

plasma

Plasma is created when gasses are heated to high enough temperatures that some of the electrons within the gasses atoms, fly off leaving positively charged ions; this super hot mixture of ions and electrons is referred to as “plasma”. Lightning is a plasma. The sun is also plasma. Plasma is the most common state of matter within the universe as all stars are made up of plasma

Dung Beetle Celestial Navigation

Milky-Way-Galaxy-navigation

Dung beetles use the Milky Way Galaxy to navigate. The dung beetle’s eyes are much too small and imprecise to see individual stars, however they are accurate enough to see the presence of the stars within the Milky Way Galaxy itself. Dung beetles have a particularly difficult time navigating in a straight line on cloudy or obstructed nights which is what initially lead scientists to the discovery of the dung beetle’s navigation methods. This find was the first time an animal or insect was discovered to navigate using primitive astronomy techniques

The International Space Station

International-Space-Station

The International Space Station is approximately the size of a football field, orbits the Earth at over 28,000 kilometers per hour, and is situated 400 kilometers above sea level. The International Space Station is made up of 15 separate modules which come together and function as a single unit, with one end belonging to the United States of America and the other to Russia. Every piece of payload which is sent into space to be stored upon the International Space Station is weighed carefully, all the way down to the ounce

The Protoplanet Theia

protoplanet-Theia

The protoplanet which hit the Earth and created the moon is referred to as “Theia”. When Theia hit the Earth, it’s core fused with the Earth’s core sending enormous amounts of liquid rock into orbit. Because this liquid rock was in a magma like state, it was very easy for it to coalesce and from the moon. The collision changed Earth’s trajectory as a planet because metals like iron were released from the planets core, resetting Earth’s basic chemistry. Gasses like methane, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen, seeped into Earth’s atmosphere, gasses which were the building blocks of life. During the 1950’s, American chemist Stanley Miller carried out a classic experiment which included creating a cocktail of these gasses and simulating life on Earth by introducing electricity. What emerged was a film of brown slime, full of amino acids, the raw material of proteins, created by nothing but the very gasses already present on Earth. During the cooldown of the Earth after the collision, water vapor condensed to form oceans, oceans which were tidal by nature due to the moons gravitational pull. Chemicals found within the early oceans were aided by the moon as the moon pulled upon the Earth creating low tides which in turn were introduced to ultraviolet radiation from the sun as the sun’s heat evaporated the remaining water within those tidal pools. This constant wetting and drying of these tidal pools was the catalyst which created ribonucleic acid, complex molecules created by very simple materials under very simple conditions

Terraforming Mars

terraforming-Mars

In order to terraform Mars, scientists have theorized that by blasting the polar ice caps on the north and south poles of the planet with lasers, the ice could be melted, turned into water, and used to grow vegetation. Terraforming has been successfully performed in the past, as 1600 kilometers off the coast of Africa is Ascension Island, a place in which nothing grew or lived (as far as scientists are aware of) because there was no fresh water or vegetation due to the top soil being prone to volcanic activity. Charles Darwin visited the island with his good friend Sir Joseph Hooker. Darwin and Hooker terraformed the destitute island by introducing approximately 220 different plants, transplanted by ship, on a Noah’s Ark of sorts. The experiment worked. Ascension Island is now home to hundreds of plant species and the lifeforms which go alongside vegetation

Challenger Spacecraft

cement-and-concrete

The reason the Challenger space craft exploded 73 seconds into its launch on January 28, 1986 was because the temperature the morning of the launch was -1 degrees Celsius which caused the o-rings placed around the rocket’s boosters to shrink and leak fuel upon liftoff. This theory was brought to light by Valentina Tereshkova, who was the first woman in space. Tereshkova relayed her theory to one of the heads of staff at NASA who then relayed it to Richard Feynman by showing him how vehicle carburetors which also have o-rings experience the same issue. If the ambient temperature is below 11 degrees Celsius this issue is a common occurrence with all o-rings, regardless of the vehicle or craft it is installed upon

Sputnik

sputnik

Sputnik which means “traveling companion” in Russian, was launched in 1957 and was the first satellite in space. Today, there are over 1200 satellites orbiting the earth, 50% of which are owned by the United States. Sputnik was first observed by the American’s on October 4, 1957 and because of this, 1 year and 1 week later, NASA was formed. The U.S. was acutely aware of the consequences which would follow if they were to allow the Russians, and therefore the ideology of communism, to win the Space Race during the Cold War. NASA was initially set up with a large budget which at its peak reached 4.41% of the US federal total budget. Today that value is approximately 0.5% of the total US federal budget