April 21, 2018 - April 27, 2018
Young John Glenn’s pillowcase featured planets, stars
Sackowitz holds up an embroidered pillowcase with celestial bodies on it
that belonged to the late John Glenn (Courtesy of Adam Sackowitz via AP)
Julie Carr Smyth
(AP) - When future astronaut John Glenn
nestled in his bed, it may not have been sugar plums that danced in his
head, but celestial bodies.
discovered child’s pillowcase that belonged to the late U.S. senator and
space hero depicts revolving planets, stars and a view to outer space.
At the center, a koala bear clings to some sort of spacecraft, labeled
“John” in blue embroidered cursive.
Glenn grew up to
become the first American to orbit the Earth.
Adam Sackowitz, a
graduate student from Queens, New York, purchased the pillowcase March 8
for $2,500 at an estate sale of Glenn’s possessions. An authentication
certificate says it belonged to Glenn during his childhood, which was in
the 1920s and early 1930s. The Ohio native died in 2016 at age 95.
the crowds of people who lined up for the estate sale in Potomac,
Maryland, for the chance to buy mementos from Glenn’s life. Karen Jones,
of Greater Washington Estate Services, which organized the sale, said
the pillowcase was among a roomful of items Glenn’s children identified
as belonging to their father.
Sackowitz said he
stretched his budget to buy the pillowcase because the embroidered image
seemed to predict Glenn’s future career.
seemed to foretell John Glenn’s future as an astronaut,” Sackowitz said.
“I really wanted to buy it and see it preserved for history.”
He hopes to donate
the item for display in Glenn’s birthplace of Cambridge, Ohio, which got
its first-ever historic marker commemorating its famous son in November.
Glenn’s celestial bedding could also go to the John & Annie Glenn Museum
in New Concord, Ohio, Sackowitz said. That’s where Glenn and his widow
spent their childhoods.
The center of the Milky Way is teeming with black holes
This illustration provided by Columbia University
shows the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A, located at the center
of the Milky Way Galaxy, surrounded by a cloud of dust and gas within
which are 12 smaller black holes, and a closeup of one of the systems.
The enlarged section illustrates how the 12 black holes are each
accompanied by a star in a binary orbit. Gasses from the partner star
are pulled into a disk around the black hole. (Columbia University via
Washington (AP) - The center of our galaxy
is teeming with black holes, sort of like a Times Square for strange
super gravity objects, astronomers discovered.
For decades, scientists theorized that circling in
the center of galaxies, including ours, were lots of stellar black
holes, collapsed giant stars where the gravity is so strong even light
doesn’t get out. But they hadn’t seen evidence of them in the Milky Way
core until now.
Astronomers poring over old x-ray observations have
found signs of a dozen black holes in the inner circle of the Milky Way.
And since most black holes can’t even be spotted that way, they
calculate that there are likely thousands of them there. They estimate
it could be about 10,000, maybe more, according to a study in
Wednesday’s journal Nature.
“There’s lots of action going on there,” said study
lead author Chuck Hailey, a Columbia University astrophysicist. “The
galactic center is a strange place. That’s why people like to study it.”
The stellar black holes are in addition to - and
essentially circling - the already known supermassive black hole, called
Sagittarius A, that’s parked at the center of the Milky Way.
In the rest of the massive Milky Way, scientists
have only spotted about five dozen black holes so far, Hailey said.
The newly discovered black holes are within about
19.2 trillion miles (30.9 trillion kilometers) of the supermassive black
hole at the center. So there’s still a lot of empty space and gas amid
all those black holes. But if you took the equivalent space around Earth
there would be zero black holes, not thousands, Hailey said.
Earth is in spiral arm estimated to be around
24,000 to 30,000 light years away from the center of the galaxy. (A
light year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers.)
Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who wasn’t part of the
study, praised the finding as exciting but confirming what scientists
had long expected.
The newly confirmed black holes are about 10 times
the mass of our sun, as opposed to the central supermassive black hole,
which has the mass of 4 million suns. Also the ones spotted are only the
type that are binary, where a black hole has partnered with another star
and together they emit large amount of x-rays as the star’s outer layer
is sucked into the black hole. Those x-rays are what astronomers
When astronomers look at closer binary black hole
systems they could then see the ratio between what’s visible and what’s
too faint to be observed from far away. Using that ratio, Hailey figures
that even though they only spotted a dozen there must be 300 to 500
binary black hole systems.
But binary black hole systems are likely only 5
percent of all black holes, so that means there are really thousands of
them, Hailey said.
There are good reasons the Milky Way’s black holes
tend to be in the center of the galaxy, Hailey said.
First, their mass tends to pull them to the center.
But mostly the center of the galaxy is the perfect “hot house” for black
hole formation, with lots of dust and gas.
Hailey said it is “sort of like a little farm where
you have all the right conditions to produce and hold on to a large
number of black holes.”
April 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
Self-taught rocket scientist blasts off into California sky
March 6, 2018, file photo, “Mad” Mike Hughes begins work on repairing a
steam leak after he scrubbed his launch attempt of his steam-powered
rocket near Amboy, Calif. The self-taught rocket scientist who believes
the Earth is flat propelled himself about 1,000 feet into the air before
a hard-landing in the Mojave Desert that left him injured Saturday,
March 24, 2018. Hughes tells The Associated Press that he injured his
back but is otherwise fine after Saturday’s launch near Amboy, Calif.
(James Quigg/Daily Press via AP, File)
Pat Graham & Michael Balsamo
Los Angeles (AP) - He
finally went up - just like the self-taught rocket scientist always
pledged he would.
He came back down in one piece, too
- a little dinged up and his steam-powered vessel a little cracked up.
Still, mission accomplished for a
guy more daredevil than engineer, who drew more comparisons to the
cartoon character Wile E. Coyote from his critics than he did to iconic
stunt man Evel Knievel.
“Mad” Mike Hughes, the rocket man
who believes the Earth is flat, propelled himself about 1,875 feet into
the air Saturday before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert. He told
The Associated Press that outside of an aching back he’s fine after
the launch near Amboy, California.
“Relieved,” he said after being
checked out by paramedics. “I’m tired of people saying I chickened out
and didn’t build a rocket. I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did
The launch in the desert town -
about 200 miles (321.85 kilometers) east of Los Angeles - was originally
scheduled in November. It was scrubbed several times due to logistical
issues with the Bureau of Land Management and mechanical problems that
kept popping up.
The 61-year-old limo driver
converted a mobile home into a ramp and modified it to launch from a
vertical angle so he wouldn’t fall back to the ground on public land.
For months he’s been working on overhauling his rocket in his garage.
It looked like Saturday might be
another in a string of cancellations, given that the wind was blowing
and his rocket was losing steam. Ideally, they wanted it at 350 psi for
maximum thrust, but it was dropping to 340.
“I told Mike we could try to keep
charging it up and get it hotter,” said Waldo Stakes, who’s been helping
Hughes with his endeavor. “He said, ‘No.’”
Sometime after 3 p.m. PDT, and
without a countdown, Hughes’ rocket soared into the sky.
Hughes reached a speed that Stakes
estimated to be around 350 mph before pulling his parachute. Hughes was
dropping too fast, though, and he had to deploy a second one. He landed
with a thud and the rocket’s nose broke in two places like it was
designed to do.
“This thing wants to kill you 10
different ways,” said Hughes, who had an altimeter in his cockpit to
measure his altitude. “This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.
“Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess.
I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed. At least
I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
He got permission to launch on the
land owned by Albert Okura, who bought Amboy in 2005 for $435,000. Okura
was in attendance and said the event lasted about three to four minutes.
The rocket landed about 1,500 feet from the launch ramp, Stakes said.
“Mike branded us as ‘Rocket Town,’”
Okura said. “It was amazing.”
This has been quite an undertaking
for Hughes, who lives in Apple Valley, California. He’s seen a flurry of
reaction to his plans, with detractors labeling him a crackpot for
planning the launch in a homemade contraption and his belief that the
world is flat.
Some naysayers have posted things
like “He’ll be fine” with a picture of Wile E. Coyote strapped to a
“I hope he doesn’t blow something
up,” retired NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger said as Hughes’ plans
captured widespread attention. Linenger orbited the globe more than
2,000 times during four months in 1997. “Rocketry, as our private space
companies found out, isn’t as easy as it looks.”
Hughes often sparred with his
critics on social media leading up to the launch, through Facebook
comments and a 12-minute video addressed to his doubters. He’s always
maintained that his mission isn’t to prove the Earth is flat.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped
like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he said. “Do I know for sure? No.
That’s why I want to go up in space.”
That’s his project for down the
road. He wants to build a “Rockoon,” a rocket that is carried into the
atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, then separated from the balloon and
lit. This rocket would take Hughes about 68 miles up.
He has a documentary crew following
him around to record his ambition, with a planned release in August.
This was actually the second time
he’s constructed and launched a rocket. He said he jumped on a private
property in Winkelman, Arizona, on Jan. 30, 2014, and traveled 1,374
feet. He collapsed after that landing and needed three days to recover.
But there wasn’t any footage of him
climbing into the craft, leading some to question whether he even took
This one was going to be shown
online through Noize TV.
“My story really is incredible,”
Hughes said. “It’s got a bunch of story lines - the garage-built thing.
I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat
Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people
questioning everything. It’s the downside of all this.”
His future plans are simple: Fill
out the paperwork to run for governor.
“This is no joke,” Hughes said. “I
want to do it.”
March 31, 2018 - April 6, 2018
John Sulston, who decoded the human genome, dies at 75
Sulston, a Nobel Prize-winning British scientist who helped decode the
human genome, has died. He was 75. (AP Photo/Adam Butler, File)
London (AP) -
John Sulston, a Nobel Prize-winning British scientist who helped decode
the human genome, has died. He was 75.
The Wellcome Sanger
Institute, the successor to the cutting-edge genomic research center he
once founded and directed, confirmed Friday that Sulston had died but
did not say when or give the cause of death.
Sulston shared the
prize in 2002 for his contribution to work unraveling how genes control
cell division. He traced the adult nematode worm, C. elegans, to
decipher how cells divide and create something new - findings the Sanger
Institute said were key to understanding how cancers develop.
“He had a burning
and unrelenting commitment to making genome data open to all without
restriction and his leadership in this regard is in large part
responsible for the free access now enjoyed,” Mike Stratton, the
institute’s director, said.
“We all feel the
loss today of a great scientific visionary and leader who made historic,
landmark contributions to knowledge of the living world, and established
a mission and agenda that defines 21st century science,” Stratton added.
fascinated from an early age with the mechanical workings of organisms.
He graduated from
Cambridge University in 1963, and did postdoctoral research in
California before joining Sydney Brenner’s group at the Cambridge
University molecular biology lab, where the structure of DNA was first
identified. They published the gene map of the nematode worm in 1990.
In 1992, Sulston
was appointed director of the Sanger Center, established at Cambridge to
spearhead the British contribution to the international Human Genome
He shared the 2002
Nobel Prize for medicine with Brenner and Robert Horvitz for their work.
China to recruit civilian astronauts, boost crewed missions
In this Oct. 31, 2003, file photo, school
children wave Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they welcome China’s first
astronaut Yang Liwei, center. China says it plans to begin recruiting
civilian astronauts for its military-backed space program. (AP Photo/Anat
Beijing (AP) -
China will begin recruiting civilian astronauts for its military-backed
space program and plans to increase the number of crewed missions to around
two a year, a top official with the country’s space program said.
China’s third batch of
astronaut trainees will include recruits from industry, research
institutions and universities who will help build and crew China’s
independent space station, Yang Liwei, deputy director of the China Manned
Space Engineering Office, told reporters on the sidelines of the annual
session of China’s ceremonial parliament.
New astronauts will
include maintenance engineers and payload specialists as well as pilots,
Yang, who became China’s first man in space in 2003, said Saturday.
China selected 14
astronauts, or yuhangyuan in Chinese, in the late 1990s and another seven in
2010, including two women. A total of 11 have been sent on six missions.
China now operates the
Tiangong 2 precursor space station facility, while the permanent station’s
20-ton core module will be launched this year. The completed 60-ton station
is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.
China was excluded from
the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation
barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program’s
strong military connections.
Since China conducted
its first crewed missions - becoming only the third country after Russia and
the U.S. to do so - it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit
rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back
samples is set to launch in 2020. China also plans to become the first
country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.