Teh Science

by wjw on June 6, 2012

Random news from the World O’ Science, all of which came in on the same day.

Via friend of the blog Density Duck, the news that the National Reconnaissance Office, which is so hyper-secret that its very existence was kept from the public for forty-odd years, has gifted NASA with a couple of space telescopes, either of which out-Hubbles Hubble by a factor of 100 to 1.   The NRO doesn’t need them any more, which suggests that they’ve either got something better now, or ordered too damn many of them to begin with.

Presumably the NRO wasn’t using them for astronomy, or for locating alien worlds, but rather for reading the laundry tags of Russian agents here on Earth.  Still, one hopes they’ll be useful once pointed in the other direction.

In other news, DARPA has announced why it lost its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle during its first test last year.  The HTV-2 was flying so fast that it shed its skin at Mach 20.

The vehicle, which was expected to precipitate World War III because its radar image is indistinguishable from that of an ICBM, will now cede precedence to the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which will now have to bring about the end of civilization on its own.

Via Archaeology Magazine— no link, sorry— new information about the Iceman, Õtzi, at 5300 years of age Europe’s oldest mummy.  His maternal and paternal DNA have been sequenced, which reveals that his maternal line is now extinct, and that his male ancestors migrated from the Middle East more than 6000 years ago.

He was also lactose intolerant, had Type O blood, brown hair and eyes, and may have had Lyme disease, or maybe just some of its DNA.

His last meal consisted of wheat bran, and he died after being shot in the back with an arrow, after which he bled out in mere minutes.

Some people just don’t like vegetarians.

And finally, the skeletons of two vampires have been found in Bulgaria, each skewered with an iron stake.

Excellent.  Two more pale, languid creatures we don’t have to worry will show up at our doors.

John Appel June 7, 2012 at 4:07 am

I saw the space telescope story a couple of days ago, and my first thought was “Ok, knowing the DoD, this means they’ve already got at least one of these up there, or something better.”

But I think Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic summed it up best:

This is the state of our military-industrial-scientific complex in miniature: The military has so much money that it has two extra telescopes better than anything civilians have; meanwhile, NASA will need eight years to find enough change in the couches at Cape Canaveral to turn these gifts into something they can use. Anyone else find anything wrong with this state of affairs?

DensityDuck June 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Even worse than that, there are people–including some sci-fi writers!–who think that’s still more money than NASA deserves.

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