Science & Technology


Speech by Gen. Simon Worden: "Military Perspectives on the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Threat"


Deputy Director for Operations
United States Space Command
Peterson AFB, CO
July 10, 2002

The opinions and concepts expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Department of Defense or the United States Space Command


A few weeks ago the world almost saw a nuclear war. Pakistan and India were at full alert and poised for a large-scale war - which both sides appeared ready to escalate into nuclear war. The situation was defused - for now! Most of the world knew about this situation and watched and worried. But few know of an event over the Mediterranean in early June of this year that could have had a serious bearing on that outcome. U.S. early warning satellites detected a flash that indicated an energy release comparable to the Hiroshima burst. We see about 30 such bursts per year, but this one was one of the largest we've ever seen. The event was caused by the impact of a small asteroid - probably about 5-10 meters in diameter on the earth's atmosphere. Had you been situated on a vessel directly underneath the intensely bright flash would have been followed by a shock wave that would have rattled the entire ship and possibly caused minor damage.

Hawaii: Big meteor shower coming, but moon will dim it

There is a major meteor shower next month, the Lyrids, peaking on the evening of April 21. Unfortunately, an almost-full moon will shine in the sky all night, making viewing conditions less than ideal for seeing many meteors.

The radiant is between Lyra and Hercules but won't even begin to rise until 9:30 p.m., when the moon is well up in the eastern sky. Fortunately, there are many other science-related events going on right here in the Islands to satisfy your celestial appetite.

Human nose 'can smell danger'

Smell danger
Is this the smell of danger?

The human nose has evolved to sniff out the smell of danger, according to research published today.

Scientists found volunteers who were previously unable to differentiate between two similar scents learnt to tell them apart when given electric shocks alongside just one of them.

South Pole telescope peers heavenward for dark energy

©Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune
The Amundsen-Scott station, where scientists are scanning space for evidence of dark energy.
Understanding it could explain the history and future of the universe.

Anywhere on Earth this would be a big telescope, as tall as a seven-story building, with a main mirror measuring 32 1/2 feet across. But here at the South Pole, it seems especially large, looming over a barren plain of ice that gets colder than anywhere else on the planet.

Scientists built the instrument at the end of the world so they can search for clues that might identify the most powerful, plentiful but elusive substance in the universe: dark energy.

Jules Verne: Space truck ready for rehearsals

Europe's "Jules Verne" freighter is about to start practice docking manoeuvres at the space station.

Jules Verne
Evil Rays

Quantum Channel Between Earth And Space? Firing Photons Makes Advance In Space Communication

For the first time, physicists have been able to identify individual returning photons after firing and reflecting them off of a space satellite in orbit almost 1,500 kilometres above the earth. The experiment has proven the possibility of constructing a quantum channel between Space and Earth.

Research in the New Journal of Physics, discusses the feasibility of building a completely secure channel for global communication, via satellites in space, all thanks to advances in quantum mechanics.

The research team, led by Paolo Villoresi and Cesare Barbieri from Padova University, Italy, has taken intricate steps to fire photons directly at the Japanese Ajisai Satellite. The researchers have been able to prove that the photons received back at the Matera ground-based station, in southern Italy, are the same as those originally emitted.

Ancient Egyptians May Have Had It Rough

Despite leaders' best intentions, and contrary to common depictions of abundance and wealth, ancient Egyptians might not have had the most desirable conditions or lifestyles. Art records from the city of Amarna have long depicted prosperity; however new evidence reveals otherwise.

The unusual features of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who founded the city commonly known today as Amarna, are seen here in this family group

Genetic Signatures in Lebanon Traced Back to the Crusades

A genetic anthropological study known as The Genographic Project has found what is believed to be faint genetic traces left by medieval crusaders in the Middle East.

The team has uncovered a specific DNA signature in Lebanon that is probably linked to the Christian crusades of the 7th and 8th centuries.

This discovery was noted when researchers found that some Christian men in Lebanon carry a DNA signature originating from Western Europe.


Why matter matters in the universe

A new physics discovery explores why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.

The latest research findings, which involved significant contributions from physicists at the University of Melbourne, have been recently published in the prestigious journal Nature.

The paper reveals that investigation into the process of B-meson decays has given insight into why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.
Evil Rays

Solar flares set off sunquakes

Solar flares make the Sun ring like a bell, researchers in Denmark have found.

Christoffer Karoff and Hans Kjeldsen of the University of Aarhus say that these outbursts in the Sun's outer layers drive oscillations throughout the Sun "in the same way that the entire Earth is set ringing for several weeks after a major earthquake."

This possibility was first proposed in the 1970s, but has not been demonstrated until now. "It's the first observational evidence of this that I'm aware of," says Günter Houdek, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge in England who was not involved with the work.

The quakes caused by flares should be visible on other stars.