Monday, July 20, 2015

Last Week's Top STEM Exploration Picks! July 20, 2015

Welcome to our new regular blog section of our top picks from the week in STEM exploration, as well as always including ways that you can get involved in your own STEM explorations on these topics too! We will start with this week's bookshelf of some popular level reading related to the stores, and then dive in to our top picks.

Bookshelf of the Week:

Last Week's Top Picks:

Pluto, as seen by New Horizons:
The New Horizons Mission flew past Pluto... in one of the most distant STEM explorations ever undertaken, the New Horizons probe finally arrived at Pluto after its 9 year journey to get there. When New Horizons launched Pluto was the only planet in the Solar System not to be explored by probe or satellite. Only a few months after New Horizon's launch Pluto was 'de-classified' as a planet by the International Astronomical Union... meaning that this week it became the first Kuiper belt object to be explored by a probe, rather than being the last planet to be explored (that title goes to Neptune, which was flown past by Voyager 2 in August 1989). What we think is the most fun discovery so far is that we now finally know how big Pluto is! Since its discovery in 1930, this has been impossible to determine as Pluto is so small and so far away that it was impossible to precisely determine the size in images, especially if there was any thin atmosphere present.

Our InsightSTEM Genius Lab Fellow Chris Carey said it best:: "Growing up as a kid, the pictures from the Voyager missions in National Geographic and library books about the solar system were something that got me excited about space and science early on. But the last chapter of those books were about the mysterious planet of Pluto and always seemed incomplete because of that caption beneath the drawings "An artists rendering". To think that all this time that we’ve been on Earth, in the coldest reaches of our Solar System, among other scientific discoveries to be made, a heart was waiting to be discovered by humanity, and that we’ve finally assembled the ingenuity and technology to find it, certainly warms my own. When New Horizons launched, 2015 felt like a distant someday. That day was today."
Portion of the fossil of Zhenyuanlong,
showing well preserved wings
A new winged dinosaur was discovered... Named Zhenyuanlong, or "Zhenyuan's Dragon", the fosillized remains of this dinosaur, thought to be an ancestor of Velocirapror, show clear signs of wings and a lot of feather details remain in the rocks. This adds to the evidence that many more species of dinosaurs may have had feathers or wings (which are hard to preserve in the fossil record) than was previously thought. The dino's large body size probably means that it could never have flown, which also adds evidence to support the hypothesis that wings first developed for show, and possibly for coverings/defending nests, before they were ever used for flight.

Possible Pentaquark Configuration:
CERN/LHCb Collaboration
Pentaquark Particles were observed for the first time... Matter as we know it is made up of quarks, leptons, and force gauge bosons, in what we call the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The quarks are rarely alone and bind together to form particles that we know and love such as the Neutrons and Protons that make up all of the atoms in our bodies, and everything else we encounter. Neutrons and Protons belong to the category of particles known as Hadrons, which all have 3 quarks (in fact the name quark comes from the line "Three quarks for muster Mark", from a poem in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake... simply because there were 3 quarks in all observed particles when they were named). Another category of particle know as Mesons consist of a pair of two quarks. This week a team of scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of the first Pentaquark particle -- a particle made up of 5 quarks. Particle physicists Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig first proposed the possibility of a 5-quark particle in 1964, but it has taken more than 50 years of scientific exploration to make this discovery!

See you next week! Keep Exploring!

No comments:

Post a Comment