Daniel Pfister

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Philae lander makes historic touchdown on comet

The signal broke a seven-hour wait of agonising intensity and sparked scenes of jubilation at the European Space Agency’s mission control in Darmstadt. The team in charge of the Rosetta mission achieved what at times seemed an impossible task by landing a robotic spacecraft on a comet for the first …

Your science questions answered

Q Given the fact that the atom consists mainly of empty space and glass has a much higher density than paper, why is it that I can’t look through a sheet of paper but easily through centimetre-thick glass? asks Thoralf Schubert<p>A As Professor Philip Moriarty from the University of Nottingham …

10 sweet apps already spruced up for Android’s Material Design

Google premiered the Material design theme at its big Google I/O conference back in June, but only recently have developers been sending out apps in accord with the new look for the Android operating system.<p>And it isn’t just Googlers who’ve been doing the work. Startups have launched Material-style …

In Space, No One Can Hear You Sample

NASA just released a collection of sound effects from both this world and deep, intergalactic space into the Public Domain. They are now available for all of us to enjoy and perhaps use to make music.<p>Transcript<p>KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, HOST:<p>Hear that? That's what our planet sounds like from space. And …

APOD: Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 660 (2014 Nov 08) Image Credit: Gemini Observatory, AURA, Travis Rector (Univ. Alaska Anchorage) http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141108.html Explanation: NGC 660 is featured in this cosmic snapshot, a sharp composite of broad and narrow band filter image data from the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea. Over 20 million light-years away and swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces, NGC 660's peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy. A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings nearly perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk. The bizarre-looking configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by a disk galaxy, with the captured debris eventually strung out in a rotating ring. The violent gravitational interaction would account for the myriad pinkish star forming regions scattered along NGC 660's ring. The polar ring component can also be used to explore the shape of the galaxy's otherwise unseen dark matter halo by calculating the dark matter's gravitational influence on the rotation of the ring and disk. Broader than the disk, NGC 660's ring spans over 50,000 light-years. http://www.gemini.edu/ http://www.aura-astronomy.org/ http://aftar.uaa.alaska.edu/ http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=141108 #APOD

Why the self-serve American junkyard is dying

Change has come to the scrapyard business, and more is on the way.<p>"Take cheap tools."<p>That's what Jim Losee told me on my first trip to the Pick Your Part junkyard in Sun Valley, California, back in 1990. He was the experienced editor and I was the new guy at <i>Car Craft</i> magazine. "You're going to lose …