Friday, January 25, 2013

Links 25/01/13

Earth may be crashing through domain walls of dark matter.  And if it isn't, the leading theory for the composition of dark matter is almost certainly wrong.

On the other hand, the supergiant star Betelgeuse is definitely going to crash through 'a strange wall of interstellar dust' in 5000 years.

On Mars, the Curiosity rover has just taken its first images with its 'hand lens' camera at night.  And here's a nice little gallery of images from the first fifty years of robotic solar-system exploration.

Talking of robots, Project Phoenix proposes to use robot mechanics to recycle parts from orbiting satellites.  And Deep Space Industries plans to deploy flocks of tiny Firefly satellites to prospect for lodes of valuable metals on near-Earth asteroids, and to mine them with Dragonfly robots, which will each return 20-45 kilograms of material to Earth for study.  'DSI is also developing a space-based 3D printer called the MicroGravity Foundry, which would grind up asteroids, separate out the useful bits and fuse them into manufactured goods.'

The British Museum is about to open an exhibition of ice-age art.  According to Curator Dr Jill Cook, some of the works on display may have been created by a professional class or artists: 'Some of the things we have from digs are a bit rubbish; some of them almost look like apprentice pieces. But the best things are masterpieces and would have taken hundreds of hours to produce.'  (While I was researching Mind's Eye, by the way, Dr Cook gave me an invaluable tour of the British Museum's neolithic and palaeolithic stores; I was lucky enough to be able to take a very close look at some of these pieces.)


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