In this weeks programme we investigate the world’s smallest single wing aircraft and then, in the regular cafe scientifique insert, there is a discussion of Volcanoes and Mass extinction.But first I take a look at new evidence for the presence of water on the moon – buckets full.
Swimming on the moon
In October, NASA send a rocket and a probe hurtling into the Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole. It kicked up a mile high plume that could then be analysed for the presence of water. The probe following the rocket used a near-infrared spectrometer to detect water ice and water vapour. And they found gallons of the stuff. Noel reports.
It flies like a maple seed and stings like walnut
Researchers at Maryland University’s Clark School (Aerospace Engineering) have designed micro-unmanned aerial vehicle inspired by a maple seed. The University of Maryland engineers studied the spiral flight the seeds take when they fall from a tree and created what the university claims is the “world’s smallest controllable single-winged rotocraft.”
I talked to the main man responble for the design and construction of this fascinating air craft, graduate student Evan Ulrich. He explains just about everything you could want to know about it. There is a youtube video showing just how well it works. I thought that it was quite a stunning piece of kit and I think that we might be seeing a lot of these in model shops in the future. It is easier to fly than a model helicopter and could really catch on.
Mass Extinctions and Volcanism
In this months Cafe Scientifique insert is presented by local science enthusiast, Eric Taylor. Dr Paul Wignall talked to the Cafe about Mass extinctions and volcanism.
All major crises of life in the past 300 million years coincide with large scale volcanic eruptions. This includes the two biggest mass extinctions of all time: the end-Cretaceous and end-Permian events. The reasons behind this coincidence have not been clear but geologists have generally thought that it is related to the effects of two of the principal volcanic gases, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. These have diametrically opposed climatic effects, the former causes long-term global warming and the latter causes short-term cooling due to formation of clouds of volcanic aerosols. The talk will look at some of the latest research which shows that some mass extinction events coincide with huge individual eruptions – involving up a thousand cubic kilometres of lava. Event Page: http://www.sciencecafesheffield.org /200911.htm