Nobel & Stratos | SciByte 67

Nobel & Stratos | SciByte 67

We take a look at the 2012 Nobel award in Physics, Felix Baumgartner’s jump, exoplanets, dentists, spacecraft and Curiosity updates and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

Direct Download:

MP3 Download | Ogg Download | Video | YouTube

RSS Feeds:

MP3 Feed | Ogg Feed | iTunes Feed | Video Feed

Support the Show:



Show Notes:

2012 Nobel in Physics

  • 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • American physicist David Wineland and French physicist Serge Haroche were named winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics “for groundbreaking experimental methods” that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems
  • Their experiments on quantum particles have already resulted in ultra-precise clocks and may one day help lead to computers many times faster than those in use today.
  • Their research is inventing methods to peer into the bizarre quantum world of ultra-tiny particles, work that could help in creating a new generation of super-fast computers
  • Quantum computers could radically change people’s lives in the way that classical computers did last century, but a full-scale quantum computer is still decades away
  • In a quantum computer, an individual particle can essentially represent a zero and a one at the same time
  • If scientists can make such particles work together, certain kinds of calculations could be done with blazing speed.
  • Why not Higgs?
  • There is a remote possibility that the new particle is not the Higgs, although this would be an even more ground shaking announcement.
  • Originally six physicists, each building on the work of others, published a flurry of papers on aspects of the theory within four months of each other back in 1964.
  • The first were Belgians Robert Brout, who died last year, and Francois Englert.
  • Followed by Higgs, who was the first to say only a new particle would explain the anomalies of mass
  • Further complicating the issue is that thousands of physicists worked in the two labs at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva where Higgs experiments were conducted independently of each other.
  • Another question is whether theoreticians or experimentalists—or both—should get the glory.
  • At most three names, although they can include organisations, can share a Nobel and a prize cannot be given posthumously.
  • The Nobel will “eventually” go to the Higgs but it is not yet certain that the particle is indeed the Higgs Boson
  • The Nobel Peace Prize has often been awarded to organisations. But in the science prizes they have tried to “find the most prizeworthy individuals”
  • Of Note
  • The prizes are always handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.
  • Although they are announced before the Dec 10 anniversary
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Official website of the Nobel Prize
  • Frenchman, American win Nobel for quantum physics (Update 6) |
  • ‘God particle’ discovery poses Nobel dilemma |


Red Bull Stratos



  • The low down
  • The news is coming out that citizens utilizing Kepler data from PlanetHunters have found a planet in a 4-star system!
  • Also an Earth-sized exoplanet has been discovered about the nearest star
  • More information on this in next weeks SciByte!

Musical Dental Drill

  • The low down
  • A dental surgeon in the Indonesian city of Purworejo has connected an MP3 player to a dental drill that plays music loud enough to drown out the distinctive whine of the instrument
  • He discovered that many patients, especially children were not afraid of the dentist; instead, they were afraid of the drill
  • Patients are able to control its volume by opening and closing their mouths the wider they open, the louder the music grows which means the dentist doesn’t have to continually urge patients to open wider for better access to back teeth
  • It took Dr. Gustiana a year of research, effort, and 6 million rupiah (approximately $595) to configure the drill
  • He has been using it in his practice since 2006 and has noted that many adults also prefer the musical drill to the standard model.
  • Patients can make requests though he does try to limit the choices to songs that calm the nerves
  • Of Note
  • Doctor Gustiana presented his modified drill to attendees at the International Dental Congress held in Greece earlier this year.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Dentist Creates Singing Dental Drill to Ease Fears | NTDTV
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Dental surgeon adds music to drill to appease patients |


Shuttle Endeavour moves into new home

Return of “Voyager 1 in Interstellar space?”

  • Inch by inch to interstellar space
  • Voyager team has said they have been seeing two of three key signs of changes expected to occur at the boundary of interstellar space
  • A jump in the level of high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our Solar System and a drop in particles from the Sun
  • A third key sign would be the direction of the magnetic field
  • New tantalizing data
  • Scientists are now analyzing the data to see whether the magnetic field has, indeed, changed direction
  • Of Note
  • Complicating the issue is the fact we don’t really know what to expect, in fact data from 2010 broke what working models we had
  • The entire team will come to a resolute consensus before any announcement is made
  • Social Media
  • NASAVoyager2 @NASAVoyager2
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Did NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Just Exit the Solar System? |
  • Voyager 1 may have left the solar system |


  • Last time on SciByte
  • Red Bull Stratos & SpaceX | SciByte 66 – Red Bull Stratos [October 9, 2012]
  • The low down
  • The Orbcomm satellite, launched Oct. 7 into a bad orbit by a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket
  • It has however provided enough data to proceed with the launch of the full constellation starting next year.
  • In a statement, Orbcomm suggested that it had enough access to the satellite in less than four days in orbit to validate the performance of its major subsystems.
  • Also that had its satellite been the primary payload on SpaceX’s Oct. 7 flight, the mission would have been a success
  • The solar array and communications antenna deployments were successful
  • OG2 satellite bus systems including power, attitude control, thermal and data handling were also tested to verify proper operation
  • Orbcomm had requested that SpaceX carry one of their small satellites on this flight so that they could gather test data before we launch their full constellation next year.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space |

Opportunity Rover

  • The low down
  • Opportunity is conducting science campaign at a location where orbital observations show the presence of clay minerals
  • The rover is positioning near a large, light-toned block of exposed rock outcrop, called “Whitewater Lake.”
  • On Sol 3092 (Oct. 4, 2012), the rover moved, likely the smallest amount ever, with less than an inch (1 centimeter) of total motion in order to position the robotic arm favorable on a dark-rind surface target
  • On Sol 3094 (Oct. 6, 2012), Opportunity performed a 15-minute brush of a surface target with the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT
    followed with the collection of a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic
    then the placement of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) for an overnight integration
  • The total distance travelled during the mission is 21.78 miles (35,050.07 meters)
  • Multimedia
  • Image [Exposed rock outcrop, called Whitewater Lake(
  • Social Media
  • Spirit and Oppy | @MarsRovers
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mars Exploration Rover Mission: The Mission |



Looking back

  • October 18, 1962 : 50 years ago : Nobel Prize for DNA : Dr. James D. Watson of the U.S., Dr. Francis Crick and Dr. Maurice Wilkins of Britain won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for their work in determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Looking up this week

Question? Comments? Contact us here!