Archive for April, 2017

No joke: April Fools’ Day comet will make closest pass to Earth on record

Saturday, April 1st, 2017:

April Fools’ Day will be full of pranks and practical jokes, and one (very real) comet. Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, now nicknamed the “April Fools’ Day Comet,” circles the sun every 5.5 years, and it’s in our vicinity this spring. The iconic comet’s next sighting will be extra special. Expected to be traveling only about 13.2 million miles away — about 50 times the moon’s distance — from Earth, the comet will pass closer to us than at any return since its discovery nearly 160 years ago, according to EarthSky.org. Comet 41P belongs to the “Jupiter comets,” a group of comets that […] Read More →

Measuring acceleration with light

Saturday, April 1st, 2017:

Most people have never seen an accelerometer—a device that measures change in velocity—and wouldn’t know where to look. Yet accelerometers have become essential to modern life, from controlling automobile airbags, to earthquake monitoring, inertial navigation for spaceflight, aircraft, and autonomous vehicles, and keeping the screen image rotated the right way on cell phones and tablets, among other uses. Not surprisingly, demand is rising for inexpensive, high-precision instruments that can be embedded in ever-smaller locations. That is why NIST researchers have developed and are testing a novel silicon-based optomechanical accelerometer less than 1 millimeter thick. It is designed to deliver measurements […] Read More →

One of T-Mobile’s best promos is going away

Saturday, April 1st, 2017:

“Capitalism breeds competition, and competition is good for the consumer” is one of the central tenents of the modern economic system. Much as you might doubt it when you’re paying your cell bill every month, the wireless industry is one of the best examples. When Verizon unveiled a new unlimited data plan last month, it didn’t even take T-Mobile a day to release a counter: unlimited HD video streaming and 10GB of mobile hotspot data, making T-Mobile’s plan comparable to Verizon’s at a lower cost. Competition at work! But as it turns out, T-Mobile’s counter was only a limited-time promo, and […] Read More →

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