What scientific discoveries will 2017 bring? What technological innovations? Probably not time travel — or time-shares on Mars. But no one really knows for sure, and when we asked some of the biggest names in in science and technology to share their predictions for the coming year, there was a bit of pushback.
“I normally don’t make predictions for anything less than two trillion years in the future,” Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss told NBC MACH. It’s easier to make predictions that far out, he added jokingly, when “no one will be around to check them.”
Ultimately, Krauss came through with some fascinating forecasts. Read on to see them, along with predictions from legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin and nine more thought leaders in science and tech (the submissions have been lightly edited).
Scott Kelly / NASA
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If you’re an innovative person with ideas about how best to deal with your bodily functions while wearing a spacesuit, then NASA wants to hear from you! The agency is currently soliciting entries in its aptly titled Space Poop Challenge, posted on the website HeroX, to “source a system that routes and collects human waste away from the body” for “fully-suited astronauts.”
What’s more, it pays. The innovator with the winning design gets $30,000.
Right now, astronauts use space toilets when they’re out of their suits and diapers when they need to wear their spacesuits during launch and entry, but diapers are usually only worn for a matter of hours. They’re also uncomfortable, and keeping waste next to your body for long periods of time can lead to irritation and infection.
Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has some grim news for humanity: We have 1,000 years to get off Earth or we’re totally screwed.
The 74-year-old Hawking delivered a speech on Tuesday at the Oxford Union, reported the Daily Express, in which he said “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.” Hawking reportedly said that humans are speeding towards the end of our time on Earth by destroying and using up its resources — and eventually, it will be impossible for us to continue living here.
Stephen Hawking in 2016.Source: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx/AP
The launch was 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday, which was early Friday morning at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
At 56, astronaut Peggy Whitson is a lot younger than John Glenn was when he flew in a space shuttle at 77, but when Whitson launched Thursday with two other crew members toward the International Space Station she became the oldest female astronaut in the world to fly into space.
A millisecond is a thousandth of a second, and a nanosecond is a billionth of a second, but there’s another measurement of time that makes both of them look slow.
Scientists have for the first time been able to measure something in a zeptosecond, or a trillionth of a billionth of a second.
Laser physicists in Munich fired an extreme ultraviolet light pulse onto a helium atom to excite the electrons, causing one to break free ― a process called photoemission. At the same time, they shot an infrared laser pulse to detect the electron as it left the atom.
New images from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile showed the massive “Pillars of Destruction” in the Carina Nebula, some 7,500 light years from Earth:
The images revealed a “nursery” of new stars, which were wiping out the very clouds from which they formed.
“In an ironic twist, one of the first consequences of the formation of a massive star is that it starts to destroy the cloud from which it was born,” the ESO wrote in a news release.
That destruction led to scenes that looked like the cover of a 1960s psychedelic album. Some of the nicknames even sounded like the titles of those albums, such as the Mystic Mountain, a formation of gas and dust that spans more than three light years:
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