Stellar Nurseries

Ken Tapping, August 29, 2012

For some excellent pictures to illustrate this week’s subject, see the images of galaxies Messier 33 and Messier 51 on the website of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). These and the other images show the quality that is achievable from ground-based observatories, provided they are equipped with state-of-the-art optics and imaging. The website is http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/HawaiianStarlight/HawaiianStarlight-AIOM.html.

Our Solar System, which is comprised of the Sun, planets — including ours — and a lot of other objects, is just one microscopic mote in a great spiral galaxy we call the Milky Way, which is home for billions of stars and planets. The images we are getting with telescopes like the CFHT give us a hint of the treasure trove of cosmic jewellery we live in. Unfortunately, from our position well inside, it is very hard to get a big picture of what our galaxy is like and what is going on in it. With projects like the Canadian Galactic Plane Survey we can see a lot of what is going on in our neighbourhood, which in Star Trek is referred to as the Alpha Quadrant, and somewhat beyond, but that is more or less all we can see.

Stellar Nurseries

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Cloud Computing Tackles the Mystery of the Big Bang

Global data sharing pushes scientific frontiers

Scientists around the world are hunting for clues to the origins of the universe in the flood of data coming from the particle accelerator at CERN. Giving the scientific community access to that data requires a global computer grid system the likes of which the research world has never seen.

The  quest for an esoteric particle known as the “Higgs boson” — as well as answers  to other physics puzzlers — has led to scientific collaboration on a massive  scale. Thousands of scientists around the world simultaneously gather, share  and analyze vast streams of information from the powerful accelerator operated  by CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.

CERN  houses the Large Hadron Collider, a huge machine that collides protons at high  energies to create exotic particles — tiny short-lived specks of matter — that fragment  into smaller particles. These collisions reproduce reactions moments after the “Big  Bang” in miniature, and are expected to provide clues  to the first moments in the history of the universe.

Cloud Computing Tackles the Mystery of the Big Bang

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An Affordable Ultra-Light Wheelchair

In 2004, Éric Simoneau, a graduate of HEC Montreal’s business administration program, and David Gingras, a graduate in automated production engineering from École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), came up with the idea of designing a wheelchair that is two times lighter, more durable and more affordable than a traditional wheelchair.

“At first, the new thing was to use carbon,” explains Éric Simoneau, President of Motion Composites Inc. “We had already come up with a concept, gathered a small amount of start-up capital and we knew that, at the time, there was no wheelchair made from composite materials on the market. However, we still had to build it.” Georges Lagacé, an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) for the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), assembled a team of professionals in health and other sectors to assist in the company’s progress.

“We put Éric and David in contact with André Dubois, an expert in the finite element analysis of composite materials. He turned out to be such an amazing resource person that he still works as a consultant for the company,” says Georges.

An Affordable Ultra-Light Wheelchair 

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Lightweight Helmets for Canadian Soldiers

A new generation of lightweight helmets developed for Canadian soldiers could reduce the risk of head injuries sustained when military vehicles are struck by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In Afghanistan, roadside IEDs have claimed many casualties, but not always from the fragments generated during an explosion: the actual force of the explosion on the vehicle can result in impact injuries and concussions for the occupants. A combat helmet provides a certain level of protection against these impacts, so the Department of National Defence (DND) requires soldiers to wear helmets when travelling. However, the coverage and weight of the helmet pose a burden on soldiers, particularly in extremely hot environments.  Reducing the weight and increasing the protection offered by combat helmets are top priorities for DND.

Lightweight Helmets for Canadian Soldiers

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Living in Space

Over the coming years, people will be spending more time in space. With current technologies, voyages around the Solar System will take weeks, months, or perhaps longer. There could be extended stays in bases on the Moon or Mars.

Testing the feasibility of being able to live and work in space for long periods of time is one of the purposes of the International Space Station. In addition to providing a platform for studies of the Earth and space, and development of new technologies, a major research topic is the astronauts themselves. What are the problems of living in space? How do we address them?

Living in Space

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Powering Tomorrow’s Aircraft

It looked, smelled and tasted like ordinary coffee, but the way it was brewed was anything but ordinary. On November 22, the National Research Council (NRC) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes made a pot of coffee with hydrogen power, showing that hydrogen fuel cells could be used to provide electricity on board aircraft.

Powering Tomorrow’s Aircraft

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Diamond Quantum Number Generator

Faced with the baffling randomness of quantum mechanical theory a half-century ago, Albert Einstein famously argued that God wouldn’t play dice with the universe. Yet in the depths of a building on viagra Drive in Ottawa, a team of NRC physicists is now rolling “cosmic dice” fast and furiously.

Diamond Quantum Number Generator: A Gem for Secure Encryption

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Wallpaper of the Month: January

2012-01-01 – Laser Shadow: Equipment on a laser table silhouetted on the wall by the glow of a red and a green pulse dye laser in this time exposure taken in the Femtosecond laser lab at the National Research Council Canada’s Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences.

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Ask a Scientist: Hybrid Cars

Video: How many hybrid cars would it take to mitigate global warming?

Ask a Scientist: Hybrid Cars

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Wallpaper of the Month: December

2011-12-01 – Pangia: Crystal of benzoic acid photographed by polarized light through a light microscope.

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