Habitable ZoneNASA administrator Charles Bolden s counts himself among the people who “are probably convinced that it’s highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone.” According to Dave Gallagher, Director Astronomy & Physics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” finding small planets, ones the size of Earth, is challenging, in part because they produce fainter signals.”

So, the good news is that a team of NASA astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the so-called “habitable zone” where water could exist. Thomas Barclay, a scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute says the planet can be thought of as an “Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.” The planet was discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. It’s located about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

.The Kepler mission is dependent upon the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. As Hubble orbits the Earth, it allows scientists to peer back in time, into distant galaxies, and yields stunning images of the stars and galaxies.


Sgt Travis Mills 3The retired United States Army staff sergeant Travis Mills of 82nd Airborne has no arms or legs. He served three tours in Afghanistan and lost all his limbs when an IDE (improvised explosive device) exploded under him. He spent months recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He does not want to be called a “wounded warrior.”

Sgt Travis Mills“How I survived, I have no idea,” he said. “I’m not wounded anymore,” he said. “I’m just a guy living life.”

He snowboards, bikes and recently jumped out of an airplane with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. He has a Foundation. He’s featured in a new documentary “Travis: A Soldier’s Story.” He also has a wife and a child and on a mission to help other wounded veterans cope with their injuries. His motto is “Never give up. Never quit.”

Sgt Travis Mills 2Thank you Sgt. Mills for your service and sacrifice.



Future of Fusion Energy



The photo above shows inside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s $5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF), where scientists are getting closer to their goal of creating a controlled fusion reaction by mimicking the interior of the sun inside the hardware of a laboratory.

In the latest incremental advance, reported recently online in the journal Nature, scientists in California used 192 lasers to compress a pellet of fuel and generate a reaction in which more energy came out of the fuel core than went into it.

There’s still a long way to go before anyone has a functioning fusion reactor, something physicists have dreamed of since Albert Einstein was alive. A fusion reactor would run on a common form of hydrogen found in seawater, would emit minimal nuclear waste and couldn’t have the kind of meltdown that can occur in a traditional nuclear-fission reactor.

NIF is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration and does fusion research only part of the time. Usually it is engaged in tests that help scientists understand the processes involved in nuclear weapons explosions.

From article by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, February 12, 2014