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Taraji P. Henson to Play Math Genius in New Film ‘Hidden Figures’

“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson will play mathematics genius Katherine Johnson in “Hidden Figures” for Fox 2000.

The story centers on Johnson, a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission. [+]

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One hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, they have been detected directly.

In a highly anticipated announcement, physicists with LIGO revealed today, on 11 February, that their twin detectors have heard the gravitational ‘ringing’ produced by the collision of two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

This means we now have a new tool for studying the Universe.
read more here

theguardian.com
Gravitational waves: discovery hailed as breakthrough of the century
Scientists announce discovery of clear gravitational wave signal, ripples in spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein
By Tim Radford

Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

“We have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” said David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (Ligo), at a press conference in Washington.

The announcement is the climax of a century of speculation, 50 years of trial and error, and 25 years perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion in spacetime a thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus across a 4km strip of laserbeam and mirror.

The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, the project scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.

At the beginning of the signal, their calculations told them how stars perish: the two objects had begun by circling each other 30 times a second. By the end of the 20 millisecond snatch of data, the two had accelerated to 250 times a second before the final collision and dark merger.

The observation signals the opening of a new window onto the universe.

“This is transformational,” said Professor Alberto Vecchio, of the University of Birmingham, and one of the researchers working on Ligo. “This observation is truly incredible science and marks three milestones for physics: the direct detection of gravitational waves, the first detection of a binary black hole, and the most convincing evidence to date that nature’s black holes are the objects predicted by Einstein’s theory.”

Continue Reading.

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Defying Gravity: Behind the Scenes of OK Go’s Spacey New Music Video

To see more of OK Go’s video, check out @okgo on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

The band OK Go (@okgo) was walking through the cosmetics aisle at a local store, trying to decide what liquids look good floating in zero gravity.

“If you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, can you make a wire sculpture with it?” asked lead singer Damian Kulash (@damiankulash). “Or is it just going to come out sideways like you’re used to and just sort of hang there? If you break an egg in the air, does it look like you think it’s going to look?”

They were prepping for their spacey new music video, “Upside Down & Inside Out,” which would be shot during a parabolic flight over Russia. Because when you’ve danced on treadmills, been shot with paint cannons, driven into a series of pianos and led an 8-mile (13-kilometer) musical parade through the streets of Los Angeles, all in the name of art, you have to keep things interesting.

“There is no explicit desire to top ourselves for anyone else’s sake,” said Damian, about the band’s ability to dish out viral video after viral video. “We don’t really mean it to, but things that seemed really ambitious and crazy to us five years ago seem normal to us now. So it’s just a question of keeping ourselves challenged and thrilled.”

For the “Upside Down & Inside Out” video, they certainly had their work cut out for them. During parabolic flights, you experience weightlessness in only 30-second increments, meaning the video would have to be split up as such. And the possibility of the group practicing all of their moves beforehand was difficult since the methods available — underwater training, wires — didn’t specifically mimic the conditions they were going to experience.

Then there was the issue of nausea. Sitting in an airplane that goes up at a 45-degree angle, levels off, then goes back down at a 45-degree angle, all in the span of four minutes, will typically make your stomach want to punch itself. Though the group ended up holding down their lunches, the rest of the crew wasn’t as lucky. Over a series of 21 flights, there were 58 unscheduled episodes of vomiting.

“The two things that can make it a lot worse are spinning a lot — which of course we were doing the whole time — or trying to concentrate on something tiny, like the screen of an MP3 player,” said Damian. “So our poor audio playback guy, he was strapped down to his chair with the playback system in front of him. There were several flights where he puked twice but he never f—ed up. He’s amazing.”

Damian had a one-up on everyone, though, having gone on a parabolic flight around 2011 with his sister Trish (the video’s co-director), for the explicit reason of seeing whether you could shoot a music video in zero-G. Though he began pitching the concept around, the price range was way outside what the band or label could afford. Then last summer, S7 airlines came to the rescue.

“It was in June and they reached out to us and were like, ‘What kind of collaborative video would you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘You have airplanes!’”

Though the airline was surprisingly open to giving the band full creative reign, there was some trepidation in the beginning, particularly from the more buttoned up pilots operating the aircraft.

“While they wound up being super, super helpful and totally into this, there was some skepticism by these cosmonauts — who are real scientists and do real training — whose plane had been hired and saw us throwing super balls and squirting balloons at each other,” said Damian. “They are like, this is bullsh–.”

The band managed to win them over, and after six months of logistical planning, three weeks of flights (in terms of the zero-G experience, the band did two to three times what a normal cosmonaut does for training in the span of a year) and an untold volume of puke, they got exactly what they came for: a final video featuring the entire band and two acrobats doing a choreographed dance, while mini disco balls, piñatas, candy and balloons filled with paint float through the air.

So where in the world does OK Go head after this? Though Damian says they’re not always looking to up the ante with their music videos, even he admits to being a bit stumped.

“Trying to think of what will challenge and thrill us internally as much as something this demonstrably insane is hard,” he said. “Obviously I know to most of the world we are that video band. But we spend a lot of our time writing and performing and recording music, and we spend a lot of our time chasing creative ideas that aren’t these videos, so I am not at all scared that we are going to run out of things that we aren’t creatively excited about.”

—Instagram @music

CORRECTION: An original version of this story misstated the duration of the video shoot, it was three weeks, not two

Scientists just looked beyond the Milky Way — and discovered hundreds of new galaxies

Using a radio telescope called the Parkes telescope, a team of international researchers looked past the Milky Way and discovered an astounding 883 galaxies, 240 of which were previously unseen by scientists.

While the discovery by itself is pretty rad, it’s also notable because it may provide some answers for the mystery scientists call the Great Attractor.

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Star Streams and the Whale Galaxy : NGC 4631 is a spiral galaxy found only 25 million light-years away, toward the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. Seen ege-on, the galaxy is similar in size to the Milky Way. Its distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others its popular moniker, The Whale Galaxy. The large galaxys small, remarkably bright elliptical companion NGC 4627 lies just above its dusty yellowish core, but also identifiable are recently discovered, faint dwarf galaxies within the halo of NGC 4631. In fact, the faint extended features below NGC 4631 are now recognized as tidal star streams. The star streams are remnants of a dwarf satellite galaxy disrupted by repeated encounters with the Whale that began about 3.5 billion years ago. Even in nearby galaxies, the presence of tidal star streams is predicted by cosmological models of galaxy formation, including the formation of our own Milky Way. via NASA

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DIY 14 Free NASA Space Travel Posters from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

You can download these 14 Free NASA Space Travel Posters in very high resolution sizes. These free posters are perfect for a room with a retro, space, travel or adventure vibe.

Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.

(via Girls of a Certain Age)

For a fantasy vibe, check out Persia Lou’s DIY Free and Pay Disney Travel Posters Roundup HERE.

For a more vintage vibe, check out this post: 25 Free Vintage Astronomy Printables from Remodelaholic HERE.