Scientists Discover Breakthrough in the Moon Magnetism Mystery

A new study researching one of the moon’s biggest mysteries may have been solved; how did the moon form a temporary magnetic field? A team of experts at Stanford and Brown Universities are now seeking answers with rock samples taken from the surface and their formations. According to early evidence, it was theorized that the field came from the liquid mantle of the moon during its first billion years of existence, when several rocks sank into it. The magnetic fields would be strong, but sporadic. It is unable to exist now because the moon’s frigid temperatures. To help find further proof of this theory, rocks from all the past Apollo missions from 1968 to 1972 were studied thoroughly. The rocks had signs of the magnetic field, but it does not explain how it could exist when it’s not even as strong as Earth’s.

Another theory the researchers have is planets and planetary bodies that surround the moon could have given these magnetic fields, however temporary, energy. The slow dispersal of heat from this activity could have given the moon’s then molten core enough heat and energy to help aid in the production of temporary magnetic fields. Minerals like anorthosite floated to the moon’s crust surface, along with titanium from the molten core. A process known as gravitational overturn would happen causing the rocks to sink into the moon’s mantle. Using these findings new models within created giving the team simulations of what happened. Scientists found that all cooling layers of magma led to a convection process that laid the foundation for the magnetic field.

For further reading on this discovery, click here, and here.

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Looking Back to the Beginning of Our Universe

The Big Bang theory states that the universe we know today emerged from extremely hot temperatures that began approximately 13 billion years ago. However, there is one important question still trying to be answered today. How was The Big Bang randomly started from nothing? Nobel laureate John C. Mather took on the Big Bang in his own way when he visited us for Lenox Laser’s second annual light seminar back in October of 2011, celebrating our 30th anniversary. The speech was titled “History of the Universe in a Nutshell: The Big Bang to Life and the End of Time.” Mather was also one of the brilliant minds that help design the James Webb telescope that just launched on Christmas 2021. Mather’s genius led him to help create a telescope that would examine galaxies and stars. Measuring things like their heat wavelength from the oldest of galaxies to the newest. He set out to find proof of predictions of the beginning and end of the universe and life itself. He stated that astronomers discovered many years ago the galaxies were made of stars and galaxies are moving away from us at insanely high speed. Mather mentioned scientists wanting to get to stars quicker but have no ways of accomplishing this, even to this day. He also discussed Einstein’s theories of the universe and how most scientists’ theories were thought of as fantastical nonsense. 

Mather asserted that the center of the Big Bang, its exact origin, could not be located, but according to a map of the Big Bang he was able to demonstrate that there were galaxies that were in the process of falling into themselves and headed into a dark void of nothingness and that the planets and stars could come from the beginning of minute particles almost impossible to see by the naked eye. With the Big Bang, the idea of its existing in one section of space and not expanding Mather stated as unacceptable and that it is ever-expanding with the end of it being potentially the end of the universe.

To watch the original recording of his speech, please visit our Youtube channel.

Or click here, to read our previous blog post discussing Dr. Mather’s speech.

Advancements in Microscope Calibration could Provide a Better Look at Viruses

Microscopes reveal many things in the world of science, such as organisms and cells, giving us an up close and personal look at tiny lifeforms. Using new techniques, the accuracy of microscopes could be enhanced to view the cell makeup of a sneeze by studying the volume of micro droplets. This is done by methodically tinkering with the calibration of optical microscopes. Most importantly this new venture could give insight into how airborne viruses evolve and spread so rapidly. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is spearheading the research, with measurements of volume being tested on samples that are 1e-11mL, around the volume of a red blood cell. With these optical microscopes, scientists can see the various dimensions and positions of droplets, within a potential tolerance of less than 1%. The method utilized to accomplish this is known as gravimetry which relates to the measurement of weight, giving them the ability to weigh droplets and see how much could fit into specially designed containers. Some of the test tools used were calibrated plastic spears to simulate the boundaries of an image once captured.

It was found that whenever the droplets landed on the surface the liquid evaporation trail could be used for study. It is not yet known how these images will be captured and what resolutions they will be. Focus and distortion were a couple of variables that were calibrated in the microscopes to improve the captured results. While this breakthrough is still in the initial stages, it is hoped that once perfected, we can have a more complete picture of diverse types of viruses, how they function, and how we can stop them in their tracks. This is an especially huge breakthrough that could end up being a great defense against coronaviruses. We wish everyone involved the best of luck on this ongoing research.

To read the original article, click here.

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James Webb Telescope Launch is Successful

The James Webb space telescope successfully launched into the vastness of space Christmas day this year. This journey was long in the making, beginning back in 1996 when the telescope was first conceived by NASA. The shuttle transporting Webb took off at 12:20am UTC in French Ghana and the telescope is now on its way to becoming the successor to the Hubble. The initial live stream on YouTube ran for 2 hours and 17 minutes, allowing people around the globe to watch the journey unfold in real time. Webb will travel 100 million miles into orbit, taking approximately 29 days to reach its intended target, but will not be officially declared fully operational until approximately 180 days after the launch. Multiple attempts to launch have happened in the last few years, but with equipment delays, storms, and the ongoing pandemic, it was postponed several times. But all that waiting has finally paid off and the telescope is now on its way into orbit. The next step, which will take over six months, will be gradually unfolding the telescope’s massive mirrors, which are each the size of several football fields. Following that is aligning the mirrors and cooling them to an immensely cold -380°F.

Lenox Laser was directly involved in manufacturing components for the Webb, providing precise alignment targets for the infrared imaging system to assist with the readings it takes while scanning for the innermost secrets of our universe. You can read about other NASA projects we have been involved in on our blog. It has been an immense honor for us to be part of such an important scientific endeavor. The telescope is 100 times more powerful than Hubble and is expected to take on the task of filling in missing pieces of the Big Bang mystery that have eluded scientists for many years.

Webb marks the largest telescope ever put in space, being roughly the size of a large truck at 43.5 feet long and 14.2 feet in diameter, and cost of over $10 billion to construct. Scientists are looking at the 344 mechanisms on board the telescope as potentially 344 points of failure, meaning that each of them must strike the right balance in the first attempt, with no chance at sending repair crews to the telescope if a fault occurs. Everyone on the team at NASA are optimistic that deployment will be successful however, and with any hope the James Webb Space Telescope will revolutionize our understanding of the universe, giving us viewpoints never before possible.

Visit NASA’s website for more information and to keep up with all the latest updates on this monumental journey.

NASA Chief discusses the James Webb Telescope after launch

Medical Innovation with Synthetic Hydrogel

A group of scientists, engineers, and physicists at McGill University hope to improve the
recovery period from various surgeries with the use of a synthetic hydrogel biomaterial. The hydrogel
can theoretically repair muscles including heart tissue and vocal cords. The challenge was to make
biomaterial strong enough to be protective, while being able to withstand the body’s everyday
movements. The gel would work by creating a protective barrier around the surgical area, allowing
healthy cells to replicate within the organ as they typically would. If this biomaterial becomes fully
approved, it will be the first of its kind to exist.

Testing of this new synthetic is extensive and thorough. One of the key challenges was making
certain that the hydrogel would not lose its structure without inhibiting tissue growth. Liquids can be
very dense preventing cells from passing through. The team added a porous polymer that would allow
living cells to move freely around the healing area. Getting approval to use this gel would be a
monumental innovation for medicine. The hope is that it can be utilized in fighting a wide variety of
health concerns.


To read more from McGill, click here.
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Flexible Telescope Lenses Could Enhance Scientists’ Ability to Survey the Stars

Long before civilizations developed, humanity has been fascinated by the stars, and the technological advancements developed over time have given us tools to learn more about the universe beyond our atmosphere. Arguably the most recognizable piece of equipment humans created is the telescope, but as we continue to evolve in our search for knowledge so must the tools we use. Recent advancements have prompted researchers in Taiwan to develop lightweight, flexible lenses that would allow telescopes to view distant exoplanets that orbit outside of our solar system. These new lenses aim to enhance the clarity of captured images by utilizing holographic film, allowing for fine control of the lens focus. The film combined with a flexible body would also allow scientists to convert the captured light into a spectrum for wavelength analysis. 

These “holographic optical elements” as they are being called researchers, are not an entirely new concept and instead build on the design of Fresnel lenses, optical components with a series of flat lenses that mimic the focus of curved lenses. By utilizing a flexible material, these new elements further exaggerate the wavelength separation properties their rigid predecessors exhibited, while also allowing for precision control of focus and clarity. With any luck these new optics will provide astronomers a clearer view of the cosmos and allow us to learn more about the universe beyond our doorstep. 

For more information on this development, click here

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Comfortable Biosensor Fabric could be the Future of Wearable Diagnostics

When someone pictures biosensors, they usually name the obvious ones, heart monitors, fitness equipment, blood glucose sensors. However, as technology has evolved so has the use of biosensors. A team at the University of Utah’s College of engineering has created a wearable biosensor fabric that can be built into clothing. While innovations like this have been created in the past, they are expensive to produce, an obstacle this study hopes to overcome.  

The fabric picks up electrical signals being sent along the nervous system between the brain and muscles. The brain releases electrical signals to the muscles as tiny impulses traveling through pathways telling them what to do. The old-fashioned way to monitor these signals is with uncomfortable wires and electrodes attached to specific areas of the body. This new technology eliminates the need for those. The fabric integrates a thin layer of silver to act as a conductive medium between the fabric and sensors. In considering this, the team devised a way to make the entire process non-toxic by avoiding skin-to-skin contact with harmful materials or chemicals. Thin layers of gold and silver metal work together to detect and conduct readings, the silver layer acting as the conduit and the gold being a protective layer and ensures the readings come through clearly and distinctly. 

Researchers are hopeful that the fabric can be utilized in things like T-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, and more. The material has proven to be machine washable, lasting through several cycles with no issues. In the end this could be a massive breakthrough in creating comfortable diagnostic devices for the treatment of physical and possibly mental health issues. 

To read the full article, click here.

And click here, to read more posts about innovative technologies Lenox Laser has covered.

Curiosity Rover Discovers Organic Molecules on Mars

The Mars Perseverance Rover has made great progress in exploring the mysterious red planet since its launch on July 30, 2020. The full audio recordings Perseverance collected while traversing the Martian surface, as well as the rustling of the planet’s solar winds had scientists and astronomy enthusiasts excited. The mission’s goal began last year by drilling for Martian rock samples in the Jezero crater. Analysis of data provided by Perseverance indicates that Mars may have had ancient flash floods in the area. The clarity of the images showing massive lake and river formations have scientists undoubtedly excited. The evidence gives insight into how Mars was formed, the planet’s hydrology, its layers and composition, among others. By the time studies from future launches in 2030 are complete, researchers hope to have collected approximately 30 samples for analysis. 

Initial attempts to collect Martian samples were conducted by the Curiosity Rover in 2016, but the larger drill bit shattered during its attempt on Mount Sharp, sidelining the mission for several years after. However, in the wake of this setback, NASA shifted gears to analyzing organic molecules present in loose samples the rover had previously collected. The ‘wet chemistry lab’ aboard Curiosity has only 9 cups of solvent and each one is single use, so samples must be chosen carefully and with great intention. The most difficult part of the experiment is collecting organic molecule samples without them breaking down into smaller molecules due to heat. The solvent avoids this problem by reacting with the compounds first to ensure they can be collected for analysis with the least risk of them breaking down. From the sand Curiosity had collected from Ogunquit Beach, researchers found ammonia, benzoic acid, among others, including several compounds that had not been found on Mars before. As of yet, no amino-acid like molecules have been discovered, so we still cannot conclusively say if there was life on Mars or not. 

Even if scientists are unable to discover proof of organic life on our red sister planet, the success of this new experiment paves the way for further research into not just extraterrestrial bodies, but our own planet.  

For more information, click here.  

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Research into Boron Nanosheets leads to an Electrifying Discovery

Amorphous boron is a nonmetallic element that is often used in rockets as a fuel source and for certain pyrotechnic flares that produce a green tinted flame. It is rarely found in pure form with compounds such as boric acid, sodium borate aka. borax, and boric oxide. Common uses for boron over the years have been things like tile glazes, several brands of eyedrops and antiseptics, and washing powders and detergents. Boron also has the highest melting point of any metalloid, at a toasty 3771°F (2077°C). Interestingly, Turkey and the United States contain the largest deposits of borax and the compound is considered a nutrition element for plants. 

Recently scientists were able to synthesize 2D boron monosulfide (BS) nanosheets which led to interesting discoveries about the electrical properties of these single-atom layers of material. The researchers fabricated boron sulfide in a 1:1 ratio with a crystalline structure and stripped off layers that maintained the arrangement. The resulting nanosheets had a large bandgap energy, the material’s ability to conduct current, much greater than that of the base material. They also observed that as more layers were stacked together, the overall bandgap of the material decreased, until it ultimately reached that of the bulk material after approximately five sheets. Scientists believe that these properties could lend well to creating highly conductive, and tunable electrical components. 

Other 2D boron compounds do not exhibit the same responses, making 2D BS unique, and applications for such materials had previously only been speculative. The differing bandgap structures also respond to different electromagnetic wavelengths. The bulk material required lower energy levels (in the visible light range), the nanosheets only activated under wavelengths in the ultraviolet range. This secondary phenomenon implies that the nanosheets can possibly be used in photocatalytic devices, and the number of sheets would allow for fine control of the electrical properties. 

Click here, to read the full article. 

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Spectrometer Analysis of Exoplanets Revolutionizes Extraterrestrial Study

NASA has explored planets a variety of ways in the past, from rockets to astronauts to satellites and probes.  Now, they have a new tool to aid in their passion for discovery, an instrument called NEID, a massive spectrometer that will do deep dive studies of exoplanets in and around our solar system. Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other existing stars, and over the summer, the new instrument brought back data from our sun. The spectrometer’s main purpose is to locate, categorize, and define new planets and their locations within the solar system, and it does so by detecting
small shifts in light from nearby stars. Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona is currently where NEID resides. Pointing at the sky, the spectrometer will bring back data that shows the mass, size, and environmental makeup of these exoplanets, giving scientists a better overall understanding of their habitability and even potential evidence of life
within them. Presently exoplanets are found by detecting light fluctuations within surrounding stars. The spectrometer will provide scientists more exact analysis of these planets as they are discovered, which until now had only been hypothesized. 

The spectrometer operates by splitting light into its various color wavelengths, which allows scientists to identify the molecular makeup of the exoplanets orbiting the star it is analyzing. It is not yet known when the findings of this study will be completed but the hope that it will give us further insight into our evolving understanding of the solar system around us and planets in general. 

Space is an ever-growing challenge to understand, but with today’s technology, solving its mysteries has never been more possible and whatever is found out there is sure to be treated with the utmost respect and will be one for the history books.

Click here, for more info on the NEID.

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