Critical Discovery Highlights Weaknesses of Asteroids, Should Earth Ever Need to Destroy One:
Artistic rendering of the asteroid Itokawa
Recent surveys of the composition of an asteroid as old as our solar system has revealed key strengths and weaknesses of asteroids that will help humanity defend itself from asteroids. The core study was based on samplings of Itokawa, an asteroid that was found 1.2 million miles from Earth, and showed that composition rather than hardness is the main factor in destroying asteroids. The sample was found to be a “rubble pile” asteroid, meaning that it is made of loose rock and boulders, and most of it is empty space. This “Rubble pile” asteroid was found to be immune to impact weaponry and instead, planetary defense programs must focus on shockwaves that move them off course. Due to this, the researchers believe that nuclear detonations near this type of asteroid would be enough to send it off course, saving our planet from a collision. While it may seem farfetched, current geological data suggests the planet has been hit several times in the past with some planet-ending consequences, so it is best for us to be prepared.
Earth’s Inner Core May be Reversing its Rotation:
Scientists have proposed that Earth’s solid inner core (yellow in this diagram) rotates faster than the rest of Earth. A new study suggests the core’s rotation has recently paused and is reversing direction. FPM/E+/GETTY IMAGES PLUS
Earth’s inner core may have temporarily stopped rotating relative to the mantle and surface. Now, the direction of the inner core’s rotation may be reversing which could be part of what could be a roughly 70-year-long cycle that may influence the length of Earth’s days and its magnetic field. In a new study, while analyzing global seismic data stretching back to the 1990s, Song and geophysicist Yi Yang at Peking University made a surprising observation. Before 2009, it was found that seismic waves sent through the Earth were traveling at different rates once it hit the inner core, indicating it was moving at a different rate than the rest of the planet. However, in 2009 the differences stopped and after that year they returned, making researchers believe the core may be rotating in the opposite direction. The same sort of cycle was also found with data in 1964-1970 from Alaskan earthquakes. This information is not conclusive though, and many scientists still dispute the length of time it takes for the core to reverse cycles and if it happens at all. For now, future research will have to be done to pin down this phenomenon, but if proven to be true it can help us understand our planetary home and how it works.
New Detector Could Enable High-Speed Quantum Communication:
The new detector is made of 32 niobium nitride superconducting nanowires on a silicon chip, which enables high count rates with high precision. Credit: Ryan Lannom, JPL-Caltech/NASA
Researchers have developed a new detector that can precisely measure single photons at very high rates, allowing high speed quantum communication to be possible. The detector was developed as part of a NASA program to enable new technology for space-to-ground quantum communication, which can allow sharing of quantum information across intercontinental distances in the future. Quantum communication uses light at the single photon level to send encoded quantum information such as encryption keys, which allow you to read private text information. Due to the laws of physics, this method of communication is guaranteed to be secure. This new device allows already existing communication devices to send and receive data quicker by detecting it faster than current tech and measuring arrival times, which helps scientists gauge and make improvements to the system. With this new technology completely secure quantum information will be able to be sent across continents. However, the new quantum detector is still in its infancy and will need to be further worked upon to reach its full potential and so it can be implemented on a large scale.