Friday, January 25, 2008

A few years ago I went to see SpaceShipOne and its carrier the WhiteKnight fly. It was great! SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are about ready for roll out. Here's the article.

Entrepreneur Unveils New Tourist Spacecraft

Chip East/Reuters

Richard Branson and aircraft designer Burt Rutan unveiled two new aircrafts Wednesday in New York.

Published: January 23, 2008

Burt Rutan took the cloak off of his new spacecraft on Wednesday.

Mr. Rutan, the creator of SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed craft to carry a human into space, traveled to New York to show detailed models of the bigger SpaceShipTwo and its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Check out the darkest substance ever!

Carbon nanotube carpet darkest thing ever made

A loosely packed "carpet" of carbon nanotubes is the darkest material ever made, according to researchers from Rice University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The carpet consists of nanotubes--hollow, honeycombed tubes made from carbon atoms-- standing vertically. Instead of being tightly packed together, the researchers went for a low density arrangement, complete with spaces and gaps, sort of like a box of dried spaghetti. Light striking the nanotubes as well as the gaps gets absorbed. When light gets absorbed, black (the absence of light) results. The nanotubes were also specially manufactured to have a more random arrangement of atoms, further reducing reflectivity. (Again, think of trying to look into a box of spaghetti. Not easy.)

The nanocarpet is in the middle. Former record holder to the left.

(Credit: RPI)

This resulted in a material that reflects only 0.045 percent of the light that strikes it. (Put another way, 99.955 percent of the light that hits it gets absorbed.)

Conventional black paint reflects 100 times more light. The previous record holder for darkness, a nickel-phophorus alloy pitted with light-trapping craters, reflected four times as much light.

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