MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2013In 1977, Voyager 1 was sent on a trek to study the outer planets. Equipped with the equivalent computing power of today’s smartphones, the exploration vessel has since been constantly transmitting data that has assembled the first view of our solar system. On board the craft is the Golden Record, a gold-plated 12-inch disc engraved with operating instructions. Encoded in the disc is a compilation of phonographic information about mankind: multilingual greetings, music scores, depictions of DNA and anatomy, pictures of Earth and its biodiversity. This means that even when its power is depleted in about 10 years, the craft will become a “message in a bottle” drifting in the cosmic ocean—there is even a map marking our position, in case someone decides to seek us out.
Last month, some 36 years and 19 billion kilometers later, Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to breach the outer boundaries of our solar system. Celebrating this milestone in scientific achievements, BlueSci chats to Buzz Aldrin, the second man to ever walk on the Moon, about the future of space exploration. In the FOCUS, we look at one of the most ubiquitous planetary phenomena: the weather. We discuss its origin, examine how it shapes human lives and ask whether we will ever be able to manipulate weather patterns—or indeed predict them accurately!
The Golden Record also contains brain recordings belonging to the creative director of the project, Ann Druyan. During the compiling process Miss Druyan and Carl Sagan, the scientific director, fell in love. Consequently, some of the encoded activity reflects her reminiscing the moment the pair decided to get married. Keeping with the digital romance theme, this issue examines how technology can uniquely foster human relationships, especially when today’s demanding careers often generate distances. We also examine how brain waves are used in sleep research, and how this could improve restoration in these fast-paced times.
As usual, the science packed in BlueSci is as fascinating as it is diverse. In this issue, we follow superhumans that feel no pain, describe how bacteria are harnessed to tackle mosquito-borne diseases, contemplate medical uses for psychedelic drugs and consider how science has influenced gaming design. We revisit the detective work of John Snow on cracking cholera and discuss whether current scientific research needs adapting. Finally, we cover policy decisions aimed at guarding mammals and bees from extinction.
If the purpose and content of BlueSci spark your interest, why not become involved in one of the next issues? We are always looking for enthusiastic contributors from a variety of fields—just get in touch! Christopher Tsantoulas
Issue 28: Michaelmas 2013
Editor: Christopher Tsantoulas
Managing Editor: Felicity Davies
Business Manager: Michael Derringer
Second Editors: Sheenagh Aiken, Luke Burke, Laura Burzynski, Jennifer Harris, Philipp Kleppmann, Allisa Lamb, Robin Lamboll, Ana Leal-Cervantes, Alison Macintosh, Jannis Meents, Greg Mellers, Vicki Moignard, Laura Pearce, Elly Smith, Nathan Smith, Martha Stokes, Adil Wafa, Theodosia Woo
Copy Editors: Chris Creese, Alison Macintosh, Jannis Meents, Laura Pearce, Sarah Smith, Martha Stokes
News Editor: Joanna-Marie Howes
News Team: Maciej Hermanowicz, Ornela De Gasperin Quintero, Laura Pearce
Reviews: Greg Mellers, Jordan Ramsey, Nathan Smith
Focus Team: Yvonne Collins, Matthew Dunstan, Martha Stokes, Theodosia Woo
Weird and Wonderful: Robin Lamboll, Laura Pearce, Nathan Smith
Production Team: Nuno Alves, Aaron Critch, Jonathan Lawson, Jannis Meents, Louise Nicol, Michael O’Neill, Laura Pearce, Sarah Smith, Sara Soleman
Illustrators: James Baker, Alex Hahn, Alison Macintosh, Aleesha Nandhra, Emily Pycroft, Hannah Whittall
Cover Image: Xana Almeida
Sleep: Keeping Scientists Awake at Night - http://www.newscientist.com/special/instant-expert-sleep
Bug Off! - http://www.eliminatedengue.com/
Tracing Cholera - http://sickcityproject.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/john-snow-and-cholera/
No Pain, No Gain - Wall, P. & Melzack, R. (1996). The Challenge of Pain. Penguin.
A Trip to the Psychiatrist - http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/186/6/457.full
Love on the Line - DOI: 10.1177/1529100612436522
The End of Extinction? - http://www.cites.org/eng/news/pr/2013/20130314_cop16.php
To the Future, or From the Past? - Aldrin, B. (2013). Mission to Mars. National Geographic Society
The Bee All and End All - http://tinyurl.com/npbszc3
Standing Up For Science - http://www.nature.com/news/open-your-minds-and-share-your-results-1.10895
Game (R)evolution - http://www.knizia.de/