NASA looking for Astronauts – for future missions geared toward traveling to Mars! #OutofthisWorld

For the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA is accepting applications for astronauts to start a new series of missions aimed at further space exploration with the goal of traveling to Mars.  Applications will be accepted from December 2015-February 2016, and successful candidates will be announced mid-2017.  From NASA:

In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars, NASA announced it will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. With more human spacecraft in development in the United States today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.

The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at:

The next class of astronauts may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

From pilots and engineers, to scientists and medical doctors, NASA selects qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds. 

“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.”

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New film changes color when you stretch it #CoolScience #KarmaChameleon

Summarized in in Science News, developers have just created a new plastic film that can change colors when stretched.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE OPTICAL SOCIETY (OSA) IN CONJUNCTION WITH UC BERKELEY Twisting a thin plastic film changes the spacing between tiny embedded silicon beams, altering the color of light they reflect.

Twisting a thin plastic film changes the spacing between tiny embedded silicon beams, altering the color of light they reflect.

Materials scientists often look to the natural world for inspiration, but usually it takes their inventions a while to catch up with biological discoveries. Not this time. Earlier this week, scientists in Switzerland revealed that chameleons change colors by expanding a lattice of tiny crystals just under their skin. Now, researchers in California are reporting that they’ve made a thin film that changes colors when they tug on it. Such films could produce color-changing sensors that give engineers a way to monitor potentially dangerous structural changes to everything from bridges to airplane wings.

This is awesome new technology that can eventually be useful for various purposes: from things like structural engineering to iPhone displays.  What is particularly fascinating to me is that the fundamental science behind developing this potential product has arisen from the scientific basis of how chameleons change color.  Essentially, BASIC RESEARCH to try and understand a biological system has once again proven to be useful for a variety of applications. Moral of the story: investing in basic research pays off.

Let’s celebrate the women of @ESA_Rosetta!! – much more important than ‘who’s his face’ and #shirtgate

         Photo: ESA

Today I posted that the European Space Agency’s landing of Philae on Comet 67P made science history. But, I was wrong. The Philae Lander and Rosetta Spacecraft Mission has made history for HUMANKIND!!! The Philae lander is a huge step forward for space technology and science! It is also just plain exciting!

One of the coolest parts about the ESA Rosetta Mission, is that the team of scientists and engineers in charge of the Comet Landing included WOMEN! Compare this to the team of NASA scientists and engineers that sent astronauts to the moon (JoAnn Hardin Morgan was the single woman engineer at NASA during Apollo 11). However, the Rosetta Mission is not the first time women have contributed to amazing things in space. Check out Beverly Wettenstein’s long list of incredible contributions women have made in space!

The ESA Rosetta Mission included at least four women who are listed as team members, but I would guess there are many more who contributed but are not listed!

It takes hundreds of people — machinists, engineers, scientists, and many others — to get a spacecraft from the planning stages to its destination in outer space. The people in this gallery represent just a few of the folks who make space exploration ideas a reality.

Let’s celebrate Claudia Alexander (U.S. Rosetta Project Scientist), Margaret Frerking (Co-I with MIRO instrument), Lori Feaga, (ALICE Co-I with University of Maryland), Marilia Samara (ScRI, EIS instrument), and the many other women who contributed to the Rosetta Mission. CauseScience applauds all of these women for their amazing success today, and over the last decade of the mission. These women are the best at what they do, and break down barriers for girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math!! CONGRATS!!

Please inform CauseScience if you know other women that were part of ESA’s Rosetta Mission so we can add their names!

Add Professor Monica Grady to the list of Rosetta women!!

You may have read about shirtgate, and how Rosetta Project Scientist Matt Taylor has been ridiculed on twitter for his sexist and embarassing choice of clothing. While it is certainly important to draw attention to his harmful behavior, celebrating the amazing women that contributed to the history of HUMANKIND is much more important!!

Are you a scientist? Do you work in STEM? @ScienceNetLinks wants your help to reach students!

Science Netlinks and AAAS are looking for people working in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to spread thier love of these fields to students. Below are the two projects that you can easily help out with!

5 Questions for a Scientist
The gap between the science classroom and a real-life career in the sciences can seem distant for some students. The 5 Questions for a Scientist interview series was created for just this purpose! We aim to inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences by showcasing the incredible diversity of STEM careers, and we need your help. You could be featured on Science NetLinks via a short interview about your career and interest in science. Interested? Email Maya at for more information.

Do you work in science? Interested in student outreach? Volunteer with AAAS STEM Talks to connect with K-12 science students around the country via video chat. It’s a flexible, short time commitment for you with incredible benefits for students and educators.

Students may want to know:
• What kind of research or work do you do?
• What is a typical day at work like for you?
• How did you become interested in your field?
• What education did you need for your STEM career?

China making a supersonic submarine… in the distant future perhaps. #CauseScience

Apparently Chinese researchers are hoping to make a submarine that can travel near the speed of sound, as reported in many places including this article in The Washington Post.


Researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeast China tell the South China Morning Post that they’re hard at work on a submarine that the newspaper claims could travel the 6,100 miles from “Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes.”


The reported plans for the super-fast Chinese submarine draw on research that reaches back to the Cold War on “supercavitation,” a technology that creates a friction-less air “bubble” around a vessel that allows it to “fly” underwater, facilitating incredible speeds. The Russians have developed torpedoes that travel faster than 230 mph using that approach.

The theory and physics behind supercavitation are super cool, and not completely unrealistic. However, the feasibility of making a submarine that utilizes supercavitation in the near future is highly unlikely. Ryan Faith has written a terrific article for that describes cavitation, supercavitation, and the reasons a supercavitation submarine is not only unlikely, but also not all that attractive of an idea. 


Sadly, all of this — supersonic submarines and supercavitating angels — is, from a technical engineering point of view, complete bullshit.


Is supercavitation cool? Absolutely. Is it useful? Sort of. It’s not ready for primetime, though it might become so if enough people science and engineer at it. But right now, all the clever folks at Harbin have is a strange phenomenon with which to work. The real engineering work hasn’t even gotten fully underway. So let’s hold off on breaking out the bubbly.

Moment of Geek! Rachel Maddow video of ShakeAlert earthquake warning system during Napa Valley earthquake #science


Rachel Maddow reported last night on an earthquake early warning system that helps provide a few life-saving seconds before the effects of an earthquake are felt. Below is a video of the warning system from the Berkeley Seismo Lab. Check out Rachel’s reporting and the below video to see how cool this system is, and the potential if it gets implemented.


Michael Specter explains the altered reality of anti-science GMO opponents #science #VandanaShiva


Michael Specter has written an amazingly well researched (trips to rural India) piece for The New Yorker about anti-GMO and anti-science crusader Vandana Shiva. While Specter focuses on Shiva, his article looks broadly at GMO foods and the anti-science movement that opposes them. While I am certainly not a supporter of Monsanto and their legal tactics, this article truly demonstrates the bizarre anti-science and science denial propaganda utilized by opponents of GMOs. It is a bit of a long read, but more than worth the time. Below is one of my favorite passages from the article,

Monsanto is certainly rich, but it is simply not that powerful. Exxon Mobil is worth seven times as much as Monsanto, yet it has never been able to alter the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change. Tobacco companies spend more money lobbying in Washington each year than Monsanto does, but it’s hard to find scientists who endorse smoking. The gulf between the truth about G.M.O.s and what people say about them keeps growing wider. The Internet brims with videos that purport to expose the lies about genetically modified products. Mike Adams, who runs a popular Web site called Natural News, recently compared journalists who are critical of anti-G.M.O. activists such as Shiva to Nazi collaborators.

Need more memory? Scientific American wants to what about your brain you would upgrade #science


Neuroscientists have already demonstrated that stimulating the brain with electric current could make us quicker learners…. Other work hints that similar techniques can get creative juices flowing, improve attention and focus or help people master new languages faster.

If you could upgrade anything about your brain, what would it be? Tell Scientific American by participating in this survey and they might publish your ideas!

In light of the excitement surrounding these possible breakthroughs, Scientific American MIND wants to know which aspect of your brain you would upgrade, if you could choose any one enhancement. Use your imagination—today’s sci-fi may be tomorrow’s reality! Submit your thoughts via the widget above by August 28 and your ideas could be selected to appear in the print edition of MIND or featured on the Web.