Until now, the massive 305-meter radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was the world’s largest piece of star-gazing technology – but it’s about to be soundly knocked into second place by this insanely huge 500-meter dish currently being constructed in southern China. Once completed, the FAST (that’s short for ‘Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope’) will be able to peer three times further into the universe than its Puerto Rican rival – a brain-boggling seven billion light-years, to be precise.
Back in the old days, miners would take canaries down into mines with them, to warn them of toxic gases. If harmful fumes were present, the canary would swiftly die, and the miners would know to quickly high-tail it outta there.
That was phased-out once everybody realized that it was a teensy bit cruel, but now there’s a modern (and cruelty-free) version: scientists in Hong Kong have genetically modified these 4cm-long Medaka fish to glow like tiny torches if the water they’re released into contains the potentially harmful chemical estrogen. Next up: glowing canaries! (Probably).
Alongside all that hardcore NASA gadgetry worth bazillions of dollars, the upcoming last-ever Space Shuttle mission will also make use of a pair of humble iPhones. Running a special app called SpaceLab, the Apple devices will be used to measure radioactivity, altitude and orbital location, although we’re sure the astronauts will also find time for the occasional game of Angry Birds.
NASA’s amazing HiRISE camera, currently in orbit over Mars, has just beamed 225 incredible images of our neighboring planet back to Earth. HiRISE’s ultra-powerful lens can focus on objects the size of a beach ball from 180 miles away, and its crystal-clear images will be used to pick a choice landing spot for Curiosity, NASA’s latest six-wheeled Mars rover, due for launch later this year. Take a close look – can you spot any Martians?
Mega-brained boffins at the Californian Institute of Technology have constructed a calculator out of DNA, the tiny molecules within every living creature that control what size, shape and species we become. The calculator does addition, subtraction and multiplication, and is so freakishly small that you could easily sneak it into a maths exam – although you’d need a huge microscope in order to see it.