Science & Technology

Reports focusing on the latest science and technology news and trends along California's Central Coast.

Vandenberg Air Force Base


 The Atlas V rocket on Vandenberg Air Force Base launched successfully this morning.

 

The rocket carries the WorldView-4 imaging and data satellite into orbit.

DigitalGlobe

A rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base that was delayed back in September because of a wildfire is now scheduled to be launched this Friday, Veterans Day.

NPR

NPR's hit podcast, Hidden Brain, explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior. There's several new episodes coming out this fall. KCBX's Bree Zender sat down with Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain's host and creator, to talk about making the podcast.

Dinosaurs at Texas Tech university
Thomas Wilmer

    

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer reporting from the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Come along and join Dr. Gary Morgan CEO where he shares his passion for the multidisciplinary showcase of everything from giant dinosaurs to a premier collection of Southwest and Native American Art. 

Channel Islands National Park

Archeologists are excited about what's being described as an "unusual find" on one of the Channel Islands. 

Jay Thompson - Cal Poly

Scientists at Cal Poly are headed back to the drawing board after a semi-successful test this afternoon of a space craft prototype known as a LightSail. 

Skatebiker at English Wikipedia

There is a plan in the works to visit Alpha Centauri, the nearest star beyond our own Sun. It's a journey of some 25 trillion miles. 

Geovanni Ximénez-García

Space debris and the location of satellites is a top concern for the U.S. military's missile program which is why leaders from the Department of Defense are working closely with scientists in Cal Poly’s CubeSat program. 

Cal Poly, Dennis Steers

Cal Poly recently received a five-year, $2.6 million grant for its regenerative medicine program from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

Still from video posted by @elonmusk Instagram

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said this week that fog at Vandenberg Air Force Base may be partially to blame for the company's failure to bring its Falcon 9 rocket safely back to earth on Sunday. 

Musk posted information on his Instagram account saying one of the rocket's legs didn't latch properly, causing it to tip over. 

"The root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff," Musk said.

Video of the rocket landing attempt shows the Falcon 9 setting down on target, but then slowly toppling over and exploding on impact.

Satellite to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base will measure world's rising sea levels

Jan 15, 2016
NASA

Several agencies at Vandenberg Air Force base are preparing to launch a satellite Sunday that will measure the effects of climate change on the world's oceans. 

UC Santa Barbara

A local professor is receiving the nation's highest honors in science and technology.

The White House announced Tuesday UC Santa Barbara's Arthur Gossard, Ph.D., will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. 

City of Santa Barbara

Residents and visitors to Santa Barbara could hear some unusual sounds in the coming weeks as the city works to improve its sewer system.

Flickr user: Emilian Robert Vicol

A local professor and his team are waiting for companies to license their recently-patented product. It's an anti-browning formula that extends the shelf-life of sliced fruits and vegetables. 

SLO PD to launch body camera pilot program

Sep 15, 2015
San Luis Obispo Police Department

The San Luis Obispo Police Department will begin testing the use of body cameras over the next year. The department says it will start the pilot program with ten cameras, given to officers in varying positions. 

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

UPDATE: Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 6:11 p.m.

Engineers at Cal Poly are celebrating a win in Utah this week as their LightSail project was named "Mission of the Year" Thursday  afternoon at the Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University.

Original story:

Cal Poly’s satellite programs are now the talk of the space industry with some of the most cutting-edge technology destined for launch pads, and already circling the planet. 

Finding a parking space in downtown Santa Barbara just got easier. 

Flickr member Image Editor

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, located beneath the border of France and Switzerland, was restarted this spring with a goal of making scientific history—once again.

The facility achieved that goal a few years ago when researchers found evidence that the Higgs boson, or “god particle", exists.

United Launch Alliance video still

Lompoc City Council members are expected to vote Tuesday, May 19, on a proposed multi-million dollar space center near Vandenberg Air Force Base. Vandenberg sits adjacent to the City of Lompoc. If approved and completed, the facility could dramatically alter Lompoc's future.

The city council is set to vote on whether to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the California Space Consortium. The consortium hopes to build a space center there that would include a museum, hotel, restaurant and a viewing area for rocket launches.

Flickr member Dave Nakayama

The international awards are piling up for the UC Santa Barbara professor who helped create energy-saving LED lighting.

UCSB's Shuji Nakamura was named this year's Global Energy Prize Laureate, announced Thursday in Moscow. Nakamura is being recognized for his lighting invention that's helping to save billions of dollars in energy costs worldwide.

LEDs had been around for decades, but not the white light versions that are currently replacing incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, launched from Vandenberg on January 31, 2015, has already sent back its first global maps.

The satellite focuses on soil moisture—liquid or solid—and will likely help develop more accurate long-term forecasts. The images could also help California track the state's ongoing drought conditions.

The SMAP mission is designed to help scientists understand the links between the Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

Flickr member Liz Foreman

Statistics show the most Americans are extremely lazy when it comes to creating secure, unique passwords. According to SplashData's annual list for 2014, these are the five most popular passwords found on the Internet:

  1. 12345
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123

Easy-to-break passwords like these—and many other variations—are a weak link in your overall web security.

Transit Unlimited Wiki

A smartphone app that makes it easier for thousands of Central Coast residents to use public transportation will officially be around for four more years.

The "Bus Tracker" app gives users real time information of bus locations throughout San Luis Obispo. Its creators and the city announced this week that they have entered into a formal, four-year agreement.

John Osumi is the CEO of Bishop Peak Technologies and said their agreement will allow them to deliver the mobile app and it's expanded administrative applications.

Adrian Jaeggi, PhD

Anthropologists at UC Santa Barbara say they've found evidence that the old expression, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," is actually true.

The scientists studied the hormonal reactions hunters in the Bolivian Amazon encountered when leaving home for a day of hunting, during conditions while hunting, and then returning to their families.

The research showed elevated levels of oxytocin—known as the "love hormone"—when the Tsimane men were reunited with their loved ones.

The oxytocin levels also increased the longer the men were away.

NASA

A former Cal Poly professor is among the lead team members as NASA prepares to enter a historic orbit Friday morning of a dwarf planet. 

The Dawn spacecraft launched in 2007 is studying the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists believe Ceres was on its way to becoming a full-sized planet... but had its development interrupted by Jupiter's gravity.

The Mars 100 YouTube video

A Cal Poly graduate is among the 100 finalists of more than 200,000 applicants that were in the running to be one of the first humans to colonize the planet Mars.

They're part of the Mars One mission that's being organized by a private, non-profit out of the Netherlands.

Kay Radzik Warren, 54, graduated from Cal Poly's Architecture Department back in the mid-1990s. She says she hopes the mission succeeds and that she's part of it when it does. 

City of Lompoc hopes new plans for California Space Center can move forward

Feb 6, 2015
California Space Center Consortium

The City of Lompoc is excited about an updated plan to build a local space center that city leaders hope will draw tourists globally. 

The multi-million dollar California Space Center facility is proposed for 82 acres of city-owned land near the Allan Hancock College Lompoc campus.

Economic development director Teresa Gallavan says this $300 million proposal could provide more than 3000 jobs.

Jay Thompson, Cal Poly

The launch of a soil moisture monitoring satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base was in a 24-hour delay cycle on Thursday afternoon because of a problem with upper level winds Thursday morning.

The SMAP satellite (Soil Moisture Active Passive) is now scheduled to launch Friday morning at 6:20.

Three other nano-satellites—or CubeSats—are also onboard the Delta II rocket sitting on the Vandenberg launchpad, and they're what scientists and students from Cal Poly will be watching.

NASA

Scientists are looking forward to using a new satellite that will help them track California's ongoing drought and create more accurate and longer-term forecasts.

It's known as SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) and is scheduled to launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday morning at 6:20 a.m.

It's main purpose is to observe the entire surface of the Earth with a focus on soil moisture and the world's freeze and thaw zones.

USGS

An omnibus federal funding bill that is headed to President Obama's desk after passing in both the US Senate and House of Representatives includes $5 million to develop a West Coast earthquake early warning system.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the funding is just a down payment and she wants to see the program fast-tracked before the next major quake strikes.

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