On May 16, 1960, Theodore Harold Maiman operated the first laser, utilizing a synthetic ruby crystal grown by his colleague Dr. Ralph L. Hutcheson. A race had been underway in the scientific community for more than a decade to develop such a device, starting first with masers before moving on to lasers.
The word LASER is an acronym and stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. When the laser (and maser-microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) was first developed it was know as a solution looking for a problem. Scientists and engineers saw incredible potential for such a device, and now lasers are ubiquitous and range in size from smaller than the head of a pin to the size of football fields.
Less than a year after the first functioning laser was developed, on May 9, 1962 scientists led by Louis Smullin and Giorgio Fiocco at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bounced a laser beam off the moon! The New York Times reported,
Last night, for the first time, man illuminated another celestial body.
Had someone been standing in the mountainous region southeast of the crater Albategnius on the moon, the stark and darkened lunar landscape about him would have been lighted by a succession of dim red flashes.
The effect is thought to have been limited to a circular area of the moon’s surface only one mile in radius. The light beam was produced by engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using a device known as a laser or optical maser.
Lasers can be found in cd and dvd players, fingerprint readers, bar-code scanners, in medicine as a replacement for scalpels, in printers, dermatology, welding and cutting and even rock concerts and kids shows.
Image of an early ruby laser Courtesy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Image of the Albategnius crater courtesy NASA.
The moon is quite a bit younger than scientists had previously believed, new research suggests.
The leading theory of how the moon formed holds that it was created when a mysterious planet — one the size of Mars or larger — slammed into Earth about 4.56 billion years ago, just after the solar system came together. But new analyses of lunar rocks suggest that the moon, which likely coalesced from the debris blasted into space by this monster impact, is actually between 4.4 billion and 4.45 billion years old.
The finding, which would make the moon 100 million years younger than previously thought, could reshape scientists’ understanding of the early Earth as well as its natural satellite, researchers said.
Moon, you don’t look a day over 3.9 billion.
NASA’s GRAIL mission started its lunar probe late in 2011 to uncover some of the mysteries buried beneath the surface of the Moon —even, perhaps, a long-lost companion. According to recent scientific speculation, the Earth once had two moons gracing our night skies.
“It’s an intriguing idea,” said David Smith, GRAIL’s deputy principal investigator at MIT. “And it would be a way to explain one of the great perplexities of the Earth-Moon system – the Moon’s strangely asymmetrical nature. Its near and far sides are substantially different.”
The Moon’s near side, facing us, is dominated by vast smooth ‘seas’ of ancient hardened lava. In contrast, the far side is marked by mountainous highlands. Researchers have long struggled to account for the differences, and the “two moon” theory introduced by Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug of the University of California at Santa Cruz is the latest attempt.
The Hare in the Moon from Moon Lore, by Timothy Harley (1885)
The Mongolian also see a hare in the lunar shadows. We are told by a Chinese scholar that “tradition earlier than the period of the Han dynasty asserted that a hare inhabited the surface of the moon, and later Taoist fable depicted this animal, called the gemmeous hare, as the servitor of the genii, who employ it in pounding the drugs which compose the elixir of life. The connection established in Chinese legend between the hare and the moon is probably traceable to an Indian original. In Sanskrit inscriptions the moon is called Sason, from a fancied resemblance of its spots to a leveret; and pandits, to whom maps of the moon’s service have been shown, have fixed on Loca Paludosa, and Mons Porphyrites or Keplerus and Aristarchus, for the spots which they think exhibit the similitude of a hare.” On another page of the same work we read: “During the T’ang dynasty it was recounted that a cassia tree grows in the moon, this notion being derived apparently from an Indian source. The sal tree (shorea robusta), one of the sacred trees of the Buddhists, was said during the Sung dynasty to be identical with the cassia tree in the moon. The lunar hare is said to squat at the foot of the cassia tree, pounding its drugs for the genii. The cassia tree in the moon is said to be especially visible at mid-autumn, and hence to take a degree at the examinations which are held at this period is described as plucking a leaf from the cassia.”
*click image to link to source
We call that one “Muad’dib”.
Moon Over Earth
Photographed by an Expedition 28 crew member onboard the International Space Station, this image shows the moon at center, with the limb of Earth near the bottom transitioning into the orange-colored troposphere, the lowest and most dense portion of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The troposphere ends abruptly at the tropopause, which appears in the image as the sharp boundary between the orange- and blue- colored atmosphere. The silvery-blue noctilucent clouds extend far above the Earth’s troposphere.
That’s no moon! That’s a… oh, wait, nope, i’m wrong again. That is a moon. Sorry I keep getting those two confused, folks.