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There is a new video of the US Air Force firing a nuclear-capable missile over the Pacific

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The US Air Force test-fired a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early Tuesday morning “to provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”

For show, the military also put out pictures and video of the rocket as it shot into the sky over California, leaving a trail of smoke and flames behind it.

The missile took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, which is just north of Santa Barbara on the central California coast, at 12:56 a.m. local time on Tuesday, June 4.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was 18.3 meters (59.9 feet) tall and had a re-entry vehicle that went about 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers) before falling near a remote army base in the Marshall Islands, which are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Even though the missile wasn’t armed, this type of rocket can carry nuclear weapons and, as its name suggests, can reach countries on other continents.

But don’t be afraid. It may sound like conservative leaders are getting ready for World War III, but the US Air Force says, “This test is not the result of current world events.” They point out that over 300 similar tests have been done before.

The head of the Air Force Global Strike Command, General Thomas A. Bussiere, said in a statement, “As part of that mission, our ICBM force provides 24/7 strategic deterrence and stands ready to respond at a moment’s notice as the most responsive leg of the nuclear triad. Our test launches demonstrate and confirm our readiness to deliver a safe, secure, effective, and credible global combat capability.”

“The United States’ nuclear program is the key to keeping our allies and partners safe around the world.” The test launch today is just one way that our country’s ICBMs and the professional airmen who keep and run them show that the weapon system is ready to go and reliable. Colonel Chris Cruise, Commander of the 377th Test and Evaluation Group, said, “It shows how committed we are to deterrence as we remain on constant alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

There are more than 400 Minuteman III ICBMs at Air Force nuclear bases in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. They have been there for more than 50 years, standing guard.

But this model of the rocket will soon be taken out of service. In 2029, the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM will take its place. That’s how much the Air Force plans to spend on 650 Sentinel ICBMs, which will last until at least 2075.

Let’s hope that all of us make it there!

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Technology

Hold on tight! Tiny “scooters” are being driven by microscopic algae

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Biological microorganisms use little energy, multiply quickly, and move on their own. Because of this, they are perfect for powering biohybrid machines. Scientists have now made the first micromotors that run on algae. You thought animals driving cars were cool? Wait until you see this.

This is a green alga with only one cell. Its name is Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. They can swim 100 micrometers per second thanks to their two long flagella, which are the tails of cells. That’s pretty fast for something that’s only 10 micrometers long. This made student Naoto Shimizu and his co-authors want to try to use their skills more effectively by putting a harness on them.

Two tiny machines that Haruka Oda and her coworkers made will use C. reinhardtii as their power source. The machines have tiny baskets (10 micrometers across, or 1/100th of a millimeter across!) that catch the algae. The cell can still move its flagella because the basket holds it in place. The baskets are connected to each other, which makes several people work together without meaning to. This is needed to make enough thrust to move a mechanism bigger than a single cell.

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One is a “scooter,” and the other is a “rotator.” Four algae are in baskets at the ends of four arms in the rotator. The middle algae is pinned down. The algae could spin the rotator at 20 to 40 micrometers per second when they were swimming quickly.

 

GIF of microscopic green algae "driving" a rotating micromachine with four baskets around the outside

The harder part has been making a biohybrid machine that can move in a straight line. Ratchets were used to line up the motion in earlier designs that used different biological microorganisms, but this made it hard for the machines to move. That scooter just showed up.

It looks more like a Star Wars podracer. Two algae that face the same direction can move the small vehicle forward, if possible in a straight line. When the algae pushed the scooter to twist, turn, and tumble, it did even stranger things. This is likely because it’s not attached to anything (like the rotator) and the two drivers aren’t putting equal amounts of force on it.

black and white microscope gif of spherical algae cells "driving" a micromachine that consists of a box attached to two baskets forming a rough triangle shape

The two biohybrid machines made from algae are opening the door to new ways to make powerful vehicles. In a press release, senior author of the study and professor Shoji Takeuchi from the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo said, “These methods could develop into a technology that can be used for environmental monitoring in aquatic environments and for substance transport using microorganisms, such as moving pollutants or nutrients in water.”

The study was written up in the journal Small.

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Physics

Light is the fastest thing that can “move” across a surface

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Einstein’s theory of special relativity says that it is impossible to move faster than light in a vacuum.

Things that don’t have mass have to move at the speed of light. But things that do have mass can’t get close to 299,792,458 meters per second (983,571,056 feet per second) without using up all of their energy. Physicists and sci-fi authors have tried to get around this by using concepts like the warp drive. But it’s likely that these will be illegal because of those pesky physics laws. Traveling faster than light can cause paradoxes that break the rules of the universe.

You are not in a dark room, though, because there is something in this room right now that can slow down or stop light. It is possible for shadows to go faster than light, and they can even smash through it.

You might ask things like, “What the hell are you talking about?” Imagine that you have a flashlight that is strong enough to light up some of the moon. If you quickly move your finger across the front of the flashlight, the shadow it casts can move across the moon’s surface at speeds much faster than light.

If you wave a laser across the night sky, you can get the same kind of effect. Think of a huge dome that is, say, 100 light-years across and surrounds you. When this laser hits that dome 100 years from now, the points will fly across it at speeds much faster than light.

But these two examples are just tricks.

Astrophysicist Michio Kaku told Big Think, “There is no message, no net information, and no physical object that actually moves along this image. There is only the image of the beam as it races across the night sky.”

No, the laser point isn’t really moving. What you’re seeing are photons hitting the dome and then different photons hitting a different part of the dome 100 years later after you moved your laser.

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The universe and physics stayed the same because nothing really moved faster than light, and no information was sent.

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Space Exploration

Someone in high school builds a model rocket that can land vertically, like a Falcon 9 Booster

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After three years of hard work, a high school student has finished a big project: making a model rocket that lands vertically.

It’s really rocket science to say that landing a rocket vertically is not easy. And SpaceX will tell you that they have blown up many a rocket stage while trying to land rocket boosters. But sometimes they do land before they blow up.

A student named Aryan Kapoor started building his own vertical lander in August 2021. At the end of May 2024, he finally hit the ground.

In a video for his YouTube channel JRD Propulsion, Kapoor said, “This rocket works differently than other model rockets of its kind.” “My rockets don’t have fins to keep them stable; instead, they use thrust vector control.” Thrust vector control lets the rocket’s engine move like a gimbal, giving the pilot control over the rocket’s path in space.

Even more impressive is the fact that software controls the rocket’s flight on its own.

“To guide the rocket, a flight computer makes all inflight decisions, such as steering the rocket and deciding when to ignite the landing motor.”

The onboard barometer gave the wrong reading of the rocket’s altitude during its first test flight in 2023. Kapoor wrote on his JRD Propulsion website, “The rocket did well in all other ways and collected useful data.” “Future flights will use only the accelerometer to measure altitude, providing much higher accuracy and precision.”

On his fifth attempt, Kapoor has landed successfully once more.

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