New wristwatches to live view from space

According to Collect Space, a watchmaker that saw success crafting timepieces from rocket-flown metal is now looking to connect outer space to your wrist.

In 2017, Werenbach crowdfunded more than $785,000 for its first line of watches, which were made out of spent Russian Soyuz rocket stages used in the launch of astronauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station. On Tuesday (June 12), the Zurich-based company returned to Kickstarter for its next merger of space and time.

“It started with a wild dream: to build a watch from a real space rocket. Now we set out with an even bigger dream to achieve,” Zurich-based Werenbach wrote on the crowdfunding website.

“After one of the most successful watch stories in Kickstarter history, we wanted to return to you, our supporters, with something new once again – a watch with a real piece of rocket at its heart that now also connects you to space to share the view of an astronaut in real time,” the watchmaker announced.

At its heart

Werenbach’s original Earth collection and its subsequently-released Leonov series featured watch dials cut from salvaged rocket parts. Its Soyuz collection added the option of the watch’s case is made from a melted down rocket engine.

Werenbach’s new Mach 33 collection includes flown booster metal “at the heart” of the watch, in the form of a plate on the dial.

“We incorporate real space rocket material into each of our watches, otherwise, it wouldn’t be a Werenbach,” the company said. “The material comes from a Soyuz rocket (MS-02) that transported three astronauts to the International Space Station and was recovered by hand in the Kazakh steppe.”

Soyuz MS-02 launched Oct. 19, 2016, with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko to join the space station’s Expedition 49/50 crew.

[Penn State] Atamturktur as head of architectural engineering

According to Penn State News, According to Penn State News, Sez Atamturktur has been named the Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and Head of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State, effective July 1.

Currently, Atamturktur is a provost’s distinguished professor and professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and civil engineering at Clemson University. At Clemson, Atamturktur spearheaded three institution-level National Science Foundation (NSF) grants including the NSF ADVANCE-funded Tigers ADVANCE program, the NSF NRT-funded Resilient Infrastructure and Environmental Systems (RIES) graduate education program and the NSF RED-funded CULTIVATE program. These institutional initiatives led to university-wide transdisciplinary research activities, curricular innovation and close engagement with industry and national laboratories at Clemson.

In addition, at Clemson, Atamturktur served as the associate vice president for research and is the founding director of its Office of Research Development. In this role, Atamturktur oversaw the university’s limited submission selection process, established university-wide initiatives for junior faculty development, spearheaded strategic large-impact research development efforts and established linkages between the division of research, and foundation and corporate relations offices.

“Professor Atamturktur comes to Penn State having had a tremendous impact as a leading researcher during her tenure on Clemson’s faculty, as well as through her visionary leadership as associate vice president,” Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering, said. “I am confident that under her leadership the department will reach new heights of international impact.”

Atamturktur believes the field of architectural engineering is poised for major research breakthroughs that will have a significant societal impact. “Safe, healthy and productive living and working spaces is a basic human need. Architectural engineering as a field is dedicated to the betterment of human condition by advancing research and education in design, construction, and maintenance of the buildings we live in,” she said.

How Supernovae affects Earth

According to Astrobio, two nearby supernovae that exploded about 2.5 and eight million years ago could have resulted in a staggered depletion of Earth’s ozone layer, leading to a variety of repercussions for life on Earth.

In particular, two-and-a-half million years ago the Earth was changing dramatically. The Pliocene, which was a hot and balmy epoch, was ending and the Pleistocene, an era of repeated glaciation known as the Ice Age, was beginning. Natural variations in Earth’s orbit and wobble likely accounted for the change in climate, but the simultaneous event of a supernova could provide insight on the diversification of life during this epoch.

This supernova is thought to have occurred between 163 and 326 light years away (50–100 parsecs) from Earth. For perspective, our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away.

Supernovae can sterilize any nearby inhabited planets that happen to be in the path of their harmful ionizing radiation. Could nearby supernovae wreak havoc on the existing biology of our planet? One researcher wanted to find out. Dr. Brian Thomas, an astrophysicist at Washburn University in Kansas, USA, modeled the biological impacts at the Earth’s surface, based on geologic evidence of nearby supernovae 2.5 million and 8 million years ago. In his latest paper, Thomas investigated cosmic rays from the supernovae as they propagated through our atmosphere to the surface, to understand their effect on living organisms,

Looking at the fossil record during the Pliocene–Pleistocene boundary (2.5 million years ago), we see a dramatic change in the fossil record and in land cover globally. Thomas tells Astrobiology Magazine that “there were changes, especially in Africa, which went from being more forested to more grassland.”

“We are interested in how exploding stars affect life on Earth, and it turns out a few million years ago there were changes in the things that were living at the time,” says Thomas. “It might have been connected to this supernova.”