Science

Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope computing software was released in February of 2008 by the company’s Research division to display astronomical sky maps. Imagery from the software is provided by the Hubble Space Telescope along with a collection of earth-bound telescopes. The idea for the software, which was originally presented at a TED Conference, is now returning to its roots as a recent conference shows the power of WorldWide Telescope coupled with the Oculus Rift.

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The world of photography is incredible. It's a feat to capture the world and view any scene at a later date in glorious high definition, but it's another to further develop the technology to produce some extraordinary results.

We are now learning that physicists have managed to use the Nokia Lumia 1020 to capture a photo and reveal objects hidden behind a piece of frosted glass.

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If you are a fan of the cosmos, than you should be well aware of Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope computing program. WorldWide Telescope allows users to fly through the known universe as astronomical sky maps and a 3D modeled environment is rendered. Originally announced at a 2008 TED Conference in California, the application still continues to be listed as “beta”, but has attracted over 1.5 million active users.

Today, as a celebration of the software’s fifth anniversary, WorldWide Telescope version 5.0 is now available to download for anyone dreaming of space exploration. The new release itself is also a new milestone and includes new features and datasets to enhance the user experience.

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Space Weather. Name rings a bell, right? It should as the Windows Phone app has been with us since 2011, back when Windows Phone 7 was all the rage. The developer, Timothy Stewart has got in touch with us to reveal an update that has just been released. Version 3.0 of Space Weather is huge. Not only are we talking about a complete app rewrite, but there are some new additions worth mentioning.

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Star Chart is not only an educational app for Windows 8 it's also a neat one. Star Chart will help you explore the solar system by not only providing you a detailed map of the sky but it will also pull up information on the planets, stars, and travel forwards and backwards in time to see how things have changed or will change.

While Star Chart is available for Windows 8, it really shines on tablets such as the Surface RT.  Star Chart is a very nice app for those curious about astronomy as well as for those who are seasoned explorers.

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Interested in earthquakes? Where's It Shaking might be the Windows Phone app you've been looking for.

Where's It Shaking pulls data from various sources on recent seismic activity and delivers it to your Windows Phone. You can view the data that includes longitude, latitude, region and depth of the quake from a map view or chart.

Main pages for Where's It Shaking display the most recent activity, a touch navigable map view (earthquakes are pinned), a distance page showing how far the quakes are from your current location, and the app's options (which also includes a map and chart view of the data).

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Mars Attacks!

With NASA’s successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars late Sunday night (it was streamed live on the Xbox 360) we figured we would mention a couple Mars tie-ins for your Windows Phone and even your Xbox in case you wanted to get in on all the action.

While there aren’t an overwhelming amount of Mars-specific apps for Windows Phone there are a couple that stand out to get you in the mood...

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Scientists from the University of Southampton took to the clouds, and beyond, with a Lumia 800. The Windows Phone (attached to a balloon) flew into the stratosphere as a tool to help create balloon flight trajectory prediction software that can then be used to guide future missions, such as weather balloons.

The ASTRA project (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) investigates new technologies that can be used to make low cost parameter observations of the atmosphere. Stephen Johnston and András Sóbester from the ASTRA project chose the Nokia Lumia 800 for the ASTRA 10 series of flights.

"We knew the Lumia was very robust. With other phones we’ve had to include an extra battery and a heater. We didn’t need to do that with the Lumia – it was the best. It still had data connectivity at 8km above the earth, it’s definitely got a good aerial in there."

A suitable device is required to be light enough to ascend to heights of 32km above the earth, robust enough to survive in temperatures of -70C with atmospheric pressure a thousand times lower than on the ground, and be able to use GPS (and beam the data to the ground teams), log data by recording measurements taken by connected instruments, as well as snapping a few photos. The Lumia 800 really is a sturdy ol' chap!

The Windows Phone reached altitudes of 105,000 feet and survived temperatures of -61C, while remaining airborne for 2 hours and 22 minutes. It finally landed in Cornwall. As many fans would say; the Lumia 800 really is out of this world. There's an available archive of photos from the venture in the Nokia Conversations article.

Source: Nokia Conversations; thanks Gopalan for the tip!

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For those of you watch TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, you'll be pleased to see the official application is now available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  It is of course free, in keeping with the spirit of TED, which focuses on cutting edge science and technology.

Overall he app is what you would expect it to be , which is quite solid. It does occasionally time out, depending on your connection, but for a 1.0, it's pretty darn good. We're just glad to see it so soon.

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Looks like developer Justin Angel just finished up his app entitled 'Neurons', so named because it's quite the brainy resource allowing you to stream the ever interesting TED Talks, Science Dump, the RSA and FORA.TV for all of your sciency-nerdy media needs.

No word on availability, but we imagine he'll be submitting it for approval soon so it shouldn't be too long before it's in the Marketplace.

I'm throwing this in my "must have" list since I embrace my science geekiness. The only thing that would make this app even cooler would be if This Week in Science was included, but we're not complaining.

Source: Twitter (@justinangel)

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