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Tech + Life

Take your vocabulary to new heights

A guide to the new terms and technologies you'll find in Experience’s ‘Air + Space’ stories

When it comes to space exploration, on Earth and beyond our atmosphere, innovation takes on many forms. Cutting-edge telescope networks are giving us a clearer view of the cosmos. Scientists are hard at work on questions of how to feed space colonists and make artificial heart tissue in zero gravity. All of this work involves technical terms that might someday become household words. Click on a word below to read the story in which it appears.

AMT project
African Millimeter Telescope Project. An effort to bring a refurbished radio telescope to Namibia as part of a network of telescopes that capture black holes.

Astro-tourism
Traveling to places to better experience space on earth. It can include traveling to sparsely populated areas to see the stars in the night sky, seeking out the Northern Lights, or experiencing a total solar eclipse.

Bioprinting
Using 3D-printing techniques to manufacture cell-based structures that imitate natural tissue.

Culturing cassettes
Rectangular containers used to hold bags of cell cultures during filling, incubation, and transport.

Dark matter
Particles that do not absorb, reflect, or create light. Dark matter is thought to make up about 85 percent of the total composition of the universe.

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)
A global network of telescopes that observe radio waves associated with black holes.

Gamma rays
High energy electromagnetic radiation from the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei.

Golden rice
A genetically modified rice product fortified with beta carotene. The crop has been hailed as a game changer for combating famine, but is also a focal point of controversies surrounding GMOs.

HETDEX
The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment, a decade-long collaboration among astrophysicists worldwide. Based at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas, its goal is to try to understand why the universe is expanding so quickly.

High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes
A system of telescopes in Namibia for observing cosmic gamma rays, regions around black holes, and supernova explosions.

International Dark-Sky Association
An organization aimed at preserving the world’s few remaining dark places. IDA gives out Dark Sky certifications to qualifying locales and funds efforts to educate the public on how to minimize light pollution.

Light pollution
The pervasive presence of artificial light in the night sky. Light pollution has been blamed for a host of ills: disrupting the migration, feeding, and mating patterns of certain animals; as well as depression and insomnia in humans.

Lyman-alpha emitting galaxies
Young, distant galaxies that emit radiation from neutral hydrogen.

Magellanic Clouds
Two irregular dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way; they are two of the nearest neighboring galaxies to the Milky Way system.

The “Martian Diet”
A prototype diet made up of foods that could, theoretically, be grown for settlers on Mars. The diet is largely made up of easy-to-grow plants, but also includes insects and cellular meat products.

Parabolic flight
When an airplane follows an arc trajectory (a parabola), creating weightlessness for 15 to 30 seconds at the top of the arc.

Photon
A bundle of electromagnetic energy; the unit of measure for light.

Project Vahana
A self-piloted prototype from A3, the Silicon Valley outpost of aviation giant Airbus. The company sees the project as an eventual future option for commuters.

Recreational ultralight vehicle
A one- or two-seat flying machine. Under U.S. regulations, they can weigh no more than 254 pounds, reach a maximum speed of 63 mph, and hold no more than five gallons of gas.

Tilt-rotor
An aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing, powered with one or more vertical propellors.  

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