Yesterday an eccentric billionaire launched his electric car into space, and you could watch it live on the internet.
Elon Musk is nothing if not bold. He is also a master showman, transforming a risky first launch of the Falcon Heavy into a $90 million commercial for his car company. With his big dreams and slick marketing, Musk seems like a character out of science fiction or comic books. But behind the showman is a team of highly skilled workers. They not only do some amazing engineering, they also do some amazing science.
More than 7,000 people work at SpaceX.
We often think of science and engineering as two separate things. Science asks deep questions and expands the horizon of human understanding, while engineering applies scientific understanding to technological problems. But often the line is blurred. Often scientific research requires complex and cutting edge engineering.
For example, at Green Bank Observatory one research project known as Mustang II studies the very cold gas and dust in our galaxy. To do this, the Mustang II detector has to be kept extremely cold. Only 3/10 of a degree above absolute zero. In order to gather data, the research team had to ...