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Why the dark side of the moon is actually called the far side

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earth rise moon lunar far side craters simulation nasa science visualization studio svs 00003A simulated view of the moon from its far side with Earth in the background.NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

  • People often say “dark side” of the moon when referring to the lunar face we can’t see from Earth.
  • This common use of the phrase is wrong — the term scientists use is the “far side.”
  • One lunar side always faces Earth, or is tidally locked, because the moon’s rotation and orbit is closely synced-up with our planet’s.
  • The moon spins about its axis and orbits the sun with Earth, so its night or “dark” side is constantly moving.

The English rock band Pink Floyd named a best-selling album after it. There are Disney anthems that sing it. Even news stories (including some of our own) plaster it across headlines: the “dark side of the moon.”

However, the phrase is almost always used incorrectly.

When people say the “dark side” of the moon, they’re most often referring to what is technically called the “far side” — where China just landed its Chang’e 4 spacecraft for the first time in history. Scientists call the face of the moon that we always see the “near side.”

The reason why the far side exists is owed to complex physics called tidal locking, and the origin of how Luna got stuck dates all the way back to the formation of the moon-Earth system.

Today, the net result is that the moon spins counterclockwise on its axis, and the moon also orbits Earth in a counterclockwise fashion, and it does so almost perfectly in sync.

On average, according to Wolfram Alpha (a search engine for nerds), one lunar rotation takes, on average, 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 40 seconds. This happens to be the exact same amount of time it takes the moon to orbit our planet. If the moon did not rotate on its axis, we’d see the far side about once every 30 days.

That’s not to say there is no such thing as the moon’s dark side, though you’d have to accept that it’s always moving.

far dark side moon lighting day night visualization nasa gsfc svs s3m 1920Just like the near side of the moon, the far side cycles through day and night (or “dark side”) phases due to the changing angle of the sun as the moon orbits Earth.NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

It works out that the average length of a month lasts about 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds, per Wolfram Alpha. This time span is a couple of days longer than the moon’s actual day because the moon-Earth system orbits the sun.

This celestial dance means one lunar night lasts for about 14 days, 18 hours, 22 minutes, and 1 second at any given point on the moon during an average month.

Put another way: The dark side of the moon is the half not illuminated by the sun, and it’s constantly creeping along, just as the night does on Earth. Except instead of taking about 24 hours to complete one lap, the dark phase takes about 30 days.

Here’s a sped-up view of that process as seen from the moon’s far side in an animation created by NASA’s Science Visualization Studio:

We see a new moon when the dark side faces Earth, and a full moon when the dark side covers the far side. So if you want to shout “China is on the dark side of the moon!” into the night sky and be absolutely correct, you will have to wait until January 21 at 12:16 a.m. ET — the moment that the next full moon peaks.

The event also happens to be what’s called a “super blood wolf moon,” so be sure to mark your calendar to see it.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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