Guinness World Records - Officially Amazing

Science and Tech with Sam: Astronomical observations and lightening quick text messaging

 
 
 
 
 
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Sam Mason is in charge of science and technology records here at GWR. In a regular feature on GuinnessWorldRecords.com, he’ll be taking a look at some of the fascinating developments and achievements within the category.

For this latest instalment, Sam casts his eye over some recent, and potential, out of this world records.

Back in March, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made a statement saying that they were about to announce an ominous sounding “major discovery”.

The internet was ablaze with ridiculous rumours, but these were soon put to rest when the centre announced the findings from their catchily-named experiment: Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2), pictured above.  

The experiment was collecting data between January 2010 and December 2012 at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, where the dry atmospheric conditions suit cosmic observation.

The particular observation made was a distinct pattern in the cosmic microwave background radiation, the remnants of light left over from the Big Bang.

The researchers found a specific signature in the polarisation of this light which they state could only have arisen as the result of gravitational waves ‘squeezing’ space as they pass through.

We are waiting to see if these results are accepted in peer review by the wider scientific community (a cornerstone of the scientific method), if so, then this experiment will hold records for the First observations of gravitational waves, and the First direct evidence of cosmic inflation. The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated, by giving us an insight into the earliest moments of the universe itself.

It’s now a year since astronomers from the European Southern Observatory based in seven different locations trained their telescopes on the star UCAC4 248-108672. front of the star.

The astronomers had been monitoring the star in anticipation of an astronomical object passing in front of it, named Chariklo.

As expected, Chariklo blocked the star’s light, but they also noticed two other very short dips in the apparent brightness of the star.

The sources of these dips in brightness have since been identified as two icy rings orbiting Chariklo, similar to those on other planets in our solar system.

At 248 km in diameter, Chariklo has recently been ratified by Guinness World Records as the smallest known astronomical object with orbiting rings.

Chariklo-slider.jpg

Artist’s impression of the rings around Chariklo

Moving away from the outer reaches of space and to the world of consumer tech.

As we have touched upon in previous features, many tech companies are aiming to make their products an extension of a person’s self, suddenly making them an indispensable part or everyday life.

Arguably the most limiting part of this is the physical interaction between the person and the device, which can often feel unnatural, or excessively time consuming. Microsoft displayed their commitment to narrowing this gap between the user and the device back in March, when their software “Word Flow” was used to break the record for the Fastest time to type a text message (SMS) on a touch-screen mobile phone, for the second time in a row.

Gaurav Sharma (USA) nipped 2.09 seconds from the previous record at the Microsoft Research facility in Redmond, Washington, USA, typing our deviously difficult message in 18.44 seconds.



With the record being one of the most regularly contested, however it came as little surprise that Gaurav’s benchmark was topped just weeks later, when Brazilian teenager Marcel Fernandes Filho shaved off a further .25 seconds while using Syntellia’s Fleksy keyboard technology in New York in April.

You can read a full report on Marcel’s incredible feat here.

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