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Mirrors on the Moon - Dr Stuart Clark

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New Scientist 2716
I share the cover this week on New Scientist as part of their Apollo’s Unfinished Business special feature.  My article is about how the legacy of the Apollo Missions might yet give us our first real insight into string theory:


“EACH clear night when the moon is high in the sky, a group of astronomers in New Mexico take aim at our celestial neighbour and blast it repeatedly with pulses of light from a powerful laser. They target suitcase-sized reflectors left on the lunar surface by the Apollo 11, 14 and 15 missions, as well as by two Russian landers.

 


Out of every 300 quadrillion photons that are sent to the moon, about five find their way back. The rest are lost to our atmosphere, or miss the lunar reflectors altogether.


From this small catch, the team can assess the movement of the moon to an accuracy of a millimetre or two - a measurement so precise that it has the potential to show up any cracks in Einstein's general theory of relativity. If that's what it does, this lunar laser-ranging experiment will become Apollo's greatest scientific legacy. ...”


The full issue is in the shops now, check it out.  You can read my Mirrors on the Moon story for free here. The online version of the entire special is here.

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