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Space

Soyuz 4/5 Made History 40 Years Ago Today 166

dj writes in with a reminder that forty years ago, on January 16, 1969, the two Russian spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 carried out the first docking between two manned spacecraft and transfer of crew between the craft. Wired's piece gives a gripping account of "one of the roughest re-entries in the history of space flight": "Soyuz 5's service module failed to detach at retrofire, causing the vehicle to assume an aerodynamic position that left the heat shield pointed the wrong way as it re-entered the atmosphere. The only thing standing between Volynov and a fiery death was the command module's thin hatch cover. The interior of Volynov's capsule filled with noxious fumes as the gaskets sealing the hatch started to burn, and it got very hot in there (which, a short time later was something he probably missed). ... But wait. There's more."
Space

No Naked Black Holes 317

Science News reports on a paper to be published in Physical Review Letters in which an international team of researchers describes their computer simulation of the most violent collision imaginable: two black holes colliding head-on at nearly light-speed. Even in this extreme scenario, Roger Penrose's weak cosmic censorship hypothesis seems to hold — the resulting black hole (after the gravitational waves have died down) retains its event horizon. "Mathematically, 'naked' singularities, or those without event horizons, can exist, but physicists wouldn't know what to make of them. All known mechanisms for the formation of singularities also create an event horizon, and Penrose conjectured that there must be some physical principle — a 'cosmic censor' — that forbids singularity nakedness ..."

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