Friday, 31 August 2012

Ants invented the internet?


Ask who invented the Internet and you’ll spark off an argument with everyone championed from Tim Berners Lee to Nikola Tesla. However, two Stanford scientists claim that the inventor may have had six legs, antennae and a taste for disrupting picnics. Professor of biology Deborah Gordon and professor of computer science Balaji Prabhakar say that red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) use the same Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in foraging that the internet uses to manage data transmissions – making a sort of “Anternet.”.. Continue Reading Ants invented the internet?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Curiosity rolls out, and writes a message on Mars


The NASA Mars rover Curiosity began its mission of exploration this week and as it rolled out, it wrote the place of its birth on the Martian surface. The 4x4-sized unmanned explorer will travel a quarter of a mile (400 m) to an area where it will test its robotic arm and may use its sample-collecting drill for the first time. As it goes along, the treads on Curiosity’s six wheels spell out “JPL” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) over and over in Morse code... Continue Reading Curiosity rolls out, and writes a message on Mars

Astronauts go potholing to train for space


In Robert Heinlein’s 1948 novel Space Cadet, spacemen of the future learned their profession aboard an orbital training ship. Because there aren’t any retired space ships in orbit to play the part of PRS James Randolph in real life, astronauts headed for duty aboard the International Space Station must find earthbound substitutes. For the European Space Agency (ESA), the alternative is to turn smartly about and go underground. On September 7, CAVES 2012 (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills) will see six international astronauts descend into the caverns of the island of Sardinia to learn how to use space procedures by going potholing... Continue Reading Astronauts go potholing to train for space

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Makerplane aims to create the first open source aircraft


The idea of owning your own plane is the stuff of daydreams. It’s incredibly appealing, but despite some (relative)drops in pricing in recent years, it remains incredibly expensive. If you build your own plane from a kit, it’s a bit cheaper than buying one, but the odds are that you’ll never complete the job because kitplanes are notoriously difficult to build. However, that may be changing. MakerPlane is a project that aims to create an open source aircraft designed by contributors and built with digital manufacturing processes. You can’t download the plans into your 3D printer and fly away that afternoon, but it does hold the promise of making amateur aviation a lot more accessible... Continue Reading Makerplane aims to create the first open source aircraft

"Whispering gallery" biosensor detects the smallest viruses


Researchers led by Professor Stephen Arnold at Polytechnic Institute of New York University have developed a new ultra-sensitive biosensor. Currently undergoing commercial development, the sensor is designed to inexpensively identify viruses in a doctor’s office within a matter of minutes instead of the weeks needed by conventional techniques ... and it can detect even the smallest RNA virus particle, MS2, which weighs only six attograms (10-18 grams). .. Continue Reading "Whispering gallery" biosensor detects the smallest viruses

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Temperature-measuring smart sutures monitor wound healing


Sutures have come along way from the days of silk and catgut, but now they’re poised to make their biggest change in 3,000 years. They’re getting smart. John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has invented a “smart” suture that contains ultrathin sensors that can detect when a wound is infected and may one day be able to actively promote healing as well... Continue Reading Temperature-measuring smart sutures monitor wound healing

One-molecule thick material promises electronics revolution


Imagine a world where rooms are lit by their walls, clothes are smartphones and windows turn into video screens. That may seem like a bit of science fiction, but not for long. Researchers at MIT are using a two-dimensional version of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) to build electrical circuits that may soon revolutionize consumer electronics... Continue Reading One-molecule thick material promises electronics revolution

New nanocrystals let solar panels generate electricity ... and hydrogen gas


At first glance, photovoltaic solar panels are brilliant. They’re self-contained, need no fuel and so long as the sun is shining, they make lots of lovely electricity. The trouble is, they’re expensive to make, batteries are poor storage systems for cloudy days, and the panels have a very short service life. Now, Dr. Mikhail Zamkov of Ohio's Bowling Green State University and his team have used synthetic nanocrystals to make solar panels more durable as well as capable of producing hydrogen gas. .. Continue Reading New nanocrystals let solar panels generate electricity ... and hydrogen gas

Monday, 27 August 2012

LiftPort plans to build space elevator on the Moon by 2020


When the late Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 went to the Moon, they did so sitting atop a rocket the size of a skyscraper that blasted out jets of smoke and flame as it hurtled skyward. For over half a century, that is how all astronauts have gone into space. It’s all very dramatic, but it’s also expensive. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to take the elevator? That’s the question that Michael Laine, CEO of LiftPort in Seattle, Washington, hopes to answer with the development of a transportation system that swaps space-rockets for space-ribbons... Continue Reading LiftPort plans to build space elevator on the Moon by 2020

Curiosity's ChemCam passes first tests with flying colors


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has already fired its laser over 500 times as it studies its surroundings as engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) calibrate its sensors. In a classic example of “waste not, want not” Curiosity concentrated its activity on a patch of rocks that were uncovered by the rocket backwash of thesky crane that delivered the unmanned explorer to the Martian surface on August 6... Continue ReadingCuriosity's ChemCam passes first tests with flying colors

Friday, 24 August 2012

SpaceX Dragon cleared for cargo run in October


The age of commercial space flight starts this autumn. In October, SpaceX’s Dragon space freighter will make its first scheduled commercial visit to the International Space Station (ISS). On Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that Dragon had completed its certification under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program and was cleared for commercial operation. Holder also announced that Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser manned spacecraft has passed its program implementation plan review and will go on to further development. Read More

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Glycerol additive makes cruise ships greener

The bunker fuel used in cruise liners and freighters is some of the cheapest, crudest fuel available. It’s also among the dirtiest. Scientists from the Maine Maritime Academy and SeaChange Group LLC led by George N. Harakas, Ph.D announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that they have developed what they call "Bunker Green" fuel. This fuel uses an ingredient commonly used in food and medicine to reduce sulfur and other emissions in ocean vessels... Continue Reading Glycerol additive makes cruise ships greener

Edible dispersant could provide more eco-friendly way to fight oil spills


Some people believe that there’s no problem that peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream can’t solve. These people could be onto something with news that a team of researchers has developed a new, safer oil dispersant that uses edible ingredients found in the aforementioned trio of treats. The new dispersant could save the lives of thousands of birds and animals caught in environmental catastrophes. Read More

Mars Express takes close up of Phobos


NASA’s Curiosity rover may be stealing the headlines, but there is other news coming from Mars. Recently, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express probe made a 100-kilometer (62-mile) flyby of the Martian moon Phobos and returned a high-resolution 3D image filled with remarkable detail. The image includes a profile of Stickney crater, which dominates the right-hand side, and the grooves associated with the impact of the asteroid that created it thousands of years ago. Read More

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Oak Ridge develops improved way of extracting uranium from seawater


The world’s estimated reserves of uranium are only 5.5 million tonnes (6 million tons) and with the growing demand for reliable energy free of greenhouse emissions leading to more and more nuclear plants being built, that supply may not last very long. Some estimates place the time before all the uranium is gone at between 50 and 200 years. However, the oceans of the world contain 4.1 billion tonnes (4.5 billion tons) of uranium dissolved in seawater. That’s enough to last something on the order of 6,500 years. The tricky bit is getting it out, but a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee has come a step closer to economically extracting uranium from seawater with a new material that is much more efficient than previous methods... Continue Reading Oak Ridge develops improved way of extracting uranium from seawater

Curiosity goes for a test drive


The Curiosity rover has taken its first drive today on Mars. It wasn’t much of a road trip. The unmanned craft went about 15 feet (4.57 m), turned 120 degrees and then reversed about 8 feet (2.43 m). Curiosity is now about 20 feet (6.09 m) from its landing site, now named Bradbury Landing after the late author Ray Bradbury. That may not seem like much, but it was a successful test of Curiosity’s mobility and takes it a step (or a roll) closer to beginning its two-year mission to look for areas where life may have or does exist on the Red Planet... Continue Reading Curiosity goes for a test drive

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

University of Arizona professor invents lightweight infinite pipeline


A University of Arizona professor has invented a theoretically infinite pipe that promises to bring down the costs of laying pipelines while reducing environmental damage. Developed by Mo Ehsani, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona, the new pipe, called InfinitiPipe, is of a lightweight plastic aerospace honeycomb under layers of resin-saturated carbon fiber fabric put together by a new fabricating process that allows pipes to be built in indefinite lengths on site... Continue Reading University of Arizona professor invents lightweight infinite pipeline

Scientists develop material that's harder than diamonds


Diamonds may be forever, but they aren’t what they were. True, they shine just as brightly and they’re as hard as ever, but scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Washington are giving them some competition. An international team led by Carnegie’s Lin Wang have discovered a new substance that is not quite crystalline and not quite non-crystalline, yet is hard enough to dent diamonds. .. Continue Reading Scientists develop material that's harder than diamonds

DARPA developing unmanned sub hunters


Submarine combat may seem like an obsolete relic from World War II films and Cold War thrillers, but the past 20 years have seen a growing number of increasingly quiet diesel-electric submarines turning up in some very unfriendly navies. In order to counter this threat, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of McLean, Virginia to develop unmanned submarine hunters capable of operating for months on end without human intervention... Continue Reading DARPA developing unmanned sub hunters

Next Mars mission – after Curiosity comes InSight


Feeling very confident after the perfect landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars on August 6th, NASA has announced its next mission to the Red Planet. In 2016, the US space agency will launch the unmanned InSight lander to Mars. Unlike Curiosity, InSight will be a static lander loaded with instruments designed to study the deep geology of Mars and answer such questions as whether the core of the planet is liquid or solid, and why Mars hasn’t any shifting tectonic plates like Earth. Read More

Monday, 20 August 2012

Wave Glider ocean robots to track sharks in northern California


If you’ve ever sat in a beach-side coffee house wondered if there was a white shark in the vicinity, then wonder no more because now there’s an app for that. A team of Stanford University researchers lead by Prof. Barbara Block is deploying a fleet of static buoys and Wave Glider robots to turn the waters off the coast of San Francisco into a huge Wi-Fi network to track tagged fish and animals. This will allow scientists to better understand sea life movements, but the project also includes offering a free app to the public that will allow them to track northern California white sharks on their tablets and smartphones... Continue Reading Wave Glider ocean robots to track sharks in northern California

Super slides for superyachts


How many times have you been aboard some billionaire’s superyacht only to be disappointed because there wasn’t a giant, inflatable slide hanging off the stern? Yes, we’ve all been there. Now, Freestyle Slides comes to the aid of the embarrassed super rich with its line of bespoke Freestyle Cruiser PVC slides that give a hundred million dollar yacht that little something extra – in this case, it’s an inflatable, 45-degree water slide with a one-story drop... Continue Reading Super slides for superyachts

Sunday, 19 August 2012

War of the Worlds - Curiosity fires first laser shot on Mars


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has fired its laser for the first time. Its target wasn’t attacking Martians, but a 7 cm (2.75 inch) wide rock called “Coronation” (AKA N165) about 10 feet (3 m) from the rover. Curiosity’s laser fired 30 pulses over a ten-second interval, hitting Coronation with one million watts for five-one billionths of a second. As tiny bits of Coronation vaporized into a glowing plasma, Curiosity's ChemCam analyzed the stone’s makeup by means of a telescope and three spectrometers... Continue Reading War of the Worlds - Curiosity fires first laser shot on Mars

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Microthruster ion drive gives tiny satellites a boost


Small-scale satellites show a lot promise, but unless they have equally small-scale thrusters they’re pretty limited in what they can do. Unfortunately conventional thrusters are heavy and take up a lot of valuable space, but a penny-sized rocket engine developed at MIT holds the prospect of not only increasing the capabilities of miniature satellites, but of combating space junk as well. Read More

Friday, 17 August 2012

Scientists develop catalyst that cleans diesel emissions without platinum


Diesel engines are a classic example of good news and bad news. The good news is that diesel engines are much more fuel efficient than petrol engines. The bad news is that they belch out some pretty nasty emissions like nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. The good news is that catalytic converters can scrub those out. The bad news is that last Friday the platinum needed by the converters is selling for US$1,473.10 an ounce. Now the good news is that a team at Nanostellar in Redwood, California, has developed a mineral catalyst that outperforms platinum at a fraction of the cost. Read More

Sandia modular robot hand brings a delicate touch to bomb disposal


Robots have been used routinely in bomb disposal for over forty years. Unfortunately, the standard way that robots deal with bombs is to blow them up. This removes the threat, but it also destroys valuable evidence that could lead to catching the bomb makers. Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new robot hand that is not only delicate enough to disarm a bomb rather than detonating it, but is relatively inexpensive and can even mend itself. Read More

Room-temperature solid state maser may be the laser of tomorrow


Everyone has heard of lasers, but hardly anyone outside of a physics lab or a science fiction novel has heard of a maser. Despite the fact that it was the precursor of the laser, the maser has been something of a technological backwater because masers are difficult to build and expensive to operate. That, however, may be changing. In the August 16 issue of Nature, a team of scientists from Britain’s National Physics Laboratory and Imperial College, London led by Dr. Mark Oxborrow report that they have created the first solid state maser that operates at room temperature, paving the way toward the widespread practical application of the technology. Read More

Harvard scientists develop soft robots that can camouflage themselves


If you’re worried about the coming robot apocalypse, then worry some more because soft, squishy robots just got camouflage. Scientists at Harvard University working under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract have developed a way of turning soft robots into “chameleons” capable of blending in with their backgrounds and even hiding from infrared sensors. That’s pretty impressive (or scary) for robots that can be made for less than US$100 apiece. Read More

Thursday, 16 August 2012

NASA's "Mighty Eagle" targets asteroid or Mercury landings


The crash of NASA’s Morpheus lander was an unfortunate setback, but like any good space pioneer, the agency has more than one string to its bow - and more than one lander in the hanger. On August 8, NASA’s prototype “Mighty Eagle” autonomous lander carried out the latest in a series of flight tests at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Though smaller than Morpheus and much less powerful, the craft is being used to develop a new class of autonomous robotic landers to explore the airless bodies of the Solar System from the planet Mercury to the moons of Jupiter... Continue Reading NASA's "Mighty Eagle" targets asteroid or Mercury landings

MIT develops new "reverse air conditioner" solar power system for the developing world


Solar power would appear to be an obvious choice for the developing world, but as impoverished regions need systems that are simple, self-operating and cheap to build and maintain, this is generally not the case. The ability to provide heating in addition to electricity would also be beneficial because many communities need hot water has much as they need lights. An MIT team has developed a solution that meets these needs with a solar power system that is an air conditioner built backwards... Continue Reading MIT develops new "reverse air conditioner" solar power system for the developing world

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Disney develops "face cloning" technique for animatronics


The “uncanny valley” is one of the frustrating paradoxes of robotics. Every year, roboticists make humanoid robots that more accurately imitate human beings, but it turns out that the better the imitation, the creepier the end result. It’s that strange, hair-raising sensation one gets when visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. True, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln look very lifelike, but there’s always something wrong that you can’t quite describe. In the hope of bridging this valley, a Disney Research team in Zurich, Switzerland, has invented a new robot-making technique dubbed “face cloning.” This technique combines 3D digital scanning and advanced silicone skins to give animatronic robots more realistic facial expressions. Read More

Third test flight of X-51A hypersonic missile ends in failure


Wright Patterson AFB has confirmed in an official press release that Tuesday’s test of the Waverider X-51A unmanned hypersonic missile has failed. Launched from a B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 11:36 AM PST, the separation from the bomber and ignition of the X-51A’s rocket booster went as planned. However, 16 seconds into the flight a fault occurred in one of the missile’s control fins before the scramjet could start and the X-51A was today officially reported as "lost". At present, there are no further official details, but the New York Daily News reports that the missile crashed into the Pacific Ocean while NBC News states that the X-51A broke up in flight and fell into the ocean "in pieces." Read More

Monday, 13 August 2012

Tiny robots could be the micro-builders of the future


How small can a robot get? According to a team of researchers at Georgia Tech, really, really small. Described in the July 23 issue of the journal Soft Matter, the Georgia Tech team has been running complex computational models of swimming robots on the micron (0.001 mm or about 0.000039 inches) scale. At this microscopic level, water takes on very different properties from those of the human scale, but despite these challenges the team believes that such robots could have fascinating practical applications. Read More

Seoul National University develops inexpensive, super sensitive electronic skin


The quest to give robots touch-sensitive artificial skin and develop medical prostheses with a sense of touch has shown much promise in recent years. The latest promising development comes out of Seoul National University's Multiscale Biomimetic Systems Laboratory where researchers have created a new biomimetic “electronic skin” that is inexpensive, yet sensitive enough to “feel” a drop of water. Read More

NASA selects next nanosatellite flight demonstration missions


Having landed the car-sized Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA is looking in the other direction with its Small Spacecraft Technology Program. Dedicated to improving small satellite technology, the program recently awarded contracts to three teams working in the areas of communications, formation flying and docking. The tricky bit is that the satellites they’re working with are only four inches (10.16 cm) tall. Read More

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Soft, autonomous Meshworm robotic earthworm moves using peristalsis


In an effort to create robots with soft, pliable exteriors that would be suited to exploring hard to reach places and traversing bumpy terrain, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University has developed a robotic earthworm called Meshworm. Moving in the same manner as an earthworm, it looks disturbingly like an earthworm as it crawls across the floor. However, unlike an earthworm and despite its soft exterior, it is remarkably tough and can survive hammer blows and even being trodden. Read More

Saturday, 11 August 2012

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity getting "brain transplant"


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is changing its mind – or rather, NASA is changing Curiosity’s mind for it. The 4X4-sized robot explorer is spending its first weekend on the Red Planet installing a major software update that NASA calls a “brain transplant.” This new software replaces that which Curiosity ran while in transit from Earth and will prepare the rover for exploring the Martian surface... Continue Reading NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity getting "brain transplant"

Friday, 10 August 2012

New production process promises cheaper infrared lenses


Driving a car in the country at night can be a scary. The combination of poor visibility and animals or other hard to spot obstacles on the road poses an obvious threat to both the car and its occupants. Some luxury models now have the option of forward looking infrared (FLIR) night vision systems, so you can see the animal in time to swerve. Unfortunately these systems are pricey, even as an aftermarket add-on, but that may soon change through the work of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (IWM) in Freiburg, Germany. The researchers have invented a way of bringing down the cost of the infrared lenses in FLIR systems down by 70 percent - opening the way to cheap FLIR cameras for the mass market... Continue Reading New production process promises cheaper infrared lenses

NASA sending Radiation Belt Storm Probes to study the Van Allen Belt


Radiation is a common hazard of space exploration and space agencies usually tend to avoid it for obvious reasons. It can be dangerous for astronauts and fatal to the microcircuitry of satellites. Why, then, is NASA sending its next unmanned mission right into the worst radiation hazard in the neighborhood? On August 23, two Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) will launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida to study the radioactive Van Allen Belts... Continue Reading NASA sending Radiation Belt Storm Probes to study the Van Allen Belt

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Solar-powered Silent Falcon UAV unveiled


UAVs have become increasingly common in everything from carrying out missile strikes against terrorists to helping map archaeological sites. They come in all sizes from jet-powered behemoths to ones so small that they can sit in your hand. On Monday, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies of Alburquerque, New Mexico rolled out the latest in the small UAV class with the unveiling of its solar-powered Silent Falcon at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas... Continue Reading Solar-powered Silent Falcon UAV unveiled

Earth destroyed repeatedly in the name of science


Unlike in old B movies, real scientists don’t scream “Fools! I’ll destroy them all!” before throwing the switch on their doomsday device. At least, most of the them don’t. However, the August 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal reports that a team of scientists are working on destroying the world - not once, but repeatedly. Fortunately, the world they’re destroying exists only in a computer simulation and its destruction is in the service of learning more about planets revolving around other stars... Continue Reading Earth destroyed repeatedly in the name of science

Ford SYNC AppLink-equipped vehicles provide allergy forecasts on demand


Seasonal allergies strike 20 percent of Americans every year. Some people suffer so badly that they check the pollen count with the devotion that others pay to the stock market. For some asthma sufferers, an allergy attack can even lead to a life-threatening asthma episode. As part of its program to help motorist manage their health, Ford has announced that cars equipped with its SYNC AppLink system will be able to alert drivers about pollen and other health-related conditions. Read More

The intentionally wobbly, US$8,500 LimbIC ergonomic chair



One thing that’s generally expected of a chair is that it stays still. True, it might rock or swivel or recline, but if we’re sitting still, we expect the chair to do likewise. Dr. Patrik A. K├╝nzler, head of the Swiss start-up Inno-Motion, disagrees. He has invented the US$8,500 LimbIC - a deliberately wobbly ergonomic chair that's billed as being comfortable to sit in for hours while promoting better health and creativity.Read More

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Armadillo Aerospace gets launch release for STIG B reusable rocket


At Newspace 2012, hosted by the Space Frontier Foundation in Santa Clara, California, Armadillo Aerospace announced it has been awarded a two-year launch license by the FAA for the launch of its STIG-B payload-carrying vehicle into suborbital space this (northern hemisphere) summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico... Continue Reading Armadillo Aerospace gets launch release for STIG B reusable rocket

Drexel University giving UAVs a hand (and arms)


UAVs have proven very successful as surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mapping craft, but their ability to interact with the ground has been largely confined to launching missiles. Now, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is planning to endow them with arms and hands to allow them to work on such tasks as repairing infrastructure and disaster recovery while hovering near the ground... Continue Reading Drexel University giving UAVs a hand (and arms)

Curiosity sends images of Mars back to Earth


After a successful landing on Sunday, the NASA rover Curiosity has begun sending back images of the planet including the first color pictures and 3D stereographs. In addition to images from the surface of the red planet, the lander has also sent back images captured by onboard cameras during the craft’s dramatic descent through the Martian atmosphere and landing. Meanwhile, an orbiter from an earlier NASA mission sent back images of Curiosity’s descent... Continue Reading Curiosity sends images of Mars back to Earth

Monday, 6 August 2012

Swumanoid swimming android developed to improve performance in the pool


With the swimming program of the London Olympics now completed and medals awarded, many will now be casting their attention to Rio in 2016 and how competitors can be helped to swim faster, how they can be made stronger, and what swimwear can be developed to improve their performance. Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are hoping to answer these questions by developing a humanoid robot able to reproduce realistic swimming strokes. .. Continue Reading Swumanoid swimming android developed to improve performance in the pool

Retinal chip implant undergoes clinical trials


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative eye disease that affects 200,000 people in the United States and Europe and has left 15 million people permanently blind worldwide. German biotechnology firm Retina Implant AG has developed a microchip that provides a useful degree of artificial vision in patients who have been blind for even long periods. The 3 x 3 mm (0.118 in) chip is implanted below the surface of the retina where it electrically stimulates the optical tissues. After successful clinical trials in Germany, the chip is now being tested in Hong Kong and Britain before moving on to planned trials in the U.S. Read More

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Touchdown! Curiosity lands safely on Mars


NASA's Mars lander Curiosity has landed safely on Mars. After a 253-day voyage punctuated by a dramatic plunge through the Martian atmosphere, the nuclear-powered rover has reported to mission control that it is on the ground and systems are nominal. The landing occurred at 10:31 p.m. U.S. PDT (August 6, 05:31 GMT) plus or minus a minute. The landing site was near the base of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, 4.6 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longitude. This marks the beginning of a two-year mission to seek out places where life may have existed on Mars – or may yet exist today. Read More

Sci-Fi writers of the past predict life in 2012


As part of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future award in 1987, a group of science fiction luminaries put together a text “time capsule” of their predictions about life in the far off year of 2012. Including such names as Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Jack Williamson, Algis Budrys and Frederik Pohl, it gives us an interesting glimpse into how those living in the age before smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi and on-demand streaming episodes of Community thought the future might turn out. Read More