The United States is the top producing nation of drones, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tries to come to terms with commercial drone regulation. Industries such as film, farming, and construction now find drones can be a great tool to handle tasks including video recording, mapping geographic sites, and conducting research in remote regions.
There is a global push to bring drones into the commercial market - and Amazon's desire to use drones to deliver packages will need to wait until lawmakers create regulations to fly drones in U.S. airspace.
Since the U.S. has such busy airspace, the FAA is closely studying standards that are right the first time - which means there isn't a big rush to make it happen immediately.
A few years ago a pair of scientists theorized that there was another planet in our solar system orbiting far beyond the orbit of Pluto. The scientists that offered the theory are John Matese and Daniel Whitmire from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Both men are physics professors.
Their theory grabbed a lot of attention when it was first published back in 2011. The scientists hoped that when NASA finished combing through the data from its WISE, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, survey that their theory might be proven correct.
NASA is finished with that survey and has announced that it found no proof of Planet X, also known as Tyche. The scientists had theorized that Planet X is a gas giant four times larger than Jupiter and would be found in the Oort cloud.
NASA is always-on the lookout for asteroids that are coming close to the Earth to ensure that we have some warning of one if them is going to hit the planet and to study ones that pass nearby for science. Today an asteroid that is about 90-feet in diameter is going to streak by the planet between the Earth and moon's orbit.
That sounds close if you don't keep in mind the vast distances in space. The asteroid, called 2014 DX110, will be about 217,000 miles from the Earth at its closest point. It is actually very far away from the planet, even though on a cosmic scale this is a close call.
The asteroid will pass the earth at 33,000 mph. At 217,000 miles away from the Earth, it is about 9/10ths of the distance to the moon from the Earth. The asteroid will be at that distance from the planet for about seven hours.
Giant single celled organisms that thawed out from arctic ice and took over mankind use to be a thing only heard of in low-budget, b-grade movies from the 60's and 70's, but the reality is that large viruses frozen in permafrost is a very real reality. Recently, scientist thawed out a block of 30,000-year old permafrost and allowed any viruses that survived to infect the cells of amoebas.
The amoebas used in the study were also a strain found in 30,000 year old permafrost that were reanimated by researchers. When combined with the viruses, the amoeba cells burst, or what is called cellular lysis. When inspected, the burst cells contained a virus that was one of the largest ever discovered and is very similar to a previously discovered ancient virus named Pandoravirus. Due to the similarities and its jug like shape, the new virus was named Pithovirus after a type of amphora used by Pandora.
The Pithovirus contains a genome of just 600,000 DNA bases which is small in terms of modern-day viruses. Extra space inside the virus is consumed by proteins that are needed for the virus to begin replication. Additionally the Pithovirus is only able to encode 467 proteins which is much less than any other giant virus ever discovered.
The use of social media with real-time capability could one day be used to track drug and medical issues, hopefully able to prevent medical outbreaks. Using Twitter analytics and linking the collected information with drug use and geographic data, for example, could allow big data to provide another good tool for medical researchers.
"Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use 'big data' from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks," said Sean Young, David Geffen School of Medicine assistant professor, in a statement.
There is growing interest among university researchers and the private sector teaming up to monitor medical risk behavior - and to try and predict where a medical outbreak might occur next - though it's still a complicated matter. Of 550 million tweets collected from May 26 to Dec. 9, 2012, researchers found 8,538 tweets related to sexually risky behavior - and more than 1,300 implying stimulant drug use.
Research into remote mind-control took another step forward this week when scientist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute managed to use a laser beam to convince a fly to mate with a ball of wax. The experiment, dubbed Fly Mind-Alternating Device (FlyMAD for short), utilizes a laser beam which is projected onto the fly's head and stimulates the fly's brain which has been altered with heat-activated proteins.
By using FluMAD to warm the fly's brain, researchers were able to cause the fly to instantly court the closest object nearby and then proceed to mate with it. The study says that the effects of the laser were so effective that it took an entire quarter of an hour for the fly to calm back down and return to normal. A similar study took place with mice and used normal white light to stimulate neurons in the rodent's brains, but the white light was ineffective on flys as it is unable to penetrate the insects exoskeleton.
Despite what you may think (I'm Looking at you Anthony), this research is not being conducted to bring forth mind control, but rather is being used to help researchers determine what happens when two neurons of opposing effects are activated simultaneously. This will help researchers map how the brain prioritizes neuron traffic, as well as finally understand how decision making parts of the brain function in different people, animals, and insects.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently creating new guidelines so unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are able to commercially fly in U.S. airspace.
Unlike many other countries, the U.S. has very crowded airspace, and the potential for safety issues in commercial drone crashes, will need to be properly addressed.
"Aerial robotics will be a significant market, assuming the FAA doesn't put huge restrictions on it," said Michael Blades, Frost & Sullivan analyst, when interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News.
Drones are still typically thought of in a traditional sense: something used to shoot GPS and laser-guided missiles at targets, but civilian companies express great interest in using drones for day-to-day tasks.
During a recent speech, US President Barack Obama announced that the US government is "building Iron Man". You can watch the announcement below, which feels very similar to the ending of the original Iron Man, where Tony Stark announces "I am Iron Man".
President Obama had a moment of fun with the speech, teasing that even if the US government was working on a super-suit, that it would be classified. He does well with his comedic timing during the speech, where he he corrects himself after stating that the US government is working on an Iron Man-like suit by saying "Not really. Maybe. It's classified".
A recent study from Michael Ranson, a Senior Associate with Abt Associates, has quite the claim about global warming. His study claims that global warming will lead to more violent crimes, including rape and murder.
Ranson claims that climate change will lead to an additional "1.2 million aggravated, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in the United States". The study is called "Crime, Weather and Climate Change", and you can take a look at it here.
Ranson states that the analysis he provided is from a "30-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2997 US counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for state-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects".
Science Fiction has long imagined a world where robot sentries patrol the streets, office buildings, and college campuses, and today those fictions became reality. A company called Knightscope has unveiled a new 5-foot tall robot dubbed K5 that is loaded with sensors, cameras, and connectivity to make it the best security robot ever to roam the hallways of silicon valley.
The K5 was launched today in San Francisco, and has the ability to see, feel, hear and smell, and can issue warnings of biochemical attacks, leaks, or even notify officials of high levels of radiation. The robot uses complex algorithms to scan images it captures with its cameras to detect human threats such as a gun wielding criminal, at which point it automatically notifies authorities. K5 is also capable of scanning license plates on-the-fly to verify cars parked in parking lots belong to employees or authorized visitors.
A research team from Hungary is working on a project to see if 10 drones can fly autonomously with the ability to self-organize in-flight.
If there is an issue for flying space, some drones will hover and wait until they are able to continue on their route, according to researchers. Most current drone technology is focused on allowing someone in a remote location to fly the drones, though there is growing interest in autonomous drone technology.
"Drones are most commonly associated with war, terrorism, and cyberattacks, but drones can be used in more peaceful civil applications as well," said Gabor Vasarhelyi, leader of the robotics research phase. "With a flock of drones, you can create a self-organized monitoring system from the air, or you can even deliver food or mail."
Researchers plan to demonstrate the technology during the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems later this year. There has been a significant amount of research, with a few different attempts to create 3D flying drone flocks, and collective motion could make these drones plausible.
Central America is home to some of the most ferocious tornadoes on the planet, but one scientist wants to see mother nature stopped, through the use of gigantic walls built across Tornado Alley.
Rongjia Tao, a physicist with Temple University, says: "If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest .... one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever".
Tao says that the walls would need to be 1,000 feet high, and around 150 feet wide. But at an estimated cost of $60 billion per 100 miles, and the engineering challenges, "it wouldn't work", according to tornado researcher Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. Brooks said that "If his hypothesis was true, we'd already have the thing he wants to build naturally. This is essentially a case of a physicist, who may be very good in his sub-discipline, talking about a subject about which he is abysmally ignorant".
Odds are that many of the products that you buy spent some time on a ship crossing the ocean at one time. About 90% of the world's trade goods are shipped by boat. The shipping industry is gigantic and is worth about $375 billion annually.
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc has announced a new plan for ships that it thinks could revolutionize shipping and save shippers lots of money while reducing pollution. The plan is to make drone ships that are controlled from a virtual bridge on dry land and have no human crew.
The ships would use redundant systems like aircraft and an array of sensors to see what is in the water in front of them. The crew is one of the highest cost centers for a shipping company with crew costs consuming about 44% of the entire operating expenses for a ship.
A gigantic 400kg meteor smashed into the Moon on September 11 last year, hitting the lunar surface at 37,900 mph. The meteor itself was ten times larger than the previously recorded hit, which left a 131-foot-wide crater.
Jose Madiedo of the MIDAS project said he "couldn't imagine" such a collision before seeing it himself on the day, where he added: "This is the largest, brightest impact we have ever observed on the Moon". Scientists at MIDAS had been studying lunar collisions since 2009, said that the crash was quite explosive, releasing the equivalent energy of 15 tons of TNT.
The meteor hit the dark side of the Moon, which is unfortunate as the blast was big enough that it would've been visible with the naked eye here on Earth. Madiedo said: "Usually lunar impacts have a very short duration - just a fraction of a second. But the impact we detected lasted over eight seconds. It was almost as bright as the Pole Star, which makes it the brightest impact event that we have recorded from Earth".
For quite some time now, scientist have known that the earth is over 4 billion years old, but just how old exactly has been a mystery with little evidence to back up claims and theories. Today scientist announced that the oldest fragment of the Earth that has ever been found has been discovered in the Jack Hills mountain range in Western Australia.
The Gem is a fragment of Zircon that formed just 100 million years after the meteor impact that caused part of the earth to be ejected into space and formed the moon. This means that the zircon fragment pictured above is a mere 4.375 billion years old, making it the oldest piece of the earth ever uncovered. The age conformation came from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where John Valley and other researchers used atom-probe technology to count the individual lead atoms within the sample. This method allows scientist to accurately date geological samples with absolute confidence in the results.
Previously, a method involving counting lead isotopes was used to date the samples, but proved to be inaccurate as lead can migrate from part of the crystal to another over hundreds of millions of years causing the originating source to have an apparent older age than it actually is. The new atom-probe method is much more accurate and researchers say that it proves the chemical records inside these zircons are trustworthy.
Today Elon Musk unveiled the new landing leg attachments that have been fitted to Space X's Falcon 9 rocket. The legs are intended to make recovery of the rocket's lift stages easier and more efficient. Currently Space X glides the first stage of the rocket into the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles from the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida. As you would expect, this form of recovery is expensive, and time consuming.
With the addition of the new landing legs, Space X hopes to eventually fly the rocket's first stage back to a landing site near the launch pad, and have it land itself vertically, making recovery and reuse much easier and far cheaper than current methods. The new landing legs are built out of a carbon fiber outer skin with a honeycomb inner layer comprised from high-alloy aluminum. The legs are planned to play on the Falcon 9's mission to the International Space Station on March 16th, but the first stage will be guided to the Atlantic for this first flight as Space X needs to test how the legs handle take off before attempting a vertical landing.
The US Navy has developed a five-pound Spike mini-missile, a precision device that is reportedly the "world's smallest guided missile" available. The speed and missile range are classified, but Spike can be launched from the ground using a stationary launcher or from unmanned aerial vehicles - and a shoulder-launched version is in development.
The Spike missile costs about $50,000 to manufacture and measures only 2.5 inches in diameter, being built as part of the NAVAIR project at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. Using a small camera mounted on the missile, operators are able to accurately modify Spike's trajectory before it detonates.
"Most of our weapons are fairly large because they're taking out very big targets," said Scott O'Neill, project developer, said in a media statement. "We've started looking at, with miniaturization of electronics, what does that mean to weaponry? How small can we make weapons and keep them effective against the targets that we're talking about?"
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hopes to make it easier for troops on the ground, fighting in remote locations where airstrikes aren't readily available, to use smartphones to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Specifically, DARPA wants help with the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded Systems (ARES) design concept.
"Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don't have their own helicopters," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, in a press statement. "ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success."
The ARES is in its third and final phase, with Lockheed Martin currently taking the lead on DARPA's research.
Electronics company Samsung Electronics and researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have teamed up to establish the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab. The UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco will host the research and technology lab designed for mobile health trial testing.
The health and medical worlds are heavily involved in the "Internet of Everything," and wearable computing, health sensors, next-generation medical software, and similar technologies are pushing the industry forward.
"There are many new sensors and devices coming onto the market for consumers, but without medical validation, most of these will have limited impacts on health," said Dr. Michael Blum, UCSF associate vice chancellor for Informatics, in a statement. "Meanwhile, many practitioners also have creative ideas for new devices, but they lack the technological knowledge to fully develop them."
There is increased interest in mobile health solutions, which can be used by doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners in the field - but HIPAA regulations, standardized formats, and other issues must be properly addressed.
NASA researchers are developing a humanoid robonaut, called Robonaut 2, which could be able to one day work with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). The Robonaut 2 is a $2.5-million device that will also be able to contribute to general tasks as well.
Robonaut research for medical purposes is still in its early stages, so don't expect the humanoids to be in space providing health support immediately. The R2's camera-equipped head lets controllers on Earth see a medical process, and the robonaut has extremely good dexterity so the appropriate amount of pressure could be used during treatment.
"I would say that within an hour I trained him more than with other students I'm working for a week, so I think that he's learning really fast," said Dr. Zsolt Garami, from the Houston Methodist Research Institute, in a recent interview with Space.com.
Astronauts stationed aboard the ISS often are from the United States, Europe or Russia, and come from different backgrounds - the ability to have a robonaut available to either handle all medical issues, or lend a hand, would be greatly beneficial. As space nations look towards potential manned trips to Mars, having a robotics platform with the specialized ability to help with medical emergencies.
The United States Navy is ready to begin rolling out next-generation futuristic weapons that sound like something out of your favorite Sci-Fi movie - but will play an important role in the development of modern warfare.
The new laser system will be deployed on the USS Ponce later this year, and can be controlled by a single person. The laser will be used with a focus on defense against aerial drones, speed boats, and any type of threat to allied warships. Although it's cheaper than missiles or traditional smart bombs, and can fire continuously at targets, it won't be as effective in poor weather conditions.
In addition to the laser, Navy officials want to deploy an electromagnetic rail gun by 2016, which could one day replace regular firearms - and include the ability to launch projectiles almost seven times the speed of sound, according to military sources.
Installing new weapons systems on US military ships helps the Navy "fundamentally change the way" warfare is conducted on an evolving battlefield.