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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 32

Europe launches enormous civilian robotics programme

The European Commission has claimed it's launched the world's largest ever civilian research and innovation programme in robotics.


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Teaming with 180 companies and research groups under the umbrella of euRobotics, today saw the official announcement of the EU initiative - which will cover manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households. The initiative is called SPARC and aims to build and strengthen Europe's position in the worldwide robotics market.


In an official statement, the European Commission's VP Neelie Kroes said that Europe must "be a producer and not merely a consumer of robots."

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Mini supernova created in Oxford lab

A teensy supernova-of-sorts (not pictured) has been created in lab conditions on a small island on planet Earth.


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Three laser beams were focused on a carbon rod target about the size of a strand of hair in a low density, gas-filled chamber. The heat generated by this laser, at over a few million degrees Celsius, made the rod explode and then create a blast that expanded through the low density gas.


The purpose of the experiment was to gain greater understanding of the Cassiopeia A, roughly 11,000 light years away from Earth.

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NASA Kepler spacecraft discovers mega-Earth planet

NASA has announced that the Kepler spacecraft has discovered a new Earth-like planet orbiting a star much like our sun about 560 light years away from us. The new planet has been dubbed a mega-Earth by scientists studying it. That name comes from the fact that the scientists believe the planet is about 17 times heavier than the Earth.


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The team originally expected the massive planet to be a gas giant rather than a rocky world. The planet orbits its star every 45 days. The official name for the planet is Kepler-10c. To determine the weight of the planet, the team used special instruments to measure its density and found it was much heavier than Earth.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson's greatest fear is that Aliens think we are stupid

If you have ever watched the slick show on TV called Cosmos that is hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or seen the memes online that feature his visage, you are familiar with the astrophysicist. Tyson has said that alien contact is the next frontier, but that contact may have already come and gone.


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Tyson says that his greatest fear is that we have already been visited by extraterrestrials, but they chose to not make contact with us. He says that his fear is that they decided there is no intelligent life on Earth.

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Raptor robot mimics the extinct dinosaur of the same name

Researchers around the world are hard at work designing and building robots that can perform all sorts of tasks. One of the robots that these researchers are working on is the Raptor. The bot gets its name from the fact that it is modeled after the velociraptor dinosaur.


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Raptor was designed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The both has two legs and a thirds appendage that is like a tail. During tests of the robot on a treadmill, it was able to achieve speeds of over 28 mph.

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Google said to spend over $1 billion on satellites for internet access

A rumor is making the rounds that internet giant Google is set to spend over $1 billion to purchase satellites that will be placed into orbit to provide broadband. According to people familiar with the project, Google will be using the low altitude satellites to bring internet access to portions of the country where wired broadband isn't available.


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Sources claim that Google will start with 180 small, but high-capacity satellites that will orbit at lower altitudes than traditional satellites. The number of satellites could later be expanded. The satellites that Google will use are reportedly from a communications start-up called O3b Networks.

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Researchers pioneer lab-grown teeth with groundbreaking laser method

It's now possible for scientists to regrow actual teeth thanks to the efforts of a team of scientists. A Harvard-led team of researchers found that using a laser beam could trigger human dental stem cells, causing them to create dentin - the kind of tissue that's found underneath the enamel and makes up the majority of the average tooth.


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It's historically been difficult to coax stem cells into this kind of specialized growth, according to Digital Trends. But this new technique has done the trick in a lab environment and with animal models. This laser method, outlined in the Science Translational Medicine journal, could even be used for different organic materials if development continues.


It's probably not time to throw out the Colgate just yet, but for now this is a promising step forward in the area of regenerative stem cell research.

Researchers developing millimeter-scale technology for soldiers

Military researchers are helping develop millimeter-scale robotic leg structures to give U.S. soldiers on the battlefield a technological advantage that could save lives. Current robots typically require operating soldiers to lower their weapons, and are unable to traverse the same rough terrain that soldiers might find themselves in.


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Researchers hope to use future systems available to autonomously enter and exit buildings, continuously send information to troops on the ground, and to conduct defense and surveillance activities.


"Think of it as a camera on wheels, where soldiers have a one or two-pound sensor that they can throw into a building to assess situational awareness," said Dr. Brett Piekarski, Army Research Laboratory's Micro and Nano Materials and Devices Branch chief. "The soldier controls it like a video game to complete the task."

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ISEE-3 satellite is responding to commands after decades

A few days back we mentioned that NASA was working with a group of amateur scientists to get communications with a satellite that launched in 1978 back up and running. The satellite is called the ISEE-3 and NASA has announced that after all these years of no contact from the satellite, it has been contacted and is responding.


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The satellite is responding to commands according to team members. The scientists said, "Our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth."

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SpaceX unveils Dragon V2 crew capsule to carry humans into space

SpaceX has been ferrying supplies and other items to and from the ISS successfully for a long while now. The company has a commercial resupply contract with NASA. SpaceX also has plans to eventually send astronauts into space aboard a new version of the Dragon capsule dubbed the Dragon V2.


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The Dragon V2 capsule was unveiled this week showing the SpaceX capsule that is designed to carry seven astronauts into space. The capsule will be able to bring humans to the ISS and return them to Earth. Once approved for use the Dragon V2 will eliminate the need for US astronauts to hitch a ride to the ISS on Russian Soyuz capsules.

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