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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 51

Researchers make a significant discovery regarding solar cells

The sun produces enough energy to power the planet many many times over. The issue is how to harness it. The current solar solutions are fairly inefficient at producing electricity and are stiff and heavy which makes them impractical for some uses. The rigidity also makes them fragile which further limits the applications in which they can be used.


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But, researchers from the University of Austria and the University of Tokyo have made a pretty significant advancement in the technology of solar cells. They were able to create an ultra-thin solar cell which measures a minuscule 1.9 micrometers thick. This is roughly one-tenth the size of the next smallest device.


It's flexibility comes from the fact that it is composed of electrodes mounted on plastic foil, rather than glass. This allows it to be wrapped around a human hair which is nearly 20 times thicker. It could be ready for use in as little as 5 years. There's a plethora of information available at the source below.

Do-it-yourself sentry gun turret--Who doesn't need one?

I think I found a project that's going to consume my spring break. Well, that is if I didn't already have about 50 things to do over it, none of which are particularly fun. But, even though I can't do it, I think I should share it with you guys, just in case you want to make one. And if you do, you better send me a video.


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This incredibly awesome turret is the brainchild of Rudolph Labs and requires a sturdy tripod, an airsoft or paintball gun, and a PC. The PC uses a webcam to scan the scene and watch for movement. Once it locates a target, it can stick to it and fire at will! The software includes the ability to anticipate where the target is going to move. The bill of materials (excluding PC) is about $110. The designers of the project warn that it could consume a weekend, or three:


It's going to take up all your free time. This will take a lot of effort, probably a few afternoons to build it, then some more work to get it set up with your computer. And, if you are a truly inspired person, you won't want to stop tweaking and personalizing it after it is finished.

Continue reading 'Do-it-yourself sentry gun turret--Who doesn't need one?' (full post)

Our Sun is experiencing solar tornadoes roughly 5 times the size of our entire Earth

Our Solar System is an absolutely mind-blowing thing, and I personally believe we haven't even scraped the surface in terms of our knowledge base on it. There are things that we (the normal people, not NASA high-ups or anything) couldn't even begin to comprehend, let alone know the ins and outs of things we have no idea about.


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The latest dance our closest star is doing is letting out solar tornadoes that are several times as wide as the Earth, and are generated in the solar atmosphere. The new data was discovered using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly telescope that is onboard the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite.


Dr. Xing Li, of Aberystwyth University says:


This is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager. Previously much smaller solar tornadoes were found my SOHO satellite. But they were not filmed.


Dr. Huw Morgan, co-discover of the solar tornado chimes in with:


This unique and spectacular tornado must play a role in triggering global solar storms.

Continue reading 'Our Sun is experiencing solar tornadoes roughly 5 times the size of our entire Earth' (full post)

Army testing robots inspired by sand fleas, roaches

The US Army shows no signs in stopping its demand for robots, even in the 10-year old conflict. The two new robots that the Army are currently testing will join the over 2,000 robots that are already employed by the Army for bomb disposal, classified ops, and for security checkpoints. Boston Dynamics, creator of the cool BigDog bot and others, is the creator for these two new robots.


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Both were developed with funding from the Army's Rapid Equipping Force. They are now undergoing testing at the Army Test and Evaluation Command to pass safety and reliability assessments. The first type is the RHex which is a six-legged, 30-pound crawling bot inspired by cockroaches. It wiggles around through mud, streams, and rocky terrain, going up to six hours on a battery charge. The bot can be controlled by remote up to 650 yards away and can manage stairs, slopes, and even swim underwater.

Continue reading 'Army testing robots inspired by sand fleas, roaches' (full post)

3D solar panels can produce up to 20 times more energy

Personally, I'm getting a little sick of the 3D trend that is visible everywhere. I mean, 3D printers, movies, and game consoles, it's all starting to become a bit ridiculous. Finally, there's a piece of 3D that I can get behind. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have recently discovered that a 3D inspired solar panel could produce 20 times more energy than its traditional flat brethren.


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Traditional solar panels lay on a roof facing the sun to produce energy. MIT researchers decided to test the hypothesis set forth by 13-year-old Adiean Dywer. He hypothesized that a design based on trees would produce more energy. His testing failed, but MIT's didn't. MIT tried various 3D shapes such as a cube, tall cube, and tower to see which produced the most energy. All three outpaced the traditional panel and the accordion-style tower drew in 20 times more power per square foot.


"I think this concept could become an important part of the future of photovoltaics," said Jeffrey Grossman, one of the project leaders. The accordion-style worked so well because it could absorb energy from all angles. It also reduces the foot print of the installation by standing vertically. While MIT is confident with the tower design, they haven't figured out the best distribution for them yet. Since one tower may shade another, they are best used in a urban least for now.

Scientists use technology to hide objects from heat-sensing devices

Harry Potter's invisibility cloak is pretty cool. But it's just fantasy, isn't it? Well, by applying some technology, scientists have been able to make a breakthrough in cloaking objects from heat-sensing cameras and the like. This is done by controlling the flow of heat, either focusing it into a small point, or spreading it outside of an invisibility zone.


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the technology will most likely go to the military, where something similar has been proven to hide a tank. This technology also has applications in computers, because it is fundamentally shuffling heat around at will. In computers, heat is still a major challenge for engineers. "We can design a cloak so that heat diffuses around an invisibility region, which is then protected from heat," Dr Guenneau explained. "Or we can force heat to concentrate in a small volume, which will then heat up very rapidly."


It could also be used by thieves, provided they can steal it from the military in the first place. They would be able to hide from police helicopters at night, or from thermal imaging alarm systems. Harry Potter's cloak is becoming reality. It will just take more time and research.

Red Bull Stratos: gives man wings, will send him 120,000 feet into the stratosphere

OK, I'll admit it: I'm scared of heights. I live in a two-storey house and can barely look over my balcony without feeling scared. But this, this is just absolutely insane! Enter "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner, who has jumped 2,500 times from planes, and helicopters as well as some of the world's highest landmarks and skyscrapers, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, the Millau Viaduct in southern France, and the 101-story Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan.


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This summer, Baumgartner hopes to fly toward the Earth at supersonic speeds from a record 23 miles above the Earth, breaking the sound barrier... with only his body. During a dress rehearsal last Thursday, he made it more than half-way, ascending from the New Mexico desert in a helium balloon, and jumping from more than 13 miles up. It's said that he is one of only three people who have jumped from such a height and free-fall to a safe landing. He's also the first to do so in 50 years.


He's even caught the attention of NASA, where engineers working on astronaut escape systems for future spacecraft keeping an eye on the skydiver. Here's where things get insane: Baumgartner took a 100-foot helium balloon and pressurized capsule which lifted from Roswell, New Mexico last Thursday morning. He then jumped at 71,581 feet - 13.6 miles - and landed safely just 8 minutes and 8 seconds later.

Continue reading 'Red Bull Stratos: gives man wings, will send him 120,000 feet into the stratosphere' (full post)

Arduino-powered Artbot writes the time, erases it, writes again

Check out this cool use of an Arduino. It's a robotic arm that writes the time, erases it, and then writes up the new time over and over again. This device gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "time stops for no man." Apparently, "time stops for no man or machine." The robotic arm was created by a hacker going by the name of Ekaggrat. Of course, I'm sure you'd like to see this in action, so take a look at the video below.


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I'm not sure just how practical something like this is to replace current clocks, but it sure is cool! What a display to have in a maker-shop or robotics office. Now, if only he provided instructions and the code required so that we could all make them in our own homes!

Continue reading 'Arduino-powered Artbot writes the time, erases it, writes again' (full post)

CERN Lab scientists admit that the speed of light was not broken

A few months ago, news found its way into the world that scientists in the Geneva-based CERN lab had broken the speed of light. But, news has broken that this may have been a 'connection' problem. The news is from a source close to the experiment, who spoke to the US journal, Space Insider that "a bad connection between a GPS unit and a computer may be to blame".


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Scientists had originally claimed that neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds earlier than the 2.3 milliseconds taken by light. Science Insider reported:


The 60 nanoseconds discrepancy appears to come from a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos' flight and an electronic card in a computer. After tightening the connection and then measuring the time it takes data to travel the length of the fiber, researchers found that the data arrive 60 nanoseconds earlier than assumed.


Since this time is subtracted from the overall time of flight, it appears to explain the early arrival of the neutrinos. New data, however, will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.

83-year-old woman gets 3D-printed titanium jaw, rapper T.I is jealous

3D printers have come a long way now, and in 2012, they're ready to do something quite miraculous. An 83-year-old woman is set to be the first to receive a titanium jaw crafted by one of these 3D printers.


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The method was developed by the BIOMED Research Institute at Hasselt University in Belgium and what the printer does is create the low jaw replacement from layer-upon-layer of titanium dust. This is made possible by using a computer-controller laser that ensures the correct molecules are fused together.


The result, is a perfect titanium jaw which takes just hours to built, versus previous options where it would take days. Of course this new nail-biter weighs a bit more than its natural bone-based predecessor, but that doesn't stop the patient from returning close to "normal speaking and swallowing" the day after the operation.

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