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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 51

Any Futurama fans? High speed tube transport concept similar to the show could go NY to Hollywood in 45 minutes

The future has once again been predicted by a TV show. A new concept vehicle that is strikingly similar to that in the TV cartoon Futurama could make trips around the world in only 6 hours. New York to Hollywood could be completed in a mere 45 minutes. All of this is thanks to magnetic levitation.

 

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This new concept is called Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) and works by moving at incredibly high speeds. Each tube vehicle car thing (honestly, I'm not sure what to call them!) seats 6 people and has a baggage compartment. The passenger capsule is then put into a vacuum tube where it is levitated leaving it frictionless and air drag free.

 

Without friction or drag, the system is efficient and can attain a top speed of approximately 4,000 miles per hour. No typo there, folks. This speed allows it to do the incredible feats described above. Even with that speed, passengers would experience no more G-force than a typical car ride down the freeway.

 

Better yet, the people behind the technology say that it could be available in the next 10 years. "Just like trains, initial ETT use will be for cargo, and along high use routes of travel," ET3 says in a statement on its official site. "Since the system is efficient in energy and materials used, high-speed travel will be low-cost, and sustainable. Eventually, everyone in the world may use the system."

Continue reading 'Any Futurama fans? High speed tube transport concept similar to the show could go NY to Hollywood in 45 minutes' (full post)

Scientists make breakthrough that could double human lifespan

Scientists have discovered a molecule that could very well double the lifespan of humans if the rat trials are anything to go on. Obviously there is a lot more research to be done before this can even be considered for human trials, but the early results are definitely positive. Imagine living to 150, 200 years old!

 

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Researchers at the Universite Paris Sud in France began experimenting with a special carbon molecule called Buckministerfullerene or, more commonly, "Buckyballs." These molecules are composed of 60 carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a sphere. The researchers then fed the molecule along with olive oil to several groups of rats.

 

One group of rats was the control group and was fed just a normal diet. A second group was fed the normal diet and olive oil. The third group was fed the normal diet along with olive oil and a 0.8mg/ml concentration of Buckminsterfullerene. The control group lived for an average of 22 months, the oil-fed group lasted an average of 26 months, and the final group, the ones fed the Buckminsterfullerene, lived for an unbelievable 42 months.

 

The group fed the Buckminsterfullerene survived for almost double that of the control group and still significantly better than the oil-fed group. Scientists had previously hypothesized the benefits of the molecule, but this is the first time their life-extending properties had been tested. Just imagine if these results transfer to humans. Hello, overpopulation!

SpaceX considering a new 'Commercial Cape Canaveral' in Texas

It appears to be all good news for space enthusiasts today especially for those who want to go into space eventually. SpaceX has filed a notice of intent with the FAA regarding building a new spaceport in Cameron County, Texas. Cameron County, Texas is very close to the Mexican border and is right on the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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The filing reads:

 

Under the Proposed Action, SpaceX proposes to construct a vertical launch area and a control center area to support up to 12 commercial launches per year. The vehicles to be launched include the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy (up to two per year), and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles...All launch trajectories would be to the east over the Gulf of Mexico.

 

SpaceX currently uses NASA's Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral for its Falcon 9 rocket. They have also been interested in gaining access to NASA's Complex 39A for heavy loads, although it's unclear whether or not they are still interested in that.

 

The founder of SpaceX spoke last year about this "commercial Cape Canaveral" and would like to launch 4 Falcon Heavies a year in order to keep the price below $1000 per pound, a price that China has said they can't beat. However, Congressional support may not be behind the effort and could possibly delay the construction. More as it comes.

Carbon nanotube circuits could outsource their heat to a separate device

Most people know that when you flow an electric current through a wire, the wire heats up. Most of our readers will also know that heat is the killer of many of our favorite electronic devices. That's why this new discovery by the University of Maryland is very pertinent to our cause. It's uses could allow for more efficient heat dissipation.

 

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Kamal H. Baloch, Norvik Voskanian, Merijntje Bronsgeest, and John Cumings found that they could outsmart the traditional "Joule heating" and have the heat dissipate into the substrate rather than into the wire. This is due to a process they have dubbed "remote Joule heating." When an electric current flows through a carbon nanotube, the heat will go into the material that the nanotube is sitting upon.

 

The researchers determined that as much as 84 percent of the power in the nanotube was transferred to the substrate. In the nanoscale that they were working on, it was a bit hard to determine just where the heat was going. They had to use electron thermal microscopy (EThM) in order to figure it out.

 

The researchers postulate that the electrons are passing the energy along via their electric field. The nanotubes are capable of carrying high density currents, and as such, Baloch et al. suspect this kind of remote heat dissipation could be very useful in future electronic devices. If the heat can be dumped out to a different material than the circuit, this could prove to be very useful.

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 environment...at 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.

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