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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 12

Scientists finally capture video of the pitch dropping in 69-year-old Pitch Drop Experiment

86 years ago, the University of Queensland in Australia began conducting an experiment in which the flow rate of a piece of pitch was measured. For those of you who may not know what pitch is, it's a highly viscous liquid which, for all intents and purposes, appears to be solid. Bitumen is the most commonly used form and at room temperature, this tar pitch flows at a very slow rate sometimes taking up to a decade or more for a single drop to fall.

 

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The University of Queensland is not the only institution studying this phenomenon. Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland has also been conducting their own experiment since 1944. Finally after 69 long years, the first drop of pitch has finally fallen. The drop occurred on July 11, 2013 at 5 PM local time and webcams that were set up last April were on hand to catch this extremely rare occurrence.

 

While some of you may not understand the excitement, I find in things like this let me break down how many times human eyes have missed seeing this event take place. According to Prof. John Mainstone of the University of Queensland, he has missed several opportunities to witness the drop happening with his own eyes. First in 1979, Mainstone said that he skipped one of his usual Sunday campus visits and coincidentally the drop happened the same day. Then again in 1988, Mainstone left his lab to grab a snack and apparently missed the drop by just five minutes. Finally in 2000, fed up with missing the drop, Mainstone set up a camera but unfortunately a glitch at the moment of the drop prevented any video of the event occurring.

Continue reading 'Scientists finally capture video of the pitch dropping in 69-year-old Pitch Drop Experiment' (full post)

X-47B makes its first landing on an aircraft carrier, the aircraft just took a giant leap for unmannedkind

The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B is an unmanned drone, and it has completed its first successful landing on an aircraft carrier at sea. We reported on the X-47B being the first unmanned drone to take off from an aircraft carrier, but landing unmanned? Remarkable.

 

 

Considering aircraft carriers are constantly moving with the ocean waves, even an experienced pilot would have trouble landing on one. It's not an easy thing to do, but unmanned, run purely on technology, algorithms and equipment? That's quite an achievement. The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) is designed to fly mostly on its own, without much hands-on time from shipboard operators.

 

The precision landing was just that: precise. It is a huge step for multiple reasons, as this has been a procedure set in motion after quite a few years, and nearly a billion US dollars. On Wednesday, the X-47B made a 35-minute flight from the Navail Air Station at Patuxent River, Md., to the aircraft carrier, where it hooked onto the 3 wire with its tailhook and came to a perfect stop from a speed of approximately 145 knots in less than 350 feet.

Continue reading 'X-47B makes its first landing on an aircraft carrier, the aircraft just took a giant leap for unmannedkind' (full post)


Ever wanted access to your very own satellite orbiting the earth? Now you can have just that for a mere $250 per week

Traditionally, it has been pretty hard to get access to a satellite that is in orbit, but one California-based company is looking to change that. NanoSatisfi is developing small cube satellites that cost considerably less than $1 million to develop and launch, which is considerably less than traditional satellites that range anywhere from $500 million to several billion just for development.

 

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The satellite in question is what is known as an ArduSat which is a cube satellite based on the open source Arduino development platform. This satellite is made of the same stuff that you blink your LEDs with. The satellite contains multiple cameras, a Geiger counter, a magnetometer, as well as an ambient light sensor. The entire package measures just 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and weighs in at a mere 2.2 pounds.

 

Some you might remember the ArduSat from its Kickstarter campaign which raised more than $100,000 and went on to garner an additional $1.2 million from external investors. The satellite is set to launch on August 4 and for just $250 a week, any interested parties can borrow the tiny vessel and explore everything that outer space has to offer.

Continue reading 'Ever wanted access to your very own satellite orbiting the earth? Now you can have just that for a mere $250 per week' (full post)

SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket launches to 1066ft and lands successfully

We know most of our readers enjoy SpaceX and space in general, so we thought you'd enjoy watching SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper rocket launch to 1,066 feet and return to its launch pad.

 

 

The video was shot from a hexacoptor hovering above the test flight. The actual test flight took place June 14, but the video was just recently released for all to watch. The Grasshopper is part of SpaceX's push to make use of reusable rockets. The company believes that reusable rockets are the future of space travel and that they will reduce the price of traveling to space.

 

SpaceX's CEO believes that it will cost $500,000 to move a family to Mars by 2029. Would you be willing to pay that?

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket launches to 1066ft and lands successfully' (full post)

Microsoft are working on a technology that would see your smartphone detect your mood

Microsoft could be onto something important with their Microsoft Research Asia division, who are working on a technology that provides your smartphone with the ability to detect your mood.

 

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Not only that, it will detect your mood and post it to your social networks in real-time. If you thought the NSA PRISM system was bad, just wait until there's technology that posts to your Facebook wall that you're in a really bad mood. But, Microsoft researchers have said: "privacy concerns aside, these moods would enhance social networks by allowing users to share mood states automatically."

 

This would help users "know better how and when to communicate with others." I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want something detecting my mood all day every day, you wouldn't feel safe with your emotions at all.

Solar panels will be much cheaper by 2017, would cost around 36c per watt

It looks like adoption rates of solar power are about to get much better, with the cost of photovoltaic solar panels expected to drop to around 36c per watt by 2017, according to new research by cleantech market research firm, GTM Research.

 

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Solar panels are currently backed up by natural gas and other types of power plants on the electricity grid... but with solar panels costing just $0.36 per watt, this would make it a good idea to install many more solar panels to back each other up instead of relying on another, older, Earth- and human-harming way of generating power.

 

At 36c per watt, 1000W of solar power is only going to cost you $360. With these costs arriving by 2017, we're not far from a far brighter (pun intended) future. Read more on this at the source.

Kickstarter-funded ARKYD space telescope reaches funding goal

Planetary Resources' Kickstarter goals for their ARKYD space telescope have been reached, a goal of a hefty $1 million. The project saw 11,000 backers, and should launch into orbit in 2015.

 

 

This means that a new round of add-ons for the extra-committed, oh goodie! Backers can purchase a special mission patch for $7, additional selfie photos starting from $25, and for the really committed, you can purchase a half-size ARKYD replica for just $600. Planetary Resources has longer term goals, which could see a second ground stations, selfies during the beta stage and even hunts for undiscovered planets.

Continue reading 'Kickstarter-funded ARKYD space telescope reaches funding goal' (full post)

Google's engineering director says humanity is close to achieving immortality

Google's engineering director, Ray Kurzweil, has come out with a crazy prediction - that the human race will soon develop the technology to keep us alive forever. CNBC reports that Kurzweil told the Global Future 2045 World Congress this week that life expectancies "will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now."

 

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Kurzweil added that within "probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress." This means that Kurzweil thinks within the next 20 years, technology will have reached a point to add more years to our lives than the pace we currently live at through natural ageing. I don't quite think we'll get there, with all of the government regulation and the idea that everything has to be about making money - and everyone not dying surely has to have some serious consequences.

 

If no one died, how would the economies of the world work exactly? If you could live for 5000 years, you'd live a much different life than you would now, wouldn't you? It really does make you think - what do you think about living forever?

Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test

I think mainstream science has been suppressed for a very long time now, and it's about time that we find out, as a human race, what the reality of our existence really is. The first steps in this, are reversing the mainstream points of science. It looks like NASA could do something good here, with their latest field test that could prove that there is a possibility of faster-than-light travel.

 

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Harold White and his team at NASA have been working on something called the Alcubierre Drive. This new method could use a solution which would see a craft placed within a space that is moving faster than the speed of light. This means that the craft itself isn't moving at the speed of light, meaning the craft itself doesn't need a propulsion system capable of travelling at that speed. This is where things get a little confusing, so grab your white lab coat and come on a walk with me.

 

The Alcubierre Drive is based on Einstein's field equations, which suggest that a spacecraft could indeed travel faster than the speed of light. But, instead of the craft itself pushing past the speed of light, it would do so by contracting space from in front of it, and expanding the space behind it - a nice trick. It's this type of science that I love reading about, and I think this is the future of space travel - thinking outside the box, which this kind of is.

Continue reading 'Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test' (full post)

Sharp achieves the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency with 44%

I've finally moved into a house with solar power and enjoying the benefits of our star for my power consumption, which is a lot. But Sharp Corporation have just achieved something of a milestone in that they've reached the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 44.4%.

 

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They achieved this by using a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell. These solar cells, in laymen's terms, use a lens-based concentrator system that focuses sunlight on the cells which in turn, generate electricity. Sharp's huge breakthrough is part of a research and development effort that are a part of the "R&D on Innovate Solar Cells" project which is promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

 

Hopefully this means we'll see a bright future for solar power, which I hope someday powers everything from our smartphones to buildings and houses. You can read some more detailed information at the source.

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