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We all love our consumer technology, but scientific breakthroughs like this are just extraordinary. Later this year, we'll see the first bionic hand that will give an amputee the ability to feel their hand again.
This will be quite the moment for artificial limbs with sensory perception, where the first man to get the new touch-sensitive bionic hand will be a man in his 20s living in Rome, who lost the lower part of his arm in an accident. The wiring of this bionic hand will be connected to his nervous system, where they hope he'll be able to control the movements of the hand as well as receive touch signals from the bionic hand's skin sensors.
This is coming from Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, where he's also added that the hand will be attached directly to the patient's nervous system through electrodes clipped onto two of the arm's main nerves - the median and ulnar nerves.
After multiple space agencies have been tracking the asteroid that fled just past Earth waving hello and goodbye, Russia was attacked by space rocks late last week. The meteroid broke up in our atmosphere, but still crashed into Earth injuring over 1200 people and causing millions of dollars of damage.
Because of this, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee in Washington are planning to hold a hearing soon "to examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth."
NASA have said that the rock that smashed into the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, which is around 950 miles east of Moscow, was around 15 meters in diameter, and it was moving at an astonishing 18 kilometres per second. It lasted around 30 seconds in our atmosphere before it broke apart, and wasn't detected by any Earth-based telescopes. NASA scientists have said that it is virtually impossible for telescopes to see a meteorite that size in the daytime sky.
SpaceTT: Asteroid 2012 DA14 to make closest pass to Earth today at 2:24 PM US EST - hope it doesn't screw with us
Asteroid 2012 DA14, a chunk of space rock roughly the size of a football field, will make the closest pass to Earth ever recorded of a previously known object. At around 2:24 PM US EST the asteroid will pass Earth within 17,200 miles of our atmosphere.
This close pass comes hot on the heels of an unrelated massive meteorite exploding over Russia yesterday. The meteorite passed over a remote part of Russia and exploded over the town of Chelyabinsk, and injured 500 people when its shock wave shattered the glass in surrounding buildings. You can hear the massive explosion in the video below.
NASA scientists say that the two events are most likely unrelated, and there is zero chance of Asteroid 2012 DA14 hitting Earth. Those interested will be able to observe tonight's flyby by watching a series of webcasts being held by NASA and broadcast on Space.com (Source #2). Personally I will be outside with my 10" Schmidt Newtonian telescope trying to get a fleeting glimpse of the object.
University of Southern California shows off battery featuring silicon nanowires, holds 3x the energy, charges in 10 minutes
I really can't wait for the day when I can buy a new smartphone with a week-long battery, but it looks like the University of Southern California are working on it, almost like they're reading my thoughts.
This technology uses porous, flexible silicon nanowires for the anodes in a lithium-ion battery that would provide the high capacity, fast recharding and low costs that come with the silicon, but without the weaker previous attempts that relied on simpler silicon plates.
This would, in a best case scenario, provide us with triple the capacity of today's best batteries, a full recharge in 10 minutes and more than 2,000 charging cycles. This is where I say "shut up and take my money", but the money hitting my screen and falling onto my keyboard is doing nothing. To finish, researchers have estimated that there should be products hitting consumers' hands with silicon-sporting lithium-ion packs in two to three years, which isn't too long at all.
For those science junkies that were disappointed when the Large Hadron Collider didn't manage to end the world by creating black holes, you'll be getting another chance in two years. The LHC will be down for the next two years so that it can undergo maintenance and upgrades to bring it back to peak efficiency.
The device will eventually make its way back online sometime in 2014. At that time, it's expected that the particle accelerator will be operating at up to 14 trillion electron-volts, double the energy it was running at in 2011. Part of the reason the LHC hasn't achieved higher energies yet is due to the helium gas explosion which damaged and delayed the project.
This maintenance period will be used to fix that damage, perform maintenance and upgrade the detectors, electronic shielding, and ventilation system.
A London-based design firm, Softkill, has just talked about their entry into the rat race that is 3D-printed houses, with a structure they claim would take just three weeks to build. From the picture above, it looks like a million spiders have crawled in and just spun a house out of their webs, but this is all part of what Softkill call their ProtoHouse, and will reach the prototype stage by the middle of the year.
During an interview with Dezeen, Softkill's Gilles Retsin didn't like the idea of their rival project by Universe Architecture, where he said:
We actually don't even consider that a 3D-printed building, because he is 3D printing formwork and then pouring concrete into the form. So it's not that the actual building is 3D printed.
Recently two more moons were discovered around the former planet Pluto, bringing the total count up to five. Dubbed P4 and P5 for obvious reasons, these two new moons have brought new understanding on how the dwarf planet fits into our solar system.
SETI, the institute that is more so known for its research into discovering alien life, has decided to spice up the bland names given to the newly discovered moons. Beginning today SETI will hold a contest to name the moons. The institute is asking the public to either pick from a list or write in names associated with Hades of Greco-Roman mythology fame.
A list of the pre-selected names can be found on SETI's website, which I have listed below in the Source #2 link below. I decided to go with two common names myself - Heracles and Persephone.
NASA's Curiosity rover, when not checking in on Foursquare, is discovering new things all the time - this time, it is digging into Mars' surface looking for water.
Curiosity whipped its drill out and started chewing into the bedrock of Mars, digging a 0.63- by 2.5-inch hole. We won't find out the results to its discovery for a few days yet as the rover will analyze its findings, hoping to find water. The picture above shows the first ever hole drilled into the red planet, and while it may seem like it was easy, it really wasn't. Louise Jandura, Chief Engineer of the rover's sample system says:
Building a tool to interact forcefully with unpredictable rocks on Mars required an ambitious development and testing program. To get to the point of making this hole in a rock on Mars we made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth.
Let's face it; most of our readers would love the chance to talk to an astronaut who is orbiting the earth inside the international space station. In fact, Americans have long been fascinated with communicating with astronauts while in space.
NASA has announced that U.S. astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn along with Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will be fielding questions live during a Google+ hangout that will take place on February 22nd at 11AM US Eastern time.
It is becoming pretty common for astronauts to communicate with the public during their extended trips on the International Space Station. Recently Hadfield hosted an AMA on Reddit, and has had a back and forth series of tweets with William Shatner of Star Trek fame. I hope to be one of the lucky people to get a question answered during the hangout. Maybe I will see you there!
If you've been following the progress of the Curiosity rover on Mars, there's a bit of new information to add to your trivia knowledge. NASA has officially used the last tool on Curiosity in a test to make sure it is functioning. Curiosity is equipped with a drill capable of drilling into rocks to retrieve samples from inside.
The ability to drill into rocks is an important one as these stones record the history of the planet millions and billions of years at a time. NASA is currently testing the drill to make sure everything is functioning properly. After positive results come back, NASA will order Curiosity to drill further into this rock to obtain samples.
The samples will then be analyzed in Curiosity's on-board chemistry lab to determine their chemical and mineral composition. The hope is that the results will show that life either existed previously or could have existed.