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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 39

Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier skydiving from space

Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to reach a truly special milestone: skydiving from the edge of our planet toward the ground faster than the speed of sound. Baumgartner reached a top speed of 833.9mph (1342km/h).

 

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Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, spent two hours travelling up in a balloon to reach dizzying heights of 128,100 feet, (24 miles or 39km). After which he jumped out of his capsule, and spend four minutes in complete freefall, all in a pressurized spacesuit. This gave Baumgartner a world record for the highest ever freefall.

 

Once he hit the ground, he took a few steps and dropped to his knees, raising his hands in absolute triumph. Baumgartner said to the media just after his record-breaking skydive:

 

Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive.

Continue reading 'Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier skydiving from space' (full post)

New laser is being constructed, would be powerful enough to tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself

Well, this is interesting - the European Commission has approved the construction of three new huge research lasers, leaving the door open on a fourth that would, for a tiny instant, be several hundred times more powerful than the entirety of the power generated by the human race.

 

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Yes, that is very, very powerful. The scientists hope to actually create virtual particules from absolutely nothing. The fourth laser when at peak power in Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure project (ELI) would combine a total of ten beams into a single pulse at 200 petawatts. The entire Earth doesn't even generate that much power at any one moment, and if we're talking scale, it is more total power than the Earth receives from our star, the sun.

 

This is not the type of laser that stays on continuously, and will only use this mammoth amount of power for just 1.5 x 10^-14 second .This is the same time that "it takes for light to travel from one side of a human hair to the other, if you shave your hair down by 90%", reports Dvice.

Continue reading 'New laser is being constructed, would be powerful enough to tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself' (full post)

Curiosity Rover may be hurt, JPL scientists see something metallic in a picture

In one of the pictures that Curiosity has taken and sent back to Earth, the JPL scientists spotted something that looks metallic in the sand below Curiosity. Now there are fears that our little Mars rover may be injured. Take a look in the picture and let me know if you can spot what the engineers did:

 

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Neither could I. The small speck of something is located towards the bottom of the image and engineers fear that it could be a part of Curiosity that fell off. They have now ordered Curiosity to take more pictures of the object and area so that they can determine if it is a part of Curiosity.

 

If it is, they should be able to determine what part of Curiosity it is and what affect this may have on the mission. Currently Curiosity has spent 65 days of the planned 668 day mission on the red planet. This means it's already 10 percent done. Let's just hope that this possible injury turns out to be nothing serious.

The first year-long mission on the International Space Station is set to happen in 2015 with Russian and American astronauts

Something I don't think I could ever do without half pissing my pants would be to spend twelve months up on the International Space Station (ISS). At the moment, there's an enforced six-month maximum stay on the ISS, but all this changes in 2015.

 

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In 2015, the maximum stay will increase to twelve months, where one Russian and one American will spend an entire year on the ISS. The mission is to help collect more data to help us work out a way of completing deep space travel.

 

There's already been plenty of data collected, mainly about the effects microgravity has on the human body, but because of the six-month only stays, there's not much information on long-term implications on the human body. Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager says:

 

In order for us to eventually move beyond low Earth orbit, we need to better understand how humans adapt to long-term spaceflight. The space station serves as a vital scientific resource for teaching us those lessons, and this yearlong expedition aboard the complex will help us move closer to those journeys.

Researchers design algorithms that could see lithium-ion batteries charge twice as quick as they do now

I'll take this technology yesterday, thanks - researchers out of the University of California San Diego are working on new algorithms that would see a reduction of 50% in charging times for lithium-ion-based batteries.

 

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Not only that, but we would be seeing cells run more efficiently, and could also slice production costs by 25%. Instead of tracking battery behavior and health with traditional methods of monitoring current and voltage, the team's mathematical estimate where lithium ions are within cells for more precise data.

 

With this new info in hand, the team were able to more precisely gauge battery longevity and control charging efficiency. The team were awarded $460,000 from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E research arm, where they'll use the new injection of cash to help develop the technology, as well as technology with automotive firm Bosch and battery manufacturer Cobasys, who both received the remainder of the $9.6 million grant.

Scientists manage to produce gold from a toxic gas by using bacteria, won't help our financial problems

Michigan State University scientists have figured out a way to ensure that tech geeks around the world will continue to have gold to use in their electronic connectors. If you didn't know, all of those 1000-2000 pins on a modern CPU are coated in gold, along with the pins in expansion slots on the motherboard.

 

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Professors Kazem Kashefi and Adam Brown utilized the bacteria Cupriavidus Metallidurans to process a naturally occurring toxic gas known as Gold Chloride into 99.9% pure 24-carat gold. You can see the apparatus that was used in the experiment in the above picture. And no, it's not magical.

 

The bacteria used was discovered to be up to 25 times more resistant to toxic environments than previously thought. This discovery prompted the experiment that resulted in the production of gold. It's a rather simple affair, too. The bacteria is placed into a small bowl into which the toxic Gold Chloride gas is pumped.

 

Leave it there for about a week and you'll end up with a 99.9 percent pure gold nugget. Unfortunately, it won't be solving any financial problems or making anybody rich anytime soon. While the process is easy, the Gold Chloride gas isn't cheap and since it isn't "natural" gold, it won't be worth as much.

Scientists working with nanobots that could one day cure cancer, other diseases

Scientists from the NanoRobotics Laboratory at École Polytechnique de Montreal in Canada have discovered a way of directing nanobots (nano-sized robots) inside the human body. If you're unfamiliar with nanobots, the nano-sized robots are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope.

 

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These bots can be guided toward specific parts of the body that were too dangerous to risk surgery over - and is considered a huge breakthrough in cancer treatment. The technology is still in its infancy, with human testing not even a thought for now, but there are a few robotics firms including Quantum International, Intuitive Surgical, iRobot Corporation, and Dover Corporation, who are all committed to pushing this nanobot technology.

 

Robert Federowicz, CEO of Quantum, has said:

 

Using robots to deliver cancer-killing medicine directly to a tumor deep within the body could forever change the treatment of the disease. The market for such astonishing technology would obviously be enormous. Quantum is dedicated to bringing just such innovations out of the laboratory and into the global marketplace.

Continue reading 'Scientists working with nanobots that could one day cure cancer, other diseases' (full post)

A team of international scientists aim to drill into the Earth's mantle for a cost of $1b+

In the infamous words of Dr. Evil, the earth is filled with "liquid hot magma." Now, some scientists are looking to drill down into the inner filling of our Earth to do more studying. This is no easy task as the people who have attempted it before will tell you. The price tag will be at least $1 billion USD, with no guarantee of success.

 

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The group of international scientists plan to drill into the mantle in one of three places. The three options are located in the Pacific ocean, along mid-ocean ridge lines where the crust is the thinnest due to the quick forming of said lines. Here, the crust is believed to be as thin as 6km, whereas other parts of Earth have up to an 80km thick crust.

 

This isn't the first attempt at drilling into the mantle of the Earth. Russia attempted something similar with the Kola Superdeep Borehole, which managed to drill as deep as 12km, though not in the middle of the ocean. "It will be the equivalent of dangling a steel string the width of a human hair in the deep end of a swimming pool and inserting it into a thimble 1/10 mm wide on the bottom, and then drilling a few meters into the foundations."

Tokyo University of Science shows off their Iron Man-like robotic suit

Koba Lab out of the Tokyo University of Science have shown off a 9kg robotic suit that is powered by a pair of pneumatic artificial musics on the back, which are made by industrial equipment maker Kanda Tsushin.

 

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The suit is pretty much powered by air, and when pressurized with air using electrical components from KOA Corporation, the lightweight, loosely-woven PET tubes contract, where they then provide support to the user's back, shoulders and elbows. The legs are left out for now, as the second person to don the suit noted his legs felt the weight.

 

You can really see the pressure being lifted off their bodies when they enable the pressurized air flow. The demonstration used 50kg of rice, in five 10kg bags. All I need now is a pair of Google Glasses, a Wi-Fi connection, and a love of red heads and I'm close to being Iron Man. The scotch part I have down, and I can grow a goatee if I really wanted to - Robert Downey Jr, watch out. Check the source for the video.

Listen to the sound of Earth, from Space, if your ears were antennas

This is absolutely fantastic, there's no two ways about it. NASA has launched two space probes into the Van Allen radiation belts to study "killer electrons." On those probes is the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) receiver, a device that records the electromagnetic radiation and turns it into sound.

 

 

The video above goes into a bit more detail on the sound recording, but you really need to listen to the sound to be amazed. HAM radio operators have been able to hear the sound for years, however, what they hear isn't nearly as clear as what was just recorded on NASA's new probes.

 

"This is what the radiation belts would sound like to a human being if we had radio antennas for ears," said Craig Kletzing, a physics professor at the University of Iowa. You can listen to the sound from NASA's website. Right now, it is a 16-bit sampled recording in mono, however, there are plans to make a stereo recording.

Continue reading 'Listen to the sound of Earth, from Space, if your ears were antennas' (full post)

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