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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 46

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)

Like your new iPhone? Better recycle the old one as REEs are running slim

Fans of miniaturized electronic devices, national defense, and healthcare take notice: not recycling is reducing the amount of rare earth elements available for future devices. That new iPhone you just bought features some of these rare earth elements in the GPS, battery, and probably just about every other component in there.


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As you can see in the infographic below, we're not exactly in a good place for mining these rare earth elements, and it's not the greenest thing to do, either. Nearly any technological device that you like requires some of these rare earth elements. So, just make sure to recycle them when they get old.

Continue reading 'Like your new iPhone? Better recycle the old one as REEs are running slim' (full post)

Scientists developing injections that are 'completely pain-free', made from frickin' lasers

One of my greatest fears are injections - I don't fall onto the floor, ball up and cry - but I just hate them. I always expect they're going to bring me a world of hurt, and I can't wait for the day when this relatively primitive technology is replaced, well, my wishes are slowly coming true.


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Scientists from the Seoul National University in South Korea are hoping to help people like myself, but replacing the sharp metal of an injection, with laser-powered injections - frickin' lasers! A paper published in the Optical Society's Optics Letters journal states that the new method uses laser pulses to create a precisely controlled stream, which is said to be around the width of a human hair - much more manageable.


The injections would then target the epidermal layer, which is a portion of the skin that has no nerve endings, which would create something researcher Jack Yoh calls a "completely pain-free" experience. The high-pressure steams are capable of delivering whatever the injection is being used for, without damaging skin tissue. Yoh spoke with the Optical Society, where he explains:


The impacting jet pressure is higher than the skin tensile strength and thus causes the jet to smoothly penetrate into the targeted depth underneath the skin, without any splashback of the drug.

Continue reading 'Scientists developing injections that are 'completely pain-free', made from frickin' lasers' (full post)

Fermilab turns on their 570 megapixel dark energy camera, why couldn't they put this in the iPhone 5?

Fermilab has turned on their new dark energy camera and released some of the first pictures taken with the massive 570 megapixel device. To get that high of resolution, the device is actually constructed from 62 'individual' cameras that are linked together. To take a picture, each camera fires and the resulting images are stitched together.


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The camera sits at the focal point of a 3-foot wide mirror on a telescope in Chile. The device will be taking pictures for the next five years. Over that time, it will only manage to capture one-eighth of the night sky. Even so, that much of the sky contains over 300 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernova.

NASA invest in a self-building spaceship, would construct itself using 3D printers

Well, this is quite the step in an amazing direction - NASA are currently funding research which would see a spacecraft construct itself using built-in 3D printers.


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NASA have invested $100,000 in SpiderFab, a company that is looking at just how feasible it would be to launch a 3D printer with the associated materials into space, and getting it to construct the ship in the dark beyond.


There are of course enormous benefits to this, as construction would not have to be done here on Earth, and then jettisoned into space which is one of the most expensive parts about it. It can be constructed in the weightless of space, and wouldn't have to adhere to the space restrictions to fit into a rocket.

Continue reading 'NASA invest in a self-building spaceship, would construct itself using 3D printers' (full post)

Scientists working on cyborgs made from half living cells, half electronics

Scientists at Harvard University are working on rat cardiomyocytes, but slightly different than most scientists. They're snaking them through wires and transistors that peer into each cell's electrical impulses. In the future, these wires might actually control their behavior, too.


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"Cyborg" tissues have been created for neurons, muscle and vessels, and could be used to test drugs, or used as the basis for biological versions of existing implants. If signals can eventually be sent to the cells, cyborg tissues could eventually be used to create tiny robots, or get used in prosthetics. Charles Lieber, who leads the cyborg tissue team, has said:


It allows one to effectively blur the boundary between electronic, inorganic systems and organic, biological ones.


Artificial cells can already be grown on three-dimensional scaffolds that are made up of biological materials, but are not electrically active. Electrical components need to be added to cultured tissue before, but not integrated into its structure, so they were only able to scrap information from the surface. Lieber's team combined these strands of work, and created an electrically active scaffold. 3D networks were then created using conductive nanowires studded with silicon sensors.

Continue reading 'Scientists working on cyborgs made from half living cells, half electronics' (full post)

NASA to launch Android-based tiny satellites into space

It looks as though NASA is wanting their Small Spacecraft Technology Program to see Android-powered devices go into space. The space agency wants to see if cheap consumer-based hardware can dependably survive a journey into space.


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NASA believes that sending tiny satellites into space will pave the way for a low-cost delivery system, they also hope to improve upon, or evolve new propulsion techniques by working with much smaller devices, like smartphones. The first-gen, smartphone-powered satellites will be baked into a modular, cube-based chassis named 'CubeSat'.


The first PhoneSat will measure just 10x10x10cm, or roughly double the size of a Rubik's Cube. NASA will throw in Samsung's Nexus One smartphone, one external battery, radio equipment, and a watchdog circuit that will be used to reboot the device in case of a problem. NASA have already run stress tests on the Nexus One, which it passed without any modifications required. These tests were run to see if the smartphone could handle the launch and orbit into the dark beyond of space.

Continue reading 'NASA to launch Android-based tiny satellites into space' (full post)

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