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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 48

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)

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.

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