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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 50

120x faster charging for Lithium Ion batteries thanks to new research

Lithium Ion batteries are the best battery technology we currently have in mass production. It's used in everything from laptop computers to hybrid car batteries. Despite this wide spread use, it still has some major drawbacks. The biggest one that comes to mind is the fact that they take so darn long to charge.


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Well, that could all be about to change. New research has shown that a modification in the way Lithium Ion batteries are constructed could reduce the charging time from hours to minutes. Current batteries charge from the outside in. This means the center part of the battery isn't receiving any current until the end of charging.


By putting "a dense network of conductors throughout the electrodes of the battery," researchers were able to charge the entire battery at once. This resulted in charging times that were 30 to 120 times faster than a standard Lithium Ion cell. The only issue is that filling the battery with conductors lowers the capacity or increases the size, albeit only slightly.


But if you can charge a cell phone in 5 minutes versus 2 hours, a slightly shorter battery life is not a problem.

"The best meteor shower of the year" is this weekend--don't miss it!

Continuing with a theme of science and space Friday, we would like to give you something to do over the weekend. It's time for the yearly Perseid meteor shower in the northern hemisphere and it promises to be a good one. NASA has called it the "best meteor shower of the year" so you really don't want to miss it.



The shower will run from August 11 to 13, with the night of August 12 expected to be the best. NASA is predicting that at its peak rate people could be making 100 wishes an hour. In other words, NASA expects it to peak at 100 shooting stars an hour. "We expect to see meteor rates as high as a hundred per hour," NASA's Bill Cooke says.


Heading to the countryside away from city lights is usually advisable. According to NASA, "a visit to the countryside will typically triple the number of meteors you see." The best viewing time will be in the early morning darkness just before dawn. The show should start sometime after 10PM. I'll be heading to a remote location in the Northern California Sierra Nevadas to escape the Sacramento city light pollution.

Continue reading '"The best meteor shower of the year" is this weekend--don't miss it!' (full post)

Scientists release largest 3D map of the unvierse

I know we've got several space fanatics, myself included, so this video is quite the treat. Some people that are like us, people who enjoy space, actually do this for their job. Scientists at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have released a massive three-dimensional map of outer space.



The map is a result of its six-year study of the sky. They used the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III) to produce this map that encompasses four billion light-years cubed. Scientists hope to use this data and map to figure out the movements of the universe over the last six billion years.


The video, seen above, is an animated flight through over 400,000 charted galaxies. It's pretty cool, plain and simple. Even if you don't particularly like space, you have to be in awe of the sheer scale of the place.

Continue reading 'Scientists release largest 3D map of the unvierse' (full post)

Chinese researchers achieve quantum teleportation, send data across a lake

Chinese researchers have achieved something quite grand, where they've overcome some challenges in regards to open-air quantum teleportation. The team developed a highly accurate laser pointing and tracking system, reports Ars Technica.


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The team of researchers teleported a qubit (which is a standard unit of data in quantum computing) 97 kilometers (!) across a lake, all using a small set of photons without fiberoptic cables, or other such technology. Juan Yin and his team developed the laser targeting device, and the team were necessary to counteract the minute seismic and atmosphere shifts that would usually break the link between the two locations.


Point-to-point accuracy problems are solved by fibreoptic cables, compared to open-air systems, where the cables are used to carry entangled photons, which carry the data required for quantum teleportation. But, this can cause what's referred to as "quantum decoherence", or the corruption of the proton's entanglement data. It's incredibly exciting, and while it's not teleporting people around yet, the aim of it is to transport data, which would require quantum repeater satellites to build the network required.

Continue reading 'Chinese researchers achieve quantum teleportation, send data across a lake' (full post)

A real life Wall-E tugs at your heartstrings

Thanks to a dedicated robot fanatic, Wall-E, that crazy cute robot from a Disney movie, has been brought to life. The entire project started back in 2010 after Mike Senna finished his replica R2-D2 robot. His idea for Wall-E came from seeing how kids reacted to his R2-D2 robot at City of Hope hospital in California.



This build is no easy task. As a case modder myself, I understand how difficult it is to fabricate parts and how frustrating it can be if a detail part isn't exactly right. Adding the motion seen in the video above makes the build that much more complicated. There are no plans, no kits, no pre-built parts--everything had to be scratch built using the movie as the plans.


The project was almost scrapped after 18 months as the workload was so massive for this build. However, Senna persevered and some 3,800 hours of work later, the project was finished. The final result and Senna's return to the City of Hope hospital makes the entire project worth all of the work and love and blood and sweat that went into the project.

Continue reading 'A real life Wall-E tugs at your heartstrings' (full post)

NASA would like you to make infographics about space

NASA has spent a lot of time looking upwards at the night sky. So much time that they have loads of pictures and data, so much that they can't really handle it all. This is where you come in. Yes, you, the person reading this. NASA would like you to take the data and pictures and turn them into pretty infographics.


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Infographics, the Internet's favorite way of learning information anymore, are images that contain data and graphics, charts, and other visual aids in order to help present complex ideas or numbers in ways that most people can understand. Since space is quite massive and quite complex, an infographic is the perfect way to share the data NASA has collected.


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has put together a new initiative imaginatively called JPL Infographics. Once you register for an account at JPL's website, all the data and images are freely available for use. This includes pictures and graphs that can be used to build your infographic. Once done, they can be uploaded and viewed by JPL staff who will vote on accuracy and ability to inform.

China to land exploratory craft on the Moon in 2013

China are set to settle for infinity now, and not beyond, with plans to land an exploratory craft on one and only naturally orbiting satellite, the Moon, for the first time. China's third lunar probe, Chang'e-3, is set for take off in the second half of next year, the state Xinhua news agency reported late yesterday. Chang'e-3 is named after the Chinese goddess of the Moon.


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Other reports have stated that it would land, and transmit back a survey of the Moon's surface. If China are successful in landing the craft on the Moon, it will mark a very large milestone for its space development. Xinhua have said it is part of a project to orbit, land and return from the Moon. China have said on its last white paper on space that they are working toward landing a man on the Moon, but no time frame has been given.


Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space program as a symbol of its rising global importance, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the one poverty-stricken nation. If China are successful, it will be quite the media event for 2013.


The one downside to all of this? The United States used to be at the bleeding edge of this type of space exploration, considering all the technological advances we've seen in the past 50 years, it's quite sad to see that China are now looking to land on the Moon for a look around.

Man designs and builds trashcan which moves to catch flying trash

A cool science project has brought something that every person on earth has been waiting for. Think back to all those Sci-Fi movies. What do they all have in common? If you said moving trashcans that adjust their position to catch the trash you have just thrown towards it, you'd be correct.


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And one would think with all of the technology we have some researcher would have been able to build this some time ago. Well, it turns out that people who are too lazy to get up and place trash in the can are too lazy to work on inventing a trashcan like this. However, an inventor by the name of FRP has managed to design and build one for himself.


FRP built everything from scratch from the wheeled base to the circuit boards and programming. He used a Kinect sensor that monitors the entire room and watches for trash to become airborne. It then tracks the trash and directs the trashcan to move to where it is likely to land. The video makes it look pretty darn accurate, but FRP admits the accuracy wouldn't win an MVP award quite yet.


If he manages to improve the accuracy, it's likely this invention will one day make him a very rich man.

Continue reading 'Man designs and builds trashcan which moves to catch flying trash' (full post)

Scientists at CERN discovers the "God particle", or Higgs boson

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have done it, after more than 30 years of experimentation, and billions upon billions of dollars in research and the use and construction of the Large Hadron Collider, have found the Higgs boson, or "God particle".


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Some might dismiss this as nothing, but this is considered an absolutely mind-blowing achievement for all scientists, researchers and everyone in between. The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle which is thought to give everything in our universe, mass. Mass is a physical property which gives matter its weight here on Earth, and other bodies which exert gravity.


But, you don't just stumble upon this, and when you do, you require some serious confirmation before you make these types of claims. Scientists are 99.99999999999-percent certain, and this is about as close as one can get. The scientists were able to calculate that the new particle is very near the "five-sigma" level of significance, meaning that there is less than a one in a million chance that their results are a statistical fluke.

Continue reading 'Scientists at CERN discovers the "God particle", or Higgs boson' (full post)

New reality show to be based on Mars, $6 billion cost to establish permanent colony by 2023, Snooki will be too old by then

Ever wished there were a reality show that wasn't based on this planet? Well, just wait another decade and your wish might just come true. A Dutch company is determined to establish a permanent colony on Mars, and is looking to spend $6 billion doing so.


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The plans for a reality show is grandiose, with the project dubbed 'Mars One', and will drop four astronauts on Mars in April 2023, with none of them ever returning to Earth. In order to pony up $6 billion for this venture, the project is set to stage a media spectacle like the world has never, ever seen previously. An interplanetary reality show, along the lines of Big Brother.


Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, an ambassador for Mars One, has said in an introductory video posted on the company's website:


This project seems to be the only way to fulfill humanity's dream to explore outer space. It is going to be an exciting experiment. Let's get started.

Continue reading 'New reality show to be based on Mars, $6 billion cost to establish permanent colony by 2023, Snooki will be too old by then' (full post)

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