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The SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded a couple minutes after takeoff over the weekend, possibly due to excessive pressure built up in the second stage's liquid oxygen tank. The incident marked the first time in 19 Falcon 9 launches there was a problem, and SpaceX will continue its work to try to get things sorted out.
"The launch failure by itself is not much of an issue," said Bill Ostrove, analyst at Forecast International Aerospace, in a statement to Forbes. "Most people in the industry understand that launching rockets into space is really difficult and occasional failures are just the price of conducting launches. Overall, SpaceX has a pretty strong record of success (about 95%) with the Falcon 9."
Unfortunately, SpaceX does have a few things it needs to work out - the company has suffered two commercial cargo failures in less than one year, and the most recent launch failure means there will be a delay for an investigation.
Elon Musk gets a lot of attention for his work as CEO of Tesla, but it would seem that SpaceX, his space company, holds true potential for human greatness. The company isn't designed to cater rich tourists into space, and Musk would rather launch satellites and ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA and other space programs hope to launch future missions to Mars, including a possible manned mission to the Red Planet. It seems that thought isn't necessarily lost on SpaceX, which continues to develop space rockets:
"I know for a fact that the guys within SpaceX already have a design for the engines and the rocket that would get to Mars," said Ashlee Vance, biographer of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, in a statement to National Geographic. "Knowing the caliber of talent there, I trust that that part is feasible if not profitable. The colonizing part? That's still an enormous question."
Researchers have a strong curiosity about the red planet of Mars, and a manned mission one day seems like a possibility. However, the spacesuits used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station would need to be replaced with newer generation spacesuits, and some type of flexible spacesuit would be ideal.
The suits designed for space today must take into consideration an astronaut's ability to complete work in microgravity. The lower half of the suit is extremely stiff and makes moving around more naturally difficult - but increased mobility would be required for future space missions.
Astronauts must be able to twist, bend, and move around easily, especially if they needed to take soil samples or collect items from a foreign planet. A number of different prototype spacesuits are currently in development - and some are being tested - so there is hope that changes will be coming.
Research teams from the University of Exeter and Cardiff University want to develop a video game that is able to actually help gamers by controlling our need for junk food.
To win the game, a player must press images of healthier food options instead of unhealthy snack foods. This game is said to help condition the players, so they will make similar food choices while raiding the refrigerator or rummaging through the food pantry.
"This research is still in its infancy and the effects are modest. Larger, registered trials with longer-term measures need to be conducted," said Dr. Natalia Lawrence, research team lead, in a public statement. "However, our findings suggest that this cognitive training approach is worth pursuing: it is free, easy to do and 88 percent of our participants said they would be happy to keep doing it and would recommend it to a friend. This opens up exciting possibilities for new behavior change interventions based on underlying psychological processes."
The US Army is helping fund a research project at the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on developing intelligent robots that don't require extra sensors or software. The robot, which physically looks like a cockroach, is able to overcome obstacles on its own.
The ability to teach robots and AI to identify - and successfully navigate obstacles without human guidance - is a difficult task.
"The majority of robotics studies have been solving the problem of obstacles by avoiding them, which largely depends on using sensors to map out the environment and algorithms that plan a path to go around obstacles... however, when the terrain becomes densely cluttered, especially as gaps between obstacles become comparable or even smaller than robot size, this approach starts to run into problems as a clear path cannot be mapped," said Chen Li, lead author of the UC Berkeley research, in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal.
The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded two minutes after launch, when its two stages were expected to separate. This is the first time in 19 launches that ended in failure, as the 63-meter rocket was able to complete six cargo trips to the ISS and has a 15-flight contract with NASA.
Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2015
Musk offered a second statement: "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause. That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis."
We're only 15 years away from the year 2030, where we're expected to see human brains assisted by nanobot implants that will turn us into "hybrids", according to one of the world's leading thinkers.
The Director of Engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil, has said that in the 2030s, we will see implants connecting humans to the cloud. We would then be able to pull information from the cloud, from our own brains, all while information will be allowed from your brain to the cloud, letting you back your brain up to the cloud. You know, in case of a bad hangover one night, you could just restore your brain to the night before. #backsupforlife
Kurzweil has said that as the cloud accessing our brain improves (and before Skynet takes over), our thinking and cognitive abilities would expand quicker than we can imagine. At first, it would be a "hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking", but as we shift into the 2040s, most of our thinking will be done off-brain, and would thus be non-biological. Think, "OK Google, can I afford to buy pizza tonight" or "OK Google, what is 5.2 million divided by 2.39".
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been vocal about his concerns related to artificial intelligence and robots, saying the "future is scary" and "very bad" for humans.
To make matters even worse, humans have made machines "too important," and it could be possible for robots to learn at a faster rate than humans can program them. Most recently, Wozniak said the human race could end up becoming pets to AI, even if that won't be for a very long time:
"They're going to be smarter than us and if they're smarter than us then they'll realize they need us," Wozniak recently said during the Freescale technology forum. "We want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time. I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because 'do unto others,'" Wozniak said.
During the Paris Air Show, a new robot is on display that has a unique purpose: scan faces, verify passports, print boarding passes, and help check-in passengers for flights. The technology already has been deployed to airports across the world, but it looks like this update takes things even further.
The ability to scan to conduct iris scans and capture face images will step up biometric security to hopefully keep passengers safe while flying.
"You would only need one agent for every four or five machines," said Pascal Zenoni, a manager at Thales, speaking during the air show. "These systems can free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport."
Scientists in China were able to train mice in less than one week to be able to sniff out explosives, narcotics, and other items. The mice, trained by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Kunming Institute of Zoology, said they were able to accurately identify targets 98 percent of the time.
Researchers trained the mice by withholding water resources, and then put a custom sensor in the cage that released water droplets after it was touched. After being moved to a box that offered two different smells, water was given as a reward when they pressed the sensor. It took five days for the mice to learn they would receive a water reward every time they detected the appropriate smell.
It's much cheaper to train and store mice over dogs, and could see widespread use in the future, after additional testing is completed.