Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 357
The Pentagon has been building itself some robots, with a new Terminator-like rescue robot that would be deployed into disaster situations, where it would search for survivors.
The 6-foot 2-inch robot named Atlas is one of the entrants in a contest that is designed to build a robotic hero, thanks to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The competition sees entrants' robots capable of finding their way through rough terrain and entering buildings. The competition was created after the magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan which crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant and sent a tsunami into the country.
DARPA is The Pentagon's go-to research department, which has just shown off its Atlas robot - featuring LED lighting, but was switched off and simply in a "static" display for the competition. Head of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office, Brad Tousley, told US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Hollywood has portrayed an unrealistic expectation in peoples' minds about what robots are capable of - at least at this point in time.
Wireless power is something I simply can't live without, but I can only charge one or two devices at once. But, over in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, scientists have used something they call the Dipole Coil Resonant System to charge 40 smartphones simultaneously, even if the power source is up to 5m away.
We already know about MIT's Coupled Magnetic Resonance System (CMRS) which was unveiled in 2007, which used a magnetic field in order to charge devices - but it had an envelope of 2.1m. CMRS had some major technical limitations for commercialization, most of which haven't been solved: "a rather complicated coil structure (composed of four coils for input, transmission, reception, and load); bulky-size resonant coils; high frequency (in a range of 10 MHz) required to resonate the transmitter and receiver coils, which results in low transfer efficiency; and a high Q factor of 2,000 that makes the resonant coils very sensitive to surroundings such as temperature, humidity, and human proximity".
Chun T. Rim, a Professor of Nuclear & Quantum Engineering at KAIST, along with his team, developed the "Dipole Coil Resonant System" or DCRS. This system is for an extended range of inductive power transfer, at up to 5 meters between transmitter and receiver coils. Professor Rim's solution to CMRS' problems are all but solved with DCRS.
The technology is capable of powering "a large LED TV as well as three 40 W-fans can be powered from a 5-meter distance" according to to Professor Rim. He continues: "Our technology proved the possibility of a new remote power delivery mechanism that has never been tried at such a long distance. Although the long-range wireless power transfer is still in an early stage of commercialization and quite costly to implement, we believe that this is the right direction for electric power to be supplied in the future. Just like we see Wi-Fi zones everywhere today, we will eventually have many Wi-Power zones at such places as restaurants and streets that provide electric power wirelessly to electronic devices. We will use all the devices anywhere without tangled wires attached and anytime without worrying about charging their batteries".
In something that feels like it's right out of HBO's 'True Blood,' we're looking at a future of artificial blood, mass manufactured on an industrial scale - in the near future.
Wellcome Trust is behind the research, with scientists working on getting to the point of reaching a trial stage of using artificial blood made from human stem cells. Principal researcher, Marc Turner, has said that his team has made red blood cells that are capable of being used in a clinical transfusion. Professor Turner has talked of a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells - cells that have been taken from humans, and 'rewound' into stem cells.
From there, biochemical conditions that are similar to what happens inside of the human body are recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells - best of all, in the universal blood type O. Prof Turner explains: "Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being".
Well, it looks like the military is having some fun above the skies of Texas, where defense technology blog Ares is reporting on a mysterious, unidentified flying object flying over the skies of Amarillo, Texas, back on March 10.
Bill Sweetman, Aviation Week's defense experts is perplexed, but he is convinced it's real. "Three of us here-myself, Graham Warwick and Guy Norris-concur that the photos show something real. Guy and I have known Steve Douglass for a long time, and know that the reason that he sees (and monitors by radio) unusual things is that he spends time looking for them. Here is Steve's account of one of his better radio intercepts. This is more than a random image.
The photos tell us more about what the mysterious stranger isn't than what it is. The size is very hard to determine, for example, although the image size at contrailing height suggests that it is bigger than an X-47B. However, the basic shape-while it resembles Boeing's Blended Wing Body studies or the Swift Killer Bee/Northrop Grumman Bat unmanned air system-is different from anything known to have flown at full size, lacking the notched trailing edge of Northrop Grumman's full-size designs".
Mayim Bialik isn't just a leading cast member of the hit CBS show "The Big Bang Theory," she's also a neuroscientist and strong advocate for helping develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) interest in the United States. Bialik plays the role of "Amy Farrah Fowler," a neurobiologist, enjoying her time studying animals as part of her research.
Bialik continues to strengthen her leadership in driving interest in US STEM programs, especially for women trying to break into the field.
"Right now, research shows that more than half of high school freshmen who declare interest in STEM-related fields lose interest by the time they graduate," Bialik recently told TweakTown. "For female students, the problem continues into college. One-third of women who enter STEM bachelor's degree programs switch their major to a non-STEM field by the time they graduate,"
There has been a large effort to try and generate interest in STEM fields for women, though it has been a continued uphill battle.
"Girls' interest in STEM must be nurtured in high school and beyond so it is maintained throughout their education and professional lives. One of the best ways to do that is by introducing them to real-life role models who can show them how to succeed in STEM-related careers. Young women can then envision themselves as part of the STEM fields and develop a sense that STEM offers challenging but realizable opportunities."
It's no secret that Google has been swooping in and buying robotic companies left and right, and one of those acquisitions is making headlines today. Schaft Robotics, a company Google bought last year has made it to the finals of a DARPA sponsored robotics competition, and today Google announced that it would not accept funding for the competition that the US government had previously offered.
In a statement released by the DARPA last Friday, the government says that Google has switched to Track D of the program which means it will be fully funding the program from its own bank account, and no government funding will be accepted. The DARPA Robotics Challenge or DRC is a competition that challenges companies to create a robot that can handle disaster zone task such as navigating heavy debris, opening a door, climbing a ladder, and even turning off gas and water valves.
Google's Schaft Robot will be competing in the finals which are scheduled to be held some time between December 2014 and June of 2015. Google's other robotics company, Boston Dynamics, will also be competing in the event with its bipedal robot, Petman. This is one competition I would love to watch live, and I hope to get that chance during the next round!
Back in December, the ISS had a significant problem with its cooling system. The issue required a couple spacewalks to repair. It appears that whatever the problem with the ISS coolant loop is, the issue has returned.
NASA has confirmed that a coolant loop problem has again reared its head aboard the orbiting space station. NASA says that on Wednesday one of the two coolant loops on the space station shut down. A NASA spokesperson said that at no time was the crew aboard the ISS in any danger.
As a result of the coolant issue, some non-essential equipment aboard ISS modules was shut down. Some of the equipment was also changed over to use the other coolant loop. NASA believes that the coolant issue is linked to a valve problem, which was the same sort of issue that caused the coolant problems late last year. Presumably, a space walk will be needed to fix the coolant system, but no announcement has been made at this time.
The future is filled with technology, and especially robots and artificial intelligence, something that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently talked about. Gates spoke at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, DC, where he said that both governments and businesses need to prepare for a world where people will be fighting for jobs with robots.
Gates said: "Software substitution, whether it's for drivers or waiters or nurses... it's progressing. Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower-end of skill set... 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don't think people have that in their mental model."
The Microsoft co-founder even talked about what governments would do to prevent social unrest because of the mass unemployment, where he said they should basically get on their knees and beg big businesses to keep employing human beings instead of robots. This could lead to a future without payroll tax and corporate income taxes, while keeping the minimum wage low enough that businesses continue to employ people cheaply, versus using an automated, never-sleeping, non-demanding robot.
Most people think that robots will just replace the lower-end of the job scale, such as "low-skilled" workers, but it will effect virtually all industries. Even high-paying, and high-skilled jobs like accountants, commercial pilots, astronauts, police officers, and much more could be replaced with AI-based robots.
Time-lapse videos of nature are one of my favorite genres of internet video to watch, especially when shot the right way. A new video released recently by Project Yosemite is just the type of time-lapse that I love. The video features expansive views from deep within Yosemite National Park during both the day and the night. Breathtaking shots of the Sierra Nevada mountain range framed by a very bright and sharp Milky Way take this video above and beyond.
Project Yosemite is a coloration between Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill, two videographers who met through Vimeo that decided to shoot the undeniable beauty that is Yosemite National Park. The videos are a compilation of more than 45 days spread over ten months of work to generate the five minute video. The pair hiked over 200 miles to get the shots seen in the video and had to carry more than 70lbs of camera gear with them.
A few years ago a pair of scientists theorized that there was another planet in our solar system orbiting far beyond the orbit of Pluto. The scientists that offered the theory are John Matese and Daniel Whitmire from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Both men are physics professors.
Their theory grabbed a lot of attention when it was first published back in 2011. The scientists hoped that when NASA finished combing through the data from its WISE, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, survey that their theory might be proven correct.
NASA is finished with that survey and has announced that it found no proof of Planet X, also known as Tyche. The scientists had theorized that Planet X is a gas giant four times larger than Jupiter and would be found in the Oort cloud.