Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 384
DARPA researching self-guided .50-caliber ammo rounds
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently tested a .50-caliber self-guided bullet that pairs a maneuverable round with a custom optical guidance system. The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance (EXACTO) round is designed to help snipers be even more effective, and provides a bigger standoff range.
The U.S. military hopes a self-guided round will make it easier to eliminate targets with a single shot - helping keep snipers hidden. Specifically, the guidance system will prove helpful in Afghanistan and other environments where there are high winds, dusty terrain, and sometimes harsh shooting conditions.
"This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed," according to DARPA. "EXACTO's specifically designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits."
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Hubble telescope detects mysterious deficit of light in the Universe
The Universe as we know it is a lot darker than it should be, according to the latest readings from the Hubble Space Telescope.
A new examination has revealed that ultraviolet light is mysteriously missing from the nearest known parts of the Universe. UV rays are largely invisible to us mortals because their wavelengths come up short of visible light, however, with high frequencies they can be visible in devices like ultraviolet lamps. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder's Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy says that UV light can travel at great distances across the Universe, and most of it adds up. But closer to home there's a deficit that is tough to explain, leading researchers to question just what's happening to ionizing photons.
"If we count up the known sources of ultraviolet ionizing photons, we come up five times too short," said Benjamin Oppenheimer, one of the researchers. "We are missing 80 percent of the ionizing photons, and the question is where are they coming from? The most fascinating possibility is that an exotic new source, not quasars or galaxies, is responsible for the missing photons."
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Rats use whiskers like humans use hands, research says
Rats actually use their whiskers in a similar way that humans use their hands and fingers, particularly when exploring the dark, according to a revelatory new piece of research on the rodents.
Although it's long been known that mammals tend to use their whiskers to navigate dark patches, the full extent of control over the facial features was not known until now. Academics at Sheffield University set about using high speed videography to keep an eye on animals, each of which had been trained to run circuits for treats. Undergoing different scenarios, such as putting obstacles in their way or taking away visual cues, showed that the animals used their whiskers in a "purposeful" way to complete the track.
As the rats got quicker at running circuits, they also tended to change their whisker movements accordingly - whether that was to sweep surfaces or pushing their whiskers forward to detect objects that could be in their way. In the scenarios where they were likely to run into objects, the animals were more cautious and deliberately felt their way around using their whiskers. "All mammals except humans use facial whiskers as touch sensors. In humans we seem to have replaced this sense, in part, by being able to use our hand and fingers to feel our way," said Professor Tony Prescott. "The rat puts its whiskers where it thinks it will get the most useful information, just as we do with our fingertips."
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NASA 3D prints a model of light-year-long Eta Carinae nebula
NASA has created a full 3D model of a light-year-long nebula that was coughed out by the Eta Carinae system, 7,500 light years away from Earth, in the 19th century.
Eta Carinae can be found in the Carina constellation, and it's one of the brightest that are known out there by far - its smallest star is roughly 30 times as big as the Sun. In the 19th century, it spewed out the gassy Homonculus Nebula, and this is what the researchers have now printed off as a 3D model. NASA used the European Southern Observatory's appropriately titled Very Large Telescope and the X-Shooter spectrograph to image near-infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths across the nebula to create the most complete image made to date. Researchers took this data to look at spatial and velocity information, which then enabled the creation of the very first high-res 3D model of the nebula.
The model was put together in Shape and allowed NASA staff to inspect the more unusual features of the nebula, including trenches and dust skirts, and because it was developed using an emission line of near infrared light that was created by the molecular hydrogen gas, even allows for a close-up guesstimate of the dust-covered sides facing away from our humble little planet.
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NASA's Voyager I swims into interstellar space
After a 37-year journey through our solar system, NASA's Voyager I has been hit by a third solar 'tsunami'. These solar tsunamis are coming from our sun, in the form of coronal mass ejections - in other words, shock waves from massive, violent eruptions on our sun.
Since 2012, there have been three of these CMEs, with the third one erupting on Monday. These eruptions have been helping NASA confirm something it proposed late last year: that Voyager is the first craft from Earth to travel into interstellar space. But what is interstellar space? Well, it's an area that is just beyond what is known as our heliosphere.
The heliosphere is an area where solar wind pushes back the dense plasma of space, in something that resembles a protective bubble. This plasma is the result of the death of stars millions of years ago. What should really make your scratch your noggin' is that the plasma found outside of the heliosphere, and in interstellar space, is 40 times denser than the plasma inside of the heliosphere.
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Foxconn to use robots in future assembly, starting with the new iPhone
Foxconn should be one of the first companies to deploy robots to build consumer devices, with Apple reportedly being the first company to make use of these new "Foxbots" as they're referred to.
These new Foxbots will be capable of assembling an average of 30,000 devices, costing somewhere between $20,000 to $25,000 per robot to make. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has already said that these robots are in their final testing phase, with the company ready to unleash 10,000 robots into its factories. With Foxconn being the biggest partner for Apple in assembling its iOS-based devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod, this could be big news for the Foxconn.
We already knew that Foxconn laid out plans to replace some of its human workers with some 1 million robots, but the time frame of this may shift. Apple is even chipping in, investing a hefty $10.5 billion on the advanced supply chain technology, with some of this investment sliding over to advanced machinery, something that includes assembly robots. Foxconn has hired an additional 100,000 new workers to help assemble the upcoming iPhone 6 for Apple, with production expected to ramp up next month for a launch in September.
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Danish, US donors to the rescue as UK faces sperm shortage
The United Kingdom is having to import sperm stocks from abroad due to a serious shortage of donors in Britain, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has warned.
According to a report from the group, imports make up almost a quarter of donated samples in Britain. It's thought that native donations dropped considerably thanks to the dropping of a clause that would have offered total anonymity to donors in 2005. Back in '05, imports made up just one in ten samples in Britain.
The majority of these are from the United States and Denmark, with the latter country being home to the biggest sperm bank in the world. You can check out the official British government records here, should you want to for any reason.
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Scientists create supercooling system to keep organs fresh for days
One of the big challenges when it comes to performing organ transplants is to keep the organ fresh during the trip from the donor to the recipient. If the two live in different part of the country or world, keeping those organs fresh and viable can be difficult. Scientists have devised a new supercooling method that has the potential to keep the organs fresh for days.
Currently organs can only remain fresh and viable for less than 24 hours during transportation. Scientists have developed a new supercooling process that in lab tests has shown to be able to keep a rat liver fresh and viable for three days.
The supercooling technique reportedly connects the organ to a machine that perfuses it with nutrients and cools it so minus 6C. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the ability to share donated organs around the world.
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Scientists plan on breeding bald, heat-resistant chickens
The inevitability of intensifying global warming isn't just a problem for humans - it's a problem for the world's livestock too. Now, to make chickens a little less susceptible to the heat, one team of scientists has started research to breed poultry that are born bald.
Carl Schmidt, a geneticist at the University of Delaware, is embarking on a mission to Uganda and Brazil, where chickens have naturally shed their feathers over the years, according to Gizmodo UK. Schmidt's worried about feeding the world by 2050, adding that it'll be made even worse "if the climate does continue to change."
"We're going to be seeing heat waves that are both hotter and longer," Schmidt said in an interview with Modern Farmer. "We need to learn how to mitigate the effect of climate change on animals - we need to figure out how to help them adapt to it." For now, Schmidt plans a programme of selective breeding rather than alterations to their core genetics. But as well as breeding a whole new race of heat-resistant super-chickens, Schmidt and the team are also investigating other elements of selective pressure. "We're isolating the genetic variants that have allowed them to survive," Schmidt said.
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Scientists say after spending $10 billion: the universe doesn't exist
Just minutes after the Big Bang, scientists theorize that the universe blinked itself out of existence - that's the current, new theory, anyway. After spending $10 billion, decades of research and tests, and the world's largest particle accelerator, scientists theorize the universe itself doesn't exist, or that it shouldn't exist.
One of the researchers said thanks to finding the Higgs Boson particle, it shows that the universe may have blinked out of existence moments after the Big Bang itself. This researcher continued: "This is an unacceptable prediction of the theory ... if this had happened, we wouldn't be around to discuss it!"
Australian astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy says: "I love this idea of bringing together two discoveries found at the biggest extremes of size you can imagine. From studying the Higgs Boson at tiny scales much smaller than an atom to (potentially) measuring Inflation by searching into the distant past of our enormous universe".
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