Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 387
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo suffered 'serious anomaly' during crash
The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo suffered a "serious anomaly" during a test flight in California over the Mojave desert, with one pilot killed in the incident. The other pilot suffered serious injuries and is being transported to the hospital, according to the company.
"The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely," said Virgin Galactic after the incident. "We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP."
The SpaceShipTwo is designed to be carried on a mother ship and then can be released to ignite its rocket to head into suborbit, and can return to Earth by gliding back. A flight starts at $250,000 and passengers undergo three days of pre-flight preparation to verify they are physically and mentally prepared for the trip.
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USAF hospital plans to use virus-zapping robot to kill germs
The US Air Force Hospital Langley is now using the "Saul" virus-zapping robot to try to keep hospitals safer by killing viruses, including Ebola, working with the Xenex company. The robot is able to use powerful ultraviolet light to ensure the hospital's patient and operating rooms are safe from germ pathogens that could infect others. It only takes five minutes for the robot to disinfect an entire room, with surfaces cleaned in just two minutes, according to Xenex.
"We are very proud to be the first Air Force hospital to have this robot," said Col. Marlene Kerchenski, 633rd MDG Surgeon General chief of nursing services. "Saul will provide an extra measure of safety for both our patients and our intensive care unit staff."
Xenex has already grabbed headlines when it was announced the Gigi robot would be used in hospitals to help kill viruses, including Ebola, in hospital rooms. These pricey machines are designed to help keep hospitals a cleaner, safer environment for staff, patients, and visitors.
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Google hires more experts to "accelerate" its efforts in AI research
Google is getting much more serious about artificial intelligence, with the Mountain View-based search giant hiring more than a dozen leading academics and experts in the field of AI. The company has also announced it has reached a partnership with Oxford University, to "accelerate" its efforts in AI.
When it comes to the partnership between Oxford and Google, the company will be making a "substantial contribution" in order to kick start a new research partnership with the University's computer science and engineering departments. Google's goal? To develop the intelligence of machines and software, to reach human-like levels. Google hasn't said just how much it will be contributing, but it will have a program of student intern ships and a series of joint lectures and workshops so that it can "share knowledge and expertise".
It was only in January that the company dumped down $400 million to acquire DeepMind, an AI firm. This new partnership with Oxford University will see a quicker, and brighter future in AI, even if Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors says that pioneering AI will be like "summoning the devil".
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Elon Musk warns of AI again, says it's like "summoning the demon"
The last hyperbolic headline we had about Elon Musk and artificial intelligence was just a couple of months ago now when the Tesla Motors founder said that AI could be "more dangerous than nukes" and now he's back with a new statement. Musk has said that pioneering AI is like "summoning the demon".
Musk had some interesting things to say during a speech at MIT on Friday, where he told an audience that the technology sector should be "very careful" of pioneering AI, calling it "our biggest existential threat". Why is Musk afraid? Multiple times during his speech, he reiterated that such a technology is a massive risk, because it can't be controlled. He ended up using the metaphor of "with artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon".
We've all seen AI and what it does to the human race in movies like the Terminator and The Matrix franchises, but Musk lined AI up in the real-world to a horror movie, where the protagonists call forth spirits who end up doing a lot of bad things. Musk said: "In all those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it's like yeah he's sure he can control the demon. Didn't work out". Considering there's already a lot of important things that computers do for us on the daily, such as financial trading, high-end computing and countless other important jobs, AI is an eventuality.
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New tech alerts dispatchers to when, and where a cop fires their gun
An incredible new technology created by a Silicon Valley startup would allow dispatchers some crucial details on when, and where police offers fire their weapons. Yardam Technologies' latest device would notify dispatchers in real-time when an officer's gun has been removed from its holster, when it was fired, and in which direction it was fired, as well as tracking the gun's location.
Phil Wowak, Santa Cruz County Sheriff is one of two officers testing the technology, saying it would allow the sheriff's office to see whether deputies are in trouble, and unable to ask for assistance. He said: "That's the worst nightmare for any police officer in the field". As it stands, this technology will not allow for a remote disabling mechanism, even though the company was showing off that technology in Las Vegas last year, it has since abandoned that effort.
In the previous iteration of the technology, it would've allowed a dispatcher, or someone else in control, to hit a button and safely disable the weapon. This would've come in handy in countless scenarios, such as when an officer drops their gun, is hit, or killed and their weapon can be used by the assailant. Jim Schaff, the Marketing Vice President of Yardarm Technologies didn't detail the reasoning behind removing the remote disabling feature, but the company has said that their latest technology is not out to create a smart gun, but is more "police gunfire tracking technology".
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Researchers create solar battery able to run powered by light and air
Researchers from Ohio State University are working on a solar battery that is able to store its own power inside of an internal solar cell. The unique hybrid device uses a mesh solar panel that provides an opening for air to enter the battery, and electrons can be transferred between the solar panel and the battery electrode.
"The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," said Yiying Wu, Ohio State chemistry and biochemistry professor, said in a press statement. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost."
When licensed to companies, this could help companies drop costs up to 25 percent, according to Wu and his students. Light is converted inside of the battery, ensuring almost 100 percent of electrons are saved, as opposed to the 80 percent standard when electrons travel between a solar cell and an external battery.
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New generation of prosthetics help patients regain sense of touch
Technological advances have allowed researchers to create prosthetic limbs that are able to better mimic the natural movement of human limbs, with medical patients able to regain their sense of touch. In one study, researchers in the United States manufactured a prosthetic hand that uses electric signals sent into a medical patient's harm and brain, providing a sense of "feel."
"The sense of touch is one of the ways we interact with objects around us," said Dustin Tyler, Case Western Reserve associate professor of biomedical engineering and the study's author. "The work reactivates areas of the brain that produce the sense of touch. When the hand is lost, the inputs that switched on these areas were lost."
A group of Swedish scientists created a mind-controlled prosthetic arm that connects to the medical patient's arm, nerves and muscles. This type of research has great potential for those injured in serious incidents, and will continue to be a topic of focus for researchers.
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Google is trialing video chat with doctors after Googling for symptoms
We've all been there, there's something wrong with you, you Google for symptoms, worrying that you're going to die, but don't want to call the doctor out of a variety of reasons.
But Google looks like it might be going down an interesting, and why-hasn't-it-happened-sooner path, trialing direct video chat with doctors after you Google your symptoms. Google confirmed the news with Engadget, telling the site that it is trialing a Helpouts-style feature that offers people video chats with doctors when they search for their symptoms.
There aren't many details on how exactly this works, but a search card mentions that Google is covering the costs of any video chats with doctors while in its trial phase. Virtual appointments would be the next step, but there would most likely be costs involved. I think this could be a great step for the company, who is investing and researching into health technology, allowing doctors from all corners to talk to patients who otherwise might not have contacted a doctor about their issues.
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Inventors for blue LED lights gets a Nobel Prize in physics
The researchers of blue light-emitting diode (LED) are the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics. The winners are Isamu Akasi, a professor at Meijo University and Nagoya University, Hiroshi Amano, also a professor at Nagoya University and Shuji Nakamura who is a professor at the University of California. Along with the Nobel Prize, the scientists will also be splitting $1.1 million award money.
The three scientists were the ones who found a way to produce blue light beams in the early 1990s, but the red and the green light diodes were produced by others. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in its prize citation that white light couldn't have been invented if it wasn't for the blue LED invention. The invention of blue LED is 20 years old, but has been used in multiple electronic appliances, devices, day-to-day electronic equipment, traffic signals, headlights and even PCs.
The main advantage of LEDs is that it significantly reduces the consumption of electricity in comparison with incandescent and fluorescent lights. The widespread adoption of the practical invention, and the versatility in other fields is what makes them deserve this award. LEDs are used in smart bulbs that are made by few companies like GE and Phillips.
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India teams up with the United States for the exploration of Mars
With Mars being orbited by India's satellite Mangalyaan, it has spurred scientists back here on Earth for their next mission, with NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) signing a new agreement to work together on the future exploration of Mars.
The two space agencies also agreed to collaborate on observations and scientific analysis from their respective satellites that are orbiting Mars. With India now the first Asian nation to research to reach Mars, and the only country in the world that succeeded on its first attempt. NASA has its own Maven satellite that entered Mars' orbit two days before Mangalyaan arrived, with Maven the first spacecraft to explore the upper atmosphere of Mars, and Mangalyaan studying the surface of the planet, in search for evidence of methane, and more.
NASA spent north of $740 million on its latest journey to Mars, with India spending just a tenth of that, at a cost of $74 million. Analysts have said that this puts India directly into the big league when it comes to space, nudging out China and Japan in space exploration in one small step for the country. So far, Chinese and Japanese missions to orbit Mars have failed. In six more years, the two space agencies hope to launch NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR. NISAR will observe the Earth, measuring changes in our land surface. NASA said in a statement: "Nisar will improve our understanding of key impacts of climate change and advance our knowledge of natural hazards".
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