Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 387
It's that time again folks - Science Friday is here, and today's post is coming a little early thanks to SpaceX. At 10:10am EST, Elon Musk's successful space flight company will be launching its next Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule on its way to the International Space Station and we can all watch it live!
Beginning at 9:30am EST, SpaceX will begin streaming live from the launch pad located at NASA's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the ISS on March 2nd and is filled with about 1,200 pounds of supplies including materials for about 160 new experiments.
When it returns to Earth three weeks later, on March 25th, it will be carrying about 2,300 pounds of spent cargo, trash and completed experiments. If everything goes as planned, this will be SpaceX's third successful trip to the ISS. For the true space geeks out there, each Falcon 9 rocket weighs 735,000 pounds, generates a thrust of 1,320,000 foot-pounds and cost roughly $133 million each mission.
We've been hearing about flexible smartphones and displays, but before we can even imagine them in the consumer space, we need batteries to be flexible and stretchable. Well, it looks like that wait might be getting closer to an end, with researchers announcing the development of such a technology.
Using a process called "ordered unraveling", John A. Rogers from the University of Illinois and Yonggang Huang from Northwestern University say that their battery can be stretched by up to 300% of its original size, all without losing any functionality. Energy storage islands and "serpentine" wire connections are placed in a sheet of polymer. Polymer is flexible and stretchy by default, with the overlapping wiring can be installed without being damaged.
What can we expect in terms of battery life? According to the engineers, their solution performs close to a standard lithium-ion battery of the same physical size. So we're looking at around 8-9 hours, as well as the ability to charge it wirelessly, but the current prototype they're using loses some capacity after just 20 recharges.
It's no secret that 3D printing is one of the hottest trends in recent history, and it should be no surprise that anyone and everyone is coming up with new ways to capitalize on the 3D printing revolution. Makexyz is a new service that has been launched to help connect those who need 3D printed items with 3D printer owners.
Makexzy creator Nathan Tone told VentureBeat "Instead of being printed at some Orwellian factory, our objects are printed by real people." Tone said the idea for the service came to him when a part he designed, took weeks to be printed and shipped to him through traditional 3D printing services. "Theres's a big benefit to just printing locally. Objects are half as expensive and you get them twice as fast", he said.
Tone says that services like Shapeways take too much time and cost over double as something printed on a personal machine sourced locally. With most services charging as much as $1.50 per cubic centimeter having something printed is just out of reach for some designers. "We've been careful to make sure that our prices are lower than working through a big company", Tone said.
The highly destructive meteorite that blasted into Earth's atmosphere last week, exploding near Chelyabinsk, Russia is quite the event according to NASA. The US space agency have said that it is one of the biggest to strike in over 100 years.
The actual size of the object was 10,000 tons with the energy released from the event hovering at around 500 kilotons - nearly 30 times the size of the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima. The meteor impact that previously wielded this type of power, was in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia.
The Voice of Russia has reported that over 1200 people have been injured, and 3724 buildings damaged by the impact. On top of this, a combined 200,000 square meters (2.15 million square feet) of shattered glass is the result from the intense shockwave. Damage is pegged at an estimated $33 million.
Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office has stated that "we would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average." What I don't understand, is that with all of the technology we've got - why we didn't see it coming? Are you telling me that if this asteroid was poised as a direct strike on the White House, that the President and hundreds of people would perish because NASA, or any other space agency for that matter didn't see it coming?
Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory are working on something truly incredible, where they are converting plastic bags into batteries - yes, you read that right. Vilas Pol, a Chemist with the laboratory was interviewed by Al Jazeera, where he cut a plastic bag and eventually turned it into a battery.
Pol did this by cutting plastic bags into bits, puts the pieces of plastic bag into a metal tube, adds a 'catalyst', and heats it to 700C. In three hours, a fine black-colored powder - carbon. This carbon sells for $150 per gram, making it worth more than gold. Within a few minutes, the carbon can be converted into a watch battery. Scientists are now working on making this technology cheaper.
The more energy pushed into the battery, the cheaper the battery can get - which is the main driving force of storing more energy into the battery itself. The US government is set to invest $120 million into the project, to create smaller batteries that would eventually be used in smartphones, right up to electric cars.
It's no secret - I am a huge astronomy buff. So much so that I even endeavor into the complex realm that is astrophotography. I say "complex" because taking a clear, crisp and vibrant image of the cosmos is quite challenging, and requites many hours to produce a single 2D image.
Finnish astrophotographer J-P MestÃ¤vainio has taken these complexities and mastered them, but he did not stop there. MestÃ¤vainio wondered what the Nebula he was photographing looked like in the third dimension and set out to create what can only be described as breathtaking. Seen below is IC 1396 or the Elephants Trunk Nebula.[img]2[/img]
These animated GIF images are in all actuality an artist interpretation of how he thinks the nebula would appear if passing by. The GIFs are created by adding interpretations and educated guesses based on the formation of the nebula and a rule-of-thumb that brighter stars are closer than darker ones to known data about the nebula, like distance and the location of certain stars around it to create a 3D model of the nebula.
We all love our consumer technology, but scientific breakthroughs like this are just extraordinary. Later this year, we'll see the first bionic hand that will give an amputee the ability to feel their hand again.
This will be quite the moment for artificial limbs with sensory perception, where the first man to get the new touch-sensitive bionic hand will be a man in his 20s living in Rome, who lost the lower part of his arm in an accident. The wiring of this bionic hand will be connected to his nervous system, where they hope he'll be able to control the movements of the hand as well as receive touch signals from the bionic hand's skin sensors.
This is coming from Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, where he's also added that the hand will be attached directly to the patient's nervous system through electrodes clipped onto two of the arm's main nerves - the median and ulnar nerves.
After multiple space agencies have been tracking the asteroid that fled just past Earth waving hello and goodbye, Russia was attacked by space rocks late last week. The meteroid broke up in our atmosphere, but still crashed into Earth injuring over 1200 people and causing millions of dollars of damage.
Because of this, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee in Washington are planning to hold a hearing soon "to examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth."
NASA have said that the rock that smashed into the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, which is around 950 miles east of Moscow, was around 15 meters in diameter, and it was moving at an astonishing 18 kilometres per second. It lasted around 30 seconds in our atmosphere before it broke apart, and wasn't detected by any Earth-based telescopes. NASA scientists have said that it is virtually impossible for telescopes to see a meteorite that size in the daytime sky.
A London-based design firm, Softkill, has just talked about their entry into the rat race that is 3D-printed houses, with a structure they claim would take just three weeks to build. From the picture above, it looks like a million spiders have crawled in and just spun a house out of their webs, but this is all part of what Softkill call their ProtoHouse, and will reach the prototype stage by the middle of the year.
During an interview with Dezeen, Softkill's Gilles Retsin didn't like the idea of their rival project by Universe Architecture, where he said:
We actually don't even consider that a 3D-printed building, because he is 3D printing formwork and then pouring concrete into the form. So it's not that the actual building is 3D printed.
While some hard-core Star Wars fans might be upset by Disney's announcement, others will certainly be pleased. Disney has confirmed that there will be at least two spinoffs that focus on individual Star Wars characters. These movies will be in addition to the upcoming episodes, the first of which--Episode VII--will be directed by J.J. Abrams.
Lucasfilm is officially announcing new spinoff films that will expand the mythos and depths of the Star Wars universe in previously unexplored ways. One of the standalone films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and co-writer of Return of the Jedi while the other will be penned by Simon Kinberg, writer of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The movies will be separate from the upcoming Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, on which Kasdan and Kinberg are also consulting, and are expected to be released sometime after Episode VII. Each standalone film will focus on a specific character, and two spinoff films are currently confirmed.
Basically, Disney is trying to make as much money as possible from their $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm. Nothing has been said about which characters these spinoffs will focus on, though rumors suggest that Yoda or Jabba the Hutt could be the potential stars.
If you're a Star Wars fan, how do you feel about Disney's spinoff plans?