Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 396
Star Trek-like 'tractor beam' has been created by scientists
Scientists have created a real-life 'tractor beam' which uses light to attract objects according to research published by Nature Photonics and led by the University of St Andrews. The researchers' hopes are it could eventually lead to medical applications where it would target and attract individual cells.
To us mere mortals, a tractor beam is usually thought of along side Star Trek, where the beam was used to move much bigger objects. Back in 2011, researchers out of China and Hong Kong showed how it could've been done with laser beams of a specific shape, and we've also had NASA funding a study which looked into how the technique might be used to manipulate samples in space.
The new study lead researcher, Dr Tomas Cizmar, research fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, said while the technique is new, it has huge potential. He continues:
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SpaceTT: Evidence of once water filled lake found on Mars, says NASA
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence that the 57 mile wide, 1.4 mile deep McLaughlin Crator once was filled with water that flowed from an underground source.
The evidence lies in the bottom of the crator where there are layered, flat rocks which contain carbonate and other minerals that form only in the presence of water. Small channels in the crator wall also resemble something you might find in a dried up lake bed here on Earth.
The findings were published in the latest edition of Nature Geoscience, and lend even more evidence that Mars could have once been a habitable planet. "This new report and others are continuing to reveal a more complex Mars than previously appreciated, with at least some areas more likely to reveal signs of ancient life than others," said Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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World not going to end in 2029 or 2036 due to Apophis astroid
Fans of the end of the world will have to wait just a bit longer to start cheering. NASA has just released information that the world will not be ending in an explosion caused by an asteroid in 2029 or 2036. Previously, the Apophis asteroid was thought that it could hit the Earth in 2036, with a low chance of collision in 2029.
NASA's new data suggests that there is only a one in a million chance of the asteroid colliding with Earth in 2036, which is small enough for NASA to effectively rule out the collision. NASA says that interest in the Asteroid will now be purely scientific for the foreseeable future.
The asteroid will pass within 9.3 million miles of the Earth, which is a bit close for my comfort. However, it's far enough away that nobody will need to build bunkers. So, until the next space scare, put away your end of the world gear.
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Introducing the Nanolight, the world's "most efficient" light bulb
Three students from the University of Toronto have designed a revolutionary new type of LED based light bulb that is orders of magnitude more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
The Nanolight is an LED based light bulb replacement that consumes just 12 watts of energy and produces 1600 lumens of light output. This is on par with a 100w incandescent bulb at almost 1/10th the power consumption. The new design claims to have solved the LED heat problem and has no need for an expensive aluminum heatsink.
The Nanolight has a lifespan of 30,000 hours and is estimated to cost a mere $50 in electricity over the full lifespan of the bulb. The company plans on producing a 10w Nanolight which would be equivalent to a 75w incandescent and cost even less to power.
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Lego unveils their next-generation robot, the EV3
Lego has announced that they will soon be offering up the next-generation of their Mindstorms line. The new system, which is the third-generation of its line, will be the EV3. EV3 sports a bunch of improved features in both hardware and software, where it's headed to the classroom and will also be used in Lego League competitions. Soren Thomsen of LEGO Education told Forbes:
We gathered information from teachers and coaches to meet their needs. This is a strong new kit that should last for a lot of years.
Some of the new features being built into EV3's kit include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the ability to add memory to the units - which is something that the Lego League teams have been asking for - as well as the file sizes of the programs being streamlined. The new EV3 has a 3D instruction manual which should make it easier for users to see all the pieces from all angles, allowing them to design and construct their own robots.
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ISS is really noisy, makes recording music hard
Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on the International Space Station, recorded a Christmas carol in space. While that alone is pretty awesome, the fact that he was able to make it sound good with all the background noise is the really impressive part. When he made a comment regarding the noise with his original post, people asked him just how loud it is on the ISS, so he made a recording.
As you can hear in the recording, there is quite a bit of noise. Most of it comes from the fans and ventilation system that is keeping the astronauts alive, so we doubt they are complaining too much. Besides, they have optional earplugs and noise cancelling headphones to keep it at bay.
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NASA looks to infinity, and beyond with their next-generation spacesuits
Sometime around 2015, NASA will incorporate a next-generation spacesuit that has a bunch of new features, but most noticeably, a new design. The new Z-1 NASA spacesuit will arrive in 2015 and offers a bunch of new advantages compared to the current and previous designs.
The biggest change would be the rear-entry hatch which lets an astronaut put the suit on from the back, and when finished, they just have to close the rear hatch. The current astronaut wear, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit, which has been in use since 1982, requires the wearer to put the pant and top portions on separately, and then connect them together.
Jumping into the spacesuit makes more sense, with its hatch being very handy for quick in-and-out experiences in the spacesuit. There's also a new suit port. Usually stored internally, the suit could attach to the exterior of the space vehicle, and the astronaut could easily enter the suit from inside the vehicle.
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Rheinmetall use 50kW laser weapon, pew pew to the max
Defense contractor Rheinmetall have just tested their 50kW high-energy laser weapon, which was a complete success. The 50kW laser works by looking for a target using something they call the 'Skyguard radar system', locks the target in with an optical scanner before it goes to work.
After it has looked for its target, locked it in, it will fire multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. The German-made HEL cannon was capable of cutting through a 15mm-thick steel girder, but that's not all - it managed to do so from over 3,200 feet away. If you thought that was impressive, the laser was able to taking down a UAV, where after reaching the programmed fire sector, the laser weapon engaged the UAV's immediately, destroying them in seconds - keep in mind that these UAVs were flying at high speeds. Pew, pew indeed.
Lastly, the laser system was used in detection, pursuit and successful engagement of "an extremely small ballistic target". The team used a steel ball measuring in at 82 mm, travelling at 50 meters per second. This was used to replicate a mortar round, which the Skyguard fire control unit detected immediately, tracked the target, engaged it and destroyed it mid-air.
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SpaceTT: North Korean satellite most likely dead and tumbling through space, according to astronomers
I'm sure most of you heard about that satellite that was launched into space by North Korea. Most of the developed world is upset at the country for this missile launch as many believe it was actually a test of a ballistic missile and not just to put a satellite in space. However, it looks like that satellite may now be broken.
"It's tumbling and we haven't picked up any transmissions," said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks global rocket launchings and space activity. "Those two things are most consistent with the satellite being entirely inactive at this point."
The reason for failure isn't immediately clear, though it appears as though the onboard systems have failed. "It's clear that the rocket part of this mission worked very well for the North Koreans," Dr. McDowell said in an interview. "They ended up in the right orbit. But the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the satellite failed either during the ascent or shortly afterwards."
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SpaceTT: Watch the end of the world live online!
Convinced that the world will end on December 21 2012? Well thanks to the folks running the Slooh Space Camera, you can watch it all unfold online!
The online Slooh Space Camera will broadcase a series of live cosmic shots all week starting today. The webcast which are free will aid in helping us keep track of any monster solar storms, impending asteroid strikes or other potential agents of the so-called "Mayan apocalypse" that doomsayers claim is set for Friday.
"By acting independently of any government agency, which assumedly would be disbelieved by the millions who are convinced a giant cover-up is in place, Slooh will observe the planets and the ecliptic plane for anything out of the ordinary," Said Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman.
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