Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 398
Solar panels will be much cheaper by 2017, would cost around 36c per watt
It looks like adoption rates of solar power are about to get much better, with the cost of photovoltaic solar panels expected to drop to around 36c per watt by 2017, according to new research by cleantech market research firm, GTM Research.
Solar panels are currently backed up by natural gas and other types of power plants on the electricity grid... but with solar panels costing just $0.36 per watt, this would make it a good idea to install many more solar panels to back each other up instead of relying on another, older, Earth- and human-harming way of generating power.
At 36c per watt, 1000W of solar power is only going to cost you $360. With these costs arriving by 2017, we're not far from a far brighter (pun intended) future. Read more on this at the source.
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Google's engineering director says humanity is close to achieving immortality
Google's engineering director, Ray Kurzweil, has come out with a crazy prediction - that the human race will soon develop the technology to keep us alive forever. CNBC reports that Kurzweil told the Global Future 2045 World Congress this week that life expectancies "will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now."
Kurzweil added that within "probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress." This means that Kurzweil thinks within the next 20 years, technology will have reached a point to add more years to our lives than the pace we currently live at through natural ageing. I don't quite think we'll get there, with all of the government regulation and the idea that everything has to be about making money - and everyone not dying surely has to have some serious consequences.
If no one died, how would the economies of the world work exactly? If you could live for 5000 years, you'd live a much different life than you would now, wouldn't you? It really does make you think - what do you think about living forever?
Continue reading: Google's engineering director says humanity is close to achieving immortality (full post)
Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test
I think mainstream science has been suppressed for a very long time now, and it's about time that we find out, as a human race, what the reality of our existence really is. The first steps in this, are reversing the mainstream points of science. It looks like NASA could do something good here, with their latest field test that could prove that there is a possibility of faster-than-light travel.
Harold White and his team at NASA have been working on something called the Alcubierre Drive. This new method could use a solution which would see a craft placed within a space that is moving faster than the speed of light. This means that the craft itself isn't moving at the speed of light, meaning the craft itself doesn't need a propulsion system capable of travelling at that speed. This is where things get a little confusing, so grab your white lab coat and come on a walk with me.
The Alcubierre Drive is based on Einstein's field equations, which suggest that a spacecraft could indeed travel faster than the speed of light. But, instead of the craft itself pushing past the speed of light, it would do so by contracting space from in front of it, and expanding the space behind it - a nice trick. It's this type of science that I love reading about, and I think this is the future of space travel - thinking outside the box, which this kind of is.
Continue reading: Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test (full post)
ScienceTT: NASA looking to bring Star Trek replicator to life, funding 3D printer capable of printing food
"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" It's the classic line from TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain Picard walks up to the Replicator in his living quarters and orders a cup of tea. While some have likened that scene with the consumer level 3D printers of today, we are still unable to replicate food from thin air. NASA is looking to change that.
With 3D printers growing cheaper and more popular by the day, it only makes sense for NASA to investigate the use of RepRap style 3D printers for making a hot slice of pizza, right? Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor received a $125,000 grant from the agency to build a prototype 3D printer with the aim of automating food creation.
The idea behind the project is to take a RepRap Mendel 3D printer and convert the extrusion head to print a mixture of "nutrients" that will form the basis of the food product you wish to eat. Contractor says the nutrient cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, making them stable enough for space travel. The project will begin with a proof of concept test where he will print chocolate and the plan is to ramp up from there.
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SpaceTT: Serious malfunction shuts down NASA's Kepler Space Telescope
This morning we are waking up to the news that NASA's Kepler Space Telescope may have just came to an early end of mission due to a faulty piece of orientation hardware. The fault falls within one of the wheels that stabilize and help keep the spacecraft pointed in the right direction.
When Kepler needs to be repositioned or stabilized for image capturing, three wheels are spun up to take advantage of centripetal force. Kepler needs three of its wheels running at all times to ensure a stable orientation. On Wednesday NASA officials announced that one of those three wheels had stopped functioning, which put the telescope into "safe mode."
Unfortunately, unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler is far away from our reach and was not designed to be serviceable. Plus, with the shuttle program long gone, it's not like we would have a way to get to it anyway. "Kepler's not in a place where I can go up and rescue it, or any other astronaut," said John Grunsfeld, the head of science at NASA, and the man who is famous for repairing the Hubble.
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SpaceTT: Coolant leak on the International Space Station poses no threat to astronauts, says NASA
Yesterday, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) discovered an ammonia leak in a coolant loop that cools the power system attached to one of the large solar arrays on the ISS. NASA officials say that the crew of six is in no danger and that this leak will most likely result in the array being shut down until the leak is fixed.
This same system has had leaks before, in 2007 a leak in the same spot was discovered, but was much smaller then and was such that it did not warrant an immediate repair. It was so small that the system was recharged with just eight pounds of ammonia in 2011 during a visit from the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Last November, an attempt to repair the leak was made during spacewalks made by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese space flyer Akihiko Hoshide. The fix was only temporary though and now it has reared its ugly head again.
"It is a serious situation, but between crew and experts on the ground, it appears to have been stabilized. Tomorrow we find out for certain," space station commander Chris Hadfield of Canada wrote Thursday via Twitter, where he posts updates as @Cmdr_Hadfield.
Continue reading: SpaceTT: Coolant leak on the International Space Station poses no threat to astronauts, says NASA (full post)
Google and Time team up to launch Timelapse, a new tool for viewing how Earth has changed
This morning Google and Time released the culmination of a project in which they teamed up with NASA and the US Geological Survey to produce a historical perspective on how Earth has changed over the past 30 years.
The project takes satellite imagery produced by the LandSat program and stitches them together removing clouds and haze to produce animated GIF images of how a region has changed over the past three decades. The Time.com hosted site features a handful of pre-chosen sites such as the Amazon Rainforest, Las Vegas, Dubai, Mendenhall Glacier and the Oil Sands fields in Russia.
The project consists of literally millions of individual images taken by the LandSat satellites that have been orbiting Earth at an altitude of over 400 miles since the 1970's. The project began in 2009 when Google began working with the USGS to make the entire archive of LandSat imagery available to the public.
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World's smallest video by IBM features actors played by atoms, certified by Guinness
The video you are about to see was not created in CGI, nor does it use any of Hollywood's video trickery. Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Lab in San Jose, CA, have figured out a way to precisely move and manipulate individual atoms in very precise ways. So precise, in fact, that they were able to film the world's smallest video using nothing but the building blocks of all matter.
When it comes to the things I love, the video above is about as high on the list as it gets. The simple fact that we have the technology to now take an individual atom and place it anywhere in space that we want is simply astounding, when you consider the fact that less than 100 years ago we had no idea that atoms even existed. To get a scale of what is going on here, each dot has been magnified about 100,000,000 times.
The video was made by using a scanning tunneling microscope that weighs as much as a full sized truck and operates at -268 degrees Celsius. The positioning of the atoms was achieved by moving a very tiny needle across the surface of a piece of copper the size of a postage stamp with a height from the surface of just one nanometer.
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Curiosity back in contact with NASA handlers, NASA discuss what the next steps are
Everybody's favorite little rover, Curiosity, is back in contact with its handlers on Earth, now that Mars and Earth are in an alignment where communication is possible. Curiosity had previously been sitting mostly idle for the last four weeks while the sun blocked communications between Earth and Mars.
The first step NASA has to complete is to update Curiosity's software. After Curiosity is brought up to speed, its handlers will instruct the rover to continue analysis on Yellowknife Bay. Yellowknife Bay is the location that Curiosity has already found the basic building blocks of life.
We just didn't stumble into this area. This was something that took a lot of planning. In case something happened with the rover we needed to make sure we had science to do in that landing ellipse. What was serendipitous was landing in a past aqueous environment and finding sulfates and clays...The hope is we find some other examples of habitable environments. There are a bunch of different geological reasons why there could be more of less carbon in one place.
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Anti-gravity has been through its first test at Cern's Alpha experiment
Researchers at Cern in Switzerland have some interesting things to play with, and have now proved the merits of a way to test antimatter as a source of the thing we all want to see in our futures: "anti-gravity".
Antimatter particles are the "mirror image" of normal matter, but have an opposite electric charge. Antimatter and its relationship with gravity is still a mystery, but it may just simple "fall up" rather than down. Researchers reporting in Nature Communications have made a few steps toward solving this notion.
Antimatter continues to be one of the biggest question marks in physics, where equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created at the Universe's beginning. But, if the two were to shake hands, they destroy each other in what is called annihilation, turning into pure light. Cern's Alpha experiment is here to help the researchers hopefully solve this.
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