Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 404
MIT's new discovery could see a future of truly sustainable solar power
Solar power, up until now, has not really been all that great - sure, it provides a different method of powering things, but it doesn't capture anywhere near enough light to truly replace coal, oil or nuclear power. But, this week a team of MIT researchers hope to put us on the path of truly sustainable solar power.
Current solar power technology is not that efficient, with the latest development in solar systems delivering around 32% efficiency. This was met with titles of a "major breakthrough" in solar power - but in reality, it's still nowhere near as good as it should be. At this rate, solar farms need to be gigantic, taking up valuable space, in order to collect a useful amount of energy. The price per square foot has always been another issue altogether.
The main issue is that solar energy collectors can only absorb a small amount of the energy being blasted onto it from our star, with the rest of the potential energy not being captured. A recent MIT study has proposed an "atomically thing" sheet of semiconducting material that would be stretched by pushing a pin down onto the center. This may not sound like much, but it has endless possibilities for the future of our species.
Continue reading: MIT's new discovery could see a future of truly sustainable solar power (full post)
Brave Robotics creates working Transformer robot with Wi-Fi camera
Ever since Transformers debuted back in the 1980s, toy creators have been trying their best to create their own real Transformer that would be able to change between a robot to a vehicle of some sort with the simple push of a button. It looks like one group has finally been able to produce a fully-functioning Transformer that not only is able to function as a robot and vehicle separately, but it also has a few awesome surprises as well.
Brave Robotics spent months building its Transformer-style toy that can switch between a luxury vehicle to a standing robot complete with projectiles that can be shot out of each arm. The mechanics of the robot changing from a vehicle to a robot and vice versa seems a little sloppy as in the video below, you can see the robot wobbling all over the place.
Not only can the toy be used as either a vehicle or robot, but it also has a Wi-Fi camera that faces the correct way regardless if the toy is in its vehicle or robot form.
Continue reading: Brave Robotics creates working Transformer robot with Wi-Fi camera (full post)
Disney has taught a humanoid robot to play catch, juggle - doesn't look like Arnie, thankfully
Here I am thinking we're getting closer to the end of the Mayan long-count calender, and the world won't end - but now Disney have taught one of their humanoid robotic subordinates how to play catch and juggle with human participants.
Yes, I'm not trolling - Disney have just unveiled this new effort, and designers have given the unit (not named the T100) a cup-shaped, human-like hand which helps with the catching and juggling. The robot uses an ASUS Xtion Pro Live camera which tracks faces and incoming balls - technology similar to Microsoft's Kinect.
The project started off with Kinect, but researchers switched to the ASUS Xtion Pro Live because they didn't need the Kinect's panning motor or microphone.
Continue reading: Disney has taught a humanoid robot to play catch, juggle - doesn't look like Arnie, thankfully (full post)
NASA might have big news from the red planet but won't talk about it just yet
NPR ran a story this morning after talking with scientists at NASA. It seems as though the Curiosity rover has found something incredible on the surface of Mars while analyzing soil. The SAM instrument, which is a miniature chemistry lab, is capable of figuring out what a sample is made of.
Data from SAM is currently coming back to NASA and it "looks really interesting." Of course, the scientists don't want to jump the gun announcing something that later turns out to be false. They almost had this happen back when the rover detected methane. It turned out the methane had come from air Curiosity had brought from Florida.
John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission: "We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting. The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down." He adds: "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."
Continue reading: NASA might have big news from the red planet but won't talk about it just yet (full post)
Wahoo's Balance scale works with your iOS device to keep track of your weight
Thanksgiving is fast approaching which means many of us will be traveling to make our way back home to celebrate and be thankful for all we have this year and to all fall into a food coma when all is said and done. Overindulging during the holidays will ruin all of your hard work at the gym, which is why a scale is such an important item to have in your weight-loss arsenal. Sure - you can make a trip to your local drug store to pick up any scale that catches your eye, or you can take a gander at Wahoo Fitness' Balance Smartphone Scale as it has way more bells and whistles than any regular scale.
The Balance Smartphone Scale doesn't just weigh you, but it can be used to track your weight and BMI over time and send it to your iOS devices instantly to Wahoo's Wellness application or other fitness apps that support the scale. With support of up to 16 different users, there's no way anyone in your household won't be able to keep track of their fitness. The scale will also store up to 130 weight readings for when you can't sync the data to your iOS device.
The Balance Smartphone Scale will be available for the first week of December with pre-orders currently available at WahooFitness.com for $99.
Continue reading: Wahoo's Balance scale works with your iOS device to keep track of your weight (full post)
Man films UFO over Denver, tells CNN who are skeptical, check it out themselves and film the same UFOs on camera
News outlet CNN were notified by a Denver Metro area man of a UFO he recorded on his digital camera. He stood on the hilltop of Federal Heights, Denver and pointed his camera south toward downtown Denver capturing caught footage of an unidentified flying object. The man caught the UFOs flying at between noon and 1pm. The UFOs are flying too fast to see with the naked eye, and can only be spotted when played back on video.
Steve Cowell, Aviation Expert, former commercial pilot, instructor and FAA accident prevention counsellor. "That is not an aeroplane, that is not a helicopter, those are not birds, uhhh, I can't identify it". Cowell told CNN that he knows of no aircraft that can fly that fast. Cowell did state that there was one other possibility, "perhaps there's some sort of debris, that is being raised up by some of the atmospheric winds".
But in his professional opinion, he tells CNN "it is an unidentified flying object". The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) monitors all air traffic across the entire of the United States, and sent the CNN a statement saying:
Continue reading: Man films UFO over Denver, tells CNN who are skeptical, check it out themselves and film the same UFOs on camera (full post)
NASA & ESA test "interplanetary Internet" connection, controlled a Lego robot in Germany from the ISS
NASA and the European Space Agency have just gone where no man has ever gone before, by testing out an "interplanetary Internet" connection. It wasn't quite Mars to Earth, but involved an astronaut on the International Space Station controlling a small robot here on Earth.
NASA is trying to respark the imagination of Americans, and with this latest mission showing off a new communications protocol, it is definitely on the right path. A new communications protocol capable of transmitting data between planets and spaceships - just typing this feels odd, but quite exciting at the same time.
The new protocol is known as Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN), and is capable of allowing for many disconnections and errors that would occur when a signal travels long distances through space. NASA deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation, Badri Younes, said in a statement:
Continue reading: NASA & ESA test "interplanetary Internet" connection, controlled a Lego robot in Germany from the ISS (full post)
China to launch manned mission spaceship in June 2013
It looks like China is taking off to the stars next year, with a new manned space mission locked in for June 2013. A senior official in charge of the manned space programme has said that the three-person crew would consist of two men and one woman, reports the BBC.
China is the third country to independently send a person into space, second only after Russia and the United States. The new plan follows the flight of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which returned to Earth in late-June. The Shenzhou 9 was part of China's first manual space docking mission, which was a huge milestone in China's ambitious space programme.
The mission also saw another milestone: carrying China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang. Next year's mission could happen as early as June, but there are back-up launch windows slotted in for both July and August, according to Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the manned space programme.
Continue reading: China to launch manned mission spaceship in June 2013 (full post)
Tokelau islands can now solely rely on solar power
Solar panels are slowing oozing their way across the world, being slapped onto peoples' houses to power their houses. But, some panels don't have enough tech inside to completely power your house from the sunlight captured.
Well, research and development into new methods of capturing sunlight on solar panels is an ongoing thing, with the New Zealand territory of Tokelau being a great example. Tokelau is a group of three islands in the South Pacific which now has enough solar panel installations to completely meet their electrical needs.
Just recently, the islands relied on importing diesel fuel to power electrical generators, but as the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murry McCully has said, this has huge economic and environmental costs. The project was funded by the New Zealand government to the tune of $7 million, with a collection of solar panels installed on each of the three islands.
Continue reading: Tokelau islands can now solely rely on solar power (full post)
Physicists could prove that we live in a computer simulation, probably without sunglasses, leather and slow-mo
When The Matrix came out in 1999, so many people walked out thinking "are we living in a computer program?" and it looks like physicists are thinking outside the square when it comes to our origins.
Nick Bostrom has hypothesized that the existence of our race could end up being nothing more than the algorithmic results of a computer simulation. It may sound a little nuts, but it sounds no less crazy than some theories given to use by not science and religion.
The best bit of this is that researchers have reached the point where they have a way that they can test this thought experiment. A team of scientists out of the University of Bonn in Germany suggest that even the most powerful Universe simulation would be subject to certain limitations of its host Universe.
Continue reading: Physicists could prove that we live in a computer simulation, probably without sunglasses, leather and slow-mo (full post)