Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 407
Google's research and development arm, known as Google X, is working on something new: the Baseline Study project. The goal of this new adventure is to hopefully one day, better detect health risks such as heart disease earlier in a patient's life, so that the patient can take preventative measures before it is too late.
Dr. Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist, is the lead on the Baseline Study project, who has been credited with creating a cheap way of scanning donated blood for HIV. Conrad joined the ranks of Google in March 2013, assembling a team of 70-80 experts in the fields of biochemistry, imaging, molecular biology, optics and technology.
Google's Baseline Study began earlier in the year through an unnamed clinical testing firm, where doctors started collecting bodily fluids such as urine, blood, saliva and tears from 175 anonymous volunteers. Google will use these fluids and its mammoth computing power to hopefully find patterns called biomarkers. These biomarkets will help the search giant, and its researchers detect health issues before a person even shows symptoms of this issue. We don't know when we will hear more about this, but it's great to see Google working on something so important with its resources.
Today just about everything we use relies on electricity to operate from our smartphones and computers to our toilets in some cases. On July 23, 2012, the sun threw two gigantic clouds of plasma into space and they barely missed the Earth. In fact, had the coronal mass ejections happened only a week before, they could have devastated life on Earth according to scientists.
These storms wouldn't have killed people necessarily, but they would have likely damaged satellites and the electrical grid to the point that anything that plugs into the wall wouldn't have worked. Physicist Daniel Baker says that if those solar eruptions had hit the Earth, we would still be picking up the pieces two years later.
NASA said, "Analysts believe that a direct hit ... could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair."
SpaceX is working on a way to be able to retrieve the main stage of the Falcon 9 rocket to be reused for future flights. This month the Falcon 9 was used to put six ORBCOMM satellites into space and after that launch was completed successfully, the main stage of the rocket went on to perform another test.
The main stage fell back into the atmosphere at hypersonic velocity and a camera on the outside of the rocket recorded the landing process. As the rocket came back to a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean, the main rockets fired up twice to slow the rocket down to a velocity of near zero at touchdown.
You can see in the video above that the landing process appears to have performed flawlessly. The landing legs on the rocket pop out and the rocket lowers itself into a very soft landing in the water before toppling over on its side in the ocean, as planned. SpaceX says that the structural integrity of the rocket was damaged during the flopping over horizontally portion but the camera footage shows things performed as planned and data needed was gathered in the test. The goal is to eventually land the main stage on a floating landing pad for reuse with no refurbishment.
A new technology being developed at Western Michigan University hopes to give coaches and medical staff a better glimpse when a player suffers a concussion on the field. A new pressure sensor designed for helmets uses printed electronics that sends information to a smartphone, providing immediate data on hit severity.
All data can be stored so coaches and staff can monitor each player's complete history following a concussion-related incident.
"Basically, this device or system would eliminate the possibility of inaccuracies from field judgments made by coaches, who rely on the self-assessment or self-reporting of players," said Massood Atashbar, WMU electrical and computer science professor, in a statement to local media. "The coach would receive real-time, actionable information when one of the players receives a potentially dangerous and serious impact to the head."
The winners of Britain's Great British Space Dinner contest have been announced by the UK Space Agency, deciding the extraterrestrial diet of English former Army Major Tim Peake as he makes his way to the International Space Station.
School kids across the country were asked to think up a Brit-themed, nutritious dinner suitable for eating in space. Elementary and high-school students entered the competition, and the winners have just been chosen by Peake and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who will work together with the designers to turn the dishes into real meals, edible aboard the ISS.
Among the winning dishes were a fusion English-Indian meal of spicy food and a rhubarb and custard dessert, from Chloe in Nova Hreod Academy, Swindon, and a full English breakfast in the form of a burger from Archie in Abberley Parochial V.C. Primary School in Worcestershire. Pictured is the Rocket Lolley, a three course meal all-in-one made of tomato and basil soup, a spicy mackerel curry, and the Eton mess dessert, by the KFSPACEGIRLS team from Emmanuel College, Gateshead. "I'm incredibly impressed with the creative and mouth-watering entries we've received from children all over the UK," said Peake, who will be aboard the Station for six months. "I'm really looking forward to enjoying a Great British Space Dinner on board the International Space Station."
President Barack Obama confirmed Malaysia Airlines MH17 was likely shot down over eastern Ukraine by Russian-supported separatists using a surface-to-air missile. Obama and military experts speaking to mainstream media aren't discussing much reasoning behind how they know - but it's plausible a Department of Defense military satellite saw a heat signature when the missile hit.
The U.S. government uses space-based technology to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles, serving as an early warning system. Newer satellites ushered in the Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) network that can identify missiles quicker so they can be intercepted.
Federal governments won't provide detailed images of the crash site, which spans several square miles, but commercial satellite owners could release further details. Some Earth-watching satellites have started to take a closer look at the airspace above eastern Ukraine. However, cloudy weather has hampered such efforts, but it could still be possible to identify how much the scene has been tampered with by rebels.
Typically, when we talk about missions to the ISS to resupply the crew aboard the space station, we are talking about SpaceX. The other company that has a contract in the US to resupply the ISS is Orbital Sciences, and it has just launched its third mission to the ISS.
Orbital put its Cygnus unmanned spacecraft into orbit yesterday with a cargo hold packed with supplies for the space station. Among the supplies aboard the spacecraft was food, science gear, and mini satellites. Cygnus launched and was successfully put into the required orbit to link up with the ISS after a "perfect" launch. Orbital has one more resupply mission set for this year with three to take place in 2015.
"Today's mission was the fourth successful launch of Antares in the past 15 months and the third deployment of Cygnus in less than year," said David W. Thompson, Orbital's president and CEO. "So far, our second operational CRS mission is off to a great start with Cygnus operating exactly as anticipated at this early stage of the mission. We are very pleased to be a reliable partner with NASA to meet their need for reliable, regularly scheduled cargo resupply for the ISS."
The Pentagon is investing millions of dollars to develop technology that can be used for brain implants able to help patients recall memories. The surgically-installed implant is the latest idea from "neuroprosthetics," designed to help military personnel wounded and suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has teamed up with the University of Pennsylvania and University of California at Los Angeles, working together on the Restoring Active Memory program. Geared towards declarative memory, which is the brain's method to "record and recall times, places and other facts necessary for daily living."
"We don't have the Rosetta Stone for the memory system," said Michael Kahana, University of Pennsylvania computational memory lab director, in a recent statement. "The DARPA project is trying to dramatically accelerate that effort to decipher that Rosetta Stone. We're poised to do it. With this multisite effort, we might just be able to pull it off."
The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against military targets proves to be successful, killing thousands of U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the civilian death toll is staggering, with IED and suicide bomber attacks boosting casualty rates among civilians 70 percent over the past three years, a report recently noted.
Unfortunately, there are very few technology-based solutions to defend civilians against IEDs, with bomb devices ranging from crude homemade IEDs to explosive devices useing military-grade supplies. As successfully demonstrated during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, a homemade pressure cooker IED with a mix of gunpowder, ball bearings and nails can be lethal - there was a final death toll of three people, injuring 264 athletes and spectators.
U.S. military personnel are relying more on armored vehicles, creating next-generation bomb detectors, and using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to conduct reconnaissance missions. The growing bloodshed in Iraq, however, will be difficult for local police officers and undertrained military personnel reduce civilian deaths. A massive 81 percent of 60,000 deaths recorded from 2011 to 2013 were civilians, and hit 66 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Thailand.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently tested a .50-caliber self-guided bullet that pairs a maneuverable round with a custom optical guidance system. The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance (EXACTO) round is designed to help snipers be even more effective, and provides a bigger standoff range.
The U.S. military hopes a self-guided round will make it easier to eliminate targets with a single shot - helping keep snipers hidden. Specifically, the guidance system will prove helpful in Afghanistan and other environments where there are high winds, dusty terrain, and sometimes harsh shooting conditions.
"This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed," according to DARPA. "EXACTO's specifically designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits."