Tim O'Reilly has a post about how the prominent scholarly journal Nature has recently launched an open-access service called Nature Precedings for pre-publication research and presentations. All content is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License, and can be commented and voted on. The service will cover research in biology, chemistry, and earth science, much like arXiv.org does for physics, mathematics, and computer science.
Robert Bigelow has announced a price of $15 million for a four-week trip to one of the private space stations Bigelow Aerospace will deploy, with a price of $3 million for an additional four weeks. This drastically undercuts the Russian Space Agency's $25 million price for a week or two on the ISS. Bigelow also stated that interested countries and companies could lease an entire in-orbit research facility for $88 million/year.
Wired reports on a glove developed by Stanford researchers Dennis Grahn and Craig Heller which combines a cooling system with a vacuum in order to chill blood vessels and drastically reduce fatigue. Besides the obvious military and athletics applications, the technology is also potentially useful for firefighters, stroke victims, and people with multiple sclerosis. The Wired article also describes a number of other human enhancement projects, many of which were opposed by the President's Council on Bioethics.
(I have some concerns about their methodology, but it's still an interesting story)
Besides the obvious exercise benefits, it seems that the Dance Dance Revolution video game may also help out children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A recent study in which sixth-graders with ADHD played DDR Disney Mix for an hour each week suggests that playing the game improved their focus and attention, although further studies are planned to get a better understanding of how it could help kids out.
At a recent talk, Michael Griffin outlined NASA's plans for helping to generate a robust and competitive commercial market in orbital spaceflight. The speech and Q&A transcripts from the talk are available. In a move reminiscent of the US government kickstarting the early airline industry by purchasing airmail services, NASA plans on supplementing government-derived transport by purchasing cargo delivery services to the International Space Station from commercial providers, followed by crew transportation after the systems have proven themselves. Unlike traditional government contracts, sellers wouldn't see a profit before the services are delivered and the emphasis will be on actual performance instead of process and specifications. Aviation Week has some commentary on the announcement.
Two prominent science fiction authors have released their newest
novels as free downloads (in addition to bookstore physical copies). The first is Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, by Cory Doctorow. This is an unconventional story about an entrepreneur (who happens to be the child of a mountain and a washing machine) who gets involved in a scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless mesh network, among other things. The second is Accelerando, by Charles Stross, which tells the tale of three generations of the Macx family (beginning with perptually-slashdotted venture altruist Manfred Macx) in the years leading up to and beyond a technological singularity. To help provide more info on certain technical topics from Stross's novel, I've started up a Technical Companion on wikibooks.
(another one of my rejected slashdot entries))
Video Games Live, a rather atypical concert event, starts this Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl. For the concert (mentioned a couple months ago on slashdot), the 105-piece L.A. Philharmonic will be performing over 20 pieces of video game music, including soundtracks from Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Castlevania, Warcraft, and Metal Gear Solid. Flashier aspects include a light-show accompanying Tron music and a full choir singing themes from Halo. It's hoped that the concert will help introduce more people to live orchestral music, as well as raise awareness of the often-ignored qualities of video game soundtracks. The concert is the first leg of an 18-city nationwide tour.
Although events such as SpaceShipOne's suborbital spaceflights and the upcoming maiden launch of SpaceX's privately-built Falcon I orbital rocket have resulted in many conflicting predictions about the future of the commercial space market. The Space Review has an article which proposes using information aggregation markets (also known as idea futures or prediction markets) to aggregate the forecasts of professional and armchair experts. These types of markets, where traders essentially 'put their money where their mouth is' and profit from accurate predictions, are arguably the most effective means of predicting future trends and events. Possible securities could include the predicted launch costs, the strength of carbon nanotube cables, and the number of private astronauts in a particular year. With such a system in place, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers would have more reliable information on what to expect from commercial space activities and how to best invest in them.