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NASA's Garver Proposes Carving Piece Off Big Asteroid For Near-Earth Mining 110

MarkWhittington writes "According to a July 26, 2013 story in Space News, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver mused about what appeared to be a change to the space agency's asteroid snatching mission at the NewSpace 2013 conference. Apparently the idea is to send a robot to a larger asteroid than originally planned, carve out a chunk of it, and then bring it to lunar orbit for an crew of astronauts to visit in an Orion space ship. Garver's proposed change would widen the number of target asteroids and would test technologies important for asteroid mining. But it would also increase the complexity and certainly the cost of the asteroid mission. There are a lot of unanswered questions, such as what kind of mechanism would be involved in taking a piece of an asteroid and moving it? At the same conference Garver had hinted at a willingness to consider mounting a program of "sustainable" lunar exploration, as some in Congress have demanded, concurrent with the asteroid mission."

MIT Researcher Demos Self-Assembling Objects 69

iONiUM writes "From the article: 'Many are only just getting their heads around the idea of 3D printing but scientists at MIT are already working on an upgrade: 4D printing. At the TED conference in Los Angeles, architect and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits showed how the process allows objects to self-assemble.' There could be many applications for this. Definitely a cool step forward." Pictures and video of the process.
The Military

Researchers Create Chemically Powered Robotic Jellyfish 36

pigrabbitbear writes with an excerpt from an article at Motherboard: "Earlier last week we heard about the strange blob-bot, an amoeba-mimicking, pulsating, little horror of a robot. But that's nothing in the face of news that engineers at Virginia Tech have built a robotic jellyfish. As if the threat of the oceans being taken over by deadly stinging jelly cyborgs isn't scary enough, there's this: the researchers claim that, because their Robojelly is powered by a hydrogen-based catalytic reaction, rather than electricity, it could 'theoretically' power itself indefinitely. When you consider our best options for powering underwater craft are currently batteries, nuclear reactors, or tethers to the surface, a chemically-powered propulsion system is groundbreaking (and, well, a bit nerve-wracking)." The full paper is available for free (at least for 30 days; registration required).

Designers Create Meat Eating Furniture Screenshot-sm 120

Sonny Yatsen writes "NPR's Robert Krulwich explores the work of several designers who are working on carnivorous furniture. These creations, include a clock that feeds on dead flies, and a table that lures mice into a guillotined death. 'We want robots to be able to get their own energy from the environment,' says co-designer Prof. Melhuish. Let's hope they come up with a lounge chair that eats cockroaches sometime soon."

Malaysia Releases Genetically Modified Mosquitoes 140

Blessed_by_the_Cow writes "Apparently, Malaysian scientists have released 6,000 genetically modified male mosquitoes into the the wild. These bloodsuckers have been altered to have shorter lifespans. The basic idea behind it is to help slow down the spread of Dengue fever by killing off the mosquitoes faster."

MIT Researchers Harness Viruses To Split Water 347

ByronScott writes "A team of researchers at MIT has just announced that they have successfully modified a virus to split apart molecules of water, paving the way for an efficient and non-energy-intensive method of producing hydrogen fuel. 'The team, led by Angela Belcher, the Germeshausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering, engineered a common, harmless bacterial virus called M13 so that it would attract and bind with molecules of a catalyst (the team used iridium oxide) and a biological pigment (zinc porphyrins). The viruses became wire-like devices that could very efficiently split the oxygen from water molecules. Over time, however, the virus-wires would clump together and lose their effectiveness, so the researchers added an extra step: encapsulating them in a microgel matrix, so they maintained their uniform arrangement and kept their stability and efficiency.'"

First Black Hole For Light Created On Earth 244

An anonymous reader writes "An electromagnetic 'black hole' that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time. The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity. A theoretical design for a table-top black hole to trap light was proposed in a paper published earlier this year by Evgenii Narimanov and Alexander Kildishev of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their idea was to mimic the properties of a cosmological black hole, whose intense gravity bends the surrounding space-time, causing any nearby matter or radiation to follow the warped space-time and spiral inwards."

Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas