cylonlover writes: Now that the media kerfuffle surrounding Elon Musk's Hyperloop transit system proposal has settled down to a dull roar, it's a good time to step back and consider in detail some of the real innovations and difficult issues raised through analysis of the 57-page Hyperloop plan. The shortest description of the Hyperloop is Musk's own bon mot: "It's a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table." In this article I am only considering the science and engineering aspects of the Hyperloop. While acknowledging that political issues may actually determine its fate, what concerns us here is whether or not it could work.
cylonlover writes: If you thought Facebook was only good for spamming you with Farmville updates and showing you what your high school classmates ate for lunch, think again. The social network just teamed up with a consortium of other tech big-wigs to form Internet.org, an organization dedicated to bringing the internet to the two-thirds of the world that is still without it. In addition to Mark Zuckerberg's social network, the Internet.org initiative lists Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung as the other founding members.
cylonlover writes: Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are testing a new propulsion system... inside the station. While this might seem like the height of recklessness, this particular system doesn't use rockets or propellants. Developed in the University of Maryland's Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, this new electromagnetic propulsion technology called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (RINGS) uses magnetic fields to move spacecraft as a way to increase service life and make satellite formation flying more practical.
cylonlover writes: If NASA has anything to say about it, Kepler is down, but not out. At a press teleconference on Thursday it announced that it has abandoned efforts to repair the damaged unmanned probe, which was designed to search for extrasolar planets and is no longer steady enough to continue its hunt. But the space agency is looking into alternative missions for the spacecraft based on its remaining capabilities.
cylonlover writes: Heart transplants have given new life to thousands, but are only an unfulfilled hope to thousands more due to a shortage of donor organs. With the goal of meeting this shortfall, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have bioengineered a mouse heart in the lab that beats on its own. The mouse heart had its cells replaced with human cells, offering the potential of growing custom replacement hearts that wouldn't be rejected by the recipient.
cylonlover writes: There’s something comforting about a map with “You are here” marked on it, but not when the arrow points to a spot where giant asteroids are whizzing by like cannon balls in a pirate movie. NASA has released a map of the inner Solar System showing the orbits of the 1,400 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) known as of early this year. According to the agency, the plots show the orbits of asteroids over 460 ft (140 m) in diameter that pass within 4.7 million miles (7.5 million km) of Earth.
cylonlover writes: Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D. and her team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have improved upon the Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) technology they developed back in 2012. The ultra smooth surface, which the team claims is the slipperiest known synthetic surface, has now been made transparent and more durable, giving it the potential to make the issues glass has with sticky liquids, frost and ice formation, and bacterial biofilms a thing of the past.
cylonlover writes: When it comes to commercial aquaculture, a lot of people have some legitimate concerns – fish farms can introduce antibiotics, anti-algal chemicals and concentrated fish waste into the ocean; escaped fish can upset the local ecological balance; and wild fish still need to be caught in large numbers, as a food source for some species of farmed fish. While there have been recent efforts to address the first two concerns, the fish-in-the-fish-food problem is now being taken on in two different research projects. These are aimed at replacing the fish content in fish feed with more sustainable ingredients.
cylonlover writes: If Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University ever opens a burger bar, you might want to take a close look at the prices before you order. On Monday, at a press conference in London, a burger made by Post and his team was served that cost a cool €250,000 (about US$330,000). The reason? The beef that went into making it never saw a pasture and the people in the white coats who handed it to the chef weren't butchers, but bioengineers.
"The burger had a very bland, neutral flavor,” said Josh Schonwald, Chicago-based author of Taste of Tomorrow. “The thing that made it most similar to real beef was the texture. When I bit into it, I was impressed with the bite and how it had a kind of density that was familiar."
cylonlover writes: Given that icebreakers clear a path for other ships by traveling through the ice head-on (or sometimes butt-on), then in order for one of them to clear a wider path, it would have to be wider and thus larger overall... right? Well, Finland’s Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is taking a different, more efficient approach. It’s in the process of building an asymmetric-hulled icebreaker that can increase its frontal area, by making its way through the ice at an angle of up to 30 degrees.
cylonlover writes: Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It’s a mature, reliable technology, but it’s reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter.
cylonlover writes: Thanks to efforts of groups such as Google, Oxford University, BMW and Continental, we’re getting closer and closer to the advent of autonomous cars – vehicles that drive themselves, with the human “driver” pretty much just along as a passenger. Researchers at Germany’s Technische Universität München (TUM), however, are looking at taking things a step further. They’re developing remote-control cars that could travel along city streets with no one in them at all, their operator located somewhere far away.
cylonlover writes: Flies are usually considered unwelcome guests in the kitchen, but one industrial designer is aiming to turn them into a renewable food source. Katharina Unger's Farm 432 concept is a fly-breeding device for home use that continually collects fly larva as a protein source for less squeamish diners. As unappetizing as it may sound, the designer hopes that convincing the Western world to add insects to its diet could help increase the planet's overall food supply.
cylonlover writes: People have been shooting things into space since the 1940s, but in every case this has involved using rockets. This works, but it’s incredibly expensive with the cheapest launch costs hovering around US$2,000 per pound. This is in part because almost every bit of the rocket is either destroyed or rendered unusable once it has put the payload into orbit. Reusable launch vehicles like the SpaceX Grasshopper offer one way to bring costs down, but another approach is to dump the rockets altogether and hurl payloads into orbit. That's what HyperV Technologies Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia is hoping to achieve with a “mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator” called the slingatron.
cylonlover writes: The Honourable Usain Bolt (Order of Jamaica; Commander of the Order of Distinction) is often held out as the world's fastest man. The reigning Olympic champion in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints as well as a member of the Olympic champion 4x100 meter relay team, Bolt is the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting, and is a five-time world champion. Long and lanky at 6 ft 5 in (2 m) tall, he towers above the (mostly) much shorter sprinters. How has he managed to come out on top for the past five years? A team of physicists from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) has analyzed Bolt's past performances in the 100-meter sprint to understand what makes a record-breaker.