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To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars

October 20, 2010

(NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science)

Paul Davies, a physicist and cosmologist from Arizona State University, and Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University associate professor, argue for a one-way manned mission to Mars.

In an article, “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars,” published in Volume 12 of the Journal of Cosmology, the authors write that while technically feasible, a manned mission to Mars and back is unlikely to lift off… read more

Will 2D tin be the next super material for chip interconnects?

New single-layer material could go beyond graphene, conducting electricity with 100 percent efficiency at room temperature
November 25, 2013

Adding fluorine atoms (yellow) to a single layer of tin atoms (grey) should allow a predicted new material, stanene, to conduct electricity perfectly along its edges (blue and red arrows) at temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit). (Yong Xu/Tsinghua University; Greg Stewart/SLAC)

Move over, graphene. “Stanene” —  a single layer of tin atoms — could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at the temperatures that computer chips operate, according to a team of theoretical physicists led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

Stanene — the Latin name for tin (stannum) combined with the… read more

PhoneSat — NASA’s smartphone nanosatellite

August 29, 2012

android-phonestat

NASA’s new PhoneSat project at Ames Research Center will soon demonstrate the ability to launch the lowest-cost and easiest-to-build satellites ever flown in space by using consumer smartphones.

Smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios.

NASA engineers kept the total cost of the components to build each… read more

Army Corps of Engineers using 3D printers to create dam models

January 30, 2013

Sacramento District commander Col. Bill Leady shows off a 1/240-scale 3D-printed model of the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway in Folsom, Calif., during a site visit in May 2012 (credit: Michael J. Nevins)

About 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District construction crews are working to complete one of the Corps’ biggest projects — a new spillway at Folsom Dam, designed to help reduce the risk of flooding throughout the Sacramento region.

With an estimated project cost of more than $750 million, it’s important to be able to show and describe how the project will… read more

How to control fruit flies by putting designer drugs in their food

Don't tell Alex Jones about this, whatever you do!
September 9, 2013

Drosophila melanogaster aka fruit fly (credit: Mr.checker/ Wikimedia Commons)

So scientists at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans have figured out how to control fruit-fly behavior and physiology by spiking their food with a designer drug called (we’re not making this up) DREADD (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs).

The idea is to give them Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, ALS, and mental illness.

That’s all we need, crazed… read more

Colossal explosion from supermassive black hole at center of galaxy revealed

September 25, 2013

black_hole_jet

Two million years ago, a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy erupted in an explosion so immensely powerful that it lit up a cloud 200,000 light years away, a team of researchers led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

The finding is an exciting confirmation that black holes can “flicker,” moving from maximum power to switching off over short periods of… read more

Khan Academy adds computer science courses

August 15, 2012

spinning_galaxy

Khan Academy has added a set of computer science courses to its popular collection of learn-at-home instructional videos. For the project, Khan tapped jQuery creator John Resig, who chose JavaScript as the first language to teach students. The initial set of tutorials cover drawing, programming basics, animation and user interaction.

Titan supercomputer capable of 20 petaflops peak performance

October 30, 2012

Titan_ornl

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has launched a new era of scientific supercomputing today with Titan, a system capable of more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second — or 20 petaflops — peak performance by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units (GPUs) first created for computer gaming.

Titan is now one of the world’s fastest supercomputers,… read more

Solar achieves grid parity in India and Italy, others to follow in 2014

April 8, 2013

Solar panels

Analysts at Deutsche Bank have predicted that the global solar PV sector will transition from a subsidized market to a sustainable market within a year, citing the arrival of “grid parity” in a number of key markets, unexpectedly strong demand and rebounding margins, reports Renew Economy.

The Deutsche Bank team said key markets such as India, China and the U.S. are experiencing strong demand and solar… read more

Life on other planets could be far more widespread

Some of it could be underground
January 16, 2014

snowball_planet

Earth-sized planets can support life at least ten times farther away from stars than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the University of St Andrews.

A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface.

The team challenges the traditional “habitable zone” or “Goldilocks zone”… read more

Synchronized oscillators may allow for computing that works like the brain

May 15, 2014

oscillating_switch

Computing is currently based on binary (Boolean) logic, but a new type of computing architecture created by electrical engineers at Penn State stores information in the frequencies and phases of periodic signals and could work more like the human brain.

It would use a fraction of the energy necessary for today’s computers, according to the engineers.

To achieve the new architecture, they used a thin film… read more

Nutrient mixture and varied brain activities improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s

A mixture of choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA -- precursors to the lipid molecules in brain-cell membranes -- help overcome loss of connections between brain cells, and diversifying the mental space that you explore may also decrease your risk
July 16, 2012

mit_alzheimer_synapse

A clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease treatment developed at MIT has found that the nutrient cocktail can improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s.

The results confirm and expand the findings of an earlier trial of the nutritional supplement, which is designed to promote new connections between brain cells.

Alzheimer’s patients gradually lose synapses, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. The… read more

Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the ‘new normal’

July 31, 2012

Pinyon pine forests near Los Alamos, N.M., had already begun to turn brown from drought stress in the image at left, in 2002, and another photo taken in 2004 from the same vantage point, at right, show them largely grey and dead. (Photo by Craig Allen, U.S. Geological Survey)

The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century.

Such climatic extremes have increased as a result of global warming, a group of 10 researchers reported Sunday in Nature Geoscience. And… read more

How ‘bullet time’ will revolutionize exascale computing

The filming technique used in The Matrix will change the way we access the huge computer simulations of the future, say computer scientists
February 12, 2013

( Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The exascale computing era is almost upon us and computer scientists are already running into difficulties. 1 exaflop is 10^18 floating point operations per second, that’s a thousand petaflops. The current trajectory of computer science should produce this kind of  capability by 2018 or so.

How do humans access and make sense of the exascale data sets?

The answer, of course, is to find some way to compress… read more

A magnetic levitating gear system for zero friction and wear

December 2, 2014

Credit: UC3M

Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are developing a new gear transmission mechanism with no touching parts, based on magnetic forces that prevent friction and wear and make lubrication unnecessary.

The device has potential applications in railroad and aircraft industries, as well as in space travel and exploration.

The design uses a magnetic gear reducer, that is, a mechanism that transforms speed from an input axle… read more

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