Items tagged with Science

While the construction of new nuclear powerplants in the United States (and in other countries) seems to be falling out of favor, the same can’t be said for their use by the U.S. Military. The US Navy still relies on nuclear power for the bulk of its large warships. But while those ships are powered by nuclear fission reactors, the Navy is talking up the possibility of using much more promising fusion reactors. The problem is that [safely] harnessing nuclear fusion is incredibly more difficult than nuclear fission, and the currentspace requirements are immense. Nuclear fission occurs when isotopes of uranium or plutonium are bombarded with subatomic particles, splitting them apart... Read more...
One of a human baby’s most exciting developmental steps is learning and repeating their first word. However, we still do not fully understand what happens in the brain that helps this learning process takes place. Researchers are now a little closer to understanding speech development, however, and the methods they've employed take a cue from the science fiction movie, Inception. Scientists have actually implanted memories in birds' brains to teach them songs that the birds have previously not heard before. Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern have been working with cute little zebra finches over the last few years to unlock the mysteries of speech development. Zebra finches... Read more...
How long will human beings be the dominant species on the planet? One scientist argues that the reign of humans is coming to an end. Dr. James Lovelock recently contended that humans will be overcome and replaced by cyborgs. Dr. James Lovelock detailed the fall of humanity and the rise of cyborgs in his most recent publication Novacene. Lovelock is not the first person to argue that cyborgs will take over the earth. Elon Musk has contended that human beings will need to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) if they want to survive. He recently unveiled plans for his "Neuralink", which would literally attach wires to a person’s skull. Lovelock’s perspective is rather unique. He defines... Read more...
Global warming, nuclear warfare, and a new plague are potential ways that the human race can come to an end, to name just a few. Or an asteroid could barrel into our home planet and leave in its wake mass destruction, causing an extinction event. It's the thing of science fiction, but also real-life. In fact, a rock estimated to be around 187 to 427 feet wide recently zoomed past Earth, and hardly anyone noticed, including scientists. It wouldn't have destroyed humankind, but it could have decimated a really large area. Traveling at nearly 54,000 miles per hour (MPH), the hunk of rock referred to as 'Asteroid 2019 OK' hurled through space and missed Earth by only 45,000 miles. That may seem like... Read more...
An amateur astronomer and satellite tracker named Ralph Vandebergh has captured a very rare image of the secret U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane in orbit. The spacecraft is very small and difficult to find in orbit, but Vandebergh says that he had been hunting for the spacecraft in orbit for months before he finally found it in May. He snapped the fuzzy image of the X-37B seen below in June. He used the same trajectory from his initial discovery of the spacecraft to predict where it should be in mid-June when he was ready to snap the images. The catch was that the spacecraft failed to meet the expected time and path because it had shifted to a different orbit. Vandebergh says that a network of... Read more...
NASA has had an exciting month; it announced early in June that it intended to open the ISS to private astronauts tours for $35,000 per night. In addition, NASA has now announced that on June 14 a robot called Bumble became the first Astrobee robot to fly under its own power in space. Astrobee robots are free-flying systems meant to help researchers test new tech in zero gravity. Robots like Bumble can also perform routine work along with the astronauts living and working on the ISS. NASA sees a future where robots like Astrobee can be caretakers for the NASA lunar gateway and play a part in NASA's future missions exploring the Moon and Mars. Testing Bumble out on the ISS wasn't as simple... Read more...
It's not quite Skynet, but scientists have created "lifelike" machines seem like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Researchers from Cornell University has crafted what they call artificial machines using synthetic DNA that can move on their own, grow, evolve, consume resources and eventually die.  Now before you start putting on your judgmental hats and questioning the ethics of the researchers, they are quick to point out that their creations are not true "living" organisms. "We are introducing a brand-new, lifelike material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism," writes Dan Luo, who serves as a professor of biological and environmental engineer at Cornell. "We are... Read more...
SpaceX has performing admirably in its efforts to move the U.S. one step closer to being able to put its own astronauts into orbit again. The company was able to successfully launch its Crew Dragon capsule early this month, and the capsule later splashed down safely on return from the ISS. SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Musk, have a future that sees SpaceX doing more than putting astronauts into low Earth orbit; and that future includes interplanetary missions. Before those missions can be considered, the spacecraft that will be used has to be built and tested; SpaceX is into that testing process with Musk offering up a video of the critical heat shield tiles in testing. Heat shield tiles are the difference... Read more...
Elon Musk and SpaceX have been doing some very cool things over the past decade with rockets. While the rockets SpaceX has been sending into space aren’t the sort capable of flying to the moon or Mars, they are capable of ferrying cargo safely to the ISS in Earth orbit and mostly returning to Earth in one piece. The big news this week was the unveiling of the SpaceX BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) spacecraft that can fly to the moon and beyond. During the unveiling of the rocket, Musk said that the BFR already has its first passenger booked, but during the event, no names were offered. When Musk was asked if he was going to be the first passenger to fly around the moon, he simply tweeted a Japanese... Read more...
Engineers and researchers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to find problems inside the human body that allow doctors to determine what's going on internally without having to resort to cutting. A team from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) led by Professor Dina Katabi is working on a new wireless system that the team likens to an in-body GPS system called ReMix. The system is designed specifically to locate ingestible implants inside the body using a low-power wireless signal from outside the body. MIT Prof. Dina Katabi The idea is that the ReMix wireless system could allow medical personnel to determine the exact location of ingestible implants... Read more...
A group of researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a new battery breakthrough that could have a big impact on runtimes for the gadgets. The researchers have developed new material that can address the two chief complaints of batteries used in electronic devices now: relatively runtimes life and unwanted heat production. The team has applied for a patent for a magnetic material that has a unique honeycomb lattice structure that offers distinct electronical properties. “Semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are key elements in modern electronic devices,” said Deepak K. Singh, head researcher on the project, who also serves... Read more...
Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) have announced that they have created a new material that is a key step in creating the next generation of supercomputers. These next-generation quantum computers will be far faster than current supercomputers while consuming much less energy. The scientists on the project work in the OSU College of Science and the compound they have developed is an inorganic material that adopts a crystal structure. The material is capable of sustaining a new state of matter that is known as quantum spin liquid. That new compound is lithium osmium oxide and it has osmium atoms that form a honeycomb-like lattice, and can enforce a phenomenon called "magnetic... Read more...
MIT is poised to make a massive investment into the future of nuclear fusion power. This move is significant because fusion power is potentially inexhaustible and produces zero carbon emissions. Fusion power could quite literally change the world as we know it today. MIT has announced a new collaboration with a private company called Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) that will see $50 million poured into the creation of a working fusion power plant. MIT and CFS want to perform rapid, staged research that will lead to a new generation of fusion experiments and ultimately power plants based on advancement in high-temperature superconductors. The work will be built on decades of federal government... Read more...
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced a new power generating device that is able to use temperature fluctuations to create electricity. The technology is based on principals of thermoelectric devices able to generate power when one side of the device is a different temperature than the other. The device the MIT team has created doesn't require two different temperature inputs at the same time, rather this device harnesses changes in ambient temperature to create electric power as a virtually perpetual renewable energy source. MIT's Thermal Resonator - Virtually Infinite Power Source? The new system is called a thermal resonator and has the potential for... Read more...
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