India Launches Their First Mars Bound Missions

India have just made a move that could see them enter into the interplanetary leagues as they launch their first rocket with a payload destined for the red planet. Of course their new Mars mission has to be successful for them to be classed along side the other countries that made it to the planet. Many have tried and only three countries have ever succeeded in the past. The Soviet Union attempted it in the 60’s, so did America, Japan took their shot in 90’s and Europe didn’t join the race until 2003. The most recent attempt was of course China in 2011.

India’s “Mars Orbiter Mission” is a satellite that will search the Martian atmosphere for chemicals such as methane. It will reach the red planet in about 300 days, but it still has to beat the odds that less than half of all Mars bound missions thus far have been successful.

At around $72 million the Mars Orbiter Mission is relatively cheap, and if successful could really help boost the countries aerospace industry. This would also put them ahead of China in some sectors since their mission for Mars didn’t get beyond earth orbit.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Dad 3D Printed A Prosthetic Hand For His Son

We already know that 3D printers are cool, they’ve been put to use for imaginative purposes that we didn’t even think of before there were 3D printers and that trend is showing no sign of slowing down. 3D printing really is the next big thing and as prices for the hardware comes down, and the ease of use improves over time, it shouldn’t be long before we are all purchasing a 3D printer.

Paul McCarthy’s son was born without fingers and a real prosthetic could cost around $10,000 and perhaps many times more than that! McCarthy was looking for a functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon when he found an online video from Ivan Owen, an inventor from Washington State.

Ivan created a 3D printed prosthetic hand that anyone could make, McCarthy spent around $2000 on the printer, and around $10 on materials, printed the model and now his son has a working hand and likes to think of himself as a Cyborg.

Not only does the hand work, it also looks really cool and I love the idea that he can customise it over time by printing a different finger or attachment for different tasks and it would only cost him a few dollars.

We also have a lot of respect for Ivan Owen for not placing a patent on such an important design and allowing others to use them on their own 3D printers.

Thank you MSN for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of CBS.

World View Enterprises To Sell $75000 Balloon Rides To Near-Space

Companies offering trips to space are nothing new, but where companies like Virgin Galactic want to use a more familiar style of flying into space in a craft with wings, engines etc, World View wants to take a more relaxed route.

For $75,000 per person, the company hopes to take people up in a balloon like no other. The Tuscon based startup is hoping to use a helium balloon that will take customers to nearly 100,000 feet, which is around 10x more than the average balloon flight, although most only go to around 3000 feet!

100,000 feet really is the edge of space, so much so that the Federal Aviation Administration have declared their capsules as “space vehicles.” This classification means they have to reach a much tougher set of guidelines than typical aircraft.

The craft will hold eight people inside its pressurized capsule as it makes its 1.5 hour ascent to 100,000 feet, then it would stay there for around two hours and then back to earth to complete their 4 hour round trip. At this hight the customers would be able to see the black of space around them as well as the full curvature of the earth, awesome!

The company hopes to take of the skies in just three years.

Thank you Natmonitor for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of World View.

 

Russian Chelyabinsk Meteorite Pulled From Lake Chebarkul

A half-tonne chunk of the meteorite that spectacularly descended on Russia earlier this year has been recovered from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul in central Russia.

One February 15th this year, a huge 10,000 tonne meteorite exploded in the sky above central Russia, an incident so powerful that the resulting shockwave broke windows, rocked building and even destroyed a factory, all total around 1000 people were injured.

Despite the injuries, the meteorite put on an impressive light show, with one of the clearest fireballs caught in video in recent memory and scientists have been working hard to recover as much of the material from the meteorite as possible, this chunk from the lake is known to be the biggest and the recovery has proved more than difficult given that it was at the bottom of an often frozen lake.

The 1.5 meter rock was wrapped in a special covering and put on a metal sheet while it was underwater. It was found at a depth of 13 meters, not 6-8 meters are originally thought, it was pulled ashore before the rock broke into three pieces, then the scales used the weigh the rock broke, only adding to the troubles of the day.

Sergey Zamozdra, an associate professor at Chelyabinsk State University, told the Interfax news agency: “The preliminary examination… shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. This chunk is most probably one of the top 10 biggest meteorite fragments ever found.”

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of BBC.

Research Team Working On “Underwater WiFi” To Create “Deep Sea Internet”

The BBC reports that researchers are undertaking testing on “underwater WiFi” which they are using to make a “deep sea internet”. The research team are from the University of Buffalo in New York and they believe the technology would be useful for detecting Tsunamis and creating more reliable warning systems. The tests were trialled at Lake Erie, near Buffalo, and involved the research team dropping two 18kg sensors into the water which they then used a laptop to transmit information to and from.

The aim of the project is to create an agreed standard of underwater communications which uses sound waves instead of radio waves to transmit data. Radio waves found in normal WiFi can function underwater but are severely crippled by it so sound waves are a much better option (as shown by dolphin and whale communication for example). Underwater communications are not a new thing and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses acoustic waves to send Tsunami data but due to infrastructural differences that data cannot be shared quickly with the U.S navy for example. That is where the University of Buffalo team step in as they aim to create a universal standard so that everyone can communicate using the same “Underwater WiFi” standard.

“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyse data from our oceans in real time,” said Tommaso Melodia, lead researcher. “Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives.”

Image courtesy of the BBC

Scientific Study Believes Oreos Are As Addictive As Cocaine

Oreos are pretty popular as far as biscuit brands go, but could there be more to it than meets the eye (or tongue)? Well the Today.com reports of a scientific study, conducted by Joseph Schroeder and his research team from Connecticut College in New London, which likens the addictiveness of Oreos to Cocaine.

Extensive lab testing on rats showed that Oreos stimulated the same neurons in the brain’s “pleasure centre” as Cocaine did. Additionally they discovered that rats prefer to eat the cream part first, before eating the biscuit. They also noted that rats which were eating Oreos exhibited similar levels of addiction as rats which were hooked on Cocaine.

“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” neuroscience assistant professor Joseph Schroeder says. “That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic…These findings suggest that high fat/sugar foods and drugs of abuse trigger brain addictive processes to the same degree and lend support to the hypothesis that maladaptive eating behaviours contributing to obesity can be compared to drug addiction.”

So next time you go to grab a packet of Oreos for yourself or your childen just stop to think that they aren’t so innocent after all!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

New Prosthetic Hand Can Give Artificial Sense Of Touch

Not a year goes by without an incredible development in the field of prosthetics and as human technological ability grows, we are more able to meet the needs of others. Yet for all the developments that have aided people in mobility, there has been a distinct lack of sensation, as you can imagine the loss of a hand is one thing, but replacing it with a prosthetic isn’t enough to replace the sensations of touch that a real hand would provide, until now of course.

Chicago University researchers have detailed how a prosthetic limb that is capable of stimulating the brain with electrical signals could replicate the feelings of touch. The team has tested their work with monkeys, which were outfitted with electrodes that monitored the areas of the brain we associate with touch. This allowed them to replicate the signals generated when the monkey touched something. Pressure sensors on the prosthetic hand could then detect what information it needs to send to the brain, thus given the end user the sensation that they are holding, or touching an object.

“The algorithms to decipher motor signals have come quite a long way, where you can now control arms with seven degrees of freedom. It’s very sophisticated. But I think there’s a strong argument to be made that they will not be clinically viable until the sensory feedback is incorporated, when it is, the functionality of these limbs will increase substantially.” – Said Assistant Professor Sliman Bensmaia in a recent press release.

There is still a lot of work done before the system is capable of being used in the daily lives of humans, but as a proof of concept it is nothing short of incredible.

Thank you Gigoam for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gigoam.

SpaceX Grasshopper Rocket Completes Its Highest Leap To Date

SpaceX have been going from strength to strength recently, not only is their Grasshopper rocket still making great advances, but it also recently completed its highest leap to date, reaching a hight of 744 meters before making a safe landing. Not to mention taking centre stage in an epic video!

On Monday, October 7th, the Grasshopper rocket reached the record hight while the launch was filmed using a single fixed camera on board a remote control hexacopter, giving us the closest view of the rocket to date.

Now obviously 744 meters isn’t even that close to space, but you do need to remember that this is a 10-story tall VTVL (Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing) vehicle that has been designed for testing the technologies that are needed to return rockets to earth intact, which is obviously no easy task.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminium landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure. It uses some fancy computing power and sensors to keep it stable and adjust its power out-out for take off and landing in the impressive fashion that it does. It’s certainly fun to watch and I can’t wait to see the final product in the future.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/9ZDkItO-0a4[/youtube]

Thank you SpaceIndustryNews for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of SpaceIndustryNews.

Scientists Charge Nokia 925 In Seconds Using Lightning Bolts

The University of Southampton have bee working on new ways to charge their Nokia mobile phone, lightening bolts appears to be their favourite format, so much for all those old Nokia chargers I’ve been saving!

While I have to admit, saying they used lightening is a bit sensational, because they didn’t go all Benjamin Franklin with a kite and a thunderstorm. They did however create their own bolts of electricity in the lab which you can see in the video below.

By passing 200,000 volts across a 300mm gap, some clever transformers and a bit of clever wireless charging technology the phone was charged without the bolt ever touching the phone, or more importantly without breaking it. A few seconds later and the phone is fully charged!

“We were amazed to see that the Nokia circuitry somehow stabilized the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged in only seconds. This discovery proves that the device can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy.” Said the team behind the experiment.

While it is hardly safe for us to use bolts of lightening to charge our phones, it is a huge step in using the power that is around us, from small amounts that radiate through the air, to harnessing the gargantuan power levels of lightening.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/RJTl2oqaWPs[/youtube]

Thank you Vyralize for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Vyralize.

Move Over Graphene, There Is A New Tough Guy In Town, Say Hello To Carbyne!

Remember back in the day, when times were simple and we all knew that diamond was the strongest thing around? Well those days are long over and since then we’ve learnt that Graphene was the strongest material, not to mention one of the most versatile materials. Yet for all the amazing things we’ve learnt about Graphene in the last few years, the top spot of tough materials has a new king, Carbyne.

Carbyne, aka Linear Acetylenic Carbon, is a super material that was first theorized in 1967, but it’s been long disputed for 40 years if it was in fact possible, or just a day dream. Well now theory has become reality after a team at Rice University figured out how to successfully synthesize and stabilize the material at room temperature.

With a similar structure to that of diamond, Carbyne is incredibly tough and it could have extensive applications in the world of nanotechnology, or like everything else these days it may just become the next big thing to make a smartphone out of, either way this is some very cool stuff indeed.

Thank you Gajitz for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gajits.

School Lets Children Run In Halls To Generate Electricity

While we all love a good news story about an upcoming graphics card, or the latest secret found in Grand Theft Auto, it’s also nice to see some innovation, something genuinely cool. A school in Kent, England. Has been piloting a new technology that allows it to generate electricity in its hall ways, and they’ve been getting the kids to help.

Normally a school would ask kids to stop running in the halls, but the pupils at this school are allowed to run, just and stomp the new floor titles in their hallway, because doing so can generate enough to power 853 mobile phones, one mobile for two and a half years, a light bulb for more than two months, or even power an electric car for 7 miles. It might not sound like much, but given that they only have 12 meters of titles, I think that is rather impressive.

“The students really enjoyed trying to give them a right bashing, running around and jumping up and down on them , said Matthew Baxter, headmaster of Langton Boy’s Grammar School.

Creator of the tiles, Laurence Kemball-Cook was a former pupil at the school and it’s great to see him return to share his work in a way that can educate the pupils about sustainable energy.

The technology is a great idea and if successful and not too expensive, I can see these becoming more and more common in public places, or even around the home.

Thank you Independent for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Independent.

 

Another Win For Technology As Curiosity Finds Water On Mars!

The red planet is ever full of surprises recently, now Curiosity has found that the planet actually contains 2% water by weight, which I’ll have you know is a lot! So much so that you could extract roughly 2 pints (1 liter) of water out of every cubic foot of Martian dirt.

This is effectively a huge moment in Mars exploration, it’s one of the big questions answered and it will now leave many more questions to be answered, it may even be the thing that opens up the door to sending people to mars for exploration and beyond.

Curiosity was sent to find if mars was ever habitable enough for microbial life, something it proved was possible last March, albeit it was habitable billions of years ago.

Laurie Leshin, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. said “SAM [one of the sensors on the rover] also determined that the soil water is rich in deuterium, a “heavy” isotope of hydrogen that contains one neutron and one proton (as opposed to “normal” hydrogen atoms, which have no neutrons). The water in Mars’ thin air sports a similar deuterium ratio. That tells us that the dirt is acting like a bit of a sponge and absorbing water from the atmosphere.”

Unfortunately the soil also contains a lot of Perchlorate, which isn’t exactly good for humans but it’s just one of many obstacles we could face on the planet should we ever explore there. At least we’ve got a head start on water supplies.

Thank you Space for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Space.

I Have Some Bad News, We Only Have 1.7 Billion Years Left To Live!

Trust those pesky scientists to ruin my morning by telling me when we are all going to die! Or more importantly the latest estimate of when the earth will become uninhabitable for humans.

Basically this is the first call for us all to start planning our future, building space ships and populating the galaxy (see: Star Trek). With 1.75 billion years to spare before we have to move out we certainly have enough time to invest in the future or to 3D print something suitable to live on.

The new study by the University of East Anglia in Norwich has said that in that time, moving to Mars would become our best chance of survival. Although personally after such a long time I hope and expect we will have developed better technology that we don’t just feel forces to move house to the nearest dusty rock.

Andrew Rushby, from the university’s school of environmental sciences, said: “We estimate Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75billion and 3.25billion years from now. After this point, Earth will be in the “hot zone” of the Sun, with temperatures so high the seas would evaporate.’ Well before this, conditions for humans and other complex life would become impossible as a result of man-made climate change. We would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature, and near the end, only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat.”

Astrobiologists are already looking ahead to space for new home worlds for the human race, or at the very least they’re looking for usable resources and aliens. Recently discovered Gliese 581d looks like it will last another 54.7 billion years and could make a nice home for us, but current technology would mean a journey of hundreds of thousands of years to get there. Given that Mars offers a habitable zone until 6 billion years from now, it’s certainly a tough call.

Thank you Metro for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Trunews.

£250,000 Stem Cell Beef Burger To Be Eaten This Week

Normally when you want a burger you cut some meat from the animal of choice, well ok maybe you don’t do that part yourself, but we all know where the meat comes from and the first part usually involves obtaining the meat from an animal. Yet a burger that will be eaten next week came from a different part of the Cow, its cells. Using stem cells from a cow, this meat was grown in a laboratory, synthetic meat that will create a 5oz burger worth £250,000.

At an exclusive West London venue the burger will be cooked and served before an invited audience where they will then tuck into the worlds first “in vitro” burger. While a £250,000 burger that took a lot of effort to make hardly sounds like something that could save the world, that is exactly why it was created. At the moment it might sound like the fancy burger of choice for an excentric millionaire, but the idea is that one day this budget could save the world from growing consumer demand of beef, lamb, pork and chicken. This is more a proof of concept and like anything else in this world, cost can be reduced with a little investment and time.

Made from 3,000 strips of artificial beef, with each strip the size of grain of rice, each of which was grown from bovine stem cells in the laboratory. Just to put this into scale for you, if this technique was fully implemented using the stem sells from a single beef carcass, you could grow a million times more mean that you would if you simply butchered the carcass. Just think about that for a moment, a million!

The upcoming demonstration is the result of years of work by Mark Post, a medical physiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and it’s said that next week could reveal who his financial backer has been for the project by stepping up to take the first bite.

“Eventually, my vision is that you have a limited herd of donor animals which you keep in stock in the world. You basically kill animals and take all the stem cells from them, so you would still need animals for this technology,” Professor Post said.

“Right now, we are using 70 per cent of all our agricultural capacity to grow meat through livestock. You are going to need alternatives. If we don’t do anything, meat will become a luxury food and will become very expensive,” he said.

Would you eat a test tube burger? I don’t think I’m sold on the idea just yet myself, but who knows what the future will hold for us all, and our dinner plates.

Thank you Independent for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Guardian.

Indian Army Tracks Spy Drones For 6 Month, Turns Out They Were Just Planets

This sounds a little too silly to be believable but it seems the Indian Army have spent roughly six months watching, tracking and documenting the movements of what they believed were two Chinese spy drones, when they were in fact watching the planets Jupiter and Venus!

The level of incompetence here is absolutely incredible and it makes you wonder just how many people in a position of power there actually have a grasp of our own solar system and night sky, let alone any clue as to what could be a spy drone, not a huge gas giant planet millions of miles away…

The two unknown objects appeared in the night sky sometime in August 2012, the Telegraph Calcutta reported that the Indian army made 329 sightings of these objects between the first sighting and February 2013, yet in that time the had not come to the conclusion that they were planets orbiting the sun. Instead the determined that on 155 occasions the apparent drones were in violation of the Line of Actual Control that separates China and India.

Of course this was all straightened out 6 months later when the army finally contacted astronomers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, who are likely still rolling around dying of laughter.

“The astronomers were told that the first object, viewed from a location about 4,715 metres above sea level near Thakung, appeared in the horizon at about 6pm and remained visible until about 5am. The second object appeared at 4am and faded away at 11am.” said Telegraph Calcutta.

Jumping to conclusions really can be a dangerous thing, but the fact that this went on for 6 months is somewhat frightening.

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of BBC.

Needs Something Putting In Orbit? Why Use Rockets When You Can Use A Slingatron!

While this isn’t tech news directly, it’s certainly something that caught my attention this week. Why use a typical rocket to launch payloads into space when you could be using a gargantuan spiral roller coaster that literally throws things into space!? Rockets are cool, giant throwing machines are way cooler, it’s a scientific fact.

Roller coaster might be to vague a term, because what it actually is, is a massive gyrating coil that speeds up objects to extreme velocity before firing this off the end of a ramp. While this might sound completely insane (which it does) there are proper NASA scientists behind this one and their trying to raise money to build a prototype of what they’re lovingly calling the “Slingatron”.

The company behind the Slingatron are seeking to raise $250,000 money through Kickstarter to build a 5.5 yard model which would be capable of launching 1 pound payloads at 2,237 mph as a proof of concept for a larger model. Their idea is to dramatically reduce the cost of launches and given that launching something like a 4 inch cube satellite on conventional rockets costs around $85,000 – $125,000 there is clearly a lot of room for cost reductions.

The electric powered Slingatron would be up to 328 meters across, the object would travel a spiral launch track on a modular platform that could gyrate at 40 to 60 cycles per second, giving the payload object a strong centripetal force while the track accelerates the object upto speeds of 4.3 miles per second before letting it go from the end of the track like a slingshot.

“A payload launched in this manner will require a launch velocity sufficient to compensate for the small loss traversing the atmosphere, plus a small on-board delta-V capability needed for final orbit insertion and circularization,” says the campaign page, which is organized by Virginia R&D company HyperV Technologies.

“The latter will typically be accomplished with a small on-board kick motor. The result is a complete land-based electrically powered Earth to orbit launcher.”

Check out the official Kickstarter page here.

Students Build Solar Powered Family Car In The Netherlands

A group of 22 students in the Netherlands have been working on something that is very unique and innovative. They are calling it the world’s first solar powered family car. The vehicle is called “Stella” and is both light and energy efficient according to an Inhabitat report. Being a family car it can support up to four passengers at one time. Interestingly it generates more power than it needs to move, under normal usage, which it can store in its batteries and then feed into a power grid when sitting idle.

The students that have developed this car believe it has what it takes to help them win this year’s World Solar Challenge between October 6th and October 13th. The World Solar Challenge is a race that takes place every two years on the Australian Outback. Solar powered cars race each other and try to beat each other on a pre-defined 3000 kilometre route.

It looks pretty fancy and the technical aspects sound fantastic, but I don’t think it will be revolutionising family cars in everyday life any time soon – what do you think of it?

Image courtesy of Inhabitat

Lake Vostok Offers Up Over 3500 New Unique Gene Sequences

Scientists working at Antarctica’s Lake Vostok have discovered a staggering 3500 new unique gene sequences. Lake Vostok has been shut off from the outside world for over 15 million years and beneath the ice it hosts a complex ecosystem that scientists are amazed by.

The bounds on what is habitable and what is not are changing,” said Scott Rogers, Bowling Green State University professor of biological sciences

The study, detailed briefly by Russia Today, was based on water brought back to testing labs after being drilled from the lake last year.

“We found much more complexity than anyone thought,” Rogers said. “It really shows the tenacity of life, and how organisms can survive in places where a couple dozen years ago we thought nothing could survive.”

Despite finding lots of  unique gene sequences  the life forms discovered in Lake Vostok are merely alterations of typical ocean and lake aquatic organisms. The reason they are similar is because the area was apparently temperate before being iced over 35 million years ago. 15 million years of isolation also helped the ecosystem to grow very unique and different allowing for unique gene sequences.

“Many of the species we sequenced are what we would expect to find in a lake. Most of the organisms appear to be aquatic (freshwater), and many are species that usually live in ocean or lake sediments.”

The scientists on the project said that they have barely scraped the surface of Lake Vostok and it will probably take a lifetime to discover the secrets of this unique sub-glacial lake that is the largest of its kind.

Image courtesy of PlosOne

Computer Mouse Inventor Doug Engelbart Dies Aged 88

There is very sad news to reveal today as the inventor of the computer mouse, Doug Engelbart, has died aged 88. The mouse is something so revolutionary yet now so ordinary as we all take it for granted and nearly all of us use one with our PCs in one form or another. Doug first developed the tool in the 1960s as a wooden shell covering two metal wheels and he patented it (back when the patent system meant something for innovation) well before widespread usage. Furthermore, Doug was just an all-round innovator as he worked on early versions of email, word processing and video teleconferences at a California Research Institute.

His life was full of achievements starting off as an electrical engineer student from Oregon state university before serving as a radar technician in World War II. He then founded the Stanford Research Institute and his own laboratory the Augmentation Research Center. His laboratory helped develop ARPANet a government research network that led to the internet.

Sadly his patent for the mouse expired in 1987 and he made very little from it, but over 1 billion computer mice have been sold and it is all thanks to him. Engelbart was awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize in 1997 and the National Medal of Technology for “creating the foundations of personal computing” in 2000.

He leaves behind his second wife, Karen O’Leary Engelbart, and four children.

Image courtesy of Robert Holmgren (Flickriver.com)

Recent Russian “Meteor” Shock Waves Circled The World…Twice

The recent Russian meteor that struck back on February 15th earlier this year in Russia’s Chelyabinks region apparently produced a shock wave which was able to circle the entire world two times. These findings published in the recent issue of the Scientific Journal of Geophysical Research Letters, available here, suggest that the shock wave was equivalent to 460 kilotons of TNT exploding in one go.

“For the first time since the establishment of the IMS infrasound network, multiple arrivals involving waves that traveled twice round the globe have been clearly identified…This extraordinary event is, together with the 1908 Tunguska fireball, among the most energetic events ever instrumentally recorded”

The blast which was believed to be caused by a meteor still has no such supporting evidence yet – thought researched Victor Kvasnytsya claimed to have analysed rock fragments left behind by the meteor. Sceptics are already claiming it was the testing of some secret government weapon that went wrong and that government’s are using the “meteor threat” to control the minds of the masses. Either way, whatever the truth behind the matter, the shock waves it created are among some of the biggest on record and the blast packed the energy 3-5 megatons of TNT – impressive stuff.

Image credits unknown

Royal Society Invites Online Gamers To Vote For Their Favourite Science Inspired Game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.

The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further – perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July.

The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia .
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said:

“We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam.

The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Thank you Royal Society for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Royal Society.

Air China Jet Allegedly Hits UFO

The Chinese seem to be having a bit of a run in with UFOs recently if all the stories are to be believed. After sightings of UFOs in the Hubei province amid Alien hysteria, a new story has emerged via the Sun of an Air China jet hitting a UFO while flying 26,000 feet above ground.

A Boeing 757 passenger plane hit something at 26,000 feet and passengers reported hearing a loud thud and the plane losing its balance for a moment. Once successfully landing at the destination airport, it was clear that whatever hit the passenger jet caused a large dent in the nose cone of the Boeing 757.

Specialists say that the dent is simply too big and deep to have been caused by hitting a bird or multiple birds in a flock, a more likely explanation is that the plane hit a surveillance drone of some kind. Naturally “UFO” enthusiasts have been getting quite excited and see the plane as hitting a UFO as the only possible explanation to the dent in the nose cone. These UFO enthusiasts believe that the truth will never be known regardless because of the secretive nature of the Chinese authorities.

Image courtesy of the Sun

Man Says He Has An Electrocuted Alien In His Freezer, With Pictures To Prove It

The Daily Mail reports that a Chinese man has been posting pictures of himself and an apparent Alien which he found on the banks of the Yellow (Yangtze) River. Mr Li stated that the alien came from a UFO which crash landed near his house. He claims to have then discovered the charred electrocuted remains of the alien in a rabbit trap and says it has been stored in his freezer since March.

The pictures have sparked huge interest across Chinese social media and the world. Recently Chinese bloggers have been trying to make connections between the alien and UFO sightings in the Hubei province. Despite all of this the Chinese police recently paid a visit to Mr Li’s house to see the alien only to rather rapidly come to the conclusion that the figure is merely a high quality rubber construction that seeks to imitate the most commonly held image of an alien.

While the story is entertaining and probably sparks the imagination of alien and UFO believers, I myself am skeptical and it all looks just a bit too staged and stereotypical to be believable.

What are your thoughts on the “frozen alien”?

Image courtesy of Weibo

New Research May Allow For Atomic-Scale Semiconductor Devices

A new technique has been developed by a team of researchers at the North Carolina State University which allows for the creation of high-quality semiconductors thin films that are just one atom thick. Not only can the build on the small scale of one atom, but the technique can be scaled to create thin films sufficient to coat a wafer of two inches wide or beyond, meaning it could be used for actual production.

“This could be used to scale current semiconductor technologies down to the atomic scale – lasers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), computer chips, anything. People have been talking about this concept for a long time, but it was not possible. With this discovery, I think it is possible,” said Dr. Linyou Cao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the work.

By using Molybdenum Sulfide (MoS2), which in its self is a fairly inexpensive semiconductor material that has many similar properties to that of materials already used in semiconductor processes, with the added ability that it can be “grown” in layers just one atom thick without compromising its properties.

“We can create wafer-scale MoS2 monolayer thin films, one atom thick, every time. We can also produce layers that are two, three or four atoms thick,” Said Dr. Cao.

Cao has already filed a patent for the new technique and is currently working on creating similar layers with different materials, creating field-effect transistors and even LEDs, but one thing is for certain is that this is a big discovery and it could have massive implications on the future of semiconductor manufacturing.

Source / Image Courtesy of XbitLabs

Wireless Speed Is Everything, Especially When You Have The Fastest

Do you like fast internet? I know I do, some might say speed is everything.

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, were able to break a world record, achieving a wireless transmission of 40 Gbit/s at 240 GHz over a distance of one kilometer (Over one half mile). Of course the testing was most likely in optimal settings, with a clear line of sight, but still it is one heck of a feat of strength! We aren’t really focusing on the distance, as scientists have been able to reach distances further than one kilometer using a long range demonstrator between two skyscrapers in Karlsruhe, Germany. We are focusing on the speed of the transmission of data, which you are only able to reach with a 200-280 GHz, currently they are using a small chip measuring 4 x 1.5 mm², as the size of electronic devices scale with frequency / wavelength.

I really can’t wait until we start seeing our next form of internet hitting the shelves, for the average person there are really only four types of internet. Of course you have, dial-up which people rarely use lacking in speed, reliability etc.  Satellite, which unless you are in the middle of nowhere really isn’t practical. DSL, which offers low speeds and is fairly unreliable. And Cable internet which is fast, but it has its own down falls.

Google has started to run with their fiber optical internet connections, but I see it taking several years before it hits a larger customer base. Wireless might be interesting, but I can only see wireless working in tight communities.

Give us your thoughts below, where do you feel the future of data transfer is held?

Source / Source