Futurology ~ sharper radar, alien-hunting ’scope, 3D printing food, baby-brained computer, third arm, bio-powered chips, morphing tank, invisibility

Researchers have invented a third arm for drummers … as if they’re not noisy enough already.

Chip will make satellite radars way sharper — A new silicon chip is the centrepiece of a new 94GHz radar system being developed by the European Space Agency, that will transform radar systems in space missions. Being developed in Ireland by a company called Arrakis, its high resolution will, according to the Agency, make planetary landings far safer, as it will allow craft to image smaller obstacles on landing zones than current systems allow.
~ More accurate landings should result. 

The biggest alien-hunting radio telescope on Earth comes at a human cost — China is displacing over 9000 people to do it. The 500-metre-wide telescope is called FAST (Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope), and it’s almost double the size as the next biggest radio telescope, a similarly shaped contraption in Puerto Rico. Its 460,000 reflective mirrors will reflect radio signals emitted by the universe onto a 30-ton antenna, which could help us unlock all kinds of galactic secrets. (China displaced 300,000 residents to clear the way for the Three Gorges Dam.)
~ But it won’t solve Chinese pollution or traffic. 

NASA gets kids 3-D printing food — In collaboration with the American Society for Mechanical Engineers Foundation and Star Trek, NASA launched the Star Trek Replicator Challenge this week at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The initiative calls on students to design 3-D printable hardware needed to grow food and eat well in space. The space agency is working hard to figure out how astronauts can use technology to produce their own food and eat a more diversified, less shrink-wrapped diet overall.
~ Now, what shape and colour shall we make this nutritious space slop?

Baby-brained computing — Can artificial intelligence evolve as human baby does, learning about the world by seeing and interacting with its surroundings? That’s one of the questions driving a huge cognitive psychology experiment that has revealed crucial differences in how humans and computers see images.
~ Hopefully the results won’t then just learn what a-holes humans are. 

Paper replicates skin — A Saudi Arabian research team has used cheap household items to make a ‘paper skin‘ that mimics many sensory functions of human skin.
The artificial skin may represent the first single sensing platform capable of simultaneously measuring pressure, touch, proximity, temperature, humidity, flow, and pH levels.
~ Then cover it with a hijab?

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a wearable robotic limb that transforms drummers into three-armed cyborgs — The most remarkable thing about this wearable arm, developed at GT’s Center for Music Technology, is that it’s doing a lot more than just mirroring the movements of the drummer. It’s a ‘smart arm’ that’s actually responding to the music, and performing in a way that compliments what the human player is doing.
~ That’s all very well, but I just want to be able to read the newspaper while eating a sandwich. 

Bio-powered chips to fit inside cells — For the first time, researchers have developed a microchip powered by the same energy-rich molecules that fuel living cells. This advance could one day lead to devices that are implanted within cells while harvesting biological energy to operate.
~ The idea is making me hungry.

MorphTnkMorphin’ tank — Estonian defence company Milrem has developed a seriously cool military robot that is totally modular, so it can easily morph from an unmanned combat unit, to a humanless firefighter, to a makeshift medi-vac. The robot is called THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System). It’s 2m wide, nearly 90cm tall, and it can do over 32km per hour.
~ Can it morph into an ice-cream truck? No!

Mesh cloak invisible to radio — A team of US and Chinese researchers has created the first practical ‘invisible’ material that allows certain electromagnetic signals to pass unimpeded as they would through air. It represents a huge leap for real science. Previously, researchers could only make a single tiny sphere or cylinder invisible to certain electromagnetic wavelengths by taking advantage of a phenomenon called ‘dark state.’
~ It allows Justin Bieber songs pass right through you without making any impression.
Wait, they already do that!

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