Furthest galaxy so far — The ESA has released a brand new image of a faraway galaxy, which the agency says just broke all existing cosmic distance records. Hubble has produced some pretty impressive shots deep into space in the past, using the power of not just the telescope but also the phenomenon of gravitational lensing (nature’s zoom lens). Many of those gravitational lensing shots have shown us galaxy clusters far beyond what we could ordinarily glimpse.
~ In a galaxy fartherest away …
Surprisingly easy way to hunt for aliens — A team of astronomers is proposing a new way to hunt for intelligent life that sounds rather obvious when you think about it: we need to be the aliens. Or at least, we need to put ourselves in their shoes and think about where in the sky they can see us.
~ Trump is way ahead on this.
Elliptical-orbit satellites testing Einstein — To the satellite navigation engineers, errors resulting in elliptical satellite orbits was a nuisance requiring changes in the software and the technology. But for physicists, the eccentric orbits offered an unexpected opportunity. Researchers at both Sytèmes de Référence Temps Espace, or SYRTE (a department of Paris Observatory), and ZARM (the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity) at the University of Bremen, Germany, convinced ESA to use the satellites to test more extensively an effect predicted by Einstein’s general relativity. They hope to find out more about the extent to which time slows down when the gravitational field diminishes as one moves away from Earth.
~ I’ve always thought of ‘redshift’ as something else.
Scientists may have found molecular gatekeeper of Long-Term Memory — While the general steps of forming a long-term memory are clear, the details, such as how exactly the molecular signals get shuttled to the command center, which generally has tight security, are unclear. A new study, led by neuroscientist Yi Zhong of Tsinghua University in Beijing, may finally have that answer in the tiny minds of fruit flies.
~ Now, if they could just remember where they put those findings … (meanwhile, I’m surprised fruit flies even have minds).
New RAM can go 25 years on a charge — RRAM (resistive RAM) is being considered as a potential replacement for NAND flash, which has struggled with miniaturisation so much that companies have opted to relax the size of their memory cells and stack them in three dimensions to get density gains. Adesto says its chips, which are EEPROM rather than PRAM, consume less than 1/20th the energy of its closest competitor.
~ A 10 milliamp-hour button cell battery drains 4.5 months, while Adesto’s Moneta wouldn’t do so for 25 years.
Monkey controls wheelchair with its mind — Researchers have developed a wireless brain interface that allows monkeys to control the movements of a robotic wheelchair using their thoughts alone. The breakthrough suggests that similar interfaces could allow severely paralyzed individuals to navigate all sorts of robotic devices with their minds.
~ That’s impressive, but soon a monkey may be controlling America with its ‘mind’.
Transparent fabric traps dust while air flows through it freely — Scientists at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences recently published the technique they used to make a new air filter in the Macromolecular Nanotechnology Journal. The fibre is made using a technique popularised in the 1950s: the material, though woven with fibre, lets through more light than the average glass window. It’s great for face-masks, because it lets air flow easily while trapping dust.
~ Comfortable facemasks!
3D-printed Graphene Aerogel — First there was aerogel. Then there was graphene aerogel. Now, there’s 3D-printed graphene aerogel. That’s a whole lot of scientific buzzwords in a single lump of feather-light material. The resulting lump shares properties with the graphene aerogels of the past — super low density, high compressibility, good conductivity — only it’s easier to craft into complex shapes.
~ Yay, this has huge ramifications for … something.
Chair has fidgeters charge stuff — Nathalie Teugels has designed a comfy chair that converts your fidgets and nervous energy into usable electricity. The MOOV chair (main picture, above) is still a prototype at this point, but it works. Under the seat’s cushion are 288 piezoelectric crystals that produce a charge when compressed or squeezed. So the act of just sitting down creates a surge of power, but you’ll need to remain restless and constantly moving to produce enough power to charge a phone.
~ A whole new power source for the classroom.
The entire run of IF Magazine is now freely available online!— IF Magazine was a monthly science fiction magazine that was first published in 1952, and ran through 1974, before it was merged into its sister publication, Galaxy Science Fiction. Now, you can read the entire run online over on Internet Archive. (Via i09.)
Ikea’s mushroom packaging — To stop all that flat-pack furniture getting banged up, IKEA uses a lot of polystyrene packaging. Unfortunately, polystyrene isn’t biodegradable, and people are bad at recycling, leaving IKEA looking for a better material to stick between sheets of ply.
The new packaging is made from mycelium, better thought of as mushroom roots. It’s a well-known organic building material, and now IKEA is planning on phasing it in as its packing material of choice.
~ Drying out stops it growing, wetting it has it biodegrade over a month. I imagine it might serve useful purposes in gardens?
Last Futurology for a month — Sorry, I am away for the next 4 weeks and will not be able to update this blog.