Futurology ~ Mystery object, Mars tsunamis, Europa, better Aussie solar, chemical weapons, 3D in the air, dirt/paper, IBM beats flash, in-ear translator


Europa’s strange surface (Image:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute)
Europa’s strange surface (Image:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute)

Mystery object coming into focus past Pluto — Pluto may be long past, but NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is by no means finished with the outer solar system. For the second time, New Horizons has observed 1994 JR1, a 145km-wide Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) that orbits over 3 billion miles from the sun.
The latest observations, made on April 7th and 8th by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager and composited in the gif at this link, smash the spacecraft’s own record for our closest encounter with a KBO.
~ I have identified it – it’s a blob. 

Mega-tsunamis on Mars — Mars once featured a vast ocean that covered its northern hemisphere. New evidence suggests this Martian sea experienced at least two mega-tsunamis triggered by meteor impacts. Traces of these cataclysmic events can still be seen on the Martian surface, and they could still contain traces of ancient life.
~ It just sounds more and more attractive, doesn’t it?

Jupiter’s Europa more Earth-like — Europa, Jupiter’s watery ice-moon, has long attracted attention as a possible site for someday finding life. A new analysis shows its oceans may be even closer to our own. Oxygen production in both Earth and Europan oceans exceeds hydrogen production by almost exactly 10 times. This similarity in the proportions already has researchers pointing out that it could mean oceans on Europa could play a similar role to Earth’s oceans in spawning life.
~ But colder. 

Australian-invented solar panels most efficient — Most commercially available solar panels only are able to convert between 15 and 22% of the sunlight they’re exposed to into electricity. As part of an ongoing effort to improve the efficiency of increasingly important solar technology, a team from UNSW has created a solar cell module that boasts a world record efficiency rate of 34.5%.
~ The sun shines on Australia.

DARPA’s scheme to destroy chemical weapons — Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (or ACDC) yields no toxic waste products, and all of the tools are portable. One of McQuade’s set ups, a waste-to-energy engine, could run its electrical systems entirely off the power generated during combustion.
~ But it’s a long way to the top. 

3D printer works its magic in the air — Lasers and metal were part of 3D printing for decades before the machines became affordable for personal use. But researchers at Harvard are demonstrating a new technique by which 3D metal structures can be printed in midair, without the need for anything supporting them.
~ Magic! Alchemy!

IBM’s new storage is 50 times faster than Flash, and also cheaper — Flash storage is not as fast as RAM; but RAM can’t be used to store your regular files because of its volatile nature – ie that when the powers off it’s no longer holding data – and also RAM is expensive. It appears we may soon have the perfect middle ground: scientists at IBM have demonstrated reliably storing 3 bits of data per cell using a relatively new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM).
~ IBM, still in the game. 

A few scraps of paper can turn dirt into a super strong building material — As far as building materials go, they don’t come much cheaper than dirt, which is literally everywhere and mostly free. But soil isn’t terribly strong and has a habit of forming a shallow pile rather than more structurally-beneficial shapes. Luckily, making dirt super strong is incredibly easy.
~ Dirt. Cheap. 

Groundbreaking gadget claims to fit in your ear and translate foreign languages in real-time — A tiny gadget lets two people who speak a different language to each other yet understand each other. The gadget, called Pilot, translates English, French, Spanish and Italian. Pilot, which has yet to be launched, is priced at US$129.
It works by being connected to two different people, speaking two different languages, and translates what they are saying in your ear.But they have not said how it works except for that it uses ‘translation technology’ embedded in an app.
~ Roger, amigo. 

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