Futurology ~ Space, Mars, old efficient engines, Bees and Trump, browser, poo and diamond power, survival apps, human insignificance


Space and all that … supermassive — A stunning new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a galaxy that’s being strangled by tentacles of gas and dust. The strange and intricate shape of this celestial object is caused by a supermassive black hole (above) at its core — and it’s killing the host.
~ For myself, I’m quite relieved it’s 150 million light years away.

More Mars pictures — Two European Space Agency spacecrafts arrived at Mars on October 19th, right on schedule. One crash-landed on the red planet’s surface (ESA scientists are still trying to figure out what happened to poor ol’ Schiaparelli), but the other safely inserted itself into orbit and last week, the ExoMars orbiter sent home its first images.
~ CaSSIS is looking for gases.

Car engines get ever more efficient, but a 70-year-old invention could make them 30% more efficient — Achates Power in San Diego believes it has a better way: Ditch the design that has dominated engine design for the past 130 years in favour of an idea abandoned in the 1940s and see a 30% bump in efficiency. Most modern engines use a four-stroke, reciprocating single-piston design while the old tech Achates wants to reintroduce is two pistons in each cylinder.
~ Swings, roundabouts and cycles. 

Bees and Trump’s election — Animal groups often make extraordinary collective decisions that go far beyond the abilities of any single individual. The idea that groups can make collective decisions more successfully than individuals is known as the “wisdom of the crowd” and is arguably why we vote, have juries, and fill boardrooms. Today, it’s not clear if social media is pushing humanity into a death spiral or pulling us out of one.
~ ‘Animal groups’ …

How to see all your browser knows about you — Point your browser towards this website experiment called Click to get started. A cascade of information will begin to stream down on the page, from the number of cores your computer has to the movements your mouse makes. But there’s hope – two Swedish developers have created a site offering a way to wipe your entire existence off the internet in a few clicks, although there are caveats.
~ Click. But …

Cures and more buried online — Last month, a company named Iris launched a first version of an online engine that can read the abstract of papers, map out their key concepts and find papers relevant to those concepts. It provides a quick way to get a sense of the scientific landscape for a given topic, something especially useful when you don’t know the exact keywords for the type of research you are looking for.
~ Fantastic!

Ravenous bacteria eats poo, makes power — Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium have hit on a method of harvesting energy from raw sewage that treats the wastewater without using external electricity. It’s all thanks to starving bacteria. This method is still in its lab testing stage, but industry leaders are already interested in utilising it.
~ Well, if it’s one thing any human can create …

Nuclear diamond power — Scientists at the University of Bristol have found a way to convert thousands of tons of nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate a small electric current for thousands of years.

Survivalist apps — Here’s a list of apps to help you get through.
~ Wait, the battery is dying …

Humans very insignificant when history is laid out on a football field — Humanity gets served up a nice slice of humble pie in this NPR video that lays out the history of our planet on a football field.
~ Humans only show up about an eighth-of-an-inch from the end zone. But it’s what you do with that inch …