Futurology ~ Faster than light, big weird hexagon, robot-crossing, wooden city, biggest wind, fighting’ bacteria, retro-futurist EV, massive cat prints


The weird hexagon swirling around Saturn’s north pole is much taller than scientists had thought.

Discovery of apparent faster-than-light emissions solves neutrino star mystery — Observations revealed GW170817 radio emissions appeared to move four times faster than the speed of light. But that’s not an error – it’s an illusion seen when jets of particles moving at nearly light speed are travelling indirectly towards Earth.
~ That’s a shame: 4x faster would suggest we could end up travelling the universe after all, seeding it with plastic waste and inequality. 

The search for extraterrestrial life may ramp up soon — A new consensus study report, authored by the National Academies of Sciences, highlights several strategic priorities that, if implemented, will go a long way in ensuring that scientists have the resources they need to study exoplanets (planets in orbit around other stars).
~ [See comment, above …]

The weird hexagon swirling around Saturn’s north pole is much taller than scientists had thought — Researchers have generally regarded the 32,000 kilometres (20,000 miles) wide hexagon, which is a jet stream composed of air moving at about 320 kph (200 mph), as a lower-atmosphere phenomenon, restricted to the clouds of Saturn’s troposphere. But the bizarre structure actually extends about 300 kms (180 miles) above those cloud tops, up into the stratosphere, at least during the northern spring and summer, a new study suggests.
~ It’s even super weirder, then. 

Japan to test mini Space Elevator — A Japanese team is testing a small prototype space elevator. It isn’t the fantastical, many-kilometre-long cable of science fiction, but it demonstrates that at least someone is serious about this tech.
Two ultra-small cubic satellites developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering will be used. Each satellite measures 10 centimeters each side, and a roughly 10-meter-long steel cable will be employed to connect the twin satellites. The pair of satellites will be released from the International Space Station (ISS), and a container acting like an elevator car will be moved on a cable connecting the satellites using a motor. A camera attached to the satellites will record the movements of the container in space.
~ If you ask me, it’s a Space Flying Fox. 

Robot boat crossed Atlantic — For the first time an autonomous sailing robot has completed the Microtransat Challenge by crossing the Atlantic from Newfoundland, Canada to Ireland, uh, Ireland. The Microtransat has been running since 2010 and has seen 23 previous entries all fail to make it across. The successful boat, SB Met was built by the Norwegian company Offshore Sensing AS and is only 2 metres (6.5 ft) long. It completed the crossing on August 26th, 79 days and 5000 km (3100 miles) of sailing after departing Newfoundland on June 7th.
~ Well, would a robot want to do this? What would Joanna Russ say?

Swedish wooden city of towers — Constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT), 31 towers could rise above a Stockholm development, as proposed by Anders Berensson Architects. The self-contained city blocks would contain 3000 homes and 30 restaurants.
~ So, ‘wood blocks’ …

Biggest wind farm — The world’s largest offshore wind farm has opened off the northwest coast of England. The wind farm has a capacity of 659 megawatts (MW), enough to power almost 600,000 homes, and overtakes the London Array off England’s east cost which has a capacity of 630MW.
The Walney Extension (as it is called) is made up of 87 turbines built by Siemens Gamesa and MHI Vestas, and covers 145 square kilometres (55 square miles), or around 20,000 football pitches.
~ Will yachties worry it’s stealing their wind, though?

‘Predatory Bacteria’ might be enlisted in defence against antibiotic resistance — Lab studies show that predatory bacteria will attack all sorts of nasties, including bacterial lung infections, the plague and deadly germs that have developed resistance to antibiotics. The star of this show is an organism called Bdellovibrio, a bacterium that swims around with the aid of a corkscrew tail, and attacks common germs six times its size.
~ We all applaud Bdellovibrio! Hurrah!

Retro-futurist EV for now-ish — Normally, when you think of Kalashnikov, you likely think of guns, especially the famous AK-47 assault rifle. But the Russian arms company now has its sights squarely set at Tesla with its new electric car prototype, the CV-1.
Hilariously and delightfully, the car appears to have the body of a 1970s Moskovitch.
~ Big plus is that buying one of these doesn’t put any money into the pocket of that techno-twat Elon Musk. Downside is, of course, your money goes to a weapons company with several million deaths at its hands, in a country run by a reptilian dictator. Choices, hey? Still, it looks cooler, to me. 

First known footprints of elusive Sabre-Toothed Cat — At least 10,000 years ago, during the Late Pleistocene, a sabre-toothed cat prowled the Miramar area of Argentina, and was nice enough to leave behind some fossilised tracks.
The prints were discovered, not far from the city’s commercial center, in September 2015 by researchers from the local Punta Hermengo Municipal Museum. The scale of the prints – about 7.5 inches in diameter, significantly larger than even the biggest left by modern lions – suggested that they were left by Smilodon populator, a species of sabre-toothed cat known, from fossilised bones, to have lived in the region.
~ Probably shouldn’t be relieved that there are none around, but can’t help it. 

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