Tag Archives: Futurology ~ Titan

Futurology ~ Titan, Japan’s lost satellite, object returns, low-power RAM, DNA thermometer, Buckminster’s dome, tea leather, Double-Helix scientist


Moon of Saturn looks increasingly earth-like — The Cassini mission is sending us better data and images all the time of just what’s happening on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. And it’s beginning to look awfully familiar. The latest data NASA researchers have been poring over shows new details about the strange lakes and seas that trickle across Saturn’s frigid moon, Titan. It also draws comparisons between the only other interstellar body found to have similarly liquid lakes and seas on its surface — our very own Earth.
~ I still don’t want to live there.

We finally know what happened to Japan’s lost Black Hole Satellite — After a full month spinning out of control in space, Japan’s Space Agency has finally figured out how it lost control of Hitomi, a very expensive satellite that was hunting for black holes. This also means the agency will never get it back.
~ The equivalent of its wheels fell off – the solar panels. 

A mysterious object from Earth’s distant past has returned — A first-of-its-kind space rock filled with pristine material from the formation of the Earth itself has returned to the inner solar system, after billions of years in the cosmic boondocks. And it could help us piece together our planet’s origin story.
~ Er, welcome home?

Super-low-power RAM — Last week, Sunnyvale, California-based Adesto Technologies announced a new addition to its memory family, an ultra-low-power version of RRAM called Moneta. Adesto says its chips consume less than 1/20th the energy of the closest competitor.
~ Perfect for in-the-field devices you need to leave around monitoring flora and fauna. 

World’s smallest thermometer is made of DNA — Need to take a temperature in a hard-to-reach spot? Researchers have created the world’s smallest thermometer from DNA, and it could be used to measure temperature even within living cells.
~ I’m made of it too, you know. It’s remarkable stuff. 


Buckminster Fuller’s Biosphere Dome Might get a twin made of plants — Montreal’s Expo 67 was the most successful World’s Fair in history, a vision of the future laced with monorails and space-age architecture. Its stunning centrepiece was the Biosphere, a 76m tall geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, which remained on the site after the fair left town. For the 50th anniversary of the Expo, one designer wants a vegetated version of the dome (left in the artists impression, above) next to the original (centre).
~ We used to call those ‘vegetated domes’ ‘hills’. 

New fake leather is made from tea — It’s tough. It’s thick. It’s brown. It’s a lot like leather — but in fact this new material is made in the lab from a brew of kombucha tea. Researchers from Iowa State University have developed the unusual new form of synthetic leather using some rather normal ingredients: shallow plastic tanks that contain cellulose fibres taken from kombucha tea, along with vinegar and sugar. When a colony of bacteria and yeast is added, the material grows on the top of the liquid’s surface. It can then be harvested and dried and — bingo! — a leather-like substance.
~ And when it gets wet, it’s game over. 

Double-Helix scientist may get biopic — Rosalind Franklin, the British scientist whose research enabled the discovery of DNA’s double helix, will be getting a biopic if spec script Exposure is made. Fingers crossed, because not only would a feature film bring Franklin some much-deserved recognition — her life would make for quite a dramatic movie.
~ Franklin has previously been the subject of a NOVA documentary on PBS, and a play called Photograph 51, performed in London with Nicole Kidman as lead.

Futurology ~ Titan, Europa, 3D thruster, kid upgrades, future farms, Earth videos, anti-drones, chip-heart, snakebot, emobot

The future farming looks pretty bleak
The future of farming looks pretty bleak, with the number of total days capable of growing plants is likely to drop by a total of 10%

Titan’s methane lakes — A radar scan of methane-filled lakes on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, was taken by the international Cassini mission as part of a study into what forms depressions on Titan. Although scientists have a handle on why the lakes are filled with hydrocarbons — turns out it rains liquid methane, thanks to the -180°C climate — the origins of the depressions are less obvious.
~ It’s the economy.

NASA is heading for Europa — Jupiter’s moon Europa is covered in a thick layer of constantly-shifting ice which appears to be floating atop a deep, warm ocean. Scientists have long suggested that it’s the most likely place that life might have evolved beyond Earth. NASA has just confirmed its first mission to Europa has entered the development phase.
~ I await the report. 

The world’s first 3D-printed platinum spacecraft thruster — More than 600 ignitions and an hour of firing  was the heavy test for the world’s first spacecraft thruster with a platinum combustion chamber and nozzle made by 3D printing. And it successfully passed its baptism of fire.
~ I wonder if they started with a mug.

Your kids will need upgrades to go to space — In the six decades we’ve been sending humans into space, scientists have learned just how truly bad it is for us to live off-planet. So we need a redesign.
~ I have a much better idea: sort out Earth. 

This map of 2100 should make you nervous about the future of farming — When we imagine the farms of the next century, the images tend to be cleaner, more clinical, perhaps more akin even to a laboratory than a field. But the future that’s actually on our horizon looks much darker and messier than all that.
~ Asia under pressure.

Earth videos from space — UrtheCast published three videos captured by its ISS-mounted ultra HD camera, which Gizmodo compiled into a short montage. The camera (named Iris) can zoom into an area of about 1.92km x 1.08km. You can see footage of London, Boston and Barcelona, almost as animated maps: freeways buzzing with cars, colourful container yards in motion, boats drifting …
~ These things can also be seen from ground level – if you go there. 

Russia develops anti-armed-drone tech — A state-owned Russian engineering company has developed, and is now testing, a new kind of super-high-frequency gun that is said to be capable of deactivating unmanned aerial vehicles from 10km away.
~ There goes that particular US advantage. 

Heart-on-a-chip uses gravity to mimic a human pulse — A small, clear block may not look much, but it uses some of the world’s most basic physics to accurately recreate the rhythms of the human heart in the laboratory. A team from the University of Michigan has turned to gravity to help recreate the biological phenomena of the heartbeat.
~ I just watch rom-coms to replicate the affect of a human heart. 

Slithering modular snakebots the future of robotics — Snakebots could change robotics as we know it – they are modular robots that look and move like snakes. They aim to make robots both reprogrammable and responsive.
~ What about our instinctive snake revulsion?

PepperJapanese robot reads your emotions — Starting this weekend in Japan, people can buy a talking, person-shaped robot that reads your body language and gets sad when you turn off the lights. Pepper has its own emotions, a feature that’s been added since the robot was initially announced last year. In Tamagotchi fashion, Pepper gets lonely if you ignore it, and laughs if you tell it a joke. It cann’t do manual labour – it’s more an app-customisable animated computer.
~ US1600 and it’s yours.