Tag Archives: history

Futurology ~ Proxima Centauri, Jupiter, Saturn, AI jobs, tiny lights, DNA vid, ancient tattoos


This is either the exact spot the Cassini spacecraft cashed through Saturn’s atmosphere, or a random circle drawn on an image coz, what would we know?

Stellar flare dulls hopes for life on planets around Proxima Centauri — Scientists have discovered a flare from the sun’s closest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Many are reporting it could spell trouble for any hope for life on its exoplanet, Proxima b, and might also kill off a presumed set of other planets around the star. Last year, there were many reports that evidence of dust rings around Proxima Centuari would imply the star could have an elaborate planetary system alongside its confirmed exoplanet, Proxima b. But a new analysis of the same dataset calls those past results into question.
~ All that speculation at such distance could only ever be aProximate.

Jupiter’s Red Spot may disappear — The Great Red Spot has been a fixture of Jupiter ‘s cloudy visage for centuries and is among the most recognizable features in the solar system. But the Great Red Spot is shrinking, and recently, news stories reported it could vanish within the next 10 or 20 years. The storm’s shape is changing, most significantly in width, and as time marches on it’s becoming less oval and more circular.
~ The Great Red Spot is in fact a gigantic storm. It’s red because of the, uh, colour. 

Cassini crashed into Saturn — On 15 September 2017, the Cassini spacecraft ended its valiant 13-year mission by performing a kamikaze dive into Saturn’s upper atmosphere. A new image released by NASA shows the exact spot (main picture, above) where the Cassini craft was lost to us forever.
~ Got that Saturnians? It wasn’t an attack, just callous disregard. 

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has become an alien-hunting hot spot — Thought to be a barren cue-ball until NASA’s Cassini mission found both active geysers and a liquid ocean beneath its frozen surface, the icy little moon is now one of the likeliest places to encounter extraterrestrial life in our solar system. Last year, when scientists analyzed Enceladus’ ocean (actually a small drop of it blasted skyward in a geyser) they found evidence of hydrothermal reactions, which produce H2: just the kind of molecular food some little Enceladian organism might like to munch on. On Earth, similar microbes live in a deep sea hydrothermal vent off the coast of Japan.
~ Sounds yummy … maybe with a little mustard, anyhoo. 

Artificially Intelligent jobs — AI will create more jobs than it destroys was the not-so-subtle rebuttal from tech giants to growing concern over the impact of automation technologies on employment. Execs from Google, IBM and Salesforce were questioned about the wider societal implications of their technologies during a panel session at Mobile World Congress.
~ I don’t yet opt in to their conclusions, myself. 

Japanese engineering researchers have created a tiny electronic light the size of a firefly — They can ride waves of ultrasound, and could eventually figure in applications ranging from moving displays to projection mapping. Named Luciola for its resemblance to the firefly, the featherweight levitating particle weighs 16.2mg, has a diameter of 3.5mm (0.14 inch), and emits a red glimmer that can just about illuminate text. But its minuscule size belies the power of the 285 microspeakers emitting ultrasonic waves that hold up the light, and have a frequency inaudible to the human ear, allowing Luciola to operate in apparent total silence.
~ It’s going to annoy beings with better hearing, though – dogs, maybe? 

DNA organises itself in a video — DNA, when unravelled, can span more that two meters in length, but your body’s cells whip it into tidy bundles.
We’ve long known that the body can do this. But how it accomplishes this biological feat is another thing. Now, researchers from Delft University in the Netherlands and EMBL Heidelberg in Germany have succeeded in actually catching the process on video, observing how DNA gets structured in real time.
~ Thus also solving a debate.

More early tattoos revealed — A new analysis of two ancient Egyptian mummies has uncovered the earliest known examples of ‘figural’ tattoos on human beings – that is, tattoos meant to represent real things rather than abstract symbols. What’s more, at around 5000 years old, it’s the earliest evidence of tattoos on a woman.
~ The mummies were on display for decades without anyone noticing.

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Futurology ~ Stolen star, Hauema ring, Titan methane storms, Moon atmosphere, Quantum puzzle, drone-slayer, Deep Learning, robots-camouflage, stay-home Stone Age


Naftali Tishby, a computer scientist and neuroscientist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presented evidence in support of a new theory explaining how deep learning works

Our nearest neighbouring star may have been stolen — Less than five light years away sit three stars orbiting each other. You probably remember that one of them, Proxima Centauri, has a planet orbiting in its habitable zone — which got us really excited about the possibility of life. But what if that star was stolen?
~ Tell it to the judge, I say.]

Ring discovered around dwarf planet around Haumea — Haumea was recognised by the International Astronomical Union in 2008 as one of five dwarf planets alongside Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Makemake. They are located beyond Neptune, 50 times farther away from the sun than Earth. By comparing what was seen from different sites the La Silla Observatory team could reconstruct not only the shape and size of the object itself but also the shape, width, orientation and other properties of its newly discovered rings.
~ A job for space Jif?

Intense methane rainstorms on Titan — Titan is the largest of Saturn’s 60 moons and is roughly the size of Mercury. It has an atmosphere, volcanoes, mountains, and sand dunes. And like Earth, Titan features free-flowing liquid at the surface, manifesting as rivers, lakes and seas. It has regional weather patterns and severe seasonal liquid-methane rainstorms.
~ Yeah, not really selling it. 

When the Moon had an atmosphere — New research suggests that long ago, an atmosphere briefly popped into existence as a result of intense volcanic activity. Around three to four billion years ago, powerful volcanic eruptions shot gases above the Moon’s surface faster than they could escape, creating a transient atmosphere that lasted for about 70 million years.
~ 70 million years is transient?

Australian scientists save 30-year-old Quantum puzzle — The scientific community has been working on this one for more than 30 years. Australian scientists from Griffith University just worked out how to measure things with with single particles of light to a higher precision than ever before – on a quantum level.
~ Dang, I thought I was about to solve that one. 

Humanity gets a laser-shooting, drone-slaying dune buggy — Small consumer drones are fairly benign nuisances, buzzing around beaches, filming neighbourhoods from 100 metres up, and hopefully keeping clear of airports. To US armed forces fighting overseas, though, small drones can be huge threats. They can be rigged with explosives and firearms, or simply deployed as surveillance tools. So Raytheon has rolled out an answer at the Association of the United States Army Exposition in Washington: a laser-shooting, drone-killing dune buggy.
~ Um, ‘hoorah’?

Deep Learning explained in new theory — The magic leap from special cases to general concepts during learning gives deep neural networks their power, just as it underlies human reasoning, creativity and the other faculties collectively termed ‘intelligence.’ Experts wonder what it is about deep learning that enables generalisation – and to what extent brains apprehend reality in the same way. But a new theory seems to explain it.
~ Experience, basically … why is this so surprising?

Robot camouflage informed by the octopus — Scientists have engineered a material that can transform from a 2D sheet to a 3D shape, adjusting its texture to blend in with its surroundings. They mimicked the abilities of an octopus, which can change both shape and color to camouflage. This is a first step toward developing soft robots that can hide in plain sight, robotics expert Cecilia Laschi writes of the research.
~ Oh no, where did I put that washing machine?

Staying home changed the Stone Age — A new study by scientists at the University of the Witwatersrand suggests that at about 58,000 years ago, Stone Age humans began to settle down, staying in one area for longer periods. The research provides a potential answer to a long-held mystery: why older, Howiesons Poort complex technological tradition in South Africa, suddenly disappear at that time.
~ Yet no TV …

Futurology ~ Interstellar unlock, diamonds on Uranus, Aussie probe, Musk spacesuit, tiny Mercedes, China fast train, ‘clean’ meat, DNA encryption, ancient wine, Babylonian trigonometry


The Space-X program has a new space flight suit, unveiled by Elon Musk

Odd interstellar observation could unlock Dark Matter mystery — An international team of astronomers found a series of strange shapes in data coming off of distant sources of radio waves. They hypothesise that the dips come from some mysterious sources passing in front of the light, maybe black holes or the centres of clusters of stars. If their hypothesis is correct, they think they may have found a new way to probe those sources – sources with masses difficult to observe by other means.
~ Blips and dips taking on huge importance. 

Diamonds on Neptune and Uranus — Researchers using the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford have demonstrated in the lab, with one of the brightest sources of X-rays on the planet, that the depths of these ice giants are perfect for the formation of diamonds.
~ Ooh, I know, let’s have a space war over the rights to them!

Probe still talks to Australia — For the 40 years since NASA launched the two Voyager space probes on their mission to explore the outer planets of our Solar System, Australia has been helping the US space agency keep track of the probes at every step of their epic journey.
CSIRO operates NASA’s tracking station in Canberra, a set of four radio telescopes (dishes) known as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC).
Four decades on and the Australian tracking station is now the only one with the right equipment and position to be able to communicate with both of the probes as they continue to push back the boundaries of deep space exploration.
~ I’m amazed Australia even lets any signals in, myself. Shouldn’t they be quarantined in a concentration camp for a few years first? And only released, if they survive, when they’re lives have been completely ruined?

Musk’s new spacesuit — Elon Musk’s new Space-X spacesuit is white, in contrast to the very blue spacesuits unveiled by Boeing in January. These are not, strictly speaking, “space suits.” More properly they are they are flight suits designed to be worn during the ride to space and back again on the ride back down to Earth. They have a limited time in which they can operate in a full vacuum and are not intended for spacewalks. 
~ Wonder if it smells a bit musky inside. 

Big power from tiny Mercedes engine — The forthcoming Mercedes ‘hypercar’  Project One gets most of its oomph from a turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engine. That may seem minuscule for this sort of use case, but this machine is a close cousin to the one that powered the car Lewis Hamilton drove to an F1 championship in 2015. Changes have to do with how, and how high, the engine revs.
~ Only oligarchs need get excited, and then you’ll be driving it at 10% of it’s potential anyway. Haha, sucks to be you.

China relaunches world’s fastest train — Seven pairs of bullet trains will be operating under the name Fuxing, meaning rejuvenation, according to the South China Morning Post. The trains will once again run at 350kph, with a maximum speed of 400kph (248 mph).
Following a fatal crash in 2011, the high speed train service reduced its upper limit from its then-record holding 350 km/h (217 miles/hour) to 250-300 km/h (155-186 miles/hour). It is reported the train service will use monitoring systems to automatically slow the trains in case of emergency. The Beijing-Shanghai line will begin operating on 21st September and will shorten the nearly 1319km (820 mile) journey by one hour, to four hours thirty minutes. Nearly 600 million people use this route each year, providing a reported $1 billion in profits . The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei route begins operation now.
~ Wonder how the ticket price stacks up to air travel? It’s much less polluting, of course.  

Laptop batteries running homes — DIY Powerwall builders from around the world are harvesting old laptop batteries and turning them into powerful batteries capable of supplying energy to their entire homes. “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful,” Jehu Garcia, one of the most popular powerwall builders, told me. He and people like him are deciding for themselves what the future of alternative energy will look like, instead of waiting for technology companies to shape it for them.
~ Yep, it’s all green and clean … and then they die and you need to get rid of them. 

Gates and Branson fund ‘clean’ meat — A large global agricultural company has joined Bill Gates and Richard Branson to invest in a nascent technology to make meat from self-producing animal cells. Memphis Meats produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, and raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement Tuesday on the San Francisco-based startup’s website.
~ Fake cow, chicken and yuck.

Protect your DNA with encryption — Bejerano and Boneh published a paper in Science about a cryptographic ‘genome cloaking’ method. The scientists were able to do things like identify responsible mutations in groups of patients with rare diseases and compare groups of patients at two medical centres to find shared mutations associated with shared symptoms, all while keeping 97% of each participant’s unique genetic information completely hidden. They accomplished this by converting variations in each genome into a linear series of values. That allowed them to conduct any analyses they needed while only revealing genes relevant to that particular investigation.
~ Honestly, though, you’re just not that important. There are billions of you. Literally.

Italians have been tanking up on wine for ages and ages — In a study published in Microchemical Journal, researchers describe their big find of a jar dating back to the early 4th millennium BCE. After chemically testing the piece of pottery, the team found traces of tartaric acid, which is one of the main acids in wine. Its salts – called tartrates – were also found in the jug.
~ Six thousand years of boozing, wow!

Babylonians may have invented trigonometry — The Plimpton 322 tablet, discovered in the early 1900s in what is now Iraq, has long divided mathematicians confused by its columns and rows of numbers. But researchers from the University of New South Wales now say the 3700-year-old broken clay tablet is a trigonometric table. That would mean the Babylonians were 1000 years ahead of the Greeks, who are credited with creating trig.
~ So generations of school students have been cursing the wrong people. 

Futurology ~ Jupiter jaunt, solar plane, resolution x3, wooden towers, ancient contraceptives and pyramid DNA


By Jupiter! Juno’s first major information dump revealed some incredible insights into our big ol’ friend, Jupiter. A few close approaches from the NASA spacecraft show that the gas giant has extremely chaotic storms and can generate aurorae in ways Earth can’t, among other oddities. In short, Jupiter is the Wild West of the solar system, and an incredible view of its rings proves just how true that is.
Jupiter is immense and this video is spectacular. The fifth planet from the sun has a diameter of 143,231 kilometres (89,000 miles) and could easily envelop every other planet (and Pluto). The gas giant also has 2.5 times the mass of all those planets combined. Even its enormous storms boggle the mind: the Great Red Spot is big enough to contain the Earth.
~ Suddenly Mars seems more attractive. 

Solar plane to circumnavigate the Earth — A Russian tycoon and his Renova Group plan a record-breaking effort to send a plane around the world nonstop using only the power of the sun. If all goes well, a single pilot will fly for five days straight at altitudes of up to 10 miles, about a third higher than commercial airliners.
~ If he flew at a lower altitude, wouldn’t it be a shorter trip?

New tech could triple screen resolutions — A research team at the University of Central Florida has developed a new surface that allows the tuning of individual subpixels on a display. The breakthrough might mean the potential display resolutions on LCD TVs could triple, virtually overnight.
~ All hail embossed nanosurfaces.

 

Wooden skyscraper — Chicago’s John Hancock Center was built in 1965 and required 5 million pounds of aluminium. Five years later, engineers constructed the Sears Tower, a 1,400 foot skyscraper that used more than 176 million pounds of steel. An ambitious new proposal promises to introduce a new material to Chicago’s skyline, and to skyscrapers around the world: wood.
Architects are exploring a new kind of high-rise structure built entirely from timber. The River Beech Tower is a spindly, beechwood building whose 80 stories cut a blonde silhouette against Chicago’s dark, glassy horizon.
~ Do they have borer over there?

Ancient Chinese contraception proves ‘perfect’ — Researchers at UC Berkeley found a birth control that was hormone-free, 100% natural, resulted in no side effects, didn’t harm either eggs nor sperm, could be used in the long-term or short-term, and, perhaps the best part of all, could be used either before or after conception, and it came from ancient Chinese folk medicine
Two plant compounds block fertilization at very, very low concentrations – about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B – they could be a new generation of emergency contraceptive.
~ They work as swim encumbrance. Seriously!

Ancient Egyptian DNA reveals … They left behind intricate coffins, massive pyramids and gorgeous hieroglyphs, a pictorial writing code cracked in 1799. But there was one persistent hole in ancient Egyptian identity: their chromosomes. A study led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany managed to plug some of those genetic gaps.
Ancient Egyptians were closely related to people who lived along the eastern Mediterranean and shared genetic material with residents of the Turkish peninsula at the time and Europe.
The major finding was that “for 1300 years, we see complete genetic continuity.” Despite repeated conquests of Egypt, by Alexander the Great, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Assyrians and more, ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change.
~ They also didn’t find much sub-Saharan African ancestry.

Five Tip Friday ~ macOS tips for viewing files instantly, Smart Folders and Safari


qlranger

1/ Use Quick Look in macOS Sierra — Use Quick Look in macOS Sierra (and previous versions of macOS) to view photos, files, movies, sound files, PDFs, even Word files when you don’t have Word, without opening them – the view is in full resolution. You can use Quick Look for items in Finder windows, on your desktop, in emails, in messages, and other places. Select one or more items, then press the Spacebar on your keyboard or, with later apple trackpads, force-click items. A Quick Look window opens. If you selected multiple items, the first item is shown. You can manually enlarge the window by dragging its corners, click the Full Screen green button at top left, and to return to the previous size, click the Exit Full Screen button (that green button again).
To see the next or previous item, click the arrows on the left, or press the Left and Right arrow keys. In full screen, you can click Play to view multiple items as a slideshow.
To see the items in an index sheet view, click the Sheet View button on the left, or press Command-Return.
You can also open the file with its parent Application, which is listed at top right, to actually edit the file (in the example above, it’s the Preview app) and click the Share button on the right.
When you’re done, close the Quick Look window by pressing the Spacebar or force-clicking again, or click the Close button (red button at top left of the window).

2/ Play the video portion of a Live Photo — When you open a Live Photo (which you can only take with iPhone 6s or 7) in the Quick Look window, the video portion of the photo plays automatically. To view it again, click Live Photo in the bottom-left corner of the photo.

smartsfol

3/ Create and modify a Smart Folder — Smart Folders automatically gather files by type and subject matter. They’re updated as you change, add, and remove files on your Mac.
In the Finder, choose File>New Smart Folder. To search for files, enter a topic, a phrase, or another parameter in the search field.
To determine whether the search should include only the names of files or their entire contents, choose ‘Name matches’ in the search suggestions that appear below the search field, then click Name, then choose either Filename or Everything.
To search for additional specific attributes, click the Add buttonbelow the search field, then make choices using the search attribute pop-up menus that appear.
The menus work in pairs; for example, to search for images, you choose Kind from the pop-up menu on the left, then choose Images from the pop-up menu next to it.
Click Save, then specify a name and location for your Smart Folder.
If you don’t want your Smart Folder to be in the sidebar, deselect Add To Sidebar.
You can’t use certain characters, including punctuation such as a colon (:), in folder names. If an error message appears, try using another name.
To change the criteria for a Smart Folder, open the Smart Folder. Begin typing in the folder’s search field, or click the Action pop-up menu , then choose Show Search Criteria.

4/ History in Safari — Want to see the sites you were looking at on your Mac yesterday? Easy. From the History menu, you can choose Earlier Today, or any of the six days preceding that.
Of course, this poses a security concern: anyone else can do the same thing on your Mac if it’s unlocked, to see where you were and to open any of those links – you’re bank account, for example, and if you let this automatically log in (a very bad idea), then you’re really asking for trouble. When you select the Clear History item at the bottom of the History menu, you get to choose just to delete the last hour’s sites, Today, Today and Yesterday or All. Be warned that any logins and auto-logins you went to will also be ‘forgotten’ and you will have to enter your details and/or auto- log in again.

selectdelete

5/ Selectively delete history items — I had never realised you can much more selectively delete history items. When you choose Show All History, which is the very top item in the History menu, you get to click on any one item (or hold down the Command key on your keyboard to select several items) to highlight individual sites and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
You can clear everything with the Clear History …’ button and even search for that distant item.
Double-clicking on any line launches the site, which can also be very handy.

Apple iBooks and Parcels From Home


Parcels From Home: Jack's War
Parcels From Home: Jack’s War

Two new New Zealand multi-touch books available in Apple’s iBooks explore the power of the platform — Please excuse me for blowing my own trumpet to some extent, but this is the culmination of seven years research and writing work for me, and, for both Steve Bolton and Paul Luker, a year of intensive work on Jack’s War (NZ$8.99).

We have released the first two Parcels From Home books into the iBooks Store. Both books talk about the New Zealand Red Cross POW parcel scheme in World War Two, and these releases coincide with Anzac Day and, on May 8th, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. The books take different approaches: Parcels From Home: The POW Parcels Scheme and the New Zealand Red Cross in World War Two is a history book covering the worldwide parcel scheme and, much more specifically, the stellar New Zealand role in the scheme in relation to our c9000 prisoners of Germany, while Parcels From Home: Jack’s War is a work of ‘creative non-fiction’ in graphic novel form. It’s fully illustrated – beautifully illustrated – by New Zealand author and artist Steve Bolton.

Societally — The books uncover facets of the war often mentioned, rarely described. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served in World War Two – but back here, over a million struggled with the war, the emergency, privations, loss and fear back home. They kept New Zealand running to support our forces and to safeguard our precious democracy. One of the ways they coped was by helping the Red Cross. The books explore what went on at the battlefront and in the POW camps, but they also explain what went on back in New Zealand. (A percentage of sales will go to NZ Red Cross.)

Special features — Both books support Apple’s cool iBooks multi-touch features. Although they only work on iPad and Mac (there’s too much going on to fit them onto iPhone screens) they support Apple’s note-taking and highlighting features. Buy one book once and install it on both your Mac and iPad. Stop reading on a page on your Mac and open it on your iPad, and it opens to the page you finished on. Any notes or highlighting you added on one device appears in the book on the next – all thanks to Apple’s brilliant implementation of iCloud, of course. Both books support thumbnail Contents view (buttons appear at top left) for fast navigation, and search. As study aids these features put them into a league well above traditional books, much as we love traditional books.
But we went further, thanks to Paul Luker’s design acumen. In Parcels From Home (NZ$12.99), images ‘pop’ and expand when you tap or click them. Some of these images have never been published before, by the way. You can zoom in – two fingers placed on an iPad screen or Mac trackpad and spread apart – lets you zoom in and inspect them even more closely. We have some primary source interviews with New Zealand WII veterans and, in some cases, you can hear them.
Bold text means a glossary reference. Tap/click it and you can see where the information came from. The glossary is in both books as a study aid.
In Jack’s War, we have added an extensive glossary too, but also sound files with the authentic sounds of, for example, some military equipment: hear a real Bren Gun, or German Stuka, as well as some environmental effects. There are also informational pop-ups.  Foreign words show translations when you tap or click them.

Both books are have special, integrated multi-media features
Both books are have special, integrated multi-media features

Big plans —We have a third Parcels From Home book in the pipeline.  This will be released in November 2015 to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of NZ Red Cross. This is an expanded history book with more images, more information, more sound files and a whole additional chapter on the War in the Pacific. It will cost NZ$18.99. But before that we have Lynda Nunweek’s brilliant book about friends growing up in New Zealand in World War One, the start of an engaging series. We are translating When The World Returns about Dutch WWII resistance figure Wim Naeijé – this has never been published in English and the author is adding in extra content for CreativeTech.
We have a range of extremely interesting books coming out, including never-before-published NZ band photos by outstanding photographer Frances Carter, currently working in New York … and much more.

Stay tuned — Search on ‘CreativeTech’ or ‘Parcels From Home’ in iBooks to find our volumes. If you consider buying them, I’d appreciate it – all the work I detailed above has, so far, been done for love. We don’t receive a cent until we sell some books. We made these because we thought the stories needed to be told.
Thank you, most sincerely, in advance!

Launches — We have two. The first is in Wellington at the NZ Red Cross HQ presented by NZ Red Cross director Doctor Jenny McMahon and MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson on April 24th, and another in Auckland upstairs at the Grey Lynn Returned Services Club on May 1st. We will display interesting items and show how the books work at these events – and we can for your interest group as well, on request.

For review copies, more information, to schedule a free talk or presentation, please email Mark Webster at markwebster at vodafone.co.nz.

Futurology 15 ~ Mars comet, inhabitants, tractor beam, gamer tanks, engineering cells, high Ice age, tattooed cannabis smoker mummy


You can fit all the planets in the Solar System back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon — about 384,400kms
You can fit all the planets in the Solar System back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon

Good fit— All the planets in the Solar System can fit back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon — about 384,400km — with 8030kms to spare. Seeing it visualised (above) really gives you a good idea of how much empty space is out there.
~ And with another million kms, the sun fits too. 

Mars Orbiters survive unprecedented encounter with comet Siding Spring— Last week, comet Siding Spring hurled past Mars at half the distance between the Earth and moon, bringing a massive cloud of dust along with it. To protect its space-based assets, space agencies employed precautionary measures, and they appear to have worked.
~ They did this by tweaking their orbits.

Mission to Mars suits women — A mission to Mars should have an all-female crew, says Kate Green, who participated in a simulated expedition. Over five weeks, the female crew members expended less than half the calories of the men and at mealtimes, the women ate smaller portions. Less food means a lighter spacecraft payload and reduced fuel.
~ And how about the food for the rest of their lonely and stranded lives?

Aussie tractor beam — Laser physicists from Australia built a reversible tractor beam capable of retrieving tiny particles. It’s nowhere near as strong as the beams portrayed in scifi, but it’s the first long-distance optical tractor beam capable of moving particles one fifth of a millimetre in diameter a distance of up to 20cm.
~ Scale it up a few thousand times and it might be useful. Or you could just pick something up with your hands.

Old paper may have had clues to Dark Matter — A paper from an experiment conducted 32 years ago may shed light on the nature of dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to keep the galaxies from flying apart.
~ I am happy or the subject to remain Dark.

British military seeking gamers to pilot tanks — The British branch of the global defense firm General Dynamics is working on a futuristic state-of-the-art smart-tank to replace the British Army’s ageing armoured vehicles, for 2020. The Scout SV will be the first fully-digitised armored fighting vehicle built for the British Army, and is far bigger and more durable than any of its existing tanks, now at least 20 years old. So they’re looking for the type of people who play Xbox games: “tech-savvy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way”.
~ The gamer’s ultimate justification has arrived.

Engineered cells to fight cancer — Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully cultivated stem cells that will kill brain cancer cells in mice without damaging healthy cells.
~ Mice get all the breaks.

Buildings to sweat for cooling — Our reliance on air conditioning, however magical an innovation, has become a serious environmental burden. So researchers in Barcelona have designed a material they say can naturally cool rooms by about 5C using a moisture-absorbing polymer that “sweats” much like our own bodies.
~ Welcome to my hydroceramic home.That smell is deodorant.

ATLAS getting faster and faster at simple human tasks — ATLAS Is Getting Faster and Faster At Simple Human Tasks
Oh, sure, we all pointed and laughed at ATLAS when it was first revealed, stumbling over simple obstacles. But deep down we knew that, like our original iPods, it would quickly evolve into something far more capable. Just over a year later, ATLAS is already tackling simple obstacles with ease.
~ Ah, the fascination with making things do what we do easily. 

Highest Ice Age settlement — Researchers working in the Peruvian Andes have found an ice age camp located 14,760 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level. It’s so high the archaeologists were surprised ancient humans could survive up there.
~ I’m even surprised archaeologists can survive up there.

2500 year old mummy smoked dope and was covered in tattoos — In 1993, Russian scientist Natalia Polosmak discovered the remains of a 25-year-old woman covered in tattoos who came to be known as the Ukok Princess. An MRI has now revealed the young woman was suffering from breast cancer, a bone marrow infection at the time of her death, and scientists have stated she most likely used cannabis to treat herself.
~ Somehow I suspect the tats weren’t a rose, and anchor and ‘Mum’.