Cygnus-class resupply ship Janice Voss entering the Earth’s atmosphere on August 17 by Alexander Gerst
Star that exploded at the dawn of time — To probe the dawn of time, astronomers usually peer far away; but now they’ve made a notable discovery close to home. An ancient star a mere thousand light-years from Earth bears chemical elements that may have been forged by the death of a star that was both extremely massive and one of the first to arise after the big bang. If confirmed, the finding means that some of the universe’s first stars were so massive they died in exceptionally violent explosions that altered the growth of early galaxies.
~ Big, big bangs.
Modular hive home for Mars — In June, JPL and MakerBot were teamed up to host a competition for designing a futuristic Mars base. The competition is now over, and the top three designs have been chosen. First place went to Noah Hornberger, who designed a base with hexagonal rooms and shielding made of depleted uranium.
~ A honey of a house maybe, but I still don’t want to go. And what the hell is a ‘Mud Room’?
Mars rover’s wheel damage — The folks in charge of the Mars rover Curiosity have been trying to solve an increasingly urgent problem: what to do about unexpected wheel damage.
~ It’s a wheel challenge all right.
Crystal-clear picture of a spaceship burning up on reentry — German astronaut Alexander Gerst took the above crystal clear photo of the Cygnus-class resupply ship Janice Voss entering the Earth’s atmosphere on August 17.
~ Alas poor Janice.
Crystal-clear solar cells — A team of researchers from Michigan State University has developed a completely transparent, luminescent solar concentrator. Whereas most traditional solar panels collect light energy from the sun using dark silicon cells and converted into electricity using the photovoltaic effect, solar concentrators actually focus sunlight onto a heat engine that produces electricity.
~ Transparent energy, that’s the dream.
Bionic pants is chair you wear — For some people, for example assembly line workers, not having a chair to sit in can actually pose a health hazard. That’s why Noonee developed the Chairless Chair, a chair you wear.
~ Also perfect for quick toilet stops. I just had to show the picture for that one! (below).
Remote-controlled cyborg moths — Research being conducted at North Carolina State University is aimed at converting moths into biobots.
~ Everything looking fine, then a flame appears.
While we’re talking about animal abuse, thermal solar plants have been incinerating birds — Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more (and bigger) plants until their impact on wildlife has been further investigated.
The Ivanpah plant has more than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. They focus and concentrate solar energy from their entire surfaces upward onto three boiler towers – the solar energy heats the water inside the towers to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes. But the concentrated solar energy chars and incinerates the feathers of passing birds.
FarmBot: an open source automated farming machine — Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut compared to other industries. Businesses across the globe have been innovating for decades, while farming has been using techniques handed down over centuries. The FarmBot Foundation is creating a machine, similar to a CNC mill and/or 3D printer, which is capable of being run by sophisticated software and equipped with tools including seed injectors, plows, burners, robotic arms (for harvesting), cutters, shredders, tillers, discers, watering nozzles, sensors and more.
~ Ee ai ee ai … oh no.
The whitest beetle — One species of beetle looks like it’s been given a lick with a paintbrush — but in fact, the Cyphochilus is covered in paper-thin scales that are brilliant white, and reflect more light than anything of a similar thickness that can be made by humans.
~ And super lightweight, due to ingenious design.
Sick plants could lead to hidden landlines — Land mines are explosive, of course, but also leak toxins into the soil that make plants sick. That’s unfortunate for the plants but fortunate for us if we can figure out how to look for sick plants as indicators of land mines. Aeroplanes equipped with a low-cost sensor that captures non-visible light might be the answer.
~ Or drones. of course.