Tag Archives: solar panels

Futurology 04 ~ Space, the robots are winning, sponge-bone & ancient skeletons


Harvard's swarm of Kilobots
Harvard’s swarm of Kilobots

NASA scientists find the first interstellar space particles —NASA has identified for the first time seven rare, microscopic interstellar dust particles . They date to the beginnings of the solar system. The particles have been identified amongst samples obtained by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, which returned to Earth back in 2006.
~ At least they were looking in the right place. 

Origami Solar Panels — Brian Trease, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is working with researchers at Brigham Young University to construct a solar array that uses origami principles for deployment. Such devices could one day beam power down to Earth — and folding them into a small size could minimise launch and assembly costs.
~ And if it doesn’t work, there’ll be a job opening for an Astronautical Origami Unfolder.

Super computer windfarm for Mexico — It’s being built by Spanish company Iberdrola, and will be located on a 2.4km high spot in Puebla state, one of the windiest parts of Mexico. The supercomputer used a simulation system called SEDAR (a Spanish acronym for “high resolution wind power simulator”) that calculates airflow and solves complex problems like where turbines should be situated.
~ Honestly, they can’t work out where’s windy themselves?

A thousand tiny robots swarming into shapes like intelligent insects — Since the first crude automatons running on clockwork mechanisms, mankind has been working to build the perfect artificial copy of ourselves for centuries. Researchers at Harvard University, inspired by the idea that one day life can be recreated using countless tiny robots, have been developing and building their Kilobots for years now. The Kilobots started off with just twenty-five units all working together to accomplish a task, then a hundred, and now a thousand (pictured above).
~ Sounds frighteningly close to ‘killerbots’ to me. 

Very fast camera — Japanese researchers have recently designed a motion picture camera capable of capturing 4.4 trillion frames per second, making it the fastest camera in the world. The technique that allows for such speed is called STAMP (sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography). The research paper, published in the journal Nature Photonics, has the full details.

Robots have already taken over — If you think it’s just a joke that robots are going to replace humans, it’s not. It’s going to happen. In fact, CGP Grey explains in ‘Humans Need Not Apply’ how it’s already happening around us right now. You might not notice it but you will after you watch how we’re following historical patterns towards obscurity.
In reality, as CGP Grey shows us, real change happens when last decade’s shiny and fancy and new and expensive stuff becomes cheaper and faster.

Limits to smaller, faster computing — In a [paywalled] review article in this week’s issue of the journal Nature (described in a National Science Foundation press release), Igor Markov of the University of Michigan/Google reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, in principle and in practice, using today’s and emerging technologies. “Understanding these important limits,” says Markov, “will help us to bet on the right new techniques and technologies.”
Luckily Ars Technica does a great job of expanding on the various limitations that Markov describes, and the ways in which engineering can push back against them.

 

Corsair's super DRAM4
Corsair’s super new DDR4

Super futuristic DDR4 RAM — A new chipset and memory combination will blow away anything that came before it. DDR4 is the brand new memory standard, soon to replace the now seven-year-old DDR3 as the overclocker’s RAM of choice. Corsair’s new DDR4 RAM, along with other brands’ and the next-gen motherboards that support it, will go on sale at the end of this month.
~ And it looks pretty super!

Sponge could help fill gaps where bone can’t regrow itself — Your bones are masterful self-healers, but certain injuries and defects can leave a gap too wide for new bone cells to fill in. Texas A&M’s Dr Melissa Grunlan and team have come up with a solution, a biodegradable polymer sponge that supports new bone cell growth, then disappears as it’s replaced by solid bone.
~ I still want a third hand with three fingers and two thumbs in the middle of my chest that reaches my mouth so I can eat a sandwich while I do something else, personally. Grow me one of them, Dr Grunlan!

Historians rediscover Einstein’s forgotten model of the universe — In 1931, after a 3- month visit to the US, Albert Einstein penned a paper that attempted to show how his theory of general relativity could account for some of the latest scientific evidence.
Einstein had met Edwin Hubble during his trip and so was aware of the latter’s data indicating that the universe must be expanding. The resulting model, now translated into English, is of a universe that expands and then contracts with a singularity at each end. He wrote the paper in only 4 days, and this model was ultimately superseded by the Einstein-de Sitter model published the following year.
~ Er, yeah, I’ll read it later.

How a 1920s feminist imagined our futuristic high-tech world —Josephine Daskam Bacon was an author known for her adventure serials that featured female protagonists. But in 1929, she took a break from her regular fiction and slipped on futurist goggles for an article in Century magazine titled ‘In Nineteen Seventy-Nine’.
Bacon imagined just how much progress women will have made fifty years hence — and whether her granddaughter would be able to “have it all” as some people here in the future might say.
~ Here’s a comment from Bacon: “No, the most the aeroplanes can do is to ease the traffic a little, and spread the accidents over a wider surface.”

Wyoming cave yields loads of interesting bones — Scientists excavating an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare trove of fossils of Ice Age mammals. It contains hundreds of bones of such prehistoric animals as American cheetahs, a paleontologist said on Friday.
The extensive excavation that began late last month uncovered roughly 200 large bones of animals like horses that roamed North America from 12,000 to 23,000 years ago and an uncounted number of microfossils of creatures such as birds, lizards and snakes.
~ I too have some interesting bones. My favourite wraps all around my brain.