01 Sep

Computers are a large part of life in space these days, equipping astronauts with the tools they need to complete their missions. But unfortunately, the computers we use on land can’t be sent into space, since equipment designed for land degrades quickly in space.

Thanks to a new effort between NASA and Hewlett Packard, space travelers could soon have a supercomputer to take along on their missions. The computer, which will be tested on the International Space Station for one year, is slated to accompany astronauts on Mars missions, assuming testing goes well. NASA predicts a mission to Mars would take approximately one year, leading to a need to test the computer for that period of time before putting it into use.

30 Aug

Japan's Haneda Airport has made use of global design concepts to boost interest in the creation of airports that are user-friendly for all people -- especially in its international terminal. Given that the airport expects a rise in the number of foreign visitors over the next three or so years -- and also of mobility-challenged customers as the population continues to grow older -- it only makes sense to emphasize new technological developments to make everyone's flying experience as comfortable as possible.

This includes the WHILL NEXT, "a mobility robot that enables safe, comfortable transport for Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM), whose use of airports is expected to increase," according to a press release from Panasonic, which developed the robot with WHILL, Inc.

Features include the following:

28 Aug

Illness of any kind can prove isolating. Long-term illness even more so. All sense of what seemed normal can vanish. For kids, that disappearing act can seem permanent.

So, a 26-year-old Norweigian engineer, Karen Dolva, decided to do something to help the problem rather than sink into her own cutting-edge geekiness. As she recently told the Guardian newspaper, “There are a lot of engineers who don’t want to make something useful – they want to make something cool.”

Consider Dolva on the useful end of that spectrum. The co-founder of the startup No Isolation, Dolva and her colleagues have embarked on a quest to live up to their group's name -- especially for chronically ill children. Part of their solution: A telepresence robot known as AV1.

26 Aug

Genetic manipulation has faced tough criticism from those who are concerned about what might happen when science gets involved in the process of creating humans. But with so many inherited diseases costing human lives, researchers are always interested in ways they can make small adjustments to eradicate genetic issues.

Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University recently confirmed that they’ve been working with human embryos and have successfully modified their genes. The work, which will be published in an upcoming journal, involved using a method called CRISPR that allows scientists to modify a section of genes.

24 Aug

Scientists recently used the energy in sunlight along with water and hydrocarbon fuels to take a giant leap forward toward a long-standing goal of replicating photosynthesis. The process effectively splits CO2 into carbon monoxide, which is high in energy, and oxygen.

The process isn't quite so advanced that it can currently create alternatives to fossil fuels. One day, though, the process could point the way toward techniques that could make potentially limitless stores of liquid fuel from a mixture of CO2, water, and sunlight.

In fact, says John Turner, a renewable fuels expert at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, the new process is “a very nice result.”

According to Science Magazine, the process begins by breaking down CO2 into CO and oxygen. CO can then be mixed with hydrogen to come up with several kinds of hydrocarbon fuels -- one of which, methanol, can be used as fuel for automobiles.

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