PowerWall: A Battery For Your HomeCould a battery big enough to power your whole home be coming to market soon? Yes, says Elon Musk. More than that, he says it will change the world. Rumors have swirled for weeks about a new ... More >
The Latest Private Rocket Launch!New Shepard--the primary rocket from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' private spaceflight venture, Blue Origin--flew a successful test flight yesterday. It climbed 307,000 feet, or 58 miles high, and did so ... More >
Watch Pluto and Charon Orbit Each Other [GIF]Dwarf planet Pluto is coming into view. And we're already discovering a few exciting things about this mysterious little space rock. More >
Secret Space Plane Gets Darth Vader's EngineThe Air Force's secret robot space plane is going to try out a new engine. The X-37B has so far spent a total of 1367 days tooling around in Earth's orbit, doing classified things. Yesterday, the ... More >
Watch This Li-Ion Battery Explode!This Friday, Europe's largest freight carrier, Cargolux, will ban bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries from its freight planes. Last month, an international group of airplane manufacturers ... More >
In what has been called an “act of evil,” four people were murdered on May 14 in a mansion in Washington, D.C. At first glance, the crime appeared to be motivated by money and seemed to be random, so investigators didn't have much information to go on when trying to identify a suspect. But then, a stroke of luck: Police uncovered a box of Domino's pizza, one of two that was delivered to the house when the victims were being held hostage.
The whole point of virtual reality is to offer up the feeling of being transported into another world. But currently, avatar facial expressions fail to live up to VR's promise. Interacting with another human in a VR realm has more closely resembled a conversation with Zoltar, the infamous robotic fortune teller.
Muscle loss, lack of balance, backaches: human bodies act in strange ways in space. But scientists are only now starting to understand the changes that happen in the microbiome, the community of bacteria that live in our guts and elsewhere on our bodies and that have a huge effect on functions such as digestion and immunity. In space, the gut microbiome can get a bit out of whack, according to a recent article published in the International Reviews of Immunology. As commercial space travel and longer stints away from Earth seem more inevitable, researchers are trying to figure out how these changes in the gut microbiome might make humans sick in space.
The worst part of having a drone is losing it. Pilots will go to great lengths to make sure their drones stay clear of harm, whether it's diving into a canal to save it from drowning or turning a mishap on national television into a learning experience and warning for others. SmartChutes is a crowdfunding campaign Kickstarter right now that envisions a better way: parachutes for drones that deploy automatically when the drone is in peril.
The biggest physical constraint on small drones is their power supply. Batteries can only hold so much energy, and as adding more batteries to a drone also increase the weight of that drone, there are finite limits on how long quadcopters can fly in a single flight. A new drone concept by Horizon Unmanned Systems seeks to overcome that limitation, by turning to an alternative power source: hydrogen fuel cells.
If science textbooks are to be believed, you have about 200 different types of cells in your body. But several teams of scientists are now debating that number, saying that the estimate is significantly larger. Using the new technique of looking at a cell's RNA, a handfulof researchers are prying open thousands of cells at a time to figure out what makes them different from one another, according to the MIT Tech Review. The results could change how we treat diseases where cells proliferate or die off, such as cancer or Alzheimer's respectively, for which treatments are increasingly targeted to specific cell types.
To a harried subway passenger, learning that there's a delay ahead can trigger groans, rolled eyes, or mere stoic despair. But commuters might be even more annoyed if they realized the track ahead was perfectly clear: Sometimes, the system holds a train in place to fix a delay behind it. In this 8-bit video, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority explains how slowing down one train can actually reduce the total delay on the line.
Sonia Chernova wants you to train her robot. Two years ago, Chernova and some of her fellow roboticists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachussets launched a remote robotics lab called RobotsFor.Me, a site where users can log in and teach robots how to function in physical space. It's both more and less exciting than it sounds. Participants might play a game where they rack up points based on the number of objects they can help the robot pick up in 10 minutes. But these tutors aren't exactly diving into an immersive, robot's-eye-view interface. “We abstract everything,” says Chernova, who directs WPI's Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning lab. “They've never seen this robot. They've never been trained to use it properly. They don't realize the robot costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
A new Chrome extension, called Google Tone, released this week makes it possible to share a URL with another computer in the room using a series of beeps and boops. The concept is dead simple yet instantly instills a sense of disbelief. A computer making seemingly random sounds can transmit the URL for the tab I have open in Chrome across the room? Get out.
For a full decade, Gudmundar Olaffson was unable to move his right ankle. That's because it wasn't there. Olafsson's amputated lower leg was the delayed casualty of an accident from his childhood in Iceland, when he was hit by an oil truck. “I lived in pain for 28 years,” says Olafsson. “After 50-plus operations, I had it off.” For years after the operation he wore a Proprio Foot, a prosthetic with a motorized, battery-powered ankle, sold by the Reykjavik-based company Ossur. The Proprio is essentially a wearable robot, with algorithms and sensors that automatically adjust the angle of the foot during different points in its wearer's stride. Olafsson's ankle moved on autopilot.
In 1976, renowned astrophysicist Carl Sagan brought a weird, reflective prop with him to the Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson. The toy was a mockup of a solar sail—a revolutionary idea for space travel propulsion that eschews fuel. “[It] travels on the radiation and particles that come out of the Sun—the wind from the Sun,” Sagan explained to Carson, comparing the technology to how an ordinary sail boat moves through the ocean.