Using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, astronomers have finally spotted a collection of ultra-cool brown dwarfs they have been hunting for more than a decade. These tepid almost-star orbs are nearly impossible to see with a normal telescope, but WISE's infrared vision was able to pick them out.
NASA is spending roughly US$175 million on three new technology demonstration projects, one of which is aiming to take HD data streaming to Mars. The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will explore reliable optical communications technologies that could boost data rates between Earth and deep space by a couple of orders of magnitude.
Last week, we told you about a New York Times analysis of the green jobs sector, painting a disappointingly dismal picture given all the hope surrounding economic growth via clean-energy technology. But now, a new piece from the watchdogs at Grist has taken strong issue with the Times's dreary conclusion.
Last time we looked at the UK's teeming video surveillance technology sector we were writing about facial recognition software that Scotland Yard was trialling during the recent London riots. But facial recognition is both fraught with privacy concerns and difficult to make reliable. So researches at Kingston University are building a CCTV system that uses AI to recognise specific types of criminal behaviours--like someone brandishing a firearm--and use that to alert authorities and build a video profile of the way a crime unfolded.
Our favorite Twitter ‘bot--no, like an actual robot that tweets--is out of the box and live-tweeting its new life on the International Space Station. Robonaut 2 was actually unboxed several months ago (it was delivered by the final Discovery mission in February) but has been sitting idly, waiting for the crew to get around to firing it up. Now R2 is plugged in, and man is it ever chatty.
Commanding an army of drones is one thing; letting drones command themselves is something else entirely, especially when they have very little in common. Boeing recently tested a swarm network to help disparate drones work together, sending two types of unmanned aerial vehicles on a reconnaissance mission over eastern Oregon.
Until companies start launching private spaceships, Russian-built space capsules will be the only way to get astronauts up to the International Space Station or other orbital outposts. If these images are accurate at all, Russian-built spacecraft might as well stay the only option. Doesn't this look cozy?
Guide dogs are great, but vision-impaired people sometimes need to find their own way through complex environments. Instead of checking for obstacles with a trademark white stick, inventor Steve Hoefer has another idea: Use wrist-mounted sonar. Hoefer designed a haptic gauntlet with ultrasonic sensors mounted just over the knuckles. The Tacit, as it's called, is encased in a neoprene cuff and can sense objects from about two and a half centimetres all the way up to 3 metres.
Carmakers have spent the past few years aggressively downsizing engines throughout their lineups to meet increasingly tight fuel-economy regulations. But with the sole exception of the three-cylinder Smart Fortwo, four cylinders is as low as carmakers have expected Americans to go. Three-cylinders are common in Europe but have been scorned in the U.S., where they're tainted by association with claptrap cars like the mousy Geo Metro. Now, with fuel-economy standards set to rise as high as 90.4 kph by 2025, Ford is planning to bring the three-cylinder to the American mainstream.
Dual-core processors have been a computing mainstay for more than six years, allowing machines to handle two tasks at once without sacrificing speed in either. This year, dual-core chips have begun popping up in app-hungry phones. The next step: cameras. The Olympus PEN E-P3 is the first digital camera running on a dual-core chip, which lets it capture, retouch, and save shots nearly twice as fast as most competitors.
A dog can accurately detect the early presence of lung cancer by sniffing patients' breath, doctors in Germany say. While researchers have known for some time that dogs can sniff out the telltale signs of other forms of cancer, this is the first study that proves dogs can reliably smell this particular kind.