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Archive for the ‘News – Science’ Category

Power plants are under more stress than ever to provide the world with electricity.  A good portion of the power distributed goes towards a productive end, but as much as 20 percent of power used ends up doing nothing at all.  So where does this energy go?  Certain appliances and electronics, dubbed “vampires,” slowly sap power even when not in use.  Chief among these energy hogs is the cellphone charger.  Even when the phone is charged, even when the phone is off, and even when the phone is disconnected, cellphone chargers still draw current.  AT&T, however, has decided to do something about it.  The new AT&T ZERO charger shuts down completely when not in use, meaning no vampire suck and no teeth marks in your electricity bill.  The ZERO is compatible with all AT&T smart-phones as well as the iPhone or any other USB charged devices.  Selling at about 15 or 20 dollars, the ZERO costs about as much as a regular replacement charger, but will pay for itself quickly.  Now I’m going to unplug my cellphone charger.

Mars rover Spirit is officially stuck after 10 months of effort were unable to get the vehicle moving.  Engineers at NASA tried valiantly to pry out a wheel that got stuck in the martian soil, but the task proved to be impossible with the two other crippled wheels that the rover was sporting.  The incredibly complex and sensitive equipment on board Spirit, however are all completely intact, and the rover continues to function as a experiment platform, albeit a stationary one.  That is, if it survives the martian winter.  Winter on Mars can see temperatures as low as -45 Celcius  and the massive amount of material that is thrown into the atmosphere by the harsh winds can blot out the sun for weeks at a time.  While weathering the winter, Spirit will go into hibernation, waking up once a day to check its batteries.  If it has sufficient resources, it will attempt to communicate with Earth, if it does not, then it will go back to sleep.  This process will continue until the machine freezes up, looses all power, or survives the winter successfully.  With so much riding on these next few months, Spirit is angling its solar panels carefully to stand a chance of waking up after the big freeze.

California has been preyed upon by violent and tumultuous storms nonstop for the last three days.  Mudslides and floods have occurred in many places along the west coast.  Meteorologists claim that the El Nino effect is causing changes in the winter jet stream.  El Ninos are natural occurrences that take place when the ocean and atmosphere in the tropical Pacific become warmer than usual.  This warmer sea air can soak up more ocean water, and moves it east.  When the saturated air reaches the west coast of the United States, it is met by mountains and the much cooler mainland air.  These factors combine to rapidly cool the water filled ocean air.  The cooler and therefore denser air does not have as much room between its molecules to hold water, and rain falls.  This process has been happening in excess to the west, and even Arizona is expecting four feet of snow on Friday.

The Planetary Society, located in California, has just unveiled their plans for a second attempt at propelling a spacecraft with photons.  The ingenious design, dubbed LightSail-1, uses a large, reflective surface to “sail” on the light waves produced by the sun.  The pressure of the photons on the sail would cause the craft to accelerate almost imperceptibly at first, but the sheer quantity of photons given off by the sun is enough to propel the sail much faster than anything previously put in to space.  Minute orbital adjustments can be accomplished with such technology as well.  The solar sail can be trimmed just as a conventional one.  In addition, the sail’s sensitivity to solar activity would be extremely helpful in predicting solar wind and flares.  If put in Low Earth Orbit, as LightSail-1 is to be stationed, electric companies and satellite owners would have 10 minutes advanced warning of an especially potent flare, and if placed between the Sun and the Earth, as LightSail-3 is planned to be, astronauts could have up to an hour of advanced warning.

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NAO

I saw this robot on “Youtube”-  I have to tell you, that was amazing! Aldebaran Robotics’ Project Nao aims to make available to the public, at an affordable price, a humanoid robot with mechanical, electronic, and cognitive features. Initially, delivered with basic behaviors, the Nao robot will be introduced on the market as the ideal introduction to robots. Designed for entertainment purposes, Nao will be able to interact with its owner, with evolving behaviors and functionality. Additionally, the user will be able to teach Nao new behaviors using a computer with Wi-Fi connectivity. The behaviors creating software is designed to fit any users! The approximate cost of this “fun” machine is around $15,000! Unfortunately, there’s no indication as to exactly when the bot will be available…

The US space agency said it would be launching a dangerous mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on Monday to service the telescope that has been orbiting Earth for about 19 years. The HST has helped astronomers acquire a boundless amount of information pertaining to the universe since its launch but has had to previously undergo four service operations. However, this will be NASA’s final attempt to prolong its life and it will attempt to do so by 5 years. The 11 day awesomemission will be especially dangerous because HST orbits at almost twice the height of the International Space Station. It is more than likely to get hit by micrometeorites and other space debris. From NASA’s standpoint, Atlantis is ready to fly on Monday at 1801 GMT. The success of the mission depends on a lot of variables as do most space missions. The weather is one such variable they seem to have under control. Favorable weather conditions are anticipated at Cape Canaveral for lift off.

 The US Army tests flying snipers; in this sniper there are semi automatic guns, it also has a high velocity sniper gun. This sniper can be controlled by a Microsoft Xbox 360 controller. This will give the ground base solider the ability to shoot people down from the ground which will be pretty cool. The US Army is the first country to create a thing like this. It will be interesting how quickly they will put this into work. So now the US Army can get their best snipers to go into action and the flying sniper can get all the things that the ground sniper do not pick up. There is only one gun turret and it is located on the right side of the aircraft. I think it would be really interesting to work with this thing and see how many people it can take down from flying around. The US army is always coming up with new interesting ideas.


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