About two years
ago, three University of Cincinnati aerospace engineering students
launched an idea: To design, manufacture parts for, construct and
blast off a rocket they’d build from scratch. The trio initiated
the idea while they were all working together on “co-op” in
Munich, Germany. So, with a little help from their friends, other
students, faculty members, industry sponsors and NASA, they formed
their own rocket team. The original group of three students grew
to 15 at UC and about 30 at Casper College in Wyoming as well as
students in Wyoming’s Natrona County School District.
Robots are about
to get more feeling. An electronic skin as sensitive to touch as
our own is being developed by scientists in Japan."Recognition
of tactile information will be very important for future generations
of robots," says Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo who
developed the skin. A sense of touch would help them to identify
objects, carry out delicate tasks and avoid collisions.
is not just for Popeye, it could work for computers too. US researchers
have made electrical cells that are powered by plant proteins.
The biologically based solar cells, which convert light into electrical
energy, should be efficient and cheap to manufacture, says co-creator
Marc Baldo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They could
even be used to coat and power laptops, providing a portable source
of green energy.
A paper published
this week in the journal Science supports the hypothesis that heat
transfer by ocean currents – rather than global heating or
cooling – may have been responsible for the global temperature
patterns associated with the abrupt climate changes seen in the
North Atlantic during the past 80,000 years. Authored by the University
of Bremen’s Frank Lamy and colleagues, the paper provides
new evidence that Southern Hemisphere climate may not have changed
in step with Northern Hemisphere climate.
There are many
ways to celebrate your debut in space. For Mike Melvill, pilot
of SpaceShipOne, it was to pop open a bag of multicoloured sweets
and watch them dance. "It was absolutely amazing ... those
M&Ms were just going around," he said minutes later, on
the baking black runway in the California desert. Melvill shot
into space history when he became the first pilot to top 100 kilometres,
and earn his astronaut credentials, in a privately financed rocket.
While not actually
teleporting matter from place to place as in Star Trek, physicists
have now plucked a quantum property from one atom and transmitted
it to another. That feat of quantum teleportation, reported independently
by teams in Austria and the United States in the June 17 Nature,
moves scientists nearer to building a class of so-called quantum
computers that's expected to be astonishingly speedy at certain
tasks, such as scouring databases for specific information.
spacecraft has surprised scientists with the most detailed picture
of a comet yet. The first results from the probe, which swooped
over the comet Wild 2 on 2 January this year, prove that not all
comets are born equal. All comets were once thought to be little
more than lumps of loosely packed icy rubble. Stardust has revealed
that Wild 2 bucks the trend with a rigid core that is able to support
near-vertical cliffs and spires of rock.
Like a canary
in a mine, a microbe can often sense environmental dangers before
a human can. It's easy to see a canary's reaction. But how can
you can you tell what a microbe's feeling? How can you coax a microbe
to communicate? One way is to interface it to a silicon chip. University
of Tennessee microbiologist Gary Sayler and his colleagues have
developed a device that uses chips to collect signals from specially
On a European
television broadcast 2 years ago, a border collie named Rico wowed
viewers by correctly retrieving items from an array of children's
toys at the request of one of his German owners. For example, if
instructed to "get the panda," that's what the black-and-white
canine brought back.
Ever since the
Wright Brothers flew the first powered airplane, low-altitude encounters
with atmospheric turbulence have posed daunting challenges to the
in-flight safety of aircraft of all types, including commercial
airliners. Weather is typically a cause, direct or indirect, of
about a third of all commercial aircraft accidents and over a fourth
of all general aviation accidents. An intensive seven-year effort
by NASA researchers led to a sophisticated wind-shear detection
and avoidance system that is just now boarding commercial aircraft
the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory
have found evidence to prove why adding a small amount of calcium
to a common high-temperature superconductor significantly increases
the amount of electric current the material can carry. This research
may be a first step toward developing commercial applications for
high-temperature superconducting materials.
from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared observations
with the Palomar 200-inch telescope have uncovered evidence that
a gamma-ray burst, one of nature's most catastrophic explosions,
occurred in our Galaxy a few thousand years ago. The supernova
remnant, W49B, may also be the first remnant of a gamma-ray burst
discovered in the Milky Way.