NASA is going back to the moon once again, sending a pair of spacecraft on a quest to learn the origins of our closest companion by studying its interior and its gravitational field. But beyond new lunar science, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, GRAIL, will also help cement NASA's legacy of lunar exploration in the public imagination.
Austin Whitney didn’t want to graduate from college in a wheelchair. So he and the student engineers at U.C. Berkeley’s “Kaz Lab” built a machine that allowed him to stand up and walk across the commencement stage
By James VlahosPosted 08.30.2011 at 12:06 pm 6 Comments
Seven steps. A short, straight walk across a stage backed by blue and gold balloons, lit by camera flashes, and ringing with the cheers of 15,000 people in the track stadium at the University of California at Berkeley. For most of the class of 2011, traipsing across the carpeted commencement platform is a triumphal but essentially symbolic exercise. You don't even get your diploma, just a rolled-up note saying that one will be mailed.
In 1996, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple after a decade-long exile, the company's products took a dramatic turn. The next 15 years would be a whirlwind of monstrous success after monstrous success--iMac, iPod, iTunes Music Store, Intel-based MacBook, iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad. Jobs's resignation as CEO yesterday has led to some excessive hand-wringing about Apple's future, near and far, but the Jobsian philosophy--in which the consumer is king, in which there is one right way to do things, in which it is always preferable to trim than to add--will hopefully have permeated Apple enough to weather his departure. It's already had an effect on the world at large.
The offer came simply via the subject line of an email: "Want to fly a drone?" It was from Todd Backus of DATRON, a maker of--among other things--military grade radio communication systems and tactical data networking setups based in Vista, Calif. It was a question that didn't require a whole lot of consideration on my part--if there were drones to fly at AUVSI's massive unmanned systems show in Washington D.C. last week, I was going to fly them.
And that's how I end up on a soccer pitch far from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center piloting a small quadcopter drone and quietly praying that we won't be arrested.
In the collective modern imagination, crop circles are usually attributed to either aliens or a vast human conspiracy; possibly both. Some circle-watchers believe the designs are landing strips, maybe, or some kind of communiqué from outer space. Others argue they're the result of secret government tests, or perhaps secret codes meant to convey information to satellites and aerial drones.
For all the talk about who makes them, few people discuss how. Do people (or little green men) stomp around willy-nilly until the stalks fall down? Or is something decidedly more high-tech going on? We talked to a circlemaker and a materials physicist to get some answers.
It's a fair scientific question, according to Richard Taylor, a professor of physics and art at the University of Oregon. He believes circlemakers, as they're known, are using some advanced technology, from microwaves to GPS, to make their increasingly complicated designs.
We cover biomedical science and engineering a lot, and sometimes I get to wondering: if I was rebuilding my own flimsy, flesh-based body--presumably because I'd had some ghastly dismembering, eviscerating accident--and replacing my limbs, joints, senses, and organs with the most futuristic, top-of-the-line bionics, what would I get? Would I want an artificial lower leg that sprinters use in Olympic-level races, or a motorized leg that can climb a slope as well as a natural leg? I gathered a list of 15 bionic body parts that I'd want to wear, or have installed.
Click to launch a tour of the body parts I'd want in the event of an accident.
"One time we dropped it out of a helicopter from more than 100 feet," one of the designers tells me. "The worst that happened was that one wheel was slightly damaged so it wanted to drive a little wobbly. But it still rolled."
I'm at AUVSI's (that's the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) Unmanned Systems North America convention at the Recon Robotics booth, checking out the company's Scout reconnaissance robot, a tiny two-wheeled system weighing just more than a pound. It's a diminutive machine, about the size of a tallboy beer can. And I've just been invited to chuck it over an eight-foot wall.
Forget algebra homework: try building spaceships, operating a nuclear reactor or listening in to distant galaxies
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.18.2011 at 12:45 pm 5 Comments
Forget stuffy lecture halls and humming fluorescent lights. Build robots instead! Or run a nuclear reactor. To rank the coolest labs in the country, we factored in groundbreaking research, undergrad access and sheer awesomeness.
Click here to launch a gallery of the coolest labs in America
IBM, with help from DARPA, has built two working prototypes of a "neurosynaptic chip." Based on the neurons and synapses of the brain, these first-generation cognitive computing cores could represent a major leap in power, speed and efficiency