Since early man fashioned that first stone tool, technology has been a cumulative process – we had to have stone tools to get to metals to get to spaceships to get to Facebook. Or something like that. The point is, every field of technological inquiry has its waypoints and milestones, and robotics – a field that notches mind-blowing advances with increased regularity – has just hit upon another monumental breakthrough: teat detection.
A few weeks ago, a train glided out of a station in Hangzhou, China, bound for Shanghai some 125 miles to the northeast. It arrived less than an hour later, cutting the usual commute time in half. Some trains on the line average 220 miles per hour, making it the fastest daily train in the world.
To most of us, seeing what’s around the corner before rounding the bend is known as premonition. For students and professors at MIT’s Media Lab, it’s called physics. The lab is working on a laser-based camera that can snap images around corners, imaging scenery that is beyond direct line of sight.
While CERN researchers at the Large Hadron Collider continue to smash protons, create mini Big Bangs, and otherwise probe the fundamental fabrics that make up the universe, other less-publicized CERN experiments are yielding big results as well.
All art is introspective – or so it is said – but a New York University photography professor is taking the idea of turning the lens around on himself to a literal extreme. Assistant professor Wafaa Bilal is implanting a camera in the back of his head as part of a project commissioned by a new museum in Qatar. Cue the teacher-with-eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head jokes.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in the UK have created a new kind of concrete glue that can patch up the cracks in concrete structures, restoring buildings that have been damaged by seismic events or deteriorated over time.
Forget invisibility cloaks. Researchers at Imperial College London have demonstrated – on paper, anyhow – a metamaterial “space-time cloak” that can conceal entire events from view, making a viewer see one thing while something entirely different takes place behind the cloak. Paging DARPA.
Ever since Japan’s asteroid exploring spacecraft Hyabusa crash-landed in the Australian outback this summer after a seven year round trip through space, astronomers and space geeks the world over have been waiting to hear confirmation from JAXA (the Japanese space agency) that the troubled mission did indeed bring back samples of asteroid dust. Today they got it. For the first time, scientists have collected dust from an extraterrestrial asteroid and returned it to Earth for study.
Sterilization is hands down one of the most important technologies ever developed by mankind, but though we've known how to do battle with bacterial pathogens in places like the operating room for decades, superbugs like MRSA and Clostridium difficile persist in hospital environments, often causing serious medical complications.
It's been a tough couple of weeks for the world's two premier builders of large commercial jets. An Airbus A380, the new crown jewel in Airbus's fleet, suffered an engine explosion after taking off from Singapore earlier this month, forcing a harrowing emergency landing.