Can space farms provide biofuels for a greener Earth?
Future biofuels from space could be go for launch, if a space station experiment shows that microgravity can favorably affect the growth of Jatropha curcas plant cells. Jatropha can produce high-quality oil that represents one of the more promising possibilities for a source of alternative energy.
Artificial limbs have advanced quite a bit since the days of the pirate peg leg, but not nearly enough for DARPA. The Pentagon agency has kicked off a new phase of its "Revolutionizing Prosthetics" program that sets the hefty goal of creating a fully-functional human limb directly controlled by the brain within five years, according to Wired's Danger Room.
"Thermopower waves" could be a brand-new way to produce electricity
Johnny Cash can't have known about carbon nanotubes when he sang about that burning ring of fire, but MIT scientists have shown how the tiny tubes can channel a ring of heat that creates electrical current -- about 100 times as much energy per unit of weight when compared with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
The bomb blast was meant to gauge what might have happened if the Flight 253 suicide bomber succeeded
An explosion aboard Flight 253 on Christmas Day would not have crippled the Boeing 747, according to a recent test that simulated the success of would-be bomber Umar Abdulmutallab. Only the bomber and passenger next to him would have died, the BBC reports.
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Cosmic grains in NASA collector could reveal atoms that went into making the stars and planets
NASA's aptly-named Stardust spacecraft may have returned the first-ever samples of interstellar dust to Earth. Scientists hope to confirm their possible discovery of two dust grains, based upon the sharp eye of a citizen scientist, BBC reports.
The deadly drone could find and dispatch single-person targets, with "very low collateral damage"
Missile strikes by Predators, Reapers, or other aerial drones usually result in messy explosions on the ground. Now the never-ending but perhaps futile quest to attain zero collateral damage may take another step forward, with a small micro-drone missile that can kill individual targets from afar.
Howard Schmidt wants U.S. cybersecurity efforts to refocus on education, information sharing, and better defense systems
Obama's new cybersecurity czar doesn't much like the term "cyberwar," calling it a "terrible metaphor" and a "terrible concept." But just in case his dislike of the term didn't get through, Howard Schmidt flat-out stated that "there is no cyberwar" during a Wired interview at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.
Targets have included cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, and amateur porn makers, as well as citizens or journalists viewed as unpatriotic.
There's a new type of vigilante roaming across China. But unlike Batman or other caped superheroes, who work with a few sidekicks at most, this type of faceless vigilante draws power from legions of netizens who channel Internet crowd-sourcing to become "human-flesh search engines" that hunt down and punish wrongdoers in real life. The New York Times reports on the phenomenon.
Inventor claims breakthroughs come to him under self-induced hypnosis
Russian leaders have occasionally demonstrated a weakness for pseudoscience during the nation's history. Now Russian scientists have rallied to expose Viktor Petrik, a modern-day inventor whose supposed innovations -- realized under self-hypnosis -- have won over the Kremlin. Petrik's ideas include a way to produce silicon for computer chips from fertilizer and a filter that can turn radioactive waste into safe, drinkable water, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Pre-orders start March 12
Apple aficionados and first-adopters will have to wait a bit longer than anticipated to get their hot hands on the iPad. The tablet computer's debut has been moved back to April 3 for the U.S., AP reports.
Courtesy of those brainy folk at MIT and Caltech
This is your brain. This is your brain's blood flow, courtesy of brain scan technologies. And this is dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays pivotal roles in learning, memory, addiction and movement. MIT and Caltech scientists have created new molecular sensors that allow them to track dopamine for the first time, and provide the most direct detection ever of brain activity.
But will officials recant their hard line on "unauthorized use of public data" by independent developers?
Apple's successful iTunes store not only houses music and videos, but also provides all manner of applications for smart phones. Now the South Korean government hopes to launch its own "national app store" in the form of a universal API for public data, which would encourage private companies and developers to create and sell apps based on that data, the Korea Times reports.
And all it takes to measure is a simple spinning disk here on Earth. When reached for comment, Dark Matter says: "Come on, you almost found me!"
Dark matter's status as a mysterious and invisible lurker in the universe has frustrated scientists for years. Now, one hopes to solve the puzzle a different way: using a modified version of Newton's second law that would eliminate the need for dark matter altogether. Researchers in Brazil have devised an experiment that could put the modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) to the test, New Scientist reports.
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If storms as strong as the biggest recorded in the last few two centuries, our electronics-dependent world of today could be in trouble
No electricity, no running water, and no phone service for millions of people. That scenario could easily become reality if a solar storm as intense as those found throughout the history of our planet were to strike Earth today. NPR reported on FEMA's recent simulation of such a storm, and the grim conditions it uncovered.
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No really, you can let go
Drones can do just about everything autonomously these days, but most systems still require human assistance to land, refuel and take off again. Now, an aerospace startup, Aerovel, hopes to change that with its hover-capable Flexrotor drone that will come with its own automated docking station. No human ground support needed, The Register reports.