A sniper crouches near an open window and zooms in on his target, who sits a half-mile away. He peers through a scope and holds his breath, preparing to squeeze the trigger. But it’s windy outside, and he can't afford a miss. What to do?
China launched its second moon-bound rocket Friday, laying a foundation for a possible unmanned moon landing by 2013. With the launch of Chang’e-2, China aims to solidify its spot among the moon-faring nations, with the eventual goal of a manned landing.
Taking a page from advertising strategy, DARPA is hoping to get ‘em while they’re young. The military’s mad-science wing wants various organizations to put manufacturing equipment in 1,000 high schools around the world, part of a new program called “MENTOR” — Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach. The partnership will include new prize-based challenges to inspire a new generation of defense manufacturers.
NASA engineers working on the James Webb Space Telescope are doing a lot of things from scratch — they’ve had to design new mirrors and a foldy space cocoon, for instance — but their newest work may take the cake: To survive the coldest reaches of space, they invented a brand-new composite material. They nicknamed it unobtanium.
Two atomic-scale studies announced in the past week could have major implications for the future of computing and information storage. Last Friday, IBM researchers in Zurich announced they had measured how long a single atom can store information. And Monday, Kiwi researchers announced they had trapped a single atom inside a tractor beam and taken its picture.
Methane concentrations on Mars change with the seasons as well as location, and the gas disappears within a Martian year, according to a new study by Italian scientists. The finding, developed over five Earth years using NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, adds to the ongoing debate about the nature of CH4 on Mars.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are working on a project called SMAVNET, for “Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network,” to develop small flying robots that can be deployed in disaster areas to create communication networks. They say their network of swarming micro-drones is the largest of its kind.
Nuclear-powered civilian ships could be powerful enough to smash through Arctic ice on their own, potentially using the Northeast Passage to travel from Asia to Europe and reducing time and carbon emissions for international shipping lines.
Nuclear propulsion might therefore be a cheaper option for ships on long voyages, the Register reports.
Using a learning algorithm, Italian researchers taught a child-like humanoid robot archery, even outfitting it with a spectacular headdress to celebrate its new skill.
Petar Kormushev, Sylvain Calinon and Ryo Saegusa of the Italian Institute of Technology developed an algorithm called “Archer,” for Augmented Reward Chained Regression. The iCub robot is taught how to hold the bow and arrow, but then learns by itself how to aim and shoot the arrow so it hits the center of a target.
A new flexible mesh can envelop airplanes, cars and other devices in a spidery cloak of sensors, designed to act as a network of nerves warning a machine of stress and damage.
Taking a cue from super-thin, super-strong spiderwebs, Stanford researchers designed a matrix of sensors that can wrap around an aircraft or other piece of machinery. The sensors can connect to a computer, warning a pilot or driver about any cracks or strains in the machine before they cause serious damage or injury.
Einstein first figured out that time moves at a different rate depending on how fast you’re moving, and depending on how close you are to a gravitational field. And scientists have already shown that time moves faster at higher elevations — clocks on a rocket move slower than clocks on Earth, for instance. By this logic, astronauts are actually time travelers.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.