By Jim ObergPosted 11.16.2010 at 4:07 pm 7 Comments
When NASA retires its fleet of space shuttles next year, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft will become the only means of transporting people to the International Space Station. American astronauts have trained part-time on Soyuz craft in Moscow since the early 1990s, but recent bureaucratic struggles and outdated equipment are taking the shine off the Russian space program, once famous for its reliability.
A veteran designer of Lego robots (he built one that plays Connect Four), Indiana programmer Steve Hassenplug was looking for something still grander. When he watched the first Harry Potter movie with his kids—the one with the magic chessboard and eight-foot-high knights—he knew he had found it. The massive "Monsterchess" set he created from more than 100,000 Lego pieces, however, required plenty of wizardry of its own.
In the ongoing campaign to protect endangered animals, forensic investigators can already identify the food on your plate. Now they are working on advanced methods of intercepting even the most carefully disguised contraband - be it tuna, caviar or bushmeat. Their ultimate goal: pinpoint where the goods came from, and stop the hunting of endangered species at the source.
What do you do with an 800-pound butter sculpture of Benjamin Franklin that’s starting to go bad? Normally, the inedible art would get tossed in a Dumpster. The organizers of the Pennsylvania Farm Show had a better idea: Donate it to science.
With only a handful of 3-D channels and titles available, the task of filling the growing number of 3-D TV screens falls to snap-happy vacationers and amateur auteurs. They finally get their choice of 3-D cameras this fall, but the images they produce are not all created equal.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 10.27.2010 at 11:02 am 16 Comments
It seems like a good idea; after all, not many vessels are capable of sustaining life in space, so why not recycle what we’ve got? Unfortunately, the current fleet just isn’t cut out for long-term habitation. When NASA retires the three remaining space shuttles next year, the craft will be sent to museums.
By Lana BirbrairPosted 10.26.2010 at 5:00 pm 13 Comments
Like a child, a stem cell can grow up to be just about anything. Eventually it picks a job, however, during a process called differentiation. Scientists can influence, if not always control, the outcome by applying compounds called growth factors. Now Jianping Fu, a biomedical and mechanical engineer at the University of Michigan, and his colleagues have discovered that the force exerted by a stem cell onto a surface is an important part of in both predicting and altering what type of cell it will develop into.
High-risk patients can lose hours and thousands of dollars to in-hospital heart monitoring, but now physicians can regularly check in from afar. German cellphone maker H'andy's Sana 210 needs only 30 seconds to measure heart rhythm and send it to a doctor. When your heart moves, it sends electricity through your body; the Sana uses the same electric sensors as a hospital electrocardiogram (ECG) to record those pulses through your fingertips.