The Hajj, a journey to Mecca that retraces the steps of Mohammed, is one of the religious pillars of Islam. Pilgrims making the Hajj are the primary reason why Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most visited tourist spots. Like a religious version of Orlando, Mecca and Medina draw about three million visitors every year, from every country in the world.
Unfortunately, the date for this year's Hajj, November 25th to the 29th, falls right smack dab in the middle of flu season, and Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia have begun wrestling with the problem of religious duty in a swine-flu world.
Encountering a swarm of genuine sewer-dwelling rats would send the average human screaming and jumping up onto the nearest chair, but there's nothing to fear -- and everything to admire -- about the latest plague of ratbots being developed in robotics labs around the world.
Imagine going in for a brain procedure where you have to endure neither an invasive, cut-you-up procedure nor radiation treatment. When it was finished, you could enjoy a glass of bubbly with your doctors, and go home shortly thereafter. It's close to becoming a reality.
If you never thought that soda machines would adapt to the high-tech world, think again. Coca-Cola's Freestyle fountain comes equipped with a touchscreen that is able to mix flavors on the spot, using precise machinery originally developed for dialysis and cancer treatments.
There are over 100 flavors available, across an array of drink brands, including Coke, Fanta, energy drinks, flavored waters, and more. When you select a drink, you're able to select from a variety of flavors, some of which are unfamiliar (Raspberry Coke?! Peach Fanta?!).
NEC and Rohm are going back and forth on new engineering breakthroughs that will allow integrated circuits inside chips to consume no power when they're briefly inactive between cycles. And unlike most chip-level developments on the edge, we may see the technology in consumer products by the end of the year.
Texas company Baryonyx has plans to build a 28,000-square-foot data center in Stratford, Texas, which will be powered by 38,000 acres of offshore wind turbines, and another 8,000 acres of onshore turbines.
Let me introduce you to Flossie, the creepy motorcycle-driving robot. She will drive through scorching heat and freezing cold without a complaint. She will shift perfectly every time. She will haunt your dreams.
Tapping geothermal sources for power has proven a tricky proposition, because of costs and hazards associated with deep drilling. But researchers may have stumbled on a way to boost the power-producing potential of low-temperature hot springs close to the Earth's surface, using nanotechnology.
It seems increasingly rare to see a new gadget these days without a touchscreen. However, touchscreens' versatility is both the technology's biggest strength and its weakness. We've lost the tactile memory we associate with our television remote controls or old cell phones, where we knew and could feel exactly where the buttons we needed were without bothering to look. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are trying to combine the benefits of both, by adding a latex overlay on top of a touchscreen that inflates to create a tactile surface.
Possibly the single most influential event in the public's interest in science and technology (not to mention one of humankind's greatest adventures), the Apollo 11 mission touched the collective dreams of millions, while pushing science and technology swiftly forward at an unprecedented pace.
But in the decades since man first walked on the moon, science has advanced so rapidly that technology which even a few years ago might have been considered magic has become commonplace. Even so, it would be naïve to assume that Apollo 11 ever represented science and technology's pinnacle, and that nothing forthcoming will similarly explode the world's collective dreams and perceptions of what it means to be human.
So what's next? What will be the next worldwide event or discovery that fundamentally changes the way we look at ourselves and the universe we live in?