Phytoplankton are essential for almost all life on Earth; the minuscule photosynthetic marine organisms anchor the oceans' food chain while also producing about half the oxygen on the planet. We know very little about them, though, in part because studying phytoplankton blooms as they drift across the sea is difficult.
A NASA contractor wants to go all Brett Favre on America's space shuttles, pulling them out of retirement past their prime to keep them going, even if it's to play for the other side.
United Space Alliance, which manages the shuttle program for NASA, wants to spend $1.5 billion annually to fly two missions a year from 2013 to 2017, using Endeavour and Atlantis.
The future of carrier-based warfare quietly took to the skies over the weekend as the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the first-ever flight of its vaunted X-47B unmanned aircraft at Edwards AFB. The tailless, fighter-sized drone aircraft, designed by Northrop Grumman for carrier-based takeoffs and landings, spent half an hour in the air late Friday executing basic navigation maneuvers and otherwise proving that its design is airworthy and ready for further development.
Using a small tank of water in a Colorado laboratory, Air Force researchers have captured 99 percent of the energy of a model ocean wave, proving it’s possible to use aeronautical principles to harness the power of the oceans.
The researchers used a cycloidal turbine, a lift-based energy converter, to grab the energy of a simulated deep-ocean wave. It can change direction almost instantly, and its structure is similar to that of a Voith Schneider propeller, which is used to power tugboats.
"Game for Cats" is an iPad app with a moving image (either a laser dot or a mouse) upon which all housecats are genetically obligated to pounce, repeatedly. It's almost unbearably adorable. But what about the less domesticated felines out there--lions, tigers, caracals, servals, and the housecat-sized Geoffroy's cat? Turns out they'll play with the app as well, even if their paws are iPad-sized to begin with.
In Japan, robot-led weddings, robot factory workers and even squeaky robot pets are all fine and good. But in-home helper bots, which are the main goal of many robotics research projects, are anything but widespread, even in that robo-friendly country. Apparently old people and sick people, even in Japan, still prefer that human touch.
The spongy bones and tough-as-nails beaks of woodpeckers are inspiring a new generation of shock absorbers, potentially shielding airplane black boxes, football players and other valuable materials from the forces of impact.
Self-checkout kiosks at the grocery store can save time and space for quick shoppers, but if an item doesn't have a bar code--like, say, produce (hopefully)--you still have to search through the list of variations, which can lose any time you've gained by phasing out human interaction. But a new system from Toshiba uses a constantly-learning database and a webcam to identify individual types of produce. Where were you during apple season, Toshiba?
Forget the gigantic Large Hadron Collider — how about a particle-accelerator-on-a-chip?
OK, so it can’t reach the energies produced at the LHC or Tevatron, but this is still pretty impressive. Engineers at a micro-electro mechanical systems conference last week unveiled this tiny cyclotron device, which can speed argon ions down a 5-millimeter accelerator track.
The ESA’s newest Automated Transfer Vehicle--ATV-2, otherwise known as Johannes Kepler--is loaded up and primed for its February 15th launch to the International Space Station, marking a several significant milestones for the European Space Agency and its contribution to ISS operations. Among those benchmarks, it marks the first “operational” flight for the ESA’s ATVs, the 200th launch aboard the European Ariane 5 rocket, and the heaviest load an Ariane 5 has ever hurled into orbit.