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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scientists half-jokingly call it the "ignorosphere" -- a region about 50-100 kilometers above the Earth that's too high for airplanes, but too low for satellites. "It earned its name because even though the area is valuable to researchers, there has been no easy way to get to it," said Alan Stern, planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. But, Stern says, suborbital flights, like those made by Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, go right to the heart of this region, which includes the layer of the Earth's atmosphere that lies above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere.
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.
In an attempt to shorten the gap between the end of the Space Shuttle and the deployment of its replacement, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would extend the life of the Shuttle by two years. The bill directly contradicts the White House's space policy, which favors a rapid decommissioning of the Shuttle, followed by an emphasis on the private sector to maintain support of the International Space Station (ISS).
One of the interesting side effects of last year's stimulus bill was $400 million in funding for ARPA-E, the civilian, energy-focused cousin of DARPA. And in this week's first ever ARPA-E conference, MIT chemist Dan Nocera showed how well he put that stimulus money to use by highlighting his new photosynthetic process. Using a special catalyst, the process splits water into oxygen and hydrogen fuel efficiently enough to power a home using only sunlight and a bottle of water.