Archive for the ‘habitats’ category

Apr 16, 2018

Elon Musk’s latest SpaceX idea involves a party balloon and bounce house

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, habitats, space travel

Elon Musk took to Twitter Sunday night to announce a new recovery method for an upper stage SpaceX rocket. A balloon — a “giant party balloon” to quote him directly — will ferry part of a rocket to a bounce house. Seriously.

If anyone else proposed this idea they would be ignored, but Elon Musk lately has a way of turning crazy ideas into reality.

It was just in 2012 that SpaceX launched and landed its first rocket and now the company is doing it with rockets significantly larger. And then early this year SpaceX made a surprise announcement that it would attempt to use a high-speed boat and large net to catch part of rocket. And it worked after a failed first attempt.

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Apr 13, 2018

Google’s latest AI experiments let you talk to books and test word association skills

Posted by in categories: business, engineering, habitats, information science, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI

Google today announced a pair of new artificial intelligence experiments from its research division that let web users dabble in semantics and natural language processing. For Google, a company that’s primary product is a search engine that traffics mostly in text, these advances in AI are integral to its business and to its goals of making software that can understand and parse elements of human language.

The website will now house any interactive AI language tools, and Google is calling the collection Semantic Experiences. The primary sub-field of AI it’s showcasing is known as word vectors, a type of natural language understanding that maps “semantically similar phrases to nearby points based on equivalence, similarity or relatedness of ideas and language.” It’s a way to “enable algorithms to learn about the relationships between words, based on examples of actual language usage,” says Ray Kurzweil, notable futurist and director of engineering at Google Research, and product manager Rachel Bernstein in a blog post. Google has published its work on the topic in a paper here, and it’s also made a pre-trained module available on its TensorFlow platform for other researchers to experiment with.

The first of the two publicly available experiments released today is called Talk to Books, and it quite literally lets you converse with a machine learning-trained algorithm that surfaces answers to questions with relevant passages from human-written text. As described by Kurzweil and Bernstein, Talk to Books lets you “make a statement or ask a question, and the tool finds sentences in books that respond, with no dependence on keyword matching.” The duo add that, “In a sense you are talking to the books, getting responses which can help you determine if you’re interested in reading them or not.”

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Apr 11, 2018

Earthscraper: Inverted Pyramid Spans 1000 Vertical Feet Down

Posted by in category: habitats

Skyscrapers shoot up in most cities, but what are developers to do in growing places where new building construction is limited to less than ten stories tall?

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Apr 10, 2018

NanoRacks lays out vision for turning rockets into space outposts, starting with Independence-1

Posted by in categories: habitats, space travel

Texas-based NanoRacks is fine-tuning and rebranding its concept for turning upper-stage rocket boosters into orbital outposts, starting with a habitat called Independence-1.

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Apr 8, 2018

Counting down the 10 most important robots in history

Posted by in categories: food, habitats, robotics/AI, sustainability

From research labs to factories, farms, and even our own homes, robots are everywhere these days. But which are the most important robots ever built? We decided to welcome our new robot overlords with just such a list. Read on to discover which robots we owe a debt of a gratitude for their part in turning science fiction into, well, science.

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Apr 8, 2018

Robot attends class at MIT, can’t find a seat

Posted by in categories: habitats, robotics/AI

SpotMini attends MIT 6.S099: Artificial General Intelligence Thanks to our friend from Boston Dynamics for the visit. Notes: There’s no audio. SpotMini’s movements are not sped up. All were performed live in front of a packed house of students. It was amazing to witness in person.

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Apr 7, 2018

Orion Span says it’ll put space hotel in orbit by 2022, but some details are up in the air

Posted by in categories: habitats, space

The plan to launch the module into space, and take reservations from customers for multimillion-dollar trips, was announced today at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, Calif.

Orion Span says its hotel habitat, dubbed Aurora Station, will be about the size of a large private jet’s cabin, with 5,650 cubic feet of pressurized space. It’ll accommodate up to six residents at a time, including two professional crew members.

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Apr 2, 2018

China’s Space Station Wasn’t the End. Three More Satellites Expected to Crash to Earth This Week

Posted by in categories: alien life, habitats, satellites

Tiangong 1, China’s fallen space station, is now in pieces somewhere on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, but it’s hardly the last spacecraft that will plunge to earth. In fact, by the end of the week, three more are expected to re-enter the atmosphere.

Two pieces of space junk from Kazakhstan and one from India are headed home, part of the surprisingly regular amount of cosmic debris that falls to earth each year. The first could occur as early as tomorrow evening, according to

PSLV R/B, an Indian spacecraft that was launched Nov. 4, 2013, is expected to reenter the atmosphere at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday. That will be followed Wednesday at 7:30 p, m, ET by FLOCK 2E-3, a Kazakh spacecraft that has been orbiting earth since Nov. 19, 1998. Finally, Friday morning at approximately 10:24 a.m. ET, FLOCK 2E’-6, another Kazakh orbital will fall to earth.

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Mar 19, 2018

Meet the First American to Sell Her Home Using Blockchain

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, habitats

Through a pilot program between the city of South Burlington and Propy, a blockchain platform designed to facilitate real estate transactions, a Vermont woman became the first person in the U.S. to sell a home using blockchain.

On February 20, Vermonter Katherine Purcell did something extraordinary: She sold her home. And yes, people sell their homes every year—scores of them. But Purcell’s sale was fundamentally different: There’s a record of it on a blockchain.

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Mar 14, 2018

VR is still a novelty, but Google’s light-field technology could make it serious art

Posted by in categories: habitats, space travel, virtual reality

I recently got a private tour of a NASA space shuttle’s cockpit, a quirky mosaic-covered LA home, and a peaceful chapel with light streaming through ornate stained-glass windows—all without leaving my chair.

That chair was in an office at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, and I was wearing an HTC Vive virtual-reality headset on my face. But because these places were filmed with a high-resolution prototype camera that reproduces some of the key cues we use to understand depth in the real world, it felt more like actually being there than anything I’ve experienced with any other live-action VR. Which is to say it was pretty damn cool.

I could peer around the seats in the space shuttle Discovery, revealing buttons and switches on the walls of the cockpit that were previously obscured. As I looked closely at mirrored bits of tile on the outside of the mosaic house, I glimpsed reflections of other tiles in the background and saw a dizzying display of shapes and patterns. In the chapel, I gazed at the floor, and the colorful sunbeams moved as I did.

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