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May 7, 2020

State-of-the-art lasers at the micro level

Posted by in categories: internet, mapping, robotics/AI

Many emerging technologies rely on high-quality lasers. Laser-based LiDAR sensors can provide highly accurate scans of three-dimensional spaces, and as such are crucial in applications ranging from autonomous vehicles to geological mapping technologies and emergency response systems. High-quality lasers are also a key part of the high-speed, high-volume data centers that are the backbone of the internet.

When assessing the quality of a , researchers look to the noise in a laser’s frequency, or the number of times the laser’s light wave toggles in each second. Low-quality, “noisy” lasers have more random variations in those toggles, making them useless for systems that are meant to return or convey densely packed information.

At present, lasers with adequately low frequency noise are bulky, expensive and an impractical choice for mass manufacturing. Penn Engineers have set out to solve this problem with a device called a “phase noise filter” that can turn low-cost, compact lasers into those suitable for LiDAR and more.

May 7, 2020

Potentially historic May snowstorm headed for Northeast and New England

Posted by in category: futurism

In addition to snow, 75 million people will wake up to below freezing temperatures Saturday. For many cities it will be colder than it was on Christmas Day.

Satellite image of the continental United States on May 7, 2020.

May 7, 2020

Kim Jong Un once filmed talking to possible body doubles

Posted by in category: existential risks

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was once filmed chatting to two identically dressed lookalikes — escalating wild conspiracies that a body double was recently used to claim he is alive and well.

Footage from July 2017 discovered by the Sun shows the Hermit Kingdom’s leader with the doppelgangers as he showed off a new missile.

The pair appear the same height and size, with identically cut hair shaved at the back and sides, and wearing suits perfectly matching the one worn by their leader, the Sun noted.

May 7, 2020

Would you rep Blue Origin? The once quiet company is trying for a larger fanbase

Posted by in category: space travel

Blue Origin has never been much for marketing. Now, as it has won a large NASA contract, it is opening up a merchandise store.

May 7, 2020

France is using AI to check whether people are wearing masks on public transport

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

As France makes the wearing of facial masks mandatory on public transport, it’s trialling new AI technology to check whether passengers are complying. The software, made by French startup Datakalab, is being trialed first in Paris, and will only generate anonymous statistical data.

May 7, 2020

Compound found in medicinal fungus can “rapidly” reset the body clock

Posted by in categories: futurism, sex

In the future, people getting ready for a flight — and fearing impending jet lag — might fit an assortment of additions into their carry on: masks, gloves, and maybe a medicinal mushroom hailed for delivering animalistic sex drive.

That’s because a new study suggests that a synthetic form of cordycepin, a compound found in a medicinal fungus with a reputation for keeping bedroom doors closed, may help ease the pain of jet lag.

May 7, 2020

Tesla billionaire Elon Musk set for $720m pay day

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, sustainability, transportation

My hero.


Musk hit a key performance target on Wednesday, meaning the billionaire is set for another award of share options under a 2018 performance plan.

May 7, 2020

Bat ‘super immunity’ may explain how bats carry coronaviruses

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

A University of Saskatchewan (USask) research team has uncovered how bats can carry the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus without getting sick—research that could shed light on how coronaviruses make the jump to humans and other animals.

Coronaviruses such as MERS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and more recently the COVID19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus, are thought to have originated in bats. While these viruses can cause serious and often fatal disease in people, for reasons not previously well understood, bats seem unharmed.

“The bats don’t get rid of the virus and yet don’t get sick. We wanted to understand why the MERS virus doesn’t shut down the bat immune responses as it does in humans,” said USask microbiologist Vikram Misra.

May 7, 2020

Laser-Propulsion of Graphene Sails in Microgravity

Posted by in categories: materials, space travel

Graphene light sail of 3mm in diameter with a mass of 0.25 mg ‘sets sail’ when pointed with a 1W laser. The prototype has a graphene micromembrane design that reduces the overall mass while keeping functional the complete area of the sail. Credit: Dr. Santiago Jose Cartamil-Bueno.

Overseas exploration and trade during the Age of Discovery (15th-17th centuries) were possible by sail technology, and deep-space exploration will require the same for the coming Age of NewSpace. This time, however, the new sails shall move with light instead of wind, for which these light sails need to be extremely large, thin, lightweight, reflective, and strong.

In a light-hearted leap for humankind, ESA-backed researchers demonstrate the laser-propulsion of graphene sails in microgravity.

May 7, 2020

Renowned string theorist proposes new way to hunt our solar system’s mysterious ‘Planet 9’

Posted by in categories: innovation, space

A new paper by physicist Edward Witten proposes hunting Planet 9 using a fleet of laser-launched probes like Breakthrough Starshots’.