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Feb 19, 2020

Astronomers Have Detected Molecular Oxygen in Another Galaxy For The First Time

Posted by in categories: chemistry, space

In a wild galaxy over half a billion light-years away, astronomers have detected molecular oxygen. It’s only the third such detection ever outside the Solar System — and the first outside the Milky Way.

Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the Universe, behind hydrogen (naturally) and helium. So its chemistry and abundance in interstellar clouds are important for understanding the role of molecular gas in galaxies.

Astronomers have searched for oxygen again and again, using millimetre astronomy, which detects the radio wavelengths emitted by molecules; and spectroscopy, which analyses the spectrum to look for wavelengths absorbed or emitted by specific molecules.

Feb 19, 2020

New Rocket Design Is Powered by a Ring of Literal Explosions

Posted by in categories: energy, space travel

Violent Detonations

Engineers have long suspected such a design could revolutionize the fuel efficiency of modern engines, but until now, there was one major problem.

Continue reading “New Rocket Design Is Powered by a Ring of Literal Explosions” »

Feb 19, 2020

NASA Prepares for Moon, Mars With New Addition to Deep Space Network

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

Robotic spacecraft will be able to communicate with the dish using radio waves and lasers.

Surrounded by California desert, NASA officials broke ground Tuesday, Feb. 11, on a new antenna for communicating with the agency’s farthest-flung robotic spacecraft. Part of the Deep Space Network (DSN), the 112-foot-wide (34-meter-wide) antenna dish being built represents a future in which more missions will require advanced technology, such as lasers capable of transmitting vast amounts of data from astronauts on the Martian surface. As part of its Artemis program NASA will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, applying lessons learned there to send astronauts to Mars.

Using massive antenna dishes, the agency talks to more than 30 deep space missions on any given day, including many international missions. As more missions have launched and with more in the works, NASA is looking to strengthen the network. When completed in 2½ years, the new dish will be christened Deep Space Station-23 (DSS-23), bringing the DSN’s number of operational antennas to 13.

Feb 19, 2020

Scientists develop safer lead-based perovskite solar cell

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Researchers at Northern Illinois University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, are reporting today (Feb. 19) in the journal Nature on a potential breakthrough in the development of hybrid perovskite solar cells.

Considered rising stars in the field of solar energy, convert light into electricity. They’re potentially cheaper and simpler to produce than traditional silicon-based solar cells and, on a small scale in laboratory settings at least, have demonstrated comparable efficiency levels. But key challenges remain before they can become a competitive commercial technology.

One major challenge is the use of lead. Most top-performing hybrid solar cells contain water-dissolvable lead, raising concerns over potential leakage from damaged cells.

Feb 19, 2020

How to Create Designer Babies From Skin Cells

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

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Feb 19, 2020

Snake-inspired robot slithers and climbs over obstacles

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Engineers from Johns Hopkins have looked to how snakes move around to inform the design of a nimble new robot. It is hoped that the development could lead to search and rescue bots able to tackle all kinds of obstacles with ease.

“We look to these creepy creatures for movement inspiration because they’re already so adept at stably scaling obstacles in their day-to-day lives,” said senior author on the study, Chen Li. “Hopefully our robot can learn how to bob and weave across surfaces just like snakes.”

Observing how a variable kingsnake climbed up steps of varying height and having different surfaces, the researchers noted that the snake combined lateral undulation with cantilevering. When faced with a step, the reptile seemed to partition its body into three – the front and rear both moved back and forth while the middle section remained stiff.

Feb 19, 2020

A terahertz wave radar based on leaky-wave coherence tomography

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Researchers at Keio University and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan have recently introduced a new design for a terahertz wave radar based on a technique known as leaky-wave coherence tomography. Their paper, published in Nature Electronics, could help to solve some of the limitations of existing wave radar.

The use of , particularly millimeter-wave radar, has increased significantly over the past few years, particularly in the development of smart and self-driving vehicles. The distance and angular resolutions of radar are typically limited by their bandwidth and wavelength, respectively.

Terahertz waves, which have higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths than millimeter waves, allow for the development of radar systems with a smaller footprint and higher resolution. As wavelengths become shorter, however, the attenuation resulting from wave diffraction rapidly increases.

Feb 19, 2020

Mind Uploading: Cybernetic Immortality

Posted by in categories: biological, life extension, nanotechnology, quantum physics, robotics/AI, transhumanism

By definition, posthumanism (I choose to call it ‘cyberhumanism’) is to replace transhumanism at the center stage circa 2035. By then, mind uploading could become a reality with gradual neuronal replacement, rapid advancements in Strong AI, massively parallel computing, and nanotechnology allowing us to directly connect our brains to the Cloud-based infrastructure of the Global Brain. Via interaction with our AI assistants, the GB will know us better than we know ourselves in all respects, so mind-transfer, or rather “mind migration,” for billions of enhanced humans would be seamless, sometime by mid-century.

I hear this mantra over and over again — we don’t know what consciousness is. Clearly, there’s no consensus here but in the context of topic discussed, I would summarize my views, as follows: Consciousness is non-local, quantum computational by nature. There’s only one Universal Consciousness. We individualize our conscious awareness through the filter of our nervous system, our “local” mind, our very inner subjectivity, but consciousness itself, the self in a big sense, our “core” self is universal, and knowing it through experience has been called enlightenment, illumination, awakening, or transcendence, through the ages.

Any container with a sufficiently integrated network of information patterns, with a certain optimal complexity, especially complex dynamical systems with biological or artificial brains (say, the coming AGIs) could be filled with consciousness at large in order to host an individual “reality cell,” “unit,” or a “node” of consciousness. This kind of individuated unit of consciousness is always endowed with free will within the constraints of the applicable set of rules (“physical laws”), influenced by the larger consciousness system dynamics. Isn’t too naïve to presume that Universal Consciousness would instantiate phenomenality only in the form of “bio”-logical avatars?

Feb 19, 2020

‘Ice volcanoes’ erupt on Michigan beach during Arctic blast

Posted by in category: futurism

A bitter blast of Arctic air that brought dangerous wind chills across the Midwest last weekend created erupting “ice volcanoes” on a Lake Michigan beachfront.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said the sight was captured Sunday at Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Mich.

“You never know what you’ll find at the lake until you go out there,” the NWS tweeted. “Today it was volcanoes.”

Feb 19, 2020

Scientists Built a Genius Device That Generates Electricity ‘Out of Thin Air’

Posted by in categories: biological, nanotechnology

They found it buried in the muddy shores of the Potomac River more than three decades ago: a strange “sediment organism” that could do things nobody had ever seen before in bacteria.

This unusual microbe, belonging to the Geobacter genus, was first noted for its ability to produce magnetite in the absence of oxygen, but with time scientists found it could make other things too, like bacterial nanowires that conduct electricity.

For years, researchers have been trying to figure out ways to usefully exploit that natural gift, and they might have just hit pay-dirt with a device they’re calling the Air-gen. According to the team, their device can create electricity out of… well, almost nothing.