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Jan 29, 2018

NASA tests light, foldable plane wings for supersonic flights

Posted by in categories: energy, transportation

Planes that can fold their wings to different angles while in the air have the potential to fly faster than their peers, and NASA has recently made headway into their development. The space agency has conducted a series of test flights proving that it can control the wings it designed to move into any position and that they have aerodynamic benefits. While the technology has existed for a long time, it typically requires the use of heavy hydraulic systems. NASA’s version doesn’t need that kind of machinery: it relies on the properties of a temperature-activated material called shape memory alloy instead. Upon being heated, the alloy activates a twisting motion in the tubes serving as the wings’ actuator, moving the wings’ outer portion up to 70 degrees upwards or downwards.

The foldable wings will give typical planes like commercial airliners a way to adapt to different flight conditions. They can give pilots more control over their aircraft and could even lead to more fuel efficient flights. Planes designed to fly at supersonic speeds (faster than the speed of sound), however, will get more out of this technology.

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Jan 29, 2018

Chinese scientists just cloned two monkeys, moving one step closer to cloning humans

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) — Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two identical long-tailed macaques, were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates — the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans — to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell.

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Jan 29, 2018

Scientists Just Created Rain and Snow on Demand in Idaho With Cloud Seeding

Posted by in category: geoengineering

The ability to modify the weather has long belonged in the realm of science fiction, but now a team of scientists in Idaho think they’ve figured out how to make it happen outside a lab.

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Jan 29, 2018

Never-Before-Seen Viruses With Weird DNA Were Just Discovered in The Ocean

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The ocean is crowded. As many as 10 million viruses can be found squirming in a single millilitre of its water, and it turns out they have friends we never even knew about.

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown family of viruses that dominate the ocean and can’t be detected by standard lab tests. Researchers suspect this viral multitude may already exist outside the water — maybe even inside us.

“We don’t think it’s ocean-specific at all,” says environmental microbiologist Martin Polz from MIT.

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Jan 29, 2018

Tesla Semi Spotted on California Street

Posted by in categories: law, robotics/AI, transportation

Tesla has managed to ship several high-end electric vehicles to consumers, but commercial trucking is the company’s next big move. After showing off its design for an electric semi truck, the company has been working on an aggressive release schedule. However, the vehicle hasn’t been spotted in real life until now. A video uploaded to YouTube shows Tesla’s sleek electric semi cruising down a road in California.

There are few details to glean from this short clip (below). The original prototype trucks Tesla unveiled several months back did not have side mirrors, leading some to suspect Tesla had some fancy alternative in mind. The truck just spotted in the wild does have mirrors, though. That’s necessary for it to be street-legal, so Tesla probably just omitted the mirrors for the announcement to make the truck look cooler.

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Jan 29, 2018

How to Optimize Your Home for Robot Servants

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Robots can walk, talk, run a hotel … and are entirely stumped by a doorknob. Or a mailbox. Or a dirty bathtub—zzzzt, dead. Sure, the SpotMini, a doglike domestic helper from Boston Dynamics, can climb stairs, but it struggles to reliably hand over a can of soda. That’s why some roboticists think the field needs to flip its perspective. “There are two approaches to building robots,” says Maya Cakmak, a researcher at the University of Washington. “Make the robot more humanlike to handle the environment, or design the environment to make it a better fit for the robot.” Cakmak pursues the latter, and to do that, she studies so-called universal design—the ways in which buildings and products are constructed for older people or those with disabilities. Robot can’t handle the twisting staircase? Put in a ramp. As for that pesky doorknob? Make entryways motion-activated. If you want droids at your beck and call someday, start thinking about robo-fitting your digs now.

1. Wide-Open Floor Plan Any serious sans-­human housekeeping needs a wheeled robotic butler with arms, Cakmak says. That means fewer steps, plus hallways wide enough for U-turns. Oh, and hardwood floors. Thick carpeting slows a bot’s roll.

2. Visual Waypoints Factory robots work so fast in part because their world is highly structured—conveyor belt here, truck over there. So for your robo-home, create landmarks that anchor the bots in space—a promi­nent light fixture, say, that tells them, “You’re in the dining room.” (RFID tags will help bots locate smaller objects, like cleaning supplies.)

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Jan 29, 2018

Owning An Electric Car Is Twice As Cheap As Owning A Gas Vehicle

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

Want to save money? Stop paying for gas.

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Jan 29, 2018

The Doomsday Clock Just Moved Closer to Midnight. Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted by in category: existential risks

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the doomsday clock closer to midnight on Thursday morning, warning the world that it is as close to catastrophe in 2018 as it has ever been.

They say the world is as close to catastrophe as it has been in the nuclear age.

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Jan 28, 2018

Over 60 years ago, Albert Einstein’s brain was stolen, dissected and sent in pieces all around the world

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, neuroscience

Einstein’s secret to an incredibly intelligent brain may be in part to how well his brain aged…

Samples of his brain revealed he was missing a protein Lipofuscin, a not so well understood compound which contains lipid residues of lysosomal digestion that accumulates in the brain liver kidney, heart muscle, retina, adrenals, nerve cells, and ganglion cells.

Lipofuscin busting drugs could have a lot of potential for anti-aging therapies for the future.

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Jan 28, 2018

Does our telomere length play a role in our health? (a look back)

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

The debate over telomeres length is now back in the spotlight… Here is a brief review of the top articles on telomere length, telomerase and human diseases such as cancer…

A review of the top articles on telomerase and telomere length which play a role in the chronic diseases of aging, such as cancer.

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