Buzz Aldrin and a model of his Mars Cycler Vehicle

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Via Reddit:

The journey in Aldrin’s cycler is supposed to be an eccentric loop around the sun from Earth to the Martian orbit in 146 days, spending the next 16 months beyond the orbit of Mars, and another 146 days from the Martian orbit back to Earth. Other cycler options take even longer. The advantage is that by not entering orbit around mars there is far less energy usage, but planning a mission around using a cycler has very little room for adjusting things on the fly.

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Buzz Aldrin and a model of his Mars Cycler Vehicle

First Human Test of Optogenetics

Via MIT Technology Review:

If all goes according to plan, sometime next month a surgeon in Texas will use a needle to inject viruses laden with DNA from light-sensitive algae into the eye of a legally blind person in a bet that it could let the patient see again, if only in blurry black-and-white.

The study, sponsored by a startup called RetroSense Therapeutics, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is expected to be the first human test of optogenetics, a technology developed in neuroscience labs that uses a combination of gene therapy and light to precisely control nerve cells.

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First Human Test of Optogenetics

TETRAHEDRON SUPERYACHT

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Via Uncrate:

It looks like something you’d see in outer space, not in the ocean — but make no mistake about it, the Schwinge Hyswas Tetrahedron Superyacht concept is grounded in logic that could see it cruising the seas in the near future. Thanks to a torpedo hull attached to the main, pyramid-like structure via a single strut, the vessel appears to levitate at speed, helped along by a pair of adjustable hydrofoils. At more reasonable speeds, it sits on its three underbelly hulls, with the sides folding down to become decks, ladders providing water access, and the interior offering all the upscale amenities you’d expect from a floating palace.

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TETRAHEDRON SUPERYACHT

Three-armed musical cyborg

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Via C|Net:

The arm plays with a laudable amount of subtlety. It pays attention to the drummer, switching between the ride cymbal and the floor tom depending on which other parts of the drum the musician is using. It changes tempo in response to the drummer speeding up or slowing down.

Built-in accelerometers and motors help keep the robo-arm in position and on beat. The builders programmed the arm using motion-capture technology to give it human-like movements.

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Three-armed musical cyborg

Amazing Biomimetic Anthropomorphic Robot Hand

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Via IEEE Spectrum:

There are two generalized schools of thought when it comes to robot hand design. You have robot hands that are simple and straightforward and get the job done, like two- or three-finger grippers that can reliably do many (if not most) things well without any fuss. And then you have very complex handswith four fingers and a thumb that are designed to closely mimic human hands, on the theory that human hands were intelligently designed by millions of years of evolution, and we’ve designed all of our stuff around them anyway, so if you want your robot to be able to do as many things as possible as well as possible you want a hand that’s as humanlike as possible.

Because of the inherent complexity of a real human hand, biomimetic anthropomorphic hands inevitably involve lots of compromises to get them to work properly while maintaining a human-ish form factor. Zhe Xu and Emanuel Todorov from the University of Washington, in Seattle, have gone crazy and built the most detailed and kinematically accurate biomimetic anthropomorphic robotic hand that we’ve ever seen, with the ultimate goal of replacing human hands completely.

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Amazing Biomimetic Anthropomorphic Robot Hand

Humanoid robots to manufacture planes

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Via Engineering and Technology Magazine:

Due to the size of aircraft, and the very high number of tasks that need to be executed on a limited number of units, the use of specialised fixed-base robots, like those already in use by the automotive industry, is impossible in the aeronautical industry.

Using humanoid robots allow much greater versatility than their stationary counterparts with their ability to enter confined spaces and traverse stairs and ladders that are typically designed for human use.

The Joint Robotics Laboratory has already developed humanoid robots, called HRP-2 and HRP-4, that it will use as a platform to test newly researched capabilities. They are slightly shorter than an average human and about half the weight.

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Humanoid robots to manufacture planes

‘5D’ discs can store data until well after the sun burns out

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Via Endgadget:

Researchers at the University of Southampton’s Optical Research Center announced on Tuesday that they’ve perfected a technique that can record data in 5 dimensions and keep it safe for billions of years. The method etches data into a thermally stable disc using femtosecond laser bursts. The storage medium itself holds up to 360 TB per disc, can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees C and are estimated to last up to 13.8 billion years at room temperature without degrading.

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‘5D’ discs can store data until well after the sun burns out

Airlander 10 Hybrid Aircraft Test Flight in March

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Via the Independent:

A groundbreaking aircraft, thought to be one of the biggest ever made, will be taking off for its first test-flight in the UK in March.

The Airlander 10, a hybrid aeroplane and helicopter invention, measures 92m in length, 43.5m in width and 26m in height.

Developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the aircraft has the ability to fly at 20,000 feet. But for its maiden voyage, it will be restricted to gliding within 15 nautical-miles of its hanger in Cardington, Bedfordshire, flying no higher than 4,000ft, no faster than 45mph and for no longer than two hours.

But if all goes well in the gentle test-drive, it could mark the start of a new era of passenger-flying, said Chris Daniels, head of partnerships at HAV.

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Airlander 10 Hybrid Aircraft Test Flight in March

World’s Largest Solar Plant to Power 1 Million Home

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Via Boy Genius Report:

Solar power obviously isn’t the solution for every place on Earth, but for regions that largely consist of arid deserts it can deliver a lot of juice. Such is the case with the Noor Concentrated Solar Power that just switched on in Morocco and that is projected to produce enough power to meet the needs of 1.1 million people by 2018.

The complex uses concentrating solar power that can be stored for future use on nights and cloudy days. Right now it has an installed capacity of 160 megawatts (MW) but in two years it’s expected to have its capacity expanded to over 500 MW. Climate Investment Funds estimates that “the plant will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, which could result in an estimated reduction of over 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years.”

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World’s Largest Solar Plant to Power 1 Million Home