KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--A commercially developed rocket critical to the long-term health of the International Space Station blasted off today on a long-awaited test flight, boosting an untried cargo craft into orbit for a successful maiden flight, which the company's founder described as "mind-blowingly awesome."
Operating autonomously, the Dragon carried out a pre-planned set of maneuvers during two orbits to mimic critical phases of a rendezvous with the International Space Station and to exercise its 18 thrusters, its power system, and its navigation and control equipment and software.
It then carried out a de-orbit rocket firing and … Read more
Sure, we've got robots programmed to make cars, vacuum our floors, and even make sweet, sweet love, and on some level I'm frightened of all of them. But there's a new beasty that will haunt my dreams tonight: the multijoint pork de-boning robot.
It's an articulated arm with a razor-sharp knife at the end. It's called the HAMDAS-R, and it's made by Japan's Mayekawa Electric. The thing is programmed with one purpose: separating pork flesh from thigh bone, a task that's supposed to be tough for humans.
It just won the top prize in the small business and venture category at the 4th Robot Awards sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
This HAMDAS-R system has achieved a higher yield of deboned pork than skilled workers do, according to Mayekawa. It's smart enough to change its instructions on-the-fly to account for different meat forms and bone sizes, which means it autonomously learns the best way to cut up formerly living things. That means it could very easily make work of a human, like me, even if it's never been programmed to. See why I'm so scared? … Read more
The test, which, at 60 seconds, will be the fastest-working on the U.S. market (others tend to take between 10 minutes and 20 minutes) is already available in more than 50 countries. In Canada's Ontario province, the kits have been available since they were first commercialized in 2006, and in British Columbia, where BioLytical is based, health authorities plan to use them for the new $48 million pilot project called Seek and Treat for the prevention … Read more
The X-37B, an unmanned U.S. Air Force space plane whose mystery mission set off a round of speculation over the spring and summer, returned to Earth early this morning after its maiden flight lasted 220 days in orbit.
The space plane landed at 1:16 a.m. PT today at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, officially making it the U.S.'s first unmanned vehicle to return from space and land on its own, according to Boeing, which designed the craft. Launched in April from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas 5 rocket, the X-37B was designed to stay … Read more
LEXINGTON, Mass.--Energy Secretary Steven Chu toured tiny solar company 1366 Technologies here today, holding it up as an example of success in the ARPA-E program and the importance of federal funding for energy research.
Chu toured the labs of 1366 Technologies, a company spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 to bring the price of solar power down to the price of coal, after briefing incoming members of Congress at the Harvard Kennedy School of government in nearby Cambridge.
NASA scientists have discovered a new type of bacteria that is able to substitute arsenic--a poison to most living creatures--as a biological building block, something no other known life form on Earth can do, the agency said today.
In a press conference held at NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters, scientists announced that they had discovered a new form of bacteria, known as GFAJ-1, in California's Mono Lake that has DNA completely foreign to anything ever before found on Earth. It has the ability to substitute arsenic at the DNA level for phosphorus.
No massage could ever come close to those given by Eleanor, the miracle worker who is CNET's in-house masseuse (we do have to pay for her time, but rates are good). Sometimes, however, even she needs a day off, and for those sad occasions, we're thinking CNET might want to invest in a few WheeMe massage robots.
Employing tilt sensor technology, the palm-size bot from Israel's DreamBots automatically steers itself around at 4.5 centimeters per second, gently caressing your muscles with "patented fingerettes" that make it look like the love child of a toy car and a rubber caterpillar.
DreamBots points out that WheeMe works best on horizontal surfaces such as the back or stomach (although one or two photos on the DreamBots site hint at more provocative targets). The company promises the robot won't fall off or lose its grip as it silently maneuvers around your achy-breaky body. … Read more
Strobe, a start-up focusing on publishing tools that employ a new generation of Web standards, has secured first-round funding.
Chief Executive and co-founder Charles Jolley announced the move today but declined to share exactly how much Hummer-Winblad and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures bestowed upon his company. The company's technology is based on a project called SproutCore that Jolley has been working on for years, including several while at Apple. Jolley left Apple in July.
Look at who's logging supercomputing time these days and you are likely to get a glimpse of some major innovations on the horizon.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced today it has just granted the largest award ever of the department's supercomputing time through it's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, now in it's sixth year.
The large award, a total of 1.7 billion hours distributed over 57 projects, was partially attributed to the fact that the Energy Department has been expanding its supercomputing capacity, and, therefore, simply has the means to grant more time. But it also reflects a growing interest in using computer modeling now that it has increased in sophistication, according to the Energy Department.
The INCITE program is somewhat like the lottery in that everyone has a chance. The Energy Department has an open application process in which any scientist, whether working in the academic or commercial world, is welcome to submit a request to win supercomputing hours, and it's not restricted to energy-related science.
Among these latest 57 recipients, are large companies like Boeing and General Electric that are going to use the time for sophisticated modeling of potential designs for jet engines and wind turbines, respectively. There are also the climate change and earthquake prediction simulation projects, as one might expect.
Most interesting to the energy sector perhaps is the Lithium/Air Battery Project led by Jack Wells, group leader of the Computational Nanotechnology Group at the Center for Engineering Science Advanced Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His team will be running simulations of lithium/air battery reactions. A successful version of the air battery would be capable of storing 10 times the amount of energy as a lithium ion battery of the same weight. Such a battery might make electric cars more competitive compared to gas-powered cars since it would offer greater driving range on a single charge than current models.… Read more
Surgeon Peter Belafsky had been tinkering with ways to treat oropharyngeal dysphagia--a swallowing disorder that when severe can prevent people from being able to swallow at all--for years.
But it wasn't until he took his two daughters to get their ears pierced--and noticed the woman behind the counter with piercings in her nose, eyebrow, and even cleavage--that he realized how to do it, and a device to manually open and close the esophagus was born.