NASA this afternoon released the first-ever photo of Mercury taken from a spacecraft in orbit around the innermost planet of the solar system.
The most arresting element of the photo is the rayed crater Debussy, which lends to the overall image the impression of the vine end of a cantaloupe after the vine has been snapped off. Straight out to the left of Debussy and much smaller, about halfway to the left border, lies the crater Matabei "with its unusual dark rays," NASA says.
The space agency has seen Debussy and Matabei before. What it hasn't ever … Read more
File this one away under the rubric of "thinking big."
A half century after scientists failed on their first attempt to penetrate the Earth's mantle, geologists Damon Teagle of the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, England, and Benoit Ildefonse from Montpellier University in France say it's time for a second try. And unlike their predecessors, they have the technology to turn that challenging endeavor into a reality.
The goal is to retrieve samples from the Earth's mantle, a feat which, if successful, would supply a trove of new information about our planet's origins and … Read more
A woman known as Patient S3, who is paralyzed from her neck down and cannot speak, has just reached the 1,000-day anniversary with a brain-computer interface called BrainGate, and researchers are reporting in the Journal of Neural Engineering that the device is still effective.
"This proof of concept--that after 1,000 days a woman who has no functional use of her limbs and is unable to speak can reliably control a cursor on a computer screen using only the intended movement of her hand--is an important step for the field," said Leigh Hochberg, associate professor of engineering … Read more
The Department of Energy is hoping that "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" will be a model of success.
The program, which kicks off May 2, will offer start-ups the opportunity to license patents from among the 15,000 owned by the government's 17 national laboratories for a mere $1,000. The government also plans to reduce paperwork.
"America's entrepreneurs and innovators are the best in the world," U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today in a statement. "Today, we're challenging them to create new businesses based on discoveries … Read more
Researchers have unveiled encouraging results of the first human randomized control trial of a procedure called therapeutic renal denervation to reduce and control hypertension in patients where medications aren't working. The announcement came at this week's Society of Interventional Radiology's 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.
While the study involved only 106 adults and was funded by the manufacturer of the catheter and generator, the procedure--which uses a catheter-based probe to emit high-frequency energy directly into the renal artery to deactivate nerves linked to high blood pressure--does appear to be effective. That's particularly notable because these … Read more
Academics working with carbon nanotubes have developed a low-power memory technology with application for smartphones, cameras, and other consumer gadgets.
The "mechanical arm" storage technology, developed by scientists at Edinburgh University, Seoul National University, and Konkuk University in South Korea, uses a tiny cantilevered arm to deliver charge to gate electrodes in storage devices.
"We've come up with a new way to do the [electrode] charging that consumes very little power," researcher Eleanor Campbell, who worked on the technology in Edinburgh's chemistry department, told ZDNet UK today. "We have a very little cantilevered … Read more
Bird flight has fascinated mankind for centuries. German-based Festo now says it has deciphered it by building a robot seagull that flies like the real thing.
SmartBird is inspired by the herring gull and can take off by flapping its wings, and flying and landing autonomously. It moves by flapping and twisting its wings like a gull, and turns its head to steer--see the video below.
Built of carbon fiber and polyurethane foam, SmartBird weighs about 1 pound and has a wingspan of some 6.5 feet.
Though its inner structure recalls the flying machines of Leonardo da Vinci, it also houses a microcontroller, four servo drives, and a lithium polymer battery.
The wings are driven with an exterior rotor motor through a two-stage helical transmission, and the wing positions are monitored with sensors that relay data to ground operators via a radio link.
Robot-assisted surgery to remove cancerous prostate glands is safe over the long term and has a major complication rate of less than 1 percent, according to research published by the journal European Urology.
An earlier study showed almost 87 percent of patients had no recurrence of cancer after five years, according to a release by the Henry Ford Health System. The procedure removes the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue.
Researchers followed 3,317 patients at the Vattikuti Urology Institute in Detroit from January 2005 to December 2009. The institute is known for the work of Dr. Mani Menon, … Read more
Six workers were exposed to excessive radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Saturday as a mile-long power line was connected to Reactor No. 2 in an effort to restore power to its cooling system. Crews hope to restart the system Sunday, The New York Times reported, but meanwhile observers have been speculating how many robots authorities have deployed to keep people out of harm's way.
The answer, apparently, is zero.
"I don't know that we have any such devices," said Hiro Hasegawa, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), when asked whether robots were being used at Daiichi, which was struck by a tsunami following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake March 11.
It's surprising that Japan, long considered a technological powerhouse, has had to resort to such rudimentary methods of cooling the plant's reactors as water-bombing them with lead-lined helicopters.
Tepco apparently never imagined a situation in which the main and backup power to the coastal plant would be knocked out, despite the fact that Japan is one of the most quake-prone countries in the world, sitting atop a number of shifting tectonic plates. … Read more