Outgoing space station commander Jeffrey Williams and Soyuz commander Maxim Suraev settled to a jarring touchdown in "blizzard-like" conditions in Kazakhstan Thursday after an apparently trouble-free descent from the International Space Station.
Suraev, strapped into the Soyuz descent module's center seat, monitored a computer-controlled 4-minute and 16-second rocket firing at 6:33 a.m. EDT, slowing the ship by about 257 mph to drop it out of orbit.
Just before falling into the discernible atmosphere around 7 a.m., the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft's three modules separated at an altitude of 87 miles and the central descent … Read more
Prisons separate inmates from society with walls. But the winners of eVolo magazine's 2010 Skyscraper Competition have a very different vision: a prison in the sky where height itself becomes the barrier.
The annual contest recognizes designs that redefine skyscrapers through the use of new technologies, materials, aesthetics, and spatial organization. This year, the contest drew 430 entries from 42 countries.
The Malaysian architecture students who created what they call the Vertical Prison present a futuristic design, to be sure, but it's inspired by current studies showing high levels of post-release offenses that many associate with a lack of prisoner rehabilitation. With resocialization in mind, the designers imagine a kind of parallel prison universe complete with agricultural fields, factories, and recyclable plants. Inmates would work in those ventures to contribute to the host city below, thus maintaining a connection to the world they aim to re-inhabit one day.
Transportation to and from the prison in the sky would take place via various pods--for inmates, prison employees, medical personnel, cargo, and so on. The pods could also provide daily surveillance.
But as envisioned by Chow Khoon Toong, Ong Tien Yee, and Beh Ssi Cze, the Vertical Prison is a fundamentally optimistic place. The modular prison cells would even have openings to reveal life beyond the inhabitants' confined spaces, hopefully inspiring them to want to recapture some of what they have lost while incarcerated.
Second place in the contest went to the Indonesian team that conceived of the Ciliwung Recovery Program, a giant edifice that looks like a cross between a sculpture you'd find outside a modern-art museum and an uber-cool playground climbing structure. Actually, it's a 100 percent sustainable skyscraper that provides housing and office space while collecting garbage from the Ciliwung River river bank in Jakarta and purifying the river's water through a system of mega-filters. … Read more
Erika DeBenedictis' research to help spacecraft quickly and more easily travel to other planets has earned her a top student science award from Intel.
The 18-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M., took home the $100,000 first prize from Intel's 2010 Science Talent Search, an annual contest that challenges students to envision solutions to the scientific problems of today and tomorrow.
DeBenedictis' goal was to design a software navigation system that could help spacecraft more easily journey throughout the solar system. Her research discovered that gravity and the movement of the planets could create low-energy orbits to propel ships faster … Read more
Researchers at MIT are working on getting computer chips to "self assemble" by coaxing molecules to arrange themselves into tiny but useful patterns, a process that could lead to microprocessors with much smaller circuit elements.
In the journal Nature Nanotechnology this week, the researchers describe a process that could become an alternative to conventional photolithography, which relies on light projected onto a photo-sensitive material, as people continue to forecast the demise of Moore's Law. That observation states that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles roughly every two years.
Scientists (and people prone to bumping into spider webs) have long noticed the stunning strength of the arachnid bug catchers. Now, a group of MIT researchers think they've unraveled the mystery of what makes the structures so sturdy, and they hope to emulate--and even exceed--them in a synthetic form.
The team has concluded, ironically, that the silk's strength results from an unusual arrangement of inherently weak hydrogen bonds--in other words, location, location, location.
This particular layout of tiny silk nanocrystals lets the hydrogen bonds work cooperatively to reinforce adjacent chains against external forces. The bonds break gradually, and … Read more
The pack mule of the 21st century could well be a robot. Don't be surprised to see it in flight.
Boeing on Monday said that its autonomous, unmanned A160T Hummingbird made quick work of a resupply test last week at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. During the demonstration, the cargo copter carried out seven test flights.
Two of those flights were round trips spanning 150 nautical miles, with the Hummingbird toting 1,250-pound sling loads in a simulated mission between forward operating bases. The aircraft completed the mission in less than the required 6 … Read more
The idea is for patients to try to guide the robot, nicknamed "Braccio di Ferro" (Iron Arm, also the Italian's name for Popeye), in a figure-eight motion above a desk. The arm pulls if they are moving in the correct direction and resists if they are moving … Read more
A computer algorithm, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), and neuroscientists working together have been able to identify what people are remembering by measuring blood flow levels, according to new research out of the University College London.
First, a group of 10 volunteers (average age 21) was shown three very short (as in 7 seconds) films, each of a woman on a city street doing a simple task, such as mailing a letter. Then, each of the volunteers was placed inside an fMRI scanner and asked to recall each film, first in a specific order, then at random.
The goal is to develop a common interface for mobile devices that will make them easier to use. As digital information becomes more vital, IBM said, it believes the Internet needs to be more accessible to a wider range of people, including those … Read more
Austrian biomedical firm Guger Technologies is promoting a new electroencephalography (EEG) device that lets users type with their minds, calling it the world's first commercial brain-machine interface for personal use.
Consisting of an EEG cap, display, and computer, Intendix is designed for severely disabled patients and people with symptoms of locked-in syndrome, a condition (featured in the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") in which patients suffer near-total paralysis while their minds continue to function normally.
After only 10 minutes of training, most patients can type 5-10 characters per minute by focusing on each character on … Read more