This week in Science Saturday, have a conversation with a dolphin, sail over the Grand Canyon in a jet suit, join Captain Piccard on an international solar-powered flight, and discover Io’s magma ocean. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: converted sci-fi motorcycle helmets.
Scientists to Communicate with Dolphins Using Two-Way Translation Device
Since the 1960’s captive dolphins have been communicating with humans through pictures, sounds, and more recently, even iPads. Now, scientists want to be able to hold a two-way conversation with the intelligent marine mammals using a water-proofed translation device. Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project, and Thad Starner, an artificial intelligence researcher at Georgia Tech, have developed a project called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT).
The prototype device, set to be tested this summer, uses a small computer encased in a waterproof shell and two hydrophones capable of detecting the full frequency of dolphin sounds. A diver with the device will wear a mask with LED lights that indicate where the sounds are coming from, so he or she will know which dolphin is talking. The ultimate goal is to co-create a new language between humans and dolphins by first deciphering the fundamental structure of dolphin language. “The CHAT system will ideally play to the strengths of both dolphins and humans, allowing people to make dolphin-like communications that are more appealing to the cetaceans,” Herzing told New Scientist, “And then they can tell us what they really think of those aquarium attractions.”
The first interspecies universal translator?
Jet Man Soars Over Grand Canyon
51-year-old Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy, aka Jet Man, recently completed his long awaited jet suit flight over the Grand Canyon. The FAA finally gave him the green light for flight last Saturday, allowing him 2 hours of cleared flight time. Rossy was airborne in his 6-ft wingspan carbon fiber jet suit for more than eight minutes and flew 200 feet above the canyon’s rim at speeds up to 190 mph before deploying a parachute and landing safely on the canyon floor.
Captain Piccard takes Solar Plane on International Flight
TrekMovie has been following the progress of Captain Piccard (no relation) and his solar powered plane from its maiden voyage of 350 meters (1,150 feet) through the growth of the project. Now, Piccard has flown his experimental emissions-free aircraft, called Solar Impulse, on a 13-hour, 480-kilometer (300-mile) international flight from Switzerland to Belgium. This event marks a new record for Solar Impulse, which currently holds the endurance and altitude records for a manned solar-powered airplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, flying at 9,235 metres (30,298 feet).
Jupiter’s Moon Io Home to Magma Ocean
Jupiter’s moon Io is the only other body in the universe besides Earth known to have active volcanism, and scientists have recently found an ocean of molten rock beneath its surface that may feed the eruptions. “The blistering temperature of the magma ocean probably exceeds 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,200 degrees Fahrenheit),” NASA said in a statement. The magma ocean was detected due to mysterious signatures found in some of spacecraft Galileo’s magnetic field data. According to lead author of the study, Krishan Khurana, the magma ocean is “millions of times better at conducting electricity than rocks typically found on the Earth’s surface,” explaining why magma 20-30 miles (30-50 km) beneath Io’s crust could affect the moon’s magnetic field.
Io, volcanic moon of Jupiter
Pic of the Week: Space Shuttle, End of an Era
This Monday, May 16th, NASA plans to send Space Shuttle Endeavour into space for the last time. This week, DVICE takes a look at the visual history of the Space Shuttle’s greatest hits. Our pic of the week, below, is just one of the awesome photos in the set. Definitely check out the full article for the other photos.
Space Shuttle Endeavour & the end of an era
Gadget of the Week: Light-up, Voice-changing Sci-Fi Motorcycle Helmets
YouTuber Tigerpause444 has taken apart Iron Man, Transformers, and Star Wars toy masks and bolted them on to 3/4 motorcycle helmets. He’s even included the electronics from the toys so that you get cool light-up and voice changing effects. Disclaimer: Tigerpause444 notes that these altered helmets are not DOT approved, and will not protect you if in an accident! Despite that, he has still uploaded a video of himself wearing one on his sport bike. Check out a video of the Iron Man helmet below, and see the rest at DVICE.
This day in Science history
Replacing my previous #FollowFriday section, which is no longer timely after our permanent move to Science Saturday, is a list of fun facts for you about the famous people, places, and things linked with this day in history. On May 14th, these things happened:
- In 1973, the US launched Skylab One, its first manned space station.
- In 1963, the US issued the first patent for a “solar airplane vehicle” (No. 3,089,670).
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
- Flying NASA’s baby spaceship: Q&A with Shuttle Endeavour’s 1st commander
- Fossils reveal 48-million-year history of zombie ants
- Ford to make cars smarter with Google prediction