Science Saturday: Really Real Tricorder + Apollo 11 Salvage + Feeling Robot Skin + Inside Out Star + More March 31, 2012by Kayla Iacovino , Filed under: Science/Technology , trackback
Welcome back to another knowledge-packed edition of Science Saturday! This week: see the realest “real” tricorder ever, hoist huge Apollo 11 engines from the sea floor, give an android skin that can feel, and witness a star explode and then turn itself inside out! All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: the Marshall mini fridge.
Researcher Develops Real Linux-powered Tricorder, Publishes Design Specs
Another “real” tricorder has made an appearance, but this time it’s a device whose design is based on the 24th century Star Trek TNG gadget — and it actually takes scientific scans! Yep, it’s the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a tried and true “real” tricorder.
Cognitive science researcher Dr. Peter Jansen has been developing the device since 2007, and he’s made the thing open source (powered by Linux, and he’s published the specs) in the hopes that others will make their own tricorders and even add their own improvements. The Mark 2 tricorder, the more sophisticated of Jansen’s devices, runs Debian Linux on an ARM920T-based Amtel microcontroller. It’s even got OLED resistive touchscreen panels (a la modern smartphone screens).
Billionaire To Hoist Up Apollo 11 Engines From Sea Floor
The gigantic rocket engines from the Apollo 11 mission (the first mission to land a man on the moon) were successfully located on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean by a team of undersea adventurers funded by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos. The next part of the plan, says Bezos, is to bring them up from the sea floor. The five F-1 rocket engines, which dropped into the Atlantic just after liftoff of the Saturn 5 carrying Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins moonward, will be sent with NASA’s blessings to museums around the US (like the Smithsonian).
This news comes just as James Cameron sent a tweet from the deepest point on Earth — the Mariana Trench.
Massive Apollo 11 engines being brought up from the deep sea
Oscillating Gel Acts Like Artificial Skin, Allowing Robots to Feel
Because of a newly discovered property in oscillating gel, the substance may allow for the development of material that can sense mechanical stimuli and respond chemically — a natural phenomenon that not many materials can mimic. Scientists say this could be used as artificial robot skin that could feel, which is the holy grail of robotics.
Read more at ScienceDaily and the original scientific journal article.
Data may not need that skin graft after all
A Star Explodes and Turns Itself Inside Out
An X-ray study of the stellar remains of Cassiopeia A have indicated that the supernova that blew up the massive star may have also turned it inside out in the process (unlike the pig lizard in Galaxy Quest, where the digitizer turned it inside out, and THEN it exploded). By doing very long term studies of Cas A, scientists have mapped out the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in great detail. A comparison of “before and after” pictures of Cas A shows that the elements that were originally in the center of the star, like iron, sulfur, and magnesium, are now (post supernova) located on the outermost part of the supernova remnant.
Read more at the Chandra X-ray Observatory website and the original scientific journal article.
Before (top) and after (bottom) view of elements in Cassiopeia A
Video of the Week: Tornado Season on the Sun
This solar tornado is not only five times the size of Earth, it’s made from plasma that is between 90,000 and 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit! Check it out!
Gadget of the Week: Marshall Mini Fridge Cools Your Brewskis, Is Sexy
Alright men, this one’s for you (and I can say that, I’m a woman). Marshall, known for selling face-melting guitar amps, has unveiled their latest creation — the mini fridge that “cools your hot licks with some chilled brews”. Check out the video below, and you’ll see exactly the demographic this product is aimed at. (via DVICE)
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
- Is it snowing microbes on Enceladus?
- Primeval Precipitation: What fossil imprints of rain reveal about early Earth