Welcome back to Science Saturday! This week, get a good look at some very promising real Trek tech including a language translator that translates your own voice into Mandarin and a cloaking device that works perfectly in the microwave. Also peer into the universe’s past by viewing the farthest ever discovered object — a galaxy 13.3 billion light years away. And learn how fast we’re learning about life in earth’s oceans. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: The Decelerator Helmet.
Microsoft Translates English to Mandarin in User’s Voice — Truly The Closest We’ve Come to a Real Life Universal Translator
We’ve seen plenty of examples of life imitating art (especially when it comes to technology imitating Treknology), and we’ve even seen our fair share of would-be universal translators. But, Microsoft’s newest tech is truly the closest we’ve come so far. Not only does it translate english speech into mandarin text, not only does it translate that text into mandarin speech, it actually speaks mandarin in the english speaker’s voice! Or, at least, an approximation of it. And, it does that all in real time! There’s certainly still a lot of work to be done, but this is a very promising step in the world of universal translation technology. See for yourself in the video demonstration below.
More at TalkingPointsMemo.
‘Perfect’ Invisibility Cloak is Invisible to Microwaves
More exciting news from the tech research world with the advent of a “perfect” invisibility cloak. For the first time, scientists have created a device that perfectly cloaks itself — that is, it’s invisible to microwave radiation. Although the scientists say that the trick will be hard to reproduce with visible light, this is a breakthrough in that it is the first cloaking technique where no incident light is reflected. Moreover the illusion only works in one direction. “It’s like the card people in Alice in Wonderland,” Prof David Smith, a cloaking scientist, explained. “If they turn on their sides you can’t see them but they’re obviously visible if you look from the other direction.” Does this technically break any Federation treaties?
Read the full study, published in Nature.
Nathan Landy with his cloaking device (Image Credit: Duke University)
Farthest Galaxy in the Known Universe Discovered
Astronomers are reporting that galaxy MACS0647-JD may be the most distant object ever discovered in the universe. It sits about 13.3 billion light years from earth and appears very young — it formed only 420 million years after the Big Bang. In astro-years, that’s nothing. And, given that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, that means that the light from this galaxy has been travelling towards us here on earth for almost all of history of space and time. Mind boggling.
Details of the discovery will be published in a paper in the Dec. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. Read more from the Bad Astronomer.
Inset showing galaxy MACS0647-JD
Most Ocean Species ‘Will be Discovered This Century’
In a new study published this week in Current Biology, a team of international scientists released calculations saying that fewer than one million marine species are likely to exist and 70,000 of those may already be in collections, waiting to be described. Moreover, their new findings suggest that most of Earth’s marine life may be discovered this century. Their conclusions are based on the very fast rate in which we have been discovering marine species as of late.
There is more and more to learn about our oceans, but we nearly have the species mapped
Pic of the Week: Like a Diamond in the Sky
Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a beauty. It shows off a beautiful view of this week’s much awaited total solar eclipse as seen from Queensland, Australia. Pro tip: Check out more APOD for great desktop wallpapers!
Gadget of the Week: The Decelerator Helmet
This new shiny helmet, created by German artist Lorenz Potthast, allows its wearer to experience their world in real slow motion. A small camera mounted on the outside sends video input to a computer inside of the helmet that then projects a slow motion version of the world outside to the wearer through an eyepiece. The same slow-mo image is also displayed on the outside of the helmet. I can’t imagine this being of much use, but it could be pretty trippy. In fact, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.
More at Design Boom.
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