Today in Science Saturday brings you news on personal shuttle pods, the possibility of replicator-type printers, the ‘litterbugs of the universe’, a material with limited cloaking ability, and a galaxy that takes bullying to the next level.
In what may be a step towards the travel pod or air tram seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the London Heathrow Airport will begin using the world’s first Personal Rapid Transport System in 2009. These little buggers, which can reportedly reach speeds up to 25mph, are designed to take passengers from the parking lot to the airport’s fifth terminal (which hasn’t opened yet) in under four minutes. Of course, the thing won’t be able to fly (it’ll be situated on tracks, like a trolley) and it won’t be able to leave the airport… but, hey, it looks cool.
See the original report here.
Coming soon to an airport near you… as long as you’re near the London Heathrow.
Really big bully
Can’t we all just get along? Scientists have discovered that one galaxy’s black hole has blasted a neighboring galaxy with a jet of deadly radiation. Millions of stars and any orbiting planets are likely in the path of the radiation jet. Dubbed the "death star galaxy," the culprit is being compared to an everyday bully. As one astrophysicist put it, "It’s like a bully, a black-hole bully punching the nose of a passing galaxy." At least it’s learned to pick on someone it’s own size. See National Geographic for details.
Hey, fight fair!
Print me some tea, earl grey, hot
They won’t exactly be replicators, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be much different. According to a blog on ZDNet, The Economist predicts that 3D printers will be available for consumer use in the next year. As their name suggests, these nifty devices process the model of an object and then "print" that object layer upon layer until you have a three-dimensional object (like the plastic chainmail in the image below). This got ZDNet’s blogger wondering… how advanced will this device get in the years to come? We might be able to download object models — like a DVD player or even food — and "print" them for our own use or consumption. In other words… our very own replicator. Hey, it’s a possibility, right?
You think we could replic… er, "print" something a bit more… useful?
Dust bunnies from outer space
There’s a whole lot of dust in space… and now we may know where it all came from. Astronomers have discovered a mess of dust surrounding supernova Cassiopeia A, suggesting that exploding stars are "the litterbugs of the universe." If so, we owe those stars a dept of gratitude … dust particles are believed to be responsible for the formation of planets. See LiveScience.com for more.
Cassiopeia A is in need of a good dusting
A little bit of cloaking
University of Maryland researchers have developed a cloaking material that uses plasmons (electron waves which are generated when light strikes a metallic surface under controlled conditions) to render objects invisible…so long as the objects are 10 micrometers in size. Oh, and the cloak only works in two dimensions. And it only works on a limited range of the visual spectrum. But it’s a start. See DailyTech’s report for more information.
It’s not the size that matters… or the limited range… or that it only works in 2D… it’s how you use it!
Man turns himself into an Andorian?
You just have to watch this to believe it