Today we dive into another edition of Science Friday with a look at steps towards a positronic emotion chip, a walk through virtual worlds, the progress of NASA’s not-so-warp-capable Phoenix mission, and another look at solar wind powered space travel. Also check out our new gadget of the week, OLED wallpaper.
“Feeling” Machines Know How to Make You Smile
Technology similar to that of Dr. Noonien Soong‘s emotion chip may have roots in present day research from The Humaine Project which has developed a method for machines to recognize the emotions of humans by combining what is being said, the tone in which it is said, the expression on the face, and smaller signals like eye gaze, hand gestures and posture. The computers cannot reciprocate this emotion however. Says one researcher, "That may never happen. Humaine’s philosophers have thought through carefully whether we should allow it to," he adds. Even if it does go that way, it is certainly not any time soon, he notes.
Data talks to “Mr. Tricorder”
One Virtual Step for Man, One Real Leap for Mankind
Imagine having your very own holodeck. What program would you run? A walk along the Cliffs of Heaven on Sumiko IV, visit to the surface of Mars, or maybe a stroll through the streets of ancient Pompeii? CyberWalk researchers are aiming to make this experience possible through the use of omni-directional treadmills. “Walking through a virtual city was impossible before,” a CyberWalk scientist says. “We are the first to demonstrate that you can walk through a virtual city or any type of extended environment.” See CyberWalk‘s web site and the below video.
The CyberWalk treadmill in action
NASA’s Phoenix Lander Fine Tunes Course for Mars
William Shatner says there’s upcoming news on life on Mars…maybe it will come from the Phoenix. NASA engineers have adjusted the flight path of the Phoenix Mars Lander which hopes to sample Martian ice and dust (not make the first warp flight), setting the spacecraft on course for its May 25 landing on the Red Planet. The lander’s current conditionally approved landing site is a broad, flat valley informally called “Green Valley.” A final decision will be made after NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes additional images of the area this month. Track the Phoenix spacecraft and watch its progress! Also check out the Mars mission interactive timeline!
The (non-warp capable) Phoenix Lander
Solar Wind Sail Could Power Future Space Travel
As a nice follow-up to a previous Science Friday solar-sail discussion, solar wind sails have made the news this week. An electric solar wind sail developed two years ago has moved rapidly from invention towards implementation. The electric sail uses the solar wind as its thrust source and therefore needs no fuel or propellant. The solar wind is a continuous plasma stream emanating from the Sun. Changes in the properties of the solar wind cause auroral brightening and magnetic storms, among other things.
Presenting: The solar wind sail
Gadget of the Week: Breakthrough towards luminous wallpaper
What if you could have an entire room wallpapered in flexible, paper-thin light? The key to making this affordable is roll-to-roll processing, a method of manufacturing organic LEDs (OLEDs) that works a whole lot like a printing press, according to General Electric who is heading the project. The ultimate hope of GE scientists is to make these wallpaper light sources cost-effective enough to coat entire rooms with the stuff. See the full story at DVICE.
Gives “computer wallpaper” a whole new meaning
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Drug experiment blocks radiation damage: a radiation inoculation?
- Studying hurricanes…with bubbles?
- Researchers create silly putty lights, make dollar bill impressions
- Pittsburgh museum plans “largest national” robotics exhibition