Category Archives: Science

The Importance of Space Exploration

It’s long been a hope of mankind to be able to venture to the vast reaches of outer space. But just how much do we need to develop the techniques that allow mankind to reach outer space and other planets? And what are the predictions for the Earth and people?

Several scientists have answered these questions shortly, and their conclusions unanimously claim that we need to go forward and eventually find other viable places.

Stephen Hawking based his support for the space travels with the idea that natural disasters are imminent and the human race has to explore the space if it hopes to have a future.

Tim Peake is all about progress and sees no other possibilities for the future but travelling to space. James Van Allen, US Space Scientist, obviously is interested in extending the knowledge in the domain, but wondered how many people would actually get to experience the travels, since not every organism is fit for such flights.

Gerard De Groot, who is a historian, focuses more on the thoughts about Earth, and questions whether the investments for exploring the space don’t steal the share of what should be paid to research our planet more. Laurene Powell Jobs agrees with Groot, not to mean she is not open to space exploration, but feels that this historian is practical in his thinking that we should focus our efforts on on our current environment’s sustainability.

From a thorough reading of all the statements, it one can infer that the idea has been long pondered on by them, and that the importance of exploring the space is never denied by any.

Samsung’s New Device Gives Paralyzed Individuals The Oppurtunity To Use A PC

Hyung-Jin Shin, a graduate of the Yonsei University in Seoul, who was born with quadriplegia, was able to write the words, “Nice to meet you all”, on the computer screen using his eyes, and Jason Halpern was floored.

He was able to do this due to the fact that in collaboration with Samsung, they developed an eye-tracking device that goes by the name, Eyecan+.

Samsung believes that this device has the potential to help people who have been paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury and people who have ALS, which is short for, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The device is relatively small and sits directly below the computer monitor. All that is required from the user, is for them to go through a one-time calibration process. After which, they can utilize over 18 different commands from as far as 70 centimeters away from the device. Some of the commands that they can perform are: typing, clicking, scrolling, zooming and copying/pasting, by using a series of eye movements and blinking gestures.

Samsung proclaimed that they developed the Eyecan+, not as another product that they wish to commercialize but as a tool that can be used to help paralyzed individuals such as Shin. Even though Samsung proclaimed that they don’t intend to commercialize the device, they intend to give a few of them to charity organizations. On the plus side, they plan to make the technology open source, which means that other companies can commercialize the technology behind it and market it.

A Japanese Company Creates Free-Floating Images in Air!

A Japanese company recently demonstrated a laser-based technology by creating free-floating images in the air. The technology uses a highly intense laser light which is projected into thin air that creates white-light emitting molecules, making it possible to display images.  The company, recently funded by Mike Livak’s investment group, demonstrated images for apples, butterflies, and rotating spirals using this technology.

With Japan being highly susceptible to natural calamities such as tsunami and volcanoes, the company intends to use this technology for providing evacuation alerts and warnings. The technology can be used for commercial purposes as well such as displaying free-floating advertisements.

The technology is still in the early stages though as the images were displayed just five meters above the device. One day we might be able to watch television in the sky, or participate in a sky conference!

A Working Tractor Beam Has Been Tested By Scientists In Australia

This is a great month for our favorite science fiction technology becoming reality. Not only is a fully functional hoverboard on the market, but now scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have created and tested a tractor beam. While it’s not exactly what the Enterprise toted around the galaxy, it has moved small particles in tests.

And they’re very small particles at less than 0.2 mm. The really impressive thing is how far they were moved. Other tests of different technology were only able to apply a small amount of pressure on the target particle. But scientists at ANU and Keith Mann were able to move their particles a whopping 20 cm. That’s a huge improvement and an awesome advancement in technology.

The tractor beam uses a “hollow laser” to perform its magic. Within the open beam are placed gold-coated glass spheres on which a hotspot is created. The hotspots can be controlled and through a reaction with air, the spheres are moved.

The use of air reactions to actually move the particles means that this tractor beam would be unusable in space. However, scientists believe it will have great applications down here on Earth. The tractor beam could be used to clean up air pollution or to safely move dangerous particles in a lab. Regardless of its practical uses, the fact that we can now say that a tractor beam is possible is pretty awesome.

New Batteries Capable of Lasting 20 Years

Earlier today, we saw an interesting story posted on the Facebook timeline of Keith Mann. New batteries are in development that are capable of lasting ten times longer than the lifespan of the current longest-lasting batteries. Scientists at Nanyang Technology University are developing the batteries, which are also capable of charging in only a few minutes.

In comparison to existing batteries, these new batteries would take approximately two minutes to charge to 70 percent, as opposed to two hours, and could be used to enhance electric vehicles by allowing them to charge in the time a traditional car would take to pump gas. Furthermore, these batteries will be able to be charged many more times than existing batteries, eliminating the need for frequent replacements.

Unlike existing lithium-ion batteries, the batteries NTU are developing substitute the anode for a gel made from titanium dioxide, a material currently used in sunscreen and some food additives.

Nobel Prize Awarded for Trio of Scientists Who Discovered the Brain’s GPS

In October 2014, $8.8 million was awarded to John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Half the prize went to O’Keefe, a British-American scientist who trained for his postdoctoral degree at the University College London. The other half went to the Mosers, who work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
When introducing the laureates, Nobel Committee secretary Goran K. Hansson said that the dual discoveries of O’Keefe and the Mosers, separated by more than 30 years, help humans know where they are and find their way from place to place. “An inner GPS,” he said.
In 1971, O’Keefe discovered “place cells” in laboratory rats. These “place cells” were like lighthouses on a lake, each fixed on an island. Whenever a rat passed a certain point in a box, a set of place cells activated.  Humble brag: I met O’Keefe at a fundraiser hosted by Marnie Bennett in 2011. Wonderfully friendly in addition to brilliant.
O’Keefe’s discoveries in hippocampal spatial mapping paved the way for the “grid cells” for the husband-wife team of May-Britt and Edvard Moser. In 2005, the team investigated sets of nerve cells in the entorhinal cortex of rats, which functioned like longitude and latitude lines. When combined with place cells, Moser’s discovery showed how rats – and probably people – navigate through complex environments.The Mosers said, “This is such a great honor for all of us and all the people who have worked with us and supported us.” O’Keefe recommended that the money “should be used for the common good.”

Researchers hope the discoveries will be used to cure Alzheimer’s.