Whatever happened to kids wanting to grow up to be astronauts? What happened to walking on the moon and dreams of colonizing Mars?
NASA, the American Space Agency for those too who have forgotten or never paid attention, has endured a generation of budget cuts. That’s part of what happend. For decades now what was science fact has been regulated to science fiction.
The Aerospace Industries Association (a lobbying group, so they’ve got a dog in this fight) is hoping to leverage the popularity of Sci-Fi to get people excited about space exploration once more. They’re raising funds to put a 30-second ad for NASA’s space exploration in front of the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness.To get it done they’ve turned to crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.
The proposed ad will a cut down version of this video, which features the voice of Peter Cullen. If you’ve ever watched a Transformers… well, anything… he might sound a bit familiar.
Another sign that there is a coming materials revolution thanks to graphene… I guess I should have tagged that with a spoiler alert. Yes, it is graphene, that wonder-material we shared with you a short time ago, which is responsible for this breakthrough. Interesting bit: Lockheed Martin see clean water as a global security issue.
Flexible computers? Car batteries that charge in a minute? Hyper-efficient solar cells?
Soon to be more than science fiction, thanks to the material known as graphene. The discovery of the substance earned British scientists the Nobel Prize in 2010. Companies around the world have been racing to patent uses for the super thin (one atom wide!), super-strong, electrically conductive material.
A video (see below) which went viral this week of the work of UCLA researchers Ric Kamen and Maher El-Kady shows that the world is a lot closer to the mass production of this substance– using commercial DVD burners no less.
By embedding electrodes into their graphene discs, El-Kady and Kaner found that the energy storage capabilities far exceeded their expectations. They speculate that if their work pans out as they hope, it may be possible to apply these super capacitors towards charging electronic devices in record time, such as getting a full charge on a Smartphone in seconds, and—more importantly—fully re-charging batteries on Electric Vehicles (EV’s) within a minute. This discovery alone could help towards solving some of the problems associated with EV’s, particularly slow-charge times, and the lack of a charge-station infrastructure. Better yet, since they are made out of pure carbon, they could be composted when they are spent.
For more on the UCLA research, here’s that GE Focus/Forward video.
Not the 80′s movie– although that’s pretty good– but real weird science?
io9 science reporter George Dvorsky has a fun “superlist”– 11 Emerging Scientific Fields That Everyone Should Know About– over at their site. One favorite is “nutrigenomics” which is “[also] known as nutritional genomics, this is the study of the complex interplay between food and genetic expression.” Meaning while we may not be what we eat, the food we consume determines just how our inborn traits express themselves.
My top choice– and the one I’m suddenly thinking about returning to school for– is “recombinant memetics”.
This one’s quite speculative, and it’s technically speaking still in the proto-science phase. But it’ll only be a matter of time before scientists get a better handle on the human noosphere (the collective body of all human information) and how the proliferation of information within it impacts upon virtually all aspects of human life.
The past week has seen a flurry of attention around the latest purported wonder drug, Modafinil, which claims to make sleeping basically optional, with no ill effects. Just pop one, and two hours of sleep is plenty—with no headaches, “sleep debt,” hangover feeling, withdrawal, post-dopamine crash (as with that other common sleep-avoidance drug, speed) and little addiction risk.
Is sleep something we need to cure? Aren;t we in danger of shutting down our dreams, and thus getting all kinds of weird subconscious bleed through? I dunno. Maybe I’ve seen too many horror movies.
Just as universities are eager to capitalize on the inventions of their scientists, so too are funders like the National Science Foundation. To formalize that mission, NSF sponsors an I-Corps, or Innovation Corps, that awards grantees $50k to explore whether their inventions would be commercially viable. (more…)
Every night for months before the presidential election, Nate Silver would fire up his computer and run simulated results for his FiveThirtyEight blog on The New York Times. He ran hundreds of these simulations, tweaking variables like “white male poodle owner” turnout. Then along came Election Day. We all went out to vote (you did vote right?) and reality became the final word, trumping whatever Nate Silver’s simulated universe might, or might not, have said.
But what if there was more to the story? What if the simulated election didn’t just happen in Nate Silver’s computer? What if Election Day itself was a simulation with you, me and even Nate Silver just running through our autonomous but fully programmed roles. My friends, what if we all are living inside someone else’s simulation?
Wait, wait, wait; don’t click on over to Planet Money just yet. Hear me out. There are well-known philosophers working at well-known universities who would argue that the reality of our lack of reality might just be the most reasonable assumption to make about reality. Given the alternatives, accepting that we are all simulations living inside a simulation might just be … reasonable. (more…)
The number of foreign citizens earning science-related doctorates in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the last 40 years, according to a new report.
The National Science Foundation looked at research doctorates in science, engineering, and health (SEH). In the 1960s, around 17 percent of these U.S. doctorates were earned by foreign citizens. By 2010, that number jumped to 40 percent.
About a quarter of recent graduates said they intended to look for work outside the U.S. But in one data point from 2008′s Survey of Doctoral Recipients, a full 96.6 percent of foreign citizen graduates reported living or working in the States.