Tag: technology

Google’s new X-prize: land a robot rover on the moon

There’s a new X-Prize. This one is funded by Google, so you know the money is good. It’s for $30 million. And the goal? To land a robot on the moon. Specifically, to land “a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface …

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A trip to Mars in a week?

That’s the tantalizing possibility of something called the Photonic Laser Thruster, which was first demonstrated back in February. I don’t understand the science well enough to tell if it’s a load of hooey or not, but wow, I hope not. Because that kind of propulsion system might finally give us the solar system of Golden …

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What did I do on my summer vacation?

I toured a nuclear power plant under refurbishment, a tour which included a rare visit (for anyone) inside the vault of a reactor. Those would be the fuel tubes, currently being replaced, in the background. That’s my lovely wife Margaret Anne beside me. The reactor is at the Bruce Power plant near Kincardine, Ontario. This …

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Candle on the water

Download the audio version.Get my column as a podcast. *** Lighthouse keeping has always sounded like a romantic occupation to me. As a kid, I even won honorable mention in a creative writing contest with a story featuring a lighthouse keeper. Of course, being a prairie boy, I had never actually even been in a …

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A real-life light saber?

Sounds more like a Star Trek phaser set on stun, to me: The LED Incapacitator works by emitting a strobe of ultra-bright, multicolored, pulsing light. Once pointed at an individual, the built in range finder measures the distance to the nearest set of eyes and then adjusts the level, output and frequency of this beam, …

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Robots with guns…

…the first armed robots in history…have now been deployed in Iraq. No, they don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I’m officially podcasting!

I’ve decided to try turning my weekly science columns into a weekly podcast, and the first episode (“Prosthetics”) is now at its permanent home (I know, I posted it earlier in the week using Box, but now it’s at avMYpodCast.com, which also automatically indexes it with iTunes). Everything is very bare-bones right now and I …

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Prosthetics

Humans are amazing creatures, but we aren’t invulnerable, and every so often, we lose a piece of ourselves to accident, attack or disease: a finger, a toe, a hand, a foot, or even an entire limb. And sometimes, of course, due to a genetic problem, we’re even born without a particular appendage. This is hardly …

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Your flying saucer is ready:

Moller International has started production of a hovercar, a small two-passenger saucer-shaped vehicle designed to take off and land vertically. It’s going to be priced at $90,000 to $125,000 U.S.

The unbeatable checker-playing computer

Computer scientists at the University of Alberta have solved the ancient game of checkers: After 18-and-a-half years and sifting through 500 billion billion (a five followed by 20 zeroes) checkers positions, Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer and colleagues have built a checkers-playing computer program that cannot be beaten. Completed in late April this year, the program, Chinook, …

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A sleek, skin-tight spacesuit?

This could do wonders for space tourism (although the focus is on exploration). Not to mention science fiction movies. Called the BioSuit, and under development at MIT, it’s… “…a revolutionary departure from the traditional model. Instead of using gas pressurization, which exerts a force on the astronaut’s body to protect it from the vacuum of …

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Robot receptionists

Would you like to be greeted at an office by one of these? Apparently these Mitsubishi-made robots, called Wakamaru, are being hired out as receptionists in Japan for $1,000 U.S. a day or $25,000 a year. According to Gizmodo: It turns out these goofy-looking yellow droids are pretty good at the job, recognizing faces and …

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