Posts

September 17, 2014

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8:00 PM | Lockheed Laser Brings Turrets Back To Airplanes
ABC Laser Turret In Test Flight Air Force Research Laboratory In World War II, mighty bombers came equipped with gun barrels, manned by gunners at the ready to protect the plane from attacking fighters. The B-52 Stratofortress even came with a tail gun for self defense and last used it in combat over Vietnam in 1972. The change in fighter weapons from guns to missiles made tail guns obsolete, but now Lockheed and DARPA are bringing them back. As freakin’ […]

September 16, 2014

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9:00 PM | Scientists Test Yacht As Miniature Research Vessel
Indigo V On Leg Three Of The Journey Indigo V Expeditions The ocean is vast and full of data. Getting that data, however, is tricky. A new paper published in the journal PLOS Biology argues that there’s a cheap and easy way to get more information about more of the ocean: citizen scientists. Equipping the people already travelling the ocean with simple tools to document the world around them could mean more data and a better scientific understanding of the […]

September 15, 2014

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8:30 PM | Drone Brain Makers Want To Create The DOS Of Flying Robots
Still From An Airware Video The idea is that the same red autopilot box works with all sorts of drone bodies. Drones soon may be bound together by a common code. Airware, a commercial drone software company with MIT roots, hopes to unify drones in a shared code architecture. Airware already makes an autopilot, but that’s just the first step to creating a drone operating system, allowing hardware from different manufacturers to communicate with one […]

September 12, 2014

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8:00 PM | The Week In Drones: Whale Snot, Tower Inspectors, And More
Sperm Whale Mother And Child Gabriel Barathieu, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Whale Stress Testers  Want to see if a whale is stressed? Just fly a drone over it! Students from Olin College of Engineering are doing just that, using a drone to collect whale snot as it's blown out of its blowhole. Whale snot contains health indicators about the […]
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2:00 PM | Watch This Squishy Robot Get Run Over By A Car
Soft Robot Screenshot from Youtube video courtesy of R&D Magazine The archetypical robot is a man of metal, a harsh mechanical construct contrasted sharply with the soft fleshiness of the humans that built it. A team of engineers, led by Michael T. Tolley of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory, created instead a soft robot. Using a flexible body, the robot moves like a flailing starfish over all terrain. Their work was recently published in the journal Soft […]

September 10, 2014

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9:45 PM | Quantum Mechanics Saves Grandfathers From Time Travelers
Chrononauts Time Travel Card Game Mess up enough history, and the paradoxes will overwhelm the space-time continuum, ending the world. EUS, via Wikimedia Commons Mention time travel at a nerd party, and other guests will immediately respond with a grim conundrum: What happens if a time traveler goes back in time and kills one of his ancestors? This is the “Grandfather Paradox.” In a simulated environment, a team of mathematicians tested the […]

September 09, 2014

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9:55 PM | Your Robot Chauffeur Has Arrived
NAO in BMW teeny, tiny BMW RobotsLAB Not so fast, driverless cars. In the future, we might combine the aristocratic with the automated in a robotic chauffeur. This combo pack of Nao robot and electric BMW  is available to drive you around for $9,990, provided you can fit into a tiny electric BMW, and you're willing to teach the robot how to drive it. Nao is a companion robot that responds to verbal commands, first made in 2006. The robot can see with cameras, […]
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5:14 PM | Flight MH-17 Investigation Points To An Attack
Investigation Of MH-17 Crash Site Investigated here by Dutch and Australian police officers Netherlands Ministry of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons On July 17th, Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur fell out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. The crash killed everyone on board the plane, including 15 crew members and 283 passengers. Today, less than two months after the fact, the Dutch Safety Board published their preliminary […]

September 08, 2014

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8:15 PM | Wind Turbines Learn From Warplanes To Not Block Radar
Small wind farm near Caen, Normandie Like this, but invisible to radar. Olivier Tétard, via Wikimedia Commons Wind turbines stand on horizons like strange colossuses. Their distinctive shape and great size make them hard to miss -- even by radar systems. The giants can obstruct signals, giving countries the uncomfortable choice of either not having radar somewhere or passing up on renewable energy. To bypass this issue, French turbine makers EDF Energies […]

September 05, 2014

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7:55 PM | The Week In Drones: Chinese Pterodactyls, Ram Attacks, And More
Grand Prismatic Spring And Midway Geyser Basin From Above Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Through A Scan Eagle Darkly The ethics of drone warfare are coming to the silver screen. “Good Kill,” a film starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Andrew Niccol, focuses on an American drone pilot based in Nevada. The film […]
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5:45 PM | Should Tanks Should Be More Like iPhones?
Iraqi Army Soldiers In Light Armored Vehicles, 2007 U.S. Marine Corps. photo by Lance Cpl. Julian Billmair, via Wikimedia Commons When Iraq’s American-equipped army fled their posts in Mosul last June, they left that American equipment in the hands Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the attacking violent insurgent group. Since then, the U.S. Air Force destroyed some of the captured vehicles. Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet […]

September 04, 2014

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8:49 PM | NASA Scientists Study The Sun By Listening To It
Solar Activity From August 1st, 2010 NASA, via Wikimedia Commons What’s the fastest way to understand space? According to NASA, it’s listening to the music of the spheres displayed as actual music. A program that converts astronomical data into sound is letting researchers blaze through years of data with ease. At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Michigan doctoral candidate Robert Alexander listens to audio files made from satellite […]
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3:16 PM | The Rise Of The Tank Before World War II
New Giant Tanks The answer, it turns out, is "War Brutes." Popular Science In 1935, Popular Science announced the age of the tank with these words: “Fast, powerful land battleships may speed up the net war by preventing trench stalemates, or even make war an impossibility.” While the second half of that prediction failed to materialize, 75 years ago this week, the first part became crushingly real as a German offensive, spearheaded by 2,000 tanks, […]

September 02, 2014

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8:45 PM | Pentagon Wants Artificial Intelligence In Future Fighters
Advanced Navy Strike Fighter Concept Art Boeing The Department of Defense wants future generations of fighter aircraft to come with copilots already installed. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, both the Navy and the Air Force want their next generation air superiority fighter to have Artificial Intelligence. From USNI: “AI is going to be huge,” said one U.S. Navy official familiar with the service’s F/A-XX effort to replace the Super Hornet […]

August 29, 2014

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9:00 PM | The Week In Drones: Google Delivery, Reaper Gods, And More
Pumpkin King Scarecrow Imagine how much scarier this would be with a drone controlling it. SolarSurfer via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Drone Pilots Puppet Disney, whose theme parks are known for their animatronic robots, recently filed a patent for “Aerial Display System With Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.” The puppet […]
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5:16 PM | Google Already Testing Delivery Robots In Australia
Project Wing Drone Delivers Google In rural Australia, a drone delivers dog treats to a farmer. The robot is a proof of concept, part of Project Wing by Google X. The program is designed to show that delivery drones are possible, and it seems to be doing just that. Next for Google: figuring out the path from proven prototype to everyday utility. The drone is a tail-sitter, taking off vertically with its body perpendicular to the ground. At rest, it looks like a tiny […]

August 28, 2014

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6:16 PM | Evolution Video Game Tests Your Ability To Spot Camouflaged Bird Eggs
Egg Ancestors The evolution of a successful strain of egg camouflage. Project Nightjar Call it a case of virtual selection. Testing out Project Nightjar's experimental video game, I peered through the world in mongoose-tinted glasses, looking for the eggs of a nesting nightjar -- a nocturnal bird in the family Caprimulgidae. The clock ticked as I made my selection, and then I found the nesting mother. While I played the game, the researchers behind the project gained a little more […]

August 27, 2014

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9:13 PM | China's Future Submarine Could Go The Speed Of Sound
Supercavitating Submarine South China Morning Post The submarine of the future may come to America in a super fast bubble, traveling under water. Researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology developed a new concept for submarine “supercavitation,” where an underwater vessel creates a pocket of air around itself. Inside this bubble, the submarine can travel much faster without friction of water creating drag and slowing it down. Theoretically, a supercavitated […]

August 26, 2014

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7:29 PM | Army's Hypersonic Missile Explodes During Testing
Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Concept Launch Test From the November 18, 2011 test. Courtesy photo, U.S. Army The art of the war is complicated, but the science of war is often just a matter of shooting something pain-inducing at the other guy faster and from further away. The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program wants to do just that, by creating a missile that moves faster than Mach 5, or almost 3,800 miles per hour. That hypersonic future may be just a little further […]
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3:30 PM | Could This Camera Prevent Police Brutality?
Taser Axon Wearable Security Camera. Taser Surveillance cameras permeate modern life. Mounted in convenience stores, retail outlets, bars, clubs, ATMs and elsewhere, silent observers record everything from the mundane to the criminal. The cameras serve a dual function as both deterrent and instant legal record. In light of the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, national attention has focused on wearable cameras for police officers. For the (less lethal) […]

August 25, 2014

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5:15 PM | Watch A Robot Ride A Hovercycle
The Drone 3 In Flight I bet this would've caught Luke Skywalker on Endor. Malloy Aeronautics A white plastic robot zooms a hoverbike over the English countryside, grains blowing beneath the bike's four fans. The robot's 3-D printed body is lightweight, and where its face would be there’s a GoPro camera instead, filming the flight. This isn't a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie; The bike is less than four feet long, and combined robot and bike weighs a maximum of 15.4 […]

August 22, 2014

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4:15 PM | The Future Of Urban Planning: Zoning For Drones
Drone Zones At Human Level Mitchell Sipus A century ago, as cars first emerged into the world, cities and laws that were designed for horses suddenly had to adapt to a whole new presence in their space. Cities didn’t know how to handle these fast machines, and fatal accidents in the early age of cars led to legal battles between pedestrians and cars over who had the right to the road. Now,  commercial drones are approaching their Model-T moment, and planners can get ahead […]

August 21, 2014

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8:30 PM | Fighter Pilot Films First Person View Of Flight Over Fjords
DYE Radar Station 2 From A Freaking Fighter Jet Window The snow is also Greenland. Screenshot of video by John Kristensen, YouTube Being a fighter pilot is a lot of work. Maintence, years of training, planning for missions, paperwork -- all just to pilot one of the faster, deadlier machines ever created by human hands. Seems like a real hassle, right? Fortunately for everyone who isn't a fighter pilot, John Kristensen, a Danish Air Force pilot who flew missions in […]
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1:00 PM | Players Build Working Hard Drive Inside Minecraft
Minecraft HDD Controller Top View The0JJ/imgur.com Over the hills, across the stone bridge, past the giant pony, around the lake of questionable test, and beyond the giant rainbow barrier sits a work of great artifice on a grey plain. Far larger than any single inhabitant of this virtual world, the contraption is a complete, working computer, run entirely within the rules and universe of Minecraft. The hard drive stores up to 4 kilobytes of data, and it is covered in torches to keep […]

August 20, 2014

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7:15 PM | How The Panama Canal Changed The Shape Of War
Enlarging The Canal For Bigger Battleships Click here for a larger image. Popular Science One hundred years ago, the Panama Canal opened for the first time. A triumph of turn-of-the-century engineering, it connected Pacific and Atlantic, expanding the worlds of maritime commerce and re-writing the sea lanes of the Western Hemisphere. But with the canal came one major constraint: size. The locks of the canal are only so wide and so long and so deep, and while much of the ocean […]

August 19, 2014

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7:20 PM | NASA's Greased Lightning Tests Vertical Takeoff
NASA's GL-10 Greased Lightning Vertical Takeoff Test Drone Click here to see a larger version of this image. NASA Langley/David C. Bowman The space missions get all the credit, but the Aeronautics branch of NASA does really cool stuff. Today is National Aviation Day, and to celebrate, NASA shared a picture of their GL-10 Greased Lightning drone. Consider it the little sister to the military's V-22 Osprey. It has a ten-foot wingspan and boasts ten electric engines all […]
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2:52 PM | DARPA Thinks Less Armor Could Make Tanks Safer
DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technology Program More protective layers of jargon = safer future tanks. DARPA The heavy, treaded, gun-swinging battlefield behemoths know as tanks haven't changed much since their invention a century ago. Using a crapload of armor, the tank is meant to keep soldiers inside safe from bullets and other projectiles, while shooting a cannon at anything that poses a threat. But the problem with all this armor is that it makes vehicles slow and […]
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