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Aug 5, 2020

Propelling Exploration: Drones Are Going Interplanetary

Posted by in categories: drones, space

:3 circa 2019.


Drones have already conquered Earth, and now they’re heading out into the solar system.

NASA announced yesterday (June 27) that it will launch a life-hunting rotorcraft called Dragonfly toward Saturn’s huge moon Titan in 2026. If all goes according to plan, Dragonfly will land on the hazy, frigid satellite in 2034 and then spend several years flying around, gathering a variety of data and snapping amazing photos of the exotic landscape.

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Aug 5, 2020

How Bits of Quantum Gravity Can Buzz

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

Anti gravity can be made from gravitons.


New calculations show how hypothetical particles called gravitons would give rise to a special kind of noise.

Aug 5, 2020

Watch SpaceX launch a South Korean satellite using the same booster that flew NASA astronauts

Posted by in categories: drones, military, satellites

SpaceX is launching South Korea’s first dedicated military communications satellite on Monday, with a target liftoff time of 5 PM EDT (2 PM PDT). The launch window spans nearly four hours, ending at 8:55 PM EDT (5:55 PM PDT), so SpaceX has considerable flexibility in terms of when the launch could actually take place.

The Falcon 9 rocket being used for this mission includes a first-stage booster that flew previously on SpaceX and NASA’s Demo-2 mission — the historic mission that carried astronauts on board a SpaceX rocket for the first time. That launch, which took place on May 30, saw astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley successfully delivered to the International Space Station — where they’re currently preparing to depart on Demo-2’s concluding trip home on August 1.

This mission will include a recovery attempt for the first stage, using SpaceX’s “Just Read the Instructions” drone landing ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Aug 5, 2020

Moderna is pricing coronavirus vaccine at $32 to $37 per dose for some customers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, finance

Moderna is charging between $32 to $37 per dose for its coronavirus vaccine for some customers, under cheaper “pandemic pricing,” it said Wednesday.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is currently in discussion for larger volume agreements that will have a lower price, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said on a conference call discussing the company’s second-quarter financial results.

“We are working with governments around the world and others to ensure a vaccine is accessible regardless of ability to pay,” he said. “We’re currently in a pandemic as defined by WHO. At Moderna, like many experts, we believe the virus is not going away and there will be a need to vaccinate people or give them a boost for many years to come.”

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Aug 5, 2020

Big Bounce Simulations Challenge the Big Bang

Posted by in categories: computing, cosmology

Detailed computer simulations have found that a cosmic contraction can generate features of the universe that we observe today.

Aug 5, 2020

Sniffing Out Stem Cells Behind COVID-Skewed Olfaction

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

In COVID-19, the sense of smell can diminish, vanish, or oddly skew, for weeks or months. The loss usually starts suddenly and is more than the temporarily dulled chemical senses of a stuffy nose from the common cold. As researchers followed up mounting reports of loss of olfaction, a surprising source of perhaps the longest-lasting cases emerged: stem cells in the olfactory epithelium.

A Common Symptom

Facebook groups may be ahead of the medical literature in providing vivid descriptions of the loss of olfaction as people swap advice and compare how long they’ve been unable to smell. The experiences can be bizarre, but at the same time, shared.

Aug 5, 2020

Matchbox-sized Motor Yields 500,000 RPM

Posted by in categories: electronics, energy

Circa 2006


Aiming to create a miniature motor capable of 1 million revolutions per minute, electronics researchers at ETH Life in Zurich are half-way to their goal.

The gas turbine-powered device produces force equivalent to 100 watts and is 95 percent fuel efficient, and gets 10 hours of operation out of the tank.

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Aug 5, 2020

U.S. Air Force cadets study idea of Space Force bases on the Moon

Posted by in categories: military, policy, space

In December 2019, Donald Trump signed the U.S. Space Force Act, peeling off an orbit-and-beyond branch of the military, much as the Air Force grew out of the Army in the 1940s.

For now, the Space Force still resides within the Air Force, but nearly 90 of this year’s approximately 1000 Air Force Academy graduates became the first officers commissioned straight into the new organization. Some of those graduates were members of an academy group called the Institute for Applied Space Policy and Strategy (IASPS). Featuring weekly speakers and formalized research projects the students hope to turn into peer-reviewed papers, the group aims to game out the policies and philosophies that could guide military space activity when they are old enough to be in charge. In particular, these young cadets are interested in whether the Space Force might someday have a military presence on the Moon, and how it might work with civilians.

That activity could put the Space Force in conflict with scientists, who typically view the cosmos as a peaceful place for inquiry. But part of the club’s mission is speculating about that interplay—between the military and civilian scientists, civil space agencies, and private companies. Cadet J. P. Byrne, who will graduate in 2021, is the group’s current president. He chatted with ScienceInsider about the institute’s work. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Aug 5, 2020

Self-organising swarms of firefighting drones: Harnessing the power of collective intelligence in decentralised multi-robot systems

Posted by in categories: drones, information science, particle physics, robotics/AI

Swarm intelligence (SI) is concerned with the collective behaviour that emerges from decentralised self-organising systems, whilst swarm robotics (SR) is an approach to the self-coordination of large numbers of simple robots which emerged as the application of SI to multi-robot systems. Given the increasing severity and frequency of occurrence of wildfires and the hazardous nature of fighting their propagation, the use of disposable inexpensive robots in place of humans is of special interest. This paper demonstrates the feasibility and potential of employing SR to fight fires autonomously, with a focus on the self-coordination mechanisms for the desired firefighting behaviour to emerge. Thus, an efficient physics-based model of fire propagation and a self-organisation algorithm for swarms of firefighting drones are developed and coupled, with the collaborative behaviour based on a particle swarm algorithm adapted to individuals operating within physical dynamic environments of high severity and frequency of change. Numerical experiments demonstrate that the proposed self-organising system is effective, scalable and fault-tolerant, comprising a promising approach to dealing with the suppression of wildfires – one of the world’s most pressing challenges of our time.

Aug 5, 2020

Mediator atoms help graphene self-heal

Posted by in categories: evolution, particle physics

Graphene and other carbon materials are known to change their structure and even self-heal defects, but the processes involved in these atomic rearrangements often have high energy barriers and so shouldn’t occur under normal conditions. An international team of researchers in Korea, the UK, Japan, the US and France has now cleared up the mystery by showing that fast-moving carbon atoms catalyse many of the restructuring processes.

Graphene – a carbon sheet just one atomic layer thick – is an ideal system for studying defects because of its simple two-dimensional single-element structure. Until now, researchers typically explained the structural evolution of graphene defects via a mechanism known as a Stone-Thrower-Wales type bond rotation. This mechanism involves a change in the connectivity of atoms within the lattice, but it has a relatively large activation energy, making it “forbidden” without some form of assistance.

Using some of the best transmission electron microscopes available, researchers led by Alex Robertson of Oxford University and Kazu Suenaga of AIST Tsukuba found that so-called “mediator atoms” – carbon atoms that do not fit properly into the graphene lattice – act as catalysts to help bonds break and form. “The importance of these rapid, unseen ‘helpers’ has been previously underestimated because they move so fast and have been next-to-impossible to observe,” says co-team leader Christopher Ewels, a nanoscientist at the University of Nantes.

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