NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the Red Planet, it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.
So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.
Yes, it’s another case of life imitating “Star Trek” (remember the food replicator?). In this case, though, the creators hope there is an application beyond deep-space pizza parties. The technology could also be used to feed hungry populations here on Earth.
Texas-based Systems and Materials Research Corp. has been selected for a $125,000 grant from NASA to develop a 3-D printer that will create “nutritious and flavorful” food suitable for astronauts, according to the company’s proposal. Using a “digital recipe,” the printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of, well, actual food. Including smell.
One of the first goals for SMRC’s printer is the humble pizza. It was chosen because it contains a variety of nutrients and flavors, said David Irvin, director of research at SMRC. More importantly, a pizza is made up of layers, a key principle used in 3-D printing technology.
And you don’t have to figure out how to wedge the empty box into the trash can.
The FCC is proposing to take WiFi national, blanketing the country with free service to places the current coverage can’t reach.
The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.
If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, connections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public WiFi could allow many consumers to make free calls from their mobile phones via the Internet. The frugal-minded could even use the service in their homes, allowing them to cut off expensive Internet bills.
Google and Microsoft are very much in favor of this plan. Cell phone providers like Verizon and AT&T not so much. They argue that the spectrum should be sold to them so they can make money off it.
This is roughly equivalent to the Rural Electrification Administration set up by FDR during the Depression to get electrical service to parts of the country that didn’t have it in the 1930′s. The government, much to the chagrin of private utilities, stepped in to provide the service when the private companies would not because they didn’t see a profit in it.
In the end, everybody got something good from it; the rural areas got power and the utilities got new customers after the government did all the heavy lifting. The same thing will happen here: cheap broadband will help the public, and Verizon will still find a way to make a buck. They always do.
Some readers who use AVG anti-virus software have been telling me that it is reporting Bark Bark Woof Woof as a threat and sending up warning flares.
Our crack team of cybersecurity analysts have been alerted and they are all over it. Initial reports indicate that AVG has been having some issues with a feature called Windows Live Writer, which comes from Microsoft’s IM chat program. It is supposed to allow you to interact with Word Press — the blog’s platform — and suddenly it seems to have developed an allergy to it. Since I don’t use Windows Live Writer, it is being disabled. That should clear up the problem.
If you are experiencing a security alert with BBWW, please let me know, and please help by providing information such as which anti-virus software you are using, your choice of browser, and what operating system you use.
If you want to verify that BBWW is as clean as a whistle, go to this AVG site and see what it says about the site.
Star Trek director J.J. Abrams will be helming the next Star Wars movie. “It’s done deal with J.J.,” a source with knowledge of the situation told Deadline today. Argo director Ben Affleck was also up for the gig, the source says. Despite saying publicly that he didn’t want to direct a new Star Wars, Abrams was courted heavily by producer Kathleen Kennedy to take the job. Expected in 2015, Episode VII will be the first new Star Wars movie since 2005′s Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.
The last Star Wars movies — the “prequels” — sucked out loud, and the reboot of Star Trek by J.J. Abrams in 2009 was actually pretty good, so this match-up should be an improvement.
And speaking of match-ups, here’s a sneak peek at what would happen when worlds collide.
The White House says building a Death Star would be an out-of-this-galaxy waste of money — not only because it’s against government policy to blow up planets, but also because the United States already has access to a space station as well as a laser-wielding space robot.
“By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense,” the petition read.
Among the reasons cited by the White House was [spoiler alert]:
Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
A teenager known as Cosmo the God hacked the Westboro Baptist Church’s Twitter account.
Cosmo gained access to the @DearShirley Twitter account via an e-mail account, and from there was able to leverage control of the Twitter feed itself, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. As of this writing, the account remains up and operating, and seemingly beyond the control of its owner.
Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for picketing funerals of American soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week the organization apparently announced its intention to protest at the funerals of the children killed at Sandy Hook, with spokewoman [sic] Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper tweeting the following: “Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”
The sentiment was echoed on Westboro Baptist Church’s website, which included the line “God sent the shooter to Newton, CT.”
The announcement triggered astonished outrage from observers, and the hacker group Anonymous declared open season on the group, publishing contact information for many of its members, including Phelps-Roper. Phelps-Roper’s Twitter account @DearShirley was then taken over early Monday morning.
The most ancient and distant galaxy yet observed — the light from which traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth — has been pinpointed by scientists taking an unprecedentedly deep look through the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA announced on Thursday.
The galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is tiny by comparison to most of the galaxies we’re more familiar with, including our own Milky Way.
“It’s less than a percent of the Milky Way in terms of its diameter and its mass,” said Dan Coe, the astronomer at the multi-institution Space Telescope Science Institute, who first discovered the galaxy back in February 2012, in a phone interview with TPM on Thursday.
In fact, as NASA notes in its press release on the news, MACS0647-JD is just 600 light years wide, while the Milky Way is 150,000 light years across. The ancient galaxy is small even by the standards of other dwarf galaxies, which are typically on the order of 2,000 light years across.
The ancient galaxy appears to have been spawned just 420 million years after the Big Bang is theorized to have occurred or earlier, an incredibly short period in cosmic time.
In the time it has taken the light from that galaxy to get here — 13.3 billion years — that cluster of stars could have expanded to be the size of our own galaxy, planets could have formed, life could have begun, evolved, become sentient; civilizations could have begun, flourished, faded, and died away; all in the time it took for those photons to reach the Hubble telescope. And we’ll never know.
My parents have a toaster that does everything but butter the bagels and a washing machine that senses the load and the amount of water needed by magic, apparently. My mom has an iPod that she’s rigged up to replace the cassette Books On Tape, and her wireless router is smart enough to recognize my computer though the last time I was here they were still using the old one.
I still don’t know how to work an iPod, and my washer and dryer has ON/OFF.
After eight years of planning and eight months of interplanetary travel, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory pulled off a touchdown of Super Bowl proportions, all by itself. It even sent pictures from the goal line.
The spacecraft plunged through Mars’ atmosphere, fired up a rocket-powered platform and lowered the car-sized, 1-ton Curiosity rover to its landing spot in 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) Gale Crater. Then the platform flew off to its own crash landing, while Curiosity sent out a text message basically saying, “I made it!”
That message was relayed by the orbiting Mars Odyssey satellite back to Earth. A radio telescope in Australia picked up the message and sent it here to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. When the blips of data appeared on the screens at JPL’s mission control, the room erupted in cheers and hugs.