Tag Archives: inventions


NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Embarks On Historic Journey Into Interstellar Space

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.

“Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind’s historic leap into interstellar space,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. “The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we’ve all been asking — ‘Are we there yet?’ Yes, we are.”

Voyager 1 first detected the increased pressure of interstellar space on the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets, in 2004. Scientists then ramped up their search for evidence of the spacecraft’s interstellar arrival, knowing the data analysis and interpretation could take months or years.

Voyager 1 does not have a working plasma sensor, so scientists needed a different way to measure the spacecraft’s plasma environment to make a definitive determination of its location. A coronal mass ejection, or a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields, that erupted from the sun in March 2012 provided scientists the data they needed. When this unexpected gift from the sun eventually arrived at Voyager 1′s location 13 months later, in April 2013, the plasma around the spacecraft began to vibrate like a violin string. On April 9, Voyager 1′s plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere. Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space.

The plasma wave science team reviewed its data and found an earlier, fainter set of oscillations in October and November 2012. Through extrapolation of measured plasma densities from both events, the team determined Voyager 1 first entered interstellar space in August 2012.

“We literally jumped out of our seats when we saw these oscillations in our data — they showed us the spacecraft was in an entirely new region, comparable to what was expected in interstellar space, and totally different than in the solar bubble,” Gurnett said. “Clearly we had passed through the heliopause, which is the long-hypothesized boundary between the solar plasma and the interstellar plasma.”

The new plasma data suggested a timeframe consistent with abrupt, durable changes in the density of energetic particles that were first detected on Aug. 25, 2012. The Voyager team generally accepts this date as the date of interstellar arrival. The charged particle and plasma changes were what would have been expected during a crossing of the heliopause.

“The team’s hard work to build durable spacecraft and carefully manage the Voyager spacecraft’s limited resources paid off in another first for NASA and humanity,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “We expect the fields and particles science instruments on Voyager will continue to send back data through at least 2020. We can’t wait to see what the Voyager instruments show us next about deep space.”

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2, launched before Voyager 1, is the longest continuously operated spacecraft. It is about 9.5 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from our sun.

Voyager mission controllers still talk to or receive data from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 every day, though the emitted signals are currently very dim, at about 23 watts — the power of a refrigerator light bulb. By the time the signals get to Earth, they are a fraction of a billion-billionth of a watt. Data from Voyager 1′s instruments are transmitted to Earth typically at 160 bits per second, and captured by 34- and 70-meter NASA Deep Space Network stations. Traveling at the speed of light, a signal from Voyager 1 takes about 17 hours to travel to Earth. After the data are transmitted to JPL and processed by the science teams, Voyager data are made publicly available.

“Voyager has boldly gone where no probe has gone before, marking one of the most significant technological achievements in the annals of the history of science, and adding a new chapter in human scientific dreams and endeavors,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “Perhaps some future deep space explorers will catch up with Voyager, our first interstellar envoy, and reflect on how this intrepid spacecraft helped enable their journey.”

source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912135507.htm


Quantum Algorithm Could Improve Stealth Fighter Design

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have devised a quantum algorithm for solving big linear systems of equations. Furthermore, they say the algorithm could be used to calculate complex measurements such as radar cross sections, an ability integral to the development of radar stealth technology, among many other applications.

The field of quantum computing is still relatively young. First proposed in the 1980s, a quantum computer harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics (the physics of very small things like electrons and photons) to process information significantly faster than traditional computers. A classical computer has a memory made up of bits (units of information), where each bit represents either a one or a zero. A quantum computer maintains a sequence of qubits. Similar to a bit, a single qubit can represent a one or a zero, but it can also represent any quantum superposition of these two states, meaning it can be both a one and a zero simultaneously.

While several few-qubit systems have been built, a full-scale quantum computer is still years away. Qubits are difficult to manipulate, since any disturbance causes them to fall out of their quantum state or “decohere,” and their behavior can no longer be explained by quantum mechanics. Other larger scale non-universal computers have been built — including the much-heralded D-Wave computer, purchased by NASA and Google last month — but none of them currently have the power to replace classical computers.

Theoretical breakthroughs in quantum algorithm design are few and far between. In 1994 Peter Shor introduced a method for finding the prime factors of large numbers — a capability that would render modern cryptography vulnerable. Fifteen years later, MIT researchers presented the Quantum Linear Systems Algorithm (QLSA), that promised to bring the same type of efficiency to systems of linear equations — whose solution is crucial to image processing, video processing, signal processing, robot control, weather modeling, genetic analysis and population analysis, to name just a few applications.

“But it didn’t quite deliver; based on their process, no one could figure out how to get a useful answer out of the computer,” explains APL’s David Clader, who along with Bryan Jacobs, and Chad Sprouse wrote, “Preconditioned Quantum Linear System Algorithm.”

As presented, the algorithm had three features that made it difficult to apply to generic problem specifications and achieve the promised exponential speedup, they wrote. Technical details with setting up the problem on a quantum computer made it unclear how one would apply it to a real-world calculation. In addition, the promise of exponential speedup was only true for a very restricted set of linear systems that typically don’t exist in real-world problems. Finally, getting a useful answer from the calculation proved to be quite difficult due to intricacies with the inherently probabilistic nature of quantum measurement.

In their paper, the authors describe however they were able to solve every of those problems and extract helpful info from the answer. what is more, they incontestable  the relevance of the algorithmic program by showing the way to code the matter of scheming the magnetic attraction scattering crosswise, additionally referred to as measuring instrument cross section (RCS).

RCS measurements became progressively vital to the military. It refers to the facility that may be came back by Associate in Nursing object once lit with measuring instrument. the facility indicates however well the microwave radarion and ranging|radiolocation|measuring instrument|measuring system|measuring device} will detect or track that focus on, thus there ar current efforts to cut back the RCS of such objects as missiles, ships, tanks and craft. With a quantum pc, APL researchers have currently shown that these calculations will be done a lot of quicker and model rather more complicated objects than would be potential victimization even on the foremost powerful classical supercomputers.

The work was funded by the Intelligence Advanced analysis comes Activity beneath its Quantum applied science program, that explores queries regarding the procedure resources needed to run quantum algorithms on realistic quantum computers.

source : sciencedaily.com


Graphene Nanoscrolls Are Formed by Decoration of Magnetic Nanoparticles

Researchers at Umeå University, together with researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University, show in a new study how nitrogen doped graphene can be rolled into perfect Archimedean nano scrolls by adhering magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles on the surface of the graphene sheets. The new material may have very good properties for application as electrodes in for example Li-ion batteries.

Quantum Hydrogen on Graphene

Quantum Hydrogen on Graphene (Photo credit: UCL Mathematical and Physical Sciences)

Graphene is one of the most interesting materials for future applications in everything from high performance electronics, optical components to flexible and strong materials. Ordinary graphene consists of carbon sheets that are single or few atomic layers thick.

In the study the researchers have modified the graphene by replacing some of the carbon atoms by nitrogen atoms. By this method they obtain anchoring sites for the iron oxide nanoparticles that are decorated onto the graphene sheets in a solution process. In the decoration process one can control the type of iron oxide nanoparticles that are formed on the graphene surface, so that they either form so called hematite (the reddish form of iron oxide that often is found in nature) or maghemite, a less stable and more magnetic form of iron oxide.

“Interestingly we observed that when the graphene is decorated by maghemite, the graphene sheets spontaneously start to roll into perfect Archimedean nano scrolls, while when decorated by the less magnetic hematite nanoparticles the graphene remain as open sheets, says Thomas Wågberg, Senior lecturer at the Department of Physics at Umeå University.

The nanoscrolls can be visualized as traditional “Swiss rolls” where the sponge-cake represents the graphene, and the creamy filling is the iron oxide nanoparticles. The graphene nanoscrolls are however around one million times thinner.

The results that now have been published in Nature Communications are conceptually interesting for several reasons. It shows that the magnetic interaction between the iron oxide nanoparticles is one of the main effects behind the scroll formation. It also shows that the nitrogen defects in the graphene lattice are necessary for both stabilizing a sufficiently high number of maghemite nanoparticles, and also responsible for “buckling” the graphene sheets and thereby lowering the formation energy of the nanoscrolls.

The process is extraordinary efficient. Almost 100 percent of the graphene sheets are scrolled. After the decoration with maghemite particles the research team could not find any open graphene sheets.

Moreover, they showed that by removing the iron oxide nanoparticles by acid treatment the nanoscrolls again open up and go back to single graphene sheets

“Besides adding valuable fundamental understanding in the physics and chemistry of graphene, nitrogen-doping and nanoparticles we have reasons to believe that the iron oxide decorated nitrogen doped graphene nanoscrolls have very good properties for application as electrodes in for example Li-ion batteries, one of the most important batteries in daily life electronics, “ says Thomas Wågberg.


Privacy visor glasses jam facial recognition systems

Photos taken without people’s knowledge can violate privacy. For example, photos may be posted online, along with metadata including the time and location. But by wearing this device, you can stop your privacy from being infringed in such ways.

“You can try wearing sunglasses. But sunglasses alone can’t prevent face detection. Because face detection uses features like the eyes and nose, it’s hard to prevent just by concealing your eyes. This is the privacy visor I have developed, which uses 11 near-infrared LEDs. I’m switching it on now. It prevents face detection, like this.”

“Light from these near-infrared LEDs can’t be seen by the human eye, but when it passes through a camera’s imaging device, it appears bright. The LEDs are installed in these locations because, a feature of face detection is, the eyes and part of the nose appear dark, while another part of the nose appears bright. So, by placing light sources mostly near dark parts of the face, we’ve succeeded in canceling face detection characteristics, making face detection fail.”

R, G, and B LEDs [7].

R, G, and B LEDs [7]. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Photoshop-like interior light control interface

“This is a lighting system, called Lighty. There’s a group of robotic lights on the ceiling, and their orientation and brightness can be controlled through this interface.”

“This feels just like Photoshop. To specify which places you want bright or dark, all you need to do is color in the corresponding areas.”

In this system, the interactive pen show is employed to color the space in lightweight or darkness, with a camera placed within the ceiling returning the ends up in real time to the show. By coloring in white with the comb tool areas of the inside is brightened, and by exploitation black they’ll be darkened. This intuitive interface simplifies the dominant of complicated lighting systems.

“Brightening an area up is straightforward, however combining dark and bright areas is tough for folks to trust. the most feature of this technique is, the pc will the labor of calculation. So, the user will get an honest result just by coloring within the screen.”

The brightness distribution levels input to the pc area unit rendered visible as contours. during this 1/12 scale model, there area unit twelve lights, that area unit affected on 2 axes by contraption, to form correct levels of brightness distribution. The best arrangement is calculated by multiprocessing with a GPU, that makes it attainable to mirror the result straightaway.

“Currently, we’ve created check environments on a miniature scale. From currently on, we tend to shall install this technique in actual home environments.”

“Of course, Lighty might even be used for giant halls and stages. however we predict that, within the future, it’s going to be usable in standard homes likewise.”p


“Space Jellyfish” Created with Traditional Handicraft

Professor Yoichiro Kawaguchi of the University of Tokyo Interfaculty Initiative in data Studies is building a automaton of a swimming jellyfish supported the theme of “space jellyfish.” To artistically categorical the atmosphere of a squirming jellyfish, he chosen the theme of a jellyfish swimming in area.

“I don’t think there are several soft-bodied creatures of this kind that are created into a automaton. It needs making various delicate movements. we have a tendency to place along easy configurations and targeted on making the elegant movements of the jellyfish. whereas skilfully group action continual wavering motions, for the longer term i might prefer to create it in order that it will elicit varied emotions. For this exhibit i might be glad to own individuals see each the planning and movements.”

“This model is created of a ceramic pottery referred to as Satsuma ceramic ware. I once asked the foremost illustrious native Satsuma ceramic ware artificer named Chin Jukan to create a CG model on behalf of me. i believed this might be any improved, that has diode to this model created.”



Mirror Cleaner-Cleans Foggy Bathroom Mirror

An interesting idea came to designers from Dewa Design, a company based in Berlin. They managed to solve one of the most annoying domestic issues – foggy bathroom mirror.

Their apparatus is alleged artlessly Mirror Cleaner and solves the botheration by assuming the action if an accustomed windshield wiper.

When you appetite you use your mirror and it’s all foggy, aloof attach the accessory to it and circle the wiper by hand. Thus you will be able to get rid of the beef and use the mirror properly.

The aggregation already managed to barrage its latest apparatus assimilate the market. The Mirror Cleaner currently wears a amount tag of 15 Euros

Eco-friendly Hovercraft Concept

Chinese designer Yuhan Zhang has come up with a very original concept for Volkswagen called The Volkswagen Aqua, which represents a hovercraft of the future.

Graduate in Industrial Design at Xihua University, the apprentice anticipation that the abstraction should be fabricated application a failing and at the aforementioned time a actual abiding material.

According to the columnist of the concept, the agent could be acclimated in lakes, rivers, littoral baptize or alike on snow.

It would be absorbing to agenda that the CDN Car Design Awards China board included this agent in the “Chinese off-road Vehicle” category.

The Volkswagen Aqua appearance 2 motors. The capital motor obtains ability from a hydrogen ammunition corpuscle and it is acclimated to drive the capital fan. The closing inflates the brim about the hovercraft and raises the agent aloof aloft the ground.

The added fans, amid at the rear, are powered by alone electric motors. These admirers are acclimated to board advanced advance and directional control. It is account advertence that the Volkswagen Aqua can board two passengers.

via:    auto.infoniac.com

Finding answers century-old questions about platinum’s catalytic properties

Fuel Cell

Image by Idaho National Laboratory via Flickr

Researchers now understand more about why platinum is so efficient at producing power in hydrogen fuel cells. “Understanding platinum’s properties for speeding up chemical reactions will potentially enable scientists to create significantly cheaper synthetic or metal alloy alternatives for use in sustainable devices like fuel cells,” says Gregory Jerkiewicz, a professor in the Department of Chemistry who led the groundbreaking study.

Dr. Jerkiewicz’s research team has found that when platinum is used in reactions involving hydrogen it develops an embedded layer of hydrogen just one atom thick. This gives the platinum hydrophobic or water-repelling qualities, meaning that stray water molecules inside the fuel cell cannot bond strongly with the surface of the platinum.

The water-repelling nature of the modified platinum means that incoming hydrogen molecules can easily attach to the surface of the platinum and separate into smaller particles without requiring additional energy to displace any water molecules that are in the way.

The reduction in the energy required for hydrogen molecules to attach to the surface of the platinum means that the process is fast and efficient and the fuel cell can deliver a lot of power.

Source: Queen’s University

Vibration Energy Cell Batteries – Brother Industries

The Vibration Energy Cell contains a capacitor and vibration-based generator in a battery-shaped housing, of AA or AAA size. It’s expected to be used for low-power devices such as remote controls.

“The power output varies quite a lot, depending on how the cell is shaken. If you shake it gently like this, it delivers 40 mW on average, with a peak output of 0.3 W. If you shake it vigorously like this, it averages 280 mW, with a peak output of 2.0 W.”

Vibration energy cells can be used for general purposes, such as ordinary battery-powered remote controls. They enable such devices to be used on a semi-permanent basis without having to change the batteries. Brother is also developing cells with a magnetic shield, to keep the magnetic field from remote controls below 5 Gauss.

In these prototypes, one model has the capacitor and generator in separate battery cases, while the other has them both in one case.

“These are the results of a survey on what makes people dissatisfied with remote control batteries. People had various issues, such as: “You can’t tell how much power is left,” “Disposing of batteries is a nuisance,” and “Buying them is a hassle.” We think our vibration energy cells can solve these problems. And regarding the environment, these cells reduce the amount batteries needing disposal, so we think they’ll make a social contribution. They could also offer peace of mind in an emergency.”

“Right now, we’re approaching the final stage of R&D on this technology. Because there hasn’t been a product like this before, we’re currently evaluating the demand for it. That’s our main aim in exhibiting these prototypes here.”

Robotic Nano-Spiders Made of DNA Molecules

A group of scientists from Columbia Universitymanaged to invent extremely small spider robotsmeasuring about 4nm across. If you wish to compare, these nano robots are about 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

It would be interesting to note that the spider robots are made of DNA molecules. They can walk, turn right and left and create their own products. Developed at the molecular level, the robots represent DNA walkers, featuring legs to walk autonomously, though very slow – about 100nm in 30 meters – 1 hour.

In order to observe the spider robots scientists used atomic force microscopy. The molecular robots managed to attract a lot of attention due to the fact that they can be programmed to sense the environment and react accordingly. For example, they can detect disease markers on a cell surface, identify whether it is a cancerous one and then bring a compound to kill it, if necessary, reports Daily Mail.

Researchers consider that their latest invention is an important step in molecular robotics. Although today this field cannot boast many great inventions, scientists and engineers believe that in the near future it could become one of the most important industries that could create devices for various medical applications.

Hips take walking in stride; ankles put best foot forward in run

In a first-of-its-kind study comparing human walking and running motions – and whether the hips, knees or ankles are the most important power sources for these motions – researchers at North Carolina State University show that the hips generate more of the power when people walk, but the ankles generate more of the power when humans run. Knees provide approximately one-fifth or less of walking or running power. The research could help inform the best ways of building assistive or prosthetic devices for humans, or constructing next-generation robotics, say NC State biomedical engineers Drs. Dominic Farris and Gregory Sawicki. The co-authors of a study on the mechanics of walking and running in the journal Interface, a Royal Society scientific journal, Sawicki and Farris are part of NC State’s Human PoWeR (Physiology of Wearable Robotics) Lab.

A long history of previous studies have focused on the biomechanics of human locomotion from a whole-body or individual limbs perspective. But this study is the first to zoom in on the mechanical power generated by specific lower-limb joints in a single comprehensive study of walking and running across a range of speeds, Sawicki says.

The study shows that, overall, hips generate more power when people walk. That is, until humans get to the point at which they’re speed walking – walking so fast that it feels more comfortable to run – at 2 meters per second. Hips generate 44 percent of the power when people walk at a rate of 2 meters per second, with ankles contributing 39 percent of the power.

When people start running at this 2-meter-per-second rate, the ankles really kick in, providing 47 percent of the power compared to 32 percent for the hips. Ankles continue to provide the most power of the three lower limb joints as running speeds increase, although the hips begin closing the distance at faster speeds.

“There seems to be a tradeoff in power generation from hips to ankles as you make the transition from walking to running,” Sawicki says.

Both researchers are interested in how the study can help people who need assistance walking and running. Knowing which part of the lower limbs provide more power during the different activities can help engineers figure out how, depending on the person’s speed and gait, mechanical power needs to be distributed.

“For example, assistive devices such as an exoskeleton or prosthesis may have motors near both the hip and ankle. If a person will be walking and then running, you’d need to redistribute energy from the hip to the ankle when the person makes that transition,” Farris says.

Ten people walked and ran at various speeds on a specially designed treadmill in the study; a number of cameras captured their gait by tracking reflective markers attached to various parts of the participants’ lower limbs while the treadmill captured data from the applied force.

The study examined walking and running on level ground in order to gauge the differences brought about by increased speed; walking and running on inclined ground is fundamentally different than walking and running on flat ground, the researchers say, and would likely skew the power generation results toward the hips and knees.

The joint Department of Biomedical Engineering is part of NC State’s College of Engineering and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine.

Source: North Carolina State University