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Sat, 21 Oct 2017
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Science & Technology


The World's Most Advanced Bionic Arm

Jonathan Kuniholm's right arm terminates in a carbon-fiber sleeve trailing cables connected to a PC. He has no right hand, unless you count the virtual one on a display in front of him. The CG hand, programmed to look like silvery stainless steel, moves through a sequence of motions: spherical grasp, cylindrical grasp, thumb to forefinger -- all in response to signals from Kuniholm's muscles picked up by electrodes in the sleeve.

© Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
The device pictured above is the second prototype in the U.S. military's ambitious prosthetics project to build a bionic arm.


Happy Birthday World Wide Web

1991: The world wide web becomes publicly available on the internet for the first time.

Tim Berners-Lee, an inventor of the internet, sits outside his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.


New Quantum Secrets of Photosynthesis

Like the peeling of an onion, the secrets of photosynthesis are being revealed layer by layer. Early in 2007 a team of Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers identified quantum mechanical effects as the key to the astonishing ability of photosynthesis to utilize nearly all the photons absorbed by the leaves of green plants. Now a different team has found new evidence that points to a closely packed pigment-protein complex of the photosystem as the key to those quantum mechanical effects.

©Berkerley Labs
In this depiction of a pigment-protein complex in a reaction center from the purple photosynthetic bacteria Rhodobacter sphaeroides, the white fog indicates quantum coherence between the excitations of two pigment molecules, accessory bateriochlorophyll (BChl) and bacteriopheophytin (Bphy), which promotes efficient energy transfer to the protein (P).


NASA Developing Asteroid Interceptor to Fend off Armageddon

On Friday Wired News profiled a "lonely" former astronaut, Rusty Schweickart, who is leading a campaign to protect the earth from the possibility of an asteroid crashing into Earth and killing millions of people.

Turns out he wasn't so lonely. While we said in the Q&A that NASA was doing little to protect us from an asteroid crash, it turns out the agency's been working on an anti-asteroid nuclear missile.


Evil Rays

Flashlight Weapon Makes Targets Throw Up

It looks like a big flashlight - but it's really a nonlethal weapon designed to make you sick.

Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., of Torrance, Calif., has been granted a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to develop what it calls the "LED Incapacitator," according to a DHS online newsletter.



Spitzer Space Telescope Spies Monster Galaxy Pileup

Four galaxies are slamming into each other and kicking up billions of stars in one of the largest cosmic smash-ups ever observed.

The clashing galaxies, spotted by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way. This rare sighting provides an unprecedented look at how the most massive galaxies in the universe form.

"Most of the galaxy mergers we already knew about are like compact cars crashing together," said Kenneth Rines of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "What we have here is like four sand trucks smashing together, flinging sand everywhere." Rines is lead author of a new paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Collisions, or mergers, between galaxies are common in the universe. Gravity causes some galaxies that are close together to tangle and ultimately unite over a period of millions of years. Though stars in merging galaxies are tossed around like sand, they have a lot of space between them and survive the ride. Our Milky Way galaxy will team up with the Andromeda galaxy in five billion years.


Famous fossil Lucy leaves Ethiopia

After 3.2 million years in East Africa, one of the world's most famous set of fossils was quietly flown out of Ethiopia overnight for a U.S. tour that some experts say is a dangerous gamble with an irreplaceable relic.

Although the fossil known as Lucy had been expected to leave the Ethiopian Natural History Museum this month, some in the nation's capital were surprised the departure took place under cover of darkness with no fanfare Sunday.

"This is a national treasure," said Kine Arega, a 29-year-old attorney in Addis Ababa. "How come the public has no inkling about this? It's amazing that we didn't even get to say goodbye."


Entombed Microbes Flourish Again in Lab

WASHINGTON - Microorganisms locked in Antarctic ice for 100,000 years and more came to life and resumed growing when given warmth and nutrients in a laboratory.


Researchers find early Europeans may have come from Asia as well as Africa

Early human-like residents of Europe may have arrived out of Asia, rather than just Africa.

An international team of researchers reports in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that Asians appear to have played a larger part in the settlement of Europe than did Africans.


Knocking out pheromone sensor makes female mice act male

Flipping one genetic switch in the brains of female mice makes them behave like sex-crazed males. The finding implies that females' brains have the same circuit that governs sexual behaviour in male mice - and that it's simple to convert one to the other