SoloTrek – Your Personal Flying Machine

It may only hover a few feet above the Earth right now, but the inventor of the SoloTrek XFV hopes that one day it will allow people to swoop and dive at distances comparable to a small airplane.

But unlike a plane, the SoloTrek “jetpack” is being designed to land on a dime with more maneuverability than a helicopter.
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Cell Phones Become Popular with Deaf People

The BBC reports, “Over the last few years, the mobile phone has emerged as a popular device for what at first may seem an unlikely user group: the deaf and other people who are hard of hearing.

Using the Short Messaging Service (SMS) functions on mobiles, people with hearing difficulties can communicate by typing messages into their phones.

By setting their mobile phones to vibrate, they can be alerted when a message comes in.”
More about deaf messaging here

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Modular Robot

The robot, dubbed PolyBot, is being built and experimented with at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), in California. Imagine a robot made up of a chain of simple hinge joints. It can shape itself into a loop and move by rolling like a self-propelled tank tread; then break open the loop to form a serpentine configuration and slither under or over obstacles; and then rearrange its modules to “morph” into a multilegged spider, able to stride over rocks and bumpy terrain.
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Microscopic Nanotubes Could Make Spaceships Lightweight, Superstrong

Super-strong carbon nanotubes may make space elevators feasible. NASA’s nanotube teams at the Johnson Space Center in Houston foresee the stuff playing a critical role in nearly every aspect of a ship – from speeding electronics to delivering drugs inside astronauts. But some of the first applications of the new technology of synthesizing carbon nanotubes may be as prosaic as building stronger and lighter wall panels for manned spacecraft and casings for automated probes.
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Google Programming Contest

“Google has just announced its first annual programming contest! The objective is to write a program that will do something “interesting” with the about 900,000 Web pages’ worth data that’s Google provides. In addition to writing the program, contestants also have to convince the judges why their program is interesting (or useful) and why it will scale (that is, handle a constantly increasing load of data that grows as the Web grows). The prize is US$10,000 in cash, a V.I.P. tour of the Google facility in Mountain View, California and possibly a chance to run their program on Google’s complete billion-Web-page store.”
More about the contest here
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Robot Bartenders

“Take a trip to Berlin, and visit the Automaten Bar to have a drink served by a robot. This members-only bar is completely automated. While this may sound rather cool, the part I find disturbing is the fact that the owner plans on webcamming the security cameras so you can check on who’s at the pub. The owner also wants to make it so you can have a SMS message sent to you when a particular person’s entrance card is swiped by the system. I guess the idea is that you can get an e-mail to let you know that Bob is having a drink so you can stop by and chat. While it sounds like a bunch of baloney to me, it appears to be pretty popular in Berlin, as they’ve already got 130 members after 2 weeks without any advertising.”
More about the robot bartenders here
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MIT’s Robotic Helicopter

“MIT has a new toy, a remotely-piloted helicopter that’s agile, stable, and in the current public mood, perfect for urban combat and reconnaisance and surveying disaster sites. Oh, and it’s also good for aerial photography. It’s so good that it even does 360-degree aileron rolls at the flick of a switch. This cost $40k, excluding labor, because technically, student labor is “priceless” – so a nod to Kara Sprague, Alex Shterenberg, Ioannis Martinos, Bernard Mettler, and Vlad Gavrilets, who probably provided most of the labor. Stringfellow Hawk has not been reached for comment.”
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Mission to Mars – Top Priority reports “A public survey conducted for NASA shows overwhelming support for Mars missions.

Of the more than 54,000 people who responded to the online survey run by the Planetary Society, more than 90 percent ranked Mars exploration among the top five missions priorities.

Missions to the Moon and Jupiter’s moon Europa were the next most popular, were both ranked in the top five by more than 60 percent of respondents. The next closest contender for favorite destination was Pluto, along with its neighboring objects, at 37 percent.

More About The Survey Here

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A Flash Quicker Than You Can Say Zeptosecond

The world’s shortest bursts of light comes from a new device called the Lasetron. It’s a tool physicists in the United States have dreamt up to chop light into smaller pieces than ever before. If it works, pulses of light lasting just a few zeptoseconds could soon be looking inside atomic nuclei. A zeptosecond is one-billion-trillionth of a second (10-21 s).

More About the Lasetron Here

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Real World Robot Slugfest

The BBC writes “Robots are being let loose in a colony of machines in an attempt to find out whether they can learn from their experiences.
The scientists behind this unusual experiment describe it as an evolutionary arms race for robots, with the machines struggling to collect energy.

The Living Robots experiment will be open to the public from 27 March at the Magna science adventure centre in Rotherham in England.”
More Robot Wars Here

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