Our journey to a base on the moon may soon begin.

The Senior staff from NASA’s Space Portal Office have tasked themselves to be the leading force in developing a Lunar base, they published their writings in the New Space Journal.

Bruce Pittman the chief systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center Space Portal Office, lead of integrative studies Lynn Harper, technical operations manager Mark Newfield, and Daniel Rasky, chief of the Space Portal Office, said for NASA a Lunar base would function as “a clear, achievable, and highly engaging next step.”

They wrote that with current and upcoming technologies it is a mission that is both practical and affordable. “Pursued under the feasibility proof of ISS, using best practices extracted from its build and operation, and combined with the current and emerging capabilities from the traditional and emerging aerospace industry, the Lunar Station is the logical next step in space development.”

They went on to write that the project would reignite and maintain an engaged public in space and continue NASA role as a leader in space exploration, even more so since the agency has plans for Mars. “This next step must serve as an enabling pathway for NASA’s ultimate goal of human missions to Mars and human or robotic exploration and development of asteroids and other planetary bodies. A clear, achievable, and highly engaging near-term next step is also essential for NASA to maintain its relevance to the US public, its leadership in the international community, and its technical cutting edge.”

This would create new markets for space exploration, development, and open up possibilities we have not thought of yet. They estimate the cost of the base to be around $2bn a year and five years to develop. It has been proposed that the station would be developed using habitat modules from Bigelow Areospace and additive manufacturing, which is more commonly known as 3D printing. At the beginning stage robots will be sent in several missions to find suitable sites and gather data and resources. Once a clear site location has been established excavation equipment will be sent and solar power and communication stations will be installed. Bigelow Areospace habitat modules will then be installed and the first crew would leave for the Lunar site and gradually increase.

Steadily they predict lunar tourism to effectively begin after some time. “As transportation to and from the Moon becomes more frequent and cheaper, the lunar tourism mark should begin to emerge and could become a significant source of income in the future.”

They went on to write “Key to this next phase of development is to explore options for developing commerce on the Moon. Some of the possible export options include water from the permanently shadowed craters, precious metals from asteroid impact sites, and even He [helium] that could fuel a pollution-free terrestrial civilization for many centuries.”

Edible spoons a replacement for plastic utensils

Plastic is one of the biggest environmental disasters to have happened and to have been directly caused by humans, ever hear of the great pacific garbage patch? A researcher and agriculture consultant in Hyderabad, India, understood the problem of plastic waste and in response has created something that may look insignificant but will have an incredibility positive impact in the country. Narayana Peesapaty has developed an edible spoon.

In 2010 Peesapaty developed a spoon made of millet, rice, and wheat flours that is both edible and degradable and he’s sold 1.5 million of them. He opened up a kickstarter campaign through his baking company Bakeys, aimed at raising $20,000 and instead raising $64,000 in nine days. This funding will help the company expand its product line and improve production, their goal is to make these spoons as cheaper or even cheaper than plastic.

The spoons comes in a variety of flavors from cumin, black pepper, mint ginger, ginger cinnamon, to sugar. They have a shelf life of two to three years, last 20 minutes in hot liquid, and degrade in four to five days after use.

The company is working on a facility with a goal of producing 800,000 spoons a day and are coming up with other utensils.

“Our ambitions stretch far beyond the realm of edible spoons. Currently, we have molds to produce chopsticks, dessert spoons, and forks,” stated on their kickstarter page. “Our plan is to expand into cups, plates, and many more traditional disposable tableware. Our goal is to create and expand into a whole new line.”

Peesapaty is looking at various ways to make the product cheaper, one way is to go to the farmers directly and motivate them to produce more millet and less water hungry rice.

“Plastic is very cheap, true. But I can make it as cheap.I can with volumes, and once I get the volumes, I get on to the farmers directly and start procuring raw material directly from the farmers, in which case my spoons will be as cheap as the plastic spoons,” Said Peesapaty.

We’re very reliant on plastic, many times we don’t think of the negative impact that it has on the environment or even to humans. While technology has had an incredible growth, innovative solutions like this is whats needed right now.

Apples iPad Pro succeeds iPad Air and offers Office 365.

Apple releases the iPad Pro, not Air, to succeed the iPad Air 2, which was released in October 2014. Much like the iPhone SE this newest iPad Pro is smaller than the rest at 9.7 inches.

There are two options for the Pro: a 9.7 inch with 2048 X 1536 resolution and 12.9 inch with 2732 x 2048 resolution. The smaller 9.7 inch iPad Pro features a 25 percent brighter display than the Air 2, 500 nits of light, and reduced display reflectivity by 40 percent. It also comes with the newest iOS 9.3 feature Night Shift that shifts the display yellow for when the sun begins to set. It can also adjust white balance using two four channel ambient light sensors, which can measure the ambient light with more accuracy.

It has an M9 processor, up to 10 hrs of battery lift, 4 speakers, faster LTE with its A9X chip, and 802.11 ac Wi-Fi. It comes with a 12 megapixel camera that can shoot 4k video, the same camera on the iPhone 6s. The only downside is the bump on the back due to the camera, which might only result in as a nuisance rather than a concern. You can also use the Apple Pencil, which is a plus for the users that prefer to use the pencil. The 9.7 inc iPad Pro comes with a built in Apple Sim so that you can subscribe to a data plan and no it did not replace the nan Sim card, its still there.

The lower end iPad Pro starts at $599 with 32GB of storage, $749 with 128 GB, and $899 for 256 GB. Its more expensive than the Air 2, which right now goes for $399 but it does pack more performance. It will be available in silver, black, gold, and rose gold colors. Its 6.1 mm thick and weighs under a pound.

iPad Pro PC

“We believe that iPad is the perfect expression of the future of computing,” Said Tim Cook. Just from the keynote it looks like Apple is trying to bring back the iPad and have a vision for it to replace computers in the future. So much so that Apple wants the iPad Pro to replace windows and offers a Microsoft Office 365 subscription option with the purchase of the Pro. Office 365 is a subscription service that offers productivity software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, mobile apps, and has home, personal, and university versions with different features. Apple has also added this subscription offer on the iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, and iPad Mini 4.

Apples newest smartphone: The iPhone SE

Apple unveiled the iPhone SE, the newest model in its iPhone line.

The SE looks almost identical to the iPhone 5s with a 4 inch display. We can already tell that this phone is for the people who want to go back o the smaller version of high performance iPhones. Compared to a 6s, the SE is definitely smaller so it may feel like a toy when your holding it.

The SE has matte finished edges, something different than the iPhone 5s, which had sharper edges. In design its not much different, though iPhones don’t tend to sway from a basic design. The hardware, though, is different.

The smaller model has a faster A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor. It will also include an NFC chip for Apple Pay and “Hey Siri” will always be on. The phone has similar performance to the iPhone 6s with its smaller size. It will have an upgraded 12 megapixel iSight camera and the capacity to capture 4k video, similar to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. It will also have a front facing camera with flash capability with the ability to use the phones screen to take selfies using the LED functionality in poorly lit areas.

Apple Iphone.jpg

The phone will come with the latest iOS 9.2, which includes TouchID, password protected Notes, customized articles and news, and Night Mode, which allows the user to change the brightness and color to better adjust your eyes. It won’t have 3D touch, which was introduced in iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

It comes in two models a 16GB at $399 and 64GB at $499. The phone comes in space grey, silver, gold, and rose gold colors. The phone will be available on March 31.

Wearable patch being developed by South Korean Research team to monitor diabetes

An experimental device has been created that uses a patch to monitor blood sugar levels through sweat and uses micro-needles that deliver diabetes drug through the skin.

A team at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea, led by Dae-Hyeong Kim published their findings online on March 21 in the Nature Nanotechnology journal. Currently there are two options for monitoring glucose (blood sugar levels). The first requires a sick that uses a drop of blood for testing and the second requires a sensor placed underneath the skin for continuous monitoring. Both options can be painful and intrusive.

Using graphene, the research team have developed a thin patch that conducts electricity, is soft, thin, and can be transparent. It has a variety of sensors to detect humidity, glucose levels through sweat, pH and temperature, and heat sensitive micro-needles, according to the researchers.

The prototype was developed by assistant professor Dae-Hyeong Kim who partnered with MC10, a flexible eletrconics company in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Hyunjae Lee, a study author from Seoul National University said “Diabetics are reluctant to monitor their blood glucose levels because of the painful blood-gathering process. We are highly focused on a noninvasive monitoring and therapy system for diabetics.”

Researchers have tested the ability of the patch to accurately measure blood sugar levels and they were successful. Tae Kyu Choi, a study author from Seoul National University, said “We integrated a humidity sensor in the diabetes patch to check how much sweat is generated. So the person who perspires heavily wouldn’t affect the sensing.” They also tested for someone who perspires very little and found that the patch works in both conditions, whether or not you sweat a lot of very little.

This concept is still far from being available in the market. Lee and Choi have estimated that the device wouldn’t be available for at least five years. But when it does it might be one of the most important innovations in our time and could prove to lead to some revolutionary changes in how we monitor our health.

OLO the $99 3D Printer

3D printers are one of those exciting, innovative, futuristic devices that you want but costs more than you can afford and can be over sized, until now. OLO is the compact, affordable, 3D printer that you can buy for $99.

OLO is particularly different because it connects to your smartphone to build the 3D objects. It uses materials called Daylight Resins, that harden from the light of a smartphone screen. It uses an app to load the object and the smartphone light to print upon with the phone being placed under the polarized glass located at the base of the device.

The OLO uses a photo-polymer resin which is poured into the device, a reservoir, and a mechanized lid with the build plate. The polarized glass at the base takes the light from the smartphone and redirects it upward since smartphone light shines outward. This light makes the pattern of the object you want to print and once the light hits the reservoir it causes a the resin to harden layer by layer. This is ingenious because it cuts the expense of having to buy a more expensive light projector. The downside is the time it takes to print meaning your phone wont be available for a few hours. A simple solution would be to print your object at night. 04.jpg

This new type of 3D printer might not be the best around or have the most power, but for its price and intended use its in its own class and it definitely can have the influence and affordability to allow for a broad spectrum of users to get their hands on the technology.

The device is available at their kickstarter campaign page, though you might want to hurry.

South Korea to invest in AI

South Korea announced that it would invest 1 trillion won ($863 million) into AI (Artificial Intelligence) research for the next 5 years, as a response to Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo beating Go champion Lee Se-dol 4-1.

The defeat began a new stage for not only the advancement for AI but the recognition that AI isn’t a far off futuristic vision, its something that’s changing our lives and our world today. AlphaGo proved its capabilities and now has convinced South Korea that AI is a real investment that it needs to research on. Originally there were plans to begin AI development in 2017 but now plans have changed.

On March 17th the South Korean President Park Geun-hye stated that AI could be a good thing, it would be the fourth revolution, and announced the research and development will be overseen by a council.

Science Ministry Kim Yong-Soo stated that while the exact date is not yet determined it is underway and the institute that oversees it will be located in Pangyo.

 

Lockheed Martin is manufacturing laser weapons.

Conventional weapons may be a thing of the past now that the development team at Lockheed Martin have figured out how to create functioning laser weapons.

In October 5th, 2015 announced they would begin manufacturing modular lasers for the Army, a 60 KW system for Army vehicles, according to their press release. Currently their lasers are limited to 30 KW, which might not be enough to match the kind of lasers you see in movies or science fiction shows, but its still capable doing incredible damage.

In 2015 the company tested the 30 KW Athena (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) laser weapons system, which according to the press release identified and disabled the engine of a small truck during a field test. This advancement came from their move to fiber-laser which use a system of server racks to boost power and performance. The laser uses multiple fiber laser modules, which avoids frequent repairing, and can be used by a single person. Its also based on Spectrum Beam Combining, according to Lockheed, which uses rare-earth elements such as erbium, neodymium, and others to enhance optical fiber to overcome limitations.

So for now while the output is limited to 30 KW it doesn’t mean that in the future there wont be more powerful laser weapons. And Lockheed Martin has plans to deliver a 60 KW laser by the end of the year.

 

 

MIT is building 3D solar towers

MIT is working with 3D solar towers to improve solar input and output efficiency. Researchers are working with nanoscale 3D structures to trap light and increase the amount of solar energy that it can take in. They are working on changing the shape of solar panels so the change of angle of sunlight won’t decrease the amount of energy absorbed. This new shape has the ability to tap in 20 times more power output.

Researchers tested 3D modules using computer algorithms, various latitudes, seasons, weather, and conditions. This led to a shift in vertical panels to absorb more energy, allowing sunlight to hit the panels over time. The MIT team tested different shapes such as cube like modules, which offered a 10% increase in power output.

The only downside is the increase in the cost of production, though researchers think it would be offset by the increase in energy output.

 

India proposes Pod transportation system

India is preparing to roll out with its first personal rapid transit (PRT) network of pod taxis. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will install the network in Gurgaon-Delhi to Badshapur Mod, and the project will be called the Metrino.

The project uses pods that are suspended on overhead rails, seating up to 5 passengers. The pods are all automated and whiz between docking stations at 60 kmph (37 mph). There are 16 planned stations and currently the project is undergoing investments and bids. The NHAI have stated that the network will be built in a year once a contract has been acquired.

This type of system has been proposed in the past between the Punjab and Haryana governments though it fell through. The project will cost RS 850 crore (estimated $126 million) and is said to be fully paid off within 25 years after its up and running.

India is putting a lot of work into infrastructure, fixing roads, and building highways. This new initiative shows the new Modi government is thinking about new technology and innovative means to finding the best solutions. For now we will have to wait and see if this proposal goes through and finds a company to back it.