research

Rosetta/Philae to land on orbiting comet tomorrow

Rosetta/Philae to land on orbiting comet tomorrow

A full decade in the making, tomorrow will likely be the first time we land on a comet. At around 4:30pm Central European time (about 10:30 EST stateside), the Philae lander is set to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Should it be successful, the robotic Philae is the first craft built by humans to ever land on a moving comet. Philae is set to detach from its Rosetta spaceship about six hours ahead of landing on Comet 67P.

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Google takes over NASA’s Moffett Field for aviation, robotics

Google takes over NASA’s Moffett Field for aviation, robotics

In an interesting agreement, Google will take control of NASA’s Moffett Field. the 60-year agreement will see Google invest up to $200 million in the property. Though they’re operating and investing in the air strip, which previously used by Google as a private airstrip, NASA will ultimately retain ownership. According to NASA, Google’s Planetary Ventures LLC branch, a shell company for investment purposes, will dole out $1.16 billion over the contract, and reduce NASA’s operating cost by $6.3 million annually.

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DARPA to fund $11M programming auto-complete tool

DARPA to fund $11M programming auto-complete tool

The U.S. government's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has granted $11 million to Rice University for their continued work on a project that is essentially an auto-complete tool for programmers. Described as a massive database of open-source code, PLINY aims to allow programmers to finish their software much more quickly through a simple search.

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Cyborg cockroach experiment locates disaster survivors through sound

Cyborg cockroach experiment locates disaster survivors through sound

They may be one of the most disgusting insects you've ever seen, and laying eyes on one in your kitchen probably makes you want to scream, but one day cyborg cockroaches could save your life if you're trapped in a disaster. A pair of researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a way to control the bugs through a circuit board connected to their brain, and having them find the sources of sounds, including human voices.

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Dinosaur skull’s 3D digital restoration brings wide access to researchers

Dinosaur skull’s 3D digital restoration brings wide access to researchers

Fossils are an important part of palaeontological research, but their fragile and precious nature makes access difficult for many. To solve this problem, researchers from the University of Bristol and more have restored a damaged dinosaur skull digitally, turning it into a complete 3D model with the damaged and missing portions corrected. With these 3D models, scientists are able to study fossils without physically accessing them, something that simultaneously helps preserve fossils and increase access to them. The work was recently detailed in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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Astronauts trap GoPro in floating water orb on ISS

Astronauts trap GoPro in floating water orb on ISS

This week NASA posted a video on its YouTube page of astronauts playing with a GoPro and an orb of water they had floating around. Like magic, they trapped the action camera in the sphere of water while it was recording, showing what the world looks like from inside of a water bubble, as well as what a GoPro looks like when encased and floating. As you'd expect, this took place on the International Space Station, and was part of a look at water surface tension as experienced in a microgravity environment.

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Congrats, Google Glass researchers, obviousness successfully stated

Congrats, Google Glass researchers, obviousness successfully stated

Of all the faults, goofy aesthetics, and generally questionable decisions around Google Glass, the fact that wearing it on your face means you might not be able to see quite as clearly seems a pretty commonsense issue. Still, a team at the University of California, San Francisco opted to look at just that, trying to figure out whether a head-mounted display could in fact present a significant risk to peripheral vision. It'll come as little surprise to find that having a chunk of electronics poised over your right eye does indeed block off some of your visual field.

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Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic is pushing ahead with construction of its second SpaceShipTwo craft, following the first's disastrous crash last Friday, though some early ticket holders are already backing out and requesting refunds. The second space ship - which will carry serial number two - is around 65-percent built, Virgin Galactic said today. Meanwhile, outspoken company founder Richard Branson has accused "self-proclaimed experts" of drawing conclusions about the craft's safety when "a lot of whom know nothing about what they talk about," following early statements by the National Transportation Safety Board about initial findings.

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Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

It's voting day in the US, and Facebook is pushing apathetic social networking addicts to get out and cast a ballot, running another highly-visible campaign to encourage activity in the midterm elections. A new banner running at the top of the Facebook wall offers the virtual equivalent of a sticker for those who take advantage of their democratic rights, while clicking the "I'm a Voter" widget takes users to a map to find out where their nearest voting station is. It's not just idle whistling, however: research indicates Facebook's timely prompts - not to mention the virtual peer pressure of seeing those of your friends who have already voted - actually gets people into the booths.

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“Transparent cockpit” AR could fix driver blind spots

“Transparent cockpit” AR could fix driver blind spots

Who says augmented reality is just for games or entertainment? The same ideas and technologies that allows us to superimpose virtual images onto real objects in almost realistic fashion could very well save lives in the future. Take, for example, this "transparent car" concept from researchers from Keio University in Japan, a system that could potentially work around drivers' blind spots, letting them see crucial information that are otherwise occluded to them by doors, windows, ceilings or floors, giving them the details that they need to make that life-saving decision.

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