Science

Virginia grade school’s CubeSat will launch from ISS soon

Virginia grade school’s CubeSat will launch from ISS soon

A grade school in Virginia will be the first of its kind to send a CubeSat satellite into orbit. The satellite, which was created by students at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, was sent to the International Space Station in December 2015, and it is scheduled to be released from it later this month on February 15. Once in orbit, the satellite will send pictures from space back to the school.

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Battery charging tech turns seawater into fresh water

Battery charging tech turns seawater into fresh water

Researchers with the University of Illinois’ Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering have revealed that battery charging technology could end up being a viable desalination method, turning seawater into fresh water. This process works by putting seawater in a modified battery and then charging the battery with electricity, causing the salt ions to be pulled from the water.

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New Johnny Cash Spider discovered near Folsom Prison

New Johnny Cash Spider discovered near Folsom Prison

You might be able to guess right off the bat where the spider "Aphonopelma johnnycashi" got its name. Having been discovered in the desert southwest, right near Folsom Prison in Folsom, California, this particular spider has been named after the musician famous for having played a concert at the prison/venue back in 1968: Johnny Cash himself. And it's not alone. This spider is just one of a set of new tarantulas that are being added to the pack this week.

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This robot chameleon changes colors faster than the real thing

This robot chameleon changes colors faster than the real thing

The future of color-changing body armor may be here, and it's in the form of this chameleon-shaped robot. Researchers from China's Wuhan University took a 3D-printed model (which also resembles a cat, but let's not split hairs) and covered it in plasmonic displays, which can produce colors and rapidly change between them by detecting the background with light sensors.

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NASA finds ‘hills’ floating on Pluto’s nitrogen glaciers

NASA finds ‘hills’ floating on Pluto’s nitrogen glaciers

NASA has presented both a phenomenon and an explanation of it, in this case floating hills spotted on Pluto. These hills are found on nitrogen ice glaciers, and they’re substantially large measuring in at one mile wide or greater. This is an aspect of Pluto’s geological activity, says the space station, and one it finds fascinating, as these floating hills themselves move in ways similar to icebergs on our own planet.

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Soft robotic gripper has strength and dexterity for lifting delicate objects

Soft robotic gripper has strength and dexterity for lifting delicate objects

Robotics designers have a tough job in creating lifting "hands" for robotic machines and devices that have the strength to lift items that are heavy while having the ability to handle delicate objects without breaking them. Using electroadhesion, the principal that allows a balloon to stick to a wall after you rub it on your hair, gripping devices for robots may have been changed significantly.

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Researchers recommend approving 3-parent babies for boys only

Researchers recommend approving 3-parent babies for boys only

Three-parent babies is a topic under scrutiny and criticism, not unlike genetically modified human embryos. Under request by the U.S. FDA, the Institute of Medicine has evaluated the notion of three-parent babies and has now published its report. In it, the Institute of Medicine recommends that in cases where there’s risk of mitochondrial diseases, three-parent babies should be allowed. But only if the babies produced are boys.

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Earth will have a small asteroid zip close by in March

Earth will have a small asteroid zip close by in March

This upcoming March will bring with it a small (relatively speaking) asteroid that will zip by our planet at its closest distance so far. The asteroid previously flew by Earth a couple years ago at a distance of 1.3 million miles, nowhere close to hitting us. This upcoming time, though, it may come as close as 11,000 miles to our planet, one of many possible trajectories.

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Researchers develop carbon nanotube material stronger than kevlar

Researchers develop carbon nanotube material stronger than kevlar

While the material pictured above might not look like much, it is actually both stronger and more pliable than kevlar or carbon fiber. Developed by researchers from the East China University of Science & Technology, the film is made from carbon nanotubes, getting its strength from tubes that remain aligned parallel to each other, as opposed to other materials that use different layouts.

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Researchers: ‘lost’ lions aren’t lost, just hiding

Researchers: ‘lost’ lions aren’t lost, just hiding

African lions are, unfortunately, a ‘vulnerable’ species, with the number of members decreasing over the past few decades due in part to poaching. Since the 1980s, the population has been, at minimum, cut in half; furthermore, it was believed the lions were extinct in Sudan. Researchers have reported good news, though, having successfully found these 'lost' lions near the Ethiopia-Sudan border.

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New camo design is (almost) invisible to night vision

New camo design is (almost) invisible to night vision

In a statement today, the Bundeswehr Scientific Institute in Germany unveiled a new camouflage design it has been working on for a handful of years. With this new design, soldiers in the nation's armed forces (Bundeswehr) will be far less visible to night vision devices than when wearing the current "Flecktarnmuster" pattern introduced in the early 90s. This new design, Multitarnmuster, is said to have two big advantages.

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