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Brian Dodson

Electronics

Computer rendering of taste is on the tip of the tongue

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a holiday in which we celebrate the blessings granted by Life, the Universe, and Everything. A central part of Thanksgiving traditions involves a massive feast, often featuring turkey or ham, and a selection of delicious side dishes. It may soon be possible to virtually experience such a repast as enjoyed by a character in a movie or a video game, aided by a new method for digitally actuating the sense of taste through electrical and thermal stimulation of the tongue.Read More

Good Thinking

Crashing rockets could lead to novel sample-return technology

The terms "auger in" and "lawndart" refer to rather exciting and decidedly dangerous methods of recovering a rocket, during which the screaming rocket buries its pointy end deep in the ground. Such over-enthusiastic landings provided a group of research students from the University of Washington (UWash) the inspiration for a new approach to collecting samples from hostile environments, such as the crater of an erupting volcano or a melting nuclear reactor. Read More

Automotive

Could the Lucra L148 be America's next great supercar?

Lucra Cars is a boutique car developer and manufacturer with a passion to create the next American supercars. Having made quite a splash last year with the rollout of the Lucra LC470, whose motto is "STREET LEGAL – but just barely," the company has just revealed pics and a bit of information about its Bugatti killer, the L148.Read More

Science

Fabricated nanoantennas used to produce high-resolution holograms

Holography is one of the more dramatic forms of photography, in which a three-dimensional image is stored on a photographic plate in the form of interference fringes. Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have developed a different approach, in which a 3D image is stored in a structure of thousands of V-shaped nanoantennas etched into an ultrathin gold foil. The new approach dramatically shrinks the size of a hologram, potentially enabling photonic and plasmonic devices and optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips.Read More

Space

NASA's cancellation of Advanced Sterling Radioisotope Generator casts doubt on future deep-space missions

NASA has announced the cancellation of the decade-old program to develop a Sterling Radioisotope Generator for deep-space missions. This program was a response to the critical shortage in radioactive isotopes in general, and plutonium-238 in particular, in the US and worldwide. NASA will now be depending on rebuilding a Pu-238 production system, an option that is not without its drawbacks and challenges. Read More

Space

Planetary Resources partners with NASA to crowdsource asteroid detection

We are continually being surprised by new discoveries of near-Earth asteroids and comets, often noticing them only after they have completed a close approach. Only one asteroid has ever been found and projected to impact prior to its actually doing so. With that in mind, NASA, Planetary Resources, and Zooniverse have formed a collaboration to use citizen scientists to detect members of the vast swarm of near-Earth objects not yet recognized or mapped. Read More

3D Printing

Shapify uses a Kinect to let users create a 3D Mini-Me from home

To make a three-dimensional color statue of yourself, you could grab a chunk of marble and enlist the services of a sculptor and a painter, or you could take the simple approach and use a 3D scanner and a 3D full-spectrum multicolor printer. Since the first option is expensive and time-consuming and very few of us have access to the equipment for the second, Shapify has launched a service that lets users scan themselves at home, using a Kinect.Read More

Science

Do the largest structures in the Universe actually exist?

Our knowledge of the large-scale structure of the Universe is gradually taking shape. However, our improved vision is mostly being statistically squeezed from huge data sets. Working backward from a statistical analysis to a putative fact about the (singular) Universe, to which statistics do not apply on a cosmological scale, is a dicey business. A case in point is a recent look at the biggest known structures in the Universe – large quasar groups.Read More

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