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Brian Dodson

Brian Dodson

From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.

— 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
— 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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