We live in an age of plastics, but even after a century of progress, most polymers still come in a single, homogenous form with basic properties. Now a team of researchers at Northwestern University under the leadership of materials scientist Samuel Stupp have developed a hybrid polymer that combines soft and hard areas like bones and muscles in animals. According to the team, this breakthrough in nanoengineering opens the door to applications ranging from self-repairing materials to artificial muscles.
The first of the new generation of Boeing 737 MAX airliners to roll off the assembly line has made its maiden flight. Today's flight of the 737 MAX 8 began at 9:46 am PST from Renton Field in Washington State and ended at Boeing Field in Seattle at 12:33 pm. The flight marks the start of Boeing's test flight program for certification and delivery.
When someone mentions a radio aerial, it tends to conjure up a vision of something made of steel and wire. But what about one made of water? On Thursday, the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation unveiled its SeaAerial, which uses a column of seawater sprayed into the air to create a radio transceiver antenna. Designed for use at sea or offshore, it's billed as the world's first seawater antenna capable of receiving digital terrestrial broadcasts.
The cosmos came into sharper focus this week with astronomers releasing the highest resolution astronomical image yet. The product of 15 earthbound radio telescopes and a Russian satellite, the image of a black hole in a galaxy 900 millions light years away is detailed enough to show the equivalent of a US 50-cent piece on the Moon.
From battle zones to oil rigs, helicopters often operate in some of the hairiest situations in which pilots are forced to rely solely on cockpit instruments. In an effort to improve safety, the non-profit helicopter safety organization HeliOffshore is using eye-tracking technology to gain a greater understanding of how pilots operate in such scenarios.
In an astronomical astronomical discovery, scientists have identified what's believed to be the widest known planetary system. Situated about 104 light years from Earth, a planet that could be 15 times the size of Jupiter is in a 900,000-year orbit at a mind-boggling distance of 1 trillion km from its parent star – that's 7,000 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun.
One of the advantages of bread loaf-sized nanosatellites is their potential to act as a swarm that can equal the power of a single larger satellite, but with more flexibility and at lower cost. Deep Space Industries has taken a major step in that direction in a successful test involving two autonomous Canadian satellites, which carried out the first orbital maneuver without human supervision.
With the number of potentially habitable exoplanets in our galaxy alone estimated to be in the billions, many wonder why we are yet to see signs or hear from intelligent alien life. A pair of astrobiologists from the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Earth Sciences hypothesize the reason may be that ET could be long dead. According to Aditya Chopra and Charley Lineweaver, conditions on young planets are so volatile that if life doesn't evolve fast enough to stabilize the environment, it will quickly become extinct.
What goes up must come down, but how itcomes down can have a big impact on where and how it used. A case in point is an unmanned, electric-powered, autonomous aircraft that researchers in Germany have gently landed on top of a car traveling at 75 km/h (47 mph). According to the team, this is the first time this has been done and it demonstrates a technique that could lead to lighter, longer flying UAVs.
SpaceX isn't the only private company racking up space firsts. Having successfully flown to space and completed a powered landing last November, Blue Origin's New Shepard booster on Friday became the first rocket to repeat the feat. According to Blue Origin founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the single stage rocket lifted from its West Texas launch site, flew straight up to an altitude of 333,582 ft (101.7 km), which is past the Karman line that designates the official beginning of space, then descended for an autonomous powered landing.