Our nearest cosmic neighbors may be closer than we think. A team of astronomers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have announced the discovery of what could be the closest habitable planet beyond the Solar System. Orbiting the red dwarf star Wolf 1061 in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the planet is only 14 light years from Earth, which is closer than the exoplanet Gliese 667Cc's 22 light years.
Welding pipes in cramped, potentially dangerous areas is an expensive and time-consuming exercise. OC Robotics and TWI Ltd have been working on a potential solution in the form of an articulated robotic snake that navigates and welds pipes from the inside using high-powered industrial lasers.
Jellyfish are so relaxing to watch that they're the bonsai tree or lava lamps of the pet world. Unfortunately, they're also so fragile that they can't be kept in conventional saltwater aquaria, so they need to be kept in special tanks. In 2011, Jellyfish Art introduced its first tank and now is rolling out an improved version on Kickstarter called the Jellyfish Cylinder Nano, which boasts a self-contained support system and LED lights.
A new study by a team of scientists at the University of Maryland (UMD) indicates that a common chemical can reverse the symptoms of the premature-aging disease progeria and perhaps even those of normal aging. According to the study, small doses of methylene blue can undo the damage done to cells by the genetic defect that causes progeria with a speed and reliability that the scientists claim is "like magic."
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency confirmed today that its Hayabusa2 probe has successfully used the Earth's gravity to slingshot itself towards a rendezvous with an asteroid. The flyby maneuver saw the unmanned spacecraft swing by the Earth on December 3, with the closest approach of 3,090 km at 7:08 pm JST as it passed over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands.
Peeing in one's socks may not be everyone's first choice for powering their mobile devices, but apparently it could be an option. A team of researchers from the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at the University of the West of England is experimenting with a pair of socks that use urine to generate electricity via miniaturized microbial fuel cells. Results have already started to trickle in, with the system used to run a transmitter to send wireless signals to a desktop computer.
Clean fuels come in many forms, but burning iron or aluminum seems to be stretching the definition – unless you ask a team of scientists led by McGill University, who see a low-carbon future that runs on metal. The team is studying the combustion characteristics of metal powders to determine whether such powders could provide a cleaner, more viable alternative to fossil fuels than hydrogen, biofuels, or electric batteries.
Diving watches are notoriously bulky affairs, and it isn't just for looks. The heavy construction and thick crystals are necessary to keep the timepiece from imploding in deep waters. The Ressence Type 5 recreational diving watch takes a different approach by adopting a shape inspired by sea turtles and filling it with oil, which not only makes it more pressure resistant, but also makes it readable underwater from any angle.
SpaceX is heading back into orbit with founder and CEO Elon Musk announcing that a Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for December 19. The improved version of the rocket is set to lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and will carry 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. This marks the first flight of the Falcon 9 since the June 28 mid-air explosion of the CRS-7 mission shortly after launch.
The future USS Zumwalt has begun sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy and the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers left the General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works and traveled down the Kennebec River in Maine on Monday in the first of a series of tests leading up to her commissioning next year.