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James Holloway

Space

NASA sizes up Europa landing to search for conditions for life

It's an icy inhospitable world, a little smaller than our own Moon: Europa. It's one of Jupiter's four largest satellites, the Galilean moons named after the polymath astronomer who discovered them in 1610. At the surface, the temperature never climbs above about -160º C (-256º F), yet it's thought that beneath the frozen epidermis there could be a liquid saltwater ocean. Were that the case, Europa would be about the best candidate for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System, albeit life in microbial form. That Europa could harbor life isn't news. That NASA is now considering landing a robot on Europa's surface is, and the agency has one or two ideas about what a robot should do when it gets there.Read More

Dome of broken umbrellas takes to New York river

Take a pleasure cruise up the Harlem River this month and you surely won't miss the 24-ft diameter Harvest Dome 2.0 which floats on the waters near Spuyten Duyvil Creek at the north tip of Manhattan, New York. Built to draw eyes to the city's watercourses, the dome is built from 450 discarded and broken umbrellas support by a floating ring made from 128 2-liter drinks bottles.Read More

Environment

Watery windows mimic blood vessels to boost building efficiency

Researchers at the University of Toronto say they can improve the energy of efficiency buildings by fitting window panes with tiny channels of water. The scientists says that these channels, inspired by vascular systems in nature such as the network of blood vessels in the human body, can provide 7º to 9º C of cooling in the summer, and reduce heat loss during winter.Read More

Telecommunications

Twitter finally gets tougher on death and rape threats

It's been an exceedingly ugly fortnight on Twitter. Following a successful campaign orchestrated by journalist and feminist Caroline Criado-Perez to have a woman reinstated on Bank of England banknotes, she has been subjected to a relentless campaign of harassment, with rape and death threats being received by Criado-Perez at a rate of nearly one per minute on July 24, the day it was confirmed that her campaign had been a success. After being the platform for sustained threats and abuse for almost two weeks, Twitter has finally begun to act.Read More

Robotics

Six-legged robot loses a leg, thinks about it, trundles on regardless

What good is a robot if, when left to its own devices, it breaks down at the first sign of trouble? What if that robot has been sent off to some inhospitable place where rescue is impossible, much less repair. Robots on the cutting edge are expensive things, so the ability to self-repair could be extremely valuable. But if it can't self-repair, the ability to simply make do would be rather useful too. That's the thinking behind this hexapod robot which can work out how best to adjust its gait in the unfortunate event that it loses a leg.Read More

Good Thinking

Kickstarting disaster: When crowdfunding backfires

A Kickstarter pitch for an old school board game wouldn't ordinarily make it onto the pages of Gizmag. But despite its initial success, Erik Chevalier's campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City has been such an unmitigated disaster that it serves as an essential reminder to those thinking of backing crowdfunding campaigns that they do so at their own risk.Read More

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