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Impact

The fireball of the Chelyabinsk meteor (Image: NASA/M. Ahmetvaleev)

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

Jake Merrell field-testing his Xonano smart foam

As any coach or sports medicine expert will tell you, when an athlete receives a blow to the head, their saying that they feel OK doesn't mean that they don't have a concussion. Particularly in sports like football, it's important to have an objective method of measuring just how much of a hit a player's noggin has taken. While some people have developed impact sensors that can be attached to players' helmets, a student at Utah's Brigham Young University has devised something less obtrusive – impact-sensing helmet-lining foam.  Read More

Gizmag puts Rhino Shield to the test

It was just a month ago that we reported on Evolutive Labs' Rhino Shield, a 6-layer transparent polymer film designed to protect smartphone screens. Not only is it said to ward off scratches and fingerprints, but it's also reportedly five times more impact-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2. Evolutive recently sent me a testing kit, so I could see first-hand just how tough it is – without endangering my smartphone in the process. Here's how things turned out ...  Read More

Jobs involving cognitive tasks are among those under threat, according to the study (Photo...

Almost 47 percent of US jobs could be computerized within one or two decades according to a recent study that attempts to gauge the growing impact of computers on the job market. It isn't only manual labor jobs that could be affected: The study reveals a trend of computers taking over many cognitive tasks thanks to the availability of big data. It suggests two waves of computerization, with the first substituting computers for people in logistics, transportation, administrative and office support and the second affecting jobs depending on how well engineers crack computing problems associated with human perception, creative and social intelligence.

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An asteroid impact has the potential to produce a mass extinction event (Image: NASA/Don D...

There are hundreds of near-Earth asteroids hurtling through space that are a potential danger to our planet. One way of dealing with the problem is to deflect them with a space probe deliberately set on a collision course. To see how effective such a collision would be, Frank Schäfer of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI in Freiburg, Germany is looking at what asteroids are made of and how this affects a deflection impact.  Read More

The Shockbox Sensor attaches to an athlete's helmet, and alerts their coach via Bluetooth ...

While helmets certainly do help protect athletes from head injuries, if the player gets hit hard enough, concussions or other injuries can still occur. So, when a coach sees a player getting clobbered, how do they know whether or not they should call them over for the “How many fingers am I holding up” test? Well, if they’re using the Shockbox system, their smartphone will reportedly tell them.  Read More

The ICEdot Crash Sensor will be mountable on a helmet

A helmet might provide protection to the head in the event of an accident, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the wearer won’t be knocked unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. The ICEdot Crash Sensor pairs to a smartphone to automatically send a call for help, complete with GPS coordinates, when an accident is detected. The system also provides first responders with the accident victim’s medical information.  Read More

Photo of Jupiter taken September 10, 2012 by George Hall of a fireball caused by the impac...

Jupiter is a major player in protecting the Earth from impact events, and has been for billions of years. Between comets and asteroids impacting on Jupiter and being flung into the Sun or out of the Solar System entirely, Jupiter's enormous gravitational field has removed the greater proportion of debris left-over from the formation of the Solar System. Jupiter has again been caught in the act of attracting and eating dangerous space rocks—this time in simultaneous observations by two amateur astronomers.  Read More

Mercedes-Benz is set to put its Beltbag inflatable seat-belt into production

We first saw Mercedes-Benz’s Beltbag in the company’s gadget-laden ESF2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle. Now the German automaker has announced the inflatable seat-belt strap is set to go into production and debut in an as yet unnamed luxury-class model. Mercedes is following in the footsteps of Ford, which introduced the first production inflatable seat-belts in the 2011 Explorer and now includes the technology in a number of models.  Read More

Sydney Do (right panel, at right) works on his prototype astronaut air bag system

Should the astronauts living on the International Space Station ever need to evacuate, the plan is that they will be able to board the station’s resident escape spacecraft, which will then take them back to Earth. That escape craft, called Orion, is currently under construction. Like the Apollo spacecraft that it resembles, Orion is intended to land at sea. If it should happen to come down on the land, however... well, those astronauts could be in for a rough landing. With that in mind, a graduate student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics is developing an air bag system to cushion Orion’s occupants in the event of a dry landing. The system, interestingly enough, was inspired by the structure of seeds.  Read More

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