15 Feb 2012

Yesterday, the crew of ISS officially activated the 300lb Robonaut 2 (R2) on the International Space Station (ISS) for day to day use.   Robonaut 2 is a machine designed to help humans work and explorer in space.  It is designed to go where it is too dangerous for humans.  It can handle a variety of EVA assignments and has speeds more than four times faster than the first R1 version.  Its been in the works for over 11 years by NASA and General Motors.

Here is a video explaining Robonaut 2:

Robonaut 2's first motions on ISS Feburary 2012

Source:  NASA

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15 Feb 2012

We previously talked about the team drilling through Antarctic ice to get to Lake Vostok, finally they have reached the lake (after 20 years of drilling).  The team finally made it to the “alien” lake, so now the search for submerged UFO’s can begin.  Well, maybe not submerged UFO’s but definitely very unique science possibilities, such as new microbiological life forms.

A Russian news agency recently reported that they stopped drilling at a depth of 3,768 meters (~2 miles) and reached the surface of the lake.  There was a period of time where there was initial concern regarding the crew’s safety as they hadn’t heard back from the team for over 5 days.

Many scientific discoveries await the team as the lake has been isolated from outside influence, including possibly, air, for over 20 million years.   One area of interest is to study the lake to help scientists better understand climate change.

As I mentioned in the first article related to this subject, studying this lake and its conditions can be useful in understanding Jupiter’s moon Europa.

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03 Feb 2012

A team working with data from the European Southern Observatory have determined (Gliese) GJ 667Cc is a rocky planet, potentially habitable.  This planet orbits a star (in the constellation Scorpius) known as GC 667C, an M-class red dwarf star that puts out much less heat than our own Sun.  There are actually at least three planets orbiting close to the star, with GJ 667Cc just close enough to absorb a similar amount of light and energy as Earth.  It orbits the star once every 28.15 days and has a mass 4.5 times that of Earth, classifying at a super-Earth.  Astronomers can't confirm the possibility of water until they learn more about the planet's atmosphere.  

This discovery opens up other planet forming possibilities.  The other planets that orbit this same star, which is part of a three-star system (two of the stars orbit much farther away), include a possible gas-giant and another super-Earth with orbits of 75 days.  Experts have been skeptical of the possibility that M-class dwarf stars have planets with life due to potentially lethal doses of radiation that could be ejected from the host star.  This star contains a lower amount of heavy elements such as iron, carbon and silicon (the building blocks of terrestrial planets) than our Sun, but the possibilities of life still exist and show that there is the potential for such habitable worlds to exist in such a configuration not thought possible before.  It may also be close enough, that if the orbit were circular, the planet's rotation would slow until it matches the time it takes to orbit the star (tidally locked rotation).  This would mean the same side would always face the star, one side warm, the other icy.  So don't sign up for the generational star ship just yet.

A bit of trivia for comparison, our own Sun has a 10-billion year life span.  A red dwarf such as GJ 667C actually has a span that is in the realm of trillions of years.  The team estimates that GJ 667C is about 5 billion years old.  This discovery brings the total amount of Exoplanets discovered to around 755.  **Update, 3 more Jovian style planets were reported discovered as of February 4th, bringing this total to 758.

Source/Image Source: CBS News/Carnegie Institution for Science  

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03 Feb 2012

Twitter censorship, MegaUpload files being destroyed, Windows 7 Tango and Windows 8 Apollo Phones, a moon colony in 8 years/alien bases on the moon, strange sounds heard world wide and more.

UFO Disclosure Project, 57 alien races, alien moon base

Strange Sounds World wide:  #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, Update:  Newscast says the sounds are from electromagnetic radiation 

UFO in Baltic Sea

Picks of the week:  Xplorer2, CamWow, SSD Partition Alignment

Direct link(right click to save locally): here


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02 Feb 2012

Tobii Technology is using an Asteroids clone to demonstrate their eye-tracking softwareEyeAsteroids is controlled by the angle of a player's gaze.  Their tracking system sends infared light to the players corneas and determines the eye's position in 3D space via the reflections.

They have produced 50 EyeAsteroid cabinets thus far, selling them for $15,000 each.  If you happen to be at London's Trocadero, you can test it until February 17th.

Source:  Tobii, Joystiq

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02 Feb 2012

NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft used a camera aboard one of these spacecraft, called Ebb on January 19th to film the "Far Side" of the moon.  The Transformer Sentinel or the secret Alien Moon base could not be seen however at the altitude the video was taken.  Each spacecraft is identical, the other called Flow.  They are equipped with MoonKam (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students).  They will be used by students nationwide to select lunar imagery to study. 

In the video clip we see the north pole of the moon as the craft flies towards the south pole.  The spacecraft were launched in September 2011 and fly at an altitude of around 34 miles (55 kilometers).

Far Side vs Dark Side Explained

The terms far side and dark side of the moon are often misunderstood or incorrectly used.  Originally during the Apollo Missions, the term Dark Side was actually used to define the area of the moon on the far side, where NASA would lose contact with the astronauts as their spacecraft circled the moon.  This area of zero radio signals was deemed "the dark side".  The term far side refers to the side that is always facing away from the Earth, due to the fact that the moon is tidally locked with the Earth's rotation.  This means that the Earth and moon both rotate in such a way, that one side always faces the Earth.  A tidally locked astronomical object takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its companion.

Another area of confusion is sunlight on the moon.  The moon is already a dark place to begin with, due to the fact sunlight is not reflected very well on the surface, but it is possible to have light on the back side of the moon or on the near side at various times.  For instance, when the Earth has a "New Moon", the moon appears dark and black.  If you were on the surface in that area on the moon, it would not be lit by sunlight.  Likewise the same cycles occur on the far side as well.

Source:  NASA

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01 Feb 2012

There are many rumors floating around regarding Windows Phone 8 code-named "Apollo" due out in the fourth quarter.  Some are speculating that the new mobile OS will abandon the Windows CE kernel (Windows Embedded Compact) in favor of the core NT kernel as with Windows 8.  None of those speculations can be proven thus far.  Interesting speculation, because if it were true, then there could potentially be one App Store for both platforms, similar to Apple, but on to what we do know.   **Update**:  It was recently revealed that there is some truth to these statements, that Windows 8 phone will share some of the same code base and kernel as Windows 8 for desktops.

What is certain is that ultimately Microsoft wants an overall union of software from platform to platform.  This dates back to last July when the president of Microsoft's Windows Division made this proclamation that ultimately there would be a single ecosystem for PC's,phones and tablets.  It was later stated by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that he expected Windows 8 to eventually run Windows Phones apps.  The major goal of "Apollo" will be to allow phone manufacturers to create higher-end devices to compete with others like the Samsung Galaxy S3 with more powerful dual-core and higher processors.

Windows Phone 8 will run Windows Phone 7 apps

Many rumor mills out there had it stated that Windows 7 Phone apps would probably be incompatible with Windows Phone "Apollo" 8 apps.  But Brandon Watson a Microsoft representative stated that Microsoft was pretty clear that apps of today would work in Windows Phone 8 during the Mix11 keynote.  The keynote can be found here.  Next, its time to Tango...

31 Jan 2012

Recently, questions have been arising as to whether or not Microsoft is really listening to user feedback regarding Windows 8 development.  If perhaps they have gone the direction of Apple and are just giving consumers what Microsoft thinks consumers want, rather than letting feedback drive the direction.  At least with file management, they seemed to have listened.

One area in particular, is the controversial Windows Explorer Ribbon.  It will now be minimized by default.

There are improvements in cut, copy, paste, rename and delete commands as well as improvements with file collisions and a new look and feel for Windows Explorer.

For instance, if you try to copy a file, it will let you filter out files of the same name, size and time.  Windows will no longer ask you to replace a file if it’s the same on both source and destination.

There are synchronization of key settings and options from one PC to another via Windows Live now possible.

You can also get details on private files quicker.  There is no longer an icon overlay to tell the difference between a private file and regular one.  Now instead, there is a column that tells you if the file is shared, not shared, or private.

Lastly, they have added the ability to pin favorite folders to the Start screen on the Metro interface.  There is also a favorite option for folders.

So at least with file management, there has been some response to feedback.  Frankly, I think Microsoft should have just spent some time, for instance, using the Xplorer2 interface and done the good old Apple technique of "taking something and improving it".  The main point here, is that the Windows Explorer interface is clunky and in need of many enhancements as it already stood.

Time will tell if other areas result in changes as well, particularly the Metro interface as a whole, which has caused quite a stir.  Some argue that the Metro interface really only has its place on consumer tablets, not desktops.  Then there is the question regarding whether the Windows 8 experience should be different on business devices and for that matter, why Microsoft doesn’t use just one SKU for everything, as Apple does.  As we get deeper into the Windows 8 beta, some of these answers will start to become clearer.

Source:  MSDN Blog

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