Wednesday News Flash –Sci, Space, Tech


Neptune's First 'Anniversary' of Its Orbit

Neptune's blue tinge, seen by Voyager 2, comes from a sprinkling of methane in its atmosphere, which is made mostly of hydrogen and helium (Image: Voyager 2 Team/NASA). Dog years are nothing next to Neptune years. The distant planet has finally completed the first entire orbit of the sun since its discovery in 1846. The planet is actually about as old as the solar system, which is 4.6 billion Earth-years old. But it makes sense to celebrate the "anniversary" of its discovery, since it was a veritable feat of astronomical deduction.

110706093910-large Ancient Microorganism Points to Power Source for Synthetic Cells

Archaea are among the oldest known life-forms, but they are not well understood. It was only in the 1970s that these single-celled microorganisms were designated as a domain of life distinct from bacteria and multicellular organisms called eukaryotes. Robert Gunsalus, a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, developed an interest in Archaea because of their ability to thrive in harsh environments. Now, using state-of-the-art imaging equipment at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA, he has shown for the first time that a type of Archaea known as Methanosprillum hungatei contains incredibly efficient energy-storage structures.

Japaneserobot Video: Japanese Robot Talks Like A Human

We’re one step closer to the Robocalypse: a research team at Japan’s Kagawa University has developed a robot that’s able to “speak” like a human being. While talking robots are not new by any means, this model isn’t using software but a set of mechanical, human-like vocal organs, for example artificial vocal chords or a tongue and lips that are made of silicone. The key element to make the robot speak like a human is an air compressor: the robot uses a set of pressure and control valves, eight resonance motors, and a resonance tube (the throat) to convert airflow into sounds. Those sounds are then recorded via a mic, collected and passed on to be processed by a computer to make them as human-like as possible.

Microsoft’s Android Plan: Evil Genius Or Just Evil?

Buried in all the intrigue surrounding the Nortel patent auction was an interesting tidbit: Microsoft did not have to bid on the patents, but they did anyway. Why? As far as I can tell, it’s one of two reasons. One is evil. The other is evil genius. Either Microsoft really wants to kill Android. Or, if Android continues to thrive, Microsoft wants to be the ones that make billions of dollars off of its success. Back in June, we noted that it seemed unlikely that Microsoft would enter this high-stakes patent bidding process for the simple reason that they already had patent licensing agreements with Nortel. We were told these agreements would transfer over when the patents changed hands. But several days later, Microsoft began complaining that the eventual winner may be able to void their licensing agreements. Still, we were told this would not be the case. But surely Microsoft had to know that as well. So why were they complaining? They were playing mind games, attempting to mess with Google, says one source.


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