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EmDrive posted by Ralph Ewig
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Human space activities are currently enabled by the rocket engine; the big limitation of that technology is that you need to throw something away (propellant) every time you want to move. Even highly advanced electric propulsion like ion engines still have to obey this fundamental limitation. Now researchers in China claim to have realized the ultimate breakthrough in space propulsion: an engine that needs no propellant based on the EmDrive concept. 

Chinese scientists appear to have validated a propellentless space propulsion technology previously branded as impossible. Based on earlier British research, it is averred that the EmDrive concept provides sustained thrust at low cost and weight […] A 2010 follow-up paper calculates a possible thrust of 456 mN from a 1-kw input, and states that the team was getting positive experimental results.

The latest Chinese work may revive Western interest in the EmDrive as a viable, revolutionary technology. "The EmDrive will give much higher performance, at lower cost, for many types of mission," says Shawyer. "In an increasingly competitive, international industry, space companies will have to use EmDrive technolo ...

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Zeppelin Dreams posted by Ralph Ewig
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The ear of dirigibles is making a comeback, with the first new aviation giants nearing completion. Reinvented with advanced materials and controls technologies, these dinosaurs of the air are anything but yesterday’s news. 

California-based Aeros Corporation has created a prototype of its new breed of variable buoyancy aircraft and expects the vehicle to be finished before the end of 2012. With its new cargo handling technology, minimum fuel consumption, vertical take-off and landing features and point to point delivery, the Aeroscraft platform promises to revolutionize airship technology.

The Aeroscraft prototype is 79 meters (260 ft) long, and while it is not designed to carry a payload, Aeros says the planned full-scale craft will be almost twice as long and will be capable of carrying a maximum payload of 66 tons with no infrastructure requirements. It is much simpler and easier than using a plane, which has the potential to significantly reduce air freight costs.

Robotic Ocean Explorer posted by Ralph Ewig
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The first autonomous ocean exploration robot has completed its journey from San Francisco to Australia. Traveling over 9000 nautical miles in just over a year, the solar powered wave-gliding robot braved sharks, survived storms, and navigated around treacherous coastal regions. 

“During Papa Mau’s journey, [it] weathered gale-force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the east Australian current to reach his final destination in Hervey Bay, near Bundaberg, Queensland.” […] “We are reaching a tipping point in that the technology is becoming so cheap that it’s now a much cheaper to use a robot to gather data than to pay for a manned ship to be at sea for months at a time.”

Cypherpunk Singularity posted by Ralph Ewig
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Smart Rain posted by Ralph Ewig
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An art exhibit in London uses cameras and 3D computing to create a room where it rains that visitors can walk through without ever getting wet. The cameras track people’s movement, and turn off the artificial rain in the specific location of the room a person occupies at any given instant in time. 

The Rain Room at the Barbican's Curve exhibition space was designed by a group called Random International.

The 100-square-meter exhibit dumps 1,000 liters of water per minute into the drainage system in the floor. Eight 3D depth cameras on either side of the installation control the solenoid water valves via custom software. The valves directly above a visitor shut off based on the person's location, size and shape. 

I so want one of these in my living room!

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