Science and Technology Links 3/9: The Color of Magic Laser Bubbles
The Mach 3 Ford Trimotor variant, an aviation classic.
One way we can explore space relatively affordably is to spend less on building ships and habitats here and transporting them across the void, and more on building technology to use local materials to build ships and habitats on site.
The civilian tilt rotor gets closer to a certificate.
This is the next logical step, if you are thinking of going to Mars. It is kind of annoying that we seem to be forced to follow this development path once again (but I understand why we must, 40 years is a long time).
Trappist Habitability Yes, this is a huge amount of guess work, but you gotta start somewhere.
VASIMR aka the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket. I suppose I could be lazy and say it’s a Hall effect ion thruster on steroids, but it is quite a bit more than that. They key thing to keep in mind is this is not a reactionless drive. It still needs fuel to turn into plasma. But a nice, friendly inert gas is a lot easier to deal with than chemical rocket fuel.
Virgin Orbit It’s a mothership launcher, but there is nothing wrong with that. If you can use air breathing engines as high as possible, that’s a lot less rocket fuel and mass you need to start out with. The relationship between starting altitude and launch mass is very much non-linear.
Bio and Medical
As a guy with measurable hearing loss (thank you jet engines…), This piques my interest. I see regenerative medicine is taking a stab at eliminating an old age stereotype.
So robots aren’t exactly replacing surgeons, but they sure are helping make surgery better.
Better painkillers from venomous snails. I can see it now, the black market trade in marine snails skyrockets as poppy fields go fallow.
So diabetes really can get better with diet.
Another reason the anti-fat diet activists should have not been given nearly as much attention as they got.
Using adult stem cells to screen for cancer drug side effects.
A green light for better pain management?
While we wait for custom grown replacement organs, we still need to do things the old fashioned way. But thanks to some nanoscience, we might get more time to do things the old fashioned way.
The price of vat grown meat is almost competitive. Looks like it’s ground beef on the offering, which is probably the best place to start, since you can cover all manner of sins with seasoning.
Electronics and Other Tech
Disney Research has a way to wirelessly charge devices in a room. Yes, that Disney.
Sing it with me! “Tiny Bubbles! Tiny, holographics bubbles!” If we get this to cycle at 30 Hz, we’ll be in business.
But will it lead to a positronic brain?
Smart Holster that can tattle on cops who pull their guns. It’s not a bad idea. If a gun is leaving the holster, we probably want a public record, preferably from more than one perspective.
Beating slot machines with an iPhone.
This is actually kinda smart.
Printing a house. Ok, printing the walls, basically. Still… Oh, video at the bottom.
Rhodium and UV light turns CO2 into CH4.
Putting this in energy because it’s about energy, specifically the energy of the earth’s magnetic field.
The Allam Cycle. I haven’t fully parsed the process, but at first blush it seems reasonable.
Fiber reinforced hydrogel is surprisingly tough!
A metamaterial that can shape sound. And levitate objects. While I’m sure The Sharper Image will turn this into an executive toy in short order, a more practical application is drone propulsion inside a space ship or station.
This sounds like the opening of a sci-fi heist movie.
Creating ceramics at room temperature. This makes sense, since what heat can do, pressure can often do as well.
Tooth enamel is some pretty impressive stuff. Impressive enough that we might build airplanes out of it.
Anthropogenic minerals – i.e. minerals that only exist because humans (specifically, post industrial age humans).
Self folding materials are nothing new, and self folding materials that are triggered by light exist. Now they can be triggered by specific wavelengths (color) of light. The scientist in me thinks this is pretty neat, the engineer in me is still wondering where I’ll see this in the everyday.
3D Printing with cellulose (plants) derived plastics. The obvious is less need for petroleum feedstocks. The less obvious is the use of acetone evaporation for the curing. Kind of like printing with shellac.