Monday, 30 December 2013

2013's Biggest Tech Moments

2013's Biggest Tech Moments

2013 was NOT the year that Amazon drones started dropping packages willy-nilly, but a lot happened in the world of tech, both good and bad.
© Kim Kirby/LOOP IMAGES/Loop Images/Corbis
It was the best of times for private projects; it was the worst of times for privacy. It was the age of robots and AI servants; it was the age of deadly drones. It was the epoch of augmented reality; it was the epoch of prying sensors. It was the season of private-sector space; it was the season of governmental Web site disgrace. It was the spring of 3-D printing; it was the winter of gaming consoles.
The year 2013 was an epic tale of two techs, those that expanded to improve our lives and those that exceeded the boundaries of our preparedness and stretched our metaphors to the breaking point. So we hope that you and the National Security Agency analyst monitoring your Internet activity enjoy our picks for the year's 10 biggest trends and technologies.
Mercedes' ultra-fancy S-Class vehicles got a little more robotic in 2013.
© Sergey Kohl/Demotix/Corbis
The concept of the self-driving car has been around since at least 1965, when General Motors proposed its Autoline speed and directional control system for expressways [source: Benford]. And although kids remain disappointed that automatic transmission and cruise control aren't as cool as they sound, the technologies introduced in 2013 took us one step closer to that future.
Take, for example, Nissan's Infiniti G37, the first commercial car with drive-by-wire steering. Steer-by-wire removes the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels and replaces it with computers, electronics and motors [source: Colwell]. Or consider the Mercedes S-Class, which comes equipped with more consumer electronics than a Best Buy, including a 360-degree array of sensors with camera, radar and sonar, tied into the sedan's steering, throttle and stability controls. The system enables the car to handle whatever curves the road or its drivers throw at it at speeds approaching 124 mph (200 kph). The S-Class also sports a camera-augmented suspension system that compensates for upcoming bumps, as well as a night vision camera that helps drivers spot animals or people on roads.
These constitute just a few of the increasingly common technologies that improve safety today while setting the stage for fully or partially self-driving vehicles tomorrow [source: O'Donnell].
BAE's Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle took to the air for the first time in 2013. The Taranis is designed to be speedier than existing UAVs, like the Predator and Reaper.
Image courtesy BAE Systems
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) first sprang from the fevered imagination of radio-control inventor Nikola Tesla, but it would take a few world wars before the Unites States military produced some of its own. They were but poor cousins of the missile-packing Predator and Reaper drones used in 21st-century Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite dropping to their lowest levels in half a decade, drone strikes drew a firestorm of media attention in 2013, due to a combination of vocal advocacy groups, news leaks and a global groundswell of citizen concern over civilian casualties and the possibility of terrorist organizations using them as a recruitment tool [source: Walsh].
Meanwhile, UAV development soared to new heights. BAE Systems announced its Taranis supersonic drone, which can blow past the Predator (135 mph or 217 kph) and Reaper (300 mph or 483 kph) [source: Popular Science]. On a smaller scale, AeroVironment debuted the Puma AE, a hand-launched, fixed-wing UAV equipped with a 360-degree camera, laser illuminator and infrared night vision, while Prox Dynamics deployed a 35-ounce (992-gram) hand-held chopper drone. Elsewhere, work is underway on developing insect-and-bird-sized drones featuring flight dynamics taken from the natural world [sources: AeroVironment; Bumiller and Shanker; Prox Dynamics].
In the U.S., sheriffs tested UAVs as a means of patrolling for illegal border crossers, lost hikers and criminals [source: Horgan]. So, as the UFO enthusiasts say, keep watching the skies.
MiniMAX takes X-rays out of the hospital and into the field.
© Copyright 2011 Los Alamos National Security, LLC. All rights reserved.
Do you get the feeling that we're being watched? Between Google Glass, camera phones, webcams, Kinect in our homes and drones in the sky, it's not surprising, but some of the new breed of portable sensors might just save your life.
To address the gaps left by fiber optic cameras and bulky robots, Bounce Imaging is developing the Explorer, a throwable, baseball-sized camera cluster that can transmit panoramic images of wherever it lands. The device will provide soldiers, police, firefighters, and search-and-rescue teams with valuable information and keep them out of unnecessary danger. Bounce could adapt future versions to carry chemical or radiation sensors [sources: Bounce Imaging; Popular Science].
Whomever those first-responders and medics rescue will need prompt medical attention. Luckily, Los Alamos National Laboratory has created the MiniMAX, a portable X-ray that lives up to its name. About the size of a digital single lens camera with an extra wide lens (plus some foot-wide flat bits), MiniMAX weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) and runs on a 9-volt battery, making it ideal for field use [source: Los Alamos National Laboratory].
Boston Dynamics' 'Cheetah' robot pictured here held the title of the world's fastest robot with legs with a record of more than 29 mph (47 kph). WildCat, which underwent tests in 2013, is the next-generation Cheetah robot.
© Boston Dynamics/dpa/Corbis
With robot development proceeding apace and Asimov's three laws of robotics nowhere in sight, how long before our "servants" round us up "for our own good"? We give it a year.
OK, so maybe adorable ASIMO doesn't make your blood run cold, but that's only because he can't chase you down like Boston Dynamics' WildCat robot [sources: Netburn; University of Bristol]. Meanwhile, artificial intelligences plot to take over your life. The Moto X cell phone learns your patterns and schedule and takes actions on its own, such as limiting which calls ring through at certain hours or reading texts to you when it detects that you are driving [source: Motorola]. The Canary home security system uses your habits -- derived from a camera, infrared motion sensor and a microphone -- to distinguish you and your pets from possible intruders [source: Canary Home Security].
Various wearable monitors and screens marketed for fitness and checking e-mails may one day connect us to our gadgets, enabling them to predict our needs or even to lock our transmissions when we seem too tired or wired to drive [source: Popular Science].
HowStuffWorks' own Jonathan Strickland got to give Google Glass a go. You can read about his adventures in this post.
© Jonathan Strickland 2013
One of the chief problems with wearable electronics -- whether it's Google Glass or a smart watch -- lies in overcoming the dork factor. Your device may pack revolutionary potential, but if it looks like something Geordi La Forge's sister would wear in wood shop, you're done for. Landing a 12-page feature in Vogue's September issue was a coup for Google Glass, but it will take more than fashionista props to overcome that form factor, or the silliness of that head-twitching interface [source: Bilton].
Of greater concern, however, are privacy and ethical issues raised by a wearable camera and augmented reality device. Someone has already developed an app that enables users to take pictures by winking, and Lambda Labs is developing a facial recognition app [sources: Greenfield; Vaas]. Some states and municipalities have considered making the devices illegal. A woman in California has already been ticketed for driving while wearing a pair, under a "driving while monitor visible to driver" law [source: Abad-Santos].
Google has a lot riding on the gadget, including a patent that would enable the company to track what a user looks at and then charge real-world advertisers. In theory, Google Glass could display ads too, or superimpose virtual ads over real-world ones. Google Now, a function that tries to predict information a user wants before he or she searches for it, makes another likely match for the gadget [sources: Bilton; Bilton and Miller]. But will it catch on or become the Segway of eyewear? Only time will tell.
Kinect Group Program Manager Scott Evans (R), shows a guest the newest generation Kinect sensor for the Xbox One during a May 2013 press event unveiling Microsoft's new Xbox One.
© Nick Adams/Reuters/Corbis
One year after Nintendo's Wii U hit stores, Microsoft and Sony announced their eighth generation consoles -- just in time for industry insiders to declare the market sector dead. Even after removing its controversial connectivity requirements, mandatory Kinect integration and digital rights management (DRM) confusion, the Xbox One fell short of the expectations of both users and Microsoft, which designed it as an all-in-one entertainment bridge [sources: Microsoft; Orland]. PlayStation 4 debuted to mixed reviews as well, and that's important, because consoles might just be circling the bit bucket [sources: Lecher; Orland].
Sales and rentals of disc games dropped 21 percent in 2012, in part because the shape of the games industry has changed [source: Lecher]. We can now download games through online stores like Steam and cloud services like OnLive and play them on our portable devices. In response, game developers are breaking free of platform-specific coding, while hardware developers put out potentially console-killing devices like the Razer Edge Pro gaming tablet and the NVidia Shield. Such gadgets are portable, capable of downloading and streaming games and powerful enough to run graphics-intensive titles.
Of course, there's one thing that could save the Microsoft console -- and facilitate a 1984-esque future: The (terrifying) new Kinect, which Microsoft says is so accurate at reading your body movements and heart rate that it can read emotions. Pleasant dreams [source: Popular Science].
Victory! Earth forms the backdrop for this image, featuring Dragon-2 in the grasp of the International Space Station's Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 in March 2013.
Image courtesy NASA
With the space shuttle retired, the Constellation program dead and NASA's Space Launch System politically embattled, the low-orbit-trucking free-for-all is on, and private-sector space enterprises are rushing to fill the gap. And 2013 was a particularly good year. We saw two of the chief contenders -- SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp., both recipients of NASA funding under the Commercial Crew Initiative -- successfully complete testing and docking procedures with the International Space Station [sources: Achenbach; Kramer; MSNBC; NASA].
Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic continued its plans to provide one-percenters somewhere to spend whatever cash they aren't using to light their Gurkha Black Dragon cigars and mop up spills of 1928 Krug. This year, the company's Spaceship Two became the first commercial spacecraft to pass Mach One, bringing it one step closer to its goal of taking passengers to the edge of space and back at $250,000 a pop [sources: Chang; Virgin Galactic].
Was there ever a Web site that got more scrutiny?
Screenshot of Web site by HowStuffWorks
After 42 instances in which House Republicans voted to repeal, defund or otherwise undermine the Affordable Care Act -- culminating in a 16-day government shutdown -- it seemed the Obama administration could finally declare victory. There was just one problem: The $400-million enrollment system,, didn't work so well [sources: Cohen; Cohen Botelho and Yan; Dugan].
The downtime meant more than embarrassment; it represented a potential threat to Obamacare's economic foundation, which relies on enrollments to distribute risk and keep premiums down [sources: Pear, Lafraniere and Austen].
Adding insult to uninsured injury, three programmers threw together a more effective insurance Web site, HealthSherpa, in a matter of days. Although it lacks signup options and other services, many frustrated consumers have used it to narrow their options [sources: Bidgood;; HealthSherpa]. Meanwhile, scam Web sites continue to lure customers from legitimate state exchanges, and some hackers have published tools designed to bring down the site with distributed denial of service attacks, although the use and effectiveness of such measures remains unclear [source: Lovett].
2013's very own man who kicked the hornet's nest: Edward J. Snowden
© Tobias Schwarz/Reuters/Corbis
In June 2013, a series of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden sparked an international debate over how much latitude to extend the NSA in its surveillance activities. It also raised questions concerning how deeply in bed American phone and Internet service providers have been with government agencies; although providers report being legally forced to cooperate and keep mum, some companies voluntarily entered into lucrative contracts to provide data to government agencies [sources: Savage; Schlesinger].
Beyond the NSA, the revelations also shone a light on the ways other agencies, which are governed by a hodgepodge of laws, regulations and oversight, use metadata to play connect the dots. Metadata is data about data; it doesn't involve content, but can include information such as dates, call durations and phone numbers [sources: Savage; Schlesinger].
The CIA, for example, paid AT&T $10 million per year to search its databases for phone numbers associated with terrorists overseas. Because AT&T blocked the information of any American who might have been on the receiving end of such a call, the contract did not violate the agency's restriction against gathering intelligence concerning the "domestic activities of U.S. persons." However, given that the FBI could subpoena such information and choose to share it with the agency, the lines appear more penciled-in than inked [source: Savage].
As 3-D printable electronics become more common, we could one day soon print our own tablets, phones and household gadgets. And as prices drop, the technology could revolutionize the making and distributing of life-saving devices like simple water filters or self-closing pit latrines. Our plastic-fantastic future begins today
ROBOY, a humanoid robot developed by the University of Zurich's Artificial Intelligence Lab, shakes hands with his human counterpart on June 21, 2013. By using 3D-printing technology, ROBOY was developed within only nine months.
© Erik Tham/Corbis
Almost 30 years after its 1984 debut, 3-D printing is busting out all over. The intervening progress has seen the technology develop from a narrow, specialized manufacturing gimmick to a revolutionary $2.7-billion industry [sources: Leckart; PC Magazine]. To take two extreme examples, bioprinters today can run off organics ranging from food to human tissue, while plans published online for 3-D-printed guns pose a challenge to existing gun laws and enforcement [source: Leckart].
Today, people print simple robots, functional cameras, self-portrait action figures, musical instruments, phone cases, toys, sports equipment and bits and bobs for around the house [sources: Carmichael; Nosowitz]. Sure, right now the products might look like something assembled in Minecraft, but the technology continues to improve and should become cheaper as more people adopt it. Scanners, for example, continue to grow more affordable, accessible and portable. One example, Structure Sensor, clips to an iPad.

Friday, 20 December 2013

DNA Clamp to Grab Cancer Before It Develops

DNA Clamp to Grab Cancer Before It Develops

Dec. 19, 2013 — As part of an international research project, a team of researchers has developed a DNA clamp that can detect mutations at the DNA level with greater efficiency than methods currently in use. Their work could facilitate rapid screening of those diseases that have a genetic basis, such as cancer, and provide new tools for more advanced nanotechnology. The results of this research is published this month in the journal ACS Nano.

Artist’s rendering of the discovery: the research team took advantage of the ability of certain DNA sequences to form a triple helix, in order to develop a DNA clamp. This nanometer-scale clamp recognizes and binds DNA sequences more strongly and more specifically, allowing the development of more effective diagnostic. Professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, Department of Chemistry, Université de Montréal worked with the researcher Andrea Idili and Professor Francesco Ricci of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Professor Kevin W. Plaxco, University of California Santa Barbara, to develop this diagnostic nanomachine. (Credit: Marco Tripodi)
Toward a new generation of screening tests
An increasing number of genetic mutations have been identified as risk factors for the development of cancer and many other diseases. Several research groups have attempted to develop rapid and inexpensive screening methods for detecting these mutations. "The results of our study have considerable implications in the area of diagnostics and therapeutics," says Professor Francesco Ricci, "because the DNA clamp can be adapted to provide a fluorescent signal in the presence of DNA sequences having mutations with high risk for certain types cancer. The advantage of our fluorescence clamp, compared to other detection methods, is that it allows distinguishing between mutant and non-mutant DNA with much greater efficiency. This information is critical because it tells patients which cancer(s) they are at risk for or have."
"Nature is a constant source of inspiration in the development of technologies," says Professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle. "For example, in addition to revolutionizing our understanding of how life works, the discovery of the DNA double helix by Watson, Crick and Franklin in 1953 also inspired the development of many diagnostic tests that use the strong affinity between two complementary DNA strands to detect mutations."
"However, it is also known that DNA can adopt many other architectures, including triple helices, which are obtained in DNA sequences rich in purine (A, G) and pyrimidine (T, C) bases," says the researcher Andrea Idili, first author of the study. "Inspired by these natural triple helices, we developed a DNA-based clamp to form a triple helix whose specificity is ten times greater than a double helix allows."
"Beyond the obvious applications in the diagnosis of genetic diseases, I believe this work will pave the way for new applications related in the area of DNA-based nanostructures and nanomachines," notes Professor Kevin Plaxco, University of California, Santa Barbara. "Such nanomachines could ultimately have a major impact on many aspects of healthcare in the future."
"The next step is to test the clamp on human samples, and if it is successful, it will begin the process of commercialization," concludes Professor Vallée-Bélisle.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

New Pictures of the Solar Corona from IRIS

NASA Captures Unprecedented Views of Sun's Mystery Layer

During its first six months in space, NASA's IRIS telescope has snapped stunning images of an obscure layer of the sun, revealing previously unseen violence and complexity in the lowest slivers of our star's atmosphere, scientists say.
The IRIS Observatory launched in June and its name is short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph. The small spacecraft is designed to collect data on the interface region, a little-understood area spanning the 3,000 to 6,000 miles between the solar surface and outer atmosphere, or corona.
Scientists have hoped IRIS could shed light on some of the sun's secrets, such as why temperatures shoot from 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the sun's surface to about 1.8 million degrees F at the corona. Researchers working on the mission presented some of the probe's observations thus far Monday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
IRIS snaps high-resolution images every few seconds and can capture areas of the sun as small as 150 miles. The spacecraft is also equipped with a spectrograph that analyzes the sun's light, splitting it into various wavelengths, which can reveal variations in temperature, density and velocity. Supercomputers on the ground help check this data against current models of the sun.
"We are seeing rich and unprecedented images of violent events in which gases are accelerated to very high velocities while being rapidly heated to hundreds of thousands of degrees," Bart De Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. "These types of observations present significant challenges to current theoretical models."
In particular, DePontieu has been focusing on IRIS's data on two solar features: prominences and spicules.

Extending above the sun's surface, prominences are cool, giant loops of solar material that can lead to solar storms when they erupt. DATA from IRIS revealed that highly dynamic and finely structured flows sweep through these prominences, mission scientists said.
Spicules, meanwhile, are huge fountains of gas that shoot away from the sun's surface at 150,000 miles per hour and may play a role in heating the corona. IRIS data has allowed researchers to see for the first time how spicules evolve, according to NASA.
"We see discrepancies between these observations and the models and that is great news for advancing knowledge," Mats Carlsson, an astrophysicist at the University of Oslo in Norway, said of IRIS's data on prominences and spicules. "By seeing something we don't understand we have a chance of learning something new."
IRIS is part of NASA's Small Explorer program, an effort to fund missions that cost less than $120 million. Designed by Lockheed Martin, the spacecraft is just 400 pounds and measures just 7 by 12 feet with its power-generating solar panels deployed.

New Pictures of the Solar Corona from IRIS

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

DNA Motor 'Walks' Along Nanotube, Transports Tiny Particle

DNA Motor 'Walks' Along Nanotube, Transports Tiny Particle

Dec. 17, 2013 — Researchers have created a new type of molecular motor made of DNA and demonstrated its potential by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube.
This illustration depicts the walking mechanism of a new type of DNA motor that researchers have demonstrated by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube. (Credit: Purdue University image/Tae-Gon Cha)

The design was inspired by natural biological motors that have evolved to perform specific tasks critical to the function of cells, said Jong Hyun Choi, a Purdue University assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Whereas biological motors are made of protein, researchers are trying to create synthetic motors based on DNA, the genetic materials in cells that consist of a sequence of four chemical bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. The walking mechanism of the synthetic motors is far slower than the mobility of natural motors. However, the natural motors cannot be controlled, and they don't function outside their natural environment, whereas DNA-based motors are more stable and might be switched on and off, Choi said.
"We are in the very early stages of developing these kinds of synthetic molecular motors," he said.
New findings were detailed in a research paper published this month in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

In coming decades, such molecular motors might find uses in drug delivery, manufacturing and chemical processing.
The new motor has a core and two arms made of DNA, one above and one below the core. As it moves along a carbon-nanotube track it continuously harvests energy from strands of RNA, molecules vital to a variety of roles in living cells and viruses.
The Nature Nanotechnology paper was authored by graduate students Tae-Gon Cha, Jing Pan and Haorong Chen; former undergraduate student Janette Salgado; graduate student Xiang Li; Chengde Mao, a professor of chemistry; and Choi.
"Our motors extract chemical energy from RNA molecules decorated on the nanotubes and use that energy to fuel autonomous walking along the carbon nanotube track," Choi said.
The core is made of an enzyme that cleaves off part of a strand of RNA. After cleavage, the upper DNA arm moves forward, binding with the next strand of RNA, and then the rest of the DNA follows. The process repeats until reaching the end of the nanotube track.
Researchers used the motor to move nanoparticles of cadmium disulfide along the length of a nanotube. The nanoparticle is about 4 nanometers in diameter.
The researchers combined two fluorescent imaging systems to document the motor's movement, one in the visible spectrum and the other in the near-infrared range. The nanoparticle is fluorescent in visible light and the nanotubes are fluorescent in the near-infrared.
The motor took about 20 hours to reach the end of the nanotube, which was several microns long, but the process might be sped up by changing temperature and pH, a measure of acidity.
This work has been supported by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Noble Gas Molecule Discovered in Space

Noble Gas Molecule Discovered in Space

Dec. 12, 2013 — A molecule containing a noble gas has been discovered in space by a team including astronomers from Cardiff University.

In blue, visible light from the Crab Nebula seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. This comes from emissions of gases in the nebula, which are energised by the neutron star at the centre. In red, far infrared light seen by the Herschel Space Observatory. This comes mainly from cold dust and gas. (Credit: NASA, ESA, Alison Loll & Jeff Hester (University of Arizona))
The find was made using a Cardiff-led instrument aboard Europe's Herschel Space Observatory. The molecule, argon hydride, was seen in the Crab Nebula, the remains of a star that exploded 1,000 years ago. Before the discovery, molecules of this kind have only been studied in laboratories on Earth.
The noble gases, which include helium, argon, radon and krypton, usually do not react easily with other chemical elements, and are often found on their own. In the right circumstances, however, they can form molecules with other elements. Such chemical compounds have only ever been studied in laboratories on Earth, leading astronomers to assume the right conditions simply do not occur in space.
"The Crab Nebula was only formed 1000 years ago when a massive star exploded," said Dr Haley Gomez of Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy. "Not only is it very young in astronomical terms, but also relatively close, at just 6,500 light years away, providing an excellent way to study what happens in these stellar explosions. Last year, we used the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory to study the intricate network of gas filaments to show how exploding stars are creating huge amounts of space dust."
Further measurements of the Crab Nebula were made using Herschel's SPIRE instrument. Its development and operation was led by Professor Matt Griffin, from the School of Physics and Astronomy. As molecules spin in space, they emit light of very specific wavelengths, or colours, called "emission lines." The precise wavelength is dictated by the composition and structure of the molecule. Studying the emission lines observed by the SPIRE instrument allows astronomers to study the chemistry of outer space.
The team, led by Professor Mike Barlow from University College London, did not set out to make the discovery, but stumbled upon it almost by accident. "We were really concentrating on studying the dust in the filaments with SPIRE, and out pops these two bright emission lines exactly where we see the dust shining," says Dr Gomez. "The team had a hard time figuring out what these lines were from, as no-one had seen them before."
Professor Barlow said, "At first, the discovery of argon seemed bizarre. With hot gas still expanding at high speeds after the explosion, a supernova remnant is a harsh, hot and hostile environment, and one of the places where we least expected to find a noble-gas based molecule."
It now seems the Crab Nebula provides exactly the right conditions to form such molecules. The argon was produced in the initial stellar explosion, and then ionised, or energised, with electrons stripped from the atoms in resulting intense radiation as shockwaves. These shockwaves led to the formation of the network of cool filaments containing cold molecular hydrogen, made of two hydrogen atoms. The ionised argon then mixed with the cool gas to provide perfect conditions for noble gas compounds to form.
The measurements allowed the team to gauge other properties in argon molecules. "Finding this kind of molecule allowed us to evaluate the type (or isotope) of argon we discovered in the Crab Nebula," said Dr Gomez. "We now know that it is different from argon we see in rocks on the Earth. Future measurements will allow us to probe what exactly took place in the explosion 1000 years ago."
"What a great detective story," added Prof Matt Griffin, from Cardiff University, and lead scientist of the team behind the SPIRE instrument. "Here we see the excellent performance of the Herschel-SPIRE spectrometer, the expertise of the instrument team in producing the highest quality data, and the tenacity and vision of the scientists analysing it, all coming together to make an intriguing new discovery."

Monday, 16 December 2013

Researchers Split Water Into Hydrogen, Oxygen Using Light, Nanoparticles

Researchers Split Water Into Hydrogen, Oxygen Using Light, Nanoparticles

Dec. 15, 2013 — Researchers from the University of Houston have found a catalyst that can quickly generate hydrogen from water using sunlight, potentially creating a clean and renewable source of energy.

Water. Researchers have used cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. (Credit: © gertrudda / Fotolia)
Their research, published online Sunday in Nature Nanotechnology, involved the use of cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Jiming Bao, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UH, said the research discovered a new photocatalyst and demonstrated the potential of nanotechnology in engineering a material's property, although more work remains to be done.
Bao said photocatalytic water-splitting experiments have been tried since the 1970s, but this was the first to use cobalt oxide and the first to use neutral water under visible light at a high energy conversion efficiency without co-catalysts or sacrificial chemicals. The project involved researchers from UH, along with those from Sam Houston State University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Texas State University, Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC, and Sichuan University.
Researchers prepared the nanoparticles in two ways, using femtosecond laser ablation and through mechanical ball milling. Despite some differences, Bao said both worked equally well.
Different sources of light were used, ranging from a laser to white light simulating the solar spectrum. He said he would expect the reaction to work equally well using natural sunlight.
Once the nanoparticles are added and light applied, the water separates into hydrogen and oxygen almost immediately, producing twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, as expected from the 2:1 hydrogen to oxygen ratio in H2O water molecules, Bao said.
The experiment has potential as a source of renewable fuel, but at a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency rate of around 5 percent, the conversion rate is still too low to be commercially viable. Bao suggested a more feasible efficiency rate would be about 10 percent, meaning that 10 percent of the incident solar energy will be converted to hydrogen chemical energy by the process.
Other issues remain to be resolved, as well, including reducing costs and extending the lifespan of cobalt oxide nanoparticles, which the researchers found became deactivated after about an hour of reaction.
"It degrades too quickly," said Bao, who also has appointments in materials engineering and the Department of Chemistry.
The work, supported by the Welch Foundation, will lead to future research, he said, including the question of why cobalt oxide nanoparticles have such a short lifespan, and questions involving chemical and electronic properties of the material.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Top-Secret Reconnaissance Drone Could Make Air Force Debut in 2015

Top-Secret Reconnaissance Drone Could Make Air Force Debut in 2015

A secret, new surveillance drone has been developed by defense giant Northrop Grumman. The drone, which is designed to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions, could enter operational service in the U.S. Air Force by 2015, according to news reports.
The classified drone, dubbed RQ-180, is being tested at Area 51, a clandestine military base in the Nevada desert that has famously been used to test different spy planes since the 1950s. Northrop, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., and the Air Force have been reticent to talk about the project, but the existence of the RQ-180 was first revealed in a report last week by Aviation Week.
"The Air Force does not discuss this program," Air Force spokesperson Jennifer Cassidy told Aviation Week.
The RQ-180 drone will likely be used for intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The vehicle, which is equipped with radars, radio-frequency sensors and surveillance instruments, could also be used to carry out electronic warfare, an unnamed defense official told Aviation Week.
The new drone is a larger, more advanced version of the Air Force's RQ-170 Sentinel, which was built by Lockheed Martin Corp. The RQ-170, which has been in service since 2007, was used to carry out several high-profile clandestine missions, including the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed the al-Qaida leader.
Aviation Week combed through Northrop Grumman's corporate financial statements and publicly available satellite images for clues about the new RQ-180 drone.
Overhead photos showed new hangars were built at Northrop's plant in Palmdale, Calif., to accommodate aircraft with wingspans of more than 130 feet (40 meters), according to the trade magazine. For comparison, the RQ-170 Sentinel's wingspan is estimated to be between 65 feet and 90 feet (20 m and 27 m).
But Lockheed appears to be embracing the robust competition in the field of drone technology. Last month, the Bethesda, Md.-based aerospace company announced that it plans to develop an unmanned, hypersonic spy plane capable of flying up to six times faster than the speed of sound. The so-called SR-72 will be able to travel at speeds of more than 3,500 mph (5,600 km/h), and will be able to fly to any location within an hour, company officials said.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Solar updraft towers a renewable-energy power plant

Solar updraft towers a renewable-energy power plant

solar tower via gizmagSolar updraft towers, also known as solar chimneys, are a relatively new concept of renewable energy power plant that may become widespread in the future. They would combine three old and proven technologies: the chimney effect, the greenhouse effect, and the wind turbine. Air would be heated by sunshine and contained in a very large greenhouse-like structure around the base of a tall chimney; the resulting convection would cause air to rise up the updraft tower. This airflow would drive turbines, producing electricity.
A first research prototype operated in Spain in the 1980s. Many modelling studies have since been published as to their optimisation, scale and economic feasibility. Some proposals have involved mega-structures reaching up to a kilometre in height.* A small operating plant is reported to have been built in Jinshawan, China, as of 2011.
The solar updraft tower (SUT) is a renewable-energy power plant for generating electricity from solar power. Sunshine heats the air beneath a very wide greenhouse-like roofed collector structure surrounding the central base of a very tall chimney tower. The resulting convection causes a hot air updraft in the tower by the chimney effect. This airflow drives wind turbines placed in the chimney updraft or around the chimney base to produce electricity. Plans for scaled-up versions of demonstration models will allow significant power generation, and may allow development of other applications, such as water extraction or distillation, and agriculture or horticulture.
As a solar chimney power plant (SCPP) proposal for electrical power generation, commercial investment is discouraged by the high initial cost of building a very large novel structure, and by the risk of investment in a feasible but unproven application of even proven component technology for long-term returns on investment—especially when compared to the proven and demonstrated greater short-term returns on lesser investment in coal-fired or nuclear power plants. Likewise, the benefits of 'clean' or solar power technologies are shared, and the widely shared harmful pollution of existing power generation technologies is not applied as a cost for private commercial investment. This is a well-described economic trade-off between private benefit and shared cost, versus shared benefit and private cost. If it is in the public interest, then some form of public investment or subsidy to share cost and risk will be required to demonstrate SCPP feasibility at scale.
Power output depends primarily on two factors: collector area and chimney height. A larger area collects and warms a greater volume of air to flow up the chimney; collector areas as large as 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) in diameter have been discussed. A larger chimney height increases the pressure difference via the stack effect; chimneys as tall as 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) have been discussed. Due to variations in design, climate, local geography and latitude, a standardised model for comparisons between design features and outputs is needed and proposed
Heat can be stored inside the collector area. The ground beneath the solar collector, water in bags or tubes, or a saltwater thermal sink in the collector could add thermal capacity and inertia to the collector. Humidity of the updraft and condensation in the chimney could increase the energy flux of the system.
Turbines with a horizontal axis can be installed in a ring around the base of the tower, as once planned for an Australian project and seen in the diagram above; or—as in the prototype in Spain—a single vertical axis turbine can be installed inside the chimney.
Carbon dioxide is emitted only negligiblyas part of operations. Manufacturing and construction require substantial power, particularly to produce cement. Net energy payback is estimated to be 2–3 years.
Since solar collectors occupy significant amounts of land, deserts and other low-value sites are most likely.
A small-scale solar updraft tower may be an attractive option for remote regions in developing countries.The relatively low-tech approach could allow local resources and labour to be used for construction and maintenance.
Locating a tower at high latitudes could produce up to 85 per cent of the output of a similar plant located closer to the equator, if the collection area is sloped significantly toward the equator. The sloped collector field is built on suitable mountainsides, which also functions as a chimney. A short vertical chimney on the mountaintop to accommodate the vertical axis air turbine. The results showed that solar chimney power plants at high latitudes may have satisfactory thermal performance.
Solar updraft towers can be combined with other technologies to increase output. Solar thermal collectors or photovoltaics can be arranged inside the collector greenhouse. This could further be combined with agriculture



The solar updraft tower has a power conversion rate considerably lower than many other designs in the (high temperature) solar thermal group of collectors. The low conversion rate is balanced to some extent by the lower cost per square metre of solar collection
Model calculations estimate that a 100 MW plant would require a 1,000 m tower and a greenhouse of 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi). A 200 MW tower with the same tower would require a collector 7 kilometres in diameter (total area of about 38 km²). One 200MW power station will provide enough electricity for around 200,000 typical households and will abate over 900,000 tons of greenhouse producing gases from entering the environment annually. The collector area is expected to extract about 0.5 percent, or 5 W/m² of 1 kW/m², of the solar energy that falls upon it. Concentrating thermal (CSP) or photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plants range between 20% to 31.25% efficiency (dish Stirling). Overall CSP/CPV efficiency is reduced because collectors do not cover the entire footprint. Without further tests, the accuracy of these calculations is uncertain.
The performance of an updraft tower may be degraded by factors such as atmospheric winds,by drag induced by the bracings used for supporting the chimney,and by reflection off the top of the greenhouse canopy.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Floating City That Will Accommodate 40000 People For Life

Floating City That Will Accommodate 40000 People For Life

Let’s Move To Seas – Floating City 4

Let’s Move To Seas – Floating CityThis era is the era of technology and advancement. We are accomplishing what our predecessors only dreamed of. Amongst such dreams is the dream of Freedom Ship International which is a Florida based company. They are currently raising funds for their floating city. This future city will require you to pack up your bags and get on board for a unique experience, the first of its kind.
The idea of Freedom Ship involves an expenditure of $10 billion to come up with a ship that will be 4,500 ft in length and 750 Feet in width.  The ship will be able to house about 40,000 persons and is designed to mimic a city. There will be a total of 25 stories above the main deck of the ship. These stories will house commercial district, casinos, art museums, aquariums and what not. The ship will allow for the education of children up to grade 12, starting from Kindergarten.
Let’s Move To Seas – Floating City 2The Freedom Ship website claims that this would be; ‘an ideal place to live or run a business’ and it will also house an airport on the top which will be open for private and small commercial aircrafts. The ship will also take a world tour every two years and obviously a great deal of time will be spent offshore near major cities. Passengers will be allowed to enter the cities and spend time over there. The cities in the travel list include; San Francisco, New York, Nigeria, Hong Kong and Sydney.And yes, The cruise will be everlasting.
Let’s Move To Seas – Floating City 3According to the company the construction of this ship will begin once the company raises $1 billion. So you might have to wait for some time before your ship is available for the cruise.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

New Wormhole Theory from New York

New Wormhole Theory from New York
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Alan Stonebraker/American Physical Society
This illustration demonstrates a wormhole connecting two black holes.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually travel, or even communicate, through these wormholes, said Andreas Karch, a UW physics professor.
Quantum entanglement occurs when a pair or a group of particles interact in ways that dictate that each particle’s behavior is relative to the behavior of the others. In a pair of entangled particles, if one particle is observed to have a specific spin, for example, the other particle observed at the same time will have the opposite spin.
The “spooky” part is that, as past research has confirmed, the relationship holds true no matter how far apart the particles are – across the room or across several galaxies. If the behavior of one particle changes, the behavior of both entangled particles changes simultaneously, no matter how far away they are.
Recent research indicated that the characteristics of a wormhole are the same as if two black holes were entangled, then pulled apart. Even if the black holes were on opposite sides of the universe, the wormhole would connect them.
Black holes, which can be as small as a single atom or many times larger than the sun, exist throughout the universe, but their gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape from them.

If two black holes were entangled, Karch said, a person outside the opening of one would not be able to see or communicate with someone just outside the opening of the other.
“The way you can communicate with each other is if you jump into your black hole, then the other person must jump into his black hole, and the interior world would be the same,” he said.
The work demonstrates an equivalence between quantum mechanics, which deals with physical phenomena at very tiny scales, and classical geometry – “two different mathematical machineries to go after the same physical process,” Karch said. The result is a tool scientists can use to develop broader understanding of entangled quantum systems.
“We’ve just followed well-established rules people have known for 15 years and asked ourselves, ‘What is the consequence of quantum entanglement?’”
Karch is a co-author of a paper describing the research, published in November in Physical Review Letters. Kristan Jensen of Stony Brook, a coauthor, did the work while at the University of Victoria, Canada. Funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

New Wormhole Theory from New York

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Incredible Tech: How Life Will Change With Smart Homes

Incredible Tech: How Life Will Change With Smart Homes

Smart home

Picture the scene: It's a few days before Christmas. Your fridge is stocked with ingredients for a feast — and it knows exactly when you bought each item so you don't use anything past its expiration date.
Your Aunt Edna flies in today and will reach your house before you're home from work, so you use your smartphone to tell your garage door to open to let her in. Oops, you forgot to program the thermostat to heat the house up early, but no worries. Motion sensors embedded in your home will cue your heating system to start cranking when she enters.
Meanwhile, you flip through a magazine that shows a photo of a cozy home, bathed in yellow light. You grab your phone and take a picture, and then use that photo to tell your wireless-enabled lightbulb system to recreate the lighting. On Christmas morning, you'll program those same bulbs gradually to light up the house a little earlier than usual — perfect for starting the annual present-unwrapping frenzy.

All of these technologies already exist, though they're far from widespread. Marketers and early adopters of "smart" homes, however, say that Internet-enabled lights, appliances and thermostats could change the way people see their homes.
"Smart houses allow life to continue, but become assistive — or, in some cases, become adaptive," said Chis Dancy, a Denver-based early adopter and director of the software company BMC.
Get smart
Dancy is, by his own reckoning, one of the "most quantified" human beings on the planet. He wears a variety of sensors to measure his heart rate, temperature, efficiency at work and more. Unsurprisingly, this desire for data extends to his home. His bed has a sensor that measures his movement, breathing, snoring and heart rate. His thermostat and lights are connected to his smartphone. A sensor on his office desk tracks noise levels, temperature and humidity. Even his dogs wear motion sensors on their collars.
Dancy is at the extreme edge of smart-home adoption, but smart household technology is quietly gaining a foothold, thanks to dropping technology prices and increased interest in saving energy with responsive heating and cooling systems. Dallas-based market research firm Markets And Markets expects smart home tech to be a $51 billion-a-year market by 2020, according to an October 2013 report.
The newest technology goes beyond programmable thermostats. Now, devices on the market can program your house for you — and coordinate with one another like an inanimate domestic staff. This communication, often enabled by Wi-Fi or a wireless standard called ZigBee, is the key to reaping the benefits of smart tech, Dancy told LiveScience.
"The refrigerator by itself is not very smart," Dancy said of the latest Internet-connected appliances. "The refrigerator talking to the lights talking to the grocery store is supersmart. [It's] the Internet of everybody."
Raising your home's IQ
If it comes with a switch, someone's probably trying to make it smarter. Both Samsung and LG now offer smart appliances. Samsung's smart fridge, for example, comes with a Wi-Fi enabled screen on the door, from which a person can check the weather, leave notes, load a calendar and display photographs. (Fridge magnets are so 20th century.) If a person enters food details into this mini computer as they load the fridge, it will keep track of when that food was stored and when it will expire. And one app automatically checks recipe website to match the ingredients in the fridge with recipes. A Twitter app is also included, in case a tweet from the fridge door is in order.
If a consumer springs for LG's smart oven and its smart fridge, the fridge will even tell the oven to start preheating when a person chooses a recipe.
Some of these features are more useful than others, and considering LG's Smart ThinQ LFX31995ST fridge alone will cost you $3,499.99, it might be more practical to preheat the oven yourself. But smart appliances' cheerleaders argue the devices have big potential. For now, a person has to enter their food purchases manually. But what if the fridge linked up to a grocery-store club card to update automatically? Alternatively, radio tags that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) could be implanted in packaging so that the fridge could recognize products as they are placed into the fridge. Chips like these, already used to microchip pets in case they wander off, could theoretically prevent a person from losing a half-opened carton of sour cream in the back of the fridge for months.
Smart ovens have other handy features, such as the ability to check if they're off or on via smartphone, providing peace of mind for paranoid travelers.
Smart home savings
Smart home tech may also help homeowners save money or energy. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nest is one of many companies that make thermostats that connect to a computer, tablet or smartphone so users can control them remotely. The thermostat also "remembers" a resident's temperature adjustments and automatically creates a schedule based on when that person is at home or away.
The process "involves a lot of cloud computing and Big Data — using all the data we've collected about your home, your temperature preferences, at what time, what ZIP code, what is the weather going to be tonight," Nest spokesman Maxime Vernon, told LiveScience.
The company claims the Nest thermostat can lower heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent. Recently, Nest released a second device, a combination smoke detector and carbon-monoxide monitor. The detector is more pleasant-sounding than a typical smoke alarm — instead of emitting an ear-splitting beep when a person burns the toast, it starts with a gentle voice warning, for example. It can also be linked to a Nest thermostat so that the two devices communicate. If the detector senses deadly carbon monoxide, it can signal the thermostat to shut down the furnace, where most carbon-monoxide leaks originate, Vernon said.
Motion sensors are another smart home technology that could save lives. Washington State University researchers are currently testing "smart home in a box" motion-sensor kits that detect doors opening and people moving around a house.
"One of the populations that we're looking at is older adults who want to stay at home," said project leader Diane Cook, a professor of engineering and computer science. "In order to do so, they need to be able to live independently and perform critical activities on a regular basis, like taking medicine and exercising."
Like the Nest thermostat, the technology can learn how people move around the home and create automatic schedules and alerts. If an older person fails to go into the medicine cabinet to take their morning pills, the system could send prompts through the television or a mobile device, Cook told
A better life?
While a better thermostat or home monitoring system might make life a little easier, the sci-fi promise of a home that responds to a person's every need requires a bit more effort. Dancy is working on it: His house features, among other gadgets, an ultrathin mattress sensor called Beddit that monitors his sleep; Philips Hue Connected Bulbs, which are Wi-Fi enabled and can create light settings based on photographs; a Netatmo personal weather station; and motion sensors that track his movements.
Dancy said the devices help him live better. He can set his lights to wake him up by brightening gently. By setting sensors on his fridge and near his bathroom, he was able to determine that he can have his last liquid of the night no later than 6:20 p.m. in order to be able to sleep without getting up to pee. His Netatmo lets him know with instant feedback if he's talking awkwardly loud on phone conferences. He can even track which songs he turns up throughout the day, and then create automatic playlists of the tracks that pump him up. His constant data monitoring even lets him know that he unconsciously ate badly after watching "Project Runway."
"Your home is where you live, and where you live is your environment — and your environment is what changes you," Dancy said. "It can change you for the better, or it can change you for the worse."
Not all smart tech is good smart tech, of course. Dancy found that his purchase of a smart spoon that tracked bites and speed of eating was not particularly useful. He also got a smart toothbrush that tracked his brushing habits, only to find that his dentist was less than impressed with the reams of data he brought to his next appointment.
"He was like, 'I don't care; just tell me,'" Dancy said.
Smart tech also needs to fit the person, not the other way around. At Duke University, 10 students each year live in an eco-friendly, LEED Platinum-certified Smart Home, where they can experiment with installing their own technology prototypes. The building has solar power, solar water heating and other green features, as well as Ethernet-connected lights, said Jim Gaston, director of the Smart Home program. Recently, Gaston told LiveScience, some of the students experimented with a system of RFID tags and radio antennas that could triangulate people's position in the home. The goal was to control the lights and heating system automatically based on the residents' locations. But the students couldn't convince the other residents to remember to wear the tags.
"They're now trying to use the GPS in cellphones to do a very similar type of thing," Gaston said.
Is smart really good?
Putting together a fully smart home with existing technology is possible today — but only for people who are reasonably tech-savvy and have a fair amount of disposable income. Dancy compares smart homes and data tracking with a "digital Elysium," referencing the ancient Greek concept of heaven, accessible only to the elite.
And other entities still need to get on board to fully realize the data-driven dreams of early adopters like Dancy. Grocery stores, for example, will typically not share consumers' purchase history with them, so the automatically updated fridge remains unrealized.
Even if the kinks get worked out, smart homes may have their downsides. For instance, becoming too dependent on the technology makes travel a bit more unpleasant for people like Dancy. "I don't have my armor," he said. "It's like, my hotel room doesn't know me!"
The modern tendency to focus on your smartphone rather than your dinner companions could pale in comparison to the extent to which smart homes could turn people into hermits, Dancy said.
"If you can create an environment that conditions you to be healthy, antisocial and — instead of medication — euphorically happy through artificial lighting and temperature, I don't know — that might be more dangerous than Paxil and Prozac," he said.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

New Shenzen Airport Terminal Is An Amazing Work of Architecture

New Shenzen Airport Terminal Is An Amazing Work of Architecture

The new Terminal 3 building at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport has recently captured everyone’s eye. The design by Rome-based architects, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, took three years and a budget of US$1 billion dollars to complete.
shenzen_terminal (13)
With an internal area of 500,000 sq. meters and a length that runs 1.5 km, the new terminal building will increase the airport’s capacity to 45 million passengers per year. With an unusual form that is very similar to the double layer skin texture of a manta-ray, the airport has three-level concourse with a roof-span of 80 meters, all wrapped in a brilliant white double-layer shell perforated with metal and glass hexagonal shapes. Theses honeycomb-shaped panels provide natural light to fill the entire terminal (which is somewhat unusual for airport terminals), and the voids between the three concourses allow the light to reach even the bottom floors.
The internal details of the terminal all harmonize with the overall design, with white tree-shaped structures that serve as air-conditioning vents and check-in islands with stainless steel gates which bear the honeycomb design. The interior is just as futuristic as the rest of the building with curving roofs and conical support columns which have a cathedral-like look. They prevent travelers from feeling depressed or as if they are locked in a terminal. The honeycomb pattern is carried out throughout the entire building so that no voluminous spaces are left hollow. The vast and open interior, according to the architects, gives a feel of fluidity while also focusing on practicalities such as processing times, walking distances, ease of orientation and crowding.
The new Shenzen Terminal building shows not only the growing prominence of the surrounding area but also of China being a country with a continuing penchant for high-end architectural design. The Shenzen Airport Group is so thoroughly delighted by the design that they have decided to copyright it. As for the two designers, they are about to be launched into the front-line of high-design transport terminals thanks to this amazing feat of architectural design. Pictures of the new terminal can be seen below.
View of the new terminal from the top
shenzen_terminal (1)
shenzen_terminal (2)
Inside the spacious and naturally lit terminal
shenzen_terminal (3)
Tree-shaped structures are used as air-conditioning vents and check-in islands
shenzen_terminal (4) shenzen_terminal (5) shenzen_terminal (6)
Outside the terminal
shenzen_terminal (7)
Futuristic design
shenzen_terminal (8)
The honeycomb-pattern has been used extensively throughout the terminal
shenzen_terminal (9) shenzen_terminal (10) shenzen_terminal (11)
The design is both futuristic and sleek
shenzen_terminal (12)


Monday, 9 December 2013

The Secrets of Gravitation! in ancient india

The Secrets of Gravitation! in ancient india
The Indian Emperor Ashoka started a "Secret Society of the Nine Unknown Men": great Indian scientists who were supposed to catalogue the many sciences. Ashoka kept their work secret because he was afraid that the advanced science catalogued by these men, culled from ancient Indian sources, would be used for the evil purpose of war, which Ashoka was strongly against, having been converted to Buddhism after defeating a rival army in a bloody battle.

The "Nine Unknown Men" wrote a total of nine books, presumably one each. Book number was "The Secrets of Gravitation!" This book, known to historians, but not actually seen by them dealt chiefly with "gravity control." It is presumably still around somewhere, kept in a secret library in India, Tibet or elsewhere (perhaps even in North America somewhere). One can certainly understand Ashoka's reasoning for wanting to keep such knowledge a secret, assuming it exists. if the Nazis had such weapons at their disposal during World War Ii. Ashoka was also aware devastating wars using such advanced vehicles and other "futuristic weapons" that had destroyed the ancient Indian "Rama Empire" several thousand years before.

Only a few years ago, the Chinese discovered some Sanskrit documents in Lhasa, Tibet and sent them to the University of Chandrigarh to be translated. Dr. Ruth Reyna of the University said recently that the documents contain directions for building interstellar spaceships!
Dr. Ruth Reyna of the University said recently that the documents contain directions for building interstellar spaceships

Their method of propulsion, she said, was "anti-gravitational" and was based upon a system analogous to that of "laghima," the unknown power of the ego existing in man's physiological makeup, "a centrifugal force strong enough to counteract all gravitational pull." According to Hindu Yogis, it is this "laghima" which enables a person to levitate.

Dr. Reyna said that on board these machines, which were called "Astras" by the text, the ancient Indians could have sent a detachment of men onto any planet, according to the document, which is thought to be thousands of years old. The manuscripts were also said to reveal the secret of "antima"; "the cap of invisibility" and "garima"; "how to become as heavy as a mountain of lead."

Naturally, Indian scientists did not take the texts very seriously, but then became more positive about the value of them when the Chinese announced that they were including certain parts of the data for study in their space program! This was one of the first instances of a government admitting to be researching anti-gravity.

The manuscripts did not say definitely that interplanetary travel was ever made but did mention, of all things, a planned trip to the Moon, though it is not clear whether this trip was actually carried out. However, one of the great Indian epics, the Ramayana, does have a highly detailed story in it of a trip to the moon in a Vimana (or "Astra"), and in fact details a battle on the moon with an "Asvin" (or Atlantean" airship.

This is but a small bit of recent evidence of anti-gravity and aerospace technology used by Indians. To really understand the technology, we must go much further back in time.

The so-called "Rama Empire" of Northern India and Pakistan developed at least fifteen thousand years ago on the Indian sub-continent and was a nation of many large, sophisticated cities, many of which are still to be found in the deserts of Pakistan, northern, and western India. Rama existed, apparently, parallel to the Atlantean civilization in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, and was ruled by "enlightened Priest-Kings" who governed the cities, The seven greatest capital cities of Rama were known in classical Hindu texts as "The Seven Rishi Cities."

According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines which were called "Vimanas." The ancient Indian epic describes a Vimana as a double-deck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a flying saucer.

It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a "melodious sound." There were at least four different types of Vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like long cylinders ("cigar shaped airships"). The ancient Indian texts on Vimanas are so numerous, it would take volumes to relate what they had to say. The ancient Indians, who manufactured these ships themselves, wrote entire flight manuals on the control of the various types of Vimanas, many of which are still in existence, and some have even been translated into English.

The Samara Sutradhara is a scientific treatise dealing with every possible angle of air travel in a Vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with the construction, take-off, cruising for thousand of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible collisions with birds. In 1875, the Vaimanika Sastra, a fourth century B.C. text written by Bharadvajy the Wise, using even older texts as his source, was rediscovered in a temple in India. It dealt with the operation of Vimanas and included information on the steering, precautions for long flights, protection of the airships from storms and lightening and how to switch the drive to "solar energy" from a free energy source which sounds like "anti-gravity."

The Vaimanika Sastra (or Vymaanika-Shaastra) has eight chapters with diagrams, describing three types of aircraft, including apparatuses that could neither catch on fire nor break. It also mentions 31 essential parts of these vehicles and 16 materials from which they are constructed, which absorb light and heat; for which reason they were considered suitable for the construction of Vimanas. This document has been translated into English and is available by writing the publisher: VYMAANIDASHAASTRA AERONAUTICS by Maharishi Bharadwaaja, translated into English and edited, printed and published by Mr. G. R. Josyer, Mysore, India, 1979 (sorry, no street address). Mr. Josyer is the director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Investigation located in Mysore.

There seems to be no doubt that Vimanas were powered by some sort of "anti-gravity." Vimanas took off vertically, and were capable of hovering in the sky, like a modern helicopter or dirigible. Bharadvajy the Wise refers to no less than 70 authorities and 10 experts of air travel in antiquity. These sources are now lost.

Vimanas were kept in a Vimana Griha, a kind of hanger, and were sometimes said to be propelled by a yellowish-white liquid, and sometimes by some sort of mercury compound, though writers seem confused in this matter. It is most likely that the later writers on Vimanas, wrote as observers and from earlier texts, and were understandably confused on the principle of their propulsion. The "yellowish-white liquid" sounds suspiciously like gasoline, and perhaps Vimanas had a number of different propulsion sources, including combustion engines and even "pulse-jet" engines. It is interesting to note, that the Nazis developed the first practical pulse-jet engines for their V-8 rocket "buzz bombs." Hitler and the Nazi staff were exceptionally interested in ancient India and Tibet and sent expeditions to both these places yearly, starting in the 30's, in order to gather esoteric evidence that they did so, and perhaps it was from these people that the Nazis gained some of their scientific information!

According to the Dronaparva, part of the Mahabarata, and the Ramayana, one Vimana described was shaped like a sphere and born along at great speed on a mighty wind generated by mercury. It moved like a UFO, going up, down, backwards and forewards as the pilot desired. In another Indian source, the Samar, Vimanas were "iron machines, well-knit and smooth, with a charge of mercury that shot out of the back in the form of a roaring flame." Another work called the Samaranganasutradhara describes how the vehicles were constructed. It is possible that mercury did have something to do with the propulsion, or more possibly, with the guidance system. Curiously, Soviet scientists have discovered what they call "age-old instruments used in navigating cosmic vehicles" in caves in Turkestan and the Gobi Desert. The "devices" are hemispherical objects of glass or porcelain, ending in a cone with a drop of mercury inside.

It is evident that ancient Indians flew around in these vehicles, all over Asia, to Atlantis presumably; and even, apparently, to South America. Writing found at Mohenjodaro in Pakistan (presumed to be one of the "Seven Rishi Cities of the Rama Empire") and still undeciphered, has also been found in one other place in the world: Easter Island! Writing on Easter Island, called Rongo-Rongo writing, is also undeciphered, and is uncannily similar to the Mohenjodaro script. Was Easter Island an air base for the Rama Empire's Vimana route? (At the Mohenjo-Daro Vimana-drome, as the passenger walks down the concourse, he hears the sweet, melodic sound of the announcer over the loudspeaker,

"Rama Airways flight number seven for Bali, Easter Island, Nazca, and Atlantis is now ready for boarding. Passengers please proceed to gate number..") in Tibet, no small distance, and speaks of the "fiery chariot" thusly: "Bhima flew along in his car, resplendent as the sun and loud as thunder... The flying chariot shone like a flame in the night sky of summer ... it swept by like a comet... It was as if two suns were shining. Then the chariot rose up and all the heaven brightened."

In the Mahavira of Bhavabhuti, a Jain text of the eighth century culled from older texts and traditions, we read: "An aerial chariot, the Pushpaka, conveys many people to the capital of Ayodhya.

The sky is full of stupendous flying-machines, dark as night, but picked out by lights with a yellowish glare-"

The Vedas, ancient Hindu poems, thought to be the oldest of all the Indian texts, describe Vimanas of various shapes and sizes: the "ahnihotra-vimana" with two engines, the "elephant-vimana" with more engines, and other types named after the kingfisher, ibis and other animals.