Vice News’ Motherboard reports that a new type of drone has successfully been designed by researchers at the Createk Design Lab at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec that can autonomously alight on, and cling to, vertical surfaces, both hard and soft.
Besides obvious spy applications that the drone was not specifically designed for, the researchers suggest that the UAV can be used to survey areas damaged by earthquakes, or to inspect tall structures that are difficult to get to.
Recently, a team of eleven geologists strongly recommended that the sunken land mass between Australia and New Zealand, called Zealandia, be declared a full (as opposed to mini) continent.
Zealandia was completely submerged until about 23 million years ago, when New Zealand, the French territory of New Caledonia, and a few other islands popped above the surface.
If the geological team’s suggestion flies, we will have eight continents, instead of the seven we learned in grammar school.
Matter Matter Everywhere
In the early Universe, matter and antimatter should have been exactly the same amount. Since matter and antimatter annihilate each other, there should have been no net matter or antimatter, and we humans (made of matter) shouldn’t have come into existence.
It turns out that in physics there is a kind of symmetry called CP (shorthand for charge plus parity), and it has been thought for some time that this symmetry might be violated for a certain subatomic process called neutrino oscillation. If this violation occurs, then that might lead to an explanation as to why matter dominated over antimatter in the early Universe.
Neutrinos come in three varieties (or flavors) depending on what lightly massive particle the neutrino is paired with. There is a neutrino for electrons, one for muons, and one for tauons, and as odd as it sounds, as these neutrinos fly through space, they repeatedly change (or oscillate) from one neutrino kind to another, and back again.
Maintaining CP symmetry would require that these neutrino oscillations be exactly mirrored by their antiparticle cousins, but recent work in Japan strongly suggests that this is not the case, hence a possible explanation for why matter outlasted antimatter in the early Universe.
The video above gives a short course on neutrinos and their detection.
Stay tuned: some folks might soon be winning a Nobel prize in physics for this work.
This week featured a bizarre and somewhat amusing story about a job opening at NASA for “planetary protection officer”, with annual pay of about $187K. A nine year old boy was an early applicant for the job.
The job is not about protecting Earth from an invasion of ruthless space aliens, but is instead all about keeping the Earth (and other solar system places NASA space probes plan to visit) biologically separated. Put another way, NASA doesn’t want any of its missions to bring Earth bacteria (and other biological stuff) to (for example) Mars, or vice versa.
This way Earth is not inadvertently biologically injured by life from outside Earth, or vice versa. Such life might be so different from Earth’s that Earth life might be literally defenseless.
You have until August 14th to apply for the position.
Mars Or Bust
Elon Musk of Space X is determined to get to Mars, and soon, and like his work on electric cars, he cannot be faulted for lack of vision.
The video above shows an ingenious system his company proposes for initially sending a proto-colony of 100 brave souls to the red planet within the next 10 years.
Powered by 42 newly designed Raptor engines, our pioneers will have to wait in orbit a while before taking off for Mars, as the original booster rockets needs to come back a few times to refuel the Martian mother ship for the long (roughly three month) journey to our rocky neighbor.
As a first step, Space X plans to send a Dragon cargo ship to Mars sometime in 2018.
But don’t worry, Dave Chapelle is on the job: