Let’s Explore Next Generation Space Trains

While maglev trains are usually associated with high-speed rapid transit projects on Earth, organizers of the StarTram project hope to use the same technology to send materials into orbit. Rather than using rocketry, the proposed vehicle would use vessels supported by magnetic levitation to move equipment. The system could have an efficiency rating up to 90%. The second generation StarTram megastructure would tower above 96% of the world’s atmospheric mass. The craft wouldn’t necessarily use that much power either. In fact, it would probably only cost around $1 per kilogram of payload to operate. This means that interested parties could actually buy their way into space. Such options would hasten colonization of space. Read More →

The Universe at the Speed of Light [Infographic]

Image Credit: ESO

I try to stay active on Twitter so that I can keep up with what’s happening in the world of #astronomy and #science. I actually learn a great deal from many of those that I follow (one of the reasons I love Twitter). One astronomer that I learn from regularly is Dr. Michael Brown (@plutokiller). Dr. Brown discovered the dwarf planet Eris – one of the largest celestial bodies discovered over the past 150 years. This discovery led to the eventual demotion of Pluto from a real planet to a dwarf planet. Read More →

Chips as Mini Internets

 The data-routing techniques that undergird the Internet could increase the efficiency of multicore chips while lowering their power requirements.

Today, a typical chip might have six or eight cores, all communicating with each other over a single bundle of wires, called a bus. With a bus, however, only one pair of cores can talk at a time, which would be a serious limitation in chips with hundreds or even thousands of cores, which many electrical engineers envision as the future of computing. Read More →

Recent Advances in Genetic Research

English: This image shows a DNA molecule that ...

English: This image shows a DNA molecule that is methylated on both strands on the center cytosine. DNA methylation plays an important role for epigenetic gene regulation in development and cancer. The picture shows the crystal structure of a short DNA helix with sequence “accgcCGgcgcc”, which is methylated on both strands at the center cytosine. The structure was taken from the Protein Data Bank (accession number 329D), rendering was performed with VMD and post-processing was done in Photoshop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those of you that read my posts regularly know that I believe the next (substantial) evolution of our species will involve either genetic modification, robotics, or a combination of both (hopefully that statement won’t someday get me fired). So whenever I come across an interesting development happening in genetics research, AI, etc., I like to pass it along on here – even if DNA sequencing and genetics research in general gives me a headache when I try to study it in great detail. Feel free to share your thoughts on this development below.

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Opening the Gate to Robust Quantum Computing

Scientists have overcome a major hurdle facing quantum computing: how to protect quantum information from degradation by the environment while simultaneously performing computation in a solid-state quantum system. The research was reported in the April 5 issue of Nature (referenced below).

A group led by U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory physicist Viatsheslav Dobrovitski and including scientists at Delft University of Technology; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and University of Southern California, made this big step forward on the path to using the motions of single electrons and nuclei for quantum information processing. The discovery opens the door to robust quantum computation with solid-state devices and using quantum technologies for magnetic measurements with single-atom precision at nanoscale. Read More →