Posts Tagged ‘Implications’
First year-long ISS mission planned for 2015, scientists hope to learn implications of long-term spaceflight
The very first year-long continual stay at the International Room Station is slated for Springtime 2015, according to NASA. Till now, the difficult limitation on longterm spaceflight inside the ISS has actually been 6 months. That will certainly all alter when two astronauts (one representing the United States, the additional Russia) board a Soyuz rocket and begin a trip set to last a whole calendar year. With the exploration, researchers hope to gain useful details on just how the human body fares in space for lengthy periods of time. We’ve currently seen a hazardous impact on things like bone density, vision and additional physical qualities, however there’s still plenty more for NASA to discover prior to it’s comfortable sending astronauts to the far reaches of the cosmos. The …
A very small atom can cast a very large shadow. Well, not literally, but figuratively. Researchers at Griffith University have managed to snap the first image of a single atom’s shadow and, while the dark spot may be physically small, the implications for the field of quantum computing are huge. The team of scientists blasted a Ytterbium atom suspended in air with a laser beam. Using a Fresnel lens, they were able to snap a photograph of the dark spot left in the atom’s wake as the laser passed over it. The practical applications could improve the efficiency of quantum computers, where light is often used to transfer information. Since atoms have well understood light absorption properties, predictions can be made about the depth of a shadow cast, improving communication between the individual atoms performing calculations. The research could even be applied to seemingly mundane and established fields like X-Ray imaging, by enabling us to find the proper intensity levels to produce a quality image while minimizing damage to cells. For more info, check out the current issue of Nature.
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Driverless cars have been a popular and fertile topic for research and discussion for years. From the first high-profile Grand Challenge to the more recent work by Google, there has always been activity, though it’s rarely applicable to everyday life. But a few years from now we’ll really need to start pondering the potential effects of these robocars on cities, infrastructure, and markets.
Koushik Dutta (who does not work for Google, as I inexplicably wrote at first, a really dumb lapse on my part) has written an interesting little post on Google+ about one potential major change that could come with the automation of vehicles. If a car can drive itself, that drastically increases its potential efficiency, and decreases the number of cars necessary per capita, especially in a city. You better believe the car companies don’t like the sound of that.
The comparison Dutta makes is to commercial fleets of planes, which spend a huge proportion of their “lives” in the air – i.e. in use. Private cars, on the other hand, sit idle 95% of the time. Naturally there are examples of the opposite in each case: private jets sitting in hangars and commercial car fleets being used constantly, but that isn’t really relevant to the comparison. With automation of cars, they could be put to use in much more ways and used collectively instead of independently.
There are already services that are exploring the potential of this model: Zipcar and Getaround, for instance, which attempt to maximize the utility of vehicles. But systematizing that and adding automatic navigation changes the game. What if you could drive to work and then send your car home to pick up your kids and bring them to school? Or if it wasn’t even your car, but one shared by five houses in your neighborhood, and after it dropped you off, it dropped off your neighbor, then took your spouse to the grocery store — and went to charge itself for half an hour while they shopped?
The implication is that if the average car is made even slightly more efficient, that results in a propotional decrease in the number of cars that need to be sold. Sure, there will be inefficiencies like empty cars (though taxis are in a way also empty much of the time) and individual vehicles will wear out faster owing to more constant usage. And, of course, many people will simply prefer to drive. But the amount of work a car can do per joule or hour or whatever could be increased, and if that utility ratio is improved enough, it starts having a serious effect on transportation.
And while at first the idea of driving cars around doesn’t seem like a Google thing to do, don’t forget that the most important part of this whole business, and the part that produces the most efficiency, is the logistics. Tracking the cars, locations, needs, routes, and so on — all information Google would love to sift. Google doesn’t care about the way the cars avoid obstacles – that’s an engineering challenge that researchers around the world are cracking. Google wants to power this network of nodes and be the unseen hand that points at this vehicle in this lot and tells it to go to this location by this route and pick up this person. Google’s forte is flattening deep data, and this would be a great application of it.
Not that I would trust Google to drive my car for me, exactly, at least not in Google Commute Beta, but I would certainly trust them to provide all the information my robocar needs to get where it’s going. And they’re jockeying for that position already, probably a decade before automated vehicles even start to be considered for road use.
That’s really the part of the equation that Google fits into. Where would Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Qualcomm, and everyone else figure? How will cities, and cars themselves, change? Like I said, it’s a fertile topic, and we’ll probably be talking a lot about these things in years to come.
[via Hacker News]
Android Poised For Dominance In China, With Global Implications
Despite Androidâ€™s growth since 2007, many refuse to declare a winner in the battle between Apple and Google for supremacy in the West. However, Android seems ready to leapfrog competitors to grab dominance in China, the worldâ€™s largest mobile market. A combination of drastic price drops on Android phones and custom Chinese mobile applications supported by the massive domestic market will push …