Author Archives: Matt

A new site: LinuxRobots.org has the neat idea of having a robot that can be controlled and even programed from the web. Simply ssh into the robot and modify or add to the software, recompile and watch how the robot behaves by following the webcam on the website.

The robot is powered by a striped down Gentoo installation running on a mini-itx VIA mainboard. It has 2 independant motors, 1 distance sensor, 4 light sensors, and a webcam.

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The US government is investing the possibility of a hyperspace engine that could make a trip to Mars just a short 3 hour flight and an interstellar trip of 11 light years in only 80 days.

The engine is based on a controversial scientific paper written in the 1950’s by Burkhard Heim, who theorized that an intense magnetic field could produce a gravitational field which could propel a space craft faster than light. In effect the gravitational warping would create a space where the speed of light is actually faster, allowing the ship to also travel faster.

more details on Scotsman.com

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The slowing of the planet’s orbit around the sun has put the extremely precise atomic clocks out of sync with the calendar time by one second. So at 7pm EST on New Years Eve an extra second was inserted into the clocks which define the official Coordinated Universal Time which is maintained around the world by over 80 clocks housed in vaults scattered around the globe.

Though the planet has always been slowing down, it has only been since the invention of the atomic clock in 1958 that we were actually able to measure it.
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As part of the re-authorization bill passed by the congress and awaiting Bush’s signature NASA will lead a search for asteroids that could be threatening Earth. The scope of objects that NASA will be looking for are asteroids larger than 140m in diameter. Currently NASA has only been searching for asteroids larger than 1km. As part of the task, NASA will be charged with cataloging 90% of the potentially threatening asteroids in 15 years.

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Richard Branson made the announcement today that the launch site for the Virgin Galactic Space program would be built in New Mexico 25 miles south of the town of Truth or Consequences. It will be 90 percent underground with only the runway and support facilities above ground.

Construction is expected to begin early 2007 and will cost $225 million.

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Over the next 4 years NASA plans on spending $500 million on developing the capability in the private sector to be able to deliver payloads and possibly people into space. The hope is that by 2010 (or sooner) private companies will be able to support the International Space Station by bringing supplies up. With the Shuttle on blocks the United States has no way of reaching the station. That reveals a serious hole in the capability of the country to maintain a presence in space. It also means that the US has to rely on Russia to be able to reach the astronauts on the space station.

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Yaskawa Electric’s MOTOMAN-DA20 industrial robot is intended to be a drop in replacement for people on the factory floor. With it’s two arms, and human sized torso the idea seems to be to get rid of the people and bolt down a new robotic replacement.

The Japanese have done it again. While part of me is scared about what could happen if robots took all those jobs from people, the other part is excited to see what these guys can do.

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