Soapy Alien Planets

At first glance these incredible images appear to show the mystifying surfaces of distant planets.

But on closer inspection, the photos reveal they are actually soap bubbles.

They were created by photographer Jason Tozer, using dish washing  liquid, a coat hanger bent into a hoop and a plate.

Blowing bubbles: Visual communication magazine Creative Review commissioned photographer Jason Tozer to shoot a series of soap bubbles to test out the capabilities of a Sony D-SLR
Picture perfect: The photos were created 'in-camera', meaning filters and effects were not applied in post-production The photos were created ‘in-camera’,  meaning filters and effects were not applied in post-production
Process: To achieve the planetary like images, Tozer began by blowing through a straw into a plate of soap solution, turning the camera on what formed on the near-side of the dishTo achieve the planetary like images, Tozer began by blowing through a straw into a plate of soap solution, turning the  camera on what formed on the near-side of the dish
Rainbow effect: By blowing through a straw into a plate of the solution, Mr Tozer created the more planet-like images

‘I looked online for bubble recipes and a bit of glycerine is apparently the key,’ said Mr Tozer to Creative  Review who commissioned him to create a series of photos based on the theme of bubbles.

‘Ten parts water, one part dish washing liquid  and a little bit of glycerine. We also used distilled water as well because hard water isn’t so good.’

He explained that his against a black background, his assistant would wave the coat  hanger hoop through the air with the liquid on.

Process: Mr Tozer explained that his against a black background, his assistant would wave the coat hanger hoop through the air with washing-up liquid on
Creative: Mr Tozer then used a lens cap wet with solution to achieve a single bubble shape to photographMr Tozer then used a lens cap wet with  solution to achieve a single bubble shape to photograph
Changing: Mr Tozer found that as more bubbles were made from the solution, the less colour that appeared on the surface Mr Tozer found that as more bubbles were made  from the solution, the less color that appeared on the surface
Stunning: The bubbles take on a dream-like quality as their surfaces all vary

He would then attempt to capture them with  the camera, although moving bubbles are a tricky subject to pin down.

By blowing through a straw into a plate of the solution, Mr Tozer created the more planet-like images.

He took the photo of what was formed on the  near-side of the plate and then used a lens cap wet with solution to achieve a single bubble shape to photograph.

Colour spectrum: Each snap is unique and takes on its own individual shape, colour and photographic presence  Each snap is unique and takes on its own individual shape, color and photographic presence

Ethereal: The colour of the bubbles varied according to the amount of soap, ranging from a burnt orange to blue

Big and small: The surfaces of the bubbles and sizes varied greatly

The beauty of the photos is that they are not digitally altered – they are produced completely in-camera.

Each bubble is unique and takes on its own individual shape, color and photographic presence.

Mr Tozer found that less colors appeared on the surface as  further bubbles were made from the batch of dish washing liquid.

‘The detergent  seems to sink to the bottom of the bubbles, leaving the water behind, so you gradually get different images,’ he explained.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Fire the Laser

Once the stuff of science fiction and James Bond movies, the U.S. Navy is now just two years away from arming it’s ships with the first generation of ‘directed energy’ laser weapons.

The weapons are designed to track and fire on threats to a warship that could include anything from armed drones and small ‘swarm’ boats to incoming missiles and aircraft.

According to Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, a  series of successful tests in recent months have enabled the Navy to halve its predicted timeline for mounting laser weapons on vessels.

‘We’re well past physics,’ he told WIRED.com.

‘We’re just going through the integration  efforts… Hopefully that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.’

In April 2011 the Navy released a video of a test in which its prototype Maritime Laser Demonstrator blasted a hole in the engine of a small boat at sea off the California coast, leaving it dead in the water.

In July of this year, an officer in the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program said the Navy believed it was ‘time to move forward with solid-state lasers and shift the focus from limited demonstrations to weapon prototype development and related technology advancement.’

Solid-state lasers are one of several  different types of laser-based weapons systems currently being developed by the Navy and other military services in conjunction with major defense contractors.

The military has spent hundreds of millions on the development of the various systems, but once installed, the government predicts they will be relatively cheap to operate since they don’t use conventional munitions.

A shot from a laser weapon is estimated to  cost the Navy the equivalent of less than a dollar, compared to short-range air-defense interceptor missiles which cost between $800,000 and $1.4 million  each.

Up until now one of the Navy’s key concerns  with lasers has been how to generate  enough energy to fill the laser gun’s magazine,  however Klunder says that it is no longer an issue.

‘I’ve got the power,’ said Klunder, who spoke during the Office of Naval Research’s biennial science and technology conference.

‘I just need to know on this ship, this particular naval vessel, what are the power requirements, and how do I integrate that directed energy system or railgun system.’

With the technology almost now in place, there does however remain a concern over funding to make the laser weapons a reality. Admiral Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, has warned that ‘research and development is part of that reduction’ in defense budgets currently scheduled to take effect in January.

Attribution: Mail Online

More “Green” Waste

Employees at Fed-Funded ‘Green’ Energy Company Openly Admit They Watch Movies, Play Cards Because ‘There’s Nothing to Do’

by:  at The Blaze

President Barack Obama in 2010 spoke at LG Chem subsidiary Compact Power, an electric battery plant in Holland, Mich., to tout his administration’s decision to pour millions and millions of taxpayer’s dollars into the clean energy industry.

“Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth,” Obama said. “And we’re seeing results.”

“This is a symbol of where Michigan’s going. This is a symbol of where Holland is going. This is a symbol of where America is going,” he added.

President Barack Obama gives Gov. Jennifer Granholm a hug as LG Chem Ltd. Chairman Bon-Moo Koo, left, watches (AP)

Much like Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod’s premature Nats gloat tweet, the president’s 2010 Holland speech seems pretty ominous in retrospect.

Why? Because, according to a new report from Target 8, that same electric battery company President Obama spoke at in 2010 is an unmitigated disaster and a shameful waste of tax dollars.

For starters, there’s no work to be done. Employees, who are being paid with the $150 million the Department of Energy awarded the plant, claim they show up and sit around because there’s nothing to do. It has gotten to the point where employees spend most of their time playing cards and/or board games and watching movies to keep themselves entertained.

“There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day,” one former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May, told Target 8.

“We were given assignments to go outside and clean; if we weren’t cleaning outside, we were cleaning inside. If there was nothing for us to do, we would study in the cafeteria, or we would sit and play cards, sit and read magazines,” she added. “It’s really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it’s basically on taxpayer money.”

Two current employees claim the idling among workers continues because there’s nothing else to do.

“There’s a whole bunch of people, a whole bunch, filling their time with card games and board games,” one these current employee said.

“There’s no work, no work at all. Zero work,” another current employee added. “It is what it is. What do you do when there’s no work?”

Since the plant’s opening, more than a few workers have quit.

“I thought it might be a decent place to start a career, lots of places to move up,” one former employee, who quit this summer, told Target 8. “You can only do nothing for so long. There were days, sitting around all day doing nothing. … I didn’t play a whole lot of cards.”

“I bailed out of a sinking ship,” he added.

And as for that $150 million DOE grant: The Holland plant has already burned through $133 million, mostly for construction and equipment, with about 40 percent going to foreign companies.

Taxpayers so far have spent about $7 million training the plant’s employees (who claim they haven’t trained in months) and another $700,000 for worker’s health and dental insurance, according to Target 8.

But here’s the best part: Compact Power is furloughing its workers before the plant has even shipped a single battery, TheBlaze’s Mike Opelka reported last week. Yep, the Chevy Volt was supposed to be the plant’s biggest customer but, uh, that hasn’t really worked out.

“Workers say they made test battery cells, starting late last year, perhaps 100,000 or more, and they did a good job. They say they produced perhaps 4,000 a week, but worked ended for the most part last December,” Target 8 report.

They did, however, ship out those test batteries last spring, “apparently for recycling.”

Luckily — well, “luckily” depending on the amount of trust you have in federal bureaucrats — reports of the company’s inactivity have made their way to Washington where the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board has vowed to take action.

Once more, for good measure: “This is a symbol of where Michigan’s going. This is a symbol of where Holland is going. This is a symbol of where America is going” – President Obama.

Final Thought: As Election Day quickly approaches and these federally-funded “green” energy failures continue to stack up, it has become pretty obvious why Obama administration decided last year to stop releasing stimulus reports.

Spare Parts

A kidney-like organ grown from scratch in the lab has been shown to work in animals – an achievement that could be the prelude to growing spare kidneys for someone from their own stem cells.

Donated kidneys are in huge demand worldwide.

Christodoulos Xinaris of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Bergamo, Italy, and his colleagues extracted cells from the kidneys of mouse embryos as they grew in the mother. The cells formed clumps that could be grown for a week in the lab to become “organoids” containing the fine plumbing of nephrons – the basic functional unit of the kidney. A human kidney can contain over 1 million nephrons.

Chemical broth

Next, Xinaris’s team marinated the organoids in a chemical broth called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which makes blood vessels grow. Then they transplanted the organoids onto the kidneys of adult rats.

By injecting the rats with extra VEGF, the researchers encouraged the new tissue to grow its own blood vessels within days. The tissue also developed features called glomeruli, chambers where blood enters the nephrons to be cleansed and filtered.

The researchers then injected the animals with albumin proteins labelled with markers that give out light. They found that the kidney grafts successfully filtered the proteins from the bloodstream, proving that they could crudely perform the main function of real kidneys.

“This is the first kidney tissue in the world totally made from single cells,” says Xinaris. “We have functional, viable, vascularized tissue, able to filter blood and absorb large molecules from it. The final aim is to construct human tissues.”

“This technique could not be used clinically, but it shows a possible way forward for developing a functional kidney in the future,” says Anthony Hollander, a tissue engineer at the University of Bristol, UK. Although it will be several years before lab-grown tissues can benefit patients, the team says that the latest findings are a key milestone on the way.

Xinaris is currently working out how to add ducts to siphon urine to the bladder. So too are other groups. “We can now engineer kidneys with a proper drainage system,” says Jamie Davies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who is a co-author on the Xinaris paper. “But we’ve not put these in animals yet.”

Cell sources needed

The other stumbling block is finding sources of human cells that will behave like the mouse embryonic kidney cells and self-assemble into complex kidney structures such as nephrons.

Obviously, says Davies, it is unethical to extract kidney embryonic cells from growing human embryos, but several potential cell sources are emerging. These include stem cells from amniotic fluid or the bone marrow, and adult cells such as skin cells converted in the lab into primitive kidney cells.

Both Davies and Xinaris are now working with human cells, incorporating them into the cultures of mouse cells that already grow into kidney tissue. Davies’s team is growing the kidneys within membranes taken from hen’s eggs, which allows them to view and manipulate the whole process.

Kidneys are the latest of several lab-grown organs and replacement parts to be developed, including livers, windpipes, parts of voiceboxes and hearts

The biggest question of all, however, is whether large enough grafts can be made to benefit patients. “We don’t know whether these little fetal kidneys could grow large enough to become fully functioning tissue in humans,” says Davies.

Attribution: NewScientist

Global Warming…Not

We’re Still Being Screwed Even Though ‘Global Warming’ Stopped 15 Years Ago

by:

The chart below is what global warming looks like folks. Non-existent for the last 15+ years. Zero. Nada. Zilch. (Before that, in the ’70′s, it was all about the “Coming Ice Age” and where did that go?) All the while the developing world has been cranking up carbon use for manufacturing.

And in the meantime? We have energy starvation policies stuffed down our throats. And a President, in the debate, going on and on about “Green Jobs,” which are either non-existent also…or are causing bankruptcy eruptions all over the place. Not to mention the dire straights he is putting people in with regard to the energy they need to survive.

Excuse the unladylike word in my title, but the entire Al Gorebasm insanity is causing nothing but draconian, opportunistic, tyrannical thievery and controls over our very daily lives to the point of stark raving global madness.

You have been sold down the proverbial river. Sent over the cliff. Robbed blind. And screwed…totally. Americans are supposed to be smarter than this. I want to believe Americans are smarter than this. But every day, in America, bureaucrats, planners, non-profits, corporations, and politicians are spending their time, and energy, and your money, to capture you…not carbon, but you…..into their schemes of control. None of that has one whit to do with some conjured up fiction that you are causing the global temperatures to rise. You aren’t. You never did. But they won’t let a little thing like the truth stop them from their central control of your energy use.

Some food for thought:

“Industries are already leaving Germany, and more will soon follow. The loss of energy and jobs will damage the German economy almost as much as the exploding cost of new infrastructure required to deal with the intermittent unreliables. And the cost — THE COST!!! Hundreds of thousands of lower class workers in Germany already cannot afford to pay their skyrocketing power bills. That number will only grow larger.”

From the Telegraph – UK

“The shift to renewable energy is also taking a toll on family budgets. On Monday Germany’s electrical grid operators announced that a special tax levied on consumers to finance subsidies for green energy would increase by almost 50 per cent.”

The EU is going straight down the road to serfdom….again, I might add. (Note Spain’s 17%+ unemployment after converting to a “Green” economy. Throw in a little Greece, Italy, and the rest…and what do you have?) How many times in history have European nations been sucked into the central planning models of either Monarchs or Dictators. I thought we fought and won a revolution to get out of that mold of ignorance.

Townhall Finance asks,

“Remember last summer- and the summer before that, and the summer before that- when droughts and tornadoes were pinned to global warming by a compliant media? Or when we were told that 100 million people would die in the next twenty minutes, or twenty years- is there really a difference?- because of global warming? And that of course women and children would bear the brunt of those deaths? Or last year when we were told about the wave of Polar Bear cannibals terrorizing the animal kingdom in the great white north?”

Too bad Candy Crowley never got to the Global Warming issue in the debate. Too bad….
If Romney and Ryan have the facts on this, we might be saved from the economic devastation that Europe is facing right now. God bless them both.

Disregard the Science

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You

1) Viral Inoculation Takes Years to Develop

Outbreak (1995):

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for YouPlot: Before he was hanging out with Ace Ventura, Spike the monkey was shipped to the USA chock full of something called the Motaba virus. It’s Dustin Hoffman’s job to stop the virus, prevent an outbreak and foil Donald Sutherland’s plan to firebomb a small town.

The Real Science: The problem with this movie is time. Like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, Hoffman whips up a cure sooner than it takes me to understand the joke in a New Yorker Magazine cartoon (my record is three hours). Normally it would take a team of virologists weeks or even months to study the virus, go through the appropriate tests and create a cure for distribution.

Unless, of course, you’re this guy:

Because new elements apparently only take him an afternoon.

Then again, if the Motaba virus is anything like Ebola (it pretty much is), there would really be no need to quarantine the entire town or produce a cure because everyone would be dead within 48 hours. Including the Morgan Freeman character probably.

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You“That’s right; you’re reading this in my voice. Rubber baby buggy bumpers.”

2) There’s No Way We Can Miss a Texas-Sized Asteroid

Armageddon (1998):

Plot:An asteroid the size of Texas is hurdling towards Earth at about the same speed it takes for me to buy a gun in the aforementioned state. NASA decides to get Bruce Willis and his rag-tag team of oil drillers (think The Expendables brought by way of British Petroleum) to eat Animal Crackers off Liv Tyler’s tummy, fly into space, drill a hole in the asteroid, drop a nuke, blow up the rock and fly back.

The Real Science: Here’s the deal: there’s so many inaccuracies in this movie it’s hard to pick one; however, there a few key problems that make this movie ridiculous.

Number one is that we would most definitely see an asteroid the size of Texas well before the last minute. The United States alone has a number of observers including JPL’s Near Earth Asteroid Tracking and the Air Force’s Maui Space Surveillance Site, not to mention private citizens like this guy. Not only would we know about and be tracking an asteroid that size floating in the main belt, but we would see it coming far sooner than the movie led us to believe.

“Don’t worry Hawking, I got this.”

Oh, and their plan of drilling a hole 800 feet and placing the nuclear bomb into it is hardly likely to work (even with the stupid fissure). If the asteroid is the size of Texas it would be about 870 miles across. 800 feet to something that size is the equivalent to scratching the surface of a volleyball. And don’t counter with the movie’s “fissure will crack the rest of it in half” argument; that’s what we call a Deus Ex Machina and this list is about bad movie science not bad writing.

Seriously, this movie is so bad that NASA even used the movie during management training to see if the trainee was able to find all 168 inaccuracies.


3) DNA Has An Expiration Date

Jurassic Park (1993):

Plot:A small group of people get trapped in a theme park that is overrun with dinosaurs. Think of it as the last movie in a trilogy that includes “Westworld” and “Futureworld”, but instead of Yul Brynner you get a group of Velociraptors that can open doors.

And I know you’re thinking, “But Yul Brynner wasn’t in ‘Futureworld!'”

The Real Science: If we wanted to clone something the DNA has to be perfect and even DNA trapped in 65 million-year-old amber would be way past its expiration date. Also, contrary to what Mr. DNA tells you, we can’t substitute other species (like, say, from a frog) to complete the chain.

Even if we could hypothetically extract a perfect strand of DNA that wasn’t tainted by the insect’s DNA or horribly degraded, could we do it? Hell no. You see, we would need a viable, living dinosaur egg for implantation. Since the whole point was to create a dinosaur because they’re extinct then we’re kind of at an impasse.

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You“T-REX HUNTS BY MEMES! RUN!”

4) Humans Can’t Survive Immense Pressure

The Core (2003):

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for YouPlot: The Earth’s inner core stopped rotating, our magnetic field is tearing apart, microwave radiation is ripping through out atmosphere and the world is thrown into chaos! Up is down, right is left, birds drop dead, pace makers stop working and I embrace the term “YOLO!” Hillary Swank and her intrepid crew of “terranauts” must drill into the center of the earth and activate a nuclear bomb to kick-start the core.

The Real Science: Let’s forget the problems actually getting to the center of the earth, all the overlooked science (how in the heck did they stay in radio contact so far under the surface?) or the terribly conceived hurdles the team overcomes (how are they able to walk outside their craft in the recycled space suits from “Sphere” when the temperature would be thousands of degrees and the pressure would be immense?).

Rather, let’s just focus on two huge oversights: 1) The earth’s magnetic field has little effect on microwave radiation. 2) Sure, the sun lobs plenty of microwaves (electromagnetic radiation), but that is just light. The worst we’re looking at is our radios and cell phones fizzling out.

In essence, there isn’t really a disaster in this disaster movie.

“… and in the center past the mole people, we find creamy nougat.”

5) It’s Impossible for a Volcano to Form Under L.A.

Volcano (1997):

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for YouPlot: Ancient mammals from the Pleistocene era decide to get their revenge on modern day Los Angeles by generating a super volcano in the La Brea Tar Pits. Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as “ornery-old-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold-that-mumbles-a-lot” and joins forces with seismologist Dr. Anne Heche to save the day.

The Real Science: The San Andreas Fault traveling through the west coast is a “strike-slip” fault; that means the Pacific plate and the North American plate creates a fault line that only slide past each other. In order for a volcano to form, two plates need to “subduct:” i.e, one plate slides underneath another allowing magma to move to the surface. The plates in Los Angeles and the rest of the southern California area do not subduct; that really only happens further north.

“A handy place to put your copy of ‘Volcano’ is right in the crack…”

Therefore, we have a better chance of Anne Heche giving me my money back for “Six Days Seven Nights” than a volcano erupting in Los Angeles.


6) There’s No Way We Could Decipher Alien Technology

Independence Day (1996):

Plot:A highly advanced alien race invades the planet and destroys all of the Earth’s major landmarks. With the help of Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum was able to upload his computer virus into the alien mother ship and save the day in time to fire up that bar-b-q and knock back a few brews.

“And make sure you don’t leave any smudges on the mirrors this time, Carlton.”

The Real Science: This one is relatively easy to point out: how in the hell did Jeff Goldblum figure out how the alien computers work, let alone design a computer virus to infect them? I mean, sure; we had that scout craft for 50 years, but if Data couldn’t work it out, then how did Jeff Goldblum do it in an hour? We’re also pretty lucky that the aliens installed a USB or parallel port so we have easy access to their controls.

Maybe the aliens should have switched to iPads.

7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You“I guess we could just duct tape a joystick on the dashboard and see if it flies.”

7) Earth is 70 Percent Water

Signs (2002):

Plot:Aliens decide to invade our planet and only Bravehart, Johnny Cash and a group of weird kids can stop them from ruining their crops. Thank god our heroes discover their only weakness… water!

The Real Science: Now, let’s take a moment and imagine you’re on a spaceship ready to invade a planet:

Commander: “Do you have the planet’s readouts?”

You: “Yes Sir. 70% of the planet is covered in a substance that will seriously harm and eventually kill our species. The flora, fauna and atmosphere is also composed of the same substance. I really don’t think this plan is—”

Commander: “Perfect. (TURNS TO THE REST OF THE SHIP) Gentlemen! Let us not forget our proud warrior cry!”

Everyone on ship: “LEEERRROOOYYY JEEENNNKKKIIIINNSSS!”

Seriously, did they not notice about 70% of the world’s surface is covered in water, 3,100 cubic miles of water is floating around the atmosphere and 2,000,000 cubic miles of water is stored within a half mile of the earth’s surface?

Even if they did and continued with their invasion, whose bright idea was it to plop down of the surface with no protective gear? That would be like us mounting an invasion to a planet that’s covered in acid wearing nothing but tinfoil hats.

“Prepped for the surface, captain.”

Attribution: Charlie Knauf

Wandering Luggage

As any frequent flyer knows, hauling around a passport, carry-on luggage and suitcase while navigating through an airport can be a real hassle, and the situation is made worse if the traveler in question has any physical health issues. Madrid-based designer Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez has come up with an ingenious solution to this issue: a smart carry-on suitcase named Hop! which follows the traveler around automatically.

Hop! contains three receivers which communicate with an app running on the traveler’s smartphone, via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth data is processed by a micro-controller which calculates the position of the smartphone it is tasked to follow. The same micro-controller also directs a dual caterpillar track-type system on the underside of the smart-suitcase.

Hop! can be configured to follow a number of other Hop! units in a line, and should the smartphone signal be lost or interrupted somehow, the user will receive an alert, and the suitcase locks itself. In an age of increasingly security-conscious airports, there’s some obvious issues to an automatic hands-off carry-on ambling around an airport, but should the relevant authorities allow it, one can imagine such a device proving indispensable for disabled travelers, and convenient for the rest of us.

The smart luggage is manufactured to meet most airline cabin space requirements, measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm (roughly 21 x 15 x 8 inches). Further to this, Gonzales states that the internal mechanism of his device doesn’t increase the weight of the case significantly, though we’ve received no hard figures on this.

While Hop! is still in development, Gonzalez tells us that he plans to mature his prototype and complement it with a larger suitcase, with a view to eventually bringing both to market.

The promo video below gives a sense of what using Hop! would be like.

Walk Assist

A spinoff from robotic space technology may someday help astronauts stay fit in space and help paraplegics walk on Earth, Nasa says.

The U.S. space agency and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1.

The 57lb device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

In the inhibit mode, the X1 exoskeleton would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement.

The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time.

The X1 is based on the technology behind Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, which is currently working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

‘Robotics is playing a key role aboard the International Space Station and will be critical in our future human exploration of deep space,’ said Michael Gazarik, director of Nasa’s Space Technology Program.

‘What’s extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth.

‘It’s exciting to see a Nasa-developed technology might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs to begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time.

Worn over the legs, with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, X1 has four motorized joints at the hips and the knees, and six passive joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot.

There also are multiple adjustment points,  allowing the X1 to be used in many different ways.

Nasa is examining the potential for the X1 as an exercise device to improve crew health both aboard the space station and during future long-duration missions to an asteroid or Mars.

Without taking up valuable space or weight during missions, X1 could replicate common crew exercises, which are vital to  keeping astronauts healthy in zero gravity.

In addition, the device has the ability to measure, record and stream back data in real-time to flight controllers on Earth, giving doctors better insight into the crew’s health.

X1 could also provide a robotic power boost to astronauts as they work on the surface of distant planetary bodies. Coupled with a spacesuit, X1 could provide additional force when needed during surface exploration.

Here on Earth, IHMC is interested in developing and using X1 as an assistive walking device. It has the potential to produce high torques to allow for assisted walking over varied terrain, as well as stair climbing.

‘We greatly value our collaboration with Nasa,’  said Ken Ford, IHMC’s director and CEO. ‘The X1’s high-performance capabilities will enable IHMC to continue performing cutting-edge research in mobility assistance and expand into rehabilitation.’

The potential of X1 extends to other applications, including rehabilitation, gait modification and offloading large amounts of weight from the wearer.

Preliminary studies by IHMC have already shown X1 to be more comfortable, easier to adjust, and easier to put on than older exoskeleton devices.

Researchers now plan on improving on the X1  design by adding more active joints to areas such as the ankle and hip to  increase the potential uses for the device.

Attribution: Damien Gayle

Need a New Fridge?

If you just want a refrigerator that accommodates your magnet collection, then this probably isn’t the one for you.

A manufacturer has launched a  state-of-the-art fridge, which costs more than the average kitchen, at up to $41,500.

The  Meneghini La Cambusa unit can be custom-fitted with a range of gizmos including a coffee maker, ice-maker, temperature controlled pantry and even a flat-screen television.

Looking more like a piece of antique furniture than a household appliance, the fridge is  aimed at the super-rich.

Indeed, one retailer, Robey’s, in the UK,  admits that they ‘do not sell hundreds a week’.

As well as refrigerating food, the La Cambusa three-door model includes spaces that can be customized to meet clients’  need.

The price can vary enormously because each  one is custom-made in Italy.

After shelling out $26,000 for the wooden frame, which can be painted in more than 500 colors,  clients will then have to pay extra for brass handles, glass shelving and the fridge and freezer units.

For those wanting all of the cool extras, a number of other devices can be installed.

A Miele coffee system, costing from around  $3,000 is a popular pick, while flat screen televisions are frequently requested.

New York  Magazinewrites that the ice-maker has also been a  hit, and customers have seen it as the perfect addition for ‘poolside parties,  because, yes, some, clients have put these units poolside.’

A microwave oven and steam oven, by Miele are  other optional extras.

Celebrity endorsement: Nigella Lawson is said to be a  fan of the state-of-the-art Meneghini fridges

The centrepiece of the appliance is a Liebherr refrigerator system, which starts at $1,200. The Swiss-based company will also construct a temperature-controlled pantry for dry storage.

The three-door La Cambusa, measures 8.2ft  wide, weighs 1,100 pounds and includes 26.6 cubic feet of storage space.

There are cheaper versions in the Meneghini range, and the Food Networks Nigella Lawson owns a cream version of the $13,000 La Ghiacciaia.

The website apartmenttherapy.com writes: ‘We’re set upon purchasing a Meneghini fridge/freezer in yellow when our lottery boat comes to harbor.’

‘At that cost, we’d consider it the start of a family heirloom to pass along to generations; at least the design is worthy of the designation.’

Attribution: Sadie Whitelocks

Forever Young

Marine animals could hold the key to looking young

Sea urchins could hold the key to youth

Sea urchins could hold the key to youth

Sea cucumbers and sea urchins are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies, and could hold the key to maintaining a youthful appearance, according to scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

The researchers investigated the genes of marine creatures such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers, known as echinoderms. They found the genes for “messenger molecules” known as peptides, which are released by cells and tell other cells in their bodies what to do.

The study was published online in the journals PLOS One and General and Comparative Endocrinology.

Project leader Professor Maurice Elphick, from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: “Probably the most exciting discovery from our research was finding genes encoding peptides that cause rapid stiffening or softening of collagen in the body wall of sea cucumbers.

“Although sea urchins and sea cucumbers may not look much like us, we are actually quite closely related to them. As we get older, changes in collagen cause wrinkling of our skin, so if we can find out how peptides cause the body wall of a sea cucumber to quickly become stiff or soft then our research might lead to new ways to keeping skin looking young and healthy.”

The scientists analyzed the DNA sequences of thousands of genes in the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and the edible sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus and specifically searched for genes encoding peptide messenger molecules. Rapid advances in technology used to sequence genes made the research possible.

“When the human genome was sequenced over a decade ago it cost millions of pounds – now all of the genes in an animal can be sequenced for just a few thousand pounds,” Professor Elphick said.

“We also found that sea urchins have a peptide that is very similar to calcitonin, a hormone that regulates our bones to make sure that they remain strong,” Professor Elphick said.

“So it will be fascinating to find out if calcitonin-type peptides have a similar sort of role in spiny-skinned creatures like sea urchins.”

“These types of advances in basic science are fascinating in their own right but they are also important because they underpin the medical breakthroughs that lead to improvement in the quality of people’s lives.”

Attribution: Real Clear Science