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Photo source: Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), Shanghai China   China has been dominating global economic news for the past couple of weeks as its slowing economy caused jittery investors to sell stocks, resulting in major losses at the world’s premier stock markets. On the high tech side the market for ICs in China is huge, estimated at well over $150 billion US dollars annually. Domestic IC manufacturing industry sales, however, are less than half of that tota ...
  Highly sophisticated electronics like infrared instruments and other sensors need to be cooled to precisely detect what they're designed to capture, even to temperatures as low as -320 F (-195 C). The High Power Microcryocooler introduced this week by Lockheed Martin is said to be the industry's highest power density cryocooling system. It delivers more than 150 watts per kilogram, compared to the 30-60 watts per kilogram rating of most space-rated cryocoolers, while maintaining roughly ...
  The Martian is an upcoming science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The premise is that during a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is ali ...
The science of tracking and predicting the path of Hurricanes has improved in accuracy over the years but there has been little improvement in the accuracy of determining how intense the storms are going to be. Now, ten years after Hurricane Katrina formed in the Atlantic, construction of NASA's new hurricane-observing satellites is now underway in Texas. The space agency plans to use a constellation of eight micro-satellites to make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in and near the e ...
While examining the fluid dynamics behind whisky “mellowing” would appear to be the perfect dissertation topic for a high-living doctoral student, Japanese distillery Suntory is serious about studying the impact of microgravity on its signature products. Serious enough to send five kinds of whisky (along with 40% ethanol as a sixth control sample) via the Kounotori 5 transfer vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) to mature for two years. Expected to take off from the Japa ...
Travelling wave tubes (TWT) amplify signals by exchanging kinetic energy in the electron beam (shown as a blue line) with electromagnetic energy in the signal. This figure represents a cutaway view of a TWT with all of the critical components: electron gun, magnetic circuit, electron collector, and the windows that keep the vacuum inside the tube while letting the signals flow in and out.(Source: DARPA) Your first reaction to the idea that DARPA is trying to develop a new generation of more ...
Artist's impression of new racing wheelchair   Following up on its success at the Sochi Winter Olympics--the U.S. two-man bobsled team took home a bronze medal in a bobsled designed by BMW North America --BMW has announced plans to develop a new racing wheelchair for use by athletes of the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Team in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.   BMW’s wholly-owned Designworks consultancy headquartered in California will collaborate with the U.S. Paralympics Trac ...
It’s a big week for interesting U.S. Patent announcements. On Monday I reported on Thoth Technology receiving a patent for an inflatable “space elevator”, a giant structure rising from the ground and enabling payloads to be placed into orbit without having to use rockets Some of you questioned whether a space plane could indeed land on such a tower as claimed by the patent holder (a good question indeed), but hey, don’t shoot the messenger—I don’t grant these ...
The notion of a “space elevator”, a giant structure rising from the ground and enabling payloads to be placed into orbit without having to use rockets, is a long-time staple of science fiction. In fact, in his 1979 novel “The Fountains of Paradise,” Arthur C. Clarke described an “orbital tower” 36,000 km (about 22,300 miles) in height linked with a satellite in geostationary orbit.   Clarke would have been amused to learn that about a week ago a Canadian& ...

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