Now if this material can be made clear… Oh wait, it is. If it can be made crystal clear and has good refractive qualities it would make for some dandy scratch proof glasses.
A new composite plastic built layer by layer has been created by engineers at the University of Michigan. This plastic is as strong as steel. It has been built the same way as mother-of-pearl, and shows similar strength. Interestingly, this 300-layer plastic has been built with ‘strong’ nanosheets of clay and a ‘fragile’ polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), commonly used in paints and glue, which acts as ‘Velcro’ to envelop the nanoparticles. This new plastic could soon be used to design light but strong armors for soldiers or police officers. The researchers also think this material could be used in biomedical sensors and unmanned aircraft.
Andrews Space & Technology (AS&T) introduced an innovative propulsion system that could significantly shorten round trips from Earth to Mars (from two years to only six months!) and enable our spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling. The system, which may dramatically affect interplanetary space travel is called the Miniature Magnetic Orion (Mini-Mag Orion for short), and is an optimization of the 1958 Orion interplanetary propulsion concept.
The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.
Well this is just cool, a $30 million dollar (US) prize may not sound like all that much when your talking about going to the moon but the money isn’t what is at stake here. CharlesLindbergh didn’t set out to win the Orteig prize (Started in 1919 by a wealthy hotel owner, it offered $25,000 for the first allied aviator(s) to fly non-stop from New York NY to Paris France vice-versa) just for the cash. I’m sure the money was part of the incentive, but the achievement of winning was it’s own reward. When Lindbergh finished his 30 plus hour flight his accomplishment ushered in a new age for aviation. I can see No one has eve said that space travel is easy. It may possibly be the single hardest task to accomplish in the world. It’s full of risks, high costs, the potential for catastrophic disaster is high. But the long term rewards are fantastic. The knowledge gained by undertaking such a task could benefit mankind for years to come. If your one of those people that think that thing like the exploration of space and a contest to get robots to the moon is just a waste of time and money I’d like you to give a long hard look at what your reading this on. If it’s a computer, and I bet I’m right, then you yourself have already reaped the rewards of technology that was pioneered for space exploration. No matter how you slice it, setting a mark and offering people a chance to excel breeds innovation and advancements that the entire world benefits from.
When you take a look at it, the quickest and most efficient way to ‘get out of the well’ and go into space is by using a rocket that has real power. Sure, the Saturn V took man to the moon but it took days to get there and was done on the barest of economy. But what if you could launch a rocket that had so much power that your ship could built like a submarine and not like a flimsy soda can? Six months to Mars? Nope, more like two weeks. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it, true science fiction. Well at one time this very idea was being worked on by some of the smartest scientists in the US. It was called ‘Project Orion‘ and the craft was to use small nuclear explosions to propel the craft into space. It’s unfortunate that the project was canceled before its time. There is still a good argument for nuclear power in space. Nuclear power in the form of radioisotope thermoelectric generators have been powering space probes and satellites for years. In fact, the two Voyager probes are still sending back data 30 years after being launched. You cant to that with regular batteries and if you tried to do that with solar cells they themselves would have to be thousands of times larger than the craft they service in order to collect enough light to make electricity. But even if you can keep the lights on you still wont get your craft there much faster than you do now. Unless you use the mighty power of the atom to give it a kick in the pants. That is exactly what the guys at Nuclear Space would like everyone to know. And before you say ‘but you will fill space with radioactivity!’ just remember that space is full of it to begin with. The site is chock full of the latest news on the state of nuclear space power and sports an active users forum. Go have a look and feel free to ask them any questions you might have about going to the stars via the power of the atom.