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Star Trek fans will remember the awe inspiring and somewhat vintage head ware of Geordi that allowed him to see through walls and shower stalls. Now Science has brought us one step closer to all having this amazing ability.!

Well, almost.

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According to researches at EFPL and the University of California they have developed a pair of zoom-switching contact lenses that will not only let you see as you normally do, but also let you magnify what you see by 2.8 times—this is about the same as looking through a 100-millimeter lens on a 35mm camera.

The trick behind these contacts is a two-part lens. The center is simply a clear element that allows light to pass through as it normally would. The outer edges of the lenses, however, are coated with patterned aluminum mirrors. These mirrors reflect light that passes through the lens, bouncing it around the lens four times before it hits your retina.

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Meanwhile, switching between normal and telescopic vision is done through a pair of Samsung liquid crystal switching 3D glasses. The center non-zooming part of the contact comes equipped with a polarizing filter, so switching between distance-viewing and regular vision is as simple as changing polarizing states on the glasses.

But the biggest breakthrough with these contacts is that they’re only 1.17 millimeters thick, so you can easily slip them onto your eyes. Previously, telescopic vision was only possible through telescopic glasses or by surgically implanting larger telescopic implants into your eye.

Technically, scientists developed these contacts to help restore sight to people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD destroys the high-resolution central macula region of the eye’s cornea, which robs you of the ability to make out fine details like words on a smartphone.

If they work as designed, these telescopic lenses will to redirect and magnify the light to the outer regions of your eyes, allowing you to see these details again. That said, the research could also be used to develop contacts that help people with healthy vision to see super far.

Ref: techhive.com

Google would dream something as impossible and radical as cloaking the world in balloons 60,000 feet above sea level so that the entire world can get on the Internet. It’s something straight out of meetings about the future, something rooted in conversations between smart people who only ask each other “But why not?”, something even Google itself admits is crazy by calling it Project Loon.

What is Project Loon exactly? Only a plan to get hundreds and thousands of high-pressure balloons to circle the Earth and given internet to billions of people on Earth. It’s part of Google’s famed Google X Lab which is bringing the world Google Glass and self-driving cars. Wired reports:

It is an audacious proposal, and today in Christchurch, Google is holding a press conference with New Zealand’s Prime Minister to formally unveil it. Google will also stage Project Loon’s biggest trial yet: 50 testers in Christchurch within the 12-mile range of the balloons will see if they can get connected from the sky.

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Ref: Gizmodo

Researchers in the Honduran rainforest have recently used lasers to find a lost city of gold, and now archaeologists in Cambodia have found a forgotten city that’s even older.

Welcome to Mahendraparvata, unknown for a Millenium. Image, an area

The corner of Cambodian jungle where Mahendraparvata has been lurking is dotted with the odd above-ground temple ruin, but the extent to which the city sprawled beneath the shrubs and dirt was unknown until researchers brought airborne laser scanning tech—known as Lidar—to bear. And suddenly, it was as if the city’s ruins just leapt into being.

Damian Evans, University of Sydney’s archaeological research centre in Cambodia, described the moment to The Age this way:

With this instrument – bang – all of a sudden we saw an immediate picture of an entire city that no one knew existed, which is just remarkable.

But Mahendraparvata is more than just any lost city, it’s the oldest in Cambodia,  And now that researchers are aware of both Mahendraparvata’s magnitude and its hidden features, they can really dig in. Figuratively and literally.

With laser technology becoming so useful, it does make me wonder, when will this technology help me find my keys?

Ref: Gizmodo

Baxter won’t get bored!

It’s a term you may hear more and more in the coming years, with the robotics industry expected to be worth 6.5 Billion for domestic units and over 46 Billion in the commercial sector by 2017, our little bot buddies are here to stay.

But will domestic robots pop up overnight?

A more likely scenario as we move towards total domination by our robot overlords is co-working robots that begin to pick up a few of our obsolete tasks.. Enter Baxter.

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According to RethingRobotics.com, Baxter is an entirely new type robot that is redefining the way robots can be used in manufacturing environments. It performs a variety of repetitive production tasks – all while safely and intelligently working next to people. How? Baxter exhibits behavior-based ‘common sense,’ capable of sensing and adapting to its task and its environment. It requires no complex programming or costly integration. And with its uniquely low price point, Baxter provides a compelling alternative to low-cost offshoring for manufacturers of all sizes.

Is this innocent looking bot the beginning of the new revolution?

I think not..

In the world of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Scientists at Monash University have developed world first technology that will allow people with vision impairment to see again.!

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Through world-first wireless technology and a computer processor that sits inside the brain, the blind will be able to make out shapes through a series of mapping dots after they put on a pair of sunglasses.

Around 300,000 Australians have substantial vision impairment and around 20,000 are totally blind, according to the Australian Network on Disability.

It is estimated 85 per cent of that 20,000 will have some vision through this prototype-stage technology, compared to only 10 per cent now.

Much like Google Glass, which allows users to take photos from a pair of glasses, the device takes information from a glasses-mounted camera and sends it, via a wireless transmitter, into the brain.

This vision takes the form of basic shapes made of light, much like looking at a line of stars. Bluesky Design Group director Professor Mark Armstrong, who was also involved in designing the Nexus 5 Cochlear Implant for the deaf, said they are hoping to do the first trial on a human by mid next year.

“All indications are the that the technology is working smoothly towards the first implant next year, he said.

“It will enable someone who is completely blind to see edges of tables and footpath in a coarse, dot-type matrix, enough to give them mobility and connect them to their loved ones.

“It is part of a long list of new technologies that will invade the body.

The recent electronic child born of iRobot and Cisco looks pretty promising, especially for those of us that just can’t drag ourselves out of bed in the mornings.

We’ve all had those moments where we wake up and roll over, realize that it’s only Tuesday and we have to face yet another painful day in the high powered world of fast food. But now, thanks to iRobot we can teleconference in in style.!

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Ref: Gizmodo Australia

According to a write up by Gizmodo;

The Ava 500 merges iRobots’ Ava robotics platform with Cisco video conferencing hardware, including a high-resolution camera and a generous 21.5-inch HD display. And thanks to the robot’s ability to autonomously navigate its way through a space, controlling the Ava 500 is as easy as playing an iPad game.

Remote users either select where they want the robot to go via an interactive map on the iPad’s display, or tell it to head to a specific room, or even a specific employee’s name. The Ava 500 does the rest, allowing the telepresent employee to ride along in a ‘public’ mode where they’re able to chat with people enroute, or a ‘private’ mode where the camera and display are turned off until they arrive at their destination. When the meeting or conversation is over, the robot is then released and automatically returns to its charging station.

So it’s finally happening, one arm at a time..

Jan Scheuermann hasn’t been able to use her limbs since 1996 when she was struck with spinocerebellar degeneration, but thanks to new technology she’s now able to lift a chocolate bar. The brain-computer interface (BCI) allows seven points of rotation and mobility and brings hope to many suffering from various forms of paralysis.

According to the University of Pittsburg;

“This technology, which interprets brain signals to guide a robot arm, has enormous potential that we are continuing to explore. Our study has shown us that it is technically feasible to restore ability; the participants have told us that BCI gives them hope for the future.”

Scheuermann’s brain was implanted with two quarter-inch square electrode grids. They have 96 tiny contact points for brain areas that control right arm and hand movement.

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Ref: University of Pittsburg

Although it does beg the question, how long until similar technology is utilized for Military purposes. We could be seeing robot soldiers in the field controlled by infantry men miles away..

For those of you younger than myself you may not know what the USS Enterprise is. (shock!)

Essentially in our future there’s a bunch of Space Cowboys who travel the Galaxy, offend alien species and explore nooks and crannies in the hope of spreading the Federations words of peace and tranquility… while destroying aliens.

Although Star Trek was a fantastic show it’s all been fantasy up until now, a website called Buildtheenterprise.org has proposed a hundred year road map for space exploration and believes that we can build a fully functioning Enterprise with technology we currently have on hand.

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When you consider that the ISS will probably cost over 100 Billion dollars to maintain alone during it’s lifetime it really does make sense to start looking beyond one shot trips to Mars and the Moon and build something much more sustainable and relevant. The enterprise would be used as an exploratory star ship, a space port and international meeting place.

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Image credit – Deviat Art

In ranked order of importance, the Gen1 Enterprise’s top eight functions are:

  1. Inspire people around the world about the adventure of humans going into space in a big way.
  2. Serve as a space station & spaceport with 1g artificial gravity to support large-scale space tourism and to encourage substantial private sector investments in space infrastructure.
  3. Take the first humans to Mars.
  4. Enable the construction of a large, permanent base on Mars.
  5. Visit an asteroid, do experimental mining of it, and do tests to divert its movement.
  6. Construct a large, permanent base on the moon.
  7. Serve as a roving space station to support diverse scientific experiments and space projects.
  8. Go on other interplanetary missions, like to Venus and to Jupiter’s moons.

Personally I find this very exciting and if I earned the GDP of a small nation I would be funding this myself right now.!

for more information visit http://www.buildtheenterprise.org/

Mars One is a non-profit organization that’s aiming to send you to Mars within ten years.

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The entire process will be broadcast on television, just like an extra terrestrial version of Big Brother. Mars One says that all of the technology needed to build a habitat and touch people down on Big Red already exists, and at a small initial cost of $6 Billion we would be silly not to.! However..

There might be slight hiccups. “There’s no liquid water, the atmospheric pressure is “practically a vacuum”, radiation levels are higher and temperatures vary wildly” However scientists at ASRC Aerospace Corporation at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center are currently working on a force field to help shield would be contentants.. *ahem* Astronauts from deadly radiation.

The living quarters would be built via 3d printing and deployed by robots to ensure the new inhabitants have some time to relax and grab a great tan.

If you are interested in applying to the Mars one program to be packed up and sent off to the Red Planet you can apply on the Mars One website http://applicants.mars-one.com/.

However be warned, it’s a one way ticket to Mars..

Now here’s something that will excite all you smokers out there, according to the University of Wollongong 3D printed organs such as replacement lungs are not all that far away. This is a boon for people on waiting lists for replacement livers, hearts or eyes. It does beg the question however of just how long until we begin to modify healthy people.?

Researchers from UOW’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) and St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, announced in Melbourne today (Friday 3 May) that they are just three years away from printing custom-made body parts, including muscle and nerve cells and cartilage. And in just over a decade, they believe will be possible to print human organs.

“Within a few years, we believe it will be possible to manufacture living tissues like skin, cartilage, arteries and heart valves using cells and biomaterials. Using a patient’s own cells to create this tissue avoids issues of immune rejection. By 2025, it is feasible that we will be able to fabricate complete functional organs, tailored for an individual patient.”

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So this begins to open up a whole can of worms when we consider a world wide population explosion. As an individual I love the idea of being able to go in for day surgery to simply “fix” all the issues that have resulted from my poor lifestyle choices, however it begs the questions of should we be able to live longer.? If nature has designed us to live into our early hundreds then what’s the impact on humanity once we start extending our lifespans beyond two or three hundred years. ?

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