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NASA has confirmed for the first time that liquid water, flowing on the surface of Mars, is not just thing of the past, it’s also present on the planet’s surface today.

“This is tremendously exciting,” James L. Green, Director, NASA’s planetary science division

“We haven’t been able to answer the question, ‘Does life exist beyond Earth?’ But following the water is a critical element of that. We now have, I think, great opportunities in the right locations on Mars to thoroughly investigate that.” – James L. Green

NASA is also thinking about sending a spacecraft in the 2020 to one of these regions to directly look for life.

The water we are talking about is in form of hydrated salts, but as per Alferd S. McEwen,  a professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona “There pretty much has to have been liquid water recently present to produce the hydrated salt.”

By “recently,” Dr. McEwen said he meant “days, something of that order.”

We knew that the large amounts of water is present in form of frozen solid in the polar ice caps. Also there have been hints of liquid water, but none have proved convincing.

In 2011, the photographs from the orbiter  shows dark streaks descending along slopes of mountains. The streaks lengthened during summer, faded in winters, then reappeared the next year.

Scientists suspected that water played a critical role in this behaviour,  similar to the way concrete darkens when wet and returns to its original color when dry. But that was just a guess.

But now, the signs of the salt disappeared when the streaks faded is very definitive that there is some sort of liquid water.

So how does the water remains liquid on Mars?

The salts lower the freezing temperature, and the water remains liquid. The average temperature of Mars is about -70 degrees Fahrenheit, but in summers the temperature at Equator can reach an almost 70 degrees.

The scientists are still not sure about where the liquid water might be coming from on Mars. The current readings of the planet’s atmosphere point to very low humidity near the surface, but there’s also a chance that it might be coming from underground aquifers on the planet, which seep out when things warm up.

What about presence of Life?

Christopher P. McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., does not think the recurring slope lineae are a promising place to look. For the water to be liquid, it must be so salty that nothing could live there, he said. “The short answer for habitability is it means nothing,” he said.

He pointed to Don Juan Pond in Antarctica, which remains liquid year round in subzero temperatures because of high concentrations of calcium chloride salt. “You fly over it, and it looks like a beautiful swimming pool,” Dr. McKay said. “But the water has got nothing.”

We’ve known for a while now that Mars currently holds large reserves of frozen water at its poles, and that it had large oceans billions of years ago. But this discovery will have a huge impact on Martian missions in near future.

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Elon Musk is considered as a real-life Tony Stark from Marvel’s Iron Man comics for his role in cutting-edge companies including Space X, a space exploration company that holds the first private contracts from NASA for resupply of the International Space Station, and the electric car company Tesla.

During an interview at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, talking about computer science, AI, space exploration and the colonisation of Mars. Elon Musk has spoken out against artificial intelligence (AI), declaring it the most serious threat to the survival of the human race.

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon”

Musk said “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful,” . “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out,” said Musk.

Musk is one of the high-profile investors, alongside Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the actor Ashton Kutcher, in Vicarious, a company aiming to build a computer that can think like a person, with a neural network capable of replicating the part of the brain that controls vision, body movement and language.

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We’re at least a one step closer to creating the “Star Trek”-style Teleportation. The concept of Quantum teleportation, the act of reconstructing quantum data somewhere else, is impressive just by itself. A team of  scientists at the US’ National Institute of Standards and Technology have managed to one-up that feat. They’ve shattered the distance record for quantum teleportation.

Sounds like a real time Sci-Fi

The team successfully  managed to transfer the information from one photon to another across 63 miles of optical fiber. That may not sound like much, but it’s a remarkable achievement as 99 percent of photons would never make the complete trip. It was only possible thanks to newer detectors that could pick up the faint signal of the lone light particle.

Real time teleportation, as seen in sci-fi movies, is still a long way to go, but the achievement does open the door to many possibilities in quantum computing. You could use unbreakable quantum encryption at inter-city distances, for instance. Imagine a future with more instantaneous communication with astronauts in space or rovers on Mars alongside unprecedented network speed and security thanks to quantum encryption.

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Taking out the trash is an inherently dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. If Volvo’s ROAR project has its way, garbage men will be replaced by autonomous, two-wheeled robots.

ROAR (Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling)

According to Volvo’s press release “Imagine a robot that quietly and discreetly enters your neighbourhood, collects bin and empties it into the refuse truck. It is done without waking the sleeping families and without heavy lifting for the refuse truck’s driver. This is the purpose of ROAR, a joint project with the aim to develop tomorrow’s smart transport solutions.”

This joint project involves Volvo, the Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University, and waste recycling company Renova, all with the goal of producing safe, quiet machines that streamline the trash collection process and reduce lifting strains on humans.

“Within Volvo Group we foresee a future with more automation,” says Per-Lage Götvall, Volvo Patent Coordination Manager. “This project provides a way to stretch the imagination and test new concepts to shape transport solutions for tomorrow.”

As far as ROAR goes, a working prototype will be tested in June 2016 on a real garbage truck manufactured by Renova.

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If you’ve been waiting for the latest Google Nexus flagship, your wait may soon be over. Google just sent over an invite for “some tasty new treats and much s’ more” September 29th in San Francisco. It didn’t say what will be revealed but based on the timing, we’re thinking Android Marshmallow release

Google Event

Google Event Invite

The Nexus line is also due for an update and the invite references Marshmallow, the latest version of Android. The company is also expected to reveal two new Nexus handsets and, possibly, a new Chromecast at the event.

Based on past leaks and rumours, the LG Nexus 5X is said to feature a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor; 3GB of RAM; Adreno 418 GPU; a 12.3-megapixel sensor; a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 2700mAh battery.

A report from earlier this month claimed the new Nexus 5X will be more expensive than the original Nexus 5. It is tipped to be launched at $399 for the 16GB model, while the 32GB will cost $449.

As for the larger Huawei Nexus 6P, it is tipped to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 SoC. A 5.7-inch QHD display and front-facing speakers are also tipped, apart from a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera.

Google is also expected to finally launch the next-generation Chromecast dongle at the event as well. The new dongle as per a recent leak will feature a balloon-like design, and as much rumoured earlier, support for faster dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac. It is also tipped to bring support for Spotify – a music streaming service notably missing from the list. Of course, Google could also have a few surprises up its sleeve. For that you can catch the live stream on YouTube.

 

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A team of researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore created a new sensor,  which is 1,000 times more sensitive to both visible and infrared light than the imaging sensors of most of today’s cameras, which means it could be used in everything from the point & shoot to surveillance and satellite cameras.

The miracle behind this is a substance that is harder than diamond, yet incredibly flexible, and the world’s best conductor of electricity.

It gets this high photo response from its innovative structure. It’s made of graphene, which has already earned a reputation as the building material of the future. Graphene is a super strong carbon compound that is as flexible as rubber, more conductive than silicon and better heat resistant than a diamond.

The inventor, Wang Qijie, an assistant professor at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, mentioned that this is the first time camera sensor has been made using pure graphene.

“We have shown that it is now possible to create cheap, sensitive and flexile sensors from graphene alone,” said Wang. “We expect our innovation will have great impact not only on the consumer imaging industry, but also in satellite imaging and communication industries, as well as the mid-infrared applications.”

Wang said the key to his new sensor is the use of “light-trapping” nano structures that use graphene as a base. The nano structures hold onto light-generated electron particles for much longer than conventional sensors, which results in a stronger than usual electric signal, which can be processed into an image, like a photograph captured by a digital camera.

Most of today’s camera sensors use a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor as a base. But Wang said that his graphene base is far more effective, producing clearer, sharper photos. And, according to Wang, it works on the same designing principle. In principle, which means the camera industry will be able to keep using the same process to make its sensors, but simply switch out the base materials for graphene.

If the industry chooses to adopt his design, Wang said it could lead to cheaper, lighter cameras with longer battery lives for all.

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Microsoft

At present, it’s tricky to make Windows PCs that cost as little as basic Android tablets and Chromebooks. According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is reportedly cutting Windows 8.1 license costs by 70 percent for PC makers. Microsoft is cutting Windows 8.1’s license fee to $15 for any device that sells for less than $250, letting builders offer very cheap Windows PCs without destroying their profits.

Declining shipments & slower rate of adoption

Microsoft had been considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT available free of charge to device makers, and it appears the lowering of Windows 8.1 license fees for low-cost devices is the first step towards this possible plan. While Microsoft has sold more than 200 million licenses of Windows 8 since it was first released in October 2012, the growth rate is slower than Windows 7. This is largely related to a PC market slowdown, and competition from rival low-cost tablets and devices.

Windows 8 has had a mixed reception from consumers, and any licensing change is a clear move to prevent additional PC makers opting for Chrome OS on their low-cost laptops. During the early days of netbooks, Microsoft saw the threat from low-cost Linux-based machines and slashed Windows XP’s pricing to wipe out Linux netbooks. There’s no guarantee that the company will repeat its earlier success if the lower Windows 8.1 prices take effect. However one thing is clear that the Android and Chrome based devices are seriously making a dent in Redmond’s business.

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ironman-suit

The first prototypes for the US military’s Iron Man armor will be ready for testing by this summer, said the head of US Special Operations Command today. At a special conference in Washington DC, Defense Tech reports, Navy Admiral William McRaven stated that currently three prototypes of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – TALOS  are being assembled, with an expected delivery by June.

A revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators.

“That suit,” McRaven emphasized, “if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators.” The TALOS was commissioned last October, and may one day be armed with its own on-board computer, health monitors, and MIT-developed liquid armor that can harden in a matter of milliseconds which will allow the wearer to walk through a stream of bullets.

There are 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities, and 10 national laboratories working together to develop this armor. McRaven wants to up involvement to include mechanics and craftsmen on the project, and may seek the authority to approach the Pentagon to distribute prize money for interested experts. The suit will undergo an evaluation period and hopefully be field-ready by August 2018.

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Dell Wyse Cloud Connect

Android based HDMI dongles are not new to the market. But Dell’s Wyse division, which has been doing thin-clients for decades, has cooked up a new way to avoid the thin-client setup trouble: An Android-powered, universal-thin client called the Wyse Cloud Connect.

Hardware wise its an over-sized USB stick. While it comes with a USB port, to use it you’ll need a device such as an HDTV monitor or a modern laptop with an HDMI or Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port. Its just a plug and play device. The installation is fairly simple. Just connect it to HDMI and power source and you are ready to go.

Inside it there’s a multi-core Cortex-A9 ARM System-on-Chip (SoC), 8GBs of internal storage, and 1GB of RAM. This is powered up with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. It also comes with a micro-SD card slot with expandable storage support up to 72 GB. It also comes with 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking and Bluetooth.

Once in place you can use it with a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to turn any properly equipped display into an Android PC. If you want more than Android’s goodness, and Dell and its partners certainly hope you do, the Cloud Connect also comes with Dell’s Wyse Cloud Client Manager software-as-a-service (SaaS). With this IT managers can manage device so that it can be used with the appropriate thin-client, back-end programs.

By default that’s Dell Wyse PocketCloud software for remote access to physical or virtual desktops, apps and content. This enables you to access your office Mac or Windows desktop.

If you want more, and Dell and its partners hope you will, you can use it with Citrix, Microsoft or VMware thin-client servers or for Web-based apps. In short, the Wyse Cloud Connect provides IT department with a tasty dish of a way to easily get both conventional and BYOD users on the enterprise desktop with no messy setup annoyances.

For a list price of $129, many companies will find the Wyse Cloud Connect to be the perfect meal for their road warriors.

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bioglow

When it comes to living things that glow, a plant is probably your best choice to have in your home than a jellyfish, or even a glow-in-the-dark cat or pig. Bioglow is preparing to offer its bioengineered houseplants to the public which will glow in the dark.

Bioglow has been leading the movement ever since molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky created what the company calls the first light-producing plants and published his findings in 2010. But there are still a lot of limitations with these initial batches of glowing plants. They are best viewed in a dark room after giving your eyes time to adjust. The plants also have a short lifespan of only two to three months.

Each Starlight Avatar, as the company calls it, is shipped in a see-through box and grows in a nutrient gel. The plant can be transferred to a pot once it’s outgrown its container, but about half of them don’t survive the transplant. They also need to be kept away from direct sunlight.

According to Bioglow

“Starlight Avatar™ is an indoor plant and is unlikely to survive in an open garden due to strong susceptibility to a variety of abiotic conditions, particularly light and water shock.”

Your first crack at buying a Starlight Avatar of your own will be through an upcoming online auction where you can sign up to participate and bid for one of 20 plants, though the official date of the auction hasn’t yet been announced. Also the plants are only available to ship to the US.

They could conceivably become renewable light sources in the future. It’s within the realm of possibility, but, in the meantime, you’ll have to settle for spending a few months with a glowing plant.

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