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Spacecraft 'could surf gravitational tubes' to make solar travel more efficient

Gravitational corridors could help spacecraft travel the solar system like ships carried on ocean currents, making longer and cheaper journeys possible, it has been claimed.


By Andy Bloxham
Published: 7:20AM BST 11 Sep 2009

1 of 2 Images
Computer graphic depicting gravitational corridors in space: Scientists unveil plan designed to cut cost of space travel
The gravitational corridors could help spacecraft ply the Solar System like ships borne on ocean currents Photo: PA
Space travel: celestial surfers could travel down gravitational tubes to cut fuel use.
Space travel: celestial surfers could travel down gravitational tubes to cut fuel use. Photo: Ted Debosz

Scientists in the US are trying to map the twisting "tubes" so they can be used to cut the cost of space travel.

Each one acts like a gravitational version of the Gulf Stream, created from the complex interplay of forces between planets and moons.

cookie monster

Will nanotech car batteries that recharge in a snap make electric cars finally convenient?

Electric vehicles

Batteries now included

Mar 12th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The missing piece of the electric-car jigsaw has just turned up


IF YOU want to buy an electric car, you can. Tesla Motors, a firm based in San Carlos, California, will sell you a nifty open-top sports job for $109,000. Not cheap, admittedly, but cheap to run. Plugged in overnight, it can be refuelled for the equivalent of 25 cents a litre of petrol. The catch is, “plugged in overnight”. Tesla’s vehicles use standard lithium-ion battery cells. As any owner of a mobile phone or laptop computer knows, these take time to charge. If you use 6,831 of them, as a Tesla sports car does, that time does tend to drag on. Which is fine if you are not planning a long trip the following day, for a full charge will take you about 350km (220 miles). But it might cramp the style of anyone planning to bomb down from, say, Paris to Cannes, and who would therefore need to refuel on the way.

Gerbrand Ceder and Byoungwoo Kang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to change this, and thus help make the electric car a work-a-day consumer item, rather than a high-end boy’s toy. In this week’s Nature they have published the technical details of a new battery material that will, if all goes well, take the waiting out of wanting, at least when it comes to recharging.


Broadly speaking, there are two ways of storing electrical energy in a chemical system. One is a standard battery, in which the whole material of the electrodes acts as a storage medium. That allows lots of energy to be squirrelled away, but makes it relatively hard to get at—and so it can be released or put back in only slowly. The other way is called a supercapacitor. This stores energy only at the surface of the electrode. It is quick to charge and discharge, but cannot hold much energy. The great prize in the battery world has thus been a material that can both store a lot and discharge rapidly, and it is this that Dr Ceder and Mr Kang think they have come up with.


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A plea for help.

I've seen this a few times before and never thought i'd be doing it myself... but it's worth a shot an i'd like to see how successful such a request can become. I want to become an entrepreneur but i need your help!

Please see my profile for more information!

Sorry if this offends you in any way... like i said... it's worth a shot!

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    Foster unveils green utopia in the desert
    By Vikki Miller
    May 8th, 2007

    Foster + Partners says the walled city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi will be the world's first zero-carbon and zero-waste city.  Foster + Partners has revealed these images of what it claims to be the first zero carbon, zero-waste city in the world.

    The Masdar development in Abu Dhabi is a 6 km sq, car-free "walled-city" scheme. The development is being driven by Abu Dhabi's Future Energy Company and will include a new HQ for the company as well as a new university.

    Norman Foster said: "The environmental ambitions of the Masdar Initiative – zero carbon and waste free – are a world first. They have provided us with a challenging design brief that promises to question conventional urban wisdom at a fundamental level. Masdar promises to set new benchmarks for the sustainable city of the future."

    Unveiled today at the Cityscape conference in Abu Dhabi, Foster + Partners said Masdar would be a dense, walled development constructed in two stages. The first phase would see the construction of a large photovoltaic power plant, which would later become the site for the second phase.

    The surrounding land will contain wind, photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, so that the city will be entirely self-sustaining, the architect said.

    The development is set to open in late 2009. 

  • reccy

Fibre optic reaches 107Gbps!

Fibre optic cable... Siemens broke a data-speed record outside of a laboratory just days ago. A whopping 107 gigabit per second! As the article suggests, that's two full DVDs per second. Here I was thinking my ADSL2+ connection was the bees-nees! Obviously with consumer HDD technology we're not even able to capatalise on speeds anywhere near that, but for large business networks and service providers this demonstrates great potential for future solutions.

Read the entire entry at reccy.

  • reccy

Minority Report becoming reality

In 2002 Spielberg's sci-fi blockbuster captivated the imagination of millions. As we soon discovered though, most of the ideas weren't as far out into the realm of fiction as we first thought.

A remarkable new breed of touch screens have emerged, as have patents and prototypes for 3D holographic projectors that you can interact with using touch alone.

It doesn't end here though, oh no. The idea of tailored advertising and retina scanning has reached the real world too. Well, almost...

Advertisers' newest tactics include plasma screens that are being placed in shopping malls across the country. The screens analyze shoppers' faces to determine if they're male or female and then put up a different ad based on gender. They can even determine age and ethnicity.

I'm looking forward to the many dilemma and public outrage presented by the gay community. Those that cross-dress and others that simply don't comply with gender-image stereotypes. That won't stop anyone though, and with the giant marketing budgets of big-business in today's world, I'd bet that we'll become subject to this sort of advertising much sooner than we expect, regardless of where you are in the world.

On another cool tech note, Wired has published an article about the future of digital distribution and consequent death of conventional television - definately worth a read!

This was posted at reccy.