When their spaceship was severely damaged 200,000 miles from Earth – 45 years ago this week, it was like a bad dream from which the Apollo 13 crew could not wake.
Moments after they finished a TV broadcast late on April 13, 1970, a spark ignited one of the oxygen tanks on the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The resulting explosion plunged an entire nation into an anxious three-and-a-half day drama.
The blast obliterated one of three fuel cells and an oxygen tank. Oxygen jetted into space from the command module’s remaining tank.
“Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” astronaut Jack Swigert told mission control in Houston at what was then NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center).
“We’ve had a main B bus undervolt,” Mission Commander James Lovell said. One of the command module’s two main electrical circuits had experienced a drop in power.
The Manned Space Flight Network at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, made Swigert and Lovell’s reports possible. The network’s tracking stations linked the spacecraft to Earth, where its signals were transmitted through Goddard. Nearly three million circuit miles of communication channels in the NASA Communication Network conveyed the messages received at Goddard to the Mission Control Center in Houston.
Less than two hours after Swigert’s message was transmitted to Houston, mission control pronounced the command module mortally wounded. With only 15 minutes of power left, astronauts Swigert, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise escaped to the “life boat” of the lunar module.
President Richard Nixon learned of the crisis shortly after the explosion, and he met with Goddard Center Director John F. Clark the following day for an update. William C. Schneider, director of NASA’s Skylab program, briefed the president on the status of the rescue mission in Goddard’s Manned Space Flight Network control room, through which communications to and from Apollo 13 passed.
The nation watched for the latest updates from their television sets, transfixed, as the rescue mission unfolded.
The crew spent three-and-a-half grueling days in the lunar module. They rationed food and water, which mission designers had only intended to last two men a day and a half, not three men three days. Carbon dioxide reached dangerous levels in the lunar module before the team managed to convert square filters from the command module to fit in the round openings on the lunar module. When the crew shut the instruments off to conserve power, the inside temperature reached an icy 38 F.
But reorienting the lunar module to a return-to-Earth trajectory from a lunar landing course proved to be one of the most difficult and important obstacles to hurdle. Read the rest of this entry »
This April marks the 50th Anniversary of Moore’s Law. Three years before co-founding Intel, Gordon Moore made a simple observation that has revolutionized the computing industry. It states, the number of transistors – the fundamental building blocks of the microprocessor and the digital age – incorporated on a computer chip will double every two years, resulting in increased computing power and devices that are faster, smaller and lower cost.
Acquisition of LinX deepens the Apple’s position in Israel
Apple confirmed the acquisition with its standard statement when it has bought a company. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said an Apple spokesman.
The companies had been discussing an acquisition price of about $20 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
LinX didn’t respond to requests for comment.
LinX develops and markets miniature cameras for tablets and smartphones. Using an array of sensors that capture multiple images at the same time and proprietary algorithms, LinX says its cameras can gauge depth and create three-dimensional image maps.
Last year, the company said its tiny camera modules allow for better-quality pictures in low light and faster exposure at standard indoor conditions. It said the technology offers single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera image quality without the need for a bulky device. Read the rest of this entry »
After six successful missions to the International Space Station, including five official resupply missions for NASA, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are set to liftoff from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for their sixth official Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)
Dom Esposito writes:
…Apple Watch is finally available to preorder, but if you missed the mark at 12:01 a.m. you might be waiting quite a while to get your hands on one. Luckily, Apple is providing try-on appointments that will allow you to get a taste of the experience and feel one out for yourself. Recently, we took that opportunity to get our hands on a few and offer some initial impressions on the hardware and software…
In the video below, we take a look at three Apple Watch models and the widely popular Apple Watch Sport in Space Gray. Along with that we took a tour of the software available on the demo models and it was quite interesting. Apple Watch is definitely a very different product from anything we’ve seen the company offer, but along with that it brings a unique experience that no other product can match up to.
We got our hands on the 42mm Apple Watch with the Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and Link Bracelet band styles. Each band really does bring an entirely different look, feel, and experience to the table. The Apple Watch Sport comes along with a “custom high-performance fluoroelastomer,” but don’t let the generic term “rubber” turn you away. It actually feels very nice.
Is it all worth the hype? Well, that’s somewhat subjective, but check out our hands-on and first impressions video above for a closer look at Apple Watch hardware and software:
We also took a brief look through the software UI and features with the demo models. While these demos are running loops throughout various portions of the interface, there’s still quite a bit that you can do to test out its functionality. It’s smooth overall, but we noticed a bit of lag here and there. Read the rest of this entry »
Brian Krassenstein reports: Education is probably one of the areas that will benefit the most from 3D printers in the long run. The problem though is getting the machines into the schools in the first place. With prices generally ranging from $400 to $3,000 for typical desktop 3D printers, they are not cheap, and with budgets within many school districts running dry, both in the United States and overseas, the unfortunate fact is that many schools simply can’t afford them, not to mention the materials and time it takes to train teachers to use them.
Speaking with former MakerBot CEO, Jenny Lawton, at CES this year, she told me that 3D printing will become mainstream and really begin to explode as far as adoption rates go, when a full cycle of education has been exposed to the technology. Just like many of us who were exposed in school to desktop computing back in the ’80s and ’90s can’t envision not having access to a computers now, the children of today may one day think the same about 3D printers.
The United States clearly understands the importance of this technology, particularly President Obama. In addition to investing heavily to bring manufacturing back to US soil, he has mentioned the importance of 3D printing on several occasions, visiting manufacturing facilities that are using 3D printers, and even going as far speaking about the technology in one of his State of the Union Addresses.
According to Shen, the Chinese government has a new policy to install a 3D printer in each of its approximately 400,000 elementary schools over the next two years. This number caught me totally off guard for two reason. First of all, that’s a lot of elementary schools. For instance, in the United States we have approximately 70,000 elementary schools, and approximately 100,000 total public schools. As a nation we could easily match China’s ambitions. Read the rest of this entry »
The Remarkable Plunge in the Cost of Electric Vehicles
A new study suggests that battery-powered vehicles are close to being cost-effective for most people.
Mike Orcutt writes: Electric cars may seem like a niche product that only wealthy people can afford, but a new analysis suggests that they may be close to competing with or even beating gas cars on cost.
The true cost of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars is a secret closely held by manufacturers. And estimates of the cost vary widely, making it tough to determine
just how much lower they must go before electric vehicles with long ranges can be affordable for most buyers. But a peer-reviewed study of more than 80 estimates reported between 2007 and 2014 determined that the costs of battery packs are “much lower” than widely assumed by energy-policy analysts.
The authors of the new study concluded that the battery packs used by market-leading EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014. That’s lower than the most optimistic published projections for 2015, and even below the average published projection for 2020. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018.
If that’s true, it would push EVs across a meaningful threshold. Depending on the price of gas, the sticker price of an EV is expected to appeal to many more people if its battery costs between $125 and $300 per kilowatt-hour. Because the battery makes up perhaps a quarter to a half of the cost of the car, a substantially cheaper battery would make the vehicle itself significantly cheaper too. Alternatively, carmakers could maintain current EV prices but offer vehicles with much longer ranges. Read the rest of this entry »
Sorkin Movie Quotes Steve Jobs: ‘If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it will have been worth it to those who survive’Posted: April 3, 2015
While we haven’t gotten many details about the Aaron Sorkin-penned screenplay based on Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, we have previously learned that it will focus on three separate days in the life of the Apple co-founder, with each 30-minute act taking place just before a major product announcement. We also know that Michael Fassbender will star alongside Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Kate Winslet, Perla Haney-Jardine, and Jeff Daniels.
Today we got our hands on a copy of the screenplay (or at least a February 2014 draft of it) which reveals what many already may have already suspected based on previous reports: the three products Jobs will unveil during the biopic are the original Macintosh, the NeXT Cube, and the iMac.
[The movie hits theaters on October 9th]
The film opens with the launch of the Macintosh and a key scene in which Andy Hertzfeld and Joanna Hoffman attempt to convince Steve Jobs to cut the iconic “Hello, I am Macintosh” moment from the computer’s demo due to a voice synthesizer problem. “The first rule of a launch is nothing can crash,” Hoffman says.
That’s followed up by a humorous moment in which Jobs tries to convince his team to turn off the exit signs above the doors to totally darken the room during the event. He even offers to pay whatever fines the fire marshal imposes. “If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it will have been worth it to those who survive,” Jobs quips. Read the rest of this entry »
Mid-Air Scare When Lightning Strikes 2 Planes Over Seattle
SEATTLE — Scott Sistek reports: Some of the people on their way into Seattle Wednesday evening got quite the hello from Mother Nature as lightning struck two different jets as they approached Sea-Tac Airport.
“We were flying in and out of clouds, sunshine then darkness, sunshine then darkness. I was looking out the window when I saw this bright flash and this streak of lightning hit the top-middle of the right wing near the engine.”
University of Washington student Owen Craft was out in the University District trying to film lightning strikes as a thunderstorm moved through and caught the two massive bolts as they passed through the planes’ fuselage.
“Airplanes themselves are prepared for this kind of stuff and have the mechanics to manage lightning strikes. We did not receive any reports of precautionary landing alerts from any pilots Wednesday night either.”
— Sea-Tac Airport public relations manager Perry Cooper, to ABC News
“I was stunned for a second because I couldn’t believe what I just saw,” Craft said. “After the second (plane) got hit, I knew I was on to something spectacular!”
One of those planes was an Alaska Air Flight 515 inbound from Orange County while another was Alaska Air Flight 731 that was coming into Seattle from Houston. Kim Dodge was sitting in Row 9 on the right side of that plane when the bolt hit.
“I think it hit the wing because there was an immediate loud crack and the cabin was bright for that brief second. There was this loud gasp in the cabin after it happened. The people behind me were starting to worry if it was going to affect the landing. It didn’t.”
— Passenger Kim Dodge, who was sitting in Row 9
“We were flying in and out of clouds, sunshine then darkness, sunshine then darkness,” she said. “I was looking out the window when I saw this bright flash and this streak of lightning hit the top-middle of the right wing near the engine.”
She said it looked like the bolt exited right below the wing.
“Instantly a sound, a plane move and a flash of light; probably the worst turbulence you’ll ever feel for 2 solid seconds,” said Anthony Porter. “It got people pretty shook up.”
— Anthony Porter, on the Orange County flight that was also hit by lightning
“I think it hit the wing because there was an immediate loud crack and the cabin was bright for that brief second,” she said. “There was this loud gasp in the cabin after it happened. The people behind me were starting to worry if it was going to affect the landing. It didn’t.”
“We landed safely,” Dodge said. “It was startling.”
Anthony Porter was on the Orange County flight that was also hit by lightning:
“Instantly a sound, a plane move and a flash of light; probably the worst turbulence you’ll ever feel for 2 solid seconds,” said Anthony Porter. “It got people pretty shook up.”
But Porter said aside from the moments surrounding the strike, the flight was totally normal.
“It was alarming, but it was so quick, people knew something happened, but no one knew what happened,” he said. “It was a direct hit and 5 seconds before and 5 seconds after — smooth sailing, there was no turbulence.” He said the plane landed without further incident.
While being struck by lightning would sound frightening to those on board, airplane lightning strikes are not that uncommon and the jets are built to withstand the jolt. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Meet キロボ Kirobo: The First Companion Robot to Go to Space Returns to Earth After 18-Month JourneyPosted: April 2, 2015
After a 18-month mission aboard the International Space Station, the tiny Japanese robot Kirobo returned to Earth on February 2015. During a press conference, organizers celebrated the successful project.
A patent that has just been awarded to Google suggests that either could be possible and that we could potentially download different personality types from the cloud.
In fact, if you can’t choose what kind of personality you want for your future robo-pal, it’s highly possible that it might be able to choose for you. It would do this by accessing your devices and learning about you, before configuring a tailored personality based on that information. In addition it could use speech and facial recognition to personalise its interactions with you.
“It’s possible that if you uploaded its personality to the cloud you might be able to transfer it to another robot.”
The original question posed still stands though — you could potentially always choose a specific personality type for your Google robot that represents the kind of person you enjoy interacting with. This personality could even be triggered by specific cues or circumstances that the robot could detect, says the patent, which was spotted by Quartz.
“Unlike Newton and Stephanie from Short Circuit who were devastated when they believed their beloved Johnny Five had been destroyed, you never need get emotional over or be concerned about the physical destruction of your robot.”
“The robot personality may also be modifiable within a base personality construct (i.e., a default-persona) to provide states or moods representing transitory conditions of happiness, fear, surprise, perplexion (e.g., the Woody Allen robot), thoughtfulness, derision (e.g., the Rodney Dangerfield robot), and so forth,” states the patent.
“A more concerning concept perhaps though is that a robot could be programmed to take on the personality of a real-world person — the patent suggests a deceased loved one or a celebrity — so that effectively you could get someone to live on after their death in robot form.”
It also suggests that should a cruel fate befall your robot, that might not spell the end of its days. It’s possible that if you uploaded its personality to the cloud you might be able to transfer it to another robot.
Unlike Newton and Stephanie from Short Circuit who were devastated when they believed their beloved Johnny Five had been destroyed, you never need get emotional over or be concerned about the physical destruction of your robot. Read the rest of this entry »
Drones are enabling filmmakers experiment with aerial cinematography in ways not possible before. From action sports to music videos, check out footage captured with the help of drones.
It’s easy to forget that there is an endless, unexplored space beyond our tiny planet Earth.
This new video from All Time 10s is packed with tons of fun facts about outer space, touching on some the of strangest objects humans have discovered there — like zombie stars and metal worlds.
Who knows what’s still out there?
The same high-end appliance Starbucks uses to fine-tune brews
Silicon Valley types know how to optimize their lives.
Molly Mulshine reports: They monitor workouts with high-tech armbands and step-counters and control their homes’ temperatures from the comfort of their iPhones. The hard-core have even removed the guesswork from their diets, ingesting nutrients in the form of a few fine-tuned daily protein shakes and vitamins from IV drips. Don’t you just hate them?
So it is not surprising that the tech world’s top brass put their heads together to create the perfect coffee machine, the Blossom Brewer. Made specifically for cafes and restaurants, of course, the tech elite have snaffled them up for their homes.